March 24, 2017

Registration Now Open for Madhatters Summer Camps

AREAWIDE — Madhatters Theatre Company is now accepting registrations for their summer productions at Chester Meeting House 4 Liberty Street, Chester, CT.  Camps run Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a performance on Friday.

Junior production ‘Madagascar’ open to ages 6-12 years July 24 thru 28.

Senior production ‘Legally Blonde’ open to ages 12-18 years July 31 thru August 4.

For further information and to register, e-mail: madhattersctc@aol.com   www.ctkidsonstage.com/madhatterstheatrecompany

Share

Essex Meadows Named One of Best Retirement Homes in Nation by US News & World Report

ESSEX – Essex Meadows Health Center, part of the continuum of Essex Meadows Life Care Community, is celebrating an 8th consecutive year of being rated as one of the top health services and skilled nursing providers in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Essex Meadows Health Center scored a 5-Star rating on all points of the survey, one of the most trusted in the country. Based on the scoring criteria, the center rated in the top 13 percent of skilled nursing and senior health care providers across the nation.

“We’re extremely humbled and honored by this distinction,” said associate executive director Kathleen Dess. “Our residents can go on knowing they live in one of the best retirement environments nationwide, and our team members can enjoy some well-deserved recognition for the work they do each day.”

The work Dess refers to has included Essex Meadows Health Center leading the way on an innovative program known as Reading 2 Connect, which has shown proven results in the area of helping those with various forms of dementia continue to enjoy a passion for reading.

Additionally, the community has been involved in programs like the Audubon’s Bird Tales, allowing them to make use of the nearly 1,000-acre preserve located nearby, and the Music and Memory program for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

“The 5-Star rating is really about getting things right for our residents in every aspect of quality living,” said Dess. “From providing unparalleled food quality in our dining room to the short-term rehab we offer, our team members are truly among the best in the field of senior living.”

The U.S. News and World Report ratings are based on information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Editor’s Note: Since 1988, Essex Meadows has provided a lifestyle of dignity, freedom, independence and security to older adults from Connecticut and beyond. A community offering full life care, Essex Meadows, located conveniently on the Connecticut River near the mouth of Long Island Sound, prides itself on a financially responsible and caring atmosphere. Essex Meadows is managed by Life Care Services®™, a leading provider in life care, retirement living. For more information on Essex Meadows, visit the community’s website or call 860-767-7201.

Share

Essex Garden Club Offers Environment-Related Scholarship

ESSEX – The Essex Garden Club is pleased announce that applications are available for scholarships to be awarded in June, 2017.

To be considered for this scholarship, applicants must be:

  1. a resident of Essex, Centerbrook or Ivoryton, CT
  2. a high school senior or undergraduate/graduate college student
  3. have a “B” or better GPA
  4. be planning to pursue studies related to the environment in an accredited two-year or four-year institute of higher learning. Fields of study may include: Agriculture, Biology, Ecology, Horticulture, Forestry, Environmental Science and Engineering.  Closely related subjects may also apply: Land Conservation, Landscape Design, Nursery Management.

Application forms are available from Guidance Counselors at Valley Regional High School, or essexgardenclubct.org. The deadline for receipt of applications is April 24, 2017. For more information call 860-581-8206.

Share

Update From Essex Tree Warden on Gypsy Moths 2017

Gypsy moth caterpillars – photo by Peter Trenchard, CAES

AREAWIDE — The 2016 report on the gypsy moth from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) indicates the extent of the 2016 gypsy moth outbreak.  The heaviest outbreaks were concentrated in 4 eastern counties: Middlesex, New London, Windham and Tolland Counties.  CAES has published both a map and an updated fact sheet on their website at this link.

Those areas that suffered extensive defoliation in 2016 should expect a large hatch of caterpillars in 2017.  The egg masses in these areas are numerous and widespread.

As the caterpillars age and move into the later instars, they will defoliate the trees and shrubs, particularly oak trees, but also apple, birch, poplar and willow.  However, if there is enough rain this spring (May-June), the E. maimaiga fungus may be activated and provide complete control of the caterpillars. If the NPV virus spreads throughout the caterpillar population, the caterpillars may be killed as they become crowded.

The visible egg masses can be removed from accessible locations, drowned in a container of soapy water and disposed of safely.

Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden,  advises residents to stay vigilant, remove eggs masses if possible  and contact  local arborists to discuss alternative treatments as caterpillars reappear.

Pampel is also available for questions/concerns at: augiepampel@att.net.

Share

Literacy Volunteers Offer Opportunity to Make your Book Donations Pay

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. in Westbrook is looking for donations of clean books that were loved and now need a new home.

If you have books with a copyright date of 2007 or newer that you have read, loved and now would like to see go to a good home, LVVS can offer that opportunity. Consider donating those adult or children’s hard- or soft-cover books and DVD’s or puzzles to Literacy Volunteers at 61 Goodspeed Drive, Westbrook during business hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. In return, you will receive a certificate for $5 off the purchase of any books in our inventory totaling $10.

You can feel good about your “friends” becoming a part of our family of books, games, puzzles and media items for sale to only the most discriminating buyers who want, like you, to help the cause of Literacy.

Anyone interested in more information regarding on this program, our upcoming events or any of our services is encouraged to call (860) 399-0280, visit www.vsliteracy.org or e-mail info@vsliteracy.org.

Share

Sen. Linares Proposes Electoral College Vote for 2nd Congressional District

Sen. Art Linares gives testimony in the Connecticut Senate.

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) on Wednesday testified before the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee in support of a bill he proposed to give the 2nd Congressional District its own vote in the Electoral College.

SB 133, An Act Concerning The Electoral College Vote Attributed To The State’s Second Congressional District, was submitted by Sen. Linares as a way to give a voice and more visibility to the people and businesses of the 2ndCongressional District.

During his testimony, Sen. Linares said that while people know the Naval Submarine Base and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, other areas of the district don’t get much notice.

“Presidents and vice presidents are customary speakers at Academy graduations. Members of Congress tour the facility that is the United States Navy’s primary East Coast submarine base,” Sen. Linares said. “However, during presidential primary and election years, the Second Congressional District and its important facilities are passed by. I’d like to change that.”

Sen. Linares said his bill would use the popular vote in the district to determine what candidate would get the Electoral College vote from the district. In addition to possibly generating more interest from presidential candidates, he said the bill would give the 2nd Congressional District the attention the unique area deserves,

Senator Linares represents the communities of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

Share

CT Trust for Historic Preservation, SECoast, Submit Lengthy Comments Opposing FRA’s Proposed High Speed Railroad Route, Criticizing Planning Process

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut’s statewide historic preservation advocacy organization, and SECoast, their special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley, have submitted 41 pages of comments to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the  Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which presents the Preferred Alternative of the Old Saybrook – Kenyon, R.I. bypass that runs through Old Lyme.

The powerful cover letter to the comments, the text of which is given below, summarizes the organization’s major ongoing concerns as follows: “We … remain concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration has not acknowledged public, municipal, legislative, or Congressional concerns expressed in two states about their fundamentally flawed planning process, insufficient public outreach, or un-substantiated inclusion of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass in the F-EIS.”

The cover letter concludes: “No state along the entire Northeast Corridor is as significantly or extensively impacted by the NEC Future planning process as Connecticut. The representative route of the Preferred Alternative … directly impacts numerous historic and environmentally sensitive communities. Singularly and collectively, these are resources that cannot be mitigated or replaced, and the Connecticut Trust is pledged to defend them.”

The full text of the cover letter reads as follows below:

The full text of the 41 pages of comments can be read at this link.

Dear Federal Railroad Administration and NEC Future Project Team:

On behalf of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut’s statewide historic preservation advocacy organization, and SECoast, our special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley, we submit the following comments to provide feedback on the Preferred Alternative and the contents of the Tier 1 Final EIS for NEC Future. These comments are provided during the Waiting Period prior to development and issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD) for this project.

Since January 2016, the Connecticut Trust and SECoast have worked diligently and effectively to direct significant public attention to the NED Future Tier 1 EIS process. We did so out of grave concern for the impacts of proposed planning on the historic, cultural and environmental resources of Connecticut’s coastal communities. An education campaign that initially centered on Old Lyme, the western gateway of the proposed Old Sayrbook to Kenyon bypass, soon expanded region wide, jumped states to Rhode Island, and now includes Fairfield County communities in western Connecticut as well.

We have organized a notable volume of informed commentary on the NEC Future Plan, but remain concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration has not acknowledged public, municipal, legislative, or Congressional concerns expressed in two states about their fundamentally flawed planning process, insufficient public outreach, or un-substantiated inclusion of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass in the F-EIS.

No state along the entire Northeast Corridor is as significantly or extensively impacted by the NEC Future planning process as Connecticut. The representative route of the Preferred Alternative identified in the Tier 1 F-EIS directly impacts numerous historic and environmentally sensitive communities. Singularly and collectively, these are resources that cannot be mitigated or replaced, and the Connecticut Trust is pledged to defend them.

Regards,

Daniel Mackay                                                                  Gregory Stroud 
Executive Director                                                           Director of Special Projects 
CT Trust for Historic Preservation                              CT Trust for Historic Preservation

Share

Connecticut Fund for the Environment Send Strong Letter to FRA Opposing Their ‘Preferred Alternative’ High Speed Rail Route

We have been invited to publish the text of a letter sent Feb. 23 from the Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE) to the Federal Rail Authority (FRA), which, while supporting the principle of high speed rail, clearly states the CFE’s opposition to the FRA’s Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the following two headings:

  1. The Current Tier 1 EIS Does Not Sufficiently Describe Why FRA Selected the Preferred Alternative
  2. The Tier 1 EIS Fails to Provide the Public with Adequate Information Concerning the Probable Environmental Impacts and Consequences of the Preferred Alternative

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment is the premier Connecticut-based legal defense for environmental actions. It also has the embedded bi-state organization, Save the Sound.

The letter reads as follows:

RE: Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement for NEC Future High Speed Rail Improvements Through Coastal Connecticut

Dear Acting Administrator,

Connecticut Fund for the Environment (“CFE”) and its bi-state program Save the Sound respectfully submit the following comments on the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) for the NEC Future high speed rail project, specifically those portions of the EIS detailing anticipated impacts to coastal Southeastern Connecticut. CFE is a state and region-wide nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental protection and advocacy that represents more than 4,700 members in both Connecticut and New York.

