May 27, 2017

Pratt House Participates in CT Open House Day, June 10; Essex Historical Society Improves Visitor Experience

The historic 1732 Pratt House welcomes visitors for Connecticut Open House Day, June 10, 2017. Photo courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

ESSEX — Essex Historical Society (EHS) shines the spotlight on its historic structures in 2017, focusing its energies on setting the stage for a friendlier, community-centric approach to sharing our stories.  At the historic 1732 Pratt House at 19 West Ave., the town’s only historic house museum, EHS continues to improve the visitor experience, just in time for CT Open House Day, on Saturday, June 10.  It will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. that day; admission is free.

Admission includes the creation of a “pocket park” on the Pratt House grounds along with improved visitor amenities, outdoor lighting and signage and general beautification for a friendly, accessible visitor experience.  Visitors can also enjoy Pratt House’s beautiful grounds, reproduction barn, kitchen gardens, a community garden and museum shop.   

See inside the Pratt House parlor on CT Open House Day, June 10. Photo courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

Open to the public for guided tours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, 1 to 4 p.m., from June through September, Pratt House is staffed entirely by trained volunteer guides or ‘docents.’  In 2017, EHS expanded its volunteer programs to recruit new guides and more are welcome. Those who volunteer their time to support our organization are its lifeblood and our investment in their support and training is critical to our ongoing success. 

Also that afternoon, EHS welcomes the public to the reopening of the Hills Academy History Center, 22 Prospect St., to enjoy its several improvements for visitors and researchers. 

Both beautiful properties serve as historic resources for the entire community, helping EHS live up to its mission of Engaging and Inspiring the Community: Essex. Ivoryton. Centerbrook.   For more information, visit www.essexhistory.org or 860-767-0681. 

Photos:

[Pratt Mantle] and/or [Pratt Exterior]

The historic 1732 Pratt House welcomes visitors for Connecticut Open House Day, June 10, 2017.  Courtesy of Essex Historical Society. 

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2017 Sailing Season Opens at Pettipaug Yacht Club

Dave Courcy, Commodore of the Pettipaug Yacht Club, at the club’s docks.

ESSEX — The Pettipaug Yacht Club held its formal commissioning ceremonies to mark the opening of the 2017 sailing season on Sunday, May 21. The ceremonies were held on the club’s grounds, which are located on the western bank of the Connecticut River in Essex.

Prior to the formal opening of the club’s season, there was a dinghy sailing race at 1 p.m. by club members.

The entrance sign to the Pettipaug Yacht Club welcomes members, guests and PSA students.

All of the 300 plus members of the Pettipaug Yacht Club were invited be attend the formal commissioning ceremonies of the 2017 sailing season held on May 21 at the club’s headquarters on the Connecticut River.

Pettipaug YC sailors will be soon be out again on the waters of the Connecticut River.

The ceremonies were conducted by the Club’s Commodore Dave Courcy and Vice Commodore Katheren Ryan.

Commodore Courcy has served in that position from 2016 to the present.  Prior to that he served as the Vice Commodore and Rear Commodore.

Sailing dinghies mostly used by younger sailors at the Pettipaug Yacht Club.

In addition to being available for the general use of club members, Pettipaug Yacht Club also sponsors the Pettipaug Sailing Academy (PSA) during the summer months, at which young sailors are taught to sail.

The club also sponsors power boat instruction conducted by club member John Kennedy. If interested in joining the power boat classes or for further information, contact Kennedy at Kdesign@snet.net.  Club membership is not required in order to attend the power boat classes.

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Country School Classes Over in June, but Learning Opportunities Continue Through Summer

Recording thoughts in her writer’s notebook for the camp Word Play: Creative Writing at The Country School.

AREAWIDE — Each year the offerings at Country School’s Summer Fun and Learning become more engaging and more popular with area families. Not limited to students at The Country School, we welcome children in grades PreK-8 to our full or half-day week-long programs, all of which take place on our newly appointed 23-acre campus in Madison.

