December 22, 2014

Essex Town Government, Elementary School Budgets Draw Mild Response

ESSEX— A proposed $6,967,461 town government budget and a proposed $7,634,917 appropriation for Essex Elementary School drew a generally quiet response Monday from residents at the annual budget hearing. About 45 residents turned out for the public hearing on the two spending plans.

The town government budget, which represents a $113,821, or 1.66 percent, increase over the current budget, and the elementary school budget, which is up by 100,326, or 1.33 percent, over the current appropriation, are combined with the town’s $8,081,772 share of the Region 4 education budget for a total $22.62 million spending plan for 2013-2014. The Region 4 education budget, which funds John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School, goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 7.

First Selectman Norman Needleman described both the town government and elementary school budgets as “reasonable” spending plans that maintain current services while limiting the proposed spending increase. The largest portion of the total proposed $594,000 in new spending is a $379,885 jump in the Essex share of the Region 4 budget that results from 31 additional students from Essex attending the district’s two secondary schools. The elementary school budget includes a reduction of two teaching positions in  response to a drop in enrollment at the school.

There were no calls for specific reductions or other changes to the budget plan during the nearly two-hour hearing. But one resident, Wally Schieferdecker, offered a specific suggestion for what should be done with a one-time $229,721 payment the town received earlier this year from the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority.

The payment from the regional trash disposal authority was to cover more than 20 years of unpaid rent and promised host town benefits for the regional solid waste transfer station located off Route 154. The Essex facility compacts trash and collects recyclables from nine area towns for transport to the CRRA incinerator and collection site in Hartford.

Schieferdecker said the $229,721 should be used to help limit any increase in the tax rate needed to fund the combined town government and school spending plans. “This is a windfall and it’s money the taxpayers have already paid over the years,” he said, adding “the taxpayers deserve a little benefit from our good fortune.”

Needleman, who negotiated the settlement with CRRA officials before accepting a new long-term contract for solid waste disposal through CRRA, agreed the one-time payment was “found money.” Needleman said he hopes the board of finance would consider the windfall when it sets the tax rate for 2013-2014 after the budgets are approved by voters. “It should ultimately have an impact with the mill rate,” he said.

Town Treasurer Robert Dixon told the crowd the town should end the current fiscal year on June 30 without any significant spending overruns. He said the town currently has about $2.6 million in its unappropriated fund balance.

The current tax rate of 18.47 mills, or $18.47 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value, represented a tax increase of .49 mills when it was set after the budget approval last May. With a mill generating about $1.1 million in tax revenue, a similar increase in the tax rate is likely for 2013-2014 to fund the total combined town/school spending plans. The annual budget meeting vote on the town government and elementary school budgets is set for Monday May 13 at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

Editor’s Note:  The following letter was received today (4/24/2013) after publication of this report challenging the statement that there were “no calls for specific reductions.”  Link to letter.


John White Jr. Honored for 50 Years Service to the Deep River Fire Department

Fire Chief Tim Lee presents Chief Engineer Jack White with a plaque honoring his 50 years of service to the Deep River Fire Department.

Fire Chief Tim Lee presents Chief Engineer Jack White with a plaque honoring his 50 years of service to the Deep River Fire Department.

The Deep River Fire Department presented John White Jr. (Jack) with a plaque honoring his 50 years of service, while First Selectman Dick Smith presented White with a citation from the State of Connecticut commending his service to the Fire Department and to the town of Deep River.

White joined the Department at the age of 21, inspired by his father, John White Sr. who served the Department for over 25 years as Secretary. White, the Chief Engineer of the Fire Department is responsible for the upkeep of all the fire engines and equipment used by the department.

Essex Printing Winner In New England Regional Awards of Excellence Competition

The announcement was made on April 4 during the Printing Industry of New England (PINE) Industry Awards Gala with hundreds of industry professionals in attendance. PINE’S Awards of Excellence Competition attracts over 200 entries from 41 printing and imaging companies across New England competing in a variety of printing and graphic communications categories.

Essex Printing won Awards of Recognition for the printing of Essex Savings Bank’s 2013 calendar. A panel of judges with extensive experience in printing and print production examined a wide range of work submitted. Each entry was judged anonymously on its own merit in a category with similar printed pieces.

“We are very proud to have won this competition because it confirms our commitment to our clients that we provide an outstanding level of quality printing, William McMinn, President”.

For more information please contact Essex Printing at 860-767-9087

Sen. Art Linares Tours Chester-based Roto-Frank, Inc.

Roto-Frank President and CEO Chris Dimou (left) and Sen. Art Linares (right) chat during Linares’ April 11 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

Roto-Frank President and CEO Chris Dimou (left) and Sen. Art Linares (right) chat during Linares’ April 11 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

Sen. Art Linares on April 11 toured Chester-based Roto-Frank, Inc. ( and spoke with the manufacturer’s 50 employees.

Roto-Frank President and CEO Chris Dimou led Sen. Linares on the tour, introducing Sen. Linares to employees and discussing the company’s future goals. The company creates worldwide leading hardware technology for windows and doors.

Sen. Linares’ tour coincided with National Window Safety Week, which is observed annually during the first full week in April.  The designation aims to heighten public awareness of what can be done to help keep families safe from the risk of accidental falls or injuries in the home.

Sen. Art Linares speaks with Roto-Frank employees during his April 11 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

Sen. Art Linares speaks with Roto-Frank employees during his April 11 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

“Windows play a vital role in home safety, serving as a secondary escape route in the event of a fire or other emergency, but they can also pose a risk for a fall if safety measures are not followed,” Sen. Linares said.  “I was a pleasure to tour Roto-Frank to see firsthand the great work being done in this area.”

Sen. Linares, who serves on the legislature’s Commerce Committee and the bipartisan Manufacturing Caucus, has been visiting with area manufacturers to discuss their concerns and to learn how state government can help them grow and retain jobs.

“By listening to area manufacturers, I can take their concerns and ideas directly to Hartford,” Sen. Linares said. “My goal is to pass policies at the State Capitol which help our local businesses thrive.”

Sen. Linares is supporting a bill to eliminate the state’s business entity tax and a proposal which aims to establish a “Learn Here, Live Here” program to provide an incentive for students who graduate from Connecticut colleges or technical schools to establish a new business in the state.

Sen. Linares ( can be reached at or at 800-842 1421. Sen. Linares represents the 33rd Senate District, which encompasses Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Tri-Town Youth Services Announces Three Mini-Grant Recipients

In the photo, L-R:  Calley Beckwith and Denise Learned of Camp Hazen YMCA, Carol Jones and her son, Peter, from Valley Baseball Boosters.

In the photo, L-R: Calley Beckwith and Denise Learned of Camp Hazen YMCA, Carol Jones and her son, Peter, from Valley Baseball Boosters.

Through funding from Middlesex United Way for Healthy Communities ● Healthy Youth of Chester, Deep River, and Essex, Tri-Town Youth Services recently awarded mini-grants to Camp Hazen YMCA, Valley Baseball Boosters, and Deep River Congregational Church South Dakota Mission Trip.

All three programs will take place over the summer and all three are designed to build youth developmental assets.  For further information about Healthy Communities ● Healthy Youth, contact Gail Onofrio at 860-526-3600.

For additional information about developmental assets, visit:

State Senator Art Linares Voted “No” on New “Gun Violence Prevention” Legislation

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares voted “no” on the recently enacted, new Connecticut state law, entitled, “An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.” Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed the bill into law on April 4.

In explaining his “no” vote the Senator said in a written statement, “Having witnessed the emotional accounts of parents, teachers and citizens after the Newtown tragedy, I am more committed than ever to help create a safer Connecticut.”

He continued, “After much consideration and talking with many residents of the 33rd district, I decided to vote no on the bill. While I support some of the individual elements such as criminal background checks and discontinuing the early release program for violent felons, I concluded that [the bill] did not correctly address the most important issues of safe neighborhoods, school security, and most importantly, mental health.”

Following three more paragraphs of explaining the reasons for his “no” vote, the Senator concluded, “Now that [the bill] has passed, I will continue moving forward, working with our school superintendents to address school safety issues, with our mental health experts to get access to needed resources, and with gun owners to help them understand the new regulations.”

Sen. Linares represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Sen. Linares Welcomes Essex Steam Train & Valley Railroad Officials to Capitol

Sen. Art Linares (center) welcomed FVRR Treasurer Bob Wuchert (left) and Essex Steam Train & Riverboat President Bob Bell.

Sen. Art Linares (center) welcomed FVRR Treasurer Bob Wuchert (left) and Essex Steam Train & Riverboat President Bob Bell.

On March 20, 22 volunteer organizations representing Connecticut state parks and tourist sites visited the State Capitol.   Among the groups was the Essex-based Friends of Valley Railroad (FVRR), a not-for-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to the awareness, appreciation and historic preservation of railroads through education and participation.  For more details see , , and .

Sen. Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. He can be reached at

Essex Elementary School Board Approved $7.63 Million Budget for 2013-2014

ESSEX— The local board of education has approved a $7,634,917 budget for the operation of Essex Elementary School in 2013-2014. The spending plan approved last week represents a $100,326, or 1.33 percent, increase over the current appropriation for the school.

The budget plan addresses a drop in student enrollment by eliminating two teaching positions at the school. The current enrollment at the kindergarten through sixth grade school totals about 477 students, down from enrollment of 486 students during the 2011-2012 school year. Projections estimate an enrollment of about 455 students for the coming 2013-2014 school year.
The budget plan calls for reducing the number of classroom sections for the first, second, and third grades from four sections to three. But based on enrollment, the number of sections for the fifth grade would increase from four sections to five. There would be a net reduction of two teacher positions.

The budget funds only two physical plant improvements at the elementary school, including $15,000 for interim repairs to the roof over the 1990 building addition, and $5,000 for repairs to rubber flooring in hallways at the school. Town and school officials are planning for a more extensive roof repair project at the school, including the roof on the 1990 addition that received no improvements during the  school renovation and expansion project that began in 2007.

The board of finance will review the proposed elementary school budget at a meeting Thursday. The finance board could impose changes in the budget, including reductions, either before or after the town/elementary school budgets are presented at the annual budget hearing on April 22. The combined town government/elementary school budgets go to the voters in May, either at the annual budget meeting set for May 13, or in a subsequent referendum vote.

Split Opinions on Requested Rule Change for Chester Market

Chester's Organon Market, located at 56 Middlesex Avenue.  (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Chester’s Organon Market, located at 56 Middlesex Avenue. (photo by Jerome Wilson)

CHESTER— A request to allow limited seating at the Organon Market on Route 154 drew sharply differing opinions last week at a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission. The panel closed the public hearing Thursday evening after more than two hours of comment, and is expected to discuss the request at it’s April 11 meeting.

Resident Peter Kehayias is asking the commission to amend its August 2011 approval of a special permit for the market, located at 56 Middlesex Avenue (Route 154), to modify a condition of the permit that prohibited seating and consuming of food in the building or the parking lot. Kehayias, who is a member of the commission, recused himself and joined the audience at Thursday’s session. Deep River lawyer Jane Marsh, representing Kehayias, said he is not seeking to create a restaurant-type operation at the market, and would continue a prohibition on service of food to patrons at tables.