I. CFE is Major Supporter of High Speed Rail and its Numerous Benefits

High speed rail is critical to the transportation future of both the Northeast region and the country. CFE is a longtime supporter of high speed rail service in the Northeast. High speed rail must be an integral component of our nation’s transportation infrastructure as the United States moves further into the Twenty-First Century. In addition to making long distance travel faster and more convenient, high speed rail can serve as a major economic driver both as the result of its construction and implementation and the transport efficiencies it will provide to business and private citizens. Accessible high speed rail is not only an efficient mass transit alternative for many citizens, but an effective way of decreasing carbon emissions produced by the transportation sector. This is of particular importance to states such as Connecticut, where the largest increasing portion of the state’s greenhouse gas output originates from motor vehicle transportation.(1) Many of Connecticut’s major highways, including I-95 and I-84, become clogged with traffic during normal commute times, increasing the potential for excessive greenhouse gas emissions and inefficient use of fossil fuels. Accordingly, alternative means of transport that would decrease congestion on Connecticut’s highways in major travel corridors are a necessary and much needed public objective. Given the environmental benefits of high speed rail overall, CFE strongly supports proposals to make high speed rail a reality for commuters along the Northeast Corridor. It must, however, been done properly. The current NEC Future EIS provides such scant detail about potential site-specific environmental impacts that CFE is compelled to request that Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) conduct a much more thorough analysis prior to making any committed decisions regarding the NEC Future project. In its current form, the EIS fails to provide any substantive information from which citizens can draw conclusions regarding the potential environmental impacts of the preferred alternative.

II. The Current Tier 1 EIS Does Not Sufficiently Describe Why FRA Selected the Preferred Alternative

As a threshold matter, CFE questions whether FRA and the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) have conducted a sufficient analysis in making the determination that the preferred alternative evaluated the Tier 1 EIS is the most feasible alternative to be pursued in order to increase rail speed along the Northeast Corridor. In regard to Connecticut, the preferred alternative entails following the existing rail corridor with a new track segment from Old Saybrook, Connecticut to Kenyon, Rhode Island and rail improvements to existing track from New Haven, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts. Without meaningful environmental analysis, however, it is impossible to evaluate whether the preferred alternative is, in fact, the best alternative.

In selecting a preferred alternative so early in the process, FRA risks committing a large volume of resources to pursuing an alternative that may, ultimately, be impractical or unduly expensive to implement on the ground. This is particularly so given the preferred alternative at issue, which entails routing a new section of rail through a densely populated portion of the state and includes formidable infrastructure elements, such as a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River, discussed in greater length below. In electing to proceed along the existing coastal rail corridor, CFE is concerned that FRA may have selected convenience at the expense of overall benefit. Although FRA presumably conducted these analyses, the Tier 1 EIS contains very little comparative evaluation of the preferred alternative against the details of some of the other proposed routes through Connecticut. For example, there is no comparison between the Hartford route and the coastal route. Likewise, the EIS does not explore potential issues that may arise in regard to each alternative, such as the difficulty of blazing a brand new segment of rail through rural eastern Connecticut or the potential for the Connecticut River tunnel to be unworkable and replaced with the earlier proposal of an elevated rail bridge. As FRA prepares its final record of decision, CFE urges FRA to seriously explore the pros and cons of the preferred alternative against the routes in some of the other proposals.

III. The Tier 1 EIS Fails to Provide the Public with Adequate Information Concerning the Probable Environmental Impacts and Consequences of the Preferred Alternative

In regard to the preferred alternative as it stands in the Tier 1 EIS, CFE expresses serious concerns about the level of analysis conducted with respect to the proposed new rail bypass between Old Saybrook and Kenyon.(2) In addition to constructing a new segment of rail through a heavily populated and historic portion of the state, the EIS proposes constructing a rail tunnel beneath the Connecticut River estuary.(3) The EIS, however, is devoid of any details or feasibility analyses of such a tunnel. Indeed, there is little that can be determined from the EIS beyond the fact that the preferred alternative contains a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River in Old Lyme, Connecticut. There is no information concerning the design of such a tunnel, whether a tunnel is even feasible in the proposed location, how the tunnel will impact the Connecticut River riverbed, or the presumably extensive environmental impacts that will occur when constructing a subsurface tunnel beneath the largest river estuary in the region. Although the tunnel was ostensibly proposed in order to ameliorate the concerns that the public had with an elevated rail bridge being constructed through the heart of a historic downtown area, as the NEC Future project originally proposed, the lack of meaningful detail about the impacts of constructing such a tunnel leaves open the possibility that will ultimately prove so burdensome and destructive that FRA will fall back on its original rail bridge proposal.

CFE recognizes that the current document is programmatic in scale,(4) yet the analysis of the preferred alternative provides the public with no information other than the fact that FRA anticipates constructing a tunnel and a line on a map where the tunnel will ostensibly be located.(5) Although site specific impacts are relegated to Tier 2 in a tiered EIS process, the decision to do so in the present case leaves numerous communities and citizens in utter uncertainty as to the specifics of FRA’s exact plans in regard to the Old Saybrook-Kenyon bypass. As courts have recognized in the context of other Tiered EIS projects, the broad nature of review at the Tier 1 stage can result in serious ongoing implementation and impact problems at Tier 2 and thereafter.(6) Given the lack of precise detail about the proposed tunnel at this stage, there is a risk that when rigorous analysis of the tunnel occurs during Tier 2, FRA will encounter potential impacts that would have best been evaluated—and perhaps avoided—earlier.

For example, given the information present in the current EIS, it is impossible to know the exact manner in which the tunnel will affect the immediate river environment. The EIS does not state whether the tunnel will be through bedrock below the river or a structure along the river bottom or some other alternative. The Connecticut River estuary is unique among the region’s estuaries because of its extensive wetland and habitat resources.(7) A tunnel has the potential to seriously disrupt the Connecticut River’s natural flow into Long Island Sound and will likely affect the deposition patterns of nutrient rich sediments that flow into the estuary from further upstream. Likewise, if the proposed tunnel’s construction will disrupt the layers of sediment already present on the river bottom, such disruption will have the inevitable effect of unearthing pollutants that have become sealed off by more recent sediment deposition and reintroducing them into the water column, in effect repolluting the ecosystem with old pollutants. Yet none of these details or contingencies are addressed in the Tier 1 EIS, but relegated to later analysis at Tier 2.

Similarly, the Tier 1 EIS does not adequately address the physical impacts that would presumably occur on lands adjacent to the tunnel beneath the Connecticut River. The EIS, for example, is bereft of any meaningful analysis of the potential impacts on the invaluable wetlands that flank the Connecticut River estuary. As previously mentioned, the installation of a rail tunnel on the bottom of the river could, depending on its design and depth, potentially disrupt the historic flow patterns of the Connecticut River, which in turn could lead to the loss of wetlands. Likewise, the actual construction of the tunnel descent on the lands abutting the riverbank could negatively impact or destroy wetlands. Losing wetland acreage in a high population area such as coastal Southeastern Connecticut is a dangerous proposition, given the increased risk of shoreline flooding as climate change ushers in rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events. Given the level of detail in the EIS, however, it is uncertain as to whether any such impacts will occur or how extensive they may be. Due to the high risk that harm to wetland resources may ensue, such analysis should not be delayed to a subsequent stage of the administrative process.

Additionally, the Tier 1 EIS delays appropriate analysis of potential impacts to endangered and threatened species until the Tier 2 stage.(8) As is widely recognized, the Connecticut River estuary serves as invaluable habitat to a large number of species. For example, the estuary is noted as possessing one of the highest diversities of fish species in the Northeast.(9) Likewise, the estuary and river corridor serve as an important resource for numerous migratory bird species.(10) As the EIS notes, many federally endangered species are currently present in the very local ecosystem to be affected, including the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii), Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), and several species of sea turtle.(11) As a practical matter, putting off the site specific analysis of impacts to endangered species can result in numerous problems either at Tier 2 or during project implementation, should an endangered species stand in the path of the tunnel’s proposed route.(12) The risk of such an occurrence is high, for as the EIS recognizes, Connecticut contains the highest number of endangered and threatened species of all states impact by the overall project.(13) At that point, irretrievable resources and time will have been needlessly spent in vain when an earlier analysis could have avoided such a problem while safeguarding habitat.

CFE also notes its grave concern regarding the earlier proposal for an elevated rail bridge over the Connecticut River that would direct the route of the new spur through the heart of historic Old Lyme and nearby cultural sites such as the Florence Griswold Museum. As the preparation of an environmental impact statement requires the sponsoring agency to consider the effects on the “human environment,” the health and quality of life in communities directly affected by a massive project such as NEC Future should be of paramount importance in FRA’s decision making. Should the Connecticut River tunnel ultimately prove unworkable or overly expensive, CFE shares the concerns of many citizens that FRA will implement the original rail bridge proposal instead, thereby subjecting a historic town center to irreparable damage and a diminution in aesthetic and environmental value. If there is even a remote possibility that FRA may ultimately implement a rail bridge over the Connecticut River as an alternate aspect of the new spur, it must fully present and analyze the expected environmental impacts at the current stage of the process so that the public may be fully and adequately informed of such a possibility.

Overall, CFE recognizes that the NEC Future project is one of enormous scale. Although a Tier 1 EIS is intended to be programmatic in scale, the current document provides directly affected communities and stakeholders with only the merest indications and suppositions as to what actual impacts will entail. In terms of the preferred alternative’s Old Saybrook-Kenyon spur and the subsurface tunnel included therein, the lack of concrete detail leaves local communities in a state of uncertainty as to what such a massive infrastructure project will mean in terms of impacts on the human environment and nearby ecosystem resources. As it is entirely possible that a yet unforeseen environmental impact will prevent actual implementation of the preferred alternative as presented, affected communities and the public are justly concerned that a subsequent, on the ground decision will result in earlier aspects of the proposed project being spontaneously resurrected as a means of quickly avoiding a major environmental impact and moving ahead with the project without additional delay. Given the importance of high speed rail to the future, it is necessary that the environmental impacts of any proposal are fully evaluated and understood by all stakeholders prior to moving forward.

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew W. Minikowski, Esq.
Legal Fellow Connecticut Fund for the Environment
900 Chapel Street, Upper Mezzanine
New Haven, CT 06510
203-787-0646 ex. 108

Supporting notes referenced by number in the text:
1 Acadia Center, “Updated Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for Connecticut: Recent Increases and Underlying Factors,” (June 13, 2016), available at http://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CT-GHG-EmissionsInventory-Report-2.pdf (last visited Sept. 9, 2016).
2 Federal Railroad Administration, “Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement,” Appendix A, 40–41 (Nov. 2016), available at http://www.necfuture.com/pdfs/tier1_deis/appendix/app_a.pdf (last visited Jan. 30, 2017).
3 Id. at 7.5-7.
4 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, “Guidelines on the Use of Tiered Environmental Impact Statements for Transportation Projects,” 3 (June 2009); see Ilio’ulaokalani Coalition v. Rumsfeld, 464 F.3d 1083, 1094 (9th Cir. 2006).
5 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2.
6 See Hoosier Environmental Council v. U.S. Dept. of Transp., 2007 WL 4302642, *7 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 10, 2007).
7 Jenna Pirotta, “Connecticut River Estuary: Haven for Juvenile Fish and Migratory Fish Highway,” N.O.A.A. FISHERIES GREATER ATLANTIC REGION, available at https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2012/haven_for_juvenile_fish_and_migratory_fish_highway.h tml (last visited Jan. 30, 2017).
8 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-9.
9 Glenn D. Dreyer and Marcianna Caplis, “Living Resources and Habitats of the Lower Connecticut River,” 56 (Dec. 2001), available at http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1037&context=arbbulletins (last visited Jan. 26, 2017).
10 Id. at 48.
11 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-5.
12 See generally Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 98 S.Ct. 2279, 57 L.Ed.2d 117 (1978).
13 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-3.
Share

Solarize Chester/Deep River Participation Deadline Extended to March 31


CHESTER & DEEP RIVER: 
The deadline has been extended to March 31 for homeowners who live, work, and/or worship in Chester and Deep River to receive discounted rates for residential solar installations through the Solarize Chester/Deep River program.

