April 19, 2015

SE CT Delegation Highlights Transport Investment Needs in I-95 Corridor

Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, Senator Paul Formica, State Representative Devin Carney next to Governor Malloy at the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference.

Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, Senator Paul Formica, State Representative Devin Carney next to Governor Malloy at the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference.

Three freshman state lawmakers from Southeastern Connecticut joined Governor Malloy on Wednesday overlooking the Thames River to highlight the need for more investment in all modes of transportation along the I-95 corridor in the shoreline region.

“People in the southeast corridor of the state should have reliable and safe transportation systems.  The fact that the Governor chose to highlight I-95 in our area is important.  It is a major pathway for commerce in this region,” said Senator Paul Formica.

State Senator Formica (R) is the veteran lawmaker in the group of freshmen, recently resigning as the first selectman of East Lyme to serve as the 20th district’s state senator in Hartford.

“I have been working with the state department of Transportation for years as a first selectman to revamp exit 74 and to widen the Niantic River Bridge.  Today’s event is an extension of those conversations,” added Formica.

Newly elected State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) also reiterated the need to prioritize the upkeep of roads, bridges, rail and ports.

From left to right,  State Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney stand next to the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference with CTDOT.

From left to right, State Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney stand next to the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference with CTDOT.

“Improving our transportation infrastructure is very important to folks of Southeastern Connecticut. I applaud Governor Malloy for acknowledging that there needs to be upgrades made to I-95 at this end of the state. It’s a key area for commuters and tourists, so it’s crucial that traffic can move steadily and safely. As a member of the Transportation Committee, I will continue to be an advocate for government transparency and a proponent of public safety,” said Rep. Carney.

As one of the two youngest elected lawmakers in the country, Representative Aundre` Bumgardner brings a new perspective to the ongoing conversation of how to keep the state’s transportation infrastructure strong for future generations.

“Connecticut needs a comprehensive transportation plan that includes roads, bridges, rail, our ports and waterways and pedestrian-friendly ways to get around,” Rep. Bumgardner (R-41st) said. “I’m encouraged the Governor is making sure Southeastern Connecticut isn’t being left out but this is just the start.  The Governor and the legislature must ensure any funding put into transportation projects is used specifically for transportation and protected from being raided for other purposes.”

All agree protecting the Special Transportation Fund may require new language for a “lock box” on funds collected through the gas tax, department of motor vehicle fees, as well as commuter train and bus tickets.

The event was held at the State DEEP Boat Launch on the New London side of the Thames River, just below the Gold Star Bridge.   At 5,925 feet, the Gold Star is the longest bridge in Connecticut. The northbound bridge, which originally carried I-95 traffic in both directions, opened in 1943. A new bridge for southbound traffic opened in 1973.

Editor’s Note: State Senator Formica represents the 20th District towns of Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Waterford, New London, Montville, Bozrah and Salem. State Representative Carney represents the 23rd District towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. State Representative Bumgardner represents the 41st General Assembly District representing residents in Groton and New London

CT River Watershed Council Partners Receive $10M to Improve Long Island Sound 

The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) is one of seven partners receiving a $10 million federal grant funded through USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program. This new project brings together seven partners to improve the health of Long Island Sound. The funding will be matched dollar for dollar by other local, state, and private funding sources.

Excess nutrients have been identified as the primary driver of hypoxic conditions (lack of oxygen) in Long Island Sound and are also impacting upland water resources within the watershed, which encompasses areas of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The project will develop a comprehensive, whole-farm management certainty program for farmers in the area. It will use both working lands and easement programs to improve soil health and nutrient management, establish community resiliency areas with a focus on enhancing riparian areas, and institute a land protection program to agricultural and forestry areas.

The Council is very pleased to be one of the many partners on this important project to improve the health of both the Connecticut River basin and Long Island Sound,” says CRWC Executive Director Andrew Fisk.  “Funding will allow CRWC to continue working with landowners on restoration projects on their land that will improve our rivers and protect their investment in productive farm and forest land.”

The Connecticut River contributes over 70 percent of the freshwater to Long Island Sound and plays an important role in the health of the Sound.  “We are proud to be working with landowners to help them do their part to restore and protect the public’s water,” notes Fisk.  “Many individuals working together across the entire watershed will have a great impact to improve the health of our rivers and Long Island Sound.”

The CRWC works to protect the watershed from source to sea. As stewards of this heritage, the organization celebrates its four-state treasure and collaborates, educates, organizes, restores and intervenes to preserve its health for generations to come. The  work of the CRWC informs the communal vision of economic and ecological abundance.

To learn more about CRWC, visit www.ctriver.org.

This project is one of more than 110 high-impact projects across all 50 states that will receive a portion of $370+ million as part of this new effort.

More information on the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program and other awards is available at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/farmbill/rcpp/

Local Legislators Applaud $2 Million Bond Issue to Help Purchase The Preserve

From left to right, Rep. Jesse MacLachlan, Essex resident Suellen McCuin, Chris Cryder of Save the Sound, Kate Brown of The Trust for Public Land, Sen. Paul Formica, Rep. Phil Miller, Sen. Art Linares, Rep. Devin Carney,  Rep. Terrie Wood, Jim Millard of The Trust for Public Land and Lori Fernand of The Trust for Public Land.

From left to right, Rep. Jesse MacLachlan, Essex resident Suellen McCuin, Chris Cryder of Save the Sound, Kate Brown of The Trust for Public Land, Sen. Paul Formica, Rep. Phil Miller, Sen. Art Linares, Rep. Devin Carney, Rep. Terrie Wood, Jim Millard of The Trust for Public Land and Lori Fernand of The Trust for Public Land.

Five state legislators, State Senators Art Linares and Paul Formica, and State Representatives Phillip Miller, Devin Carney and Jesse MacLachan have applauded the Jan. 12, approval of a $2 million state bond issue to assist in the acquisition of the Preserve. The Preserve property consists of 1,000 acres along the shore of Long Island Sound that is presently open space.

“This is terrific news,” said Sen. Art Linares, who represents Essex, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. “Permanently protecting this forest and wetland is critical, not only for the animal and plant species whose survival greatly depends upon it, but also for the local communities whose water supplies and recreational enjoyment of Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River could be irreparably damaged if development were to occur.  This news is the result of the determination of the many environmental champions in our region, like Rep. Phil Miller and former Rep. Marilyn Giuliano.  We also thank Gov. Malloy for his commitment to this effort.”

“I am delighted to see this vast expanse of land will be protected for future generations. Residents in southeastern Connecticut care deeply for the environment and enjoy hiking and bird watching in The Preserve, among other recreational activities.  This wise purchase by the state will ensure that future generations will be able to continue the stewardship of this land,” said Sen. Paul Formica, who represents Old Saybrook and is a member of the Energy and Technology Committee.  “I thank Rep. Phil Miller, former Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, The Trust for Public Land and the many environmental advocates from our region who have worked so hard for this funding.”

“The approval today by the Bond Commission of $2 million in funding to ensure the purchase of The Preserve shoreline property represents an important landmark decision that is certainly welcomed.” said Rep. Philip Miller (D – Essex/Chester/ Deep River/Haddam). “This will enable us to protect and preserve open space property that will benefit not only people who live in the region, but all of Connecticut’s citizens, for generations to come.”

“The funding for the Preserve will allow generations to come the opportunity to enjoy some breathtaking landscape in its unencumbered state, right here in Connecticut” said Rep. Devin Carney (R), representing Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. “Many people in Old Saybrook and along the shoreline will be thrilled by the finalization of these funds. For many, it has been a long time coming – I am happy to see that all of their passion and hard work has paid off.”

“The citizens of Connecticut value the abundance of beauty within our state and want it to be protected in perpetuity,” said Rep. Jesse MacLachlan (R), representing Clinton, Westbrook and Killingworth.  “It’s wonderful to see that we are making it a top priority to preserve the natural beauty and rural character of towns along the shoreline. Only through initiatives like these can our state’s rural areas obtain the true protection they need for years to come. I’d also like to express my sincere gratitude to all parties involved in seeing this come to fruition.”

Other Facts about The Preserve

Voters in Old Saybrook authorized the town to provide $3 million in funding to purchase a portion of The Preserve located in Old Saybrook and a small piece in Westbrook. The Trust for Public has also raised an estimated $1.2 million to cover the final portion of funding for the purchase, and the Essex Land Trust has agreed to purchase 70 acres of land in Essex that is a portion of The Preserve with the help of a $471,250 open space grant from DEEP.

One of the numerous vernal pools found in The Preserve.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

One of the numerous vernal pools found in The Preserve. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

The Preserve consists of approximately 1,000 acres of land along Long Island Sound in three towns: 926 acres in Old Saybrook; 71 acres in Essex; and four acres in Westbrook. The Preserve includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, more than 3,100 linear feet of watercourses, high quality coastal forest, and an Atlantic White Cedar swamp.

The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a critical refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles. In all, more than 100 species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds thrive on this property, some of which are state-listed species of special concern and others of which are declining in other areas of the state.

In addition to its recreational and habitat resources, The Preserve provides important water quality benefits to residents.  Surface waters on the property drain to three different watersheds: the Oyster River, Mud River and Trout Brook, as they make their way to Long Island Sound.  The protection of The Preserve will ensure that storm water on the site is recharged to local aquifers.  An aquifer protection area is located just east of the Preserve and supplies an average of 200,000 gallons per day of drinking water to Old Saybrook and surrounding communities.

The Preserve also offers benefits for coastal resiliency in the face of climate change, and conservation of it will ensure lessened storm water impacts from hurricanes and other intense storms. The Preserve acts act as a sponge for storm water, releasing it slowly into the tributaries and rivers that lead to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, protecting downstream property owners from flooding.

Editor’s Note: This article was prepared directly from a press release issued by the House Republican Office.

Welcome, Felix Kloman: Our Newest Columnist

Felix Kloman

Felix Kloman

We are delighted to welcome a new columnist to our ranks today. Felix Kloman will be writing book reviews under the column title of “Reading Uncertainly” and we are pleased to publish his first review in a separate article today.

Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction that explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there.

For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farms Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings.

His wife, Ann, is also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a bubbling village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visit every summer. Her characters also explore the world, causing murders or tripping over bodies in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Stockholm, Sweden, Hamilton, Bermuda, Newport, R.I., Bainbridge Island, Wa., and, believe it or not, Old Lyme, Conn.

He can be reached at fkloman@aol.com.

Reading Uncertainly? Book Review of “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert

The_Sixth_ExtinctionRats!  Is there a real possibility that rats may be the species that survives the human race?  Elizabeth Kolbert suggests such an outcome in her engrossing perambulation around this modest earth on which we live, since we may well be living at the start of the “Sixth Extinction.”

Science tells us the earth has experienced five earlier “extinctions,” when many living creatures, small and large, disappeared because of a major change in the earth’s constitution or because of an errant asteroid.  But these five occurred approximately 450, 375, 250, 200 and 60 million years ago, in a universe that is 13.5 billion years old.

