April 28, 2017

From Italy, With Love: Dalia Lazar to Perform Beethoven Sonatas in Chester, Sunday

Internationally renowned pianist Dalia Lazar, who will give a concert at the Chester synagogue April 30.

CHESTER — Though the internationally renowned pianist Dalia Lazar now lives in Italy, she is always eager to perform thousands of miles away, in the town of Chester, Conn. “I love playing at the synagogue, as it so inspires me,” she says. And so she will play here for the third time in the nine-year history of Music & More at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek.

On Sunday, April 30, at 5 p.m., Lazar offers her interpretations of four Beethoven sonatas in preparation for a European tour that follows, and during which she will play all 32 of the composer’s works for piano. It is a rare chance for local audiences to see a performer who is described by one of many admiring critics, as that rare combination of charisma, personality and terrific pianistic facility.”

David Zeleznik, the director of the series, says, “She continues to come back every other year because she finds the warmth of our audience, and the wonderful acoustics of our space and our Mason & Hamlin piano to be the perfect match for her expressive playing.  And our audiences appreciate both her generous spirit and virtuosity. This will be a singular opportunity to preview Dalia’s European tour in an intimate setting that she adores. Our audiences respond not only her virtuosity but her enthusiasm and charm.”

Lazar does more than talk about Chester and nearby local towns – she invests in them. The last time she performed, her dress, her shoes, and her jewelry all came from local merchants. When she returns, this spring, she brings with her a long list of accomplishments.

She began studying piano at an early age in her native Zabreb, Croatia, when music “made everything come alive,” she says. “Paintings in my grandmother’s room, the trees outside the window, the courtyard’s balconies, suddenly displayed their own life and movement.   My mother, noticing the effect that music had on me, took me to concerts, where I insisted we sit in the first row from where I experienced feelings of wonder and happiness that have stayed with me since. Her first piano teacher recognized her uncommon talent and pianistic ability, and at the age of sixteen she was admitted to Moscow’s P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory.  During her studies in Moscow, Lazar performed throughout Soviet Union. Immediately after her graduation at the Moscow Conservatory, she decided to continue her career in New York and London where she studied with Karl Urlich Schnabel and Maria Curcio.

Lazar made her New York debut at Rubenstein Hall, followed by her Carnegie Recital Hall debut. Since then she has performed a broad repertoire as a soloist in concerts and recitals worldwide, including the United States, Russia, Venezuela, Israel, Switzerland, Croatia, Mexico and Romania.  Her chamber music repertoire includes the works for violin and piano duo and piano trio, which she performed extensively with her late husband, violinist Lucian Lazar.  Her recent CD includes works by Schumann and Chopin.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester, CT.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the cbsrz.org website.

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Find Foxtrots, Friendship, Florida Sunsets in ‘Biloxi Blues’ at Ivoryton Playhouse, on Stage Thru May 14

Cast members of Biloxi Blues in rehearsal: Zal Owen, Conor Hamill, Ethan Kirschbaum, George Mayer, Alec Silberblatt, Chandler Smith, and Mike Mihm.

ESSEX — The Ivoryton Playhouse is leaving behind the music of Ol’ Blue Eyes and heading south to the steamy bayou country of Biloxi, Miss., with the opening of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues on April 26. This semi-autobiographical play details his experiences as a young man in boot camp before he was shipped off to serve in the Second World War.

Biloxi Blues is the second chapter in what is known as his Eugene trilogy, following Brighton Beach Memoirs and preceding Broadway Bound, and is the only one in which Eugene is not the central character. Biloxi Blues won the Tony Award when it opened on Broadway in 1985 and ran 524 performances.

Simon’s hit play follows the adventures of Eugene Morris Jerome and his fellow Army inductees as they struggle through basic training near Biloxi, Miss. in 1943. An aspiring writer who sees himself as an outsider observing the craziness around him, Eugene hopes to somehow remain “neutral … like Switzerland,” but finds himself having to make tough choices.

Biloxi Blues is a comedy with real depth about young men growing up, learning about life and how to live together and finally, going off to war. These men are universal soldiers – facing the same fears, anxieties, and loneliness that grip all young recruits about to encounter the ultimate test of combat. Simon brings his great sense of humor and humanity to every word of this play.

A film was also made of the play starring Matthew Broderick and directed by Mike Nichols with screenplay by Neil Simon.

Biloxi Blues is directed by Sasha Bratt and features Zal Owen* as Eugene, Alec Silberblatt* as Arnold and Mike Mihm* as Sergeant Toomey. Cast also includes Andee Buccheri, Conor M. Hamill*, Ethan Kirschbaum, George Mayer, Moira O’Sullivan and Chandler Smith. Set design is by Glenn Bassett, lighting design by Tate R. Burmeister and costume design by Lisa Bebey.

Biloxi Blues opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on April 26 and runs through May 14.  Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

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Acton Library Announces Annual Poetry Contest Winners

AREAWIDE — The Acton Public Library will hold Poetry Night Wednesday, April 26, at 7 p.m. concluding its 23rd Annual Poetry Competition.  Winning poets will read their compositions and receive their awards. The public is invited to attend.

The panel judges for this year’s competition were Barbara Batt of Old Saybrook, Mary Guitar of Lyme, Susan Murphy of Madison, Mary Volk of Old Saybrook, and Jane Ulrich of Guilford. Chief judges were Patricia O’Brien, Old Saybrook’s Poet Laureate, and Nancy Meneely of Essex.

