April 16, 2014

“Memorializing Morgan,” Essex Woman Buys $142,000 Lot in Memory of Her Beloved Dog

Present condition of "Slum House" at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Present condition of “Slum House” at 63 North Main Street in Essex

The treasure of Ina Sue Bomze’s life has been her dog, “Morgan.” Day in and day out, rain or shine, Ms. Bomze lovingly walked her “Morgan” around the Town of Essex. Then, not too long ago, suddenly and unexpectedly, Ms. Bomze’s dog died. Ms. Bomze is still walking around Essex these days, but now she walks alone.

Ms. Bomze lives at 64 North Main Street, which is just across the street from a long vacant, dilapidated property that has been called by some the shame of Essex.

The address of this eyesore is 63 North Main Street, and it is at the corner of New City Street.

On January 25 of this year there was a formal auction of this property, and the winning bidder at the auction was Edmund Mormile of Madison. His winning bid was $142,000.

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski who handled the sale

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski who handled the sale

Because of questions about the property’s septic system, among other problems, Mr. Mormile decided that he did not want to assume the ownership of the property that he had won at auction. In response, Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski petitioned the Middlesex Superior Court for a ruling to sanction the withdrawal of Mormile’s rights of ownership to the property. While waiting for the matter to be heard, Mr. Mormile contractually assigned his right to purchase the property to Ina Sue Bomze of Essex.

On April 7 the court issued a decree permitting transfer of the property to Ms. Bomze, pending a formal closing and payment of $142,000.

That closing took place on April 11, and Ms. Bomze is now the owner of record of the property.

Ms. Bomze was not available for comment, however, the Essex attorney, Jeannine Wyszkowski, who has been handling this matter said, “I think that it is a charming conclusion for what had been an unfortunate problem for the home owners in the area, JP Morgan Chase bank and the residents of Essex. What a great solution,“Think about it!”

New Commuter Rail Station in Westbrook; a Big Plus for a Growing Shoreline Town

 

“Train Approaching” at Westbrook rail station

“Train Approaching” at Westbrook rail station

 Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop can hardly contain his enthusiasm for the newly competed Westbrook railroad station. Costing $14.4 million dollars to build, the new station includes a new, two-story over the tracks building and 200 new parking spaces.

Passengers arriving at Westbrook station

Passengers arriving at Westbrook station

The new, two story station is described by the Connecticut Department of Transportation as having, “canopy-covered, high-level-platforms on the north and south sides of the track and an ’up and over’ system’ with elevators for passengers to conveniently cross from one side of the tracks to the other.”

New station building at Westbrook station

New station building at Westbrook station

 

Continuing, “The platforms are the length of four rail cars; there is parking on both sides of the tracks, a commuter drop-off and bus pick up area, and a full audio and visual messaging system.” Also, the new station, “is fully compliant with the American with Disabilities Act,”

The new Westbrook station, like the old station it replaced, is located just off Exit 65 of I-95. Also, the new station has a competitive advantage over the Old Saybrook train station, just up the line. All parking spaces at the Westbrook station are free. Parking at the Old Saybrook station can cost $10 a day in certain areas.

Commuters Applaud New Westbrook Station

Westbrook commuters are enthusiastic about the new Westbrook train station. In a recent interview, Colin Callahan of East Lyme said that he used to park at the Old Saybrook railroad station. Now, however, he is parking at the new station in Westbrook. “They did a wonderful job,” he says about those who built the new station.

Plenty of parking spaces at Westbrook station

Plenty of parking spaces at Westbrook station

Equally enthusiastic about the new Westbrook rail station is John Frost, who goes by the name of “Jack.” A resident of Essex, Frost said about the  new station, “It has been a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait.”

Parking sign at Old Saybrook train station

Parking sign at Old Saybrook train station

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop estimates that as many as fifty percent of the passengers using the Westbrook station presently come from towns other than Westbrook. This percentage of out of town use of the Westbrook station will grow in Bishop’s view.  

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop with station design

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop with station design

“This will become a regional train station,” Bishop predicts. “People are going to come to Westbrook,” he says, “and this can’t but help our town’s economy.” Also, the First Selectman makes the point that, “the new station could never have been built with town money,” and that federal and state funds were involved. Bishop publicly thanked Daniel P. Malloy Governor, “for his commitment to public transportation.”

The Advantages of the New Rail Station

The following is a list of the advantages of the new station, according to First Selectman Bishop: 1) the new station allows passengers to go over the tracks comfortably by an elevator and an attractive walkway, 2) passengers can stay dry under the station’s new covered areas, 3) there is plenty of parking at the station, and 4) the station is just a three minutes away from Exit 65, off I-95.  

Bishop went on to note with emphasis that for Westbrook, “geography is our destiny.” Substantiating this assertion, he noted that within the town’s boundaries there are the following major attractions.

1) two major car dealerships, Honda and Toyota, 2) the large  Tanger Outlets mall with 60 brand name stores, as well as a movie theater, 3) the soon to be completed Middlesex Hospital emergency medical and outpatient center of 44,000 square feet, which can be expanded to 60,000 square feet, if necessary, 4) Brewer Pilots Point Marina, the area’s largest marina which provides over 800 slips for boaters, 5) the Water’s Edge, a premier resort and conference center on the New England Coast,  6) Westbrook’s historic town center, which is a two minute walk from the trains station, and 7) the Westbrook Elks Club, which is directly on the waters of Long Island Sound.

First Selectman Bishop says the new railroad station, “is a dream come true.” In fact, his excitement is so keen from the new station, it may give him an additional reason, why he comes to work every workday morning at 7:30 a.m.

New Hobby in Essex, the Keeping of Chickens

 

Dr. Michael J. Darre, Professor, Department of Animal Science, UCONN

Dr. Michael J. Darre, Professor, Department of Animal Science, UCONN

Who would have thought it? Well, it’s true, many residents of Essex, Connecticut, are now keeping chickens. The wide interest in this “feathery” hobby was evident at a recent program at the Essex Library. The program, which lasted well over two hours, was about just one thing, the care and feeding of backyard chickens.

The speaker at the program was Dr. Michael J. Darre, PhD, P.A.S., who is a Professor of Animal Sciences at the Department of Animal Science of the University of Connecticut. Darre invited those attending the program to contact him directly at any time, if they had any questions about raising chickens. He added that those persons attending the Library’s program might find the “UCONN Poultry Pages” of particular interest.

In passing Dr. Darre’s said that one of his own specialties was training chickens to stand still in chicken competitions. He also said that on the UCONN Poultry pages, there was information on where to purchase chickens.  

It Takes a Lot of Skills to Raise Chickens

In addition to asserting that it takes a lot of skills to raise chickens, Dr. Darre said that in raising baby chickens to the point where they are laying eggs, required the adoption of what he called a “Food Safety Plan.” He noted, ominously, that over 50,000 chickens die every year from fecal poisoning.

As regards egg production the professor said that when they are fully grown, five chickens can produce 3 to 5 eggs a day. He also said that when considering the cost of chicken feed and the construction of proper chicken housing, that from “a cost benefit analysis,” no one saves money in the cost of eggs by raising their own chickens.

He said that that there are three types of chickens that can be raised in the backyard. They are: 

1) Layer chickens, which are owned for producing eggs,

2) Meat type chickens, which are for eating, and

3) “Show bird” chickens, which are for chicken beauty contests.

He also noted that there are regular sized chickens, and “bantam,” smaller chickens.  Dr. Darre suggested that, “giving five ‘live’ chickens to another person would make a nice Easter gift.” 

Dr. Darre discussed the proper hormone supplements that are safe and nutritious for chickens, and he noted in passing that he taught a poultry class at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. The poultry professor also noted that in the hen house, older birds have a tendency to pick on younger birds, and that chicken keepers should be aware of this fact.

There then followed an extensive discussion on the proper housing for chickens. The professor pointed that “hen houses” should have proper ventilation, and that roosting chickens should be keep, “free from drafts.” Dr. Darre’s said that there should be heat sources in the hen house to protect the chickens from the cold, and that chickens should not be kept outdoors, when it is over 95 degrees. “Watch your chickens to make sure it is not too hot or too cold,” he said with emphasis.

He added that if the chickens were clucking, it meant they were happy, and when they are making distress noises, they are not. Then, the professor went into what he called, “An owner’s checklist.” One of the items mentioned was that dry litter made of pine savings was the best thing for chickens to rest on, and he cautioned against using straw in the hen house. He also suggested the use of a garden rake to spread the liter around.

There should also be a perch for the chickens to walk on, and a roost on which the birds can sleep, he said. The professor noted that the birds like to cuddle together when they sleep. 

As for feeding the birds, he said that bird feed should be bought by the bag, and that it was a good idea to buy “name brands” of feed. He also noted that chickens like to eat table scraps. He stressed as well that bird owners should make sure that the chickens have enough drinking water at all times.

Professor Darre said that chickens should be kept away from rodents, and that wild birds sometime eat chickens. Also, he advised that sick chickens should be put in quarantine. The professor also observed that in the hen house, “the birds themselves establisher their own pecking order.”

Baby Chickens for Sale in Old Saybrook

Baby chickens are frequently available for sale at the TSC Tractor Supply Co at 401 Middlesex Turnpike in Old Saybrook.

Tractor Supply Company, which sells baby chickens

Tractor Supply Company, which sells baby chickens

Store Manager Andrew Gaskine said that the store orders as many as 400 “live” baby chickens at a time, and that they are completely sold out in a matter of days. He said that state law requires that the baby chickens be sold in groups of six. The price range is $1.99 to $2.99 per chicken. Call 860-388-9641 for further information.  

Chickens for Sale sign at tractor company

Chickens for Sale sign at tractor company

 

They’re Putting in the Docks at the Pettipaug Yacht Club; It Must Be Spring

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A harbinger that spring must be on its way, is when the Pettipaug Yacht Club starts putting its docks in the water on the Connecticut River. During the winter the dock sections are stacked up in piles in the open air.

Club work crews, with the assistance of a powerful crane which can lift over 1,500 pounds, raise up docks sections one by one, and then lower them down to the waters below. Directing this procedure last Saturday was Sandy Sanstrom, a former Club Commodore and Member of the Board of Governors.

Although the club’s crane can handle heavy loads, when dock sections are being lowered into the water, work crews must physically swing the cranes and their loads into position.

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The Club’s Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, the venerable Paul Risseeuw, looks on at the docks-in-the-water proceedings.

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Club member Doreen Joslow (left) and Club Rear Commodore Kathryn Ryan (right) clear debris from the small Pettipaug beach.

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A very important step in putting in the docks consists of anchoring the dock sections, securely, to the underwater ground below. The method used at Pettipaug is that at each of the four corners of the floating dock sections, there are 21 foot hollow steel pipes holding them in place. These pipes are driven straight down to the ground underwater.

To drive the steel pipes into the ground entails using a gas powered water pump, which pumps water into the top of the steel pipes at a rate 150 gallons of water pressure per minute. This strong, gushing water, coming out at the bottom of the steel pipe, blasts away the sandy soil beneath it. This in turn creates a hole that goes deeper and deeper into the ground.

In some cases the steel pipe can burrow itself into the ground to a depth of 10 feet, according to Risseeuw.

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Here is a final look at a dock fully installed, even including an outboard ready to go. The preparation of the docks is just a prologue to the sailing of sail boats at the club. Sailing will commence as early as next Wednesday, March 18, by groups of high school sailors.

Let the races begin!

Purchaser of “Slum House” at North Main Street and New City Street in Essex Backs Out

 

Exterior of auctioned property

Exterior of auctioned property

The winner of the bid at auction to purchase the dilapidated house at 63 North Main Street in Essex has withdrawn from making the purchase. “I will not be purchasing 63 North Main Street, Essex. CT,” Edmund Mormile of Madison said in a written statement sent with a note dated March 14.  

Mormile won the right to purchase the property at an auction on January 26. His winning bid for the property was $142,000. In justifying his action to cancel his bid Mormile wrote, “After dealing with a long list of issues and potential problems two concerns are especially difficult and very expensive to resolve.”

“First,” he said, “the septic system as shown on the site plan dated 2001 can not be documented” …A map of the sanitary system (an as-built) is not on file with the Essex Health Department as required by both state and local regulations. Without verification the existence of an upgraded sanitary system is questionable.”  

The bid winner’s second concern, “is an existing and out – dated septic tank located under the building. The environmental concerns and potential cost grow.”

Mormile asserted, “If the town determined an engineered septic system is needed, then the cost of the project could increase twenty-five thousand dollars or more.” Furthermore, he wrote, “The town would only make the decision regarding the suitability of the septic system after I purchased the property, applied for a variance and a building permit.”

Momile wrote, “Although it is disappointing to reach this conclusion [of cancelling his bid], I am thankful for the experience and the lessons learned.” He concluded, “Finally, I’m grateful for all the friendly advice and good wishes received from the people of Essex.”

St. Patrick, Himself, Would Have Been Pleased with the Essex Parade

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Essex last Saturday was a triumph. The audience along the Main Street parade route, especially from the traffic circle down to the Griswold Inn, were as much as five or six spectators deep. And every one of the marchers wore at least some kind of green.  

The parade feature a wonderful variety of home town floats. Among the highlights one of many green bedecked couples, a color guard, a green-bedecked Model A Ford, a bright red tractor, a big green tree cutter, a horse drawn carriage, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman with State Representative Phillip Miller and State Senator Art Linares, Essex’s own “Sailing Masters,” always in perfect order, and a huge bunch of green balloons. Here they are and more:

St pat 1

St pat 2

St pat 3

St Pat 4

St Pat 5

St pat 6

St Pat 9

St Pat 10

St Pat 11

Stpat 7

Stpat 8

Stpat 9

Eagle Watch Boat Cruises Feature Bald Eagles Soaring and Nesting along the Connecticut River Shoreline

Eagle Watch passengers climb on board Enviro-lab III for the cruise

Eagle Watch passengers climb on board Enviro-lab III for the cruise

It would be an exaggeration to say that the Eagle Watch boat cruises, which depart from the steamboat dock of the Connecticut River Museum, get you really “up close and personal” to the bald eagles along the shoreline. Frankly, the eagles that you can see from the boat are pretty far away, at least with naked eye.

Still, the boat cruise does get you close enough to make out bald eagles circling in the sky, as well as female bald eagles sitting in their nests, protecting their young. At times Eagle Watch bird watchers even get a glimpse of a male bald eagle diving down to the nests to deliver food to its mate and their young.

High tech cameras are used by some to take photos of the bald eagles

High tech cameras are used by some to take photos of the bald eagles

Powerful binoculars are provided to passengers to make it easier to make out the details of the bald eagle sightings. Also, telescopic lenses on cameras can help in filming close ups of eagles in their nests.

Well Worth a $40 Boat Ride    

The Eagle Watch boat rides are co-sponsored by the Connecticut River Museum and Project Oceanology. The role of the museum is to sell $40 a person tickets for the boat ride, whereas Project Oceanology’s provides a safe and sturdy, 65 foot research vessel to ferry passengers up and down the cold winter waters of the Connecticut River.

Worth noting is the fact that the boat used on the trips, the Enviro-lab III, is clean and ship shape. It has open bow and stern decks, and very importantly, a large, nicely heated cabin for eagle watchers who want to come in from the cold.

Viewing the bald eagles with binoculars on the front deck of the boat

Viewing the bald eagles with binoculars on the front deck of the boat

The wintry boat cruises take somewhat over an hour and half. This provides boat passengers ample time to get a good glimpse, or a good photo, of the bald eagles that nest along the cold, cold waters of the Connecticut River this time of year.

In addition to the excitement of just going on a boat ride, boat passengers get the pleasure of the viewing the majestic spender of the river this time of year, which at times offer a bright sun shining down on the boat’s decks. You really can’t beat the price, for what you get.

The host-narrators of the boat on a recent Saturday were: (1) Bill Yule, a 15 year veteran narrator of winter boat cruises, and (2) Chris Dodge, a young marine scientist from Project Oceanology. Yule said at the beginning of the cruise that he had a bad cold, and, therefore, could not narrate. However, he would come along for the ride.

Bill Yule and Chris Dodge shared the narration duties on the cruise

Bill Yule and Chris Dodge shared the narration duties on the cruise

This meant that Chris Dodge would be handling the narrating duties of the cruise. Before he started narrating, Dodge explained what might be called the “clock system” for pointing out where the eagles are located in the sky.

This “clock system” meant that when Dodge spotted an eagle in the sky which was dead ahead of the boat, he would call out, “Eagle at 12 o’clock.” Or, if he sighted an eagle in the sky at the stern of the boat, he would call out, “Eagle at “6 o’clock.”

Eagle sightings on the right side of the boat, facing forward, would be at “at 3 o’clock,” and on the left side of the boat would be “at 9 o’clock.” The system worked well, and the passengers on board quickly caught on.

On this clear and sunny day there were a lot of eagles overhead in the sky. The bow and stern decks of the boat were crowded with bald eagle watchers. They changed positions back and forth, depending on “o’clock” positions called out by Dodge.