Whether you’re searching for something academic, artistic, or athletic, we’ve got you covered. Country School teachers, outside educators and professionals, athletes, and alumni will present workshops throughout the summer. Academic camps include Scratch, Minecraft and Crafting, 3-D Printing, Beginning Robotics, Robotics for Girls, Intro to Algebra, Word Play Creative Writing, Exploring Media and Technology, Debate, and Learning Olympics. More interested in the arts? Check out Intro to A Cappella, Young Actors’ Workshop, and Art Adventure. Need to release some energy? Multi Sport Camp with Madison Racquet and Swim Club, Soccer with Victory or Shoreline FC, and Running will keep the children moving.

Learn more about these camps at http://www.thecountryschool.org/summer2017. Summer Fun and Learning 2017 – Follow your passions and discover new ones!

Founded in 1955, The Country School serves 200 students in PreSchool-Grade 8 on its 23-acre campus in Madison. The Country School is committed to active, hands-on learning and a vigorous curriculum that engages the whole child. Signature programs such as Elmore Leadership, Public Speaking, STEAM, and Outdoor Education help prepare students for success in high school and beyond. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org.

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Deep River Congregational Church Seeks Vendors for Flea Market & Rummage Sale, Aug 19

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Congregational Church is starting preparations for its annual Flea Market and Rummage Sale, which will be held during the third weekend of August.   The Saturday, Aug. 19, Flea Market is held on Marvin Field and on the grounds around the church.

Spaces are 20 x 20 foot and available for $30; they can be reserved by contacting the church office for a reservation form and map at 860-526-5045 or office.drcc@snet.net or forms can be downloaded from the church web site at www.deeprivercc.org

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Tri-Town Youth Services Announces Summer Co-op Sessions

TRI-TOWN — Tri-Town Youth Services will kick off its Summer Co-op 2017 with Session 1 running June 26-29 and Session 2 running July 10 to 13.  Each day will start at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High St., Deep River.

Session I includes trips to: June 26 – Empower; June 27 – Bowling and Lyman Allen Museum; June 28 – Hammonasset Beach and Meigs Point Nature Center; June 29 – Brownstone.

Session II includes trips to: July 10 – Bushy Hill Nature Center; July 11 – Ocean Beach; July 12 – Launch Trampoline Park and Laser Tag; July 13 – Lake Compounce.

The cost per session is $225. and $200. For additional sibling.  Registration forms are available throughout the tri-town region at elementary schools and at John Winthrop Middle School.  These programs are open to students entering grades 7, 8 and 9 who live in Chester, Deep River, and Essex.

For further information, call Tri-Town Youth Services at 860-526-3600 or visit www.tritownys.org

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Deep River Public Library Introduces Wandoo Reader

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Public Library will be introducing Wandoo Reader, an interactive program to log summer reading. Interested participants can access Wandoo Reader from the library’s home page. There will be a two registration options, one for adults and the other for children. Registration begins June 14. Logging begins on June 28.

Participants can sign up by choosing the “join here” tab and filling in the appropriate information, including choosing a user name and password to access their account. Kids under age 18 will be eligible for prizes and weekly raffles, which include novelties, snacks, craft kits, Avery’s Gross Soda, gift certificates for scoops from the Sweet Shoppe, and cookies at Dough on Main. We will also raffle off an Erector set and a gift certificate to Deep River Pizza.

Wandoo Reader for Kids has a fun interface to help encourage children to complete the Governor’s Reading Challenge. As they log books, participants earn points to modify their adventure character. Wandoo Reader makes it easy for students to keep track of their books. No more lost paper logs – simply print your list of books at summer’s end!

Parents and Adults can enjoy a simpler version of Wandoo Reader. Register and log your reading with Wandoo Reader Adult and become eligible for the end-of-summer raffle, which include gift certificates to local Deep River merchants.

Summer Reading programs are free and open to all. Programs are sponsored by the Friends of the Deep River Public Library, Dough on Main, Deep River Pizza, the Sweet Shoppe and the Hartford Yardgoats.