Inside the Market where the proposed 12 chairs would be placed (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

Inside the Market where the proposed 12 chairs would be placed (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

Marsh, who described the request as “not earth shattering,” said Kehayias is responding to requests from customers for an area where they could sit down while having a coffee or a sandwich. She said easing the restriction would have no impact on the surrounding neighborhood, but would create “a little bit more of a general store type feel” at the market.

Kehayias said he currently averages about 40 customers per day at the market that opened last summer, noting the parking area that abuts the Chester War Memorial is “never full.” He is asking the commission to allow seaing for up to 12 people in the market, either on benches or chairs. There would be no tables.

But several residents who live near the market objected to the proposed rule change, contending that allowing seating would be a further expansion of the parcel’s non-conforming commercial use in the surrounding residential zone. Richard Gold, an abutting property owner, contended Kehayias is still hoping to have a restaurant-type operation on the property.  “Organon Market has been open for less than a year, and Mr. Kehayias is already asking for an expansion of the special exception which was difficult and controversial in its original form,” he said.

Several residents spoke in support of the request to ease the restriction. Gary Meade said the market is “a welcome addition to the neighborhood,” while Arthur Hennick said helping the market stay in business also helps the town’s commercial tax base. Robert Galbraith, who operates the Pattaconk Restaurant on Main Street, said the ban on all seating is an unfair inpediment to the business. “It’s not going to be a Big Y,” he said.

The building at 56 Middlesex Avenue was previously a gasoline station, then later used for marine and bicycle repair shops. It had been vacant for more than five years when the market opened last summer.

Local Swimmers Give Stellar Performances in State Championships

Valley Shore YMCA Age Group Qualifiers include Liam Leavy, Jessica Lee, Peter Fuchs, Nick Husted in the back row, and Anna Lang, Maddy Henderson, Kayla Mendonca, Kyle Wisialowski and Kaeleigh O’Donnell in the front row.

Valley Shore YMCA Age Group Qualifiers include Liam Leavy, Jessica Lee, Peter Fuchs, Nick Husted in the back row, and Anna Lang, Maddy Henderson, Kayla Mendonca, Kyle Wisialowski and Kaeleigh O’Donnell in the front row.

Throughout the weekend of March 8-10, 11 athletes training at Valley Shore YMCA (VSYMCA) in Westbrook competed at Connecticut Swimming’s Age Group Championships.  This event is the state championship for age group swimming.

In the 10 and under age group, four girls (Kaeleigh O’Donnell of Essex, Kayla Mendonca, Anna Lang and Maddy Henderson- all from Madison) competed in individual events as well as teaming up for the medley relay where they finished fifth.  Kayla Mendonca of Madison set two team records in distance freestyle events; the 200 yard freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle.  Kayla also reset her own team record in the 100 butterfly.

In the highest finish of the meet, Kayla finished 3rd in the 500 freestyle, qualifying her to continue on to represent her state in Eastern Zone competition.  In her first year on the swim team, Anna Lang was proud to qualify for this prestigious event and swam the 50 free.  Kaeleigh O’Donnell swam the 100 yard breast stroke finishing 30th.  Maddy Henderson qualified in two backstroke events (50 yard and 100 yard) finishing 11th and 23rd.  Maddy also swam the 50 butterfly finishing 23rd.

The 10 and under girls were joined by two 10 and under boys, Daniel Chen of Madison and Kyle Wisialowski of Old Saybrook.  Dan, not having chosen his favorite stroke yet,  competed in every stroke excluding freestyle, and also both the 100 and 200 medley.  Dan’s 7th place finish in the 50 backstroke was among the best finishes on the team.  This was Kyle’s first appearance at Age Group Championships (in the 50 yard butterfly) after a winning performance at Regional Championships.

In the 12 and under age group, Liam Leavy (Ivoryton) was the only VSYMCA swimmer, but proud to boast his first age group qualification in the 50 backstroke.

The under 14 age group category boasted Mike Healey (Madison).  Mike swam the signature sprint event in swimming; the 50 freestyle as well as the 50 backstroke.  Mike also excels at the individual medley and swam both the 200 medley, and the 400 medley, widely thought to be swimming’s most grueling event.

In the 15 and up age group, the team fielded three senior members; freestylers Nick Husted (Westbrook) and Jessica Lee, as well as breaststroker Peter Fuchs both of Old Lyme.  Jessica had a top finish in the 50 freestyle, finishing in fifth place. Jessica also made the evening final in the 100 yard freestyle, finishing in 15th place.  This bodes well for Jessica’s next competition at the Y National Championships on April 3 in Greensboro, N.C.  Peter Fuchs set the team record in the 200 yard breaststroke.

Those interested in joining the swim team are encouraged to obtain more information about the Long Course season by visiting or calling the Valley Shore YMCA at 860 399-9622. Tryouts will be held in mid-April for the season which runs through to Long Course Age Group Championships in late July.

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Sen. Art Linares to Hear from Chester Taxpayers March 18

Sen. Art Linares (right) talks with a taxpayer during a Colchester town meeting.  Sen. Linares will hold a Town Hall Meeting at the Chester Elementary School auditorium from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Sen. Art Linares (right) talks with a taxpayer during a Colchester town meeting. Sen. Linares will hold a Town Hall Meeting at the Chester Elementary School auditorium from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on March 18

On Monday, March 18, Sen. Art Linares will hold a Town Hall Meeting at the Chester Elementary School auditorium from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Sen. Linares will take questions from taxpayers and discuss the state budget and efforts to make Connecticut more business-friendly.

Sen. Linares is co-sponsoring several pro-business measures, including a bill to eliminate the business entity tax and a bill which provides incentives for college and technical school graduates to establish a new business in the state.

“I look forward to talking with Chester taxpayers,” Linares said. “I’ve held similar town hall meetings in Deep River, Colchester, Essex, and Portland and I have found these discussions to be very helpful and informative.  I take your ideas and concerns and bring them with me to the State Capitol.  The taxpayers are my customers, so come out on March 18 with any questions you have.”

Those who cannot attend can contact Linares at or at (800) 842 1421. On the web: .

Sen. Linares, Lyme, Deep River Leaders to Fight Property Tax Hikes


Sen. Art Linares, Lyme First Selectman and COST Board Member Ralph Eno, Deep River First Selectman and COST President Richard Smith, and Rep. Phil Miller.

At a March 4 press conference at the State Capitol complex, the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST) voiced opposition to the governor’s car tax plan.

Mayors and first selectmen discussed how the plan would cause municipalities to lose millions of dollars in tax revenue and be forced to make up for that loss in other ways, namely through increased local property taxes.

Sen. Art Linares ( was among those supporting the town leaders at the press conference.  “No one likes paying the car tax and we’d all like to see it eliminated,” Sen. Linares said.  “But the plan that is before the state legislature would lead to higher property taxes for everyone.  The bottom line is that we simply can’t afford higher taxes.  By working together and speaking with one voice, we can put this car tax plan in the breakdown lane.”

Rep. Miller Honored at Heart Health Awareness Month Forum

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam) was recognized by Lily’s Kids, Inc. and presented a certificate of appreciation for his work on promoting children’s health and heart health awareness. Rep. Miller was joined by Lily Gagliardi, BA – Founder and C.E.O.  and Amy D. Gagliardi, MA, IBCLC, RLC, Chief Operating Officer for Lily’s Kids Inc.

“How to live a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important things we can teach our children. I am honored to be presented an award by Lily’s Kids and am proud of the work they are doing to promote good habits, heart health, and eating natural local food,” Rep. Miller said.

Lily’s Kids Inc. is a Non-profit Organization for Children is committed to ensuring that all children live healthy, productive lives.  We believe it is the right of all children to have a healthy start in life.  We support Maternal and Child Health initiatives and evidence based interventions and are especially focused on the prevention and treatment of heart conditions in children. For more information please visit:

Heart Yourself engages the youth to learn about healthy lifestyle choices including healthy eating, exercise, and not smoking to help prevent heart disease. Through a combination of age appropriate hands on discussions and activities, children and young adults are exposed to fun and creative ways to keep their hearts healthy. This program was selected for us to present in Washington, DC at the 2012 National Health Promotion Summit in April. Heart Yourself has been brought to all ages from elementary school through college, it is now available for toddler and caregiver groups.

Sen. Art Linares Tours Chester Firm AeroCision

Sen. Art Linares (left) listens to AeroCision CEO Andrew Gibson during a Feb. 27 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

Sen. Art Linares (left) listens to AeroCision CEO Andrew Gibson during a Feb. 27 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

Sen. Art Linares on Feb. 27 toured Chester-based manufacturer AeroCision with CEO Andrew Gibson.  Sen. Linares, who serves on the legislature’s Commerce Committee and is a member of the bipartisan Manufacturing Caucus, met with company employees and learned about AeroCision’s operations during the hour-long visit.

AeroCision CEO Andrew Gibson (center left) and Sen. Art Linares (center right) chat with AeroCision employees during Linares’ Feb. 27 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

AeroCision CEO Andrew Gibson (center left) and Sen. Art Linares (center right) chat with AeroCision employees during Linares’ Feb. 27 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer. 

AeroCision ( makes and assembles complex aerospace parts involving exotic metals and sophisticated processes. The company has built a reputation for having the best customer service culture in the business, and its employees are known for their superior engineering and machining skills.

“I am doing my very best at the State Capitol to improve our state’s business environment so that small manufacturers like AeroCision can grow and retain jobs,” Sen. Linares said.  “It was great to meet AeroCision’s talented employees and to hear directly from Andrew Gibson.  When companies like AeroCision succeed, our whole region benefits from that success.  As a legislator, I aim to be a voice in Hartford for businesses like AeroCision.”

Sen. Linares plans to reach out to high schools and vocational-technical schools throughout the area to raise awareness about the rewards of choosing manufacturing careers.  He has proposed a variety of pro-business legislation, including the elimination of the state’s business entity tax.

Sen. Linares ( can be reached at or at (800) 842 1421. He represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Essex Town Auditorium Update – Re-opening Feb. 27

A spokesperson for Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said that work on the ceiling of the auditorium of the Essex Town Hall will be completed this Wednesday, February 27. This will be mean that all events scheduled after that date can be expected to proceed on schedule at the auditorium.

The entire auditorium has been closed to public functions, since debris from a feeding duct from the auditorium’s heading system was discovered on the floor after the weekend of February 9-10. Because of this incident town authorities decided to check out all of the ceiling ducts in the auditorium.

According to Mark Hiatt of the Town of Essex’s Maintenance and Custodian staff, the single duct that fell to the floor was in the rear of the auditorium.

Read related article by Charles Stannard

Letter of Interest Invited: Cedar Lake Concession Stand – Pelletier Park

…or What do Blue Skies, Hot Sand, Cool Water, Hot Dogs and Ice Cream have in common?  The Snack Shack at Cedar Lake!

The Town of Chester is accepting letters of interest to operate the Cedar Lake Snack Shack for the 2013 Summer Season. Letters of interest will be accepted through April 10, 2013.