Viewing the bald eagles from the stern deck of “Enviro-lab III”

Viewing the bald eagles from the stern deck of “Enviro-lab III”

Eagles Up in the Sky, and On Land as Well

Not only were there eagle spotting in the sky above, the bald eagles were on the shoreline land as well. Suddenly, all this was too much for the benched bird spotter, Bill Yule, to take.

Yule soon began calling out as well over the ship’s microphone, the “clock” positions of where eagles could be sighted. It was now a joyful narrative with two, top ranked, eagle spotters, telling the 40 passengers on board, where to see the eagles. There was genuine excitement on board with Yule’s clear voice helping with the narration.

Still, because of the cold outdoors the cruise was beginning to seem a bit long. Increasingly, eagle spotters going into the spacious heated cabin for warmth.

First Up, and Then Down the River

Over the course of the cruse, the “Enviro-lab III,” first cruised north up the river, going as far as Eight Mile Island. The island takes its name from being eight miles up from the mouth of the Connecticut River, we were told.

Then, the boat came around and sailed down the river, passing the steam boat dock of the Connecticut River Museum, where the tour started, and continuing down towards the mouth of the river.

As the boat got closer to the river’s mouth, the waters of the river became more and more salty and warmer. This can mean that sometimes seals, and even a whale, can be spotted, although they did not appear on this trip.

As the boat got continually closer to the mouth of the river, the wind picked up significantly. In fact, it was blowing so hard, that the decision was made to turn the boat around and proceed upriver again.

At one point on the trip home, one of the passengers asked if the Emvio-lab III could safely go into Hamburg Cove, across the river from Essex. Tour leader Dodge said that the boat, which has a four foot draft, theoretically, could safely go into the cove. However, he said the wind in the cove might blow the boat into shallow water, therefore, it was inadvisable to go into the cove.

With more and more passengers sitting in the cabin for warmth, it was time to end the cruise. With a flawless landing, the boat came to rest at the steamboat dock of the Connecticut River Museum. What a day it had been! What a time to remember!

Bald eagle cruises will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until March 16. Call 860-767-8296 to make reservations. The boats sail from the steamboat dock of the Connecticut River Museum, which is located at the foot of Maine Street in downtown Essex.

Middlesex Hospital to Open New Westbrook Medical Center in April

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook to open in April

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook to open in April

Middlesex Hospital is on track to open a new emergency and outpatient medical center off Exit 65 of I-95 in Westbrook this coming April.  The new 44,000 square foot medical center is located at 250 Flat Rock Road, which is on the road that leads up to the Tanger Outlet Mall.

As soon as the new Westbrook medical center is completed, Middlesex Hospital will make the transition from its existing Shoreline Medical Center in Essex.  The new Westbrook location will be double the size of the Essex facility.  In addition, it will have the capacity to expand up to 60,000 square feet, if there is a need to do so.

Middlesex Hospital’s new Westbrook facility will have many improvements over the present Essex facility.  They include an expanded emergency center with 24 beds, as well as an urgent care area for non-emergency patients.  Patient privacy will be also be improved at the new center and there will be a separate outside entrance to the adjoining outpatient area.

In addition, the new facility will have a full service laboratory, an infusion therapy suite, expanded radiology services and a designated women’s imaging area.

Chester Company Donates $1 Million to New Center

Whelen Engineering, Inc., which is headquartered in Chester, is donating $1 million towards the building of the new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook.  The new Emergency Department in Westbrook will be aptly named the “Whelen Emergency Center.”

Whelen Engineering previously donated $1 million towards to the construction of a new Emergency Department in Middletown, which the hospital named the “Whelen Emergency Pavilion.”

Middlesex Hospital’s History of Medical Care on the Shoreline

Middlesex Hospital has a history, beginning in 1970, of providing medical care to the shoreline residents of Middlesex County.  The hospital first rented a space in Centerbrook, where it set up a full-service, satellite Emergency Department.

From its first day of operation, this Shoreline Medical Center in Centerbrook experienced phenomenal growth.  In fact, it soon became impossible for the medical center to remain at its Centerbrook location and properly serve an overrun of patients for the size of the facility.

Then,  two Essex residents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred P. Knapp,  came to the rescue by donating to Middlesex Hospital 10.4 acres of land on which to build a new, permanent, Shoreline Medical Center in Essex.  Today, the facility serves on average 2,000 to 2,500 patients a month in its Emergency Department alone.  In addition, the Medical Center’s Emergency Department has received a number of prestigious awards for its excellence in patient satisfaction.

Shoreline Medical Clinic in Essex, which will close this coming April when Westbrook Medical Center opens

Shoreline Medical Clinic in Essex, which will close this coming April when Westbrook Medical Center opens

Middlesex Hospital to date has not announced its plans for the building in Essex, once it has been closed and replaced by the new Westbrook facility.

Morning Storm Shows Its Bluster, But Then It Will Melt and Melt

Soon the heavy snow will be gone. The afternoon forecast for February 13 is melting snow and temperatures in the 40's. It was fun while it lasted.

Soon the heavy snow will be gone. The afternoon forecast for February 13 is melting snow and temperatures in the 40′s. It was fun while it lasted.

Griswold Inn Hosts Tour of Its Priceless Collection of Pictures of Steamboats

 

A surfeit of steamboat portraits in the main dining room of Griswold Inn

A surfeit of steamboat portraits in the main dining room of Griswold Inn

On the wintry afternoon of Sunday, February 9, the Griswold Inn hosted a tour for some 50 visitors of its priceless collection of pictures of steamboats. Throughout the 19th century steamboats along the Connecticut River were the commercial lifeblood of the state, and the town of Essex was a favorite port of call.

Leading the tour of the collection of steamboat pictures, was Geoffrey Paul, one of the three Paul brothers who own the Griswold Inn. The three Paul brothers also own the Goods and Curiosity Store across the street from the Inn, as well as Sunset Pond at the entrance to downtown Essex.

In his over two hours of lecturing, Gris owner Paul gave an informative tour of the priceless collection of pictures of steamboats that are on display at the Griswold Inn.  The tour began with Paul’s pointing out the pictures of steamboats that are on display in the new bar room of the Griswold Inn.

Portrait of a sidewinder steamboat after passing under Brooklyn Bridge

Portrait of a sidewinder steamboat after passing under Brooklyn Bridge

A highlight in the new bar room is a newly painted, panoramic portrait of Essex harbor, as it looked in the mid-19th century. Looking at what he called, “a wonderful picture,” Paul let his visitors in on a secret. The secret is that the bartender can flip a switch, which will make the picture behind the bar rock slowly back and forth.

The gentle rocking of the Essex harbor picture is supposed to replicate what it feels like, when a person is on board a gently rocking steamboat, as it comes into Essex harbor in the mid-19th century. However, Paul said that in some cases people might think that the back and forth rocking motion means that they have had too much to drink, and that it is time to go home. (Owner Paul said if a guest wants to make the picture rock, they just have to ask the bartender.)  

During the Gris tour, Paul made much of the fact that the Griswold Inn is the oldest, continuously operating bar room in the United States. The Griswold Inn opened for business in 1776, and it has serving drinks ever since, according to its co-owner.

Other bars in the country may have been opened earlier than, “the Gris,” he said, but they have not been in continuous operation. That means that the bar at the Gris has been serving drinks for 238 years continuously.  

After that factoid had been established, the visiting group moved on to the front room of the Inn to look at some more steamboat pictures, and then thru the old bar room to the picture splendid backroom of the Inn. It a room whose upper walls are covered with steamboat pictures. The profusion of steamboats portraits is staggering.  

Treasured Jacobson Steamship Portraits

The most treasured portraits of the steamboats of the 19th century on display are those painted by a leading American marine artist, Antonio Nicolo Gasparn Jacobson. The Griswold Inn owns five original ship portraits by Jacobson, and many copies are on display as well.

Portrait of late model steamboat by noted marine artist Antonio Jacobson

Portrait of late model steamboat by noted marine artist Antonio Jacobson

In addition to the Jacobson pictures, owner Paul noted that a sketch of a Norman Rockwell picture of a steamboat is on display in the new bar room. In addition to his painstaking tour of the steamboat pictures at the Gris, Paul raised the question as to who was first inventor of the steamboat in America. 

According to Paul, it was not Robert Fulton, who is frequently credited as the inventor of the steamboat, but rather was John Fitch, an American inventor who build the first functioning steamboat in the 1790’s.

Original portrait of a steamboat by Jacobson at Griswold Inn

Original portrait of a steamboat by Jacobson at Griswold Inn

Visitors do not have to book a formal tour to view the museum quality pictures of steamboats that are on display on the walls of the downstairs rooms of at the Griswold Inn. The general public is generally welcome to view the priceless collection of steamboat portrait, most especially the picture-rich in the back room of the Inn.

There is also a “gun room” in the warren of downstairs rooms at the Gris. And don’t forget that upon request the big mural in the back of the new bar room can be made to rock and forth.

Another public tour of the Griswold Inn’s collection of nautical prints and paintings is scheduled for Sunday, March 2 at five p.m. Reservations to join the tour can be made by calling 860-767-1776. The tour is very popular and space is limited, so it is would be a good idea to call early.

No “Butts” About It, CVS Pharmacies Have Stopped Selling Cigarettes; While Rival, Rite Aid, Is Still Selling Them

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The nation’s largest pharmacy chain, CVS, recently announced that it would stop selling cigarettes. However, one of its major competitors in the pharmacy business, Rite Aid, has declined not to adopt a similar policy.

Rite Aid’s Bob Neveu, who is in charge of the pharmacy at the Colonial shopping center in Essex, maintains that even though Rite Aid still sell cigarettes, it is still cutting back in selling tobacco products generally. “We used to have a special cigar section in the stores,” he says, and now they have been eliminated.

Rite Aid’s Nevey admits he has always felt that, “it was somewhat incongruous for a health goods store, like Rite Aid, to be selling cigarettes.” However, regardless of the store manager’s personal feelings, cigarettes enjoy a prime spot behind the checkout counter at the front of the store, where Marlboro cigarette packages and other brands are on full display. 

As for the CVS pharmacy chain, in its pharmacy in downtown Old Saybrook on Boston Post Road, it indeed appears that CVS is not selling cigarettes, true to its word. Not a single cigarette package was evident on recent visit. However, it does appear that CVS has not given up selling other tobacco products. On a recent visit right behind the checkout counters, although there were no cigarettes in view, there were clearly other kinds of tobacco products for sale.

CVS pharmacy where they no longer sell cigarettes

CVS pharmacy where they no longer sell cigarettes

When asked what they were, “We sell pipe tobacco and cigars,” said one of the women behind the CVS checkout counter.

 

Essex “Slum” House Sold at Auction for $142,000 to Madison Resident

 

Present condition of the interior of 63 North Main Street in Essex

Present condition of the interior of 63 North Main Street in Essex

It took 28 individual bids at the auction before Madison resident Edmund Mormile won the right to purchase the forlorn property at 63 North Main Street in Essex. The purchase price was $142,000. “I have always liked Essex,” auction winner Mormile said after his successful bid had been recognized.

Essex Attorney Jeannine Myszkowski, who conducted the auction, did so by acknowledging numbered cards held up by bidders who wanted their bids to be recognized. Soon there were only three bidders still in the completion, holding up their numbered cards. Finally, there was only one numbered card still being held up by a bidder, willing to pay the last and highest bid price.

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski conducted the auction, recognizing 28 bids

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski conducted the auction, recognizing 28 bids

The auction was over, and Mormile was the winner. To make it official Attorney Myszkowski brought down the gavel and declared his was the winning bid. The auction took no more than 30 minutes. “I was pleased with the result,” she said after the auction was over. She also ventured the opinion that to her the North Main Street property “looks like a teardown.”

To Tear Down or Not to Tear Down

However, auction winner Mormile said after his victory that he was not willing to concede that the present structure could not be rebuild; although he said that building a new structure was an option. Either way, he said, there was a real possibility that he and his wife would move and live in Essex on the site.

Auction winner Mormile is a retired educator, and he has a real estate license as well. He said that before making his bid, “I worked the numbers, and it made sense to do what I did today.” “It’s in a beautiful area,” he said, and the North Main location of the property was “a motivating factor to me” in purchasing the property.

One final note, the sale must be approved by the state Superior Court.   

Exterior of auctioned property of Edmund Mormile, pending court approval

Exterior of auctioned property of Edmund Mormile, pending court approval

Shoreline Towns Recover Rapidly From Snow Storm

Essex view of Connecticut River, frozen along the shore, flowing in the middle

Essex view of Connecticut River, frozen along the shore, flowing in the middle

The three shoreline towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester received the full brunt of the snow storm on January 21 and 22. However, recovery was quick, and in each of the three towns the main streets were completely cleared, and the secondary roads plowed and safe to drive on, by mid-morning at the latest.

Covered boats at a shoreline boatyard unaffected by the snow

Covered boats at a shoreline boatyard unaffected by the snow

Deep River gazebo covered in snow

Deep River gazebo covered in snow

In fact, in the down towns at noon, it was even hard to tell that that there had been a major snow storm the night before. However, along the shore in Essex, and on the open fields of Deep River and Chester, the major storm had clearly left its mark.

Chester downtown, very little is left of the storm

Chester downtown, very little is left of the storm

Five Book Clubs at Essex Library Keep Members, Both Busy and Informed

 

Library Director Richard Conroy (center) chairing an American History Book Club meeting

Library Director Richard Conroy (center) chairing an American History Book Club meeting

If you like to read books on a regular basis, joining one of the book clubs at the Essex Library is the thing to do.  The library’s Executive Director, Richard Conway, is in overall charge of the library’s book clubs. In addition, he personally moderates the discussions of three of them. The other two book clubs are moderated by the library’s Programming Librarian, Jenny Tripp.

Programming Librarian Jenny Trip, who leads two book clubs and has a host of other duties at the Essex Library

Programming Librarian Jenny Trip, who leads two book clubs and has a host of other duties at the Essex Library

Here is a look at the library’s five book clubs.

1) The American History Book Club

This is the oldest of the library’s book clubs, and generally there are twenty to thirty book club members attending club meetings. Recent books discussed include, “Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindberg, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1942” by Lynn Olson. Another recent selection was, “The Hopkins Touch” by David L. Roll, which highlighted the key role that Harry Hopkins played in the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

One of the unique pleasures of the meetings of this book club are the comments of two members who are retired college professors, Richard Buel and John Osborn. Hearing these two debate various nuances of American history is an extra pleasure.   

Club member, Lory ffrench-Mullen, travels all the way from Madison to attend the club’s meetings in Essex. Commenting on the high quality of the club’s discussions, she observes that, “American history is alive and well on the Connecticut Shoreline.” Continuing she says, “Whether our subject is the presidency and military history of Ulysses S. Grant, the life and accomplishments of Henry Luce, or the dramatic debate prior to World War II about America’s participation in that war, the comments and observations from everyone seated at the table lead to very lively and informative discussions.”

Also, club member John Osborn comments, “The group discusses serious books of American history.” As for the moderating skills of library Executive Director Richard Conroy, Osborn says, “He is firm but unobtrusive. He lets people talk freely, but he is ready to advance the subject under discussion, if they talk too much.”  

2) The Third Wednesday Book Club

This book club, also moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conway, holds its meetings at the Essex Meadows retirement home.  Conroy observes that the club’s members, “are very engaged in various subjects, even though they are older.”

Jean Luburg, an active member of the book club, says that she first thought that being a member of a book club, “was a stupid idea.” Now, she has completely changed her mind and says being a member of the book club is “fantastic.” Luburg is also pleased that the library director Conroy personally comes to the Meadows to moderate the club’s discussions.

A recent book discussed by the club was, “The Curse: Big Time Gambling’s Seduction of a Small New England Town” by Robert H. Steele.  

3) The First Thursday Book Club 

Library Director Conroy also moderates this book club, which meets at the Essex Library. He says that this book club, “read quality literature, both fiction and non-fiction.” Recent club selections are, “My Beloved World” by Sonya Sotomayor; “Long Halftime Walk” by Billy Lynn; and “Slaughter House Five by Curt Vonnegut.

Another selection of this book club was Carlos Eire’s, “Learning to Die in Miami.” The author, who is a Cuban refuge, was a recent guest speaker at the Essex library.

4) The Shakespeare Book Club

The library’s Programing Librarian, Jenny Tripp, is the moderator of this book club, which focuses on the plays of William Shakespeare. Recently, members have read and discussed; “King Lear,” “The Tempest,” and “Cymbeline.” The group has also read historical plays of the Bard, including a less familiar play, “King John,” and a very familiar play, “Richard III.”

5) The Classic Book Club

This book club, which is also moderated by Jenny Trip, has read such classic books as; Thomas Mann’s “Magic Mountain,” “The Leopard” by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, and classic books from “Beowulf to Brideshead Revisited,” according to Tripp.

The interior of the Essex Library, where four of the library’s five book club are held. The fifth book is held at Essex Meadows.

The interior of the Essex Library, where four of the library’s five book club are held. The fifth book is held at Essex Meadows.