For more information, visiy http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on our monthly calendar, email the Children’s Department at drplchildrensdept@gmail.com or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pm; Tuesday 10 am – 6 pm; Wednesday 12:30 – 8 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.

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Musical Masterworks, Community Music School Announce New Scholarship

ESSEX/OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks and Community Music School (CMS) have announced a new scholarship to honor the memory of Nancy D. Thomas.

Ms. Thomas was a well-known and beloved piano instructor with Community Music School for 30 years and initiated the Kindermusik program and Kate’s Camp for Kids at CMS.  She influenced the lives of many young musicians and inspired their talents.  “We are thrilled to provide an additional opportunity for young people to study music through this new endeavor and are so honored to have Musical Masterworks by our side in this partnership.” said Abigail Nickell, Executive Director of Community Music School

Ms. Thomas also was on the staff of Musical Masterworks for almost 25 years.  She was fastidious in her responsibilities working with the pianists onstage and was well loved by all.  “Nancy was an indispensable part of Musical Masterworks.  We are delighted to partner with her beloved Community Music School in establishing this scholarship in her name, so that more young people can discover the power of music in their lives. We believe this would have pleased Nancy immensely,” said Alden Rockwell Murphy, President of Musical Masterworks.

Community Music School and Musical Masterworks are pleased to honor her memory with the Musical Masterworks Scholarship in Honor of Nancy D. Thomas, which will provide the tuition for a middle school student to take music lessons, 30 minutes each, for one full year at Community Music School.  The scholarship will be awarded annually for the next five years.  To be eligible, the candidate must be a student of classical voice or instrumental music and reside in Middlesex County or New London County.

Interested students must complete an application and submit an audio recording of two pieces of classical music in contrasting styles as well as a written recommendation.  A three-member jury comprised of representatives of both Community Music School and Masterworks will review applications.

The application deadline for the scholarship is June 16, 2017, and the scholarship recipients will be notified mid-summer. To learn more and to obtain an application, contact Community Music School at (860) 767-0026.

Editor’s Notes: Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 34-year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.  Learn more at www.community-music-school.org or call 860.767.0026.

Musical Masterworks brings to Southern New England world-class chamber music performances and outreach programs which attract, entertain, and educate a diverse audience. Now planning its 27th season, Musical Masterworks offers five weekends of performances from October through May in Old Lyme.  Learn more by visiting www.musicalmasterworks.org or by calling 860.434.2252.

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Run for Chris 5K Partners With Valley Shore YMCA This Year, Free Registration for Kids Under 14 Before June 1

Tony Sharillo of Middletown and son complete the Run for Chris last year.

AREAWIDE — The 6th Annual Run For Chris 5K, With The Y will be held Saturday, June 24, in Essex, Conn., starting at Town Hall. Of note is the addition of “With the Y” to the run’s name, reflecting this year’s official partnering with the Valley Shore YMCA. The YMCA will bring a family aspect to this already great race and continue to have The Run for Chris kick off the Y’s Run Club’s race season as their featured race.

To encourage families to race together, all children under 14 can register for free before June 1.  This fun family event, which includes a Kids’ Fun Run, face painting, music and games, is truly a great way to spend some quality family time together.

For those 5K runners who are looking for a great race this June, this is a terrific course passes thru historic Essex with beautiful views of the Connecticut River. Awards and food for the runners, as well as a great raffle, round out the morning’s festivities.

The race is held in memory of Christopher Belfoure, a 2005 graduate of Valley Regional High School (VRHS), with all the proceeds benefitting The Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County.

While a student at Valley, Chris went on several school trips abroad. Chris went on to major in History and Chinese Studies at West Virginia University, where he spent a considerable amount of time studying abroad in China and became fluent in Mandarin.

Influenced by his own life-altering journeys, Chris was passionate about encouraging others to also broaden their horizons and follow their own paths. Sadly Chris lost his life at the age of 24, so to keep his inspiration and passion alive The Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund was established in 2011.

The fund is intended to perpetuate Chris’s vision by helping local area high school students travel abroad.  A race participant added this perspective about the run, “I think the race is also quite indicative of the ups, downs and flat stretches in life we all face from time to time. You have a wonderful foundation that celebrates the life of Chris, and which seeks to help others. That is incredibly admirable.”