The Chester Energy Team and the Towns of Chester and Deep River have worked with a single installer, C-TEC Solar, over the past 18 weeks doing solar education and outreach, as well as offering discounted pricing for residents.

Due to high recent interest in the program, the Solarize Chester/Deep River deadline has been extended and the reduced pricing will be held for residents who participate by March 31.

The Solarize Chester/Deep River offer saves residents an average of $4,032 or 20 percent off what they would pay for a system at market pricing. The Solarize Chester/Deep River program offers residents quality equipment with a reputable company for a lower investment than what is typically available due to the aggregated savings of residents going solar together in the community.

People who are interested in finding out more about the program or if their home is right for solar can stop by can sign up to have an evaluation of their home for solar at no cost when they sign up at solarizect.com/Chester.

Share

Site for New Housing Development Cleared on Plains Rd. in Essex

This machine is being used to clear the area on Plains Rd. in preparation for construction of new homes. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX — Quite a while ago, the area pictured in the image above was the site of an active business — The Iron Chef — and many, many years before that, the site of a movie theater.  Now, after the long derelict area has finally been completely leveled by a huge machine (pictured above), the empty site awaits the construction of a new apartment complex.

The building site is just to the north of the Valley Railroad station.

Read a related article by Jerome Wilson titled, “Plains Rd. Development of 52 New Homes in Essex Scheduled to Begin … Finally,” published Jan. 12, 2017, on ValleyNewsNow.com.

Share

9 Town Transit Partners with Google Maps for Online Trip Planning

AREAWIDE — Finding local bus route information just got a whole lot easier.  In fact, you probably already have it available on your smartphone.  Google Maps now includes local bus routes and schedules in its directions feature.

Riders no longer have to read timetables.  They simply enter the date and time that they hope to arrive at their destination and the trip planner will provide three options, showing the amount of time and number of transfers for each option, letting you easily select the most convenient trip.

Google Maps can even provide walking directions, so you can find out exactly how to get to the nearest transit stop or station, and how to get to your destination once you leave the train/bus.  For extra convenience, Google Maps has most locations already stored, so you only need the location name or just a category, such as fast food.

“We are pleased to welcome 9 Town Transit to Google Maps.”, says Ryan Poscharsky, Strategic Partner Manager at Google.  “This partnership shows 9 Town Transit’s commitment to innovating, as well as serving and attracting new riders. Together we can provide useful and accurate information to help people quickly get to where they want to go.”

Another important feature is the ability to plan trips across agencies and modes.  CT Transit New Haven and Hartford, CT Transit Express, Shoreline East and Metro North are all available in Google Maps, so it is easy to plan your trip from Old Saybrook to Hartford, from Manhattan to the outlet malls, or from your Clinton to downtown New Haven.  Google Maps tells you all transfers required along with the connecting agency name and contact information.

“We hope this tool makes it easier than ever to plan your trip by bus or train in our region”, says Joseph Comerford, Executive Director of 9 Town Transit.

Share

Siegrist Requests Changes to House Bill to Allow Chester to Receive Funds to Combat Invasive Species

Rep. Bob Siegrist testifies during a Public Hearing about invasive species.

HARTFORD – State Rep. Bob Siegrist (R-36) recently testified during a public hearing regarding a proposal that he co-sponsored, namely House Bill 5503, An Act Concerning Lake Authorities and Combating Invasive Plant and Animal Species. Siegrist asked that the legislation be amended to assist local towns like Chester.

Under current law, 25 percent of Community Investment Account funds within the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection can be used for municipal open space grants. House Bill 5503 would provide grants to lake authorities for the control of invasive species.

Rep. Siegrist is in full support of House Bill 5503, but suggests that the bill be amended to allow municipalities access to the grants to combat invasive species.

“Current law states that two or more towns that have a body of water of state water within their territory can establish a lake authority. Cedar Lake in Chester is wholly within the Town of Chester. The problem in Cedar Lake is similar to what many lakes are dealing with — invasive species,” Siegrist said.

“Mitigation of this problem can be very expensive and requires ongoing maintenance, approximately every two years depending on the aggressive nature of the species. Cedar Lake is a 70-acre-lake fully owned by Chester, whose residents enjoy it for passive and active recreation. This legislation as it is currently written, would not allow such towns to have access to this grant. It is my hope the legislature’s Environment Committee would consider my language to make it fair for those towns like Chester.”

Share

Local Lawmakers Urge State to Support ‘The Kate’ with Highway Tourism Signage

Rep. Carney (left), The Kate’s Director of Development Dana Foster (center), and Paul Formica (right) at the Jan. 29 public hearing on the proposal to install signs for The Kate on local highways.

OLD SAYBROOK -– Old Saybrook lawmakers are urging the state legislature to help support the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (‘The Kate’) by passing legislation that would allow tourism signage for the center to be placed on Rte. 9 and I-95.

Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th), Sen. Art Linares (R-33rd) and Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) submitted testimony in favor of House Bill 5574 and spoke before the Transportation Committee to urge fellow lawmakers to support the local theater. ‘The Kate’ is a theater in the Town of Old Saybrook that provides entertainment for the region and is named for Connecticut Hall-of-Famer, multiple Academy Award winner, and former Old Saybrook resident Katharine Hepburn.

“We believe that ‘The Kate’ deserves to have signage along both I-95 and Rte. 9 because it will attract tourists to the theater and create an interest for those passing by the signs,” the lawmakers said in their written testimony, adding, “Similar theaters have signage along various highways throughout the state due to their importance and popularity and ‘The Kate’ is no different.”

They continued, “It is a cultural hub with entertainment that draws people from across the state and the country. It is an economic engine, not only for Old Saybrook, but for the region as a whole and helps nearby businesses like the many restaurants and shops in town. Signage along the highway will only improve the number of tourists to town and we believe it is in the state’s best interest to promote this important theater with the signage suggested.”

Sen. Formica and Dana Foster, Director of Development and External Relations at The Kate, testify before the Transportation Committee in favor of House Bill 5574 An Act Concerning Signs Indication the Location of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

Sen. Formica testified in person with Dana Foster, Director of Development and External Relations, at ‘The Kate,’ on Jan. 31, before the Transportation Committee on which Rep. Carney is a ranking member.

Foster explained the importance of signage along the highways, saying, “Signage would help our growing audiences navigate the multiple exits to Old Saybrook and help to further attract additional tourists and others to our historical building, great exhibit, and incredible arts and programming.”

Share

Letter to the Editor: Valley Shore Clergy Association Stands in Solidarity with Immigrants, Refugees

To the Editor:

We, a group of interfaith clergy from many religious streams and beliefs, feel called to express our support for refugees, immigrants, asylum-seekers, and others who wish to live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Our sacred texts provide the lens through which we view the world around us; these teachings affirm the following shared values across faith traditions:

• Every single human being is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:28), and we support the integrity and sanctity of every individual.
• We heed the teaching of Leviticus: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
• We are instructed to “Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18),” and thus to treat others how we wish to be treated.
• We are obligated to follow the prophetic call: “And what does the Eternal require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
• We are reminded of basic human kindness and compassion: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35)

We are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants. We have all known what it is to be the stranger. Safety and security of all is critical, and we understand the importance of appropriate and thorough vetting of all those who wish to be part of America. However, fear cannot dictate our values. Rather, we are reminded again and again that, when we reach out in love and righteousness, we are most secure.

We know all too well what religious bigotry has wrought in the past. History is filled with many reminders of the horrific destruction caused by hatred, persecution, and intolerance. Instead, we share a message of solidarity, understanding, and dialogue.

We denounce any laws or orders based on xenophobia, discrimination, or fear which run counter to our national interests. We are proud Americans, and we hold dear our country’s core beliefs in religious diversity, ideological diversity, and cultural diversity.

We call upon people of faith to represent moral conscience, compassion for all, and an overarching sense of justice and righteousness.

Sincerely,
Valley Shore Clergy Association

Rev. Martha Bays
The Congregational Church in Killingworth, UCC

Rabbi Marci Bellows
Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, Chester, CT

Rev. Robin Blundon, Interim Pastor
Northford Congregational Church

The Rev. Dr. M. Craig Fitzsimmons
United Methodist Church of Clinton

Rev. Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager, Pastor
First Church, East Haddam

The Rev. Dr. Jonathan H. Folts
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, CT

Rev. Dr. Jan Gregory-Charpentier, Pastor
First Congregational Church of Westbrook, CT

Brett Hertzog Betkoski
Trinity Lutheran Church – Centerbrook, CT

Reverend Amy Hollis
Winthrop Baptist Church

Rev. Lee A. Ireland
Interim Pastor, United Church of Chester

Rev Charlotte LaForest
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, CT

Rev. Joy Perkett
First Baptist Church of Essex

Rev. Suzanne Personette
Middlefield Federated Church

Rev. Kenneth Peterkin
First Congregational Church, UCC, Essex, CT

Rev. Geoff Sinibaldo, Pastor

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Old Saybrook, CT

Pastor Les Swenson
St. Mark Lutheran Church, Norwich, CT

Rev. John Van Epps, Pastor
North Guilford Congregational Church UCC

Rev. Cynthia C. Willauer
First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, UCC

Pastor Ryan Young
Living Rock Church of Killingworth

Share

Siegrist Criticizes Governor Malloy’s Budget Proposal

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

State Representative Bob Siegrist (R-36) issued the following statement in response to the Fiscal Year 2018 – 2019 Biennial Budget Address that Governor Dannel P. Malloy presented Feb. 8 to the General Assembly.

Siegrist said, “The budget proposal put forth by the governor hits middle class residents the hardest and weakens our education system. In fact, Governor Malloy suggests that Hartford get the largest increase in funds, 17 percent to be exact.”

He added, “The governor’s proposal punishes towns that are able to balance their checkbooks and bails out the ones that consistently mismanage their funds,” continuing, “This proposal hurts the middle class people of this state; the ones that work hard and balance their checkbooks responsibly. His proposal even eliminates the property tax credit, which directly impacts people in my district that are already struggling to make ends meet, and I will not stand for it.”

State Rep. Bob Siegrist represents Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam. He is a member of the General Assembly’s Insurance, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs.

Share

Celebrate Beavers on International Beaver Day, April 8

ESSEX — The Essex Conservation Commission is celebrating International Beaver Day on Saturday, April 8.  Rain date is April 9.