So we are minute upstarts on this planet.  But, as a thinking and intensely curious species, we’ve tried to understand that long past, plus our present and a most uncertain future.

Kolbert’s question: are we creating our own Sixth Extinction?

Like Pogo, she suggests “the cataclysm is us!”  “Since the start of the industrial revolution,” she writes, “humans have burned through enough fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—to add some 365 billion metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere.  Deforestation has contributed another 180 billion tons.  Each year we throw up another nine billion tons or so . . . . The concentration of carbon dioxide in the air today . . . is higher than at any other point in the last eight hundred thousand years. . . . It is expected that such an increase will produce an eventual average global temperature rise of between three and a half and seven degrees Fahrenheit . . . (triggering) the disappearance of most remaining glaciers, the inundation of low-lying islands and coastal cities, and the melting of the Arctic ice cap.”

Then add to that “ocean acidification.”

We know that all species on this planet are interdependent, but are humans also an “invasive species?” Yes, we seem to be collective problem solvers (much like ants, according to E. O. Wilson) but we seem to be unable to solve our biggest problem: us!  “Though it might be nice to imagine there was once a time when men lived in harmony with nature, it is not clear he ever did!”

Is it possible, then, as Kolbert suggests, “ . . . a hushed hundred million years from now, all that we consider to be the great works of man – the sculptures and the libraries, the monuments and the museums, the cities and the factories – will all be compressed into a layer of sediment not much thicker than a cigarette paper?”

Kolbert visits locations all around this earth – some 11 countries – very much like Alan Weisman’s research for his Countdown, exploring current rates of extinction.  One is on an island in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, looking at the erosion of coral.  Another is the decline of bats in the eastern United States.  Still another is the Panamanian golden frog.  Together, she says, they indicate we are a part of the Anthropocene epoch, during which we may well become extinct.

This is a sobering analysis of current practices and signs.  She acknowledges the possibility that “human ingenuity will outrun any disaster that human ingenuity sets in motion.”  But I’m left with the likelihood that our friend the rat, who has hitchhiked to almost every piece of this earth with us, and who successfully scavenges our debris, may survive us.  As Ratty pronounced, in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (my paraphrase), “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing —  half so much worth doing as simply messing about with humans.”

Her book is “one of 2014’s best” according to The Economist.

HFK_headshot_2005_284x331About the author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer.  He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008).  A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction that explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history.  But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farms Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings.  His wife, Ann, is also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a bubbling village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visit every summer.

Carney Assigned to Legislative Committees for 2015 Session

OLD SAYBROOK — State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) will serve on three committees during the 2015 legislative session.

Carney has been assigned to the legislature’s committees on Environment, Transportation as well as Higher Education and Employment Advancement. His two-year term began Jan. 7.

“Carney will make an excellent addition to these committees, I am confident that he will serve the House Republican caucus with distinction,” said state Rep. Themis Klarides, incoming House Republican Leader. “Committee members serve as our eyes and ears when it comes to developing important legislation.”

Carney commented, “I look forward to representing the 23rd District on committees of such great importance as Environment, Transportation and Higher Education and Employment Advancement. The 23rd District is like no other with its scenic beauty and I want to ensure that both residents and tourists are able to enjoy it for generations to come. Transportation is a priority to many folks across the district and I will work extremely hard to try and repair our broken infrastructure.”

He continued, “Finally, I believe it’s time for my generation to step up and start taking the lead towards restoring our prosperity in an area that has affected it, higher education. Working to ensure we have a diverse, skilled workforce, aligned with available jobs, is part of the bigger picture of boosting our economy and preventing the further exodus of our youth.”

The Environment Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Environmental Protection, including conservation, recreation, pollution control, fisheries and game, state parks and forests, water resources, and all matters relating to the Department of Agriculture, including farming, dairy products and domestic animals.

The Transportation Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Transportation, including highways and bridges, navigation, aeronautics, mass transit and railroads; and to the State Traffic Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to (A) the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Office of Higher Education, and (B) public and independent institutions of higher education, private occupational schools, post-secondary education, job training institutions and programs, apprenticeship training programs and adult job training programs offered to the public by any state agency or funded in whole or in part by the state.

“Committee rooms are where the laws of our state are outlined and where we can achieve the best for the people of the state of Connecticut,” Klarides said.

Essex Winter Series Presents Four Concerts in 2015

Essex Winter Series (EWS) will present four diverse and exciting concerts in 2015, including two programs of classical chamber music, a concert of jazz from the early part of the twentieth century, and — for the first time — a world-renowned chamber chorus. Programmed by EWS artistic director Mihae Lee and newly-appointed Jazz Impresario Jeff Barnhart, these concerts offer world-class performing artists and an impressive array of styles and genres.

Three concerts, all Sundays at 3 p.m., follow the season opener on Jan. 11. The Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert on Feb. 8 at Valley Regional High School will feature Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.  On March 1,  Chanticleer, “ An Orchestra of Voices” will perform a program entitled “The Gypsy in My Soul” at Old Saybrook High School. The final concert, on March 29 at Valley Regional High School, will be an exciting program of piano trios, with Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee, violinist Chee-Yun and cellist Julie Albers.

StringFest2 is co-sponsored by Guilford Savings Bank and Essex Meadows.

All tickets to EWS concerts are general admission. Individual tickets are $35; four-concert subscriptions are $120, which represents a $20 saving over the single-ticket price for four concerts. Tickets may be purchased on the EWS website,www.essexwinterseries.com, or by calling 860-272-4572.

 

 

Playhouse’s Hubbard Joins WWI Xmas Eve Truce Centennial Celebration in Europe

Xmas_Eve_football_game_335KB

World War I soldiers transport an injured comrade.

World War I nurses prepare to tend the injured.

World War I nurses prepare to tend the injured.

ESSEX – Ivoryton Playhouse Executive Director Jacqueline Hubbard and her daughters recently took a memorable trip to Europe.

The three of them spent Christmas in Belgium visiting the battlefields of Ypres where they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the extraordinary Christmas Eve Truce, which was observed during World War I in 1914.

As happened in 1914 and 100 years later memorialized in a  2014 Christmas advertisement made by the British grocery chain of J.Sainsbury, a soccer game was played in Ypres in costumes from the war period.

Hubbard notes, “It was an incredibly moving experience.”

She also shared with ValleyNewNow a link to a story that was written by a journalist for an Aberdeen newspaper that accompanied Hubbard and her daughters on the tour. https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/uk/440689/video-watch-re-enactment
-christmas-day-truce-football-match/

View the J. Sainsbury advertisement below:

Carney Sworn in, Prepares for First Term as State Representative

State Representative Devin Carney takes his place in the House on Opening Day of the new session.

State Representative Devin Carney takes his place in the House on Opening Day of the new session.

HARTFORD — State Representative Devin Carney (R-23) was sworn in today  as state representative for the 23rd General Assembly District covering Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

Carney was among 19 other Republican freshmen who vowed to serve their districts over a two-year term. Carney states he is committed to reducing the expense of government and making our state a better place to live and do business in.

“I am eager to step into my new role as the voice in Hartford for the people of the 23rd District. There is much work to be done in order to bolster our economy and make Connecticut a more affordable and desirable place to live in and do business. I will focus on stimulating job growth, preventing burdensome unfunded mandates on the towns of the 23rd, and improving our transportation infrastructure. We must create a state that folks, particularly our youth, want to move to because we have opportunity, and one in which our seniors can afford to retire,” said Rep. Carney.

For the 2015-2017 legislative session, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides appointed Carney to serve on the Environment Committee, Transportation Committee and Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee.

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Representative Devin Carney     (R-23rd)

Rep. Carney took the oath of office and was sworn in by Secretary of State Denise Merrill on Wednesday afternoon in the State House Chamber. He then participated in a Joint Convention of both the House of Representatives and Senate as Gov. Dannel Malloy addressed lawmakers about the 2015 Session.

The Environment Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Environmental Protection, including conservation, recreation, pollution control, fisheries and game, state parks and forests, water resources, and all matters relating to the Department of Agriculture, including farming, dairy products and domestic animals.

The Transportation Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Transportation, including highways and bridges, navigation, aeronautics, mass transit and railroads; and to the State Traffic Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to (A) the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Office of Higher Education, and (B) public and independent institutions of higher education, private occupational schools, post-secondary education, job training institutions and programs, apprenticeship training programs and adult job training programs offered to the public by any state agency or funded in whole or in part by the state.

State Rep. Devin Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District, which comprises the towns of  Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and the southern portion of Westbrook.

Miller Appointed House Chair of Planning & Development Committee

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller (File photo)

HARTFORD — State Representative Phil Miller (D-Essex/Chester/ Deep River/Haddam) has been chosen to serve as House Chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Planning and Development Committee by House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden).

Rep. Miller replaces Rep. Auden Grogins of Bridgeport, who was nominated to the State Superior Court, and is leaving the legislature.

The Planning and Development Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to local governments, housing, urban renewal, fire, sewer and metropolitan districts, home rule and planning and zoning; regional planning and development activities and the State Plan of Conservation and Development, and economic development programs impacting local governments.

“I am honored to have been appointed House Chair of the Planning and Development Committee by House Speaker Sharkey,” Rep. Miller said. “I look forward to serving on the Speaker’s leadership team as we develop an agenda that affects matters relating to local governments and our cities and towns.”

“The Planning & Development Committee plays a critical role as to the state’s relationship with its municipalities, and Rep. Miller not only brings his state legislative experience to his new role as chair, but his valuable experience as a former first selectman of his home town,” said Speaker Sharkey, a former chair of the Planning & Development Committee himself.

Rep. Miller was first elected in 2011 in a special election. He represents the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam.

Harpist Leitner Welcomes New Year Over Lunchtime at FloGris Museum Today

Faith Leitner will play her harp at the Florence Griswold Museum tomorrow.

Faith Leitner will play her harp at the Florence Griswold Museum today.

The sounds of yesteryear will welcome the new year today, Wednesday, Dec. 31, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme.

Faith Leitner will play a variety of songs filling the Krieble Galleries  with the heavenly sounds of the harp, which was one of Miss Florence’s favored instruments.

This event is included with Museum admission.

For more information, visit www.florencegriswoldmuseum.org

Simple, Real Food: A Favorite New Year’s Eve Feast

Coconut shrimp and pineapple dipping sauce

Coconut shrimp with pineapple dipping sauce

The holidays are almost over and winter is now in full swing. Time for entertaining and planning what to make for New Year’s. I for one, do not love New Year’s Eve (does anyone over a certain age?) but my husband and I often make a gourmet meal and have a really good bottle of champagne (Veuve Clicquot, anyone?) and enjoy a quiet, cozy evening at home.

I have many entertaining menus up my sleeve and focus heavily on appetizers as they are so creative and fun to eat.

Here is a sample of one such menu that is sure to make your guests or maybe just your significant other happy.