To date 142 VRHS students have benefited from the Fund, traveling to such places as Costa Rica, France and Spain, for a total of $9,145 in grants. On April 24 students departed for Paris, supported by a $3,000 grant from the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund, which is made possible by proceeds from the run and from its sponsors.

To register for the Run, go to www.aratrace.com.  For more information, contact George Chapin, Race Director, at george_c@snet.net.

Visit the website @ www.chrisbel4mf.com

Photos Courtesy of Roger U. Williams

Caption:

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‘Olive Oyl’s’ Plans Uptown Move Soon, Possibly June

A cheerful Kevin Kendall, co-owner of Olive Oyl’s in Essex, stands at the counter in the current shop.

ESSEX — Olive Oyl’s, a favorite sandwich shop in Essex, presently located at 77 Main Street, will be changing its address as early as this coming June, according to Kevin Kendall, who co-owns the shop with his wife Jennifer. The shop’s new location will be at 6 Main Street in Essex and the shop there will be considerably larger than the current one.

A flag waves above the entrance to the current Olive Oyl’s shop at 77 Main Street in Essex.

For several weeks, workmen at the new location have been modernizing the present structure and also resurfacing the paved driveway at the front of the store.

Olive Oyl’s new home at 6 Main Street.

Olive Oyl’s move to a new and much larger location in Essex up Main Street can be seen as a clear plus for the town of Essex. It will likely draw more visitors to that section of town though passengers arriving in Essex by boat will have a little further to walk up Main Street to make their purchases … but the delicious offerings at their destination will surely be worth the effort!

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‘Small Gems’ on View at Maple & Main

‘Black-eyed Susans and cherries’ by Claudia Van Nes of Chester.

CHESTER — During May, Maple and Main is devoting its Stone Gallery to a new type of exhibit for the gallery: each unique painting in the show will be 8”x 8” in dimension and sell for $200.

The 60 or so paintings were created especially for this show by Maple and Main artists in a wide selection of styles and medium.

An opening party for the Small Gems: 8”x8” show will be Friday, May 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. which is First Friday in Chester as well as the town’s annual May Daze Stroll.

The gallery will serve wine and Mexican dips in a nod to Cinco de Mayo which is also May 5.  All other galleries, shops and restaurants in Chester will also be open offering food, drink and special events.

The Small Gems show runs from May 6 through May 31.

‘Nocturnal Light’ by Rachel Carlson of Deep River

Maple and Main, at One Maple Street, is open Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., Friday, noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Contact the gallery at Mapleandmaingallery.com, 860-526-6065 or on Facebook and Instagram.

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CT Audubon RTPEC Offers Estuary Explorations Saturday Mornings

Osprey in flight. Photo by Brock Graham.

AREAWIDE — The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is offering a new program of Saturday morning field trips to natural areas along the lower Connecticut River starting May 6.

Estuary Explorations will be led by PhD ecologist Paul Spitzer, a protégé of internationally recognized naturalist and painter, Roger Tory Peterson. Each exploration will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the possibility of extending the field tripinto the afternoon, depending on the participants’ interest.

The fee for each field trip is $30 per person ($25 per student) and registration is required. To register, visit this link.

Estuary Explorations will give participants a chance to learn about the Lower Connecticut River Estuary’s ecosystems and wildlife as the year progresses from the peak bird migratory season of May, through high summer, and into the late fall.

Paul Spitzer. Photo courtesy of Paul Spitzer.

Spitzer has designed the programs to follow in the footsteps of one of the 20th century’s most famous naturalists, field guide author and illustrator Roger Tory Peterson, who spent his adult life painting in his studio in Old Lyme and examining the flora and fauna of the Connecticut River Estuary and the world.

Spitzer will showcase some of Peterson’s favorite natural sites and share his extensive knowledge of the ecology of the region. Spitzer plans to lead these explorations at a “Thoreauvian saunter,” moving slowly to appreciate many of the birds, plants, and insects that Peterson once enjoyed.