The evening, celebrating National Poetry Month, and the poets’ prizes are sponsored by the Friends of Acton Library. All submitted poems will be on display in the library through May.

The library is open Monday through Thursday 10-8:00, Friday and Saturday 10-5.

Contest winners are:

ADULT PRIZES

1st PRIZE                  My Father by Mike Augusta of Deep River
2nd PRIZE                How She Left by Lorraine Riess of Higganum
3rd PRIZE                Tar by Mike Augusta of Deep River

GRADES 9-12 PRIZES

1st PRIZE                  Parental Boogie by Sophie Spaner of Deep River
2nd PRIZE                 Escape by Stefanie Guo of Madison
3rd PRIZE                 Turns Black When Wet by Julia Collins of Old Saybrook

GRADES 7-8 PRIZES

1st PRIZE                    Snowflakes by Mackenzie Kapp of Old Saybrook
2nd PRIZE                  An Alphabet of Self Reflection by Mia Katz of Branford
3rd PRIZE                   Seeds by Sophie Burdick of Deep River

GRADES 4-6 PRIZES

1st  PRIZE               Moon Haikus by Van Lampos of Old Lyme
2nd PRIZE               Rude Awakening by Sheila Northrup of Madison
3rd PRIZE TIE        Time by Margo Katz of Branford
Oak Tree by Philip Warren of Old Saybrook

GRADES 1-3 PRIZES

1st PRIZE                  Butterfly by Hannah Belknap of Old Saybrook
2nd PRIZE                Valentine’s Day by Toyba Barasz of Old Saybrook

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Child & Family Agency’s Essex River Valley Auxiliary Hosts Annual Tag Sale’s ‘Intake Day,’ May 4

Everything but the dog! A well-stocked car of donations for Child & Family’s Annual Tag Sale.

ESSEX — For the uninitiated, Intake Day is a spring ritual, marking a time to find, dust off, clean, repair and donate those valued, but little-used clothing and items in your care, to benefit The Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut.

On Thursday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Essex Town Hall on 29 West Avenue, members of the Essex Auxiliary of Child and Family Agency will be standing by to greet and assist with your donated items. Use the Grove Street parking lot entrance. Tax donation letters will be available on site, and specialty art or jewelry items will be appreciated and handled with care. 

If you need assistance with unusual or bulkier items, pick- ups may be able to be arranged in advance by contacting Pat Mackenzie-Thompson at 860-227-7551

The auxiliary will collect, sort, box and then transport your contributions to the New London Armory for a bonanza, three-day fundraiser, which has earned a reputation for being one of the “Largest Tag Sales in New England.” This year’s 62nd Annual Sale will be held May 5, 6, and 7 at a new, yet old  venue – the New London Armory at 249 Bayonet Street New London, CT  06320.

WANTED:  Art work, furniture, decorative items, sporting goods, clothing, jewelry, household items, linens, tools & toys, vintage and antique items, books, food magazines, records & DVDs.

The motto Bring the Best and Leave the Rest has made the town of Essex a standard bearer for “quality” donations which help to provide for an increasingly successful fund raiser. Proceeds go directly to support the many extraordinary services provided by Child & Family Agency, a non-profit organization which has served Connecticut families for over 200 years. 

Today, programs address children’s mental health, physical health care, child abuse prevention, the treatment of family violence, teen pregnancy, childcare, and parent education.  Child-care and out-of-school programs benefit from volunteers who read one-on- one with children, share a hobby, an athletic skill or a special talent with a classroom, are homework buddies or create sets and costumes for their exciting theatre productions.  To join the auxiliary or to volunteer today, please call 860-443-2896.

Your collective donations make a difference every year in the lives of the children and families served, but in times of economic turmoil your support is crucial, helping to stabilize some very fragile lives.  Last year over 18,000 children and their family members from 79 towns were helped by the agency’s staff of 195 dedicated professionals. For more information about the work of Child & Family, visit www.childandfamilyagency.org.

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Essex Library Hosts Speaker Celebrating 300 Years of Connecticut’s Remarkable Women, May 15

ESSEX — Kathryn Gloor, Executive Director of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame will present “Celebrating 300 Years of Connecticut’s Remarkable Women” at the Essex Library on Monday, May 15, at 7 p.m.  Gloor will present an interactive multi-media program about some of our state’s most remarkable women.

Be inspired as you learn about well-known figures like Ella Grasso, Katharine Hepburn and Marian Anderson and lesser known heroines like Maria Sanchez, Barbara McClintock and Hannah Watson. This presentation will introduce you to the Hall, its mission and programs, and give you a panoramic view of some of its 115 Inductees from across all fields of endeavor, from politics and sports to the arts and sciences.

The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame is an educational outreach organization whose mission is to honor publicly the achievement of Connecticut women, preserve their stories, educate the public and inspire the continued achievements of women and girls.

Gloor has spent more than 15 years raising awareness and support for the causes she loves, including education, women’s rights, and cultural organizations. Most recently she served as Director of Development at Westport Country Playhouse. She has also held leadership positions at Planned Parenthood, Mercy Learning Center, and Oberlin College, among others, and has been a presenter at professional conferences and meetings on topics such as securing major gifts, organizing for success, and leveraging board relationships.

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Madhatters Announce Summer Camps in Chester

CHESTER — Madhatters Theatre Company is now accepting registrations for their summer productions at Chester Meeting House 4 Liberty Street in Chester, Conn.  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 through 28.