This recipe can be cut in half as well as frozen, both the shrimp and the sauce freeze well.  If you  decide to make this ahead and freeze the shrimp, do not defrost, simply drop them into the hot oil.

Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Dipping Sauce

Serves 12

Ingredients

1 cup flour

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cayenne

3 to 4 egg whites, lightly beaten

2 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, de-veined, butter-flied

2 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Dipping sauce:

1/4 cup canned pineapple, drained

1 scallion, white part only, thinly sliced

2 Tb. apricot preserves

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

1 Tb. lime juice

1/2 jalapeno, chopped

Salt

Procedure

1. Combine the flour, salt and cayenne on a flat baking sheet. Place the egg whites and coconut on two separate baking sheets. Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, then the whites, then in the coconut. Press the coconut onto the shrimp. Chill for at least an hour.

2. Heat the oven to 200. In a medium saucepan heat the oil until moderately hot but not smoking. Working in batches, fry the shrimp until golden about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.

3. In a processor combine the pineapple, scallions, apricot preserves, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno and salt to taste. Process until blended and taste, adjust seasoning.

4. Serve the shrimp on a platter with the sauce in a small serving dish.

 

Burrata on Crostini with Caramelized Shallots and Bacon

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced shallots

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tb. brown sugar

1 baguette

12 slices applewood- smoked bacon

1½ pounds burrata, sliced into 12 slices

extra virgin olive oil

parsley, chiffonade

Fresh pepper

Procedure

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and sauté for about 5 minutes stirring often. Add the balsamic and brown sugar and simmer the shallots until the bottom of the pan is dry about 6 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oven to 400. Slice the bread into ¼ inch slices and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with the garlic clove. Toast for about 8 to 10 minutes until golden.
  3. Cook the bacon on a rack on a baking sheet in the oven until down but not crisp about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Cut in half.
  4. Place a slice of burrata on each crostini, then a piece of bacon and then a spoonful of the shallots. Drizzle with the extra virgin oil and then grind some pepper over each one before serving, garnish with parsley chiffonade.

 

Pan-Roasted Duck Breasts with Port Wine and Balsamic Glaze

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1/2 whole duck breast per person

Salt, pepper

2 shallots, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup Tawny port

1 cup chicken stock

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tb. honey

Procedure

  1. Heat the oven to 450.
  2. Score the fat on the duck and season the meat side with salt and pepper. Heat a medium cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium high heat. Sear the duck skin side down until golden brown about 5 minutes. Place the duck on a rack fat side up in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cover to keep warm. Reserve the fat from the roasting pan.
  3. Heat a medium skillet and add 2 Tb. of the duck fat to the pan. Sauté the shallots and garlic for about 3 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and de-glaze, reduce the port to half and add the stock, reduce to about 2/3 cup. Add the vinegar and honey and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Remove from the heat.
  4. Slice the duck breast and arrange on a plate pour the sauce over and serve.
  • Chicken breasts can be used in place of the duck.

 

Arugula, Endive Salad with Simple Vinaigrette

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

1 bunch arugula, washed and spun dry

1 head endive, julienne

2 cups mixed greens

1 lemon, juiced or vinegar of your choice

1 Tb. Dijon mustard

3 Tb. chopped mint

1/3 to 1/2 cup virgin olive oil

Salt, pepper

Procedure

1. Combine the arugula, endive and greens in a large bowl and toss.

2. Combine the lemon, Dijon and mint in a small bowl and whisk add the oil slowly while whisking, season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Toss some of the dressing with the greens and reserve any leftover for another salad.

Amanda Cushman

Amanda Cushman

Editor’s Note: Amanda Cushman of Simple Real Food Inc., is a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for over 30 years.  She has taught corporate team building classes for over 15 years for a variety of Fortune 500 companies including Yahoo, Nike and Google.  She began her food career in the eighties and worked with Martha Stewart and Glorious Foods before becoming a recipe developer for Food and Wine magazine as well as Ladies Home Journal.  Having lived all over the United States including Boston, NYC, Miami and Los Angeles, she has recently returned to her home state of Connecticut where she continues to teach in private homes as well as write for local publications. 

Amanda teaches weekly classes at White Gate Farm and Homeworks and is also available for private classes.  Her cookbook; Simple Real Food can be ordered at Amazon as well as through her website www.amandacooks.com 

For more information, click here to visit her website.

Linares Denies Rumors of Challenge to Courtney in Next Election    

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

“I have heard the rumors,” State Representative Phil Miller told ValleyNewsNow.com in a recent interview regarding State Senator Art Linares considering a challenge to Congressman Joe Courtney in the 2016 elections. Miller noted that the 2014 elections were tough for Democrats, citing the loss of 14 State Representative seats in the statehouse. Miller also commented that he, himself, had an uphill battle to survive the Republican sweep.

Linares’ spokesman, Adam Liegeot, said, “No,” however, when asked if Linares might challenge Courtney in the next Congressional race.

Linares’ numbers in the last election were impressive. He beat his Democratic challenger, Emily Bjornberg, 22,335 to 17,046, out of a total 39,932 votes cast. The percentages were: 56 percent for Linares and 43 percent for Bjornberg. Most impressive about Republican Linares’ victory was that he won what was once considered a safe Democratic district.

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

As for Courtney in the last election, he won his fifth term in office with landslide numbers against New London real estate agent Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh. Many considered the Congressman’s challenger weak, however, and state Republicans did not appear to mount a major effort to defeat Courtney.

The Republicans already control the House of Representatives, 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats. Some might argue that if Linares were to become a member of the House Majority, he would be in a better position to help his constituents than Minority member Courtney.

In the same interview, State Representative Phil Miller also commented on what he considered the negativity of candidate Bjornberg’s recent campaign against Linares. “People around here don’t like that,” Miller said. In contrast, however, it might be noted that the winning candidate for Governor, Dan Malloy, ran highly negative TV ads charging that his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, paid no taxes, and yet Malloy went on to win in what was, unquestionably, a tough year for the Democrats.

Essex Garden Club Donates to Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

Xmas_2014_donation

Pictured packing the food for delivery to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries are Dianne Sexton and Carol Denham.

Essex Garden Club members collected non perishable food items for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) at the club’s annual festivities at Essex Meadows.  Individual members and the club also donated $1,510 to the SSKP, which will be matched by the Gowrie Challenge.

Sen. Linares: “We can’t afford more rate hikes.”

Sen. Art Linares (R-Westbrook) today sent to state regulators a list of nearly 800 people who have signed his online petition at www.senatorlinares.com in opposition to Connecticut Light & Power’s proposed service rate hike.

On Wednesday (Dec. 17), the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is expected to finalize a $7.12 increase in the average monthly bill that Connecticut Light & Power sends out to its residential customers.  The $7.12 hike would come on top of a Jan. 1 increase of $18.48, on average, for CL&P residential customers.

“As state senator, I represent 100,000 people in a region that stretches along the Connecticut River Valley from Portland south to Old Saybrook and Lyme,” Sen. Linares said.  “Hundreds of Connecticut rate payers have signed this petition because they want state regulators to deny CL&P’s proposed service rate hike.  We can’t afford more rate hikes.”

Regardless of whether rates are hiked on Wednesday, Sen. Linares urged residents to continue to email state regulators at PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov if they wish to express their concerns about rising costs.

Champions! Valley/Old Lyme Football Defy Odds to Win State Class S-Large

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!  Photo by W. Visgilio.

Congratulations to coach Tim King and his Warriors on an incredible win!

New Britain – Quarterback Chris Jean-Pierre’s four-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining rallied top-seeded Valley Regional/Old Lyme to a 21-20 victory over No. 2 Ansonia in their Class S-Large state championship football game at Willow Brook Park on Saturday morning. Click here to read the remainder of this full initial report of the game by Ned Griffin, which was published in The Day yesterday

And here’s another link to great article about the game.

And, finally, here’s Tim Devlin’s video of all Saturday’s state game highlights.

Liberty Bank Foundation Donates $5,000 to Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

From left to right, Leigh-Bette Maynard, manager of Liberty Bank’s Essex and Old Saybrook offices, Patty Dowling, Executive Director of The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, and Skip Marquardt, Raymond James Financial Services and SSKP Board of Trustee member.

From left to right, Leigh-Bette Maynard, manager of Liberty Bank’s Essex and Old Saybrook offices, Patty Dowling, Executive Director of The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, and Skip Marquardt, Raymond James Financial Services and SSKP Board of Trustee member.

The Liberty Bank Foundation has awarded a $5,000 grant to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) to support the purchase of food from the CT Food Bank.

“SSKP is so grateful for the generous support we receive from the Liberty Bank Foundation. This donation helps assures that people in need on the shoreline have a place to turn for food and fellowship.  With these funds specifically we will be able to distribute enough food at our pantries for over 13,150 meals. On behalf of all those we serve, I thank The Liberty Bank Foundation for supporting our local neighbors in need,” said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP.

“The need for services continues to be more critical than ever during the current economic conditions,” said Leigh-Bette Maynard, manager of Liberty Bank’s Essex and Old Saybrook offices.  “A need exists in every community including the Shoreline.  Liberty is proud to be a long-time supporter of Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries.”

Since its inception in 1997, the Liberty Bank Foundation has awarded almost $7.9 million in grants to nonprofit organizations within Liberty Bank’s market area.  The foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for people of low or moderate income by investing in three areas:  education to promote economic success for children and families; affordable housing; and nonprofit capacity building.  Along with its grantmaking, the foundation strives to foster the convening and collaboration of nonprofits, funders, business, and government to address community issues.

Founded in 1989, SSKP provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River.

Established in 1825, Liberty Bank is Connecticut’s oldest mutual bank, with almost $3.5 billion in assets and 48 banking offices throughout the central, eastern, and shoreline areas of the state.  As a full-service financial institution, it offers consumer and commercial banking, home mortgages, insurance, and investment services.  Rated outstanding by federal regulators on its community reinvestment efforts, Liberty maintains a longstanding commitment to superior personal service and unparalleled community involvement.

Last Day Today for Hadlyme Hall Fine Art & Crafts Show

The 12th annual Fine Art & Craft Show at Hadlyme Public Hall will be held over Thanksgiving weekend from Friday through Sunday, Nov. 28 to 30.

The event features artist Clio Newton from Madison, Conn. Festivities will include live music and hor d’oeuvres.

With a B.F.A from Cooper Union, NYC, featured artist Clio Newton has refined her skills to become one of the most sophisticated up and coming contemporary portraiture artist. She captures true to life imagery through her chosen mediums of oil and charcoal.

In 2012 she won the Elizabeth Greenshield’s Fellowship Award. She has studied locally at the Lyme Art Academy under Prof. Dunlap and Jerry Weiss and has studied at Florence Academy of Fine Arts in Italy on a Merit scholarship.