While Old Lyme tends to be recognized for its scenic views and historic artist colony and arts culture, it is also situated at an important ecological hub in New England — the meeting of the waters. In this species-rich estuary, the fresh water of the vast Connecticut River and Long Island Sound mix, resulting in a wealth of natural life.

Spitzer learned his natural history while growing up in the Connecticut River Valley. He is a graduate of Old Lyme High School and continued up the river to attend Wesleyan University. He later earned his PhD in ecological sciences from Cornell University.

More recently, he has studied the now substantial Connecticut River Estuary Osprey colony as a “biomonitor” of migratory menhaden abundance, the Osprey’s preferred food source. Spitzer advocates for sustainable management practices of this keystone fish for its ecosystem, economic, and societal functions.

Working alongside Spitzer will be Old Saybrook native, Jim Arrigoni. Arrigoni has worked as a fisheries biologist in Washington State and developed protocols to evaluate stream water quality in Hong Kong. Most recently, he has taught cultural and aquatic ecology classes at Goodwin College, and he is currently completing a PhD on the conservation value of restored wetlands.

Spitzer has studied Ospreys for 50 years, his research beginning here in the Connecticut River Estuary. By the 1970’s, the impact of DDT in the ecosystem whittled the local Osprey colony down to one active nest. Spitzer was instrumental in the recovery of this important keystone species to these waters.

“The Connecticut River Ospreys are our iconic story of revival from the brink,” said Spitzer. “These guided and educational field trips will open a world of discovery about nature’s profusion in this extraordinary bioregion.”

“Migrant and resident species of the estuary watershed are particularly exciting to observe in May. I will provide up-close and expansive views of the natural world from salt marshes to Yellow Warblers in particularly beautiful places.”

After meeting at the Old Lyme I-95 Park and Ride (Exit 70), participants will enjoy three hours of ecological exploration followed by a brown bag lunch and guided discussion in the field.  Spitzer is also willing to offer optional afternoon sessions gauged by the stamina and interest of the participants.

Beyond the four Saturdays in May, the field trips will occur monthly through November.

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Region 4 Budget Passes by 100 Votes

The Region 4 proposed 2017-18 budget passed comfortably today with totals of 429 Yes votes to 329 No votes.

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Tri-Towns Observe ‘High on Life’ Week to Raise Substance Abuse Awareness, May 1-6

Celebrated annually throughout Chester, Deep River, and Essex, the annual High on Life Week is being observed this week, May 1-6, according to the wishes of the three select persons of Chester, Deep River and Essex respectively, Lauren Gister, Angus McDonald and Norm Needleman, who have signed the following Proclamation:

CT State Police report that alcohol and marijuana continue to be used prevalently by young people under 20 in our community.  A recent survey of youth indicates that nearly 40% of Valley students use alcohol and about 24% use marijuana regularly.  There are also emerging concerns that teens are using prescription drugs recreationally, often with alcohol. 

Unfortunately, the communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex are not immune to the current opioid crisis in our nation.  Our Resident State Troopers concur that heroin is now the most common drug found among adults over 25 in our towns.  Drugs and alcohol affect all of us.  Our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends or family members are caught in cycles of using substances to feel better but ultimately succumbing to addiction.

We cannot retreat from any opportunity to enlighten, to inform, and to gain the support of all residents as we work together to ensure that our young people and future generations escape the consequences of lives ruled by substance abuse.

The week of May 1-6 will be such an opportunity.  Tri-Town Youth Services will sponsor the 28th annual substance abuse awareness week to educate our communities about drug and alcohol use and abuse and to help people see that life can be enjoyed to its fullest without drugs.

Our unifying theme this year is: “Self-Esteem”.  The week’s events will include coordinated school assemblies, fun youth activities and community-wide discussions about substance abuse and other addictive behaviors.  Residents are encouraged to attend a Community Breakfast on May 10 from 8-9:30 a.m. at Camp Hazen to discuss local drug trends, share concerns, talk with neighbors about underlying causes and share ideas for connecting with youth and supporting healthy decisions.