Interested concessionaires should contact the First Selectman’s Office and request a copy of the draft lease agreement for the 2013 season. Concessionaires will be asked to indicate hours of operation, provide a sample menu, staffing levels, and expected equipment to be provided by the concessionaire in the operation of the business. The Board of Selectmen reserves the right to accept or reject any or all of the letters of interest if deemed in the best interest of the Town of Chester.

Connecticut River System Highlights Role of People in Sustaining Nature

Dr. Frogard Ryan,  state director, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut

Dr. Frogard Ryan, state director, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut

A fishway around a dam on the Mattabesset River in East Berlin might not seem to have much to do with the towns along the lower Connecticut River.

But the fishway The Nature Conservancy is building on the property of StanChem, a polymer manufacturing company about 35 miles from my home in Old Lyme, is good news—here and there.

As the Conservancy’s state director, I have a vested interest in the project’s success. It’s no stretch, though, to say we all have an interest in this work.

The Mattabesset River is a tributary of the Connecticut River, and the elaborate U-shaped fishway being built near the StanChem complex will help improve the health of the river area residents know and love as a neighbor.

That’s just for starters, though.

As I toured the site recently with StanChem President Jack Waller and Conservancy Connecticut Director of Migratory Fish Projects Sally Harold, I was reminded of a fundamental truth:  Conservation is made possible by people, and if Connecticut’s natural resources are to be sustained into the future, it will be because people make it so.

River and stream connectivity is an important environmental issue and opportunity in our state. The vast majority of dams in Connecticut are relatively small and privately owned. Many of them no longer serve the purposes for which they were built; some are at risk of failures that could threaten public safety.

From an environmental perspective, dam removal can open access to upstream spawning habitats for migratory fish. It also can restore the natural, swift-moving flows that support some native species, and it can enhance water quality by improving nutrient and sediment transport.

Removal isn’t always an option, of course, and that was the case with this project, where the impoundment created by the dam provides water that would be crucial for StanChem in case of a fire. In such circumstances, a well-thought-out fishway is a great—if not always easy— alternative.

The fishway on the Mattabesset is designed so that American shad, alewife and blueback herring will be able to use it. Because the old dam has been a complete barrier, none of those species has been above it in maybe 100 years.  All told, about 50 miles of habitat—including tributaries to the Mattabesset—will become available to them, improving the overall health of the Connecticut River system.

An embedded tube for migrating American eels is part of the project, too, and the Connecticut Department Energy and Environmental Protection will gather information from an observation room there for its “No Fish Left Behind” reports about monitored fish runs across the state.

Equally important, though, is how this project has happened.

A $308,000 Connecticut DEEP Ecosystem Management & Habitat Restoration grant, a $10,000 contribution from the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership through Northeast Utilities, and private donations to The Nature Conservancy are helping pay for this work. Of course, it also couldn’t happen without StanChem’s active buy-in.

With the state and the private and nonprofit sectors involved, the cooperation that characterizes this project is a model for conservation.

Still, it wouldn’t be possible without the commitment of individuals—people who want to make a difference. Mr. Waller, whose buoyant enthusiasm for the project is infectious, comes to mind, as does DEEP Supervising Fisheries Biologist Steve Gephard, a long-time champion of the project.

A great deal of work was done last year to improve the health of Connecticut’s rivers and streams. In East Berlin, Farmington, Stonington and elsewhere, there were real successes with dam removal and fish passage.

With so many of Connecticut’s dams privately owned, the future of this type of work depends greatly on individuals—including, I hope, some readers here—who see and cherish the opportunity to make a difference. There are so many dams out there where work of real ecological value could be done. Perhaps one of them is yours.


Dr. Ryan, who is the State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut, lives in Old Lyme; the Conservancy’s Connecticut Chapter is located at 55 Church Street, Floor 3; New Haven, Conn. 06510-3029.

Essex Town Hall Auditorium Closed After Partial Ceiling Collapse

ESSEX— The auditorium at town hall is expected to remain closed to the public at least through the end of the month after a partial ceiling collapse that occurred over the weekend of Feb. 9-10. First Selectman Norman Needleman reported at Wednesday’s meeting of the board of selectmen that heating and ventilation ducts in the ceiling above the auditorium fell on to the floor below.

While the breakage occurred soon after the Feb. 8 blizzard, Nedleman said the problem is believed to have resulted from the age and condition of the duct work, and not directly related to the snowfall. But Needleman added the town is “very lucky,” the breakage occurred over a weekend, when the auditorium was not being used by the public. “There are a lot of hidden things in this building that are there and need to be resolved,” he said.

The historic town hall building was constructed in 1892, and was used as the town’s high school, named Pratt High School, until the Region 4 Valley Regional High School in Deep River opened in 1952. There were some renovations to the building in the mid-1970s, along with other limited renovations to sections of the building that were completed over the past six years.

Along with serving as the town’s election and referendum polling place, the auditorium is used for larger town meetings and public hearings, along with various community events and occasional blood drives. Needleman said a local contractor, Riggio & Sons Inc., is expected to complete repairs that would allow the auditorium to reopen for public use by early March.

In other business Wednesday, the selectmen approved an expenditure of $36,884 from a capital purchases sinking fund in the current town budget to purchase a new SUV-style Ford Explorer police utility vehicle. The new vehicle would replace the town’s oldest police cruiser, a 2001 model. Release of the monies from the sinking fund also requires approval from the board of finance.

Sen. Art Linares Meets With Deep River Taxpayers

Sen. Art Linares (center) speaks with a taxpayers at his Feb. 20 Town Hall Meeting in Deep River.  Sen. Linares’ next Town Hall Meeting will be Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave.

Sen. Art Linares (center) speaks with a taxpayers at his Feb. 20 Town Hall Meeting in Deep River. Sen. Linares’ next Town Hall Meeting will be Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, State Sen. Art Linares held a 90-minute Town Hall Meeting at Deep River Town Hall.

The meeting, which was attended by about 20 taxpayers, allowed area residents to question Sen. Linares about the state budget and discuss his efforts to make Connecticut more business-friendly.

“We had an excellent discussion, and I thank Deep River taxpayers for stopping by,” Sen. Linares said.  “For those who could not attend, feel free to contact me with any questions you have about taxes, spending, or any topics you wish to discuss.  I can be reached at or at 800 842 1421.”

Residents may sign up for Sen. Linares’ State Capitol e-alerts at .  His next Town Hall Meeting will be Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave.

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

Essex Winter Series Names Annual Jazz Concert in Honor of Stu Ingersoll

Stu Ingersoll Credit Peter Harron (1)

The Board of Trustees of the Essex Winter Series has announced the naming of its annual jazz concert in honor of longtime Essex resident, former ‘Essex Man of the Year’ and renowned jazz musician, Stu Ingersoll, who retired from the Board last year.

Ten years ago Stu Ingersoll, one of the three founders of the Great Connecticut Traditional Jazz Festival, spearheaded the Essex Winter Series’ expansion of its annual offerings to include a jazz concert.  Today this concert is an annual sellout and, thanks to the generosity of a local foundation, has branched out to include an outreach program in the New London public schools.

Originally from Long Island, Stu has lived in Essex for over 50 years. For 37 years he owned and operated the Essex Boat Works, where he hosted an annual Tuba Festival. He renovated ‘Flora’, his signature Oyster Boat, which was renowned for wonderful concert parties on the river – and a piano on her deck.

Stu continues to serve as Chairman of the Essex Zoning Board of Appeals.  On the local music scene Stu is a steady fixture.  Whether performing regularly on banjo, or tuba, or buying and selling musical instruments – often these days on eBay, or running the Horns for Kids program which provides musical instruments to local schools.  Stu seems to be everywhere at once.

At the end of the 2012 concert season, Stu announced his retirement from the Board of Trustees of Essex Winter Series.  It was at that time, it was decided to honor Stu by naming the Jazz Concerts in his honor.

Essex Winter Series President, Peter Amos, says, “Essex Winter Series owes so much to Stu. His annual jazz concerts are always tremendously popular, recreating the golden years of jazz of the ‘20s and ‘30s. Stu’s wide circle of friends in the world of jazz make every concert a joyful celebration of music and fellowship. Stu will be at our upcoming concert on March 3rd, to announce the program and introduce the musicians.”

Artistic Director Mihae Lee noted that “[She] will miss his leadership, his dedication to present carefully crafted programs with exciting musicians, and the way in which he has managed to bring jazz into our community to build the audience over the years.”

The first of the Essex Winter Series Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concerts will take place on Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Road in Deep River, CT.  featuring the Northeast Traditional Jazz Ensemble with bandleader Scott Philbrick.

More than a decade after their appearance in the Essex Winter Series inaugural jazz concert, the Northeast Traditional Jazz Ensemble with bandleader Scott Philbrick, is back to warm up a chilly winter afternoon with some smokin’ hot jazz.  Seven equally outstanding jazz musicians will come together to form the band for this one special concert event. They will take the audience on a journey through the early jazz forms of ragtime and the introduction of improvisation, to New Orleans with the blues and Dixieland, to prohibition-era Big Band, to the much loved Swing.  You’ll be dancing in the aisles!

Tickets are $30, discounted student tickets are available for $12.  All tickets may be purchased online at, by calling 860-272-4572 x1, or at the door.

For more information and directions, please visit

Concert sponsored by Tower Laboratories and The Clark Group.

The Essex Winter Series’ mission is to bring the finest music, in live performance, to the Connecticut River Valley and Shoreline Region during the winter months and to cultivate its appreciation to the widest audience.

More information, including details for the 2012-2013 season, can be found at or calling (860) 272-4572.

Essex Zoning Board of Appeals Postpones Hearing on Proposed Dunkin Donuts Relocation

ESSEX— The zoning board of appeals has postponed a public hearing on the proposed relocation of Dunkin Donuts to its March 19 meeting at the request of the applicant. Board counsel Michael Wells said JMB Properties LLC of Cheshire had requested the delay Tuesday, the same day the ZBA was scheduled to hear an appeal of the decision by Zonuing Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow to deny a zoning permit for the proposed relocation

JMB Partner John Weinstein had requested a zoning permit to allow the relocation of the town’s only Dunkin Donuts from its current location in the Shell station at 23 Main St. to nearby vacant space at 31-33 Main St. JMB Properties owns the 31-33 Main St. building, which currently houses the Centerbrook Package Store and the Centerbrook Cheese Shop. The space, the former Debbie’s Restaurant, has been vacant for more than two years.

Weinstein has maintained the relocation should be allowed under a zoning permit, rather than through a special permit application and required public hearing before the zoning commission, because the Dunkin Donuts use would be the same as the former restaurant. The Dunkin Donuts at 23 Main St. is counter service only. Budrow has maintained the proposed relocation could only be allowed under a special permit from the zoning commission.

Tri-Town Youth Services Announces the Availability of Mini-Grants

Mini grants 2013

Tri-Town Youth Services announces the availability of mini-grants ($500 or less) to local nonprofit organizations in Chester, Deep River, and Essex.  Applications are currently available at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High Street in Deep River or on the Tri-Town website:

A workshop about asset development and the application process will be held at Tri-Town Youth Services, 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.  This workshop is required for all first-time applicants.  Nonprofit organizations who have previously applied are not required to attend the workshop.  Completed applications must be received by Tri-Town by noon on March 22, 2013.