She has been commissioned by Yale University for an oil portrait of St. Anthony Hall of Presidents and by Cooper Union for a series of twelve drawings of the institution’s past presidents for a permanent instillation in their new academic building. Clio has also been featured by the Village Voice for her piece, “Cooper Union’s Giant Breast retires the Country”. Clio is available for commissioned pieces.

at_the_showAdmission for Saturday and Sunday is free. The show is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

A variety of artists — many local — will be exhibiting mixed media, holiday home décor, photography, oil and watercolor paintings, stoneware, wood carvings, jewelry, pottery, and sculpture.

All the artists have been asked to prepare “Small Wonders” in order to be able to offer some pieces that are affordable for all and suitable for holiday gift lists.

A full listing of the artists exhibiting is given below:

NAME Style
Laurie Gelston Alt Ceramic sculpture, ocarinas, jewlery, painitngs
Lesley Braren Oils, watercolors, monotypes
Skip Broom Photographs
Ashby Carlisle Ceramic bowls, plates, and functional containers
Claudia Cormier Dried flowers, shell wreaths, and arrangements, pastels
David Courant All exotic wood cheese boards, knives, spoons, utensils
Jeff Demarest Wood sculptured birds -folk art, impressionistic, ultra realism
Linda Elgart Enhanced giclees and original rooster oils
Marc Evankow Stone birdbaths and bowls
Marcy Furphy Handmade goat’s milk soap, lip balm, lotion sticks, soy candles
Sue Gallagher Handmade jewlery using fine silver, gem stones, artisan lampwork, found objects
Charlotte Gelston Hand knit shawls, throws, Afghan and sweaters in Aran style
Maureen Girard Mixed media
Matthew Goldman Art, prints,books and cards
Paula Goldman Face creams, saves, teas, sachets, jam
Hadlyme Hall Garden Club Pecans
Bud Haines Realistic handcarved and painted wild fowl
Bonnie LeMay Oils, watercolors, cards, jewerly
Jill Beecher Matthew Palette knife oil paintings
Paul Maulucci Wooden bowls and art forms from found wood
Thomas McLean Oil paintings
Clio Newton Oils on wood panels, charcoal drawings
Juliet Rutigliano Eclectic jewerly for the classically modern
Maureen Tarbox Oils, watercolors, notecards, minature oils
Carol Watson Equine and abstract mixed media and collage pieces, photo notecards feather artwork, acrylic
Christopher Zhang Oils

For further information, click here.

Carney Cruises to Victory in 23rd District Republican Convention

Devin Carney

Devin Carney

Devin Carney, Republican candidate for State Representative, won the 23rd District Convention by a vote of 10-4. His campaign was able to earn unanimous support from Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. This included votes from the Lyme First Selectman, Ralph Eno, the Old Saybrook First Selectman, Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., and the current State Representative for the 23rd District, Marilyn Giuliano, who also gave Carney his nominating speech and has endorsed him.

In a statement, Giuliano said, “I believe Devin will work for all of us with energy and integrity, and with an interest not in politics, but public service.” Giuliano lost her convention in 2002 by onlytwo votes on a second ballot vote after the first vote failed to determine a winner by majority, but defeated her opponent in a primary due to her showing in her hometown of Old Saybrook.

In addition to the support at convention, Carney has received support from each town – which can be seen through his strong fundraising effort. He collected 95 donations from Old Saybrook, 57 from Old Lyme, 35 from Westbrook, and 18 from Lyme.

Carney stated, “The results at convention were a testament to the hard work I’ve put in these past few months and to the confidence the delegates have in me to win in November. I bring new, fresh ideas to the table and can’t wait to get up to Hartford to offer some much-needed common sense. I am not your typical politician, but rather a regular person just trying to fix our economy, get jobs back in Connecticut, and help rejuvenate the Republican Party in this state.”

He continued, “Most importantly, I believe the people of the 23rd District deserve a representative who understands the unique issues in each of the four towns. While I live in Old Saybrook, my family is from Westbrook, my mother lives in Lyme, and my longtime girlfriend lives in Old Lyme with her children. I have a personal stake in each town and will be a representative for all; the people of the 23rd deserve nothing less.”

For more information about Carney’s campaign, contact Melissa Bonner at carneyfor23pr@gmail.com.

Revitalizing Historic Main Streets and Village Centers – Essex Town Presentation

The Town of Essex invites you to a presentation & discussion by  Connecticut Main Street Center on Tuesday, October 29 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Elementary School Cafeteria.

The most successful downtowns and village centers encourage citizens to be engaged in helping to determine the future of their communities.  Over 2,000 communities throughout the United States utilize the Main Street Approach™ to create revitalization strategies – engaging citizens in creating and implementing their visions.

CT Main Street Center staff will present the history of the Main Street program and how it works in Connecticut, and will share common issues encountered by many CT Main Street Communities – as well as success stories from across the state.  A generous Q & A session will follow.  Together, we will learn how to take this proven approach and make it work in our historic Village Centers.

We encourage you to be part of this community conversation!

For more information, contact:

Susan Malan, Essex Economic Development Consultant – smalan@essexct.gov   860-767-4340 x 220

John Guszkowski, Essex Planning Consultant – planner@essexct.gov

Susan Westa, Community Engagement Director, CT Main Street Center – susan.westa@nu.com

Essex Selectmen to Consider Acquiring Half of Perry Property that Abuts Town Hall

ESSEX— The town will consider a $200,000 purchase of the back section of the Perry property that abuts the town hall property on West Avenue. First Selectman Norman Needleman announced the potential acquisition at the board’s meeting Wednesday, with the selectmen expected to discuss the offer further at a Nov. 6 meeting.

The property at 27 West Avenue is part of the estate of Eileen Perry, a longtime resident who died in June. The front section of the property contains a historic house, while the back section is undeveloped land that abuts the town hall site. Needleman said private discussions with Brad Perry, a son and an executor of the estate, has led to an offer to split the property and sell the town six-to-seven-tenths of an acre from the back section for $200,000. The property also abuts to the east the Pratt House property that is owned by the Essex Historical Society.

The entire property, including the house, is assessed at $623,100 on the current grand list, a figure that represents about 70 percent of fair market value. Needleman said Perry sponsored an appraisal that valued a permanent easement for the back section of the parcel at $200,000.

But Needleman said he was not interested in an easement, and convinced Perry agreed to offer an outright sale of the property for that price. “I think this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to expand the town hall property,” he said, while adding there are no immediate plans for use of the parcel..

The purchase would require approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting, along with a variance from the zoning board of appeals to allow a split of the property. The selectmen deferred a vote on the acquisition Wednesday after Selectman Joel Marzi suggested the full three-member board should be on hand to vote on any land acquisitions. Selectwoman Stacia Libby was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

Essex Zoning Board of Appeals Considers Expansion of Essex Court Elderly Housing

ESSEX— The zoning board of appeals has scheduled an Oct. 15 public hearing on an appeal for 12 variances needed for a planned 22-unit expansion of the Essex Court elderly housing complex in the Centerbrook section. The board will convene at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The applicant for the variances is Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., a subgroup formed by the Essex Housing Authority to pursue a long-planned expansion of the existing 36 unit elderly housing complex at 16 Main St. The group received a $250,000 state Department of Housing grant over the summer for planning and design of the proposed development that would be located on a one-acre town-owned parcel in the back area of the complex. The plans call for 22 units on three floors, similar to the design of the Kirtland Commons elderly housing in Deep River.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the current design plan would require 12 variances of zoning regulations, beginning with a variance of a height requirement that limits new multi-dwelling structures in Essex to two floors. The project also needs variances for the minimum acreage, minimum unit size, and storage requirements of the regulations, along with variances of setback requirements.

Budrow said the project would also need approval from the zoning commission, though the commission will not schedule a public hearing on a special permit application until after the wastewater disposal system for the development receives approval from the health department.

Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc. is currently seeking federal and state funding for construction of the new units, with local zoning approvals expected to aid in the effort to secure funding. The existing 36-unit Essex Court elderly housing complex opened in 1985, with several grant-funded upgrades and improvements completed at the complex in recent years.

TTYS Suicide Prevention Work-group Developing Prevention Strategies

The Suicide Prevention Workgroup L-R: Claire Walsh, Megan McDowell, Kevin Brewer, Cate Bourke, Brad Pitman, Gail Onofrio, Rev. Timothy Haut, David Fitzgibbons, Chester First Selectman Ed Meehan.  Absent from photo: Melissa Haines

The Suicide Prevention Work-group L-R: Claire Walsh, Megan McDowell, Kevin Brewer, Cate Bourke, Brad Pitman, Gail Onofrio, Rev. Timothy Haut, David Fitzgibbons, Chester First Selectman Ed Meehan. Absent from photo: Melissa Haines

The members of the Suicide Prevention Work-group have recently received training in Suicide Prevention and are developing strategies to raise awareness throughout the communities of Chester, Deep River, and Essex that suicide can be prevented.

The group has received funding through the Greater Valley Substance Abuse Action Council and will promote the campaign, “1 Word, 1 Voice, 1 Life.  Be the 1 to start the conversation.”  For more information, please go to preventsuicidect.org.

Essex Town Meeting Approves 2013-2014 Town Projects Building Committee

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Monday approved the formation of a building committee to develop and implement several infrastructure projects that are expected to be presented to voters for a bonding authorization early next year. Six residents turned out to approve the formation of the 2013-2014 Building Committee and the appointment of its first three members on unanimous voice votes with little discussion.

The initial three appointments to what is planned as a five-member building committee are town finance director Kelly Sterner, Leigh Rankin, and Bruce Glowac. Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer, is an uncontested candidate for Region 4 Board of education in the Nov. 5 election. Glowac, a former first selectman, has served as director of facilities for Region 4 schools since 1999.

Glowac is also the uncontested Republican nominee for an open seat on the board of selectmen in the Nov. 5 vote. Glowac is expected to begin a new term on the board of selectmen, where he served as a selectman and first selectman in the early 1990s, when the new two-year term begins in mid-November.

The first task for the building committee will be working with the board of selectmen to hire an engineering firm to prepare detailed cost estimates for various priority projects that would be used to establish an amount for the proposed bond authorization. The current list of priority projects includes replacement of sections of the Essex Elementary School roof, and replacement of two bridges in the Ivoryton section.

Selectman Joel Marzi told voters Monday the early formation of a building committee would allow the town to begin work on an application for state funding assistance that would be available for the school roof project. A formal building committee is required for seeking state funding reimbursement for school building projects.

Marzi noted that Glowac has experience with this process from serving as Region 4 director of facilities during the Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School renovation and expansion projects that were completed in 2005. The town could also seek partial state funding reimbursement for the two bridge replacement projects.

The existing three-member building committee is expected to hold its first meeting later this month, with the board of selectmen expected to discuss the process for hiring an engineering consultant at its Oct. 16 meeting. After the make up and amount of the proposed infrastructure projects bond issue is established, the plan would be presented to voters at one or more public hearings before any town vote on a bonding authorization.

Health Care Reform – What You Need to Know Now!