The Library Director’s View of the Book Clubs

Library Director Conroy says that by personally moderating the book clubs, “it gives me the opportunity to really interact with our library patrons, and they get to know me as well.” Conroy brings an impressive academic background to the book club meetings. He has a B.A., and an M.A. in Library Science, from Connecticut Central University. He also has an M.A. from Trinity College in Hartford.

Conroy says, “I am a voracious reader,” which is fortunate, because he has to keep up with the reading assignments of three very active book clubs, in addition to his administrative duties at the Essex Library.

As for Programming Librarian Jenny Tripp, she also has other responsibilities at the library besides moderating book club discussions. They include organizing and publicizing the library’s adult programs, setting up film showings, and editing the library’s newsletter, Ex Libris. It’s a full plate for a part time employee.  

Paintings by Local Artist, Luisa Kreis Whiting, On Display at Essex Library

 

Luisa Kreis Whiting displaying her paintings at the Essex Library

Luisa Kreis Whiting displaying her paintings at the Essex Library

Clouds, clouds, and even more clouds, that is the first thing that strikes a visitor in viewing the paintings by Essex artist, Luisa Kreis Whiting. In many of Whiting’s paintings, the clouds receive far more emphasis then the ground below.

There are thirteen original paintings by Whiting presently on display at the Essex Library. They are located on the wall across from the check-out desk, and along the walls of the library’s program room as well.

Whiting, who has spent a lifetime as a painter of pictures, has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. As for the style of her paintings she says seeks to emulate the work of the American master, Edward Hopper. “He is my ideal,” she says, mentioning specifically “the hard-edged light” that she finds in Hopper’s paintings.  

New England moonlight from painter’s imagination

New England moonlight from painter’s imagination

In addition to her paintings of clouds, Whiting in other painting seeks to portray the classic simplicity of the houses in New England, and a number of paintings on this subject are in the exhibit. As for Whiting’s background, she is an Artist Member of the Essex Art Association, and her paintings have been exhibited in the Left Bank Gallery in Essex, the Town Hall in Clinton and at the Essex Yacht Club.

Clouds over a New England landscape

Clouds over a New England landscape

As regards her family, she has three daughters and five grandchildren. For a period Whiting living in Richmond, Virginia, where she had a number of exhibitions of her works. However, she feels that, “The taste for art is much better here [in New England] than in Virginia,” although she has high praise for the mansions found in the south.

Her Father a Noted Artist  

Whiting is the daughter of a major American artist, Henry Kreis. Kreis was an immigrant from Germany, who proudly became an American citizen. His creative works are featured in a number U.S. government buildings in Washington, D.C., and he designed the official medal for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, among many other government commissions of his art and sculpture.

Also, Whiting’s father loved Essex and made the town his home for very many years. Now, his daughter, Luisa, is back in town, displaying her own works at the Essex Library.    

Essex Eyesore Is Up for Sale, Finally – Auction This Saturday

 

Sign presently on the property at 63 North Main Street

Sign presently on the property at 63 North Main Street

After literally years of waiting, Essex’s number one eye sore, the decaying property at 63 North Main Street at the corner of New City Street and across from busy Grove Street, will be up for sale at a court-ordered, public auction on Saturday, Jan. 25.  The auction will begin at noon and persons wishing to inspect the property beforehand can view it from 10 a.m. on the day of the auction.

A $150 deposit by check will be required from all bidders at the auction.  The checks should be made payable the bidders themselves, and they should be given before the auction to Essex-based Attorney Jeannine M. Wyszkowski, who is conducting the auction.  She will hold the checks until the conclusion of the auction.  Then she will return all checks, except the check of the winning bidder, whose check will be retained.

To answer further questions about the auction, Attorney Wyszkowski can be reached at her law office at 860-767-0195, or by writing her at P.O. Box 393, Essex, CT 06046.  To date Attorney Wyszkowski says there has been “lots of interest” from potential buyers of the property being auctioned.

A number of prospective buyers have told Attorney Wyszkowski that they would renovate the present property on the site, if they had the winning bid.  Others have told her that they would tear down the present building on the site and put up a new one.  In addition, there has been some discussion of turning the property into a public pocket park.

The abandon property up for sale at auction on January 25

The abandoned property up for sale by auction on Jan. 25

How the Auction Will Proceed

As to how the auction will proceed, the bank that presently holds the property may make an opening bid of $130,000, according to Attorney Wyszkowski.  Then, after this sum has been announced, she might ask for a bid of $140,000.  If this bid accepted, and there is no further bidding, that would be the final sale price of the property.  Or, of course, if there were other bids from registered buyers, the bid price could go higher and higher.

Attorney Wyszkowski is confident that the bidding will go smoothly.  “I have done it before,” she says.

Attorney Jean Wyszkowski will conduct auction of slum house on January 25

Attorney Jean Wyszkowski will conduct auction of the derelict house on Jan. 25

 

New Executive Director Has Big Dreams, Plans for Connecticut River Museum

Chris Dobbs, new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum

Chris Dobbs, new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum

Imagine if you will, a vintage, side-wheeler steamboat tied up, smartly, at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum. Imagine as well that on given days, this old, classic steamboat carries modern day passengers up and down the Connecticut River on both educational and pleasure cruises.

This is just one of the ambitious dreams held by the Connecticut River Museum’s new Executive Director, Christopher I. Dobbs. (He prefers to be called “Chris.”) Chris Dobbs recently replaced the museum’s former Executive Director, Jerry Roberts.

A resident of Deep River, the 42 year old Dobbs comes to his new post at the Connecticut River Museum after a nine year stint as Executive Director of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society in West Hartford. Prior to that, Dobbs was the Associate Director of Education at the Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea. Dobbs has an M.A. in Museum Studies from the State University College of New York, Cooperstown, New York.

To help him get the Connecticut River Museum’s top job, Dobbs submitted to the search committee an impressive, three paged, single space, small type resume, setting forth his previous experience and multiple accomplishments in the museum field. For example, his resume notes that as head of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, he “Developed and completed $1.2 million capital campaign (raised 20% more than goal).”

Also, noted is that in his previous position he “Acted as the chief fundraiser by working with individual donors, foundations, city government, and State of Connecticut legislatures and agencies, and that he “increased endowment 45%.

"Conversational" billboard entrance to the Museum

“Conversational” billboard entrance to the Museum

It is highly likely that the new Executive Director’s fund raising skills did not go unnoticed by the Connecticut River Museum’s search committee for a new Executive Director. Further evidence of Dobbs, successful fund raising was that he managed and fundraised for a 250th Birthday celebration for his previous employer’s namesake, Noah Webster.

The Dream of a Steamboat Tied Up at Steamboat Dock

In a recent interview Dobbs demonstrated that he is a person who can dream big. For example, he suggested that at some future date the Connecticut River Museum might acquire a fully working, side paddling steamboat. With this historical coincidence in mind, the new steamboat would be docked at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum. In the 19th century the Steamboat Dock was a frequent stop for steamboats operating along the river.

As for the present availability of old steamboats, Dobbs said, “There are some of them still around for sale.” Dobbs asks what could be more appropriate than to have a working steamboat tied up at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum.

This does not mean that the museum’s present sailboat, the “Mary E,” which seasonably carries paying passengers on short cruises up and down the Connecticut River, would be replaced immediately. However, the new Executive Director feels that having a working steamboat at the Steamboat Dock would be uniquely consistent with the Connecticut River Museum’s mission and history.

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

This talk of steamboats does not mean that Dobbs is not completely on board in commemorating next year’s 200th anniversary of the 2014 burning of the American ships in Essex by British forces during the war of 1812. However, Dobbs clearly feels that this one-time historic event should not be the principal focus of the Connecticut River Museum.

Tying the Museum to the Entire Connecticut River

Rather, the central mission of the museum in Dobbs’s view is that it should focus on the full length of the Connecticut River. As Dobbs puts it, “This is, after all, the Connecticut River Museum, and, therefore, the entire length of the river from the Canadian border down to the rivers mouth on Long Island Sound is what this museum should be all about.” It should be noted that the Connecticut River is 407 miles long, and that it begins just below the Canadian border and runs down to its mouth on Long Island Sound in Connecticut between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme.

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

Activities that the museum could sponsor, could be canoe excursions on the upper Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire. In addition, the new Executive Director envisions joining the fight against pollution in the Connecticut River, as well as children’s programs about animal and aquatic life along the Connecticut River, including teaching young and old how “to hold a fish and touch a crab.”

Dodd also raptures that the Connecticut River is, “America’s First Blue Way.” Also, like many environmentalists, he is grateful that the mouth of the Connecticut River between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme “has not been spoiled by development.”

In sum, Chriss Dobbs, the new Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, takes a broad and exciting view of his new position. As he puts it, “We are the Connecticut River Museum, and that is the Connecticut River, and that is what we are about.” He continues, “That means that the museum is entwined with the river, every single mile of it.”

 

New $28 Million Medical Center in Westbrook Is on Track to Open in April 2014

The new Westbrook medical center under construction

The new Westbrook medical center under construction

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook is scheduled to open its doors to receive patients, as early as April 2014.

The Whiting-Turner Construction Company of New Haven is in charge of constructing the new Medical Center in Westbrook. The company estimates that the new facility will be finished by March 2014. Then, it will take much of April 2014 for Middlesex Hospital to furnish the new Center and to install medical equipment.

New Center Can Expand to 60,00 Square Feet

The new Medical Center in Westbrook will initially have 44,000 square feet of working space. However, the Center can be expanded to 60,000 square feet, if it becomes necessary. By contrast the Hospital’s present Medical Center in Essex is just over 20,000 square feet. On an historical note, the Essex facility has provided emergency medical care for shoreline residents for over forty years.

There is still work to do

There is still work to do

The new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center will be located on Flat Rock Place, which is just off Exit 65 of Interstate I-95. Flat Rock Place is a four-lane access highway, which has the auto dealerships of Honda and Toyota at the bottom end and the Tanger Outlets shopping mall at the top. The new Medical Center will be located half way up Flat Rock Place on the left hand side.

The present medical center in Essex

The present medical center in Essex

When complete, the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will have, “a whole host of diagnostic and treatment services,” according to hospital sources.  In addition, “radiological services will expand to include a new MRI testing area, and a designated woman’s imaging area.” Also, the new Center in Westbrook will continue to provide 24/7 medical care, and it will have a helipad for emergency helicopter trips, as well as paramedic services.

Advantages of New Westbrook Location

In addition to a large roster of medical services at the new Westbrook facility, there are significant access advantages as well. The new Westbrook center will be conveniently located, just off I-95 at Exit 65.

Also, the new Westport location will permit patients from towns, such as Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Clinton and Guilford, to have direct I-95 Interstate access to the new facility. In addition, the residents of Deep River, Chester and Haddam, via Route 9, will have I-95 Interstate access to the new Center as well.

Although patients from Essex will no longer have their very own medical center right in town; still it will be only be a few extra miles down Route 153 for Essex residents to reach the new Westbrook Center.

An Autumn Parade, As the Leaves Turn

The leaves of autumn are a progression. They go from splendid color to the skeletal forms of leafless branches. Here, is what this progression looks like, courtesy of the trees on North Main Street in Essex.

First, there is an autumn tree in full colored splendor

First, there is an autumn tree in full colored splendor

 

Next, there come a tree, just beginning its trip to winter’s leaflessness

Next, there come a tree, just beginning its trip to winter’s leaflessness

And, finally, hardly a single leaf remains, and so the trees will stay until next Spring

And, finally, hardly a single leaf remains, and so the trees will stay until next Spring

 

Rough Seas Cancel Pettipaug Rowing Event

Taking the shells into the water shortly after 7 a.m.

Taking the shells into the water shortly after 7 a.m.

It was just too “doggone” rough on the Connecticut River last Sunday to hold the annual race of rowing shells (or sculls, if you prefer), sponsored by Essex’s Pettipaug Yacht Club. The river had a vicious chop, caused by a strong wind blowing down from the north, and a strong tide coming up from the south.

It was a “perfect storm” scenario for swamping the competing rowing shells. After all, racing shells have only three inches of freeboard above the water line, and on Sunday the waves were up to five and six inches. Clearly, the river was an unsafe place for shells to be.

Taking the shells out of the water shortly thereafter.

Taking the shells out of the water shortly thereafter.

In fact, some the boats that had gone out into the river before the start, where the wind was gusting up to 15 knots, were now coming back swamped to their gunnels. Race Director Paul Fuchs had had enough, and just before the scheduled eight o’clock start, he called off the race.

The would be racers gather for a photo of the race that wasn't.

The would be racers gather for a photo of the race that wasn’t.

After all, John Kennedy, Chairman of Pettipaug Yacht Club’s Races and Regattas Committee, had taken out a U.S. Coast Guard permit to hold the race. Most certainly, this permit had been offered with the understanding that a permitted race should not go forward under unsafe conditions.

Pettipaug Race Ended Shell’s Racing Season

The cancelled regatta at the Pettipaug Yacht Club last Sunday was the last race of a series of races held by a regional shell racing organization. The organization has members from all over New England and Connecticut, including shell rowers from Boston, New Haven and New York.

Thirty-three racing shells with their owners had shown up to participate in the canceled regatta last Sunday. If the race had gone forward, the crews would have rowed two kinds of shells: 1) a two-person shell of 34 feet in length, and 2) a one person shells of 27 feet.

The larger two person shells, if they had raced, would have had been manned by all male crews, all female crews and mixed male and female crews. The smaller, one person shells had both men and women crews. When new, a 34 foot long, racing shell can cost as much as $18,000, and the 27 foot shell, as much as $13,000.

As a footnote to the cancelled Sunday regatta, the Pettipaug Yacht Club had no less than eight, rescue powerboats in the water, ready to fish out swamped shells, if it had become necessary.

As for the race course of the race that was not, it would have stretched over a ten miles. The race would have begun at a starting line, just off the Pettipaug Yacht Club. Then, it would have run north up the Connecticut River, before turning into Selden Creek. The course would have continued around Selden Island, and back into the river. To finish the competing shells would have rowed south down the river to the starting line, where the race began.

Essex Resident Served on Shore Crew of U.S. Winner of Recent America Cup Race

Essex resident Jason Sanstrom holding the American's Cup after the race

Essex resident Jason Sanstrom holding the American’s Cup after the race

Jason Sanstrom, an Essex resident, played an important role in the recent winning of the America Cup by Oracle Team USA. Jason is the son of Sandy Sanstrom, a Member of the Board of Governors of the Pettipaug Yacht Club in Essex.

The younger Sandstrom, 27, is a specialist in the carbon fiber construction of racing sailboats. Because it is lighter and stronger, carbon fiber construction has become the favorite over fiber glass, in the construction racing, sailboat hulls.

The younger Stanstrom worked not only on this year’s American entry in the 34th America Cup Race, he also worked on the American entry in the 33rd America Cup Race. In this year’s final race the America team, Oracle Team USA, beat out the Emirates Team New Zealand by a mere 44 seconds.

To capture the America’s Cup the U.S. team, funded by Larry Ellison, had first to win seven consecutive races in order to catch up with the New Zealand team. In the final race, initially, the New Zealand boat had a 40 meter lead; however, eventually the wind and the tide favored the Americans in going upwind, which enabled them to win.

The entire cup race lasts barely twenty minutes; the boats are so fast in going around the course.

Talk at Essex Meadows on America’s Delayed Entry into World War II

IMG_7401Author Lynne Olson, whose recent book, THOSE ANGRY DAYS, Roosevelt, Lindbergh and American’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, spells out in unsparing detail the inexcusable long time that it took America to join the fight against imperial Japan, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in World War II.

Olson will speak on this theme at an open public meeting at Essex Meadows on Sunday, September 29 at 3:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Churchill Society, and a voluntary contribution of ten dollars is requested from those attending. Refreshments will be provided by Essex Meadows after author Olson’s talk.

Roosevelt Goes Slow in Going to War

As Olson notes in her book, although Great Britain’s war time leader, Winston Churchill, was literally begging Roosevelt to have America enter the war against Nazi Germany as soon as possible, the President’s  response was to parcel out support for Britain, one slow step at a time. The President’s excuse was that he did not want to get ahead of American public opinion, which he felt at the time did not want to go to war.

In her book Olson also writes how Roosevelt, ever so slowly, doled out aid to Great Britain. America’s first concrete gift was to give the British, 50 American World War I-vintage destroyers.  However, in return for these creaky, old ships, the President required Britain to hand over to the U.S. a number of British bases in the West Indies.

Author Lynne Olson

Author Lynne Olson

Next, there was the American Lend Lease program, in which Roosevelt adopted the fiction that the U.S. was not giving aid to Great Britain but rather simply lending it. Finally, there was the issue of America destroyers protecting convoys of British ships, which were crossing the Atlantic Ocean with much needed aid for Britain.

However, even when an American destroyer was sunk by a German U-boat, as Olson reports, killing 115 Americans crew members, Roosevelt did not protest such a war-provoking attack. In fact, not until Japan’s surprise attack against Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when eight American battleships were sunk, did Roosevelt call upon the Congress to declare war against Japan.

However, the President at the time did not ask the Congress to declare war against Germany or Italy, the two other Axis powers. This meant that for a short period there was speculation that America would only be at war with Japan. However, then on December 11, 1941 Germany and Italy declared war or the U.S., and finally Roosevelt asked the Congress to declare war on them as well.   