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

To register, e-mail madhattersctc@aol.com

For further information, visit www.ctkidsonstage.com/madhatterstheatrecompany

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Legendary Adriaen Block Vessel To Land this Summer at Connecticut River Museum

Onrust under sail. Photo courtesy of the Onrust Project.

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum has announced that the Onrust, a replica of the first European vessel to explore and chart the Connecticut River, will rediscover the River this summer.

Following Henry Hudson’s 1609 expedition, Dutch captain Adriaen Block was hired to explore the northeastern coastline of America with the intent of establishing trade with Native Americans and claiming parts of the territory for the Dutch Republic.  On his fourth and final voyage (1613-1614), Block’s ship the Tiger was destroyed by fire while in New York Bay.  Block and his crew went to work near Manhattan building a new vessel – the Onrust (launched in New York Bay in April 1614).

The Onrust investigated coastal New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. In the course of his travels, Block became the first known European to travel up the Connecticut River to just north of Hartford (a distance of approximately 60 miles from Long Island Sound).  He recorded the conditions, the places that he saw, and the native people he encountered. 

The impacts of Block’s travels were many.  Upon his return to Amsterdam in July 1614, Block’s explorations, along with the collective knowledge from other expeditions, were documented in the “Figurative Map of Capt. Adriaen Block” — an incredibly accurate map of the northeast region given the navigation and survey instruments of the day. 

Connecticut River Museum Executive Director, Christopher Dobbs stated “We cannot be more thrilled to host this remarkable vessel that has such historic relevance to our region.”  In fact, as Dobbs notes, Block’s discoveries ushered in dramatic changes.  Most notably, the cultural interchanges (often leading to calamitous consequences) between Native Americans and Europeans, colonization, the founding of New Netherland, and the ecological impacts due to global trade.  It was “at least in part thanks to Block’s work that a Dutch trading post was established in 1624 in Old Saybrook and that Hartford [House of Hope] became New Netherland’s eastern-most trading post and fort.”

The re-creation of the vessel was spearheaded by New York based nonprofit The Onrust Project. Following extensive research, the rediscovery of traditional Dutch shipbuilding techniques, and the efforts of over 250 volunteers, the vessel was launched in 2009 at the Mabee Farm Historic Site, Rotterdam, NY.  Board Chair and Executive Director of The Onrust Project, Greta Wagle said “The Onrust is an extraordinary, floating museum.  We are very pleased to collaborate with the Connecticut River Museum and share her important stories with River Valley residents and tourists.”

The Connecticut River Museum will host the Onrust from June 1 through early October.  During this time they will offer cruises and dockside tours.  To find out more details about the Onrust’s summer cruises, charters, and upcoming programs please visit the Connecticut River Museum’s website at ctrivermuseum.org.  You can also discover the Onrust yourself by going to The Onrust Project’s website at theonrust.com.

Interested in becoming a volunteer guide this summer aboard the ship?  Contact the Museum’s Education Department at jwhitedobbs@ctrivermuseum.org.

The Connecticut River Museum is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The Museum currently has a special exhibition, Connecticut’s Founding Fish, exploring the story of the Shad.

For more information on exhibits and related programs please contact the Connecticut River Museum at 860.767.8269 or visit the website, ctrivermuseum.org.

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Register Now to be Listed on the Chester Town Wide Tag Sale Map; Tag Sale is May 27

CHESTER — All Chester Residents who wish to sell what they no longer need can join their neighbors in participating in the annual tradition of the Chester Town-Wide Tag Sale on Saturday, May 27 (Memorial Day weekend), from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  For the fifth year in a row, the Chester Republican Town Committee is organizing this 25-year event, which brings thousands of people to Chester for a day of tag sale buying, eating and shopping.

It is easy to do—get on the map that directs the traffic to your doorstep.   To be listed on the map, you must be a Chester resident; if you are a business, your sale address must be in Chester.

Listing forms are available through Kris at kris.seifert@gmail.com and at LARK! In the Town Center.  The listing fee is $10 for residences or businesses or $25 for businesses that wish to include a small 1-1/2” by 1-1/2” advertisement.  Deadline for inclusion in the map is May 25 to enable the printing of the map.   But don’t wait, space fills up quickly.   

To everyone who wants to have a fun and adventurous day in Chester, mark May 27 on your calendar and come to the town-wide tag sale—rain or shine.  As you enter town, you will see friendly volunteers selling maps  (at $1) that will give the locations of everyone who wants to see you.  Spend more time with them and less time trying to find them by randomly driving around– although, that is fun,  too.

Make a day of it and enjoy all that the Town of Chester has to offer.

When you are ready to take a break, restaurants will welcome you with coffee, fresh baked treats, and great food any time of day. The downtown merchants – some of them new like Black Leather, The French Hen, Strut the Mutt and The Perfect Pear – will welcome you with open arms, with shelves stocked with specials, and galleries filled with unique objects of desire.  Don’t forget to pick up a loaf or two of Simon’s well-known bread.

The downtown area is revitalized – check out the new bridge (or bridgework) and sidewalks.  If you want to learn about the town, walk into the Chester Historical Society’s Museum at the Mill in the center of town where you can learn about the Life and Industry along the Pattaconk.  Walk up to the Chester Meeting House or simply stroll about and enjoy the day.

Proceeds from listing fees, map sales, and advertising on the map are used to promote the event throughout Connecticut.  Net proceeds from this event benefit the Chester Republican Town Committee’s general fund.

If you have questions or require more information, email kris.seifert@gmail.com or phone 860-526-8440 / 714-878-9658.