Open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act begins on Oct. 1. What do you need to know about the program and how will it affect you? Randi Redmond Oster, an independent health care advocate, reports that there is “not all good news, but it isn’t all bad either.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, Oster will be presenting two free programs, sponsored by the Valley Shore Public Libraries, to answer such questions as: What are the top ten changes I need to know about? How much will the new insurance cost? Will I qualify for the health insurance premium subsidies? What is the penalty if I don’t purchase insurance? Does my employer need to offer me insurance? Does my Medicare supplement change?

An afternoon program on Oct. 22 will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Acton Library in Old Saybrook. An evening program will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House. The programs are open to all at no charge. More information is available through your public library.

Newman Named New Executive Director at Lyme Art Association

The Lyme Art Association’s (LAA) Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Joseph F. Newman as Executive Director of the LAA, effective Oct. 1. Newman will be replacing Susan Ballek, who has accepted the position of Director and CEO of the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT.

Currently, Newman owns a private firm specializing in American fine art and rare book collection management, and serves as managing partner of Treasure Hill Farm, eastern Connecticut’s 97-acre premier equestrian facility.

Newman was previously responsible for new client development and sales for a major American auction house, as well as a prominent New York City gallery. His fine art career originated in Old Lyme, where he served as director of the Cooley Gallery, responsible for development, sales, and research. Newman received his Bachelor of Arts degrees from Boston College, graduating magna cum laude, and he holds an ALM from Harvard University. Writing as J. F. Newman, he is also the author of The Freeman’s Oath, a novel about the inside world of American rare books and documents.

“For the past two years, Joe Newman has been actively engaged in the Lyme Art Association as a board member, serving on committees dealing with exhibitions planning, development, and the launching of our Second Century Capital Campaign,” says LAA Board President Katherine Simmons. “His enthusiasm and commitment for the mission and values of the LAA, combined with his strong background in the arts and results-oriented style, is a perfect match for the Association’s goals as we embark on our next century of advancing the Lyme tradition of exceptional representational art.”

“The legacy of the Lyme Art Association and its founding artists is extremely important, both for our region and its role in our national art history,” says Newman. “Together with an outstanding and dedicated Board of Directors, I am excited to help lead the LAA and its Second Century Capital Campaign. When complete, the Campaign will strengthen the Association’s standing as an art destination for patrons from throughout the Northeast and beyond, and will improve the LAA’s mission to serve as an educational resource for local artists, schools, and the public. I welcome the community to join us as we embark on an exciting second century.”

The LAA invites its members, friends, and patrons to meet Joe Newman at the Opening Reception of the New England Landscape Invitational Exhibition, to be held on Friday, Oct. 4, from 6 to 8. pm.

The Lyme Art Association was incorporated in 1914 by members of the Lyme Art Colony, which included the American Impressionist masters Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, William Chadwick, and more. These nationally-recognized artists embraced the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme as pastoral havens to paint, re-kindle their creative energies, and, via the Association’s celebrated exhibitions, sell their work. Architect Charles A. Platt, designer of the Freer Art Gallery in Washington, D.C and the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London, CT, drafted the plans for the Lyme Art Association Gallery, designed specifically to showcase the art of its founders. The gallery opened in 1921.

Nearly a hundred years later, the Lyme Art Association continues to be a vibrant art center dedicated to producing major exhibitions of representational art in its four light-filled galleries. Annually these exhibitions feature over 2,000 pieces of artwork for exhibition and sale. The Association also offers a busy schedule of affordable art classes, workshops, and lectures. The Lyme Art Association, together with the Florence Griswold Museum, the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, and the Cooley Gallery, helps make Old Lyme the place where American art lives. The Lyme Art Association is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit the LAA online at www.lymeartassociation.org, or contact 860-434-7802 or info@lymeartassociation.org.

Town Meeting Approval Required for New Essex Projects Building Committee

ESSEX— Approval from a town meeting is required for the new 2013-2014 town projects building committee established by the board of selectmen last week. The town meeting is scheduled for Monday at 5 p.m. in town hall.

The building committee will be charged with developing an implementing several town infrastructure projects that are expected to be funded by a bonding authorization that would go to town voters for approval early next year. A Sept. 18 town meeting approved spending $35,000 in surplus funds for hire an engineering consulting firm that would prepare detailed cost estimates for priority projects, including replacement of sections of the Essex Elementary School roof and replacement of the Ivory Street and and Walnut Street bridges in the Ivoryton section.

The cost estimates would be used to establish an amount for the bonding resolution, which would be presented to voters at one or more public hearings before any vote.

Voters Monday will be asked to approve two resolutions, one for the establishment of the “2013-2014 Building committee,”, and a second to approve the appointment of three members recommended by First Selectman Norman Needleman last week.

The proposed members are Bruce Glowac, town finance director Kelly Sterner, and Leigh Ann Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard Officer who is an uncontested candidate for Region 4 Board of Education in the Nov. 5 election. Glowac, who served as first selectman from 1991-1995, currently serves as the director of facilities for Region 4 schools.

Glowac is also the Republican nominee for an open seat on the board of selectmen in the Nov. 5 vote where Democratic First Selectman Needleman, Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby, and Glowac are uncontested for election to the board. Glowac’s term on the board of selectmen would begin in mid-November. The selectmen agreed last week to establish a five member building committee, with volunteers still being sought for the other two spots on the panel.

Land Purchase and Donation Expand Conserved Areas and Wildlife Refuge

LYME — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently partnered with The Nature Conservancy to add 66 acres of tidal marsh and coastal lands along Whalebone Cove in Lyme to the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

Announced today, this expansion of the refuge includes the purchase of 26 acres from a private landowner, along with a donation of four previously conserved properties totaling 40 acres, from the Conservancy to the Service. Together, these parcels establish the new Whalebone Cove Division of the refuge.

The Nature Conservancy negotiated the new 26-acre property purchase on behalf of the Service and made option payments over 2 ½ years to allow time for the Service to secure funding for the purchase.

The newly protected property contains approximately 2,000 feet of Connecticut River frontage and forms the southern entrance to Whalebone Cove. It features extensive high and low tidal marsh communities; steep, wooded slopes; an upland kettle-hole wetland complex; floodplain forest; upland meadows; and mature forest. Whalebone Cove features exemplary tidal marshes that host one of the largest stands of wild rice in Connecticut. It is an important wintering area for bald eagles and black ducks and a significant feeding area for migratory waterfowl.

Just south of Gillette Castle State Park in Lyme, Whalebone Cove is one of the most undisturbed and biologically significant freshwater tidal marshes on the Connecticut River. The Cove has been a longtime conservation priority of The Nature Conservancy as well as a “special focus area” for the Conte Refuge. The donated acreage was originally conserved by The Nature Conservancy more than a decade ago.

“Today, we celebrate the permanent protection from development of these precious natural areas,” said Nathan Frohling, the Conservancy’s director of Connecticut coastal and marine initiatives.

“The new acquisition, combined with the parcels the Conservancy is now donating, will build on a legacy of conservation here and in the Lower Connecticut River. The Conte Refuge represents an important new and trusted partner in achieving a larger conservation vision for Whalebone Cove. The Service’s role was key to making the purchase possible, and with it 80 percent of this freshwater tidal marsh site is now protected,” Frohling said.

“This acquisition would not have been possible without the Service’s close partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the continued support from the Congressional Delegation and the Administration,” said Andrew French, project leader at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. “Now, we look forward to collaborating with local residents and our partners in being good stewards of this land and good neighbors with those who live in the area.”

Connecticut leaders this week expressed their support for the refuge.

“I commend the Nature Conservancy for their longstanding commitment to preserving vital natural habitats in Connecticut and nationwide. This partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve 26 acres of beautiful and environmentally-precious land deserves to be applauded and replicated,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal. “I will continue to work alongside advocates to ensure that our valuable habitats are protected and treasured for generations to come.”

“This project is a testament to the incredible power of the Land and Water Conservation Fund when it comes to completing high-value conservation acquisitions,” said Senator Chis Murphy. “Unspoiled tidal lands are a rarity in heavily-developed states like ours, and this parcel will be a valuable addition to the Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge.”

“The Connecticut River is an ecological treasure, and this project will help to protect it for generations to come,” said Representative Joe Courtney, of Connecticut’s 2nd District, which includes Lyme. “I applaud the Nature Conservancy for their work to secure this parcel of undeveloped land, and their commitment to protecting our state’s natural landscape.”

Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve native plants, animals and their habitats in the 7.2 million acre Connecticut River watershed that stretches across four states. It is the only refuge in the country dedicated to a river’s entire watershed. The refuge works to protect land, form partnerships with citizens to foster conservation efforts, educate the public, and pass on the importance of the watershed to future generations.

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

 

Bids are High for Essex Town Hall Campus Project

ESSEX-– The bids have come in high for the Essex Town Hall Civic Campus project that is to be funded by a $471,500 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant. Four bids for the project were opened on Aug. 8.

All of the bids exceeded the amount of the grant the town was awarded late last year. The bids ranged from a price of $594,832 from B&W Paving of Oakdale to a high bid of $795,971 from Running Brook Construction of Killingworth. The second lowest price was a bid of $638,113 from Xenelis Construction Inc. of Middlefield, a company that has done work for the town previously.

The project calls for repaving and expanding of the town hall parking lot, new tennis courts and a new handicapped accessible play scape for the abutting Grove Street Park. There would also be new crosswalks and sidewalks and other improvements to Grove Street intended to enhance the connections between town hall and the Essex Library, which has its main entrance on the other side of Grove Street.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said Tuesday he is optimistic some components of the project can be adjusted to establish a final price that is more in line with the grant amount. “We think we can come in close,” he said.

Needleman noted that while the bid specifications includes extensive paving work, the town can secure a lower price for paving materials through a state price contract that is available to cities and towns. He said some of the work could be done by the town public works crew, allowing for removal of some project components from the bid price.

Needleman said he would work with Public Works Director David Caroline to negotiate possible changes to the bids, with a focus on the two lowest bidders, B&W Paving and Xenelis Construction. Needleman said he is hopeful a contract could be awarded early next month to allow construction to begin this fall for completion before the start of the winter season .

Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith Unopposed for 13th term, Republican Caucus sets up Contests for Board of Finance, Region 4 School Board

DR-Selectman-580x435

First Selectman Richard Smith

DEEP RIVER– Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith will run unopposed this fall for the third straight town election, but party nominating caucuses have set up Nov. 5 contests for two seats on the board of finance and a seat on the Region 4 Board of Education.

Town Republicans nominated no candidate for first selectman at the party caucus, with the seven party members at the caucus discussing a possible cross-endorsement of Smith for a record 13th term in the top job.

Long-time Town Treasurer Tom Lindner and Republican Town Chairman Greg Alexander, who sparred with Smith while serving on the board of finance in the 1990s, each said Smith has “done a good job in Deep River.”

Lindner said a cross-endorsement, giving Smith both the Republican and Democratic lines, could help Republican candidates in any contested races. But the caucus decided to make no cross endorsements, with some members noting town Democrats had declined to cross endorse  Linder and incumbent Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell for new terms.