Charles Lindbergh, America’s Voice for Peace

As Olson spells out in her book, it is difficult to imagine now, just how popular Charles Lindbergh was after he made the world’s first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.  He was, literally, idolized both in Europe and America. Making him an even more evocative figure was the tragic kidnapping and murder of his young son, Charles, Jr.

After his son’s death, Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, moved to England and France for a number of years. While in Europe Lindbergh became deeply impressed by the Nazi regime of Adolph Hitler.  In fact, in 1938 Lindbergh had become such an unabashed Nazi sympathizer that he accepted the “Service Cross of the German Eagle” from the Hitler regime. The medal was personally presented to Lindbergh by Nazi Luftwaffe chief Herman Goering.

After Lindbergh returned to the United States, he became a much sought after speaker by America peace groups, such as America First. These groups were dead set against America becoming involved in another European war like that of World War I. Even after the fall of France to the Germans, and the relentless bombing of London and other British cities by the Luftwaffe, Lindbergh and his pro-peace allies counseled that the America should not take sides in the European conflict.

However, as Olson notes, Lindbergh finally took a step too far. In a speech in September 1941 in Des Moines, Iowa, he said that American Jews pose a particular “danger to this country,” because of “their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.” This was even too much for the isolationist Chicago Tribune, who in the past had praised Lindbergh for his anti-war activities, and who now repudiated his remarks.

However, for all of Lindbergh’s pro-peace activities, after the U.S. went to war against Japan, Germany and Italy, he totally committed himself to the American cause.  He even flew combat missions as a pilot in the Pacific against the Japanese, and worked on making more effective U.S. war planes, as is duly noted by Olson.

Chester Boy Scout Builds Bridge in Bushy Hill Nature Camp to Qualify for Eagle Scout Rank

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

Tyler R. Johnson, a 17-year old Chester resident, and six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, recently supervised the complete rebuilding of a much needed bridge in the Bush Hill Nature Camp in Ivoryton.

The bridge building project fulfilled for Johnson a necessary requirement for him to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. The new bridge connects the Red Trail to Berry-Berry Island in the Bushy Hill Camp.

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The new bridge is 22 feet in length and three feet wide, and it has new, four foot high, rope railings on both sides. All of the work on the new bridge was supervised by Johnson, who was assisted by 15 or more Boy Scout volunteers.

As a reward for their efforts, the volunteers received “services hours,” which are necessary for their advancement in the ranks of the Boy Scouts.  For Johnson the bridge-building project fulfilled for him the requirement to have an “Eagle Leadership Project” to become an Eagle Scout.

Johnson is a six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, and to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, he had to pass through the ranks of scouting from Tenderfoot to Eagle, with four other ranks in between. In the process Johnson earned 33 different Boy Scout merit badges, ranging from Swimming to Financial Management, from Citizenship to Small Boat Handling.

Commenting on his bridge building project, Johnson said, “I wanted to give back to the [Bushy Hill Nature]camp, which I attended for seven years, and for which I have fond memories.” Johnson also very much wants to have the impressive rank of Eagle Scout on his resume,’ as he searches for a college to attend next year.

Chester's Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester’s Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester Village West, a Luxury Retirement Community on Top of a Hill in Chester

Entry sign of Chester Village West, located on the western boundary of Chester

Entry sign of Chester Village West, located on the western boundary of Chester

To reach Chester Village West come north on Route 9, and then get off at Exit 6. Next, at the bottom of the ramp, take a left on to Route 148, and then drive up what feels like a long, long hill.  As you climb, there is almost nothing but full grown tress along both sides of the road.

Then, suddenly, on your left you see the large sign for Chester Village West. You have now reached a state of the art, fully developed, top of the line, retirement community.

Entrance road into Chester Village West, a meticulously kept retirement community

Entrance road into Chester Village West, a meticulously kept retirement community

Running the show at the retirement community is Executive Director Robert Taylor, who terms Chester Village West, “a premier, senior living community.” There are presently 105 residents at the “community,” tended, and cared for, by a staff of 43.

A key member of the staff at the community is Nurse Navigator Catherine Balliett. She is the “go to” person, whenever a resident has a medical question, which can range all the way from a troublesome hang nail to a worrisome pain in the chest.

The living quarters at Chester Village West consist of 90 apartments and 15 semi-detached houses. The apartments have four layouts, which are: one bedroom, one bedroom with den, two bedrooms, and two bedrooms with den. As for the semi-detached houses, they all have two bedrooms, with a choice of two different layouts plans.

These accommodations, as well as the other amenities at the community, are located on 25 acres of developed land on the western town line of Chester. Abutting the developed acreage, are 25 more acres belonging to Chester Village West, which are wetlands.

The Large Corporate Owner of Chester Village West

Chester Village West is wholly owned by Life Care Services, which has its headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. In total the company owns 17 senior living facilities, including Chester Village West, and it is also the managing partner of 112 other senior living facilities. In total the company has operations in 38 states.

The relevance of this wide experience, says Chester Village West’s Executive Director Bob Taylor, is that when it comes to senior living,  “We perfected it.” Taylor is also not reluctant in comparing his retirement facility in Chester with Essex Meadows in Essex. “We consider Essex Meadows as one of our competitors,” he says.

Taylor’s number one desire for residents at Chester Village West is that he wants all of them to feel that, “This is your home.”

The Array of Services at Chester Village West  

The services that are available at Chester West are truly staggering. They include one meal a day prepared by a, “five star,” Master Chef in the person of Chris Pardue, who even has his own herb garden.  Furthermore, residents are offered not only “gracious” dining with full table service, if they prefer there is “take out” service as well.

In addition to the one table served meal a day at Chester Village West, there is also complementary morning coffee and Danish as well. Also, at the community, residents are provided with: housekeeping services, linen services, scheduled transportation, utilities services, a full-time maintenance staff, lawn and garden care, 24-hour security, a full time Activities Director, shopping services, and a 24-hour Home Health Aide.

Also, the community has a backup generator to use, just in case regular power goes out. “It was a top priority upon my arrival, “says Executive Director Bob Taylor. In addition, Chester Village West is “pet friendly.”

More Features at the Chester Village West

Other attractive features at Chester Village West include: apartments with eat-in kitchens, which have either balconies or patios, and semi-detached houses with garages and fireplaces. Also, on site are an indoor swimming pool, a pub, a library, a music room and theater, a card room, a creative arts room, a beauty shop/barber shop, an exercise room, a greenhouse, and a pond with a gazebo.

In addition, for emergencies there is an emergency response system in each apartment or house, as well as a fire alarm system throughout the facility.

In conclusion, Executive Director Bob Taylor says, “The true value of Chester Village West can only be appreciated by touring the community, walking its many trails, and meeting staff and residents first hand.”

For further information, and for a private guided tour, interested parties can contact Sara Philpott, Marketing Director, Chester Village West, at 860-526-6800.

Essex Meadows to Hold Three Retirement Workshops This Coming Fall

Sign at the entrance of Essex Meadows.

Sign at the entrance of Essex Meadows.

Essex Meadows, which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary, will hold three workshops on retirement options this coming fall. The title of the series is “The Future is Yours – Making the Right Retirement Choices,” and will cover various aspects of retirement planning.

There are several dates for each workshop.  All of the workshops will be held at Essex Meadows, which is located at 30 Bokum Road in Essex.  Each workshops begins at 10 a.m. and is followed by lunch.  These workshops are open to the public, but space is limited to 10 participants per session.  Reservations can be made by contacting Karen Hines at (860) 767-7201, or visiting the website at www.essexmeadows.com.

Workshop 1 is titled “Your Future/Your Options” and attempts to define the various residential and medical retirement options.  Whether your desire is to remain in your current home, downsize, or explore one of the many retirement options available in Connecticut, this retirement workshop can provide you with planning strategies and the tools you need.

Workshop 2 is entitled “Long Term Care Insurance: What you need to know.” This workshop has been designed to review the generic framework of long term care insurance.  Policy holders will learn more about their benefits, elimination periods, and other specifics to help them become more comfortable with policy language and procedure.

Workshop 3 is titled “I’m Ready, What’s Next?” and has been developed for those who are truly ready to take the next step.  This workshop offers guidance if you are at the point where you’ve completed your research, you’ve visited several communities, you’ve found a retirement option that appeals to you and will require a physical move, and now feel almost ready to solidify your retirement plans.  This is truly the nuts and bolts blueprint for organizing the next phase of your retirement lifestyle.

Presenters with Long Experience in the Field

The Presenters at the workshops are Susan Carpenter, who is the Marketing Director of Essex Meadows, and Maureen Campbell, who is the President of Pearce Plus Senior Services.

Ms. Carpenter has over two decades of research and experience in the retirement industry. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and she has done graduate work in gerontology and thanatology (the study of death and dying) at the College of New Rochelle.

Ms. Campbell brings over 29 years of experience working with families in transition. She is a Certified Relocation Professional and a Global Mobility Specialist from the Worldwide Employees Relocation Council. In 2007 she was recognized as one of the Top 20 Business Women by Business Times Magazine.

For more information on the workshops or other special events and lectures, please visit www.essexmeadows.com.  Essex Meadows, where we believe life is anything but retiring.

Old Saybrook Photographer Releases Photo of the Preserve, Which He Helped Save from Development

Lorenz_Preserve_01

Aerial photograph of the undeveloped, forested Preserve courtesy of Robert Lorenz, Lorenz Photography

Old Saybrook resident, Robert Lorenz, has played a leading role in the effort to save to 1,000 acres of forested land from development. Specifically, he has served as the “injured party” in a number of legal actions against those who wanted to developer the Preserve with private homes, golf courses, country clubs, parking lots, and “other improvements.”

The reason that Lorenz has been able to play this role is that he is the co-owner of forty acres of land that abut the Preserve land. This gives him legal “standing” in court to assert that his personal property would be damaged by the various schemes put forward by the would-be private developers of the Preserve.

Lorenz is also a professional photographer, and to mark the recent agreement, whereby the Trust for Public Land will organized the purchase of the 1,000 acre Preserve property from River Sound Development, LLC, upon payment of $10-$11 million, he has made available for publication a striking aerial photograph of the undeveloped, forested Preserve.

In the aerial photograph that Lorenz took the general parameters of the Preserve can be made out. They include:

1) Very clearly, running along the bottom of the photograph one can see Route 153, sometimes called Plains Road and Westbrook Road. The vacant, forested land pictured above Route 153 marks the northern boundary of the Preserve.

2) As for the southern boundary of the Preserve property, it runs at the top of the photo, just below visible line developed property along the shoreline of Long Island Sound.

3) Very clear as well at the top left of the photo is the mouth of the Connecticut River, as flows into Long Island Sound.

4) Finally, in the midst of the forested land in the photo, there are two parallel lines, which are abandoned railroad tracks.

New York City Developer Sells First Building Lot on Foxboro Point Site for $1,125,000

Close up of the construction of the new house on Lot 1

Close up of the construction of the new house on Lot 1

Prominent New York City New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr., has sold the first lot on his 11.4 acre development site at Foxboro Point in Essex.  The lot is on the last significant, large open space on the waterfront in Essex. The price paid for this Lot 1 was $1,125,000 for the land alone. The cost of a house at 19 River View Street will be additional.

Construction site at Lot 1, which cost $1,125,000 for the land alone

Construction site at Lot 1, which cost $1,125,000 for the land alone

Developer Sciame said in a statement, “We are pleased with the sale of our first lot at the Foxboro Point development site. It substantiates our belief that our development on the Essex waterfront will be a great success.”

Sciame’s Foxboro Point development property consists of eight building lots, which curve around Foxboro Point, facing the waters of North Cove. The centerpiece of the development is the Croft Mansion. Among the other lots is for sale is the one that contains Foxboro Point’s iconic windmill.

The iconic windmill on the site will be built with new living quarters

The iconic windmill on the site will be built with new living quarters

Work Going Forward on Other Parcels

In addition to the sale of Lot 1, which is located at the far right end of the development site facing North Cove, the developer is offering Lot 2 as a package consisting of a “build-to-suit” house and the grounds around it. The estimated sale price is $3,000,000 for the house and grounds at 21 River View Street.

The “New Insides” of the Croft Mansion

Developer Sciame has also embarked on a total renovation of the Croft Mansion, which has largest lot in the development with 1.5 acres. The renovations of Croft Mansion will include a new, open floor plan featuring a new open kitchen and open living and dining areas as well. In addition, the grand staircase of the mansion will be enlarged to permit sun light to filter down from the third floor to the first floor.

The Croft Mansion, the center piece of the new development on Foxboro Point

The Croft Mansion, the center piece of the new development on Foxboro Point

Other renovations will include: 1) the installation of new mechanical systems, 2) new windows throughout, 3) new bathrooms, and 4) a new state of the art kitchen with all new appliances. The asking price for the renovated Croft Mansion and the land, which has sweeping views of the waters of North Cove, will be in the neighborhood of $3,500,000.

In addition, there is an option of adding an additional building lot that would accommodate a swimming pool, which would raise the price to $4,900,000.

Finally, Sciame’s plans for Foxboro Point will include putting the Windmill site up for sale. The developer says that the site is large enough to accommodate a livable residence. Sciame asking price for both the windmill and its grounds is $1,950,000.

During the lengthy approval process before the Essex Planning Commission, many Essex residents expressed their approval of the new development at Foxboro Point, noting that it would add new real estate taxes to the Town of Essex.

However, one Essex resident, William Reichenbach, who lives on New City Street in Essex, charged that the Commission had neglected the town’s own open space and public access regulations in approving the application. The Commission did not accept this argument.

There was also a brief discussion by the Commission about requiring the developer to build a pedestrian path, running from Foxboro Road down to the waters of North Cove. However, a view easement was approved from the road to the water instead.

State’s Open Meetings Law Violated

The vote by Planning Commission members to approve the project was by a secret ballot, which appeared to violate the state’s Open Meeting Law. However, an objection to the secret vote was not made in a timely manner, so the vote was valid.

In a concluding statement developer Sciame noted, “There is a border along the waters of North Cove, as well as a view easement to protect water views. Together, these protected lands occupy 3.63 acres, or 30% of the [development] property.”

Local Westbrook Painter, Jeffry Sabol, is in the Big Leagues Among Maritime Artists

Finishing a painting of Bar Harbor, Maine. Ships in the cove will be added.

Finishing a painting of Bar Harbor, Maine. Ships in the cove will be added.

Jeffrey Sabol is a nationally recognized painter of maritime subjects. As a Signature Member of the prestigious American Society of Marine Artists, he has exhibited in Museum Shows around the country, sponsored by the Society.  His paintings have been featured at leading maritime art galleries, including Art of the Sea Gallery in South Thomaston, Maine; Art Expo in New York City; Sheldon Fine Arts Gallery in Newport, RI, and closer to home, the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport.

Sabol’s striking portrayals of sailboats, quietly anchored amidst shimmering shadows of light, can be viewed, and purchased, at any of these locations in addition to Fresh Ayer Gallery in Old Lyme, adjacent to the Hideaway Restaurant; Art Essex on Main Street in Essex, and Blue Moon Artisans in Guilford.

A typical Sabol painting of a sailboats at anchor with reflections quivering on the water

A typical Sabol painting of a sailboats at anchor with reflections quivering on the water

The artist also periodically shows his superb nautical paintings by appointment at his studio.  Visit his website: www.jeffreysabol.com for further information. Interestingly, the previous owner of Sabol’s house was a fisherman who sold “live” lobsters out the back, which in a sense is nautical too!

Sabol Started Out Using Oil Paint

Sabol says that when he started painting seascapes, he used oil paints to create his paintings. However, he soon learned that, “Oils take too long to dry,” noting that, “it can take days and even weeks.” Now he has switched to acrylic paint, and he uses it exclusively in creating his pictures. As for acrylic paint he says, “It takes 15 minutes to dry.”

The use of quick drying acrylic paint is now basic to Sabol’s painting process. Quick drying acrylic paint allows him to add layer after of layer of clear and tinted surfaces to his paintings. These surfaces, one on top of the other, enhance the paintings, giving them a greater depth and sheen.

Positive and Negative Spaces in a Painting

Sabol points out that in painting a group of ships at anchor, a favorite topic of his, that there are both positive and negative spaces in the painting. “The positive spaces are those which hold the subject of the picture,” such as ships at anchor, he says.

The negative spaces are the empty parts of the painting, above and below the ships, which can be used to enhance and heighten the items in the positive spaces. Glimmering light, flickering over waves below the ships’ hulls, is an example of the use of negative space, contributing to the positive space of the ships themselves.

As Sabol puts it, “The negative space in a painting is used to bring out the positive space, which is the subject of the picture.” He also says, “I concentrate on reflections in my paintings,” which of course fill in the negative spaces of his paintings.

Sabol’s Path to Painting

Mr. Sabol did not start out as maritime painter. After abandoning an effort to become an architect “because there was just too much sitting,” he made his living as a commercial fisherman and long liner.  After one too many storms at sea, he decided it was safer to ‘paint’ the sea, rather than ‘fish’ it.   He is grateful now for his steady position on his artist’s stool doing what he loves most.  Jeff gets much of his inspiration sailing with his wife in the coastal waters of New England on their Islander sailboat, which they keep in Noank.