The Commission will be hosting tours of Quarry Pond at 6 a.m. (prior to sunrise) and 7 p.m. (prior to sunset).  Beavers are nocturnal animals that tend to sleep during the day.  The ability to see them is best at these times.

Quarry Pond in located in the Viney Hill Brook Park in Essex, CT.  Meet at the parking lot on the end of Cedar Grove Terrace prior to the start time of each tour.

Beavers are known as a Keystone species. A keystone species is a plant or animal that plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions. Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether. All species in an ecosystem, or habitat, rely on each other.

Come and visit to learn more about Beavers. Sign up by contacting EssexCelebratesBeavers@gmail.com.

Share

Winter Wildlife Eagle Boat Cruises Depart Weekend Days from CT River Museum

RiverQuest start Wildlife Eagle Boat Cruises Saturday, Feb. 4.

ESSEX  – Connecticut River Expeditions of Haddam offers cruises on the lower Connecticut River this February and March for the 14th year of Winter Wildlife Eagle Boat Cruises. This year they have teamed up with the Connecticut River Museum and will be departing from the Museum’s dock in Essex. With this partnership, passengers enjoy both the river and its wildlife from the water and also the entire Museum including their special “Eagles of Essex” exhibit.

A magnificent Bald Eagle.

As the river, lakes and ponds to our north freeze, eagles and other wildlife make their way to the lower Connecticut River for their favorite food – fish. Eagles have made a major comeback over the past few decades and more eagles are being sighted in this area. On past cruises, up to 41 Bald Eagles, three types of grebe and swan and merganser, golden eagle, many different gull and hawk species, loons, coyote, fox, deer, three types of seal, and even a bobcat have been spotted.
“Winter is such a special time on the river, it is serene and scenic and there is a sense of tranquility. With no leaves on the trees, the river’s edge offers a much different view, making it easier to find and see our winter wildlife.  On this cruise we will search for the majestic Bald Eagle and other winter species,”notes Mindy, Captain Mark’s wife, crew and co-owner of RiverQuest, pointing out, “Each cruise is different and you never know what we will find.”

Winter Wildlife Eagle Boat Cruises include more than just big birds. Passengers often site beautiful winter ducks and even harbor seals. Photo by: Bill Yule.

RiverQuest has a heated cabin, but it is suggested that you dress in warm layers since the best views will be from the open decks. Bring your own camera and binoculars, but if you forget –or don’t have — them, there are plenty on board to borrow during the cruise. 

“We are excited to be working with the Connecticut River Museum. We feel that our mutual interest in the river is a perfect match,” comments Captain Mark of the eco-tour vessel, adding, “RiverQuest is already docked in Essex at the Museum and we are ready to go. We are hopeful that relocating RiverQuest from her home berth in Haddam further south this winter will increase our chances of running every trip.”
 
“There are few places as breathtaking or as tranquil as the Connecticut River in winter. We look forward to working with RiverQuest and sharing this experience with visitors,” says Chris Dobbs, Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum.
In the Museum you can brush up on your Bald Eagle facts and field identification. With life size comparisons of local raptors you will get a close up idea of how large these birds really are. You can also try your nest building skills and enjoy all the other exhibits the Connecticut River Museum has to offer.   Additional eagle related public programs will be offered at the Museum during the Winter Wildlife Cruise season.

Cruises will be Feb. 4 through March 19. Departures on Fridays are at 10am and 12:30pm. Departures on Saturday and Sunday at 9am, 11:30am and 2pm.  Cost is $40 per person.

For more information visit www.ctriverquest.com  or www.ctrivermuseum.org
Share

Siegrist Urges Legislature to Pair Pension Refinancing with Reform

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

AREAWIDE – On Wednesday, Feb. 1, State Representative Bob Siegrist (R-36th) urged fellow lawmakers to reject Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s pension funding agreement and instead advised the legislature to assess alternative means by which to address the state’s growing pension system problems.

House Republicans released data obtained from two actuarial analyses that show how additional steps can rein in the state’s unfunded pension liabilities. Both reports show how pairing pension finance changes with modifications to state employee benefits could increase the solvency of the state pension plan.

“We owe it to the people of Connecticut and to our children to come up with a better option. It is not fair for us to pass our problems onto future generations, we must be responsible and make difficult decisions to benefit to our state,” said Siegrist.

The governor’s pension proposal sought to tackle a mounting budget deficit by reducing short-term state pension contributions. In exchange for leveling payments through 2047, taxpayers would be responsible for an additional $11 billion over the duration of the deal compared to the structure of the current plan. Furthermore, the deal recommends a reduction in the investment rate of return from the current eight percent to 6.9 percent.

Many Republican lawmakers have suggested that making alterations to state employee pension benefits could reduce the unfunded liability by $200 million. If that sum were sent into the pension fund, actuaries estimate that the length of the new plan could be reduced by seven years and could decrease the additional liability from the projected $11 billion to $3 billion.

The State House voted 76-72 to ratify the deal on a nearly party-line vote, while the State Senate voted 18-17 with the Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of the deal.

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

Share

Parent-Toddler Play & Support Groups Offered at Tri-Town Youth Services

AREAWIDE — Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High St., Deep River will host weekly support groups for parents of young children.  Parents have opportunity to socialize and talk about family challenges while toddlers play.

The Parent Resource Coordinator will present a new parenting theme each week and invite parents to browse the extensive Parent Resource Library.  Toddlers will enjoy free play and art exploration.  Each session will include a seasonal circle with songs, yoga and finger-plays, followed by a shared snack.

“Outstanding Ones” for children under two, will meet Tuesdays from Feb. 7 to April 4.  The group gathers from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and the program costs $45 for Tri-Town residents.

“Terrific Twos” for children 24-36 months, will meet Wednesdays from Feb. 8 to April 5 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and costs $60 for Tri-Town residents.  Call 860-526-3600 to reserve your spot or register and pay securely online at www.tritownys.org.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  They coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.

Discover more programs and information for families at www.tritownys.org.

Share

Sen. Linares Named Co-chairman of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Caucus

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) File photo.

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares (R-33) has been named Co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Caucus. The caucus advocates the interests of individuals with IDD and their families.

“Mahatma Gandhi said that a society will be measured by how it has treated its most vulnerable citizens,” Sen. Linares noted. “We must leave a legacy where individuals and families dealing with IDD are able to live full and complete lives. I am proud to be asked to take a leadership role in a caucus tasked with such important work.”

Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-34) commented that he knows advocating for those impacted by IDD is an important issue for Sen. Linares.

“Sen. Linares is an energetic lawmaker and in this new role he will be an active ambassador to families and advocates, working hard to make their voices heard at the Capitol,” Sen. Fasano said, adding, “To best serve these families, we need to learn about the challenges they face every day. Sen. Linares will play a key role in that dialogue.”

Sen. Linares stressed that as the General Assembly faces a projected $1.4 billion budget deficit for the next fiscal year, legislators must do their best to support the needs of Connecticut’s IDD residents.

“State spending must be brought under control, but that doesn’t mean we balance the budget at the expense of those with disabilities,” he said.

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

Share

Community Music School Hosts Open House This Week

Community Music School’s Jazz Ensemble is a popular band at the school.

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School (CMS), located in the Spencer’s Corner professional complex at 90 Main St. in Centerbrook, welcomes the general public to visit during Open House Week Jan. 30 to Feb. 3. Children and adults can tour the School’s studios, meet teachers and staff, enjoy a free preview lesson, and learn about a vast array of programs for all ages including private and group lessons, guitar, jazz and string ensembles, music therapy services, Kindermusik, and more.

Community Music School is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Those interested in a 15-minute preview lesson are requested to call 860-767-0026 for scheduling.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30-year-tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. The School’s programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so that they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

For additional information, visit www.community-music-school.org or call 860-767-0026.

Share

Emergency Vigil in Deep River This Afternoon in Response to Refugee, Immigration Ban

DEEP RIVER — The Valley Stands Up will host an emergency vigil outside Deep River Town Hall at 4:30 pm today (1/29/17) to show solidarity with protests across the nation in response to the refugee and immigration ban.

At 3pm, the group will hold a public meeting at the Deep River Public Library to discuss further actions. “You are welcome here” yard signs will be available for purchase.

The Valley Stands Up is an independent civic group created to unite our diverse communities in the Lower Connecticut River Valley area through outreach, organizing, and advocacy to support the dignity and human rights of all.

Contact:
thevalleystandsup@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/groups/valleystandsup/

Share

Two New Exhibitions on Show at Lyme Art Association

‘Sentinels’ is one of the signature paintings of the 25th Annual Associated Artist Show on view at the Lyme Art Association.

The opening reception for two exhibitions at the Lyme Art Association (LAA) will be held this afternoon, Sunday, Jan. 29, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the LAA, 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Conn.  All are welcome and admission is free.

The  25th Annual Associate Artist Show and Sale of landscape, portrait, and still life paintings, as well as sculpture by Associate Artist members is currently on view in the Association’s front galleries, and runs through March 10.  Pulled and Pressed, which showcases hand-pulled prints by LAA members of all levels and members of Stonington Printmakers Society as invited guests, is on display in the Goodman gallery, and also runs through March 10.

“The Annual Associate Artist Show and Sale highlights the range, creativity, and excellence of our Associate Artist members. This exhibition includes a variety of subjects, media, and styles: paintings or sculptures that capture the range of human emotion, the beauty and grandeur of the Connecticut landscape, or the personal objects and surroundings of everyday life,” states Jocelyn Zallinger, LAA’s Gallery Manager.

The juror of selection and prizes is Patricia Shippee of Old Lyme. Shippee is an accredited senior member of the American Society of Appraisers.  Her expertise has been acquired through her corporate business experience, her studies in art history, and as a collector, gallery owner, curator.

“The Pulled and Pressed show in the Goodman Gallery celebrates the beauty of original contemporary representational hand-made prints.” Juror Helen Cantrell, an Old Lyme resident, is a painter and printmaker, an artist member of Boston Printmakers, the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, and the Silvermine Guild of Artists in New Canaan.

The LAA was founded in 1914 by the American Impressionists and continues the tradition of exhibiting and selling representational artwork by its members and invited artists, as well as offering art instruction and lectures to the community.

The LAA is located at 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, in a building designed by Charles Adams Platt and located within an historic district. Admission is free with contributions appreciated. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm, or by appointment.

For more information on exhibitions, purchase of art, art classes, or becoming a member, call860-434-7802 or visit www.lymeartassociation.org.

Share

Literacy Volunteers Seeks Tutors, Registration Open Now for Next Training Program

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization.  Its mission is to train tutors to help residents of the Valley Shore area who wish to improve their reading, writing or speaking English to improve their life and work skills.  This one-to-one instruction is held confidential and is completely without charge to the student.

Tutor training is a 14-hour program conducted over seven sessions held each spring and again in the fall of every year.  The next training session begins March 23 and runs through May 9. Literacy Volunteers Workshop Leaders have developed a comprehensive program that provides prospective tutors the skills and resources to help them succeed. A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to helping a student improve their skill in basic literacy or English as a Second Language over the period of one year after the completion of training.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor, contact the LVVS office in the basement of Westbrook’s Public Library by phone at (860) 399-0280 or by e-mail at jferrara@vsliteracy.org . Literacy Volunteers are registering for the spring session now and the deadline for applications is March 2, but only a few more slots are available.