Republicans nominated incumbent Selectman David Oliveria for a third term on the board of selectmen. Barring any unexpected petition candidates, the 2013-2015 board of selectmen  is certain to be comprised of Smith, one-term incumbent Democratic Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., and Oliveria. Republicans nominated Winchell, who was first elected in 2009, and Lindner, for new terms, with no candidate nominated to challenge two-term Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani.

Republicans nominated two candidates for board of finance, Douglas Nagan and John Wichtowski, who works as a chemist for Pfizer Corp. They will compete for the two open board seats with incumbent Democrat Lori Guerette and Russell Marth. Incumbent  Democrat Carmella Balducci is unopposed for a two-year vacancy term on the finance board.

Republicans nominated James Olson for Region 4 Board of Education. Olson is completing a term on the local school board that supervises Deep River Elementary School. Olson is in a contest with Democrat Jane Cavanaugh for the seat now held by departing Region 4 Board Chairwoman Linda Hall.

Republicans nominated Nelle Andrew and Michelle Grow for uncontested election to the local board of education. Douglas Dopp was nominated for a seat ion the board of assessment appeals, with incumbent Donald Routh and Patricias Unan nominated for library board of trustees.

Smith said Wednesday he is pleased with the chance to run unopposed for a new two-year term “I appreciate it,” he said, adding “everybody is working together and the results speak for themselves.” Smith was unopposed for re-election in 2009 and 2011, facing his last challenge for the top job in 2007 from a candidate running on the Deep River Independent Party line. Smith was also uncontested by town Republicans in 1995 and 1999.

Chester Democrat and Republican Slates Set Uncontested Fall Election

CHESTER— Town Democrats and Republicans have nominated slates that set up a Nov. 5 election ballot with no contested positions. Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan is unopposed for a second term in the top job.

Party caucuses last week nominated slates with numerous incumbents, while the positioning of candidates for full and partial vacancy terms provides for no direct contests on the ballot. Meehan moves toward a second term with two-term incumbent Democratic Selectman Lawrence Sypher as his running mate for board of selectmen. Republicans nominated incumbent Selectman Tom Englert for a third term, with no candidate for first selectman. Uncontested elections for the board of selectmen have occurred previously in Chester, with former Democratic First Selectman Martin Heft running unopposed in 1997, 1999, and 2003.

Democrats and Republicans each cross-endorsed incumbent Town Clerk Debra Calamari and incumbent Tax Collector Madaline Meyer for new terms. Calamari was first elected as town clerk in 1989. Democrats nominated incumbent Town Treasurer Elizabeth Netch for a new term, with Republicans nominating no candidate for the position.

Democrats nominated incumbent David  Cohen for a full six-year term on the board of finance, with incumbent Richard Nygard nominated for a full term as board of finance alternate. Republicans nominated appointed incumbent Charles Park for a full term on the board of finance, with Alexander Strekel nominated for a four-year vacancy term as board of finance alternate. There are two full member finance board seats on the fall ballot.

Democrats nominated incumbent Henry Krempel for a new term on the planning and zoning commission, with Republicans nominating incumbents Melvin Seifert and Doreen Joslow for the commission. Democrats nominated former Selectman Peter Zanardi for a four-year vacancy term on the planning and zoning commission.

While there are two Region 4 Board of Education seats on the ballot, two incumbents elected at a December 2011 town meeting to fill vacancies, are unopposed to continue on the board. Republicans nominated incumbent Mario Gioco for a full six-year terms, with Democrats nominating incumbent Ann Monaghan for a two-year vacancy term. Democrats nominated Arthur Henick and Robert Bibbiani for the local board of education, with Republicans nominating incumbents Ashley Marsh and Shaun Savoie.
Democrats nominated incumbent Dudley Clark for a new term on the board of assessment appeals, with Republicans nominating incumbent David Watts for the board. Democrats nominated Susan Ziren and Robert Gorman for library board of trustees, with Republicans nominating incumbent Teresa Schreiber.

Democrats nominated incumbents John Delaura Jr. and Michael Desnoyers for zoning board of appeals. Republicans nominated Brian Sakidavitch for a four-year vacancy term as ZBA alternate. Democrats nominated incumbents Albert Armington, Samuel Chorches, and Leroy Edward Ward for water pollution control authority, with Republicans nominating incumbent Felice Cressman for WPCA.  Democrats nominated incumbent Christine Darnell for inland-wetlands commission, with Republicans nominating incumbent Eric Davison for the IWC.

Work Helps Control Damaging Invasive Plant Along Lower Connecticut River

phragmites australis

Phragmites australis

In order to help restore and sustain the tidal wetlands along the lower Connecticut River, The Nature Conservancy last year undertook invasive phragmites control work at 12 locations on more than 215 acres.

Paid for by funding provided by the Ecosystem Management and Habitat Restoration grants administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the state-permitted and safe herbicide treatments are necessary to help sustain the gains made by DEEP, The Nature Conservancy and others against phragmites.

Initial post-treatment monitoring concluded in June 2013, and the DEEP grant-funded work completed last year by the Conservancy helps ensure that gains made from previous phragmites control efforts are sustained.

In addition to sustaining gains made against phragmites, the project provides more experience and know-how for partners to better analyze best management practices, ensuring future decisions remain well informed.

The treatments took place at sites in East Haddam, Lyme, Old Lyme, Essex and Old Saybrook. Observation of conditions in treated areas will be ongoing.

“The Conservancy is grateful for the DEEP’s leadership on this issue,” said David Gumbart, assistant director of land management for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “We’re also grateful to the many private landowners who granted permission for work on their lands and appreciative of the many supportive local land trusts and towns.”

In the 1990s, a study documenting the invasion of phragmites along the lower Connecticut River showed that the outstanding native biodiversity for which these marshes are famous was disappearing at an alarming rate. In some locations, over 40 percent of the native plant communities had been converted to phragmites in less than 30 years.

Subsequently, the Conservancy, DEEP and others began work to stop these losses and rein in phragmites in the tidal marsh system using conventional herbicide and mulching treatments. Over time, an approximately 80 percent reduction of the plant has been achieved in the tidal marshes of the lower Connecticut River. These efforts also helped regain additional habitat that will see colonization by native species.

More about phragmites and the Lower Connecticut River

Invasive European strains of Phragmites australis were introduced to the United States in the 1880s, possibly through ships’ ballast, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Invasive Species Information Center.

Since then, phragmites has become one of the biggest threats to the lower Connecticut River’s exemplary tidal marsh system. This is because it overruns the native plant communities that are a primary feature in the system’s health and productivity.

Although common birds and wildlife can utilize stands of phragmites, the biodiversity and overall ecological integrity of a marsh system is severely compromised by the invasive plant.

Sustaining the tidal marsh habitats through efforts such as phragmites control sustains rare plant species, as well as the migratory, shore and wading birds that thrive in these habitats. Among the other beneficiaries are fish, including the Atlantic silverside, that utilize the marshes at high tide. Such work also helps sustain the quality of the Long Island Sound.

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy at www.nature.org/connecticut

Deep River Democrats Nominate First Selectman Richard Smith for 13th Term, Town Republican Caucus Monday

Dick Smith by 1905 water fountain in front of Town Hall

Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith (photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson)

DEEP RIVER— Town Democrats this week nominated First Selectman Richard Smith for a record 13th term in the town’s top office, with incumbent Democratic Selectman Angus McDonald Jr. nominated for a second term as Smith’s running-mate for board of selectmen. Town Republicans will nominate candidates at a caucus Monday, though Smith is not expected to face a Republican challenger in the Nov. 5 election.

Democrats at their caucus Tuesday nominated incumbent Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani for a third two year term. But Democrats did not nominate candidates for either town clerk, to challenge two-term incumbent Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell, or town treasurer, to contest long-time Republican Town Treasurer Thomas Lindner.

Democrats nominated three candidates for board of finance, including incumbent Lori Guerette and Russell Marth for full six-year terms, and incumbent Carmella Balducci for a four year vacancy term. Balducci was appointed to the finance board last year to fill a seat that had been held by her husband, former Speaker of the House Richard Balducci.

Marth had served a single term on the board of selectmen after he won election on the Deep River Independent Party line in 2007, a year when town Republicans did not nominate candidates for first selectman or board of selectmen. He was unseated in 2009, when Republicans nominated current incumbent Selectman David Oliveria for the board.

Marth later rejoined the Democratic Party and became a member of the Deep River Democratic Town Committee. The 2007 election was the last year where Smith faced a challenge for the first selectman seat, with John Kennedy running unsuccessfully for the top job on the Deep River Independent Party line.

Democrats nominated Jane Cavanaugh for Region 4 Board of Education. Cavanaugh is seeking the seat held by current Region 4 Board of Education Chairwoman Linda Hall. Democrats nominated two new candidates for the local board of education, Hadley Kornacki and Augustus Ferretti. Democrats nominated incumbent Sharon Emfinger and Roy Jefferson for library board of trustees.

Town Republicans will hold a nominating caucus Monday at 7 p.m. in the meeting room at the Liberty Bank branch on Main Street. No candidates have announced to challenge Smith, though Oliveria is expected to be nominated for a third term on the board of selectmen.

Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman Uncontested for Second Term, Bruce Glowac Nominated for Republican Selectman Seat

First Selectman Norman Needleman

First Selectman Norman Needleman

ESSEX— Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman will run unopposed for a second term, as party nominations Wednesday set up a low-key Nov. 5 town election with two seats on the board of finance the only contested races on the ballot. Bruce Glowac, a former first selectman, was nominated by town Republicans for the minority party seat on the three member board of selectmen.

Needleman and Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby were unanimously endorsed by the Essex Democratic Town committee for a second term. Needleman was nominated by Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller, who served as first selectman from 2003 to 2011. Needleman served on the board of selectmen during Miller’s years in the top job. Miller said Needleman had provided consistent leadership over the past two years, and “loves and believes in the town and its people.”

The nomination for first selectman was left vacant when about 25 Republicans gathered for a nominating caucus at town hall after Democrats concluded their nominations vote minutes earlier in the same building. Republican Town Chairman Edward Cook said no one expressed interest in the nomination to challenge Needleman. Cook said members of the town committee had concluded that Needleman was “doing a pretty decent job,” and that 2013 was a year to “concentrate on being constructive,” as Democrats and Republicans battle over broader issues on the national level.

Bruce Glowac, who served as first selectman from 1991-1995, was unanimously nominated by town Republicans for the board of selectman. Glowac, who has worked since 1999 as director of facilities for Region 4 schools, said he had  “always planned to come back to public service,” in the town. Glowac, 61, also acknowledged he could be interested in another run for the top job in 2015. He will continue in the Region 4 job while serving as a selectman.  Glowac said his goals for the next two years are to “bring common sense to town government and to make sure we have a friendly town hall.”