Having a final word, Sabol’s wife, Janice, has this to say. “I never have to decorate the walls of our house,” she says. “It’s like living in a gallery and it’s always changing.”

Sabol's wife, Janice Quinn, and the artist Sabol with a work in progress in background

Sabol’s wife, Janice Quinn, and the artist Sabol with a work in progress in background

The Pratt House, A Treasure Trove of Essex History

Pratt House on West Avenue is the third house down from Essex Town Hall

Pratt House on West Avenue is the third house down from Essex Town Hall

Essex residents, as well as other local history buffs, owe it to themselves to visit the Pratt House, an authentic survivor of over 300 years of local history.  Located directly on West Avenue, three doors down from Essex Town Hall, the Pratt House has ample space for parking on its spacious side lawn.

Furthermore, admission to the Pratt House is free, as are the lectures of knowledgeable docents, who are on hand to enhance the visitor’s experience.

Co-Docent Coordinators (l to r), Mary Ann Pleva and Bette Taylor

Co-Docent Coordinators (r to l), Mary Ann Pleva and Bette Taylor

The Pratt House is open to visitors from the months of June to September, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Also, private appointments to see the Pratt House can be arranged by calling 860-767-0681

The Pratt House Through the Years

The Pratt family’s connection with the Town of Essex began in 1648 when William Pratt came down from Hartford to survey vacant land in an area that was called Potapoug. Potapoug at the time encompassed what are now the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester.

William Pratt was born in England, and he came to the American colonies in 1637 to serve as a lieutenant in the Pequot War, which was being waged against the Pequot Indians. After the war William Pratt decided to stay in the colonies, and he, ultimately, moved to the Saybrook Colony and became a farmer.

William Pratt’s genealogy continues with the birth of his son, John Pratt, who when he grew up, became the first in a long line of blacksmiths in the Saybrook colony. John Pratt also bought land that was to become a part of Essex, and he deeded this land on his death to his own son, John Pratt, Jr.

In 1701 John Pratt, Jr., built the first homestead on the property that his father had given him, and this property is now the site of the present day Pratt House.

Additions to the original 1701 structure were made by members of the Pratt family in 1732 and 1750, and the final structure of the Pratt House, as it is today, was completed in 1800.

In 1852 the Town of Essex was jurisdictionally severed from Old Saybrook and  was incorporated as its own town, according to a State of Connecticut plaque in Essex’ Main Street town park. This meant that Essex was no longer under the town government of Old Saybrook.

Pratt Family Had Many Occupations 

Throughout the years the owners of the Pratt House besides being blacksmiths also became, “farmers, soldiers, ship captains and a manufacturer,” according to Essex Historical Society materials.

Old four poster bed, note the chamber pot

Old four poster bed, note the chamber pot

Then in 1915 members of the Pratt family sold the Pratt House to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Griswold. However, in a sense the house still remained in the Pratt family, because Mrs. Griswold’s maiden name was Susannah Pratt, whose father was Elias Pratt.

An original fireplace at Pratt House that at one time provided the only heat

An original fireplace at Pratt House that at one time provided the only heat

After the Pratt House property had been purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Griswold, the main house was converted into a rental property with individual rooms in the house being rented out to various tenants.

Next in 1953 the Pratt House was willed to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, which turned it into a museum. Then, In 1985 ownership of the property was transferred to the successor organization, the Essex Historical Society.

The Pratt House Today

The furnishings in the present day Pratt House, according to Pratt House materials, “reflect a mixture of styles, including William and Mary, Queen Ann, Chippendale and Hepplewhite. None of the furnishings are original to the house but are similar to items listed in Pratt family inventories.”

Continuing, it is noted that, “Functional furniture would have been kept in the family and handed down from one generation to the next, so it is in keeping with the family’s actions that rooms are furnished in more than one style of furniture.”

In addition to the Pratt House’s museum space, there is a private renter in the back portion of the building. On the property  there is also a  reconstructed barn which holds materials belonging to the Essex Historical Society. Finally, way in the back of the two acre property, there is an old fashioned outhouse building, still standing.

Pratt House visitors, Ann Good, Oakland, CA; Patti Klaje, Hamden, CT; and Kristen Pallord, Houston, TX

Pratt House visitors, Ann Good, Oakland, CA; Patti Klaje, Hamden, CT; and Kristen Pallord, Houston, TX

Honk, Honk, Toot, Toot, Essex’s Classic Auto Show, Shows Its Cool on the 4th

On a blistering Fourth of July, Essex’s Antique and Classic Car Show could not have been cooler. Close to a hundred cars filled with visitors showed up for the show. On view was everything from a 1914 Model T Ford Speedster to a 1937 Cadillac Coupe Convertible.

In all there was an estimate of over three hundred people looking over the exhibition-quality, old cars that were spread out on the grounds of Hubbard Field in Essex.

Model T Speedster Up in Front

At the very front row of the show was a 1914 Model T Ford Speedster, proudly owned by Bruce Robinson of Chester, who brought along his granddaughter, Ann Lovelace, to the auto show.

Bruce Robinson and Granddaughter, Ann Lovelace, in 1914 Model T

Bruce Robinson and Granddaughter, Ann Lovelace, in 1914 Model T

 

Robinson said that he had bought the engine and chassis of the Speedster four years ago, and that he paid $40,000 for the vehicle’s renovation. The restoration was done by Ralph Herman of Essex, who specializes in making old cars look like new.

One thing that you have to careful about in driving the brilliant yellow car that he had on display is that, “The brakes do not work too good.” “You have to slow down,” before the brakes will engage, he said.

Antique Car Owner MacMillan Has a Winner   

Just down the line was a 1912 Ford Model T Touring Car owned by Bruce MacMillan. MacMillan was an unsuccessful candidate for Essex First Selectman in the last town election, and, “It wasn’t even close,” he said.

As for his 1912 antique car on display, MacMillan said that 15 million of these touring cars were built by Ford. His car’s model number is 176,713 out of these 15 million built. Also, MacMillan says that he drives his car all the time around Essex, even though the car is now 101 years old.

Bruce MacMillan and his 1912 Ford Model T Touring Car

Bruce MacMillan and his 1912 Ford Model T Touring Car

MacMillan noted that his car had its original body and engine, and that it had an estimated worth of $50,000. Also, originally, the car had removable doors.

A 1956 Chevy Belair Auto Also on View

A V-8 powered Chevy Belair was also a star at the Antique and Classic Car Show. Owned by Ed Makrisch, he said that driving his classic vehicle, “brings back many memories.” He said that cars like these provided “basic transportation” for millions of people.

Ed Makrisch at the wheel of his 1956 Chevy Belair

Ed Makrisch at the wheel of his 1956 Chevy Belair

As for now, he said, these cars are restored better than they ever were, and worth more now than they ever were as well. As for the value of his car in its present pristine condition, he said it could be worth as much as $75,000 to $100,000

Terry Lomme in Charge of the Show 

Terry Lomme, an Essex resident, was in charge of this year’s 6th Annual Antique and Classic Car Show, sponsored by the Essex Automobile Club. Lomme said that there was, “a very interesting variety of vehicles at this year’s show.”

The exhibited cars range he said “from a 1910 Model T, Ford Speedster to a 1971 Mercedes Benz sedan.” Lomme also noted that all of the proceeds from the auto show are being donated to the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut.

Here Comes a Classic Cadillac!

Another star at the show, and there were many, was a 1937 Cadillac, 60 Series, Coupe Convertible, owned by Paul and Leslee Lavigne. Paul said that when they were restoring their Coupe Convertible up to its present pristine condition, his wife found all of the parts that they needed over the Internet.

Paul Lavighe and wife, Leslee, by their 1937 Cadillac Coupe

Paul Lavigne and wife, Leslee, by their 1937 Cadillac Coupe

Also, he said that the couple drives their Cadillac convertible to various antique auto shows, and that, “it is a lot of fun to drive.” He also stressed that these were “durable cars,” as well as “a pleasure to ride in.” Also, the car even had a rumble seat in back.

At the auto show, there were not only elegant and dependable cars on view, there were also what are called, “muscle cars.” If you are ever asked what that means, it is the name given for the high performance cars of the 1960’s.

Rubble seat of 1937 Cadillac Coupe

Rubble seat of 1937 Cadillac Coupe

Boaters Just Seem to Want to Own Their Own Boats, Regardless of the Cost

The boats packed in at Ferry Point Marina in Old Saybrook

The boats packed in at Ferry Point Marina in Old Saybrook

There are two very strong arguments against owning a boat. Number one, it is very expensive to buy a boat, and Number two, once you buy a boat, it is very expensive to own it as well.

As for buying a new boat, a top of the line powerboat, of say 31 feet, can cost as much as $270,000. A slightly smaller boat of 28 feet can cost $160,000, and even a 20 foot powerboat can cost $50,000.

These figures are not “guesstimates,” they come from a reputable boat dealer.

The High Cost of Owning a Boat

Having surmounted the considerable financial hurdle of buying a boat, next there are the frequently the staggering costs of owning one. Let’s start by examining the actual expenses of an owner of a 34 foot powerboat, who keeps his boat for the season at Brewer’s Ferry Point Marina in Old Saybrook.

Although this boat owner was shy about giving his name, he was more than happy to lament publicly about the high cost of operating his powerboat during the boating season. These costs include: paying the winter storage cost of $1,600; paying the boat slip rental fee to the marina of $4,500, and paying his boat’s annual insurance fee of $2,000.

However these costs, which total $8,100, are just a start of what he has to pay to operate his boat. This is especially true; if this turns out to be the year, when one or both of the twin diesel engines of his 21 year old powerboat needs repairs. The highly trained mechanics that can fix boat engines, incidentally, are very, very expensive.

Now let’s turn to the costs of actually operating this powerboat, such as taking it on a trip to Block Island and back. This trip would cost $500, just for the fuel alone. Also, if he wanted to rent a slip on Block Island that could cost $40, if not more.

The point is that running the two powerful diesel engines that drive this powerboat is a very expensive proposition. However, when asked if he felt that the expenses of his boat are worth it, the boat owner replied, “I would not trade it in for the world.”

The boat, incidentally, is called, “The Other Woman.”

"The Other Woman," with her captain on board

“The Other Woman,” with her captain on board

Operating a Smaller Boat Also Expensive   

Another boat owner at the Brewer’s yard in Old Saybrook was the owner of a 20 foot, six inch, powerboat. The owner, who said his first name was “Russ,” is presently a senior designer at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Norwich.

With a certain pride this boat owner said that he could take his boat, “anywhere in Long Island Sound.” For this privilege he pays up front $3,000 a year for a slip at the marina, and $2,000 for insurance. He saves the expense of winter storage, because he keeps the boat off season in his own backyard.

The boat owner said that he frequently took his wife and their three children out for boat rides.  He also mentioned that when he was younger, he suffered a very serious motorcycle accident, which appeared not to have slowed him down.

Russ's wife and their three children frequently sail together

Russ’s wife and their three children frequently sail together

One thing that this boat owner is very serious about is that he would never rent a boat. “It would be like a box of chocolate,” he said, “You would never know what you are getting.”

He also said that, “I find the familiarity of owning my own boat, very comforting.”

A Boat Full of Old Lyme Visitors

Also on hand on a recent afternoon at the Ferry Point Marina, was a powerboat that had brought a family of five across the Connecticut River from Old Lyme to Old Saybrook. The members of the family were David Wiese, a Hartford attorney; his wife, Maher-Wiese, MD, a dermatologist in Essex, and their three children, Kaylyn, Ellie and Colin.

Happy family from Old Lyme pay a call

Happy family from Old Lyme pay a call

Asked why he owned a boat, Weiss replied, “Boating is a favorite thing.” He also acknowledged, “The boat is a lot of work, but we do it for the family.” The family has owned their 28 foot powerboat for the past ten years, and, interestingly, they never gave the boat a name.  “We just never got around to it,” Wiese says.

Another unique thing about their “nameless” powerboat is that there is a huge bimini shading the boat’s entire cockpit area. “That was my idea,” says dermatologist Maher-Wiese. She wanted to make sure that her family was completely sheltered from the harmful rays of the sun, while they were boating.

Old Lyme visitors head back home

Old Lyme visitors head back home

Conclusion

The general attitude of those boaters, who own their own boats, is that the financial expenses just have to be endured. Also, sometimes people get so close to their boats that the boats almost become a part of the family. You cannot begrudge a person from spending a lot of money on their own family, now can you?

See also related article by Jerome Wilson The Uphill Battle of Convincing Boaters to Rent Boats Rather Than  Own Them

The Uphill Battle of Convincing Boaters to Rent Boats Rather Than Own Them

It is hardly a contest. The favored way by more than a hundred fold and more, is that boaters along the eastern Connecticut shoreline prefer to own their own boats, rather than rent them.

Take for example the very modest boat rental program at the Brewer Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook. Whereas there are literally hundreds slips for boat owners keeping their own boats at this marina, there are only two boats that are available for rent at the marina.

Brewer’s Boat Rental Plans

That’s right, amidst hundreds of boat owners renting slips at the marina, Brewers offers only two boats that are for rent. They are: (1) a 24- foot Key West, center console, motor boat, and (2) a 24-foot Sea Ray Sundeck motor boat.

To rent these boats Brewers has set up a Brewer’s Boating Club, which offers boat renters a number of rental options. The top of the line of these plans are the Skippers Plans, which offer peak season boat usage, and which vary in price from $3,775 to $5,375 depending on boat usage. Next, down the line is the Captain’s Choice Plan for $6,295, which offers “Nearly Limitless membership features,” with “weekend reservation privileges… ”

Then there are the club’s Weekday Plans, including a Windward plan for $4,095 a season, and a Weekday Per Diem Membership Plan, which offers a 5-hour weekday usage for $395.

The complexity of these varying plans is challenging. However, Kit Will, Brewer’s personable, Pilots Point Sailing and Charter Director can explain it all. He can be reached at 860-575-8329, and at kwill@byy.com

One of the points that Kit Will makes is that belonging to the Brewers Boating Club is, “a good stepping stone to boat ownership.” He, himself, is a professional boat captain, who has over 25,000 miles of off-shore racing experience.

Pilots Point Marina's Kit Will aboard a 24 foot Key West center console, motor boat for rent

Pilots Point Marina’s Kit Will aboard a 24 foot Key West center console, motor boat for rent

A Simpler Boat Renting Option

Certainly, a far less complicated way to rent a motor boat along the Shoreline can be found at the Westbrook Marine Center, located at 533 Boston Post Road in Westbrook. The co-owner of the operation is the affable Tasha Cusson, who owns it with her husband. The advantage of renting a boat here, according to Tasha, “is that you just get in and go.”

The boats offered for rental at the Westbrook Marine Center are: 1) an 18 foot May-Craft Skiff, which has a five person capacity, and which is powered by a 90 horsepower outboard motor with a fuel tank of 42 gallons. 2) The second boat offered for rent at the Westbrook Marine Center is a 20 foot Hydras Sports Vector, which has a passenger capacity of six persons and is powered by a 225 horse power engine with an 85 gallon fuel capacity.

Westbrook Marine Center's 20 foot Hydra-Sport Vector motor boat for rent

Westbrook Marine Center’s 20 foot Hydra-Sport Vector motor boat for rent

The rates for boat rentals at the Marine Center are easy to understand. The 18 foot boat rents for $330 for four hours, and $495 for eight hours. The larger 20 foot boat rents for $365 for four hours, and $560 for eight hours.  Also, on occasion the boats are rented for a longer term at “a special lower rate,” according to Tasha. In addition to the rental charges, boat renters are required to fill up the fuel tanks of their rental boats before returning them.

According to Tasha, “Most people know boats, who rent from us.” As for those who are less familiar with boats, she says that a boat rental “is a fantastic opportunity to try out boating.” Before every boat rental, the renter is briefed from an extensive check list. Furthermore, Tasha says that she does not rent her boats to everyone. “I have turned people away,” she says, adding, “The personal safety of the renter is the key.”

Tasha also notes that possessing a State of Connecticut Safe Boating Certificate is not a necessary qualification for renting a boat in the state. However, her favorable judgment, as to whether or not the Marine Center wants to rent the boat to a particular person, is a necessity.

Tasha also noted that she had a number of rentals over Father’s Day weekend. The number to call for a boat rental is 860-399-8467.

Next week we shall profile three typical boat owners, who pay handsomely for their seasonal boating slips, but are grudgingly happy to do so.

The Eyesore of Lovely Essex; Can’t Something Be Done About It?

63 North Main Street in Essex. What a mess!

63 North Main Street in Essex. What a mess!

Downtown Essex has one of the nation’s classic, small town centers. There is the charming “round about,” where Main Street converges with North Main Street. There is the historic Griswold Inn just down the way on Main Street, and further still the striving Connecticut River Museum, and the waters of the Connecticut River.

As for North Main Street from the “round about” outward along the river, there is a veritable parade of marvelous residences, the restored Dickenson Mansion among them.