Therefore, in recognition of this vital cooperative effort, we, the first selectmen of Chester, Deep River, and Essex, designate May 1-6, 2017 as our tri-town prevention and awareness week and a celebration of our lives free of substance abuse.  We sincerely urge all members of our communities to participate in this week’s important activities.

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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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Essex Meadows Announces Lifelong Learning Affiliation with Wesleyan University, Courses Open to Public Start May 13

Courses Offer Opportunities for Continuing Education, Intellectual Growth and Socialization

ESSEX – Essex Meadows, in affiliation with Wesleyan University, announces a series of lifelong learning sessions hosted by the retirement community. With intellectually stimulating courses geared toward historians, art aficionados and more, these lifelong learning opportunities will promote cultural ties with the community.

Beginning Saturday, May 13, the classes and interactive learning sessions will focus on a host of topics, taught by Wesleyan faculty members. “Research has shown that adults who engage in intellectual and artistic endeavors feel more connected to their local community,” said Susan Carpenter, director of community life services at Essex Meadows.

She continued, “Whether your passion is history, art, or lifelong learning, in general, this affiliation allows us to offer some wonderful opportunities to broaden one’s knowledge base.”

Rick Friswell, associate director of the Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning, says the topics will cover a variety of content. “Learning is limitless and we’re excited about the content we’ll be covering at Essex Meadows,” he said. “We’re exploring these important topics in a way that should spark curiosity and discussion, and we’re really excited about this affiliation.”

The first course will focus on World War I, and will include a 1957 film on the topic, as well as lecture and discussion.

These events are open to the public, with costs associated with some of the courses.

Schedule of Courses

  • Saturday, May 13:
    One Day University – The Great War to End All Wars $125
  • Thursday, June 8:
    Lecture – The Epic of Gilgamesh No Charge
  • Wednesday, July 12:
    Field Trip – Yale Center for British Art $45
  • Thursday, September 7:
    Mini Course – Three Places in New England: A Guided Tour Through 19th Century Art and Literature $100
  • Sunday, October 29:
    Melodrama – Dark and Stormy Nights: Gothic Fiction and Romantic Music No Charge

To register, contact Susan Carpenter, director of community life services, at carpenters@essexmeadows.com or 860-767-4578, ext. 5156. Checks should be made payable to Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning. Visit www.essexmeadows.com/events to learn more.

Essex Meadows is located at 30 Bokum Road, Essex, CT 06426.

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 lifecare, 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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One Weekend, Three New Eagle Scouts for Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 celebrates three new Eagles Scouts. From left to right, James Rutty, Samuel Rutty, Zane Bouregy. Photo by Michael Rutty.

CHESTER/DEEP RIVER — Troop 13 – Boy Scouts of America would like to congratulate two Chester brothers and one Centerbrook resident on earning the rank of Eagle Scout. These Eagle Scouts completed projects in the towns of Chester and Haddam Neck.    All the work completed benefits residents and visitors to both towns.

To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must earned 21 merit badges and advance through the seven scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community.  One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the Scout’s community, school, or religious institution; all of this work must be completed prior to the young man’s 18th birthday.

James H. Rutty’s  Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan to construct a prayer garden patio with benches and peace pole at the United Church of Chester, allowing residents and visitors a place for quiet reflection and prayer. James was awarded the rank at a joint Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony with his brother Samuel on March 18, 2017 at the United Church of Chester.  Since joining Troop 13, James has earned 85 Merit Badges.  James is a junior at Saint Bernard School in Uncasville, CT.

Samuel M. Rutty’s Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan to raise funds and construct twenty eight foot wood and concrete memorial benches at the Haddam Neck Fairgrounds, providing attendees a place to rest and enjoy the fair.  Sam was awarded the rank at a joint Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony with his brother James on March 18, 2017 at the United Church of Chester.  Since joining Troop 13, Sam has earned 70 Merit Badges.  Samuel is a freshman at Saint Bernard School in Uncasville, CT.