Programs that will be considered for funding are those that build youth assets and take place between May 1 and August 31, 2013.  These mini-grants are part of the Healthy Communities ● Healthy Youth of Chester, Deep River, and Essex initiative that is funded through Middlesex United Way.  For additional information, please call Gail Onofrio at 860-526-3600.

Enjoy an Exciting, Educational ‘Eagle Watch’ Cruise with CT River Museum


The view east into Hamburg Cove from the Connecticut river

Last Friday was the perfect winter weather for a boat trip on the lower Connecticut River to view the wildlife and enjoy the experience of being one of the very few boats on the river during mid-February.  I was a guest aboard the 65 ft. Project Oceanology vessel Enviro-Lab III  for one of the “Eagle Watch” boat trips offered by Connecticut River Museum in partnership with Project Oceanology during February and March each year.  This is the fourth season the Connecticut River Museum has teamed up with the Groton-based marine science and environmental education organization, Project Oceanology, to provide a dynamic on-water experience.

The 65 ft Enviro-Lab III owned by Project Oceanology who have partnered with Connecticut River Museum to offer the Eagle Watch trips

The 65 ft Enviro-Lab III owned by Project Oceanology who have partnered with Connecticut River Museum to offer the Eagle Watch trips

Although visitors to the river in winter can see many interesting avian species, the bald eagle is the one most visitors hope to see.   Declared an endangered species in 1973 with the passage of the federal Endangered Species Act, populations began to recover following the ban on DDT, and by 2007,  the bald eagle populations had recovered to the extent that they have now been removed from the endangered species list.  They are, however, still protected on the federal level by the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Every winter a number of bald eagles migrate south looking for open water to feed as the lakes and rivers in Canada and northern New England  freeze.  Many of these birds stop in Connecticut and winter along major rivers and large reservoirs, and can been seen feeding and occasionally nesting on the banks of the Connecticut river.


A juvenile bald eagle in flight over the Connecticut river

Although a sighting is not guaranteed, eagles are spotted on most trips.  On the first trip of the season, six adult eagles and eight juveniles were spotted.  On this trip, we were fortunate to spot our first young eagle soaring high above the boat minutes after casting off from the town dock as the boat headed north up river and then we saw several more eagles throughout the trip, some roosting in riverside trees and some gracefully circling above the river.


A juvenile bald eagle perched on a tree along the river bank

Eagles nesting on Nott Island

One of the highlights of the trip was to observe, from a distance, the rare sight of an eagle on her nest on the eastern side on Nott island, just across the river from Essex harbor.  In the 1950s the bald eagle was no longer a nesting species in Connecticut but, according to the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, in 1992 the state documented its first successful nesting of bald eagles since the 1950s when a pair raised two young birds in Litchfield County.  Since then, the nesting population has increased gradually and, in 2010, 18 pairs of bald eagles made nesting attempts in the state.


Female bald eagle on nest on Nott Island, CT

One such nesting pair is seen here on Nott Island.  The female was about to lay her eggs a week or so ago but was temporarily disrupted by Winter Storm Charlotte.  Hopefully, now that she is back on her nest, the eggs have been successfully produced.

“Let’s go out on the river and have some fun!”

The Eagle Watch boat trips are led by local expert naturalist and lecturer Bill Yule, who is an educator at the Connecticut River Museum.  He is not only an expert on most wildlife species found along the Connecticut River but also a renowned expert on local mushrooms and fungi.  Yule welcomed visitors aboard the trip with the invitation, “Let’s go out on the river and have some fun,” and throughout the trip he helped locate and identify birds, related historical stories about life along the river and made sure all the passengers were warm and comfortable with plenty of hot coffee.

Naturalist and lecturer Bill Yule provides interesting and informative information on all wildlife species seen along the river throughout the cruise

Naturalist and lecturer Bill Yule provides interesting and informative information on all wildlife species seen along the river throughout the cruise

Yule was accompanied by two educators from Project Oceanology, Chris Dodge and Danielle Banco, who cheerfully helped identify interesting birds and assisted the boat captain with docking and navigating up and down the river between the ice flows.

Bald eagles are certainly not the only avian species guests can enjoy on the trip and on this particular voyage, we enjoyed numerous sightings of  cormorants, black-backed gulls, red-tailed hawks and common merganser ducks.

We returned to the town dock some 90 minutes after departure excited by all the birds we had seen and moreover, educated about them, and, despite the cold, I am confident I am not the only traveler on that voyage who will be taking another trip later in the season.  All in all, it was an awesome experience!


The common merganser duck in full flight along the river

February Vacation Week Programs

The Connecticut River Museum is also offering a week-long program of vacation week activity for the February school break starting tomorrow, Feb. 19.  In addition to an Eagle Watch adventure on Friday, Feb. 22, the program will also include a day exploring the many galleries in the museum, an outdoor exploration day including a nature hike and animal tracking, and an arts and crafts day building models boats, learning knot tying and other maritime arts.


Avian wildlife exhibit in the Connecticut River Museum

To make reservations for the vacation week program or for more information about Connecticut River Museum educational programs or Eagle Watch Tours, visit or contact Jennifer White Dobbs in the Education Department at or Bill Yule, also in the Education Department, at

Project Oceanology in Groton also offers Winter Seal Watch trips during weekends in February and March.  These two and a half hour trips travel out into Fishers Island Sound to view these playful creatures, which are abundant in this area.  The ticket price of $25 (adults) and $20 (children) also includes a 20-minute slide presentation.


Ivoryton Playhouse Announces 2013 Season

ivoryton playhouseIvoryton: On March 13th, 2013 The Ivoryton Playhouse opens its doors for a year full of exciting, live theatre. There is something for everyone this season – a season that is explosive, upbeat, hilarious, original and even a little naughty! -you won’t want to miss even one of these shows.

Beginning March 13th – 30th, the Playhouse will take you back to the 50’s with some of the classic doo wop melodies you danced to at the sock hop! Life Could Be a Dream features classic oldies Tears on My Pillow, Unchained Melody, The Great Pretender and, of course, Life Could Be A Dream.

In Other People’s Money – April 17th – May 5th, a corporate raider threatens a hostile take-over of a New England “Mom & Pop” company (sound familiar!). What follows is a snowballing plot of financial manipulations, unlikely alliances and a surprising twist at the end.

The Playhouse opens the summer with a brand new play from Mike Reiss, one of the writers of The Simpsons, I’m Connecticut is a wacky, fast-paced, sweet romantic comedy about Marc, a Connecticut native who struggles with relationships and feelings of inadequacy – why? Because he comes from Connecticut – land of steady habits, sanity and politeness. A must-see comedy for anybody from the Nutmeg State! From June 5th – 23rd.

From July 3rd-28th, one of the most explosive movie musicals bursts onto the live stage with exhilarating results. Footloose is the heartfelt story of a father longing for the son he lost and of a young man aching for the father who walked out on him. The rockin’ rhythm of the Top 40 score includes Let’s Hear it for the Boy, Almost Paradise, and, of course, Footloose.

A smash Broadway musical, Dreamgirls captures the spirit and hope of Motown when a girl group from Chicago makes it big. In a business controlled by men, the female trio fights for recognition, fellowship and love as superstardom challenges their musical and cultural identity. Dreamgirls sizzles with sparkling dance and R&B soul – Featuring the hit songs Dreamgirls; And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going and One Night Only. August 7th – September 1st.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change – September 25th – October 13th – is a hilarious revue that pays tribute to those who have loved and lost and lived to try again. Smartly conceived with catchy tunes and witty lyrics, this affectionate look at love and marriage is as amusingly appropriate today as when it first opened in New York in 1996.

The season closes with a fabulously funny farce from the fifties – The Seven Year Itch – October 30th – November 17th. The play takes a humorous look at the problems of a typical married man whose wife and son have gone to the beach for the summer when he is suddenly confronted by a stunning new upstairs neighbor.
Don’t miss some of the most exciting and entertaining theatre on the shoreline!  Subscriptions are on sale now.  Single tickets go on sale February 14, 2012.  Visit or call (860) 767 7318 for the latest ticket information.

Essex to Refinance Municipal Debt – $100,000 Interest Savings Expected in 2013-2014

ESSEX— The town will refinance up to $10 million in municipal debt, taking advantage of current low interest rates to save about $100,000 in interest expenses this year and over $500,000 in interest costs over the term of the bonds. The board of selectmen approved the refinancing at a meeting Wednesday.
The refinancing plan was developed by longtime Town Treasurer Robert Dixon. The debt, which currently totals about $8.55 million, is from the now completed Essex Elementary School renovation and expansion project that was approved by voters in a 2005 bonding referendum, with an additional appropriation for the project approved by town meeting vote in 2007. The 20-year term of the bonds runs through 2028.
Dixon said the town is currently paying an interest rate of 4.35 percent on the bonds, with refinancing expected to bring the interest rate down to about 2.25 percent.  Dixon said the refinancing would also “level the principal payments,” to avoid the need for any large payment in any particular year.
Dixon said the savings on interest costs would be about $100,000 in 2013-2014, and as much as $540,000 over the term of the bonds. Dixon said the refinancing should be completed in March. The bond refinancing resolution approved by the selectmen does not require a town meeting vote.

Chester Grand List is Flat, Will Generate No New Tax Revenue

CHESTER– Assessor Loreta Zdanys has filed an October 2012 grand list of taxable property that totals $501,408,810, representing a $148,006, or three-one hundredths of a percent, decrease from the 2011 grand list total. The small decrease means the town will begin the 2013-2014 budget process with $3,300 less in tax revenue at the current tax rate of 22.45 mills.

It was the first decrease in the grand list in recent years. Last year, the 2011 grand list total registered a 0.70 percent increase over the 2010 total. The town’s 1,817 real estate accounts had a net assessment total of $458,894,100. The town’s 437 personal property accounts had a net assessment total of $14,090,360, down from the 2011 total. The town’s 4,113 motor vehicle accounts had a net assessment total of $28,424,350.

Zdanys said the flat grand list confirms there was “hardly any new houses and very little construction,” in Chester during 2012, along with the loss of a company that had relocated from Deep River to Chester. PCI Medical, which began in the 1990s at a small business incubator building in Deep River, returned to Deep River last year to renovate and occupy a vacant industrial building off Winter Avenue.

Deep River was the only Region 4 School District town to report an increase in the grand list, with a 1.21 percent increase in 2012. The Essex Grand List was down by six one-hundredths of a percent.

The list of the town’s top ten taxpayers was unchanged from 2011. The top ten taxpayers, with their current assessment totals, are as follows 1) Chester Woods Inc. (Chester Village West) $15,476,930, 2) Whelen  Engineering Co. Inc. $8,798,870, 3) Connecticut Water Company $5,894,150, 4) The Eastern Company $4,317,610, 5) Connecticut Light & Power Company $3,932,280, 6) Whelen Aviation LLC (Chester Airport) $3,851,810, 7) Roto Frank of America Inc. $3,742,450, 8) Arthur & Judith Schaller $2,450,360, 9) Margaret & Robert Sbriglio $2,234,740, 10) Dawn Hays & Hays Properties LLC $2,163,100.