Share

Gowrie Group Raises a Record $172,919 to Benefit The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

From left to right, the Gowrie Group team of Whitney Peterson, Lindas Dillon, and Carter Gowrie present the donation check to Patty Dowling and Claire Bellerjeau of The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

AREAWIDE — The 2016 Gowrie Group Challenge raised more funds for The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) than ever before – a record breaking $172,919!

The Gowrie Group Challenge is an annual fundraising initiative where Gowrie Group announces a dollar for dollar match to benefit The SSKP. This approach doubles the impact of generous donations from local businesses and individuals. This year, over 400 individuals and companies donated to the challenge which ran two months, from Nov. 15, 2016 to Jan. 15, 2017.

The contributions from this campaign are used to fill the shelves of the SSKP’s five pantries and serve meals to those who are struggling to feed themselves and their families at the SSKP’s eight meal sites along the Connecticut shoreline. Since Gowrie Group began this challenge 13 years ago, over 4 million meals in total have been provided for those in need through the Gowrie Group Challenge.

Gowrie Group kicked off this year’s challenge with their largest gift to date – a $30,000 dollar for dollar matching donation to the SSKP.  Five companies stepped forward as Partner Sponsors to provide additional matching funds: The Safety Zone, LC Doane Company, Tower LabsLenny & Joe’s Fish Tale, and BrandTech Scientific.

Spreading the word about joining this effort is vital.  Morning radio personality, Bob Muscatel of WLIS/WMRD, once again generously updated the community throughout the Challenge from his radio station. In addition, Shore Publishing provided a series of print advertisements in local papers across the shoreline.

Carter Gowrie, CEO and Founder of Gowrie Group said “We are very proud that over the past 13 years our community of clients, local business and friends have come together to raise more than a million dollars – $1,322,000 to be exact – to benefit the SSKP through our annual Gowrie Group Challenge.  We look forward to continuing to work together to support those in need along our shoreline.”

Lindas Dillon, a past SSKP board member, volunteer and longtime Gowrie Group employee shared, “It is personally rewarding to be part of this basic needs initiative.  It makes me so thankful to share energy and hope with all our clients, colleagues, neighbors, and friends who support the Gowrie Group Challenge.  I am proud that the success of the Gowrie Challenge brings food, hope, and community to our neighbors in need.”

Gowrie Group was thankful to be the recipient of proceeds from two exciting events.  The “Black Friday Benefit Concert” at The Kate held in November raised $4,767 and the ballet performance of “Ahavah: The Story of Christmas” performed by the Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet and Christian Academy of Dance raised $6,500. Both event proceeds were matched by the Gowrie Group Challenge.

Many Gowrie Group employees not only donate money to the challenge each year, but also donate time and services to soup kitchens across New England year round. Gowrie Group employees host and serve a lunch at the SSKP’s Old Saybrook meal-site each summer.  Additionally, employees work together to host Food-Drives every holiday season at many of Gowrie Group’s other locations including Westbrook CT, Darien CT, Newport RI, Marshfield MA, and Manchester NH.

Patty Dowling, Executive Director of the SSKP shared, “The Gowrie Challenge produces so much positivity – so many in the community come together to benefit something greater than themselves; feeding their neighbors – and with the match that gift becomes even greater.  I am so thankful for the many years of commitment from the leadership and employees at Gowrie Group – SSKP is grateful!”

Gowrie Group and the SSKP are proud of all that they have accomplished in the past 13 years of partnership, and look forward to continuing the annual Gowrie Group Challenges in future years.

Editor’s Notes: i) As one of the nation’s Top-50 independent insurance agencies, Gowrie Group provides total risk management services to individuals and organizations with complex insurance needs. Gowrie Group offers comprehensive insurance solutions matched with trusted advice and a commitment to service excellence. Gowrie Group’s portfolio of offerings includes commercial, home/auto, equine, and yacht insurance, as well as employee benefits solutions and safety services. The company’s 175+ professionals service clients across the US from offices in Westbrook CT, Darien CT, Newport RI, North Kingstown RI, Annapolis MD, Boston MA, and Marshfield, MA. www.gowrie.com or 800.262.8911.  

ii) Since 1989, the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries have been providing food and fellowship to those in need in the towns of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, East Lyme, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org

iii) 2016 Gowrie Challenge partners and media sponsors were The Safety Zone, LC Doane Company, Tower Labs, Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale, and BrandTech Scientific. Media Sponsors: Shore Publishing and WLIS/WMRD.

Share

Old Saybrook ‘Sister March’ Draws Almost 1,000 Peaceful Protesters

Baby’s first march — we suspect not Grandma’s!

AREAWIDE — The march may only have been registered late last week, but almost 1,000 people still turned out Saturday morning in Old Saybrook to join the movement that inspired around three million people across the globe to publicly express their opinions on the rights of women and other minority groups, and in many ways on the new Trump presidency as a whole.

More than 500 people had gathered by 10 a.m. on the Old Saybrook Town Green unsure whether they were just going to simply stand in front of the Town Hall or whether they were actually going to march.

They came from towns all along the shoreline — Guilford, Clinton, Old Lyme, Lyme, East Lyme, and Old Saybrook were all mentioned — and they spanned in age from a few months to others well into their 80s and many wore what had become the signature pink “Pussy Hats.” Many people brought signs ranging from hand-written words painted on pieces of cardboard to an elaborately embroidered banner bearing the words “Not My President.”

Others like Alison Mitchell of Old Lyme fearlessly sat in her wheelchair strongly and stoically making her point.

Around 10:30 a.m., it became apparent that a march was beginning going north up Main St. on the east side towards Boston Post Rd. then crossing over and returning to the Green going south on the west side.  By this time the crowd had swelled by several hundred more and as the demonstrators marched, more and more people joined.

Women were definitely in the majority but there were plenty of men marching too.  There were some chants, “Love Trumps Hate” was a popular one, and songs,”We Shall Overcome” rang out at one point, and overall, it was a cheerful, friendly occasion.  When the clouds cleared and the sun finally broke through on the return leg, marcher Rosemary Barclay of Old Lyme said with a chuckle, “It’s certainly not going to rain on our parade!”

From left to right, some Old Lyme marchers share a smile.

But once wasn’t enough for these intrepid marchers.  Almost as soon as they found themselves back at ‘The Kate,’ they started re-tracing their steps and ultimately completed a second loop. The Old Saybrook Police did a wonderful job stopping the patient traffic so that the marchers could cross Main Street whenever necessary.

By the time of the second circuit, the line of marchers was so long that it snaked down one side of Main St., across the road and then up the other side.  Passengers were getting out of cars to join the march, horns were being sounded regularly — and loudly — in support of the marchers and only one lone pick-up truck with “Trump’ flags was spotted.

At the end of it all, the marchers happily gathered in front of the Town Hall and in communion with all the other marchers across the nation and the world, observed a meaningful moment of silence before peacefully dispersing.

More signs …

… and another …

… and another …

… and another …

David Brown with coffee and a sign …

A previous presidential campaign slogan refocused …

Share

Wayne Eisenbaum Charitable Foundation Donates $20,000 to Operation Fuel

OLD SAYBROOK — The Wayne Eisenbaum Charitable Foundation (previously called IRMAR) of Old Saybrook, has donated $20,000 to Operation Fuel for its energy programs.

Now in its 40th year, Operation Fuel is a statewide nonprofit program that provides emergency energy assistance year-round to lower-income working families and individuals, the elderly, and disabled individuals who are in financial crisis.

Individuals who need energy assistance should call 211.

For more information on Operation Fuel or to make a donation, go towww.operationfuel.org

Share

FRA Extends Deadline for Comments on High Speed Rail Proposal

AREAWIDE — SECoast.org made the following announcement at 6:09 p.m. this evening: Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island has just issued a press release announcing that the Federal Railroad Administration has agreed to an extension of “at least several weeks.”  SECoast.org quotes Sen. Reed directly from his press release as follows,

” I am pleased the FRA is extending the deadline to help ensure that all voices are heard and all options are considered.  This must be an open, transparent process.  This extension will give citizens more time to offer input and it will give the FRA more time to carefully study the data and make informed decisions.  I am glad the FRA is not trying to rush the process, and I hope the incoming Trump Administration will honor that commitment,” said Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing & Urban Development”

More information is available at here, at the Charlestown Citizens Alliance Webpage. 

Share

Greenskies to Build Solar Array on Whelen Rooftop

CHESTER –- Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC has signed an agreement to build a 339 kilowatt (DC) solar array on the roof of The Whelen Engineering Co. Inc.’s main facility in Chester, Conn.

The array, which will consist of 1,062 solar photovoltaic panels, will produce 398 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity annually. It is expected to be completed and operational by October.

Greenskies has already begun the design phase of the project. The construction phase is expected to begin this spring.

Under terms of the solar installation agreement between the two companies, Greenskies – one of the nation’s leading solar energy providers in the commercial, industrial and municipal segments of the industry – will design, engineer and construct the array on the roof of the 185,000-square-foot main building on Whelen’s Chester campus and then sell the completed array to the engineering firm.

Whelen Engineering designs and manufactures audio and visual warning equipment for the automotive, aviation, and mass notification industries worldwide. Founded in 1952, Whelen has become a leading provider of sirens, warning lights, white illumination lighting, and controllers. With facilities in Chester and Charlestown, N.H., Whelen products are designed, manufactured, and assembled in the United States.

“We are very excited to be working with Whelen Engineering to help them take a big step towards their energy and sustainability goals,” said Bryan Fitzgerald, a business development associate at
Greenskies.

Greenskies designs, builds and maintains solar photovoltaic systems for commercial and industrial clients, municipalities and government agencies, educational institutions and utilities throughout the United States.  Sen. Art Linares (R- 20th) is owner and co-founder of Greenskies according to the company’s website.

For more information about Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC, visit www.greenskies.com.

Share

Join the Local Effort to Help End Youth Homelessness: Volunteer with Youth Count! 2017

Participate in the statewide effort to understand the scope of youth homelessness

AREAWIDE — Noank Community Support Services, Inc. is leading the local effort in Southeastern Connecticut alongside the second statewide count of unstably housed and homeless youth ages 13-24 from Jan. 25-Jan. 31, 2017 being conducted by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. The 2017 CT Youth Count will provide information essential to our efforts to advance toward the goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020. 

Volunteers are needed to support this effort throughout the community.

Unaccompanied homeless youth and young adults are a largely hidden population. Some homeless young people are identified during the annual Point-in-Time Count census of homelessness, but many are missed because they do not typically access adult emergency shelters or other homeless services.

The Jan. 24, 2017 PIT Count will be followed by a week-long effort to count homeless youth, powered by schools, youth providers, state agencies, faith-based groups, and youth themselves.  These partners head the effort to collect the data we need to have a better understanding of homelessness and housing instability among youth in Connecticut. 