However, among the marvelous homes of Essex, there is one exception, and that is the abandoned, burned out structure located at the southwest corner of North Main Street and New City Street.

This is the Town of Essex’s poster child of urban blight.

The Essex "slum house" has considerable fire damage.

The Essex “slum house” has considerable fire damage.

Why can’t something be done to restore or eliminate, this boarded up, fire-singed property? Could it be torn down and replaced by a mini-park?  Or perhaps a new house could be built on the property, one that is worthy of its grand neighbors!

Present House Called an “Eye Sore”

“It’s an eye store,” says nearby Essex resident Marianne Flores, who was walking by the house on a recent afternoon. She lives nearby, and walks by the town’s “five star” slum almost every day. “I can’t believe that the town has not done something about it,” she says.

Furthermore, in Ms Flores’ view, “The property is beyond fixing up,” and the present house should be simply torn down. Another neighbor of the slum house, who just came by, nodded her head in agreement.

First Selectman Says He’s Trying  

Essex’s First Selectman Norman Needleman issued a long statement as to what he was doing to address the Town of Essex’s number one slum property. He said,

“Regarding 63 North Main Street property, we have been actively engaged with the bank, the insurance company, and the neighbors in trying to resolve the very difficult situation presented by this property.

It recently went into foreclosure, and my hope is that the bank will move forward in trying to sell the property soon.

“Options such as organizing a group of interested neighbors to purchase the mortgage on the property have been presented, but no response has been received from the bank. I have been told that they are under strict confidentiality guidelines. I regularly speak to the neighbors and keep them abreast of the situation.

“This issue is high on the list of property issues that needed to be resolved, since before I was elected nearly two years ago. I am happy to say that several of the other issues, like the Mazda dealership and the Sunoco station are, or are being resolved. In addition, the property across from the Sunoco station is in the process of a lengthy and costly cleanup.”

 Selectman Joel Marzi Expresses Concern

Essex’s Selectman Joel Marzi also expressed his concern about the eyesore on North Main Street. “It is absolutely a shame that it had to happen,” Marzi said, regarding the present degraded condition of the house on North Main Street. Marzi also said that he and the other selectmen were determined to address the issue.

Essex’s other Selectman, Stacia Libby, said, “We are all in this together,” referring to herself and the other two Selectmen. “It is an unfortunate situation, and we have about exhausted all our efforts.”

Five Sailboats of the U.S. Naval Academy Pay a Visit to Little Essex, Connecticut

The Daring, a 44 foot sailboat coming into Essex

The Daring, a 44 foot sailboat coming into Essex

Five, forty-four foot sailboats belonging to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis paid a call on the little shoreline town of Essex on June 14. They stayed the weekend of June 15 and 16, and then set sail back to Annapolis by eight in morning of June 17.

The five “Navy 44” sailboats arrived at the Essex town docks at around 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 14, and they were greeted by Essex Yacht Club’s Rear Commodore Wes Bray. (The club’s Commodore and Vice Commodore were sailing elsewhere.) Rear Commodore Bray said in his welcoming remarks that it was “fantastic” that the Naval Academy had selected Essex for a visit of its sailboats, and that the town was “honored” by their presence.

An Essex dock worker catches the sailboat's line

An Essex dock worker catches the sailboat’s line

And pulls the sailboat to the dock

And pulls the sailboat to the dock

Also, Terry Stewart, the Commodore of the next door, Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, came over to greet the crews of the Naval Academy that had come to Essex.  It was a nice touch, and showed that at least one local Yacht Club Commodore had come out to greet them.

Each Naval Academy Sailboat Costs over $1 Million

As for the Naval Academy’s custom made sailboats, reportedly, it costs $1.09 million to build each boat, with every penny paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Presently the sailboats are three years old.

Lt. Commander Joe Slaughter, the ranking officer of the five-boat cruise to Essex, was asked why did the Navy need to have sailboats, when it has nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers and a fleet of high tech, battleships. Were these sailboats really necessary to the Navy’s mission?

Commander Slaughter sprang to the defense of the Naval Academy’s policy of having sailboats at the Academy. Learning to sail, he said, teaches those at the Academy “the rules of the road” at sea, which “everybody has to learn.” These rules include, knowing the meanings of the lights, buoys and markers that are found in harbors and along coastlines.

Even more important, in the Commander’s view, learning to sail, was extremely important in learning the challenges of leadership in the Navy. This leadership training was crucial in his view to the positions of command that these midshipmen will hold in the future. These words were delivered by the Commander with almost an evangelical fervor.

Rough and Stormy Seas Sailing to Essex

The voyage from Annapolis to Essex was a very difficult sail. At times waves were as high as ten feet, and there were steady downpours of rain and high winds as well. Also, off the long New Jersey coast, one of the boats, the Daring, had an engine problem, and it had to be towed into Atlantic City by the U.S. Coast Guard for repairs.

One midshipman, John Kameen, who serves as the Starboard Watch Officer on the Daring, told the story that  at one point deep in the night in the stormiest of seas, the Daring boat found itself lagging further and further behind the other sailboats. This was happening, even though the engine of the Daring was running, and the sails were full.

Finally, as the boat slipped even further behind the others, the discovery was made that the boat‘s engine was not in gear. “Everyone was really tired,” the Starboard Watch Officer said, not really believing that this was a valid excuse.

Not a Lot of Room On Board for a Crew of Ten

Each of the 44 foot sailboats that came up to Essex had crews of ten. However, the number of sleeping bunks for these ten crew members was five.

A midshipman takes out a bumper to protect the boat's hull

A midshipman takes out a bumper to protect the boat’s hull

The boat’s five sleeping bunks are divided up as follows. There is one single bunk aft for the use of both the boat’s Skipper and the Executive Officer. This double use of a single bunk is called a “Hot Rack,” we were told.

For the other eight members of the crew, there are four bunks, which run along the along the sides of the main cabin. This means that while four crew members are sleeping in these bunks, the other four are either up on deck, or doing something useful below.

The Daring's Skipper (center) with seven of his crew

The Daring’s Skipper (center) with seven of his crew

In addition to this bunking arrangement there, is a single head (bathroom) located in the forward area of the boat. For delicacy’s stake the boat’s toilet area can be enlarged somewhat into a small dressing room. But again, there is only one bathroom for a crew of ten.

The Sexual Balance on the Sailboat

As for the sexes of the members of crew, the Skipper of the sailboat Daring was a male civilian, and the Executive Officer was a female Navy lieutenant. As for the rest of the crew, there were five males and three females.  This meant that in total the Daring had a crew of six males and four females. Considering the all male officers corps of the U.S. Navy not too many years ago, this ratio is quite impressive.

In the view of Starboard Watch Officer Kameen, and he seemed sincere, “The Navy has done a great job in making the integration of men and women seamless,” adding, “It’s been great.”

However, he did say that in a very few cases of lifting heavy objects, it is only the men that have the strength to lift them.

As for flirtations between the sexes on board, the Midshipman said, “They keep you so busy; there is no time to think about it.” Also, it should be noted that when the weather permits there are vigorous exercises programs top sides, which involves in some cases doing as many as 200 pushups.

New York City Developer Puts Iconic Windmill Property on Foxboro Point Up For Sale

Want to buy a windmill for almost $2 million?

Want to buy a windmill for almost $2 million?

With a price tag of $1,925,000, New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr., is offering to sell a notable Essex landmark, the windmill at Foxboro Point. Listing materials assert that the sale is, “Once in the lifetime chance to own the windmill.”

They continue, “This unique waterfront [property] is one of the most recognized features on the Connecticut River. It is comprised of multiple floors of living area including, a living room, wet bar bedroom, full bath and more.” (Unexplained is what is meant by a “wet bar bedroom.”)

The listing materials also state that the property has on the third floor a master bedroom with a full bath, a second floor kitchen, and a first floor dining room. There is also a full, unfinished basement with hatchway. Real property taxes are listed in the materials as $15,441.

Windmill Not an Historic Building

Although many locals on the shoreline think that the windmill is a historic structure, it was actually built in 1967. As for further details about the property, it has shingles siding, a basement water heater and is connected to public water. It also has baseboard heating and electric sewer and septic.

The listing agent of the property is Colette Harron of William Pitt, which has an office in Essex.

“Meals On Wheels” Is Signature Program of O.S. Estuary Council of Seniors

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Chef of Estuary Council, Stuart Tedesco, cooking “Meals on Wheels”

It is difficult to get your hands around the many helpful services that the Estuary Council of Seniors provides to senior residents of its nine member towns in eastern Connecticut. These fortunate nine towns, served by the Council, are Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Killingworth, Old Lyme, Lyme, Essex, Deep River, and Chester.

One undertaking that is certainly in the forefront of the Estuary Council’s services to seniors is the delivery of prepared “hot” and frozen meals to those in need. These meal deliveries are made to needy seniors in the Council’s nine member towns, as well as to seniors in Madison.  If you happen to live in one of these towns, the number to call to enroll in “Meals on Wheels” lunch and dinner programs is 860-388-1611.

However, meal deliveries are strictly limited to persons who are, 1) over 60 years of age, and 2) no longer able to prepare a meal for themselves, or can no longer shop for food.   However, a recipient is not required to have a doctor’s prescription to establish that she or he is eligible for an at home meal delivery.

Donation Requested of $3.00 a Meal

A donation of $3.00 a meal, payable at the end of each month, is requested under the program.  Noon meals on weekdays are delivered “hot,” and a typical “hot” lunch might consist of meat loaf, potatoes and beets, accompanied by coffee, milk and a fresh apple or pudding for desert.

Evening meals delivered for weekdays, and noon and evening meals delivered for weekends, are frozen and must be heated by recipients.

Summing up the service, the Estuary Council’s Nutrition Coordinator, Peggy Barrett, says, “We serve two meals a day, seven days a week, for every person who is a part of this program.”

Hundreds of “Meals on Wheels” Are Delivered

All of the meals delivered under this program are prepared at the Estuary Council’s well equipped kitchen in Old Saybrook. Supervising the entire food preparation operation is Stuart Tedesco, Food Service Manager/Chef of the Estuary Council of Seniors.

Tedesco says that the “Meals on Wheels” service is, “the best kept secret in the area.” “We still serve good tasting quality food for $3.00,” she says.

The totals of the number of “Meals on Wheels” delivered by the Estuary Council are impressive. On a single weekday, according to Nutrition Coordinator Barrett, one hundred and forty-one “hot” noon meals will be delivered by Council volunteers to needy seniors. These “hot” lunches are served to the previously noted member towns of Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Killingworth, Westbrook, Clinton, Old Lyme, Lyme, as well to seniors in the non-member town of Madison.

Early morning packers of "Meals on Wheels, Ted Pigeon and Scotty Pepe

Early morning packers of “Meals on Wheels, Ted Pigeon and Scotty Pepe

In addition to the delivery of “hot” meals at noon on weekdays, the Estuary Council also delivers to entitled seniors weekday evening meals, and noon and evening meals on the two days of the weekend. However, these meals are frozen and must be defrosted by the recipient.

The meals to be distributed are first put together each weekday morning from a pool of 20 volunteer packers. Then, from a pool of 70 volunteer drivers, the meals are personally delivered to the homes of the seniors who are a part of the program.

"Meals on Wheels" volunteer, Katharina Youll making a delivery

“Meals on Wheels” volunteer, Katharina Youll making a delivery

Other Programs for Seniors at Estuary Council

In addition to the “Meals on Wheels” program, there are a host of other programs, offered by the Estuary Council of Seniors, which deserve mention. Among them are the Café lunches which are offered every weekday in the Estuary Counsel’s main dining room.  One special feature of the Café lunches is that before the meal those attending stand and recite the Pledge Allegiance to the Flag. (The words are listed below.)

Also, there is a thriving thrift shop on the lower floor of the Estuary Council’s main building, which has racks of women and men’s apparel as well exquisite place settings and literally racks of sportswear.

The Estuary Council also has a Medical Transportation service that takes seniors to their medical appointments, either at doctors’ or dentists’ offices, or to medical facilities, such as Hartford Hospital and Yale/ New Haven Hospital. Round trips for medical appointments taking less than five hours have a suggest donation of $35. For trips over five hours the suggested donation is $70.

There are also a staggering number of special programs, which take at the Council’s Old Saybrook headquarters. They range from free health check-ups to senior physical fitness classes, and from Yoga classes to the meetings of the Quilt Club.

Meals delivered (left to right) Katharina Youll and recipients Ann and Thomas Perrone

Meals delivered (left to right) Katharina Youll and recipients Ann and Thomas Perrone

And, now all together, the Pledge Allegiance:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Powerboat Instruction a Popular Feature at Pettipaug Yacht Club This Summer

Pettipaug Waterfront Director Paul Risseeuw with his class

Pettipaug Waterfront Director Paul Risseeuw with his class

The Pettipaug Yacht Club’s Waterfront Director, Paul Risseeuw, is conducting Powerboat courses at his club this summer. The Pettipaug club is located in Essex, directly on the Connecticut River. The tuition for the one day, nine and a half hour powerboat course is $180, although there are circumstances when it can cost less. There will be a total of twelve of these courses during the boating season.

The Powerboat course includes an extensive “on shore” briefings of how to safely operate a powerboat, and it also includes considerable time on the water as well, where students operate powerboats themselves on boats owned by the yacht club.

The course on the first of June was attended by nine students. The “on the land” part of the course was held in the meeting room of the Pettipaug clubhouse, which was barely cooled by a single fan. However, the students attending, mostly teenagers, appeared eager to learn from the course.

Risseeuw began the course by saying, “We are going to have to correct some of your bad habits,” that they may have learned from previous motor boating on their own.

Risseeuw then patiently asked each student to share their own powerboating experience. Interestingly, many of the students had experiences in sailboats, but very few knew much about operating a powerboat.

There then ensued an hour plus, introductory lecture by Risseeuw on virtually every aspect on how to operate, safely, a powerboat. He spoke extensively on the basic right of way rules on the water, as well as the important principles involved in starting, stopping and maintaining an outboard engine.

Then, it was down to the docks of the Pettipaug club for some “on the water” instruction on operating a powerboat. The students were divided up in crews of two persons to each boat, and before they climbed on board their boats, Risseeuw spoke at length on how to start an outboard engine, by properly using the choke and the throttle.

He also spoke about the proper maintenance of the fuel and fuel tanks of outboard motors, and the importance of using gas that is less than three months old.

There was also instruction on how properly to get into and out of a powerboat. Risseeuw advocated a “three points of contact” rule. Under this rule, when getting in and out an open motor boat, an operators hands and feet should be touching something solid in three places.

Also, Risseeuw stressed again and again that the students should be wearing properly fitting lifejackets at all times, when they are in, or even around a boat. “I wear my life jacket all the time” he said.

The classroom moves to the docks on the Connecticut River

The classroom moves to the docks on the Connecticut River

The On-the-Water Part of the Course

Then it was time for the students to climb, two by two, into their assigned powerboats, and to motor out into the waters of the Connecticut River. Although one of the boat crews had a bit of trouble getting their engine started, requiring Risseeuw’s personal oversight, soon all of the boats were off and running over the water.

One powerboat crew had trouble starting the engine

One powerboat crew had trouble starting the engine

Risseeuw and his assistants had set up a number of in-line buoys on the water, through which the students were required to wend their way. Another exercise was to have the students circle their powerboats between two stakes, which were very close to each other.  Some of the students found this not an easy task.

But soon enough all the boats are off and running

But soon enough all the boats are off and running

After an extensive period of operating the powerboats on the water, it was time for a brief lunch, and then, soon after, more tutoring in the club house.

The topics included a lengthy discussion about the meaning of various navigation buoys, and how they are numbered, colored and designed.  Risseeuw also discussed the basic “Red-Right-Returning” rule, which means, simply, that when a boat is coming in from Long Island Sound and proceeding up the Connecticut River, it should keep the red buoys on their right.

Also, during the afternoon session of the course there was a long review of the right away rules on the water. These were introduced with a caveat by Risseeuw that, unfortunately, many powerboaters have no idea about proper “right of way” rules.  When this becomes evident, he said, the best recourse for a knowledgeable boater is to just to get out of the way.

Under proper “right of way” rules, the vessel that is required to get out of the way is called the “burdened” vessel, and it should give way to an  oncoming vessel.

Boating Can Be Dangerous!

Also, Risseeuw stressed again and again at the sessions that boating can be dangerous. He cited one accident on the Connecticut River last year where a driver in a boating accident had his head severed off by running his jet-ski into a fixed dock. Risseeuw noted in passing that jet-skis, officially known as Personal Watercraft, can travel over the water at over 50 miles an hour.

Risseeuw said in was his opinion, “Many of the persons who ride on Personal Watercraft are idiots and are reckless.”

He also told the students that most boating accidents happen late in the afternoon. This is when a boater is tired with too much sun, and perhaps too much alcohol. In Risseeuw’s view, “There is nothing positive about alcohol while boating. Drinking on a boat can lower reaction times and is never a good idea.”

Also discussed was what to do when a boat capsizes. Risseeuw’s cardinal rule is, “Always stay with the boat.”