Charles StannardCharles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex and a graduate of Valley Regional High School and the University of Connecticut at Storrs.  Charlie worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995, covering Haddam and Killingworth and later Middletown city hall and schools.  From 1997 through 2010 Charlie was a reporter for the Hartford Courant and has covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.  Contact Charles at

Linares – Working to Grow Latino Businesses

State Sen. Art Linares (left) at the State Capitol complex with former Hartford State Rep. Art Feltman (center) and Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA) Executive Director Julio Mendoza (at right)

State Sen. Art Linares (left) at the State Capitol complex with former Hartford State Rep. Art Feltman (center) and Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA) Executive Director Julio Mendoza (at right)

State Sen. Art Linares on Feb. 4 met at the State Capitol complex with former Hartford State Rep. Art Feltman  and Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA) Executive Director Julio Mendoza to discuss policies which can help Connecticut small businesses grow jobs.

Sen. Linares is trying to make Connecticut more business-friendly by eliminating the state’s business entity tax, which is currently paid by more than 118,000 Connecticut businesses.

The Spanish American Merchants Association (, is a Connecticut non-profit organization created to assist business people, in particular Latinos, to acquire a better understanding of economic principles. The organization seeks to promote business expansion, job creation, economic growth, and new entrepreneurship. The group now boasts the membership of more than 500 Hispanic business owners and organizations statewide.

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

Essex Grand List Totals $1.11 Billion, Down by 0.06 Percent

ESSEX— Assessor Jessica Sypher has filed an October 2012 grand list of taxable property that total $1,119,619,296, a decrease of $660,340, or six-one hundredths of a percent, from the 2011 grand list total.

A small increase in real estate assessments was offset by decreases in both personal property and motor vehicles to produce the first drop in the grand list in several years for a year that did include a townwide property revaluation. The decrease will result in a loss of $12,200 in tax revenue at the current tax rate of 18.47 mills.

The town’s 3,245 real estate accounts have a net assessment total of $1,032,086,440, an increase of only $207,370 from the 2011 real estate total. The 739 personal property accounts have a net assessment total of $28,670,576, a decrease of $297,655 from the 2001 personal property total. The 7,606 motor vehicle accounts have a net assessment total of $58,862,280, a decrease of $570,055 from the 2011 motor vehicles total.

Sypher said the sale of the historic Samuel Lay House at 57 Main Street to the Connecticut River Museum had taken nearly $1 million off the real estate total when the property became tax exempt. The sale last fall was financed by a $900,000 loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

An even larger drop in the grand list is expected this year, as the town completes its first full townwide property revaluation, including inspections of individual properties, in a decade. The 2007 revaluation, a a five-year update based on sales data, was completed before that sharp decline in property values that occurred after the start of the national recession in 2008. The Deep River grand list dropped by eight percent after a revaluation was completed in that town in 2010.

The list of the town’s top ten taxpayers was unchanged from the 2011 top ten list. The top ten taxpayers, with their current assessments, are as follows, 1) Essex Meadows Properties Inc. $24,672,600, 2) Lee company $14,064,780, 3) Connecticut Light & Power Co. $6,282,960, 4) Griswold Inn LLC $3,849,980, 5) Stephen R. Cline Successor Trustee $3,587,400, 6) Essex Savings Bank $3,449,670, 7) Herbert T. Clark III $3,002,240, 8) MacBeth Ventues LLC $2,870,000, 9) River Properties Inc. $2,790,170, 10) All Waste Inc. $2,658,270.

Charles StannardCharles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex and a graduate of Valley Regional High School and the University of Connecticut at Storrs.  Charlie worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995, covering Haddam and Killingworth and later Middletown city hall and schools.  From 1997 through 2010 Charlie was a reporter for the Hartford Courant and has covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.  Contact Charles at

Deep River Grand List of Taxable Property Totals $488 Million, up by 1.21 Percent

DEEP RIVER— Assessor Robin O’Loughlin has filed an October 2012 grand list of taxable property that totals $488,099,951, an increase of $5,842,067, or 1.21 percent, from the 2011 grand list total. The list shows increases in real estate and personal property, with a small drop in the motor vehicles assessment total.

The town’s 2,182 real estate accounts showed a net assessment total of $438,166,830, up by $3,397,540 from the previous year. The town’s 428 personal property accounts had a total of $16,917,571, up by $2,677,877 from 2011. The 4,795 motor vehicle accounts had a new net total of $33,015,550, down by $233,350 from the 2011 total.

The 1.21 percent increase was stronger than 2011, when the grand list increased by only 0.73 percent. The 2012 increases would generate about $144,000 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 24.68 mills.

First Selectman Richard Smith said he was pleased with the increased revenue, even as higher teacher salary costs are expected to lead to higher education spending this year. “It helps,” he said, adding “if it were flat then we would really be behind the eight ball.”
Smith said the increases in real estate and personal property reflect a handful of new homes, a new building at Brewer’s Deep River Marina, and the relocation of PCI Medical to the former Champion building on the north side of town. “It’s a good indicator that Deep River has a healthy business climate,” he said.

The town’s list of the top ten taxpayers was unchanged from 2011. The top ten taxpayeers and their 2012 assessments are as follows, 1– Connecticut Light & Power Co.- $5,176,987, 2- Brewer’s Deep River Marina Inc.- $4,443,901, 3–Silgan Plastics Corp.- $4,435,461, 4– Mislick Family Limited Partnership- $3,137,190, 5–Deep River Associates LLC- $2,605,680, 6–Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur-$2,430,610, 7– 180 Main Street Partners LLC (Adams)-$2,277,450,8– Goodspeed Leasing Co. LLC–$2,145,010, 9– Jerome and Marlene Scharr–$1,923,180. and 10–Virginia B. Linburg–$1,881,950. The Scharr, Linburg and Boyd-Dernocoeur properties are all high value residential properties located near the Connecticut River.

Charles StannardCharles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex and a graduate of Valley Regional High School and the University of Connecticut at Storrs.  Charlie worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995, covering Haddam and Killingworth and later Middletown city hall and schools.  From 1997 through 2010 Charlie was a reporter for the Hartford Courant and has covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.  Contact Charles at

Greenleaf Music Award Recipient Announced – Pivate Lessons at CMS

Jenna Wilson of Niantic.  Recipient of the Spring 2013 Carolyn R. Greenleaf Music Award

Jenna Wilson of Niantic. Recipient of the Spring 2013 Carolyn R. Greenleaf Music Award

The selection committee for the Carolyn R. Greenleaf Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County has chosen violinist Jenna Wilson of Niantic as the recipient of the Spring 2013 Carolyn R. Greenleaf Music Award.

This award is given each semester to a high school junior or senior who has demonstrated exceptional musical ability and motivation, and represents a semester of private lessons at the Community Music School in Centerbrook.

This semester’s winner, Jenna Wilson, is a student of violin teacher Martha Herrle at the Community Music School, where she has served as Concertmaster of the CMS String Ensemble since 2010.  A senior at East Lyme High School, Jenna plays in the school orchestra. She also performs as a volunteer for various nursing homes and senior centers.  She has received several awards for her musical achievement, both at East Lyme High School and the Community Music School.

The Carolyn R. Greenleaf Memorial Fund was established at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County in 2008 by her friends to honor Greenleaf’s dedication to music and education. The Carolyn Greenleaf Memorial Music Award is open to students of Middlesex County and the Lymes and is awarded each semester.  It is entirely based on merit, and is the only such award at the Community Music School.  The deadline for applications for the Fall semester will be announced in July. The application may be downloaded from the websites of the Community Music School ( and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (

Community Music School is an independent, nonprofit school which provides a full range of the finest possible instruction and musical opportunities to persons of all ages and abilities, increasing appreciation of music and encouraging a sense of joy in learning and performing, thus enriching the life of the community.

Community Foundation of Middlesex County is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Middlesex County. Working with charitably-minded individuals and organizations to build permanent endowments since 1997, the Community Foundation has provided 850 grants totaling more than $2.5 million to organizations for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities,  environmental improvements, and for health and human services.  For more information, contact us at 860.347.0025 or

Middlesex County Youth to Experience Homelessness for a Night

Young people from across Middlesex County are going to brave January’s cold and sleep outdoors Saturday, Jan. 26, as part of a program to educate people about the existence and conditions of homelessness in the community.

The fourth annual Homelessness Awareness Discussion and Sleep-Out will kick off in two locations at 6:45 p.m. at South Congregational Church on Main Street in Middletown and at 6 p.m. the St. Joseph’s Church in Chester. The event is sponsored by 10 faith-based organizations in collaboration with the Middlesex County Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (MCCHH), which is implementing a Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness in the county.

The teens will hear first-hand about the ordeal of homelessness from several people who are currently or formerly homeless and be able to ask questions. A simple soup and bread dinner will be served.

“The biggest thing they take away is that these homeless people are real; they are just like them,” said Jim Tabor, youth ministry coordinator for St. Joseph’s, which this year will have 10 teens joining the sleep-out. “There were circumstances that drove them to homelessness, some within their control and some not. And they learn just how difficult homelessness is.”

Youth participants then will to spend the night outside. In the past, some of them have chosen to sleep in their cars without heat, build cardboard shelters or just spread their sleeping bags on tarps on the frozen ground.

The Middlesex County Coalition on Housing and Homelessness was formed in late 2007 to execute the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.  Over the past year, 56 “Housing First” supportive housing units were created to house formerly chronically-homeless individuals and 170 households, including more than 230 children, have been helped through the flexible homelessness prevention fund.

Despite some positive signs, homelessness in Middlesex County increased from 2010 to 2011, due largely to the ongoing recession, and is affecting new segments of the population. According to figures from January 2011, there were 248 people including 159 single adults and 37 families with 52 children in Middlesex County experiencing homelessness, a 15 percent increase over 2010.

Out of the 248 homeless people, 43 percent had never been homeless before. In Middlesex County, 43 percent of adults in families cited domestic violence as a contributing cause of homelessness, while 25 percent of families reported rent problems or eviction as the reason they left their last residence. Ten percent of the total included chronically homeless people, adults with disabling conditions who had been homeless for a year or more or who had at least four episodes of homelessness during the past three years. The remaining 90 percent experienced situational homelessness caused by a crisis such as  job loss, foreclosure or illness and typically return to permanent housing within 30 days of becoming homeless.

Through the creation of permanent supportive housing, the operation of a Homelessness Prevention Fund, the development of outreach and education programs to help homeless people find and retain jobs, and improving coordination of services for the homeless, the Coalition is dedicated to achieving its goal of “An End In Ten”— eradicating the tragedy of homelessness from our communities by 2018.

For more information on the Middlesex Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness visit or

Lawsuit Filed Over Deep River Zoning Board of Appeals Actions in Proposed Used Car Dealership Case

DEEP RIVER— Actions by the zoning board of appeals last summer on requested variances for a proposed used car dealership at a former industrial building on Route 154 have led to a lawsuit filed against the board. Local resident George Bartlett Jr. filed a lawsuit in November asking the court to direct the board to amend its minutes from a contentious June 19 public hearing, and to approve two variances needed for Bartlett to pursue planning and zoning commission approval of a used car dealership at the 444 Main Street property.

The lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior Court by Essex lawyer John Bennet contends the board in September improperly rejected a request from Bartlett to amend and correct allegedly inaccurate minutes from the June 19 public hearing and meeting on the variance appeals. The lawsuit contends minutes prepared by long-time zoning board of appeals chairman Donald Grohs did not accurately report Bartlett’s request for two variances at the June 19 session. The suit also notes that Grohs had recused himself from hearing the appeal because he owns nearby property, and that there is no tape recording of the board’s discussion and vote on the variance appeals.

The plan to open a used car dealership at the former Champion Tool & Die Co. building had drawn strong opposition from the planning and zoning commission at the June 19 hearing. Variances were needed to pursue approval of a used car dealership in the parcel because zoning regulations require at least 150 feet of road frontage for businesses in the Turnpike Industrial Zone on the south side of town. The 444 Main Street parcel has only 144.7-feet of road frontage.

The lawyer for the commission, Middletown attorney William Howard, had maintained that Bartlett, who was represented by Essex lawyer and Bennet partner Michael Wells, was seeking both a 5.3-foot dimensional variance, but also an illegal use variance of a separate regulation that required at least 150-feet of road frontage for used car dealerships. The board approved the dimensional variance on a 4-1 vote, but there was also a clear sense after the June 19 meeting that the board had also approved a separate variance of regulation 7B.9.3 that had drawn objections from the planning and zoning commission.

The commission at a June 21 meeting directed Howard to file a court appeal of the ZBA decision, setting up a possible legal battle between the zoning board of appeals and the planning and zoning commission, with town taxpayers paying the legal expenses for both panels. But the commission vs. board lawsuit appeared to have been averted after First Selectman Richard Smith set up a July 2 meeting between members and legal counsel for the board and commission.

Cathy Jefferson, zoning enforcement officer, said Wednesday the commission is not involved in the lawsuit between Bartlett and the zoning board of appeals. Jefferson said Bartlett received approval during the fall to lease a portion of the building to a small manufacturing business, but has not filed any applications for approval of the proposed used car dealership.

Withdrawal of Petition Halts Chester Poultry Regulations Controversy

CHESTER— After two postponements, the public hearing on a requested change to town regulations governing poultry has been cancelled after the petitioners, John and Bonnie Bennet, withdrew their request for a change to the regulations.

Only one day after town officials announced Thursday the planning and zoning commission public hearing was rescheduled for Feb. 4 in the auditorium at Valley Regional High School, the Bennets withdrew the proposal they had submitted last fall. A cancelllation notice for the public hearing was posted on the town’s website Friday by commission secretary Sally Murray.

The Bennets, 0f 23 Story Hill Road, were seeking to amend the regulations governing the keeping of poultry on residential property to prohibit the keeping of roosters and other noisy fowl. The keeping of hens would be allowed, but the Bennets had proposed increasing the minimum lot size and setback requirements from abutting property for properties containing chickens. Bennet, a lawyer with an office in Essex, is the long-time town attorney for Chester and a frequent moderator at town meetings.

The proposed changes generated strong opposition from residents. The public hearing was initially set for Dec. 6 at the Chester Meeting House, the planning and zoning commission’s usual meeting location. But anticipation of a large crowd led to a rescheduling of the hearing for Jan. 10 in the all-purpose room at Chester Elementary School.

The Jan. 10 session was cancelled that evening after more than 350 residents packed the room, with parked vehicles clogging the residential streets around the school off Ridge Road. The resident state trooper had determined the lack of parking and resulting clogged streets would have prevented emergency access to the meeting room.

Sen. Art Linares Attends Middlesex County Chamber Gathering


Sen. Art Linares (right) listens to the concerns of an area business owner during the Jan. 18 Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast.

Sen. Linares, who serves on the Commerce and Banks Committees in the state legislature, is proposing a host of pro-business initiatives, including the elimination of the state’s business entity tax.  Sen. Linares, who co-founded a renewable energy company based in Middletown when he was 19 years old, said he hopes he will gain support for his proposal from legislators on both sides of the political aisle as well as from business owners in his district.

Sen. Linares ( ) represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. He can be reached at or at 800 842 1421.


Bag of Bones – Chester Historical Society Invitation to Artists

What might you create from this “bag of bones” for the Chester Historical Society’s Bone Art Challenge this winter? Dating back to the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works in Chester in the 1930s and ‘40s, these “bones” were intended to be handles for flatware and crochet hooks (photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard)

What might you create from this “bag of bones” for the Chester Historical Society’s Bone Art Challenge this winter? Dating back to the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works in Chester in the 1930s and ‘40s, these “bones” were intended to be handles for flatware and crochet hooks (photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard)

The Chester Historical Society has come up with another fun challenge linking Chester history and art.  This spring, those accepting the 2013 Bone Art Challenge issued by the Historical Society will be working with a “bag of bones” from the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works. The “bones” were likely to have been handles for flatware or crochet hooks made in the 1930s and ‘40s at the Bishop and Watrous factory on Maple Street in Chester.

As with the Brooks for Hooks Challenge and the Bates Square Roots Challenge offered by the Chester Historical Society in past years, the Bishop and Watrous Bone Art Challenge is for area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelry designers, and all others with a creative mind.

Anyone who wants to take the challenge can stop in at the Chester Gallery on Main Street in the center of Chester to fill a bag with up to 25 bones to create a piece of “Bone Art” for an entrance fee of $25, which includes a ticket to the event. The finished works will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Bone Arts Champagne Reception on Saturday, March 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meetinghouse.

For more information, call Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery at 860-526-9822.

Essex Savings Bank to Contribute $257,991 to Charity

Essex Savings Bank President & CEO Gregory R. Shook

Essex Savings Bank President & CEO Gregory R. Shook

Essex, CT, January 15, 2013 – -Gregory R. Shook, President & Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank announced today, “We are extremely proud to report available contributions of $257,991 from our Community Investment Program in our 162nd year”.  The Bank annually commits 10% of its after tax net income to qualifying organizations within the immediate market area consisting of  Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.  This program provides financial support to over 200 non-profit organizations who offer outstanding services to the ever-increasing needs of our communities.  By year end, a total of $3,673,544 will have been distributed since inception in 1996.  Essex Savings Bank customers determine 30% of the fund allocations each year by voting directly for three of their favorite causes, charities or organizations who have submitted applications to participate.  Ballots will be available at all Essex Savings Bank Offices between February 1 and March 15 to determine an allocation of $77,397.  The Bank’s Directors, Senior Officers and Branch Managers distribute the remaining 70%, or $180,594.

Organizations (71) qualifying to appear on the 2013 ballot includes:

Act II Thrift Shop, Inc. * Bikes For Kids, Inc. * Bushy Hill Nature Center * Camp Claire, Inc. * Camp Hazen YMCA * Cappella Cantorum * Chester Historical Society * Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, Inc. * Common Good Gardens, Inc. * Community Music School * Con Brio Choral Society, Inc. * Connecticut Audubon Society Eco Travel * The Connecticut River Museum At Steamboat Dock * The Country School, Inc. * Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc. * Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, Inc. * Essex Community Fund, Inc. * Essex Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, Inc. * Essex Garden Club, Inc. * Essex Historical Society, Inc. * Essex Library Association * Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Meals on Wheels * Florence Griswold Museum *Forgotten Felines, Inc. * Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) * Friends of Hammonasset, Inc. * Friends of Madison Youth, Inc. * Friends of the Acton Public Library * Friends of the Chester Public Library, Inc. * Friends of the Deep River Public Library, Inc. * Friends of the Valley Railroad, Inc. * Graduation Night, Inc. – Old Saybrook * Hope Partnership, Inc. * Ivoryton Library Association * Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, Inc. * Literacy Volunteers – Valley Shore, CT, Inc. * Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts * Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc. * Lyme Art Association, Inc. * Lyme Consolidated School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) * The Lyme Fire Company, Inc. * Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc. * Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation * Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club (LOLJWC) * Lyme Public Hall Association, Inc. * Lyme Public Library, Inc. * Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau * Madison Ambulance Association, Inc. * Madison Historical Society, Inc. * Maritime Education Network, Inc. * Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc. * Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc. * Old Lyme Land Trust, Inc. * Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association * Old Lyme South End Volunteer Association, Inc. * Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association, Inc. * Old Saybrook Community Foundation, Inc. * Old Saybrook Education Foundation * Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc. * Old Saybrook Historical Society * Pet Connections, Inc. * Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation * Scranton Library, Madison (E.C. Scranton Memorial Library) * The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries * Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM) * Tracy Art Center, Inc. * Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc. * Valley Shore Animal Welfare League * Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc. * Westbrook Project Graduation, Inc. * Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc.


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


Stae Senator Art Linares Begins Work at State Capitol


Sen. Art Linares takes the oath of office on the first day of the 2013 session of the Connecticut General Assembly. The 24 year old Westbrook resident represents the 33rd Senate District, which encompasses Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. Linares has been named Ranking Member of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Banks Committee and Ranking Member of the Select Committee on Children. Linares will also serve on the Commerce and Education Committees. His website and he can be reached at 800 842 1421.

View video of Sen. Art Linares’ address during opening day of the Connecticut General Assembly’s 2013 Legislative Session at this link:

Democrats Carry Chester, Deep River and Essex Despite Senate Loss for Crawford

AREAWIDE— Led by the Obama/Biden presidential ticket, Democrats carried all races on the ballot Tuesday in Chester, Deep River, and Essex, despite narrow margins in the 33rd Senate District race that contributed to the defeat of Democratic nominee Jim Crawford.

Crawford, a former teacher and state representative from Westbrook, lost to Republican nominee Art Linares Jr., a 24 year-old businessman and former U.S. Senate intern, in a race where Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag pulled nearly 10 percent of the total vote. Linares, also a Westbrook resident, carried seven of the 12 district towns, including Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Lyme, and portions of the district in Old Saybrook. Crawford carried Chester, Deep River, Essex, Portland, and Westbrook.

The unofficial final result, including Colchester numbers that were not available Tuesday night, are Linares- 26,896, Crawford- 21,220, and Schlag- 4,316. Crawford carried Essex by only a single vote, 1,750 for Linares to 1,749 for Crawford, with 243 votes for Schlag. The vote in Chester was Linares- 795, Crawford-976, and Schlag-229. In Deep River, it was Linares-1,052, Crawford-1,079, and Schlag-195.

Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller carried the three area towns on his way to winning a full term in the 36th House District over Republican Vince Pacileo. Miller, a former four-term first selectman of Essex, had 2,210 votes in Essex to 1,588 for Pacileo, also a former town selectman. The Chester result was 1,315 for Miller to 676 for Pacileo. In Deep River, it was 1,419 for Miller to 894 for Pacileo. The total result was 7,105 for Miller to 5,352 for Pacileo, with Pacileo carrying Haddam.

In the presidential results, Democrats Obama/Biden carried Essex, with 2,230 votes for Obama/Biden to 1,701 votes for Republicans Romney/Ryan. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson had 29 votes. In Chester, it was Obama/Biden-1,380, Romney/Ryan-707, and 16 votes for Johnson. In Deep River, it was Obama/Biden-1,479, Romney/Ryan-932 and 16 votes for Johnson.