Connecticut’s 2015 Youth Count indicated that some 3,000 young people were experiencing homelessness in the state.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced that 2017 will be used as the baseline year for federal data collection on homeless youth.

The success of the 2017 CT Youth Count depends on the participation of volunteers. Volunteers for the count can participate according to their availability during the week of January 25th-31st in their communities.  Please join participate and volunteer. Together, we can end youth homelessness in Connecticut!

To register as a volunteer for the 2017 Youth Count! or Point-in-Time Count, click here or visit http://cceh.org/volunteer-registration-2017/.

For the 2015 Youth Count! Report, click here.

For questions, contact Sarah Chess at schess@cceh.org.

Share

Chester Village West Expands Health Care Programs

Senior living community now offers access to skilled nursing benefits for new residents

CHESTER — In response to market demand and input from prospective residents, the Chester Village West senior living community has added access to skilled nursing benefits for new residents who join the community in 2017.

The 2017 residency agreement at Chester Village West will provide new members of the community access to a full continuum of care, including access to 90 days of skilled nursing benefits per residence at an accredited skilled nursing center of the resident’s choice.

The community’s expanded health care benefits compliment its existing services, which include assisted living services that are provided to residents in the privacy, dignity and comfort of their own residences. These on-site services allow couples that may have different care needs to remain together. An on-site personal health care navigator – a registered nurse – serves as residents’ health care referral source, working with residents’ doctors to coordinate the care and support provided by licensed health care staff.

Those interested in learning more about Chester Village West’s expanded health care benefits may call Sara Philpott at 860.222.7974 or email philpottsara@lcsnet.com to schedule an appointment.

Located in historic Chester, Conn., Chester Village West gives independent-minded seniors a new way to experience retirement and live their lives to the fullest. Since it was founded more than 25 years ago, Chester Village West residents have directed and embraced active learning. Within a small community of private residences that offer convenience, companionship, service and security, Chester Village West enriches lives with a comprehensive program that enhances fitness, nutrition, active life, health and well-being.

Find out more at chestervillagewestlcs.com; visit the community on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChesterVillageWest.

Share

Old Saybrook Library’s Annual Poetry Contest is Now Open

OLD SAYBROOK — The Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, announces its 23rd Annual Poetry Competition. Submissions will be accepted from Jan. 17 through Feb. 21, 2017 at the Library.

The rules for participants are as follows:

  • Poems must be original and unpublished.
  • One poem per letter size page.
  • No more than 40 lines per poem.
  • All poems must have a title.
  • Author’s name, address, and phone number should appear on the back (not submitted to judges), students please add grade level.
  • Author must be a resident of Connecticut.
  • No more than three entries per person.
  • Open to all ages First Grade through adult.
  • The divisions are: Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, and Adult.

Winning poets will read their poems and receive their awards during the Library’s annual Poetry Night, Wednesday April 26, 2017. The public is invited to attend.

Following Poetry Night, all entries will be on display in the Library through May.

Pick up an entry form at the Library or on our website, www.actonlibrary.org or call for more information.

The Library is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Share

Volunteers Needed at Estuary Senior Center

OLD SAYBROOK — Volunteers are needed at the Estuary Senior Center, 220 Main St, Old Saybrook. The Center has a variety of opportunities for volunteers.

Join the Thrift Shop team, pack or deliver Meals on Wheels, drive someone to a medical appointment, or greet guests at the Welcome Desk.

The Estuary’s Volunteer Coordinator will meet with you to discuss your interests and availability and find the best fit for you. Even a few hours a week can make a big difference.

The Estuary’s many vital services and programs would not be possible without the volunteers who donate their time and talent to us. Community service hours can be fulfilled by volunteering with the Estuary.

For more information, call Judy at 860-388-1611 x203 or visit www.ecsenior.org

Share

Bingo Suspended for Winter Months at the Estuary

Bingo at The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. (ECSI) has been suspended for the winter months.

The Estuary will resume games in the Spring – watch for future announcements for exact date and time.

The Estuary thanks everyone for coming to the weekly games and supporting this fun event.

Share

SECoast, CT Trust for Historic Preservation Request 60-Day Extension to NRA Waiting Period

We have just received the text of a letter sent by SECoast and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation to the Federal Railroad Administration requesting an extension of the 30-day waiting period to 60 days. It reads as follows::

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and SECoast, our regional partner on high-speed rail planning issues, are writing to ask for your assistance to extend the current 30-day waiting period for the NEC Future Final Environmental Impact Statement by 60 days. Given the enormous size of the planning document, its release just one week before end-of-year holidays and the extreme concern for the preferred alternative route now expressed in communities throughout Connecticut (and additionally Rhode Island) we believe there is a strong argument that such an extension is in the public interest.

The current deadline of January 31, 2016 marks the end of the Tier 1 planning process for the Northeast Corridor (NEC), an early but critical step in the overall implementation of a master plan for the corridor. Finalization of this document will commit the plan to a single corridor through Connecticut rather than from the three corridors under study in the DEIS. Finalization of this document will replace the corridor’s current master plan, dating to 1978,  for rail travel and investment along the Northeast Corridor with a new Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (P-EIS) with a 25-year horizon of 2040.

To be clear, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this right. Both the public and the NEC Future plan deserve the benefit of a thorough final public review and opportunity to comment. We believe an extended comment period would also offer the best opportunity to avoid unnecessary legal action by providing the Federal Railroad Administration an opportunity to correct evident errors in the planning process and resulting NEC Future plan.

Such an extension is both a commonsense and commonplace. Indeed, a similar extension was granted to review much less extensive plans for the “All Aboard Florida” high speed rail planning initiative in Florida. The Federal Railroad Administration has enjoyed flexible deadlines throughout the planning process, most recently missing an intended late summer/early fall release date of the Preferred Alternative and FEIS documentation. Surely, the people of Connecticut deserve an equivalent opportunity to provide informed and meaningful comment before this critical document is finalized.

We appreciate, in advance, your continuing efforts to advocate for communities in the state of Connecticut and for our joint efforts to develop rail-travel along the Northeast Corridor in a way that recognizes and respects the unique historical, cultural and environmental attributes of Connecticut communities.

More to come.

Share

FRA Endorses High Speed Rail Route Through Old Lyme, But With a Tunnel; Courtney, Malloy, Blumenthal, Murphy Express Strong Opposition to Plan

AREAWIDE — The Federal Rail Authority (FRA) today released the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Final EIS) for NEC FUTURE and it is now available for download at www.necfuture.com.

The preferred route includes the controversial Old Saybrook to Kenyon, R.I., by-pass which runs through Old Lyme, and a tunnel in the same area.

Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released the following statement after the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released their Tier 1 final environmental impact statement for the Northeast Corridors FUTURE plan:

“The FRA’s report released today continues to ignore strong and consistent concerns expressed by the State of Connecticut and local citizens about the eastern shoreline realignment plans. We specifically asked FRA to limit the NEC Future Tier 1 EIS to identify a service and investment strategy to achieve state-of- good repair and maximize the capacity, frequency and speed of existing rail lines.

By continuing to include plans to bypass the current route, the FRA has enflamed impacted communities stretching from Fairfield County to Stonington where the proposed alignment will eviscerate neighborhoods, historic landmarks, and real estate values.

As the FRA itself has confirmed, this new proposed alignment cannot ultimately receive the permits, rights of way and other critical elements without the support and approval of the State of Connecticut.

To this end, we will continue to do all we can to remove this bypass from the final FRA plan in order to provide our communities with the certainty they deserve. Should the FRA continue in its pursuit of its proposed alignment, we will work to ensure that Connecticut exercises every tool at its disposal at the state and federal levels to stop any effort to move forward with this misguided plan.”

A press conference will be held at 2 p.m. this afternoon at which Rep. Joe Courtney, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker, and Old Lyme First Seletwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder will discuss the announcement by the FRA.

Greg Stroud, Executive Director of SECoast.org, has released the following statement:

“We have been working full-time on this issue since January, and we have yet to find a single resident, local, state or federal representative, or group, actively supporting the idea of a tunnel under the Connecticut river and Old Lyme.

Why? Even if a tunnel could better preserve the immediate historic downtown of Old Lyme,  it would no doubt be much worse for the environment, and would simply shift the historic and economic impacts onto the communities to the east, whether East Lyme, New London, Mystic, Stonington or Westerly. We find that unacceptable.

A tunnel does nothing to remedy the impacts to the broader region. And as was obvious at the August 31 meeting in Old Lyme, the entire region really is adamantly opposed to the Kenyon to Old Saybrook bypass. Every single town official from Old Saybrook to Westerly, Rhode Island is on record opposing the plan. That doesn’t happen very often.

At some point, you would hope that the federal government would realize this isn’t NIMBY, this is roughly 1/4 of a state, for good reason, refusing to bear the burdens of plan, without the benefits (if there are any to speak of). In the case of Old Lyme, this is a question of survival, and I believe that Mayor Passero in New London, feels almost as strongly.

On an environmental level, a tunnel would very likely require extensive “dewatering” given the routing, the extensive marshes, the lack of bedrock, and a local geology characterized by glacial drift.  In a community of wells, surrounded by marshes, at the mouth of the Connecticut river — one of the only major rivers in the hemisphere lacking an industrialized mouth and port — we believe a tunnel is a nonstarter.

And frankly, given past history, and private discussions with transportation officials, I’d go further and question the seriousness of the offer. When pressed in public and by the press, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has repeatedly refused to rule out a return to a much-less-expensive bridge option through Old Lyme.

If you recall, the FRA was forced to issue three or so clarifications and retractions when questioned by the press on this issue just after the meeting on August 31 —
ctmirror.org/2016/08/31/federal-rail-official-no-elevated-track-in-old-lyme-spokesman-backpedals/

The FRA still hasn’t responded to straightforward Freedom of Information requests filed on April 4, 2016. The FRA claims that these requests are filled on a “first come first served” basis, and refuses to explain the delay. That’s no way to win support in the region for a tunnel, or any other plan.”

Don Stacom of The Hartford Courant published a piece titled, “Railroad Officials Full Speed Ahead on Controversial New Amtrak Northeast Corridor Bypass“a short time ago, in which he states, “Old Lyme is the center of opposition: Critics fear hulking, industrial-looking elevated tracks ruining the New England charm of their village. Museums, schools, environmentalists and historic preservationists all denounced the idea this summer.”

Share

Montessori School Offers Infant-Parent Classes, Mondays

OLD SAYBROOK — Monday morning infant-parent classes are offered from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. by The Children’s Tree Montessori School at 96 Essex Rd. in Old Saybrook.

In the class, caregivers learn how to observe their baby’s development and choose activities that optimally support development of language and movement. This class is directed by a certified Montessori teacher.

The cost is $100 for a 10-week session.

For more information, visit www.childrenstree.org or call 860-388-3536.