The Republican selectman seat has been held since 2009 by Joel Marzi, who was nominated by town Republicans for the open position of town clerk. The Democratic town committee also cross-endorsed Marzi for election to a four-year term as town clerk. Republicans cross-endorsed the incumbent Democratic tax collector, Megan Haskins, for a second term

James Francis, chairman of the board of finance since 2003, was nominated by Democrats for the open position of town treasurer. Francis was not cross-endorsed by town Republicans, but is uncontested for election to a four-year term in the part-time job.

Leigh Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer with engineering experience, was nominated by Republicans for a six-year term in the Region 4 Board of Education. Rankin was cross-endorsed by Democrats. Incumbent Republican Coral Rawn was cross-endorsed by Democrats for a new term on the board of assessment appeals. Democrat Carolyn Rotella and incumbent Republican Adam Conrad were nominated for uncontested election of the local board of education.

The only contested races on the Nov. 5 ballot are for two seats on the board of finance. Democrats nominated two-term incumbent board member Campbell Hudson and Mary Louise Pollo. Hudson is a local attorney, Pollo is a former member and chairwoman of the local school board. Republicans nominated Peter Decker, a business consultant, and James Palagonia, a sales representative for a medical products company, for the finance board seats.

Needleman said he is pleased to be running unopposed, and “excited about the opportunity to serve the town” for another two years. Needleman added that Glowac would be a “good addition to the board of selectmen.”

Chester Sets July 23 Town Meeting on Main Street Project Plan

CHESTER— Voters will be asked at a July 23 town meeting to approve a long-range plan for the reconstruction of Main Street in the downtown village. The town meeting convenes at 7:30 p.m. in the community meeting room at town hall.

The plan, prepared by an appointed volunteer committee with assistance from the Kent & Frost engineering consulting firm of Groton, is intended to serve as a “long-range guide to promote commercial viability, attract small business, and improve street surfacing, drainage, sidewalks, lighting, landscaping, and way finding,” in the downtown village. The plan includes recommendations for phasing of improvements in coordination with plans for replacing the Main Street bridge in 2016. It will also be used in applying for state grants to help fund the improvement project.

Engineers estimated the total cost of the Main Street improvements at about $1.5  million at a public information meeting on the plan in March. The town is planning to use a combination of set aside town funds and grant funding to pay for the project.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan has said a decision by the state Department of Transportation to delay construction on the replacement of the Main Street bridge from 2015 to 2016 would allow the town to begin work on an initial phase of the Main Street Project next year. The initial phase would be a reconstruction of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. The second phase, encompassing most of the Main Street commercial district, would be done later, in coordination with the state’s bridge replacement project.

Essex and Deep River Parties Set Nominating Caucuses for November Election

ESSEX/DEEP RIVER— Democrats and Republicans in Deep River and Essex will hold nominating sessions over the coming week to pick candidates for the Nov. 5 town elections. Democrats and Republicans in Essex will meet on Wednesday, while Deep River Democrats will caucus Tuesday and town Republicans have set a nominating caucus for July 22.

The Essex Democratic Town Committee will hold an endorsement session Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at town hall. Incumbent Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman is expected to be nominated for a second two-year  term, with incumbent Selectwoman Stacia Libby continuing as his running-mate for board of selectmen. Essex Republicans will hold a nominating caucus Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

No Republicans have announced as candidates for first selectman to challenge Needleman, but a caucus contest is possible for the open Republican nomination for board of selectman. Two-term Republican Selectman Joel Marzi is not seeking re-election, deciding instead to run for the open position of town clerk. While no one has formally announced as a candidate, there is believed to be more than one prospective candidate for the open GOP selectman seat. Democrats and Republicans will also nominate candidates for town clerk, tax collector, town treasurer, board of finance, Region 4 Board of Education, the local board of education, and the board of assessment appeals.

Deep River Democrats will caucus Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Lace Factory building, 161 River St. Incumbent Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith is expected to be nominated for a 13th term in the town’s top office, with incumbent Democratic Selectman Angus McDonald Jr. expected to be nominated for a second term as Smith’s running mate for board of selectmen.

Town Republicans will hold a nominating caucus Monday, July 22 at 7 p.m. at the Liberty Bank building on Main Street. No Republicans have announced as a candidate to challenge Smith for the first selectman position. Incumbent Republican Selectman David Olivera is expected to be nominated for a third term on the board of selectmen.

Chester Planning and Zoning has Public Hearing Thursday on New Building at Chester Point Marina

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing Thursday on a special permit application from Chester Point Marina for construction of a new building on the marina property at 72 Rail Road Avenue. The building would house a seasonal restaurant and a marine products display area.

Chester Point Real Estate LLC of Essex is seeking to demolish an existing building on the property that has frontage on Chester Creek and the Connecticut River. Replacing it would be a new 5,561-square-foot building, with 2,653-square-feet of the new building to be used for a seasonal restaurant that would operate from April through October. The remainder would be used for an office and display area. The plans call for site improvements and 47 parking spaces.

The permit application would not change the use for the property in the waterfront design district because a seasonal restaurant has operated in the existing building on the marina property. The public hearing convenes at 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room at town hall.

Essex Selectmen Discuss Available Property Abutting Town Hall

ESSEX-– The board of selectmen last week discussed the possibility of a town purchase of a residential property at 27 West Avenue that abuts the east side of the town hall property. The 2.5-acre property that includes a 1766 house and barn, has been owned by the late Eileen Samuelson Perry.

Perry died on June 15, and is survived by five children. First Selectman Norman Needleman told the board at its July 3 meeting the property would be soon placed on the market for sale. Needleman said the town should at least consider a possible purchase of the property because of its proximity to the hall.

The property is assessed at $623,100 on the current grand list, a figure that should represent about 70 percent of fair market value. Needleman said he is uncertain what the listing price would be when the property is placed on the market.

Selectman Joel Marzi agreed the option of acquiring the property should be explored, while noting it would take at least six months for the town to be in a position to appropriate funds to purchase the property. An expenditure to purchase the property would require approval from voters at a town meeting, or possibly a referendum.

The board agreed to discuss the option further at its Aug. 7 meeting, and possibly schedule a public information meeting on the option of purchasing the property. Needleman acknowledged he is uncertain about how the property would be used by the town, or the cost of upgrading the historic house for possible public uses.

Deep River Planning and Zoning Expecting Application for Dunkin Donuts Relocation

Dunkin DonutsDEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission is awaiting a special permit application for a proposed relocation of the Dunkin Donuts franchise to a vacant commercial building at 241 Main St.. While an application has yet been received, Zoning Enforcement Officer Cathie Jefferson said Monday she has held a preliminary discussion about a plan to relocate the Dunkin Donuts to the building at 241 Main Street, near the entrance to Devitts Field.

A Dunkin Donuts has been in operation since 2009 at 190 Main St., the former Elms rooming house property. The 241 Main St. property was formerly owned by resident Donald Slater, housing an Irish gifts shop. The building has been largely vacant for more than three years. The property was purchased in 2011 by 246 Main Deep River LLC, a partnership established by Chester businessman Perter Kehayias, who also operates the Oregenon Market on Route 154 in Chester.

Last August, the commission approved a special permit to allow conversion of the 241 Main St. structure in to three shops. But no businesses are currently in operation on the property. Jefferson said the preliminary plan she was advised of calls for a Dunkin Donuts and one other unspecified business on the property.

Any special permit application for relocation of the Dunkin Donuts would require a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission. Jefferson a hearing could be scheduled for August if an application is received before the commission’s July 18 meeting.

Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith to Seek 13th Term in November Election

DR-Selectman-580x435DEEP RIVER— Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith has announced plans to seek a 13th term in the Nov. 5 town election, extending a tenure in office that has made him one of the longest serving municipal leaders in Connecticut.

Smith, 62, said this week he had never considered not running again this year, and had advised the Deep River Democratic Town Committee of his intentions in March. “I love what I do and there is still a lot more to do,” he said. Smith, the current president of the state council of Small Towns (COST) said he enjoys working on local issues and improvements.

Smith, who also serves as a part-time town police officer, was first elected in 1989. He was last contested for re-election by town Republicans in 2005, and was previously unopposed for new terms in 1995 and 1999. Smith’s last election challenge came in 2007, when several residents opposed to Main Street redevelopment projects supported by Smith formed an independent ticket to contest various positions. Smith defeated Deep River Independent Party candidate John Kennedy by a wide margin in the 2007 race.

Smith said his latest running mate, Angus McDonald Jr., will also seek a second term this fall. McDonald was elected to the board of selectmen in 2011, replacing Democrat Arthur Thompson, who served from 2009-2011. No Republicans have declared as candidates to challenge Smith for the top job, though Republican Selectman David Oliveira is expected to seek a third term this year.

Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell is also seeking a third two-year term this year. Elected by a two-vote margin to the open town clerk seat in 2009, Winchell was uncontested by town Democrats for a second term in 2011. She is not expected to face a challenge this year.

The only contests on the Nov. 5 ballot could be for three seats on the board of finance, two full six-year terms and an unexpired vacancy term. Town Democrats and Republicans will nominate candidates for 2013 at party caucuses to be held between July 16-23.

Essex Zoning Approves Store Expansion with Dunkin Donuts Relocation

ESSEX— The zoning commission has approved an expansion of the convenience store that the Shell service station at 23 Main St. in the Centerbrook section that also includes a relocation and expansion of the Dunkin Donuts within the building. The commission last week amended  the 2007 special permit for the convenience store and Dunkin Donuts to allow the changes.

The panel acted after a June 17 public hearing where the change drew few objections from residents. One resident questioned the traffic situation at the intersection of Main Street and Dennison Road, which abuts the Shell station parcel. But commission members concluded that moving the main entrance to the Dunkin Donuts to the east side of the bulding would reduce any traffic issues.

The convenience store would expand in to a separate space in the commercial building now occupied by the Ashleigh’s Garden floral; shop, with the existing counter service only Dunkin Donuts to be relocated in to the former floral shop space. A second entrance to the store/Dunkin Donuts would be through the floral shop space.

Rep. Miller Ends Haddam Land Swap Saga

State Rep. Phil Miller

State Rep. Phil Miller

State Representative Philip Miller (D- Haddam, Chester, Deep River, Essex) voted in favor of H.B. No. 6672, an act concerning the conveyance of certain parcels of state land.  The bill included the formal repeal of the open-ended Haddam Land Swap dead brokered in 2011.

“I worked with the staff attorney and the members of the Government Elections and Administration Committee to formally close the land swap,” remarked Rep Miller. “Preventing this deal will ensure state-owned lands are not developed, keeping our air, water and land clean.”

The deal originally fell through due to a great discretion in the values of the two parcels to be swapped between the State of Connecticut (specifically the Department of Environmental and Energy Protection (DEEP)) and Riverhouse Properties.

‘The land swap did not represent the best interests of the people of Haddam. Conservation is incredibly important to maintaining the beauty of the region,” said Rep. Miller. “While I agree that in general economic development is essential, we must find better ways to balance the conflicting desires of seeing more investment in our communities while investing in all that we already have.”