Democrat Chris Murphy carried the three towns in the U.S. Senate race. for Essex, Murphy-2,060, Republican Linda McMahon-1,650 and Libertarian Paul Passarelli-94. For Chester, Murphy-1,270, McMahon-711, and Passarelli-53. For Deep River, Murphy-1,354, McMahon-984, and Passarelli-63.

Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney carried the three towns to win a fourth term in the 2nd Congressional District. In Essex, it was Courtney-2,418 votes to 1,293 votes for Republican challenger Paul Formica. In Chester, Courtney-1,481, Formica-481. In Deep River, it was Courtney-1,629, Formica-658. Green Party candidatre Colin Benett had 38 votes in Essex, 45 in Chester, and 43 in Deep River. Libertarian Roger Reale had 49 votes in Essex, 18 in Chester, and 25 in Deep River.

State Representative Phil Miller Wins a Full Term; Saddened by Running Mate’s Loss

State Representative Phil Miller smiles wearily at his victory celebration on Election Night at the Griswold Inn in Essex

Although State Representative Phil Miller won his race by a comfortable margin, the fact that his running mate for State Senator, Jim Crawford, lost, cast a pall over his own victory. In beating his Republican opponent, Vin Pacileo, Miller won with a comfortable margin of over 1,700 votes.

Early totals had Miller receiving 7,083 votes to Pacileo’s 5,344 votes. In his 36th House district race Miller carried the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester. However, he lost Haddam to his Republican opponent.

Looking ahead Miller said that among other environmental issues, he would work to clean up existing pollution sites in the state. Miller is presently the Vice Chair of the House’s Environmental Committee. He said that at the next session he might attain the post as Chair of the committee.

Miller also said that he had no regrets about his sending out a letter to constituents during the campaign, pointing out that in the 33rd district State Senate race that a vote for Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag could lead to the election of the Republican candidate.   This is of course exactly what happened.

Republican Art Linares Wins 33rd Senate District Race

AREAWIDE— Republican Art Linares Jr. of Westbrook was elected as the new state senator for the 33rd District Tuesday, defeating the Democratic nominee, State Rep.Jim Crawford of Westbrook, in a race where Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag of Haddam garnered more than 10 percent of the total vote.

Linares, who succeeds ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook in the 12-town district, becomes the first Republican to hold the seat since 1992, and at age 24, one of the youngest state senators in Connecticut history. Linares carried only half of the district towns, but ran up wide margins in the northern towns of the district to outpoll Crawford by about 2,000 votes.  A preliminary total showed Linares with 20,236 votes to 18,153 for Crawford, with Schlag pulling nearly 4,000 votes.

Linares carried Clinton, Colchester ,East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Lyme and the sections of Old Saybrook in the district. Crawford carried Westbrook, the home town for both he and Linares, Chester, Deep River, Essex and Portland. But the Democrat’s margins were narrow in some towns, less than 50 votes in both Deep River and Essex. Schlag polled more than 1,000 votes in her hometown of Haddam.

The results in the three Region 4 towns include Chester- 975 for Crawford, 793 for Linares, and 228 for Schlag. In Deep River, it was 1,073 for Crawford, 1,049 for Linares, and 195 for Schlag. In Essex it was 1,762 for Crawford, 1,754 for Linares, and 243 for Schlag.

The mood was quiet among supporters at Crawford’s gathering at the Griswold Inn in Essex. The candidate remained sequestered in a side room with family members and his closest supporters as results from the four towns were phoned in. By 9:30 p.m. it became clear that Crawford was trailing. Daily and her husband, Jim, were also on hand with the group of supporters.

Crawford later told supporters he was more disappointed for them than for himself. “This did not turn out the way we hoped it would,” he said, adding “the kid worked hard and made it happen. We did the best we could, still it has been a hell of a lot of fun.”

There was excitement at the Linares gathering at the Water’s Edge in Westbrook, with more than 100 supporters cheering as Linares arrived to claim victory around 10:15 p.m. Linares hugged two key supporters who are both former state representatives for the 35th House District that has been represented for the last two years by Crawford, Republican Sidney Holbrook and Democrat Robert Landino. Holbrook held the House seat from 1982 to 1995, and was succeeded by Landino, who held the seat from 1995 to 2000.

Linares, who was a student in Crawford’s social studies class at Westbrook Middle School, praised his former teacher as “an honest and decent man.” He promised to “reach out” to both Crawford and Schlag and “welcome their input.” Linares also thanked his parents, father Arthur Linares Sr and mother, Robin, and his younger brother, Ryan, who served as campaign manager. “We have seen what business as usual has done to our state and tonight marks the dawn of a new era,” he said.

Schlag said she has no regrets about the race.  “I am very proud of my accomplishments and a grass roots campaign,” she said. Schlag said she wishes Linares “strength and courage to fight for the people and not become a pawn of his party.”

Please note than an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Art Linares lost the town of Lyme.  Linares won the vote in the town of Lyme by 655 votes to Crawford’s 583 votes.

The Polls on Election Day in Essex, Deep River and Chester; They Close at 8:00 p.m.

The early morning rush had just ended, but there was still a steady stream of voters coming into the polling stations of Essex, Deep River and Chester. By and large it looked like a large turnout of voters in the three towns.

In Essex the largest polling station in town is at Essex Town Hall. Although campaign supporters are not permitted to get too close to the Town Hall entrance door, they are permitted to hold their campaign signs at the entrance of the Town Hall parking lot.

State Representative Phil Miller at Essex Town Hall parking lot

State Representative Phil Miller of the 36th House district was personally on hand, as were sign carrying supporters of State Senate candidates in the 33rd Senate district, specifically, Democratic candidate James Crawford and Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag.

Also, in the parking lot, just after they both had voted, were the Republican 36th House district candidate, Vin Pacileo, and his wife, Laura. Neither Miller nor Pacileo made an outright prediction that they were going to win the race, though Miller said that he was “cautiously optimistic.”

Republican State Representative challenger Vin Pacileo and his wife, Laura

Up in Deep River at the polling place just behind the Deep River Library, there was also a steady stream of voters.  Working alone at the very entrance of the parking lot was local Deep River architect, John Kennedy. Kennedy is an avid supporter of Melissa Schlag, the 33rd Senate district candidate on the Green Party Line, as his decorated van illustrated.

“Melissa Schlag for State Senate” supporter, John Kennedy in Deep River

Although fervent in his support for Schlag, Kennedy hesitated to make a prediction that her victory was a “shoe in.”

Next stop, going up the west bank of the Connecticut River is the Town of Chester. By far the busiest voting station in Chester is at the Town Hall. A steady stream of voters was entering Town Hall from the parking lot to cast their ballots late in the morning.

On hand to great voters at the very entrance of the parking lot were two Democratic stalwarts, Peter Zamarei and Larry DiBernardo. Both said that the polls had been very busy throughout the morning. However, as Zamarei pointed out, “Voting is a very personal thing,” and he felt that people do not talk a lot about who they voted for.

Democratic Party supporters, Peter Zanarei and Larry DiBernardo in Chester

Also, DiBernado said that there had been no arguments at the polls. “It is too late to argue,” was the way he put it.  The campaign signs beside the two campaigners mentioned the entire Democratic ticket, including the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.

Obama re-election signs were not evident at either the Essex or Deep River polling stations mentioned above.

“Linda,” the Winner of the Political Lawn Sign War in Essex

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon has besieged Essex with lawn signs

Regardless of her qualifications for the U.S. Senate, pro or con, the clear winner of the campaign sign war in Essex is without question Republican candidate Linda McMahon.  Even a town fire hydrant is not safe from the draping of a “Linda” campaign sign.

McMahon’s campaign sign effort has two distinctive characteristics. One is that her campaign signs appeared in Essex weeks before any other candidate.  Also, in most cases McMahon shares her campaign sign positions with other Republican candidates, such as Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and State Representative candidate Vin Pacileo.

“Linda’s” lawn signs share positions with other Republican candidates as well

Democrats Came Late to the Lawns of Essex

Even now, as close as it is to the Election Day, President Obama and other Democratic candidates are way, way behind in lawn sign postings in this shoreline town. When the Democratic campaign sign postings finally did come into view, they included the signs of McMahon’s Democratic opponent for U.S. Senate, Chris Murphy, and in a few cases the top of the ticket of Obama/Biden.

Late in the campaign a few lawn signs for President Obama and Senate candidate Chris Murphy appeared

In the polls Murphy appears to be leading McMahon, regardless of the Republican candidate’s lawn sign advantage.

The reason for the paucity of lawn signs by the Democrats in towns like Essex, could well be that national Democratic strategists take for granted that Connecticut will vote for the Obama ticket.

So why waste precious campaign resources? Better to concentrate on the “Battleground States,” which virtually all commentators say will decide the national election.

This Republican sign poster wants to sell his house as well as his candidates

Foul Play in Lawn Sign War Alleged by Essex Resident

According to Essex resident Jane Siris, her Obama lawn sign, and those of several of her neighbors, are now “missing. “There were few of them to begin with,” she also said.

Originally, there was an Obama lawn sign here as well, but it was removed by persons unknown

Finally, there is an interesting footnote to the lawn sign story in Essex. On one of the most expensive properties in town, overlooking the water at Foxboro Point, there are just two campaign lawn signs in view. One is for “Linda,” and the other is for Romney.

The lawn signs of choice of a large land owner on Foxboro Point, “Linda” and Romney

Vin Pacileo Releases Statement on August Unemployment Figures

Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District

Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th House District, released the following statement on the biggest jump in Connecticut’s unemployment rate in 36 years:

“The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics just released Connecticut employment data for the month of August, which showed that the state lost 6,800 jobs. This caused the unemployment rate to shoot up from 8.5 percent to 9 percent – the single largest jump since 1976.”

“These numbers are a sobering reminder that the policies initiated by Governor Malloy and supported by Phil Miller have unfairly burdened individuals, families, seniors, and business owners. It is puzzling that our Governor continues to express open skepticism on the accuracy of these statistics, when it is obvious that the pace of economic recovery is weak at best.”

“Adding to the state’s woes, last week the University of Connecticut’s quarterly economic journal reported that the Connecticut economy will not recover all of the jobs lost during the recession until the year 2018. It is clear that the policies coming out of Hartford are not working.”

“State government continues to spend more than it earns and borrows more than it can pay back. We need to stop this irresponsible growth and expansion of state government. As your State Representative, I will roll back the income, sales, and business tax increases that were passed last year – including restoration of the full $500 property tax credit for each homeowner – while thoughtfully reducing the budget. If we work together, we can restore common sense principles to the legislature.”

The 36th State House District is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam. Learn more about Vin’s plan to return common sense leadership to Hartford at

Linares Renews Call to End “Early Release Program”

Art Linares, 33rd District State Senate Candidate

Westbrook, CT – – 33rd District Senate Republican candidate Art Linares has renewed his call to end the states early release program.