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The Rockfall Foundation Announces 12 Grants for Environmental Projects

AREAWIDE — The Board of Directors and Grants Committee of the Rockfall Foundation are pleased to announce that twelve environmental programs throughout the Lower Connecticut River Valley received grants in the latest funding cycle. More than $28,000 was awarded to support environmental education and conservation efforts that will have a combined benefit for nearly 2,000 students and many more adults and families in the region.

“These grants, awarded through a competitive process, support the wonderful work being done in the area of environmental education and conservation throughout our region,” said Marilyn Ozols, President of the Foundation. “We are grateful that the generosity of our donors makes it possible for us to support so many worthwhile programs.”

Environmental education is a priority area for the Foundation and programs that serve and engage children and youth represent the several of those receiving grants. Public schools and non-profit organizations will provide hands-on environmental education programs in Middletown, Durham, Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. Additionally, several conservation projects and public events will present residents throughout the Lower Connecticut River Valley with information on urban farming, removal of invasives, and tree identification, as well as provide volunteer opportunities.

Grantees include:

Indian Hill Cemetery Association – “A Celebration of the Trees of Indian Hill Cemetery” will encourage visitors to utilize Indian Hill Cemetery as a place where they can learn about trees, be inspired by trees, enjoy the view and walk quietly. Tree identification activities, school programs, and the addition of signs will support this effort. $1,000

Van Buren Moody Elementary School – “Moody School Courtyard Nature Enrichment Programs” will train teachers to use the school’s courtyard gardens for education enrichment, thereby increasing the amount of time students spend outside learning about the environment. The program will also involve students and families in maintaining and managing the gardens to create a sense of ownership and connection to the courtyards and the natural world. $1,030

Regional School District 13 Elementary Schools – “Taking the Next Generation Science Standards Outside” will encourage elementary students to engage in the Science and Engineering Practices emphasized in the Next Generation Science Standards, while exploring the nature trails near their schools and noting problems that could be investigated and addressed. $1,100

Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District – “Urban Farm-Based Education Programs at Forest City Farms: A Farm Days Pilot Project” will promote an ongoing urban agriculture initiative in Middletown focused on improving urban farming conservation practices, building community interest and engagement in farming, developing farming/gardening knowledge and skills, and helping address food insecurity. Hands-on activities will take place at Forest City Farms. $1,500

Middlesex Land Trust and Everyone Outside – “Middlesex Land Trust Preserves: Great Places to Spend Time Outside” will revive and foster an interest in nature by connecting children and families with their local environment through field trips and public trail walks, helping them gain an understanding and appreciation of nature in order to become future stewards of the environment. $1,500

Snow Elementary School – “Outdoor Explorations at Snow Elementary School” will provide students and teachers with hands-on science and nature programs, including teacher training, mentoring and curriculum development leading to greater interest in science and stewardship of the natural world. $1,900

Lyme Land Conservation Trust – “The Diana and Parker Lord Nature and Science Center” to support the planning and development of educationally-focused content that is directed to all ages and will engage school-age children, and to support a unique and interactive interpretive trail within the Banningwood Preserve. $2,000

Valley Shore YMCA – “Farm to Table Specialty Camp,” an innovative new program that will teach children the important life skills of gardening, harvesting produce for themselves and others, and environmental sustainability. $2,225

Macdonough Elementary School – “Macdonough School Takes the Classroom Outside” will provide hands-on science education for K through 5th grade students, including an understanding of the natural world and the local ecosystem, to enhance students’ connection with nature. $2,570

Connecticut River Watershed Council – “European Water Chestnut Strategy for the Connecticut River Watershed” will directly educate more than 250 individuals on how to identify, manage and report European Water Chestnuts; educate thousands of residents about the plant and its threat to our waterways; and involve volunteers in hand removal of documented infestations. $3,500

Connecticut Forest and Park – “Highlawn Forest Invasive Removal and Education Program,” part of a strategic Forest Management Plan, to use the property as a recreation and education asset through careful timbering and an invasive removal process. The program will be a model for environmental planning and will offer a unique opportunity for hands-on environmental education for landowners and municipalities. $4,000

SoundWaters – “Coastal Explorers: A Bridge for Sustainability for Watershed Exploration for Middle School Students” will provide students from Middlesex County with hands-on science education focused on their local estuarine habitats and watershed to encourage a deeper understanding of the natural world via a combination of study and stewardship activities. $6,000

Founded in 1935 by Middletown philanthropist Clarence S. Wadsworth, the Rockfall Foundation is named for the large waterfall in Wadsworth Falls State Park. In addition to its grants, the Foundation sponsors educational programs and owns and maintains the deKoven House Community Center. The Rockfall Foundation awards grants annually through a competitive process that is open to non-profit organizations and municipalities located in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. For additional information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please visit www.rockfallfoundation.org  or call 860-347-0340.

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The Very Latest … and Most Important … News to Date on the Proposed High Speed Train Route

Amtrak’s ‘Acela’ passes through Rocky Neck State Park on a recent morning.

AREAWIDE — In a major news story published yesterday in the CT Mirror, veteran journalist Ana Radelat summarizes the significant impact that opposition in Connecticut to the proposed high-speed rail route has already had — and is continuing to have.  Radelat quotes Old Lyme’s Greg Stroud, founder of SECoast and now director of special projects for the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, who has been at the forefront of this opposition, as saying, “Opposition is growing along the entire shoreline.”

Read Radelat’s story titled, CT rebellion against federal rail plan grows — and may have impact, at this link.