Share

Literacy Volunteers Announce Graduation of Fall Training Class of Tutuors

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore is pleased to announce the graduation of the Fall training class of tutors.  Tutors are trained through comprehensive nationally accredited workshop sessions held by Literacy Volunteers. On completion of workshop sessions, trainees receive certification as a tutor and are assigned a mentor for support and guidance.

Trained volunteer tutors are matched with students in English as a Second Language or Basic Reading. Tutors carry out our mission of providing one-on-one tutoring to anyone seeking to improve their English skills.

Through our services, students become acclimated to our culture and language resulting in becoming productive, happy, members of our community. There is no cost to the student.

The 2016 Fall class of tutors consisted of Joseph Hines of Branford, Sara Davis and Peg Reyer of Chester, Muriel Moore and Dr. Susan Seider of Clinton, Chip Lowery, Michele Millham and Ron Repetti of Guilford, Susan Hosack of Essex, Sheila Meyers of Ivoryton, Jeanette Kehoe Allen, Beth Baird, Paul Diwik, Dan Mulvey and Susan Graves of Madison, Kathy Lee of Old Saybrook and Brian Clampet of Westbrook.

Tutor training is underwritten by grants from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and the Westbrook Foundation.

Share

Two New Shows on View at Maple & Main Through April 2

‘Cool’ by Deb Munson is the signature painting for the Winter Exhibition at Maple & Main. Munson is also the juror for the Juried Show running concurrently.

CHESTER – The Seventh Annual Winter Exhibit and the Second Annual Juried Show are on view at Maple and Main Gallery through April 2.

Both exhibits will showcase newly created art by over 100 artists in a vast variety of styles and medium from classic still lifes to impressionistic landscapes to large, vivid abstracts.

The Winter Exhibit will be hung on the ground floor of the gallery and in the Small Works room while the Juried Show will be in the lower level in the Stone and Joslow galleries.

Maple and Main is open Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 6 p.m.; Friday, noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 860-526-6065; mapleandmain@att.net.

Visit mapleandmaingallery.com where there is a selection of works in both shows as well and on Facebook as well.

Share

Helpers Needed for Literacy Volunteers Fundraising Events

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) are looking for friendly, outgoing people to serve on their fundraising committee. If you are a creative thinker and can commit to helping organize two events, LVVS would welcome your assistance.

Literacy Volunteers serves 11 valley shore towns through one-on-one tutoring programs of English as a Second Language (ESL) and Basic Reading (BR).  Fundraisers benefit these much needed programs.

For more information or to volunteer, contact LVVS at www.vsliteracy.org  or 860-399-0280.

Share

Isabelle McDonald is Community Music School’s Fall 2016 Greenleaf Award Winner

Isabelle McDonald is the winner of the recently announced Carolyn Greenleaf Award given by the Community Music School.

Isabelle McDonald is the winner of the Fall 2016 Carolyn R. Greenleaf Music Award presented by the Community Music School.

CENTERBROOK — The selection committee for the Carolyn R. Greenleaf Memorial Fund of Community Music School (CMS) has chosen violinist, guitarist, and pianist Isabelle McDonald as the recipient of the Fall 2016 Carolyn R. Greenleaf Music Award.  This award is given each semester to a middle or high school student who has demonstrated exceptional musical ability and motivation, and awards a semester of private lessons at Community Music School in Centerbrook.  Isabelle has chosen to study piano with CMS’s new virtuoso piano instructor, Matthew Massaro.

Isabelle, who is a junior at Valley Regional High School, is an accomplished violin student having studied under numerous instructors, most recently under the tutelage of Kyung Yu of Yale University.  She has also studied with Janet Boughton of Guilford, Connecticut and Lisa Gray at the CMS.

Isabelle has been a member of a number of leading youth orchestras in Connecticut, including the Norwalk Youth Symphony (NYS) for four years and the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras for three years.  For her final two years with NYS, she was the Principal Orchestra’s principal second violinist.

Isabelle has also performed in a number of chamber music ensembles, including the Chamber Music Institute for Young Musicians and with the NYS chamber music program.    In addition to her study on the violin and piano, Isabelle has taken guitar lessons with John Birt at CMS.   Along with Isabelle’s musical talent, she is also a talented visual art student, having won a number of juried art show awards.  Isabelle has expressed a desire to continue her music and visual art studies in college.

The Carolyn R. Greenleaf Memorial Fund was established at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County in 2008 by her friends to honor Greenleaf’s dedication to music and education. The Carolyn Greenleaf Memorial Music Award is open to students of Middlesex County and the Lymes and is awarded twice a year.  It is entirely based on merit and is the only such award at Community Music School.

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

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

Share

Chester Selectwomen Visit Roto Frank of America

Gathered for a photo during the visit are (from left to right) Debra Wallis, CFO, Roto Frank of America; Lauren Gister, Chester First Selectwoman; Chris Dimou, President and CEO, Roto Frank of America; Carolynn Linn, Chester Selectwoman; Erik Ostby, Plant Manager

Gathered for a photo during the visit are (from left to right) Debra Wallis, CFO, Roto Frank of America; Lauren Gister, Chester First Selectwoman; Chris Dimou, President and CEO, Roto Frank of America; Carolynn Linn, Chester Selectwoman and Erik Ostby, Plant Manager.

CHESTER — Helping residents from local communities find gainful employment and finding skilled workers for open manufacturing positions was the focus of a visit on Oct. 4 from Lauren Gister, Chester First Selectwoman and Carolynn Linn, Chester Selectwoman, to Roto Frank of America, Inc.  The visit included a meeting with Chris Dimou, Roto Frank of America President and CEO; Debra Wallis, CFO and a tour of the Chester manufacturing plant conducted by Erik Ostby, Plant Manager.

As Roto Frank of America continues to thrive and grow, the challenge of finding skilled workers increases accordingly. The mutually beneficial solution lies in creating a greater awareness of Roto Frank’s role in the economic community and working collaboratively to attract and retain workers from Chester and the surrounding communities.

“Working with the Chester community helps in two ways. It creates an awareness of job opportunities at Roto Frank of America and helps us fill key positions as we continue grow,” said Chris Dimou.

Founded in 1979, Roto Frank of America, Inc. is a Chester, Connecticut-based manufacturer of window and door hardware. Roto Frank of America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Roto Frank AG, a global company headquartered in Germany, with 17 production plants and 40 subsidiaries worldwide.

Roto Frank of America offers solutions for North American and European hardware applications, has an extensive product line including its renowned X-DRIVE™ casement and awning window systems, sash locks, window-opening-control-devices, sliding patio door systems, and European window and door hardware, among others. For more information please visit www.rotohardware.com.

Share

$491K STEAP Grant Awarded for Centerbrook Village Main Street Improvements, Enhancements

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman Norman M. Needleman has announced that Connecticut’s Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) awarded $491,887 for Centerbrook Village Main Street improvements and enhancements.  The project will focus on sidewalk improvement and replacement on the south side of Main Street, where there are currently continuous sidewalks in various stages of deterioration. 

This project will benefit the local community by enhancing the multi-modal, complete-streets setting that the town seeks to establish while having a positive impact on the economic, commercial and social environment of the historic village.

Needleman stated that the Town appreciates being awarded this grant, and is grateful that STEAP was funded in this difficult budget year.  This program helps small towns perform work that improves the economic vitality of our community.

Needleman offered special thanks to the Town’s Economic Development Consultant Susan Malan, the Town Planner John Guszkowski, State Representative Philip J. Miller, and the Centerbrook Visioning Group for their efforts in pulling this grant application together. 

Share

Essex First Selectman Opposes State Takeover of Local Health Departments, Denounces New Cost to Small Towns

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman.

ESSEX — Earlier this week, State Senate candidate and local businessman Norm Needleman spoke out against the yet-to-be-announced state takeover of local health departments. Needleman opposes the top-down, behind-the-scenes process which includes the elimination of local health departments, the loss of local control, and increased cost to towns in what amounts to a regional property tax.

The draft changes in Connecticut state statutes were distributed to town Health Directors as “draft Local Health Consolidation Statutes” by the Commissioner of Connecticut Department of Public Health Raul Pino.

“This secret state takeover plan is yet another example of the state barreling down the wrong path without input from towns,” said Needleman. “Forced regionalization is terrible policy and causes more unnecessary over-regulation of towns without any proven cost savings. This is a canary in the coal mine for more state and county control.”

Lyme Republican First Selectman Ralph Eno agreed with Needleman.

“I appreciate Norm’s attention to this key issue,” said Eno. “I agree with his position that this is an administrative overreach without any kind of formal hearing process. This is part of what is wrong with state government.”

The changes propose eliminating local health departments and consolidating them under one board and director for each county.

“In Essex we have an efficient and effective Health Department,” said Needleman. “In what world does it make any sense to turn a well managed town office over to the mess in Hartford?”

In addition, the changes propose that each town pay 1.5% of their budget to the new county health department. The draft legislation states: “towns, cities and boroughs of such district appropriate for the maintenance of the health district not less than one and one half percent of their previous fiscal year’s annual operating budgets.”

“As First Selectman of Essex I have kept our Health Department well under 1.5% of our annual town budget with a professionally managed team,” said Needleman. “This proposal will cost more for towns all across the region and amounts to a county tax. If elected State Senator I will fight foolish state overreach like this takeover.”

“The cost is a percentage of the town budget,” said Eno. “So this is a regional property tax to feed the state bureaucracy. Thanks to Norm for being out ahead on this issue and looking forward to his leadership in the State Senate.”

Norm Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business over the past 37 years to become a leader in its segment, employing over 225 people. Needleman is in his 3rd term as First Selectman of Essex and was first elected as a Selectman in 2003.

“Norm understands the importance of local control as an experienced town leader,” said Campaign Manager Kevin Coughlin. “That is why he has been endorsed by both Republican and Democratic First Selectmen right here in the 33rd district.”

Needleman is the Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District which consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

Share

The Movie Man: ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is an Unexpected Delight

kubo-main_0Truly, if you enjoy learning about ancient mythology, you will enjoy watching Kubo and the Two Strings, brought to you by Laika, the filmmakers behind Coraline and The Boxtrolls. With an all-star-studded cast that includes Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, and Star Trek actor/turned social media personality George Takei, this stop-motion animation film does not disappoint.

We are told the story of Kubo, a young one-eyed boy, who cares for his ill mother by transforming paper into origami masterpieces through his shamisen (a string instrument indigenous to Japan). After staying out past dark (as he was warned against many times), his mother’s sisters destroy his village and attempt to take his remaining eye.

Upon escaping the terror of his aunts, Kubo comes across the incarnate version of his wooden monkey (voiced by Ms. Theron) brought to life by his own mother’s magic, and eventually Beetle (Mr. McConaughey), who join him on a quest to retrieve the armor worn by his father, a Samurai warrior.

The film often invoked reminders of ancient mythology, in which the character is forced to embark on a quest, accompanied people who are both reasonable and unreasonable, in which the protagonist must locate something precious in regards to the parent he never knew, who was a great warrior and up to whose image he seeks to live. This ranges from classical mythology to modern entertainment (think of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, prior to learning his father was the enemy he was fighting all along [not spoiling anything about this film, disclaimer] or even Telemachus, son of Odysseus in The Odysessy.)