Linares made his comments in an early morning speech on Saturday after police reported that Joseph Mabery, who had 28 prior convictions and was part of the early release program, was arrested for lewd behavior on a public bus in front of a 14 year old girl in the Middletown area. In a statement later released by his campaign, Linares called upon his opponent Representative Jim Crawford, for the third time, to abandon his support of the program and join his call for Governor Malloy to halt the program. Linares continued by saying that since the program began over 700 early release criminals have committed a crime and have been returned to jail.

“How can Governor Malloy and Jim Crawford still support this program after 700 crimes? What is the number that will make them give up on this failed policy? Will it be 1000, 2000, 5000. How many murders will it take three four five what is the number that will make them start protecting the citizens.”

At the end, Linares said, “The incarceration of prisoners should be left up to Judges and prosecutors and not a bunch of Politicians in Hartford.”

Democrat Jim Crawford Receives Environmental Group Endorsements in Senate Race

Democratic State Rep. Jim Crawford of Westbrook receives endorsements from 12th District Democratic State Senator Edward Meyer of Guilford, Martin Madore, legislative and political coordinator for the Sierra Club, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman and 36th House District Rep. Phil Miller.

AREAWIDE— Democratic State Rep. Jim Crawford of Westbrook Tuesday received endorsements from the state chapters of the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters in the Nov. 6 election contest for the 33rd Senate District seat.

Crawford, a former Westbrook selectman elected to represent the 35th house District in 2010, was joined in the gazebo at the Essex Town Park by Martin Madore, legislative and political coordinator for the Sierra Club chapter. Madore said the endorsement was based on Crawford’s responses to a detailed 15-page questionnaire on environmental issues, and a subsequent interview.

“It’s not a light weight process,” he said.

Crawford also received endorsements from 12th District Democratic State Senator Edward Meyer of Guilford, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Environment Committee, and 36th House District Rep. Phil Miller of Essex, who is a vice-chair of the environment Committee. Miller, who was also endorsed by the Sierra Club and LCV chapters, had endorsed Crawford previously in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary for the state senate nomination. Meyer and Miller were present at the park Tuesday, along with Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Madore said Crawford’s two opponents in the Nov. 6 election, Republican Art Linares of Westbrook and Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag of Haddam, also received the Sierra Club questionnaire, but did not reply.

The candidates are competing to succeed 20-year Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton ,Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Letters: Candidates Should Debate!

To The Editor:

Vin Pacileo of Essex is challenging incumbent Phil Miller of Essex for the State Representative seat that represents Essex, Deep River, Chester and Haddam (the 36th District).  We need these candidates to face each other in a debate and discuss how they intend to overcome the challenges facing our state.

We must elect a representative that truly represents our local interests.   A great way to make an educated decision about who can best represent us is by contrasting and comparing candidate responses during a debate.


Susie Beckman
Ivoryton, CT



Vin Pacileo Receives Independent Party Endorsement

Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District

AREAWIDE – Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District, today announced he has received the endorsement of the Independent Party of Connecticut, the third largest political party in the state.

“I am honored to accept the endorsement of the Independent Party of Connecticut,” Pacileo said. “The Independent Party is dedicated to ensuring open, honest government, with realistic objectives. My campaign is equally committed to these goals. Voters look to their elected leaders for assurance that the government is operating with integrity and I will work to restore a culture of accountability and transparency in Hartford.”

“We are pleased to endorse Vin Pacileo for State Representative in the 36th District,” said Michael Telesca, State Chairman of the Independent Party of Connecticut. “I want to be clear that the Independent Party is not simply a rubber stamp for the Republican Party. As our name implies, we are independent. Vin is a worthy candidate for office in the eyes of Independent voters because his principled and evenhanded approach to governance are qualities necessary to solve the significant problems affecting our state.”

Pacileo continued, “The Independent Party endorsement of our campaign demonstrates the broad appeal of our message among independent-minded voters who want common sense leadership on the issues that affect our communities. My plan is to roll back the 2011 increases in income, sales, and business taxes supported by my opponent. In addition, I will work to restore the full $500 property tax credit for homeowners. These actions, combined with thoughtful budgetary reductions, will bring a halt to the culture of uncontrolled spending that exists in Hartford.”

The 36th Assembly District is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.


Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller Files Delayed Campaign Finance Report

AREAWIDE— Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller has filed a campaign finance report that had been due with the State Elections Enforcement Commission on July 10. The report, received by the commission on Sept. 5, shows Miller had raised $684 for a 2012 re-election campaign as of June 30, the end of the reporting period for the July 10 report.

Miller’s filing was delayed after his campaign treasurer and deputy treasurer, Essex residents Carla Feroni and Claire Tiernan respectively, resigned from the positions at the end of June. They were replaced in July by Fred Vollono, the Democratic town chairman in Essex who continues to serve as campaign treasurer.

The former first selectman of Essex from 2003 to 2011, Miller was elected to represent the four-town 36th House Disrtrict in a February 2011 special election. The $100 contributors to Miller include Nancy Fischbach and Carl Kaufman of Deep River, Janice Atkeson of Essex, and Matthew Gianquinto of Hartford, a registered lobbyist with the Judith Blei Government Relations firm of Hartford.

Miller faces a Nov. 6 election challenge from Republican nominee Vincent Pacileo of Essex. Pacileo served as the Republican minority member of the Essex Board of Selectmen during the  first six years of Miller’s tenure in the top job, from 2003 to 2009. The 36th House District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Pacileo, who emerged as a candidate at the May 16 GOP district nominating convention, reported campaign contributions totalling $3,575 in his July 10 filing. On August 1, Pacileo announced he had qualified for a $26,850 funding grant under the state’s Citizens Election Program by raising at least $5,000 in contributions of between $5 to $100 from at least 150 contributors living in the four district towns.

The deadline for candidates to qualify for a funding grant from the Citizens Elections Program is Sept. 27. The next campaign finance report for 2012 legislative candidates is due with the state commission on October 10, covering contributions received in the period from July 1 to Sept. 30.

Lyme Academy Professor’s Sculpture Commemorates 9/11

The Memoria Project stands serene at Highlands on the New Jersey Shore, overlooking Manhattan. Almost 8,000 people were evacuated by boat to Highlands on 9/11/01 following the Twin towers tragedy.

A long-anticipated memorial to the 9/11 tragedy, known as the Memoria Project, stands on a 1.7 acre waterside park at Highlands, N.J., with a backdrop of the New York City skyline.

The oversized, striking sculptures that form the memorial are the brainchild of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts sculpture professor Stephen Shaheen and represent an almost 10-year labor of love for the young teacher. Moreover countless members of the community have also helped to create the memorial giving it the depth of meaning and personal reconciliation that Shaheen was seeking. Shaheen notes, “People got a lot out of the opportunity to be involved in something tangible following an event where people where helpless to act.”

Shaheen was studying in Italy on Sept. 11, 2001, and was coincidentally being visited by his long-time friend Evan Urbania. Shaheen grew up in the town of Rumson, N.J., 10 minutes away from Highlands, and Urbania in the next town. This area, along with Highlands was in Shaheen’s words, “profoundly impacted by 9/11,” because he explains, “Many of the people who died had taken the ferry from Highlands to Manhattan that day. Nearly 8,000 were evacuated by boat to Highlands on 9/11, which became a major triage point for the recovery operation.”

Shaheen and Urbania, in Shaheen’s words, “went through the 9/11 experience together,” and it did not take long on their return to the US to realize that “Many of the memorials [to 9/11] that existed were, “personal effects,” or in other words, “things that were deteriorating.” Shaheen quickly conceived the idea of a lasting memorial involving the art that he both loved and taught: sculpture.

Urbania meanwhile, “figured out the nuts and bolts” and set about incorporating Shaheen’s idea as a non-profit. Thus the Memoria Project was born and, in a flurry of activity, a significant amount of fundraising was successfully achieved.

Consequently the main sculptures were carved during 2002 out of some 40 thousand dollars of white Imperial Danby marble donated by a quarry in Danby, Vt. This gift of marble – in fact, the same stone that was used for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.– “gave great momentum to the beginning stages of the project,” recalls Shaheen. At this time, the higher than 13 foot sculptures were being created in a National Park at the end of Sandy Hook, N.J., and in association with the sculpting process, some 37 free lectures and workshops were held.

After the initial burst of activity however, progress slowed to an extended halt, while the location and installation were, “Figured out.”

Finally, with the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaching and, in some ways, providing the necessary impetus for completion of the memorial, everything came together. A permanent location in Veteran’s Memorial Park in Highlands N.J. was finalized, and ground broken on the new site Aug. 22, 2011. A renewed sense of purpose enabled the stones to be in place by Sept. 9 allowing a formal commemorative ceremony to be held Sept. 11 in the new location. Between that ceremony and the subsequent Oct 23 dedication the same year, final details such as the grass planting and lighting installation were completed.

Another issue that has taken a considerable amount of time and energy was the carving of granite blocks with all 2,987 names of those who lost their lives Sept. 11, 2001. Shaheen found there were, in fact, four lists of the deceased to reconcile, which proved to be a labor-intensive process. The lists were closely examined for duplications and inconsistencies in terms of titles and name suffixes. Finally, only in August of this year, was the list finalized and engraving begun.

Brian Craig-Wankiiri, Chair of the Sculpture Department at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, comments, “Steve’s determination to produce a lasting memorial to the 9/11 victims without official funding, while at the same time involving innumerable volunteers, is a testament to his remarkable character. The finished sculpture is equally a testament to his extraordinary talent and vision. We are all honored and privileged to have such an accomplished and ambitious artist as a member of our faculty.”

The celebrations on Oct. 23 were joyous in terms of the completion of the project but still tinged with an air of sadness as a mark of respect to the events which caused the memorial to be built. The location of the memorial, looking across the Hudson River to Manhattan, will always have what Shaheen sensitively describes as a “visual connection to New York City,” which was precisely his intent.

Examples of more of Shaheen’s works will be on display in the Chauncey Stillman Gallery at Lyme Academy College as part of the Studio Faculty Exhibition, which opens Friday, Oct. 5 with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. and is on view through Nov. 17, 2012. Admission to the exhibition is free and the gallery is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.



Cappella Cantorum Men’s Chorus Concert September 29

Sunday, Sept. 9, 3:00 PM,  at the First Church of Christ Congregational, 499 Town St., East Haddam 06432. This is a Church Benefit Concert followed by a reception. The 32 member male chorus is conducted by Barry Asch and accompanied by Deborah Lyon. The concert features: Selections from Les Mis, (The Musical that Swept the World;) Swansea Town; Battle Hymn, Soon and Very Soon; Solos, and The Hill Top Four, (Barbershop Quartet) will also perform. Tickets $15 at the door, Advanced sales $12, Goodspeed Station Country Store-Haddam; Celebrations-Deep River,  call  860-537-2052 or  860-526-1038. (12 & under, free.)

Saturday, Sept. 15, 3 PM at the Kate, Katharine Hepburn Cultural Art Center, 300 Main St., Old Saybrook, CT 06475.Tickets $16, available through the Box Office,            877-503-1286,     or day of performance.

Saturday, Sept  29, 7:30 PM, Christ Episcopal Church, Guilford 06437  on the Green. Tickets $16, Concert Series sponsored by the Church  (203) 453-2279.  11 Park St., Guilford CT