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Regional Boat Dealers Prepare for 2nd Annual In-Water CT Spring Boat Show, May 5-7

Aerial view of the Brewer Essex Island Marina where the Connecticut Spring Boat Show will be held.

ESSEX – The Connecticut Spring Boat Show has announced the 2nd Annual 2017 in-water show dates of May 5-7, at Brewer Essex Island Marina located in Essex, Conn.    The boating industry has come together to unveil some of the latest innovations in boating, offer purchase incentives and give consumers an ideal opportunity to compare different boats, dealers and options in one convenient location.

Interested boat buyers will enjoy select opportunities for sea trials throughout the weekend; thus giving prospective buyers a unique ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience.  More than 3000 people are expected to attend the free show, rain or shine.

Visitors attending the boat show will enjoy seeing a wide range of new and brokerage, power and sail models of all sizes, 10ft to larger than 60ft including family cruisers, performance boats, downeast trawlers, day sailers, picnic, center consoles, runabouts, pontoon and inflatables.

Boat lines from American Tug, Beneteau, Bennington, Catalina, Chris Craft, Comitti, Cutwater, Defever, Dufour, Eastbay, Elan, Ferretti, Fortier, Grand Banks, Hinckley, Hunt, Legacy, Nordic Tug, Novatec, Ocean Alexander, Post, Rosborough, Rossiter, Sabre, San Juan, Sea Ray, Southport, Tiara, True North, Velasco,  Windy, X-Yachts, and more will be represented.

In addition to boats on the docks, the show will have SUPs and kayaks, gear, accessories and service companies on site from Action Sports, Boaters Buddy, Boatique USA, Boat Name Gear, Brewer Essex Island Marina, CermaLube, Coolermate Insert, Freedom Boat Club, LeafFilter, NMI-Permateek, Pantaenuis America, Connecticut River Museum, Sails UP for Cancer, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, WindCheck Magazine and more to be announced soon.

Brewer Essex Island Marina is located on a 13-acre private Island, accompanied by a complementary ferry service, and offers 125 slips accommodating vessels up to 200’. The resort marina is family friendly and the popular Marley’s Café will be open for the weekend offering food and beverages with a portion of sales proceeds to be donated to Sails Up 4 Cancer.  In addition to the general event, a lively ‘Cinco de Mayo’ celebration is planned for May 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. and will feature live Caribbean music and fare.

Historical Downtown Essex is located on the Connecticut River, a few short miles from Long Island Sound.  The small waterfront town is a boating, sailing and tourist destination featuring quaint shops, markets, and restaurants.

The show is a production of WindCheck Magazine and is sponsored by Brewer Essex Island Marina, Essex Boat Works, Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA) and YachtWorld.  Visit www.ctspringboatshow.com for specific event details.  Contact Anne Hannan of WindCheck Magazine at anne@windcheckmagazine.com for dealer and vendor application information.

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Two Organizations Working for Middle East Peace Co-Sponsor Film Series at Westbrook Library; April 27 – May 18   

Members of the Tree of Life group that traveled to Israel-Palestine in March 2017 stand on the front steps of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme’s Meetinghouse on the day of their departure. Others would join the travelers from Ohio, Washington DC, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Hawaii.

Film Series Aims to Educate, Inspire Dialogue About Peace, Justice in Middle East and Beyond

AREAWIDE — Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)-New Haven and the Tree of Life Educational Fund (TOLEF) are jointly sponsoring a film series titled, ‘From the Jordan to the Sea: Israel-Palestine in Film’ at Westbrook Public Library. The series comprises three feature-length films on successive Thursdays, April 27, May 4 and May 11, and a short film on May 18, which will be followed by a “talk-back” with young people recently returned from TOLEF’s  2017 trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia.  

All four films will have a start time of 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Westbrook Library. The public is welcome to attend these events.

Tree of Life travelers stand on the roof of the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem as Dr. Reza Mansoor offered an introduction to Islam to the group of 37 travelers, who incorporated Muslim, Jewish and Christian representation.

The film series strives to educate and inspire dialogue by offering diverse perspectives with dramatic heartfelt storytelling. The selected films offer a human face to the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is  hoped the series raises questions, challenges some common myths and jumpstarts candid discussion about the complexities of working for peace and justice in the Middle East and in the US as well. 

Details of the program are as follows:

When I Saw You (2012)  93 minutes
Thursday, April 27     

It is 1967. The world is alive with change: brimming with reawakened energy, new styles, music and an infectious sense of hope. In Jordan, a different kind of change is underway as tens of thousands of refugees pour across the border from Palestine. Having been separated from his father in the chaos of war, Tarek, 11, and his mother Ghaydaa, are amongst this latest wave of refugees. Placed in “temporary” refugee camps made up of tents and prefab houses until they would be able to return, they wait, like the generation before them who arrived in 1948. With difficulties adjusting to life in Harir camp and a longing to be reunited with his father, Tarek searches a way out, and discovers a new hope emerging with the times. When I Saw You is the story of people affected by the times around them, in search of something more in their lives. A journey full of adventure, love and the desire to be free. A story of the human spirit that knows no borders. 

Five Broken Cameras (2011)  94 minutes
Thursday,  May 4 
             

 A documentary film co-directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidii.  It is a first-hand account of protests in Bil’in, a West Bank village affected by the Israel West Bank barrier. The documentary was shot almost entirely by the Palestinian farmer who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son. Structured around the destruction of Burnat’s cameras, it follows one family’s evolution over five years of turmoil. The film won a 2012 Sundance Film Festival award and was nominated for a 2013 Academy Award.         