“Hypothermia” was also discussed. It means a dangerous lowering of the body’s temperature, which can be life threatening. It can occur when a person spends too much time in cold water. The dangers of having gas fumes on boats were also discussed.

Answering a 60 Question Test to Pass the Course

Risseeuw said that to pass the course the students had to get 80 percent correct of a 60 question test. If they do pass the course, students receive two new boating licenses, 1) A U.S. Sailing certification, and 2) a Connecticut State Personal Watercraft/Safe Boating license.

As for how the students liked the course, Powerboat Student Bryan Byrnes-Jacobsen of Niantic, who appeared to be restless at times, excused himself by saying, “I don’t sit well.” He then went on to say, enthusiastically, that he had learned “a lot from the hands-on experience” of the course.

Bryan will be the Head Sailing Instructor at the Thames Yacht Club in New London this summer.

Powerboat Student Megan Ryan from Ivoryton, said that she thought the course was “really good,” and she was pleased that she could, “really go out on the water.”  She admitted that before the course, she “did not know how to drive a motor boat,” and that the course was her “first time” to do so.

Megan will be a Junior Instructor at the Pettipaug Yacht Club this summer.

For more information on the Powerboat course, which is open to all, go to www.pettipaug.com.

“Kid Safety” Lawn Signs Have Been Posted Around Essex, But Some Find Them “Tacky”

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The Essex lawn signs pictured along Main Street, opposite Champline Square, along Grove Street and next to Book Hill Road.

There is a smoldering controversy about the “kid safety” lawn signs that have been posted along the streets of Essex recently.  All the signs carry the same message, DRIVE LIKE YOUR KIDS LIVE HERE.

The sign postings are the work of the Essex Police Department with the assistance of the Essex Boy Scouts. To date the Police Department has distributed dozens of signs to Essex residents, although a few appear to be coming down because of local protests.

For example, there used to be lawn signs out in front of Essex Town Hall and the Essex Library, but now they have disappeared.

A Sign Enthusiast Speaks Out   

One of the sign posters who is proud of her positing is Luisa Kreis Whiting, who lives on Main Street. “I love the signs,” she says. However, she adds, “Some people in town don’t like them.”

In encouraging the posting of the signs, the Essex Police Department has gone about it very carefully. Signs are only given to a home owner who requests one. It is not like the haphazard postings of campaign signs during election time, or the real estate “open house” signs, which also sometimes go up without permission.

Police lawn signs in Essex with their message, DRIVE LIKE YOUR KIDS LIVE HERE, most likely will be around for awhile.

Local Voices Offered, “Selected Readings, Musings and Poetry,” at Ivoryton Library

The LOCAL VOICES at the Ivoryton Library reading event (left to right) State Representative Phillip Miller, Pamela Nomuna, Beverley Taylor, Joan Wyeth and Peter Walker

The LOCAL VOICES at the Ivoryton Library reading event (left to right) State Representative Phillip Miller, Pamela Nomura, Beverley Taylor, Joan Wyeth and Peter Walker

“Why did we pick this Sunday with so much going on?” Ivoryton Library Director Elizabeth Alvord asked herself before last Sunday’s afternoon program at the Ivoryton Congregational Church got underway.

But she did not need to worry.

No less than forty people showed up to hear five readers present their selections of poems and others musings. The topics ranged from the shop worn to the original, and in all it was a literary sweep of life’s joys and adversities, with far greater emphasis on the latter.

The five performers in the program were State Representative Phil Miller, poet/professor Pamela Nomuna, and poet/performers Beverley Taylor, Joan Wyeth and Peter Walker.

The lead off performer was Beverley Taylor, who holds a senior position at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Ms. Taylor read a third person account of the laments of a “been there, done that” kind of woman, who now at fifty years of age, is well hardened by life’s difficulties, but is still soldiering on.

Ms. Taylor’s reading was polished and professional.

Next on the program was Phil Miller, who brought a very different theme to the program. Although the other performers tended to personal, self-revealing selections in their presentations, Miller spoke exclusively about the life style and noises of the Barred Owl.  This particular breed of owl is common in this area, according to Miller, and he estimated that there are no less than eight Barred Owl families in Essex.

Miller characterized the Barred Owl as a “mysterious, nocturnal bird,” which lives primarily on insects rather than small animals. He stressed that the Barred Owls’  “hoots and yowls” in the night were very distinctive, and in a fitting climax to his presentation he gave his own imitation of the Barred Owl’s full throated hoot and howl. The audience loved it.

Next on the program was Joan Wyeth, who was by far the youngest of the performers. She read, somewhat too rapidly, a personal account of the woes and irritations of an American family, with some keen insights in her subject matter. Her entire reading was completely original.

Number four on the program was an established poet, Pamela Nomura. Not only has she taught poetry at Wesleyan University, she is a published poet. One poem of hers that she read was called, “The Rain.”   Two stanzas in the poem tell the story:

I can’t work today, miss.
It’s raining, and it’s 2 years to the day
since your mother has not answered
your calls. And you wonder if it’s raining
in Puerto Rico, if it’s falling through

the shining leaves
and pinging onto the tin roof
of the yellow house
where the phone is ringing.

Concluding the Ivoryton Library program was the well established poet and performer, Peter Walker. Walker in his remarks complained that when it comes to popular music, the people who write the words should be more celebrated  than those who write the melodies.

Walkler then read some of his own poems, mixed with those of others. Also, he spoke of a safari in East Africa that he once went on, where he saw his own face implanted on a Serengeti cloud.

Ivoryton Library Director Alvord appeared to be generally pleased with this “bold” event, and more such programs may be coming up in the future.

Senator Linares Lunches with Seniors, and Discusses His “No” Vote on Gun Control

Senator Linares extends a greeting at lunch for seniors in Old Saybrook

Senator Linares extends a greeting at lunch for seniors in Old Saybrook

State Senator Art Linares joined a well attended lunch on Thursday at the   Estuary Council of Seniors at 200 Main Street in Old Saybrook. The Senator, whose district includes parts of Old Saybrook, and all of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Westbrook, as well as six other Connecticut towns, did not deliver a formal address at the lunch.

Rather, the 24 year old state legislator sat at a table with an ordinary group of seniors for his lunch, and after a brief greeting to all he circulated around the dining hall shaking hands, and engaging in small talk with diners.  In all there were close to a hundred seniors attending the lunch. The cost per person for an Estuary lunch is $3.00.

Senator Linares’s “No” Vote on the New Gun Control Law

After the lunch the Senator consented to a discussion of his views on the state’s new gun control law. The law was recently passed by the state legislature and signed into law by the Governor. Senator Linares cast his “no” vote on the gun control bill in the State Senate.

Asked to give his reasons for voting against gun control bill, the Senator said, “The legislation outlaws 100 kinds of guns.” He continued, “Most guns are used for self-defense,” and citizens should have, “the freedom to defend themselves.”

Continuing, he said, the new law by imposing so many restrictions on the ownership of guns “could create a black market” in the sale of guns. He also opined that taking away guns from common citizens could have the effect of being “dangerous to law enforcement officers.” “My concern it the police officers,” he said.

In addition, the Senator stressed that the new, gun law bill was moving so fast through the state legislature, “I did not have a chance to read the bill.”  Summing up his position, the first term Senator said that the state’s new gun control law “went too far and was too extreme.” He also said that he had heard that, “they are confiscating guns” from private citizens, although he gave no specifics.

Representative Giuliano Voted “No” on New Gun Law

In discussing his “no” vote on gun control legislation, the Senator said that a number of other local legislators had voted against the bill. He mentioned, specifically, State Representative Marilyn Giuliano, who voted “no” on the gun control bill in the House of Representatives. Giuliano represents the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook, and she is the Assistant Republican Leader of the lower House of the legislature.

Pettipaug Yacht Club Excels in Small Boat Sailing Programs for Young Sailors

A shoreline view of the high school racing teams on the water

A shoreline view of the high school racing teams on the water

The Pettipaug Yacht Club will offer a truly impressive roster of small boat, sailing programs for young people during the soon-to-be-upon-us summer sailing season. The club is located in Essex off River Road, directly on the Connecticut River, making it an ideal small sailing boat location. Among the club’s sailing programs for young sailors this summer are those at the club’s prestigious Pettipaug Sailing Academy.

The guiding spirit behind the Pettipaug Sailing Academy is retired Electric Boat engineer and club Board member, Paul Risseew. Risseew not only directs the Sailing Academy, he runs virtually all of the sailing and boating programs at the Pettipaug Yacht Club.

Learning to Sail at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy

The aim of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, which was founded in 1950, is to teach young sailors in Risseew’s words, “the pleasure of sailing in small boats and also the racing in small sailboats.”

Six rigged sailboats are ready for the afternoon races

Six rigged sailboats are ready for the afternoon races

155 young sailors have enrolled this coming summer for the sailing classes at the Academy. Courses at the Academy are divided into two sessions. The first session begins on July 1 and ends July 23, and the second session begins on July 25 and ends on August 16. Some students take both sessions for seven full weeks. Others opt for a single session of three and a half weeks.

Rolling sailboats into the water; a stiff winds await them

Rolling sailboats into the water; a stiff winds awaits them

Academy days are also broken up into morning classes and afternoon classes.  Morning classes, which are for children, ages 8 to 11, are held from nine o’clock until noon. Afternoon classes, which are for students, ages 12 to 16, are held from one o’clock until four o’clock.

Sailboats ready for winds gusting to 20 knots

Sailboats ready for winds gusting to 20 knots

The curriculum of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy includes lessons in teamwork, rigging, capsize recovery, tacking, gibing, reaching, running, sailing to windward and tying knots. Upon their graduation from the Sailing Academy, students are givens ranks that reflect their respective sailing skills. The rank of progressions as they are called are; Seaman, Seaman First Class, Second Mate, First Mate, Boatswain, Skipper, and Racing Skipper.

With the wind blowing hard a sailboat sets sail from the dock

With the wind blowing hard a sailboat sets sail from the dock

This year the enrollment at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy was completely filled by March 30. However, sometimes there are drop outs, just before classes begin. When this happens, new students are taken off the waiting list. The tuition at the Academy for both sessions is $700 and $400 for a single session.

A Sailboat “Race Clinic” to Precede Academy Classes

 Prior to the instructional sailing classes of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, the club will hold an intensive, five-day “Race Clinic” for small boat, racing sailors. Classes for the clinic will be held from Monday, June 24, to Friday, June 28. The “Race Clinic” is designed to teach students how to win sailboat races, and it is expected to attract some 25 students, ages 12 to 15.

All eight fulltime sailing instructors at the club will serve on the faculty of “Race Clinic.” The clinic’s curriculum will include; in getting a good start in a race, reading the wind to attain the fastest speed, as well as learning what are sometimes not so nice, but permitted, racing tactics. Tuition for the intense, five day “Race Clinic” is $200.

Other Summer Programs at the Pettipaug Yacht Club

Another program featured this summer at the Pettipaug Yacht Club will be Powerboat Courses designed by the U.S. Powerboating Association. There will be eleven, one day, Powerboat Courses held throughout the summer sailing season. The first course will be held on Sunday, April 28, and the other course dates will be posted on the club’s web site at www.pettipaug.com and on the club’s bulletin board.

The Powerboat Courses are for students of all ages, and the one-day course begins at 8:30 a.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. The tuition is $180. For further details contact Paul Risseew at 860-767-1995, or at PRisseew@aol.com .

Teaching Sailors to Teach the Art of Sailing

As if the above programs were not enough, there will also be two courses at the club on teaching sailors how to teach the art of sailing.  A Level 1 Instruction Course for would-be sailing teachers will be held over the two weekends of June 8-9 and June 15-16. A more advanced Level 2 Instruction Course for sailing teachers will be held over three consecutive days, June 17, 18 and 19.  The tuition for the Level 1 course is $350, and $300 for the Level 2 course.

In addition, there will be Windsurfing Courses, mostly for the young, throughout the summer, for which there could be a small charge.

Club’s Hosting of High School Racing Teams

Finally, during the months of March and April of this year, the club has been hosting sailboat races for three local, high school sailing teams. (Photos of a recent race of these teams are pictured with this article.) The teams are students from; Valley Regional High School, which has nine sailors; Xavier High School, which has 16 sailors; and Daniel Hand High School, which as 28 sailors.

Fifteen of the sailboats used in this pre-season sailing program are owned by the Pettipaug Yacht Club, and twelve are owned by Xavier High School. Although it is understood that all of the sailors participating in this program are members of the Pettipaug Yacht Club, there is no financial cost involved for the racing participants.

Paul Risseew’s Philosophy of Teaching Young Sailors to Sail 

 In teaching young sailors Risseew said, “Our priorities at Pettipaug are Safety, Fun and Learning, in that order.” He also noted, “If the students are not having fun, they won’t pay attention to the learning.”

Pettipaug Sailing Academy leader, Paul Risseew

Pettipaug Sailing Academy leader, Paul Risseew

“The majority of students return year after year, because they are spending the warm summer days with friends and playing on, and in, the water,” he continued. “Pettipaug is able to provide expert racing coaching to those who want to go in that direction. We send Optimist and 420 race teams to over a dozen regattas at other clubs in Connecticut.”

Putting it all in perspective, Risseew said, “As Rat said to Mole, in Wind in the Willows:  “‘There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” 

Frame Finished at New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook; April 2014 Opening

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Hoisting the final steel girders for the frame of the Westbrook medical center

In an informal “Topping Off” ceremony last Thursday morning, the steel-girded frame of the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook was declared complete. Or, as one observer put it, “The steel skeleton is now finished.”

Huge crane that put in place the steel girders for the new Westbrook medical center

Huge crane that put in place the steel girders for the new Westbrook medical center

There now remains the task of covering the frame, completely, with new surface materials, as well as constructing the entire interior of the new medical center building.

Workers precariously perched on narrow steel girders at construction site

Workers precariously perched on narrow steel girders at construction site

Also, according to an official of Middlesex Hospital, which is building the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook, the project is still on track to open its doors for new patients in April 2014.

New Westbrook Center Will Be Off Exit 65 of I-95

The new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will be located on Flat Rock Road at Exit 65 off I-95. The new 40,000 square, emergency medical facility will be twice as large as the present Shoreline Medical Center in Essex, which it will replace.

A Middlesex Hospital spokesperson said that there are still no plans as what to do with the Essex Shoreline Medical Center, once the Westbrook center takes its place.  Further dwarfing the size of the present Essex Shoreline center, the new Westbrook Shoreline Medical Center can be expanded from 40,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet, if necessity demands it.

Although Middlesex Hospital’s publicity materials stress that the new Shoreline center in Westbrook is only three miles away from the present Shoreline center  in Essex, in the minds of many Essex residents, it feels like their emergency center is gone forever, regardless of the new improvements in care promised at the new Westbrook facility.

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

Read related article by Jerome Wilson:

New Emergency Medical Center to Replace Essex’s Medical Center in April 2014

New York City Developer Clears Away the Trees at His Foxboro Point Development Site

The pile of trees which once grew on the Foxboro Point site

The pile of trees which once grew on the Foxboro Point site

In an early step of his development of eleven acres of Foxboro Point’s shoreline property along North Cove in Essex, a New York City developer has now cleared away the trees at the development site. Last December the Essex Planning Commission, after a contentious review process, granted developer Frank J. Sciami, Jr., permission to develop seven new home sites, including the restoration of the historic Croft mansion on the property.

Part of the Foxboro Point development site, recently cleared of trees

Part of the Foxboro Point development site, recently cleared of trees

A major point of contention in the review process was whether or not the public should have access to the waters of North Cove by means of a pathway, running down through the development from Foxboro Road to North Cove. Initially, the Essex Planning Commission directed the developer to create such a pathway running from the road to the waters.

However, after the developer brought a lawsuit against the Commission protesting such public access, the Planning Commission consented to the developer’s objections, and worked out a settlement which junked the pedestrian walkway to water proposal. In its place the Commission created a view easement, which would give visitors along Foxboro Road a pubic perch to look down to the waters of North Cove, but not walk down to it.

The Foxboro Point development site is being built on one of the last remaining open spaces along the Connecticut River in the Town of Essex. The trees that have been cut down are now loosely piled in a stack to the right of the Croft Mansion. They will undoubtedly be removed as the development of the site continues.

Senate Republican Staff Attorney Prepares Summary of Provisions of New Gun Law

A summary of the provisions of Connecticut’s new “Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety” law has been prepared by Mike Cronin, Esq., a Staff Attorney of the Senate Republicans.  The summary, dated April 5, 2013, is available on the Connecticut Senate Republican’s website.

Using a question and answer format, the summary is a guide as how to obey the new gun control law. Typical questions posed in the summary include:

Do I have to give up any of my presently owned guns? How does the new law affect the sale of assault style rifles? Hand guns? Shot guns? What are the new registration requirements for assault style guns, and what are the new limits on ammunition purchases?

Private Guns Sales Covered by New Law

Also, the summary notes that the new gun control law requires a background check for firearm sales, including private transactions.