Zane F. Bouregey’s  Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan to replace the flagpole, restore the veterans memorial at Cedar Lake and hold a rededication ceremony on December 28, 2016.  Zane was awarded the rank at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor held March 19, 2017 at the Deep River Town Hall.  Since joining Troop 13, Zane has earned 46 Merit Badges.  Zane is a senior at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, CT.

We offer our congratulations to these fine, young men!

Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun.

To learn more information about joining Troop 13, contact Scoutmaster Steven Merola at 860-526-9262

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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; 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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Cappella Cantorum, Con Brio Hosts ‘Summer Sing’ of Mozart’s Requiem, June 12

AREAWIDE — Cappella Cantorum and Con Brio host their first Summer Sing of the season with Mozart’s “Requiem” on Monday, June 12, 7 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 56 Great Hammock Rd., Old Saybrook. This session will be conducted by Rachael Allen of Westbrook High School.

All singers are welcome to perform in this read-through of a great choral work. Professional soloists often participate.

The event is co-sponsored by Cappella Cantorum and Con Brio. A $10 fee covers the costs of the event. Scores will be available, and the church is air-conditioned. The next Summer Sing on Monday, June 19, will be conducted by Barry Asch of Cappella Cantorum directing the Lord Nelson Mass, by Haydn.

For more information call (860) 767-9409 or (203)530-0002   or visit www.cappellacantorum.org or www.conbrio.org

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Trump & North Korea: War or Peace in Asia? Gordon Chang Presents at SECWAC Meeting, June 6

Tickets $20 for General Public, Free for Students

Gordon G. Chang. (Photo from gordonchang.com)

AREAWIDE – The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) has announced that author and political commentator Gordon G. Chang will present an address entitled “Trump and North Korea: War or Peace in Asia?” at the upcoming SECWAC meeting at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School on Tuesday, June 6, at 6 p.m. 

His speech will address the current situation in volatile North Asia where four nuclear powers – North Korea; its traditional friends, China and Russia; and the United States – are confronting one another. 

For decades, there has been an uneasy peace on the Korean peninsula, yet the reasons for this stability are disappearing.  The regime in Pyongyang is increasingly shaky and prone to taking risky actions; Washington no longer believes it has the time to tolerate North Korea’s weaponization program; and it appears that, in a few years, the North will be able to mate a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile that will be able to strike the lower 48 states. 

Chang is the author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World.” He contributes regularly to the “Daily Beast,” Forbes.com and the World Affairs Council blog.  His writings on China and North Korea have appeared in the “New York Times,” “Wall Street Journal,” “Far Eastern Economic Review” and many other news publications. He has appeared in interviews on CNN, MSNBC, BBC and PBS – among numerous other media outlets.  He has also been called upon to brief the CIA, the State Department, the Pentagon and other government agencies and committees.

SECWAC meetings are free to members. Tickets are $20 for the general public, free for area students, and can be obtained at info@secwac.org. (Ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership.)  Chang’s speech at 6 p.m.will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. reception at at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.

The presentation is a part of the SECWAC Speaker Series.  SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America.  Its mission is to foster an understanding of issues related to foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate and educational programming. 

Through its annual Speaker Series, SECWAC arranges up to 10 presentations a year that provide a public forum for dialogue between its members and experts on foreign relations.  Membership information is available at www.secwac.org

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Community Music School Presents ‘A Concert in the Park’ in Downtown Essex, June 4

ESSEX – Bring your blanket, lawn chair, and picnic basket and enjoy an entertaining concert presented by the Community Music School (CMS) on Sunday, June 4, from 4-6 pm at the Main Street Park Gazebo in Essex. Three CMS student groups will be performing, including the New Horizons Band, New Horizons Brass Ensemble, and the CMS Jazz Ensemble.

Featured pieces include jazz and folk standards, Broadway tunes, and music from the American Songbook. The rain location is St. John’s Episcopal Church located at Main and Cross Streets in Essex.  The concert will be free of charge and open to the public.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 34 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

Learn more at www.community-music-school.org or call (860)767-0026.

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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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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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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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