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (2013)  100 minutes
Thursday  May 11
       

Tal (Agathe Bonitzer) is the 17-year-old daughter of recent French immigrants to Israel who live in Jerusalem. Following a bomb attack on a local café, she throws a bottle into the sea near Gaza with a message asking for an explanation. Naïm (Mahmoud Shalaby), a sensitive but aimless 20-year-old Palestinian living in Gaza, discovers the bottle and tries to answer Tal’s question by initiating an email correspondence. Their mutual suspicion soon develops into a tender friendship.

An Oasis on the Hill (2013)  10 minutes
Thursday May 18  
       

This inspiring documentary follows Omer and Rami, who grew up in Neve Shalom / Wahat al Salam, an Israeli village where Jews and Arabs have peacefully coexisted for over 40 years.                                                 Included with this film will be a “talk back” by young people recently returned from TOLEF’s  2017 trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia.  

For more information about the film series, contact TOLEF Coordinator Mary Tomasetti at mary@tolef.org or 860-391-5384 or call Westbrook Library at (860) 399-6422

Directions to Westbrook Library: I-95 to Exit 65. South on Rte. 153 to center of Westbrook, left onto Boston Post Rd (Rte. 1), then left onto Burdick Dr.  Look for the entrance sign to Daniel R. Wren Park. The library will be on your right. The Community Room is located at the back of the Library. Entrance is next to Literacy Volunteers.          

About Jewish Voice for Peace: Jewish Voice for Peace is a national organization with over 65 chapter across the United States, including a chapter in the Greater New Haven area.  JVP supports the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinians refugees based on principles established in international law; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East.

About Tree of Life Educational Fund: Tree of Life Educational Fund is a non-profit organization that provides travel experience, conferences and educational opportunities to help participants to become more enlightened and engaged in making this a more just and peaceful world. The TOLEF’s latest trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia took place March 8-24, 2017.

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Middlesex Hospital to Create Office Building at Vacant Essex Site of Former Shoreline Medical Center

Middlesex Hospital has now announced plans for its medical facility in Essex, pictured above, which was closed on April 28, 2014, and has been vacant ever since. The proposal calls for renovating the property as a medical office building that will offer physical therapy and occupational medicine. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX—Middlesex Hospital will turn its vacant building on Westbrook Road into a medical office building that will offer physical therapy and occupational medicine. The building will house a third department to be named at a later date.

The building has been vacant since the Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center moved to its new facility in Westbrook in 2014. Construction plans call for renovating the Essex facility to maximize service offerings, while also ensuring that each department located there has adequate space and the ability to grow.

The Hospital currently offers physical therapy and occupational medicine services at 192 Westbrook Road. Those departments will move into the new office building, and they have all been involved in the project’s planning process.

As part of the project, the medical office building will get a new roof and existing HVAC units will be replaced or rebuilt. Overgrown shrubbery will be removed, the exterior of the building will be painted, and the building will get new signs.

“We are excited to repurpose this building for the people of Essex and residents of surrounding shoreline communities,” said David Giuffrida, the Hospital’s vice president of operations. “This is an opportunity for the Hospital to further invest in its property and to offer several vital services at one location.”

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Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeffrey Andersen to Step Down After Successor is Chosen

Jeff Andersen, Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, will step down from the position he has held for more than 40 years when a successor has been selected.

After over 40 years of service to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Conn., Director Jeff Andersen is planning to step down after a new director is appointed. Ted Hamilton, President of the Board of Trustees, announced that a comprehensive national search will be undertaken in the months ahead, overseen by a committee of trustees and coordinated with an executive search firm.

“Jeff Andersen has guided the growth of this museum with equal measures of vision and attention to detail,” Hamilton said. “He sees things clearly and stays focused on long-term goals.  Jeff charted a course for the Florence Griswold Museum to become a singular American art institution based on its history as an artist colony.  He inspired our trustees, staff, and volunteers to dedicate themselves toward this mission. Under his leadership, the Museum has become known for its compelling exhibitions and innovative educational programs.”

A fifth-generation native of Northern California, Andersen began his career at the Museum after completing his M.A. in Museum Studies from Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, N.Y. During his tenure, the Florence Griswold Museum evolved from a seasonal attraction with one staff member and fewer than 1,000 visitors per year to an accredited art museum with 20 staff members, 225 dedicated volunteers, nearly 80,000 visitors annually, and over 3,000 members.  Early on, Andersen helped establish an endowment fund for the institution, which now funds one-third of the Museum’s annual operating budget of $2.6 million.

Working closely with teams of trustees and professional colleagues, Andersen led a transformative, decades-long campaign to reacquire the original Florence Griswold property with the goal of creating a new kind of American museum based on the site’s history as the creative center of the Lyme Art Colony.  Reunifying the historic estate, much of which had been sold during the 1930s, took seven different real estate transactions, culminating in 2016 with the purchase of the last private parcel of the original estate.

Supported by capital campaigns that raised over $20 million collectively, the Museum implemented master plans to reconstruct historic gardens, relocate the William Chadwick artist studio, build education and landscape centers, and open the Robert and Nancy Krieble Gallery, an award-winning modern exhibition, collection, and archives facility designed by Centerbrook Architects.  In 2006, the Museum completed the restoration of the National Historic Landmark Florence Griswold House (1818) as a circa 1910 boardinghouse of the artists’ colony.  Located along the banks of the Lieutenant River, the Museum’s 13-acre historic site now forms an essential part of a visitor experience that integrates art, history, and nature.