Perhaps what is most rivaled by its story and performances is its original score, which I have no doubt will at least be nominated by many award shows this upcoming season.

It was released in 3D, a trend in movies that I do not understand. Despite being a family-friendly film, I would caution those who have very young children from seeing this. One of the main themes revolves around the title character missing an eye and his grandfather and aunts seeking retribution on his life or his remaining eye, as well as there being some frightening images and scary scenes.

But anybody above the PG-warned audience will find this movie to be an ultimate delight.

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

Share

Op-Ed: Lifelong Conservative Democrat Says if you Want to Vote for a Brighter Future, Vote Republican

Unfortunately some political parties, to boost their standings in the political arena around election time, take to sticking positive labels on themselves and negative labels on their opponents, in hopes of changing people’s minds and winning the election based on untruths and lies. Now while most people hate history, a better understanding of what our future holds for us might be had by looking back at the  performance of the current politicians who hold office.

For the past 30 years the Democratic Party has held a super majority of votes in the Connecticut Legislature. Simply put what that means is that regardless of what party the Governor was from, the legislature has had the votes necessary to override any vetoes he/she might impose on bills/budgets that the legislature wanted passed. That said, we have a Governor with the lowest approval rating of any Governor in the U.S. and a list of Democratic Legislatures that rubber- stamped anything and everything that he wanted passed.

Let us place the blame of a faltering economy, loss of business that moved out of state, loss of jobs, high taxes and lost employment opportunities squarely on the shoulders of those responsible. Let us realize that we don’t have to wait two more years to replace a Governor to effect change in our lives, we have that opportunity this Nov. 8. It’s time to replace the supermajority that represents a party mentality and not the people that voted them into office.

Because of the lack of responsible spending/taxation, by our current Democratic Governor/Legislature, our State is on the verge of bankruptcy, our bond rating in the financial market is continually downgraded and the Democratic Party has the audacity to label the Republican Party the party of doom and gloom. They say that the Republicans don’t have any answers to our budgetary problems, yet when it comes time to work on the budget the Democrats lock the Republicans out of the Budget talks.

A majority of the people in this state wants our politicians to work together on their behalf but the Democrats won’t allow that to take place. The realistic approach to budgetary problems is to identify, analyze, and find solutions to the problems in a fair, even-handed, professional manner and the only party currently not responsible for this mess is the Republican Party.

We already know what a disaster the Democratic Party has imposed on us through overspending, and we can only expect more of the same from them by reelecting them to office. It’s time to take a different path, time to write tomorrow’s history, time to think ahead to our future and the future of our children, time to vote Republican.

There’s nothing progressive about:

  • High Taxes
  • High cost of living
  • High unemployment
  • Businesses moving out of State
  • Lost jobs
  • Lack of jobs for new college graduates

And there’s nothing progressive about Progressive Democrats.

It’s time to make a quality of life change for the better, time to put the doom and gloom behind us.

It’s time to vote out all those Progressive Democrats that are responsible for this financial mess.
We just can’t afford them anymore.

Please join me, a lifelong Conservative Democrat and now a proud Republican, in voting for the Republican candidates this November.

Editor’s Note: The author is a former Democratic Selectman for the Town of Haddam.

Share

Valley Shore YMCA Offers Fitness Program for Those With Parkinson’s Disease, Starts Oct. 25

The Parkinson Disease program at the Valley Shore YMCA is led by Mary Charlton (left) and Ellen Nichele (right).

The Wellness Program for people with Parkinson’s Disease program at the Valley Shore YMCA is led by Mary Charlton (left) and Ellen Nichele (right).

AREAWIDE — The Valley Shore YMCA is now offering a wellness program specifically designed for people with Parkinson’s disease led by OhioHealth Delay the Disease-certified instructors Ellen Nichele and Mary Charlton.

Delay the Disease™ is an evidence-based fitness program designed to empower those living with Parkinson’s disease by optimizing their physical function, helping delay the progression of symptoms and improving their mental and emotional realities.

“We are so excited to be able to expand this exciting program across our community,” said Chris Pallatto, Executive Director. “One of the Y’s commitments to our community is to reduce the impact of chronic disease.  Delay the Disease is designed to provide the hope and inspiration people need so that the disease does not define them.”

Participants observe improvement in posture, balance, handwriting, mobility, speech volume and daily functional challenges.

“Our goal is to make the benefits of OhioHealth Delay the Diseases classes available to as many people with Parkinson’s disease as possible,” said Ellen Nichele. “You may have Parkinson’s disease, but it does not have you.”

Classes will be offered from 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Oct. 25, at the Valley Shore YMCA. Individuals interested in Delay the Disease classes can contact Nichele at 860-399-9622 ext. 121 or enichele@vsymca.org.

For additional information, visit vsymca.org.

Share

Literacy Volunteer Ann Lander Wins Shore Publishing Beacon Award

AREAWIDE — Ann Lander has been named a winner of a Shore Publishing 2016 Beacon Award for her work with Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS).

Lander is being recognized for her dedication to LVVS as a Workshop Leader, Conversation Social facilitator, Tutor, Student Services Coordinator and volunteer at the organization’s fundraisers. Her selflessness and commitment to helping tutors and students improve lives in the shoreline communities for over 20 years makes her more than deserving of this recognition.

The Beacon Awards recognize a few outstanding individuals who selflessly step up to help fulfill the Shoreline community’s promise as a place of opportunity, well-being, and safety for all.

Lander will be officially recognized at the annual Beacon Awards Dinner to be held at Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook on Sept. 28 at 6 p.m.

Share

Hundreds Join Elected Officials to Oppose Possible Amtrak Railroad Bypass

More than 500 people packed the auditorium at the Lyme-Old Lyme High School for the FRA public session on Wednesday. Daniel Mackay photo

More than 500 people packed the auditorium at the Lyme-Old Lyme High School for the FRA public session on Wednesday. Daniel Mackay photo

AREAWIDE — A crowd of more than 500 area residents turned out Wednesday to join elected officials in opposing a possible Amtrak railroad bypass project that would run from Old Saybrook through southeastern Connecticut to Kenyon, R.I.

The auditorium at Lyme-Old Lyme High School was packed to capacity for a public session with representatives of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Also on hand were elected officials, including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Joe Courtney, state legislators, and chief elected officials for seven area cities and towns.

The concern is focused on an option that has emerged as part of a long-range plan to improve and expand passenger rail service along the Northeast Corridor from Washington D.C. to Boston, Mass. The option, called the Old Saybrook-Kenyon, R.I. Bypass, would require construction of a second rail line that would cross the Connecticut River and run north of the existing rail line and Interstate-95 through historic and environmentally sensitive areas of Old Lyme and other towns.

In the session that was held in response to pressure from elected representatives and the public after months of local controversy over the bypass option, two representatives of the FRA, Rebecca Reyes-Alecea and Anishi Castelli, explained the preliminary plans and review process before responding to questions and comments from the elected officials. The “roundtable” did not include questions or comments from the large audience.

Reyes-Alecea said the Northeast Corridor improvements would be completed over the coming decades, and would require congressional approval of funding and probably a state funding contributions.

Though the FRA is expected to make some decisions on future project options by the end of the year, Reyes-Alecea said the review process is still in an “early stage.” She added the turnout for Wednesday’s session was the largest officials have seen for any of the public meetings held at locations throughout the 457-mile Washington-Boston corridor.

But the comments from federal, state, and local officials made it clear any decision to pursue the bypass plan, estimated to cost at least $68 billion, would face determined bipartisan resistance every step of the way.

State elected officials plus representatives from seven area towns were on hand for the meeting. Daniel Mackay photo

State elected officials plus representatives from seven area towns were on hand for the meeting. Daniel Mackay photo

Blumenthal said the bypass plan is “unfeasible, unworkable, and unnecessary,” adding, “I will fight as long and as hard as possible to block any route with an adverse impact on historic, cultural, and environmental values.” Courtney said the bypass plan seemed like something “from an alternate universe” and suggested there is a “long to-do list,” including bridge and grade crossing replacements, that must be completed before any consideration of a second rail line through the region.

State and local officials were equally firm in their opposition to the bypass plan. New London Mayor Michael Passero said previous railroad and urban renewal projects have hurt his city by claiming taxable property and isolating neighborhoods. Passero said there is no way to construct a second rail line through or around New London “without destroying our little city.”

State Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Saybrook, described the plan as “a dark cloud hovering over these towns.” Stonington First Selectman Rob Simmons, a former second district congressman, and Waterford First Selectman David Stewart urged the federal agency to focus first on improvements to the existing rail line. “Why can’t we fix what we have,” Simmons said. Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna said all seven municipalities along the possible bypass route would “stand with Old Lyme” in resisting the plan.

Reyes-Alecea said any recommendation filed later this year would set the stage for a Tier 2” analysis process and report that would include more specific plans and cost estimates for improvement projects. She said it could take years before any construction begins, even on the specific improvement to the existing line that are encouraged by the local elected leaders.

Asked after the meeting for his reaction, Gregory Stroud, Executive Director of SECoast – the non-profit constructively opposing the proposed bpass – said, “There is no doubt, that every member of the press, Senator Blumenthal and Representative Courtney came away impressed. A huge crowd. A great coming together of all the towns in southeastern Connecticut. A bipartisan, unified delegation, with one curious exception. Where is Governor Malloy?”

Share

Essex Harbor Management Commission Seeks Bids for Annual Servicing of Anchorage Markers, Dock Floats

All bids submitted to the Essex Harbor Management Commission for consideration must include the following:

  1. A Certificate of Insurance must be attached to the bid;
  2. The location where the items of property will be stored must be identified and if not the property of the applicant that the relationship be disclosed (the cost of the storage, if any, must be included in the bid);
  3. The type of the equipment, boat, float and capacity must be included;
  4. The response bid must include a provision that a representative of the HMC may be present at the time of installation.

The Commission hereby notifies all response bidders that payment is made one-half after pulling and one-half after the reinstallation.

Payment will be made within 30 days of receipt of the invoice.

SCOPE OF WORK

The bid is to remove, store and re-set and to provide an inspection report with needed repairs and estimate of cost to implement those repairs:

Markers: 

9 markers (A-J, excluding C) from the main anchorage;

2 markers (A & B) from the Meadows anchorage;

Rock obstruction markers.

Floats:

The float connected to the Main Street Dock;

The float and ramp from the Town Park site in Middle Cove;

The float and ramp from the Mack Lane site in Middle Cove;

Removal of markers and floats to be accomplished after November 15, 2016.  Re-setting must be accomplished prior to April 15, 2017, but not earlier than March 15, 2017.  Dates to be adjusted in concert with the HMC and the Harbor Master.  Marker position in accordance with GPS points maintained by HMC.

All bids are due to HMC no later than 4:00 p.m. on September 22, 2016 at the First Selectman’s office.

Share