Here is one of the twenty-four questions asked and answered in Attorney Cronin’s guide:

Q. If I already own a large capacity magazine, can I still use it?

A. Yes. If you legally possess large capacity magazines prior to the passage of this bill you can still use it in your gun. If you are at home or at a target range or shooting clubs, you can load as many bullets as the magazine can hold. Anywhere else, you can only load 10 bullets in the magazine.

 

New Emergency Medical Center to Replace Essex’s Medical Center in April 2014

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

A new $28 million Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center, which is presently under construction in Westbrook, is slated to replace the hospital’s present Shoreline Medical Center in Essex as early as next April. According to Middlesex Hospital’s Harry Evert, Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning and Operations, the new Westbrook Shoreline Medical Center, “will double the number of rooms and bring a higher level of efficiency,” than exists at the present Essex facility.

Billboards Promise New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook next year

Billboards Promise New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook next year

The hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will be located on Flat Rock Place, just off Exit 65 of Interstate I-95. The Center will be just down the road from the Tanger Outlet shopping mall. The frame of the new two story medical center is in the process of construction at the Westbrook location.

Construction workers busy at Flat Rock Place site, near Exit 65 of I-95

Construction workers busy at Flat Rock Place site, near Exit 65 of I-95

Essex’s “Shoreline Clinic” Served Area for 40 Years

The existing Shoreline Medical Center in Essex will be closed down as soon as the new Westbrook center is ready to accept patients. The Essex Shoreline Medical Center has provided emergency medical services to shoreline residents for the past 40 years, according to Middlesex Hospital materials.

What will happen to the Essex shoreline center, once it is phased out, however, has yet to be decided, according to Evert.

Some Essex residents are deeply concerned about closing of the present Shoreline medical center in their town. At the same time they can look forward to using a new larger and better equipped medical facility, when it comes on line neighboring Westbrook.

Essex Shoreline Center Was First of Its Kind  

According to a Middlesex Hospital sources, the shoreline facility in Essex was, “the first freestanding hospital-based emergency center in the country, and it became a model for other hospitals to follow.” In building a new medical center in Westbrook, the hospital notes, “We are moving three miles down the road from the current facility on Route 153 in Essex to Westbrook.” An advantage of the Westbrook location is that it “will provide easy access from I-95 as well as local roads.”

Middlesex Hospital’s Senior Vice President Evert also pointed out that the new Westbrook facility would be able to serve, more easily, the emergency medical needs of a number of towns along the I-95 corridor. For example, persons living in towns to the west of the new facility on I-95, such as Madison and Clinton, would have direct access to the new Westbrook center.

Also, towns to the east on the I-95 corridor, such as Old Saybrook, Old Lyme and Lyme, could be served by the new Westbrook center as well. The new Westbrook center could also serve the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester, as well as Haddam and Killingworth without difficulty. In addition, accident victims on I-95 could be treated more easily from the Westbrook center.

Middlesex Hospital’s Evert estimated that the increase in the number of patients at the new Westbrook facility over those at the Essex facility would be in the ten to fifteen percent range. However, when pressed he said that this might be a “low ball” figure, and that he “just wanted to be conservative.”

New Westbrook Center Twice the Size of Essex’s   

The new 40,000 square foot emergency and outpatient facility in Westbrook will be double the size of the present Essex medical center. Furthermore, according to Middlesex Hospital materials, “Should we need even more space we have the option to add a second level, which would increase the Shoreline Medical Center space to 60,000 square feet.”

Until the use of this additional 20,000 square feet becomes necessary, it will remain undeveloped on the second floor of the new medical center building.

A two story frame is in place for the new emergency medical center in Westbrook

A two story frame is in place for the new emergency medical center in Westbrook

The new 40,000 square foot facility, presently being built, on the first floor will have, “an expanded emergency center with an express care area for minor illnesses and injuries.” Also, the new 40,000 square feet facility will allow, “a separate ambulance entrance,” as well as a “covered drop-off area, and improved patient privacy.”

Outpatients at the new Westbrook emergency center will also have their own entrance, and at the center there will be, “a whole host of diagnostic and treatment services.” In addition at the new center, “Radiology services will expand to include a new MRI testing area, and designated women imaging area.” In addition, “Other offerings would include lab services, pre-surgical testing and chronic care management.”

In summary Middlesex Hospital released this summary of services at the new Westbrook emergency center:

  • Emergency: 24/7 care, Helipad, Paramedic service
  • Other Services: Pre-surgical testing, chronic care management programs.
  • Outpatient Diagnostics: X-ray, MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Mammography, Laboratory services

As for the staff at the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook, it will consist of:

  • Physicians, board certified in Emergency Medicine, providing coverage 24/7,
  •  Magnet nurses with a reputation for the highest quality care,
  • Laboratory and radiology clinicians credentialed in their areas of specialty.

Middlesex Hospital summarized by noting that, “Hospital emergency departments are the healthcare safety net for all in the community, any hour, day or night, seven days a week. All patients who come to the facility, regardless of their ability to pay receive care.”

The hospital also noted, “Each year, more than 23,000 people rely on the Shoreline Medical Center for emergency care.”

Helicopter Air Lifts Wounded Gunman to Hartford Hospital After Gun Incident

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A Life-Star helicopter is loaded with injured gunman at emergency medical center in Essex

A “Life Star” helicopter air lifted a wounded gunman at Middlesex Hospital’s Emergency Medical Center in Essex for a trip to Hartford Hospital around four o’clock Monday afternoon.

Reportedly, the gunman engaged in a gun battle with a state trooper after a car chase and car crash on Route 153 near the Westbrook Essex line. A state trooper was also wounded in the gun battle, but not seriously.  In addition, a second gunman was killed in the exchange of gun fire.

 

After incident State Police troopers gather outside Middlesex Hospital's medical center in Essex

After incident State Police troopers gather outside Middlesex Hospital’s medical center in Essex

 

Only If You Are Eating at Pizza Works, Can You Park in the Restaurant’s Parking Lot

Pizza Works restaurant, right next to train entrance

Pizza Works restaurant, right next to train entrance

That’s right, if you want to park at one of the best parking spaces at the Old Saybrook railroad station, one that snuggles right up to the terminal entrance, you are supposed to be eating at the Pizza Works restaurant while you park there. Otherwise, parking is not allowed at one of the 38, green bordered parking spaces, reserved, exclusively, for those who are dining at Pizza Works.

Even handicap parkers must be eating in the restaurant

Even handicap parkers must be eating in the restaurant

 

The general public is not welcome to park in these spaces!

However, to the chagrin of the owner of Pizza Works, this strict no public parking rule is frequently ignored. In fact, more and more, it appears that the parking spaces, which are supposed to be reserved exclusively for Pizza Works customers, have turned into an unsanctioned public parking space at the station.

Green colored borders ignored by parkers

Green colored borders ignored by parkers

Other Parking Spaces at Station Are Well Organized

In contrast to the confused situation of Pizza Works parking, the other parking spaces at the station are well organized. For example, free parking is available, at the Shore Line East Commuter parking lot, as it is at the forty AMTRAK parking spaces at the station.

Also, there is free parking along the Upper Cemetery on North Main Street, and a  $5.00 a day parking system in a large lot at the left of the terminal building. In addition, there is a one hour parking rule in front of the businesses at the station, which seems to be generally accepted.

Pizza Works Parking Rules Widely Ignored

But that is not the case with the 38 green bordered parking spaces next to the Pizza Works restaurant. Here confusion reigns, and there appears to be little that Pizza Works owner Bob Kekayias can do about it.

Unauthorized parkers in Pizza Works spots

Unauthorized parkers in Pizza Works spots

Even though he has posted signs, saying that unless you are actually eating at the restaurant that your car can be towed, and/or subject to a $150 fine, many parkers pay little attention. This makes the restaurant owner both resigned and angry.

Kekayias, who declined to be photographed, says grimly, that persons parking on the spaces reserved for restaurant patrons, “do not have a right to park there under the law.” But then he notes, ruefully, that these days, he “can’t tow,” meaning that he cannot tow away cars that are not suppose to be parking in the restaurant’s parking lot.

Remembering for the Days When He Could Tow

“We used to be able to do so,” he says, “but no more.” “It is frustrating,” he says.  “Perhaps if I asked the police chief in town, I could tow,” he ruminates, but he does not sound very hopeful that he could get permission.

He also says that his restaurant can seat 50 people, and that these customers are entitled to the parking spaces closest to the restaurant.  But to him the situation appears to be pretty hopeless. He says, “I am just co-existing … [with the unauthorized parkers].”

As an example of the seriousness of the problem, he said that once even he could not find a parking spot next to his restaurant, because all of the spots were full. He also makes the point again and again, he pays to rent the parking spaces next to his restaurant.

There appears to be no practical solution as to how Pizza Works can limit its parking spaces, exclusively, to the restaurant’s customers. The yawning empty spaces, throughout much of the day are simply too tempting for non-dining  parkers to make use of.

Of course Kehayias could hire a parking attendant to keep non-restaurant customers from parking in the reserved restaurant parking spots. But, evidently, at this point, it is doubtful that the expense would make it worth it.

Old Saybrook Railroad Station Parking Fees Could Increase from $5 to $10 a Day

Railroad Parking Area sign

Railroad Parking Area sign

The daily parking fee on the privately owned parking lot, which is closest to the tracks at the Old Saybrook railroad station, could increase in the near future.  The present parking fee, which is $5 a day, could rise to $10 a day, according to Sebastian Lobo, the privately employed, parking attendant at the lot.

Lobo said that even with the increase, the cost for parking at Old Saybrook station would be far less than the amount charged at the New Haven railroad station.

However, a parking fee increase at one of the lots at the station would have no effect on the free-of-charge parking lots at the station, including, the Shore Line East Old Saybrook Commuter parking lot and the AMTRAK parking spaces at the station.  Nor would it affect the informal, free parking lot that extends along North Main Street from the Upper Cemetery almost all the way down to the tracks.

As for the 200 new parking spaces, which the state Department of Transportation plans to add at Old Saybrook rail station, it remains undecided as to whether there will be a parking fee or not for these spaces.

The Lot Where They Charge a Parking Fee  

The parking lot, where there is presently a $5.00 a day parking fee, is located right next to the relatively new, over the tracks terminal at the station.  For train passengers, it is clearly the most convenient place to park at the station.

These parking spaces are owned by Saybrook Realty Partners, whose address is 455 Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook, according to the collection envelopes put under the windshields of the cars parking there.

Collection envelopes can pile up under windshields

Collection envelopes can pile up under windshields

The border lines around the spaces owned by this group are white in color, and, generally, they are far from full.  Obviously, this is because most people parking at the station have found free spaces at other areas of the station.

Empty parking spaces at the pay for parking area

Empty parking spaces at the pay for parking area

The Collection Method of Paying for Parking

For those who pay for their parking at the station, there is a unique system of collecting parking fees.  First, parking attendant Lobo in his red car scoots around the lot, placing collection envelopes behind the windshields of the cars that are parked there.

Parking Attendant Lobo puts in place a collection envelope

Parking Attendant Lobo puts in place a collection envelope

These addressed envelopes instruct parkers to do three things: (1) put a $5 per day parking fee in the envelope, (2) place a stamp on the envelope, and (3) mail it.

The formal printed instructions on these envelopes read as follows:

$5.00 Daily Parking fee     

Please mail the $5.00 a day parking fee in this envelope. This parking lot is PRIVATE AND NO LONGER FREE. Amtrak travelers may park in the yellow lined designated area or pay the fee to park at will. Parking fees not paid within 14 days will be assessed an additional late fee of $10.00 per day.  YOUR LICENSE PLATE HAS BEEN NOTED Violators subject to tow at owner’s expense. For further information email parking@saybrookrealtypartners.com.

Plate Number _______________________________________________

Date _______________________________________________________

 

Enforcement Signs Threaten a $150 Fine

Signs around this Railroad Parking Area, as it is called, threaten significant consequences if parking fees are not paid.  “Violators Will Be Towed” and a “$150 Fine” will be imposed the signs say around the parking lot.

In an effort to obtain further information about this pay for parking organization, who declined an interview, we posed by email the following questions to Saybrook Realty Partners:

1) How many $150 fines have you imposed on persons who park on your spaces at the Old Saybrook railroad station?

2) How many $150 fines have you collected since you inaugurated a payment for parking scheme at the station?

3) How many cars have you towed for non-payment of parking fees?

4) How successful, generally, has been your return envelope payment system?

 Statement by Owner of Saybrook Realty Partners

Mr. David M. Adams, owner of Saybrook Realty Partners, which owns and manages Saybrook Junction, provided the following response, “The [Saybrook Realty  Partners’ parking] system has been very effective in preserving the integrity of the parking at Saybrook Junction for our 16 tenants. Saybrook Junction is a private business and has an obligation to provide parking for its business tenants and their customers, while also supporting Amtrak and overflow parking for Shoreline East commuters.  We continue to make progress to alleviate some of the parking concerns voiced by our tenants as well as commuters.”

A final article on the parking situation at the Old Saybrook railroad station will discuss the parking spaces that are controlled by the award-winning Pizza Works restaurant at the station. The restaurant has 38 reserved parking spaces close to the tracks.

200 New Parking Spaces to Be Added at the Old Saybrook Railroad Station

The rear of the lots, where AMTRAK parking is located

The rear of the lots, where AMTRAK parking is located

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna has confirmed in a recent interview that the Connecticut Department of Transportation, working with the Town of Old Saybrook, will soon formally announce a plan to add 200 new parking spaces at the railroad station in Old Saybrook.

The new parking spaces will require the purchase by the state Department of Transportation of 3.6 acres of private property, and negotiations for this purchase are presently underway. The new parking spaces will be situated on a site off  North Main Street, across the street from the Upper Cemetery.  The Upper Cemetery was established in 1750, and it is one of Old Saybrook’s historic landmarks.

Monies to acquire the 200 new parking spaces will come exclusively from the state, said the state’s Project Manager Keith Hall in a recent interview. There will be no federal funds involved in the purchase whatsoever, he emphasized.

Because of the good faith that has been shown in negotiating the sale of the property, Project Manager Hall also said that acquiring the property by eminent domain would not be necessary. Hall emphasized that to date there had been “fruitful discussions” with the property owners involved, and he anticipates that the final sale of the property would be consummated this coming April, if not before.

In discussing the planned acquisition of the new parking spaces, First Selectman Fortuna observed that the present parking situation at the Old Saybrook railroad station was “not ideal.”

The Present Parking Spaces at the Old Saybrook Station

The 200 new parking spaces at the station will add, substantially, to the number of parking spaces presently available at the station. One of the more informal of the existing parking lots at the station is the one that has a single string of parked cars running down North Main Street.

Cars parked beside the cemetery on North Main Street

Cars parked beside the cemetery on North Main Street

This ad hoc parking lot extends from next to the Upper Cemetery all the way down to the railroad tracks. During work days this informal “free” parking area is completely full.

Another significant parking area that also offers free parking is the Shore Line East, Old Saybrook, Commuter Parking lot.  This large lot has 137 parking spaces, with a few designated for handicap parking.

Colorful sign for Shore Line East Commuter Parking

Colorful sign for Shore Line East Commuter Parking

Although the Shore Line East parking lot is not directly beside the railroad station, it is still within easy walking distance of the trains. During work days the Shore Line East parking lot is frequently full.

AMTRAK Passenger Parking

In addition to these parking areas there are designated parking spaces for Amtrak passengers at the Old Saybrook railroad station. These Amtrak spaces are free, and they are indicated by painted yellow lines along their borders.

The Amtrak spaces are located just down from the Route 154 entrance to the railroad station property. This means that they are the furthest distance from where passengers get on and off their trains. Also, there are no designated parking spaces for handicapped Amtrak passengers, as there are in the Shore Line East Commuter Parking area.

Furthermore, the number of free-of-charge Amtrak parking spaces appears to be diminishing at the station.  Quite recently a number of Amtrak parking spaces were re-designated to be for the exclusive use of patients of a dermatologist with offices at the station. In the process Amtrak’s yellow boarders on these spaces have been painted over.

The considerable distance from the remaining Amtrak spaces to the train station can mean that a baggage-laden passenger, traveling on Amtrak, has further to walk to the train than any other passengers parking at the station.

One Hour Parking Spaces at the Station

Finally, there is another parking area that has at least a semblance of free parking. These are the spaces which are designated as offering just one hour of free parking, and no more. This means that if parkers decide to eat at Zhang’s Chinese Restaurant at the station, they better eat their shrimp chow mien with fried rice for lunch within an hour’s time.

However, it has to be said that this one hour limit does not appear to be strictly enforced by the private developer that owns much of the property around the railroad station.

Finally, it should be noted that the Old Saybrook railroad train station is in a unique category from among shoreline stations. This is because it serves both Shore Line East and Amtrak passengers. “It is not like the Guilford station that only serves Shore Line East passengers,” said DOT’s Project Manager Hall, when discussing the importance of the Old Saybrook railroad station. Of course it must also be sadly noted that Amtrak’s luxury train, the Acela, does not a stop at Old Saybrook. Rather, it insultingly barrels through the station at 80 or more miles an hour. Maybe it will stop for us someday.

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