As part of his duties, Andersen has organized exhibitions for the Museum and written extensively about American artists in Connecticut. For a museum of its size, the Florence Griswold Museum has been active in publishing scholarly books and catalogues to accompany many of its exhibitions.  Beginning in 1983, Andersen established a close relationship with The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company on behalf of the Florence Griswold Museum, assisting the company in assembling a major collection of 190 paintings and sculptures by American artists associated with Connecticut.

In 2001, Hartford Steam Boiler donated the entire collection to the Museum, where it serves as a centerpiece of ambitious collection, exhibition, and education programs revolving around diverse expressions of American art from the eighteenth century to the present day.  Works from this collection by such artists as Ralph Earl, Frederic Church, Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, and others have been lent to over forty museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The National Gallery, London.

Over the years, Andersen has been a leader in the cultural community, serving on numerous non-profit boards, such as Connecticut Humanities and the New England Museum Association, and working as a peer accreditation reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums. In 2004, he received the Public Service Award from the Connecticut Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  In 2016, Andersen was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New England Museum Association (NEMA).  “Throughout his career, Jeff has been an inspirational leader at the Florence Griswold Museum, on the NEMA board, and through all of his community service,” said NEMA Executive Director Dan Yaeger.

“It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to be a part of this Museum,” Andersen reflected.  “What I am perhaps most proud of is the deep sense of loyalty and camaraderie that is felt amongst our staff, trustees, volunteers, and members. In many ways, it echoes what Florence Griswold and the original Lyme artists had with one another. In this spirit, I know that everyone will give their full support to the next director to help the Museum flourish in the years ahead.”

Andersen, who lives in Quaker Hill, Connecticut, is looking forward to spending more time with his family in California and traveling with his wife, the artist Maureen McCabe, who was a longtime professor at Connecticut College. Andersen intends to stay active in the art world and in the community at large.

The Florence Griswold Museum has been called a “Giverny in Connecticut” by the Wall Street Journal and a “must see” by the Boston Globe.  Its seasonal Café Flo was just recognized as “best hidden gem” and “best outdoor dining” by Connecticut Magazine. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Connecticut.   Visit www.FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org for more information.

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Essex Seeks Public Input on Town’s Housing Needs, Invites Readers to Complete Survey

ESSEX — Many Connecticut municipalities are devoting attention to whether they have the right mix of housing choices. Longtime residents are interested in downsizing out of larger single-family homes, adult children would like to return to town after college, and many businesses are looking for housing nearby for their workforce at prices that are attainable.

The Essex Planning Commission, which recently completed an update to the comprehensive Essex Plan of Conservation and Development, has a special interest in housing in the Town of Essex. The Commission believes that a wider array of housing opportunities will be important to maintaining Essex’s special vibrancy and competitiveness as a residential community.

Along with the Board of Selectmen, Economic Development Commission, and Essex Housing Authority, the Planning Commission is interested in the public’s perspective of Essex’s housing situation.

Readers are therefore invited to take this brief survey to help these boards and commissions understand your perspective, address your interests and concerns, and ensure that your views help share any efforts the Town may undertake in this area.  The link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EssexHousing and readers can also find it on the Town of Essex website at www.essexct.gov under News and Announcements.

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Lyme Academy College Donates Historic Document Collection to Lyme Art Association

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler at work.

OLD LYME — Yesterday Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts made a formal presentation of a collection of historic documents and original exhibition catalogs to the Lyme Art Association (LAA.) The event took place at the LAA’s historic building on Lyme Street immediately prior to the opening of the Association’s A Show in Four Acts exhibition.

This remarkable collection was part of the estate of Elisabeth Gordon Chandler (1913-2006), who not only founded the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, but was also previously president and a long-time member of the Lyme Art Association. The Archives Committee of Lyme Academy College has spent several years assembling and preparing this gift of history to the Lyme Art Association.

The collection being donated includes a comprehensive collection of Lyme Art Association exhibition catalogs including a 1909 8th annual exhibition pamphlet listing the artists Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf and also, a 1921 20th annual exhibition booklet, which was the inaugural exhibit in the new Charles A. Platt designed gallery. In addition, there are catalogs of the spring watercolor exhibits, which began in 1925, along with the autumn exhibitions, beginning in 1933.

Many letters and documents related to Elisabeth Gordon Chandler’s time as Lyme Art Association president from 1975-1978 and tell of her productive time during a transformative era in the Association’s history. Important documents relate to the ‘Goodman Presentation Case’ of 1928, a collection of 35 small artworks by early Lyme Art Association members. An original copy of Charles A. Platt’s “General Specifications for the Art Gallery” of July 1920 is included with this collection, which gives a detailed outline of the plans for the gallery.

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (originally named Lyme Academy of Fine Arts) was founded by members of the Lyme Art Association in 1976 during the time Chandler was President. The school was based on preserving the time-honored traditions and disciplines of training in the fine arts.  Founded as an Academy, it became an accredited College in 1996, and in 2014 became a College of the University of New Haven (UNH), when UNH acquired the College.

Lyme Art Association dates back to 1902, when a group of tonalist painters, led by the New York artist Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916), were asked to hold a two-day exhibition in August at Old Lyme’s Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library. The artwork exhibited consisted entirely of landscapes depicting the local countryside, painted while they boarded at the home of Florence Griswold (1850-1937). It is believed that Lyme Art Association is the nation’s oldest continuously exhibiting art group in the country.