The bill passed the House VOTE COUNT. The Senate passed the bill VOTE COUNT. The bill will now be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

The Black Seal Has “Appetite for Life”

Essex, CT — The Black Seal Restaurant has joined other local restaurants throughout Middlesex County for the fourth year of a special dining program during the month of June – Appetite for Life – to benefit the Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center. The Cancer Center offers a complete range of services to meet the needs of cancer patients and their families that includes preventive, diagnostic, treatment, support, survivorship and end-of-life Hospice and palliative care services. Its team approach to care and treatment is carefully coordinated for patients throughout their cancer journey.

On Wednesday, June 12, The Black Seal will be donating 10 percent of its proceeds from lunch and dinner to the Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center to support its many services, as part of the Appetite for Life program.

For the complete listing of restaurants participating in the Appetite for Life program during June, to go www.middlesexhospital.org\AFL.

A Wonderful Premiere Hits the Shoreline

Swans And Balanchine

Two of the graceful starring Swans of Ballerina Swan,  Emily Kramm of Old Lyme and Sarah Marsoobian of Guilford celebrate the success of Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s World Premiere Ballet with NYC Ballet acclaimed ballerina and author of Ballerina Swan, Allegra Kent and Gloria Govrin, choreographer and Artistic Director of Eastern Connecticut Ballet and former NYC Ballet soloist.

More than 1,000 guests laughed and cheered for Sophie the Swan throughout the Premiere, enjoyed the delicious Rita’s of New London Ices and delighted in meeting the author and cast!  Photo credit: G.Mazzola

Rep. Miller Votes to Raise the Minimum Wage – Bill Passes the House and Senate

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Philip Miller (D- Haddam, Chester, Deep River, Essex) voted in favor of S.B. 387, An Act Increasing The Minimum Fair Wage.  The bill would raise the minimum wage to $8.70 per hour, effective January 1, 2014 and to $9.00 effective January 1, 2015.

“I support this bill because Connecticut’s families are struggling,” remarked Rep Miller. “These full-time employees earn a legal wage that puts them below the poverty line. Connecticut is a very expensive state to live in and raising the minimum wage ensures that Connecticut’s workers can afford to stay in Connecticut.”

According to the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) and the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 10% of those employed in Connecticut earn the minimum wage. 80% of those earning the minimum wage are adults older than 20, 50% of whom have had some college education.

The minimum wage disproportionately affects women; 60% of the 106,000 minimum wage earners in Connecticut are female. One in three women workers in Connecticut earn the minimum wage and 20% of all minimum wage earners are female heads of households, single moms working to provide for their families.

“The National Employment Law Project found that two-thirds of America’s low-wage workers work for companies with more than a hundred employees, such as Walmart and McDonald’s,” argued Miller. “Small business owners know that paying their workers a higher wage makes them work harder and reduces turnover. Most small businesses in Connecticut already pay their workers more than the minimum fair wage required by law.”

Economists on all sides of this argument agree that what the economy needs most are consumers. Low-income workers spend their entire paychecks in their community, unable to afford to accumulate savings. “Our farms and small businesses need consumers therefore giving low-income, full-time employees an extra $936 per year for their labor will help put more money into our local economy.”

The bill passed the House 89-53. The Senate passed the bill on May 23. The bill will now be sent to the Governor, who has indicated his support.

Linares – Why I Voted “No” to Undocumented Immigrant Drivers Licences

LinaresJan9oathI am a proud Cuban-American, and I believe in the American dream.  My father and grandparents immigrated to the United States after the attempt to rid Cuba of Fidel Castro failed. Before they fled, my grandfather was imprisoned for opposing communism.

Here in America, my family was able to realize the American Dream.  They worked hard and achieved success.  I saw their work ethic and emulated it.  That work ethic helped me to co-found a successful business and helped me get elected to the Connecticut State Senate.

It was a proud day just about five months ago when I held up my right hand and took the oath of office in the Senate Chamber.  I was surrounded by my family, and I thanked them for all that they have done for me and for pursuing their dreams here in America.

In America today, our immigration system is broken.  It needs to be fixed. I have followed the immigration debate closely in Washington DC. I once worked for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.  Sen. Rubio is currently leading the effort to craft workable immigration reform in Congress.

Like Sen Rubio, I believe this country is ready to support immigration reform, as long as it is:

  • pro-economic growth
  • strengthens families
  • fosters assimilation
  • prevents another wave of illegal immigration from happening again.

The immigration bill being taken up in the United States Senate is an important starting point in the effort to improve a failed and broken system.  The federal legislation is not perfect.  Primarily, the complaint seems to be about the size and scope of the bill. But I believe Sen. Rubio proposed it for the right reasons. We can’t leave the system the way it is. The status quo is just as bad.

If Sen. Rubio’s plan passes:

  • People here in this country illegally now who are not paying taxes will be paying income tax and revenue to the government.
  • They will also be given the opportunity to improve themselves, to go up the economic ladder to become net contributors to our economic life in this country as consumers and buyers.
  • Legal immigration, if done right for this country with the proper enforcement mechanisms, should be a net positive for the United States and fuel economic growth.

Passage of immigration reform at the federal level will solve the problem that the State of Connecticut is trying to resolve, and many others as well.

Here at the state level, I am sympathetic to those who note that this is a public safety issue.  I agree that we want every driver in Connecticut to prove that they are a safe driver, regardless of where they came from.   I care about every person in my state senate district, and I agree that something needs to be done to bring undocumented workers out of the shadows.

But when you do something like this, you have to do it right.

A comprehensive study of this concept would seem to be the appropriate, common sense solution.  That study – which could be conducted in a short amount of time  – would get any loose ends and inconsistencies cleared up and better prepare our state to implement this legislation.  But that study idea was rejected.

I would have liked to have seen safeguards inserted into the bill to protect against fraud and abuse.  This bill doesn’t have those safeguards.

Undocumented immigrants seeking licenses should prove they are who they say they are – – just as those of us who are U.S. citizens have to prove we are who we say we are.  For example, U.S. citizens must provide original documentation to verify who they are to get their driver’s license.  Photocopies and non-certified copies are not accepted by the DMV.  Under this bill, that same requirement does not apply for undocumented immigrants.

When I took that oath of office five months ago, surrounded by my family, I thought about all they had gone through to get to this point.  During that ceremony, I also made a vow that I would never vote for a bill – however noble its purpose – if I felt uncomfortable about the consequences of my vote.

I appreciate the concept behind this bill and I give tremendous credit to the many advocates who have worked on it.  As the son and grandson of immigrants, I share their passion to change the system.

But in the bill I voted on today, the unanswered questions it created were too numerous.  The unintended consequences it could create were too vast.

I believe we should take the time to get those questions answered before we set this process in motion.  For these reasons, I voted no.

Sen. Art Linares

 

Navy Commander Philip Beckman Awarded Military Professional Employee of the Year

Beckman, Philip_CDR_091407 Navy Commander Philip Beckman of Ivoryton received the Award for Military Professional Employee of the Year from the Rhode Island Federal Executive Council on May 8th.

CDR Beckman, on the faculty of the Naval War College in Newport, is part of the College of Operational and Strategic Leadership and interacts routinely with the U.S. Navy’s maritime operations centers around the globe to improve war-fighting effectiveness at the operational level. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy, a M.S. in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a Masters in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University.

The Rhode Island Federal Executive Council (RIFEC) recognized outstanding federal employees for their work and accomplishments over the past year at a ceremony held at the Radisson Hotel in Warwick, RI.

Essxe Town Meeting Approves $22.68 Million Budget Plan on Voice Vote

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Monday approved a $22,684,150 town/school spending plan for 2013-2014 on a voice vote. About 50 voters turned out for the annual budget meeting, with a motion for approval going directly to a voice vote, without discussion or questions. There were several opposing votes, but no motion from the crowd for a show-of-hands or paper ballot vote on the spending plan.

The spending plan includes a $6,967,461 town government budget, and a $7,634,917 appropriation for Essex Elementary School. The town’s $8,081,772 share of the Region 4 education budget had already been approved by voters in a May 7 referendum. The total spending appropriation of $22,684,150 represents a 2.69 percent increase over the current spending total.

The board of finance will set the tax rate for 2013-2014 at a meeting Thursday. First Selectman Norman Needleman and finance board chairman Jim Francis each said after the vote the tax rate is expected to increase by “about one-half mill” to fund the total spending package. The current tax rate is 18.47 mills, or $18.47 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. The property tax rate was increased by 0.49 mills last year to fund the current town and school budgets.

No Changes as Tax Decrease Budget Goes to May 21 Chester Town Meeting

CHESTER— Voters at the May 21 annual budget meeting will consider a proposed $12.32 million spending plan for 2013-2014 that includes an unusual one-half mill decrease in the town’s property tax rate. The meeting convenes at 7:30 p.m. in the new community meeting room on the second floor of town hall.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said there have been no changes to the budget that was presented to a handful of residents at the May 1 public hearing. The total $12,328,940 spending plan, which is $419,141 less than current spending, includes the $3,515,054 town government budget, a $373,620 capital expenditure plan, a $4,182,373 appropriation for Chester Elementary School, and the town’s $4,257,893 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 education budget was approved by voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 7 referendum.

Education spending in the proposed budget is down by $467,000 because a declining enrollment at the elementary school, and fewer students from Chester attending the  two Region 4 secondary schools, Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. The decrease in enrollment has led to a $426,084 reduction in the Chester share of the Region 4 budget.

Meehan has described the proposed 2013-2014 budget as “an anomaly” that is unlikely to be repeated in future budget years. The enrollment-driver reduction in education spending has allowed the board of finance to recommend a one-half mill reduction in the tax rate, from the current 22.45 mills to a tax rate of 21.95 mills. The new rate represents $21.95 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. Unlike many past years, the board of finance has found no need to transfer funds from the town’s undesignated fund balance as a way to hold down taxes. The fund balance is projected to total $1.57 million when the budget year ends on June 30, 2014.

DR Quiet Budget Hearing, Town/Elementary School Plans go to Town Meeting Vote

DEEP RIVER— A proposed $3.7 million town government budget and a proposed $5.51 million appropriation for Deep River Elementary School go to the voters for approval at a May 20 town meeting after a quiet budget hearing held earlier this week.
First Selectman Richard Smith said about a dozen residents turned out for the May 7 budget hearing, Smith said there were few questions, and no specific calls for any changes to the 2013-2014 budgets that were approved by the board of selectmen and board of finance.

The town government budget of $3,701,379 is combined with a $43,000 capital expenditure plan and $348,060 in debt service for a total town government appropriation of $4,094,439. The proposed $5,511,158 elementary school budget is up by $110,371, or 2.04 percent, over the current appropriation for the elementary school.

The annual budget meeting is set for Monday May 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the newly renovated second floor auditorium at town hall. This will be the first town meeting vote on a town budget since 2000. The town has been holding referendum votes on budgets since 2001, but ever decreasing voter turnouts for the annual referendums led the board of selectmen to hold a town meeting vote on the budget this year. The vote will be conducted by paper ballot.