A nationally recognized portrait sculptor, Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, was a regular exhibitor at the Lyme Art Association, and she became vice-president in 1974 and, president in 1975. With a goal of obtaining tax-exempt status for the association, and continuing the teaching and traditions of representational art, she set to work to create an art school in the basement of the gallery building.

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Leif Nilsson Celebrates Lyme Land Conservation Trust’s Golden Anniversary with 50:50 Offer

CAT# 3406 Hamburg Cove Oil 24 x 54 inches Leif Nilsson Summer 2016 ©

CHESTER/LYME — It’s time to celebrate the Lyme Land Conservation Trust’s Golden Anniversary!

Buy a box of matches, a print or a painting owned by Leif Nilsson at the studio between March 17 and May 21 and 50 percent of the purchase price will be donated to the Lyme Land Conservation Trust by making two payments; one for 50 percent of the price plus sales tax to the studio and one for the remaining 50 percent to the Lyme Land Conservation Trust.

Click here to preview Leif’s art. 

The Spring Street Studio & Gallery is located at 1 Spring Street, Chester, CT 06412.  Studio Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m., by appointment, or other hours call 860-526-2077.

 

 

 

 

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Celebrating her 99th, Mary Vidbergs is Justifiably ‘Queen for a Day’

Happy 99th birthday, Mary !

It may have been one of the coldest days of the year last Sunday, March 12, but nothing was going to stop Mary Vidbergs’ family from celebrating the long-time Essex resident’s 99th birthday in style.

Mary arrived around 11 a.m. at the top of Main Street and was promptly presented with a large bouquet and ‘crowned’ with a tiara.

The family — some of whom braved the bone-chilling temperatures in lederhosen — had planned a surprise for Mary, which involved driving her from the top of Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage down to the Griswold Inn.

Dr. John Pfeiffer of Old Lyme (third from right, front row, in the photo above), who is Mary’s son-in-law as well as Old Lyme’s Town Historian, is well-known for his penchant for wearing shorts in all weathers around town!

She may be 99, but Mary was determined to enjoy the view from her carriage!

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, Mary smiled continuously through the whole adventure and insisted at the end of her ride on thanking the horses for their labors.

An ever-cheerful Mary waved goodbye to the crowd before entering the Griswold Inn where all her family joined her for what we’re sure was a wonderful family party.

Happy 99th, Mary, from all your friends at ValleyNewsNow.com — we’re looking forward to your 100th already!

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Community Music School Announces Pacheco-O’Donnell as Greenleaf Music Award Winner

Santiago Pacheco-O’Donnell

CENTERBROOK — The selection committee for the Carolyn R. Greenleaf Memorial Fund of Community Music School (CMS) has chosen guitarist, vocalist, and pianist as the recipient of the Spring 2017 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.

The award is for a semester of private lessons at Community Music School in Centerbrook and Santiago has chosen to study guitar with CMS’s guitar instructor, John Birt.

An Honor Freshman of Xavier High School, Santiago received his first guitar from his grandmother when he finished first grade, and he’s been playing unstoppably since then. He has attended CMS since 2012, as a guitar student of John Birt for the last four years.

He also studies piano and voice with Greta Moorhead and recently joined the Jazz Ensemble with Tom Briggs. His favorite band is The Beatles.

Outside of CMS, he has played in musicals at St John School in Old Saybrook, performing as a solo singer in last year’s performance. Aside from music, he enjoys soccer, basketball, and archery. Santiago is also an avid photographer and has received many awards at the Chester Fair.

Last summer he volunteered in the children’s section of the Essex Public Library and has been a big supporter of the Valley Shore YMCA’s Community Garden which provides vegetables for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

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. 

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Operation Fuel Turns 40: Energy Assistance Program Says One Dollar Can Make a Difference

Operation Fuel has helped almost 150,000 vulnerable households with over $46 million in energy assistance since the nonprofit program began in 1977.

As Operation Fuel observes its 40th anniversary of providing energy assistance, it is asking Connecticut residents to consider making a donation through its Add-a-Dollar program.

“The Add-a-Dollar program is a great way to donate to Operation Fuel. It is one of several ways that we raise funds to provide energy assistance. When you add just one dollar to your monthly utility bill, it can help to make a difference for families and individuals who are struggling to keep their heat and electricity on,” explains Operation Fuel’s Executive Director Karen Adamson.

Utility customers can add a dollar when they pay their utility bill by check or online. Utility customers who wish to donate more than one dollar or who want to contribute automatically each month to Operation Fuel should contact their utility company.

The Add-a-Dollar program has raised more than $17.5 million to provide energy assistance to over 41,000 Connecticut households since Operation Fuel started the program in late 1983. Operation Fuel uses 100 percent of the donations made to the Add-a-Dollar program for energy assistance.

Connecticut gas and electric utilities, which serve more than 75,000 customers, participate in Operation Fuel’s Add-a-Dollar program.  Some of these utility companies also have a shareholder-matching program that adds additional funds to the money raised through the Add-a-Dollar program.

This past fiscal year, Operation Fuel raised $601,870 through the Add-a-Dollar program; $476,133 from utility customers’ donations and $125,737 in utility provided shareholder-matching funds.

In addition to the Add-a-Dollar program, donations for Operation Fuel can be made online at www.operationfuel.org or mailed to Operation Fuel, 75 Charter Oak Avenue, Suite 2-240, Hartford, CT 06106.

Operation Fuel is a private, nonprofit program that provides emergency energy assistance year-round through its statewide network of 106 fuel banks 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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

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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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Registration 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

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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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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