August 21, 2014

Six Firms Express Interest in Building on Deep River Industrial Land

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen is expected to decide next month on three firms that would be given an opportunity to construct industrial buildings on a recently acquired town-owned industrial parcel on the western side of the Plattwood Park Industrial Area.

Six firms submitted letters on interest for use of the industrial land last month. The firms are Top Notch Electrical Services LLC, Winthrop Toll and Tackle LLC, Interpro, Colaner Inc., and Olsen Sanitation Co., all of Deep River, and Moyers Landscaping Services LLC of Killingworth.

The town purchased the four-acre parcel earlier this year from local resident Gary Mislick at a appraised price of $270,000. The land is to be paid for in three installments, using revenue generated from the two town-owned small business incubator buildings on Industrial Park Road. The buildings, which are usually fully occupied with tenants, were constructed using Small Cities Program grant funds, with the first building completed in the late 1990s, and the second about a decade ago.

Smith said engineers with the Chester firm Nathan Jacobson Associates have determined up to three new industrial buildings could be constructed on the parcel, two larger buildings of up to 12,00 square-feet, and a small 5,000 square-foot building. He said contracts would require a start of construction within six months of signing.

The new industrial buildings are expected to generate tax revenue on buildings, equipment and machinery, along with creating new jobs for area residents. Smith said the board would discuss, and possibly act, on the proposals at its July 8 meeting.

Robert Siegrist of Haddam is New Republican Candidate in 36th House District

AREAWIDE— Robert Siegrist of Haddam has been nominated as the Republican challenger in the 36th house District after the candidate nominated at the party convention last month, Chester Harris of Haddam Neck, withdrew to run for lieutenant governor on a conservative petition ticket.

Siegrist, 31, stepped forward and was nominated last week by a vacancy committee made up of delegates from the May 14convention. He will challenge incumbent Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex in the Nov. 4 election. The district is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Delegates at the convention had nominated Harris, who had run unsuccessfully for state representative in the district in 2010. But earlier this month Harris decided to run for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Joseph Visconti of West Hartford. Visconti had run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination but failed to muster enough delegates at the May 17 GOP State Convention to qualify for the Aug. 12 primary. The Visconti-Harris ticket must file petitions signed by at least 7,200 registered voters by an Aug. 6 deadline to gain a spot on the statewide ballot.

Siegrist is the secretary of the Haddam Republican Town Committee. A 2001 graduate of Haddam-Killingworth High School, he graduated from Quinnipiac University in Hamden with a degree in political science. Siegrist, who is single, currently works as a bartender at the Brush Mill Restaurant in Chester.

Siegrist said Tuesday he is planned to wage an active, “but positive,” campaign for the Nov. 4 vote. Miller, who served as Essex first selectman from 2003-2011, was elected as state representative in a Feb. 2011 special election. Miller was re-elected for a full two-year term in 2012.

Saybrook Point Inn Sponsors Sea Scouts at CRM Boat Building Workshop

Commodore Marshall Parsons of the Sea Scouts and Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina shake hands to commemorate the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina’s sponsorship. The sponsorship will allow several Sea Scouts to take part in the Connecticut River Museum’s public Boat Building Workshop to be held in August. From left to right: Reggie Walden of Old Saybrook, Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parson, Steve Taglietela, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook and Cameron Fogg of Old Saybrook.

Commodore Marshall Parsons of the Sea Scouts and Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina shake hands to commemorate the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina’s sponsorship. The sponsorship will allow several Sea Scouts to take part in the Connecticut River Museum’s public Boat Building Workshop to be held in August. From left to right: Reggie Walden of Old Saybrook, Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parson, Steve Taglietela, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook and Cameron Fogg of Old Saybrook.

The Connecticut River Museum is pleased to announce that it has received a sponsorship from the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina that will allow Sea Scouts to build a CRM 12 skiff as part of a public three-day workshop in August.  The 12’ skiff is reflective of the traditional boats that were built locally in the late 19th and early 20th century.  With great versatility, these skiffs were used for fishing, rowing and sailing on the River and in the tidal marshes and tributaries.

After hearing that the Museum was piloting a summer boat building workshop for families and adults, Stephen Tagliatela (2012 “RiverMan” of the Year), managing partner of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina wanted to make a difference by sponsoring a boat that the local Sea Scout crew members could build.  Tagliatela’s father was an Eagle Scout and built model power and sail boats.  Two of the models won awards in the New York Boat Show of 1939 and are now displayed in Saybrook Point Inn’s restaurant, Fresh Salt.  He said “It is important to provide opportunities to our future adults and leaders.”  Tagliatela went on to say that “building a boat creates a sense of accomplishment and helps to develop the critical life skills of problem solving and teamwork.”

Since 1912 Sea Scouts has been part of the Boy Scouts of America.  Sea Scouts is a coed program offered to young adults 14 years (or 13 years and completed the eighth grade) through age 21. This youth maritime training program is organized to address members’ boating skills and promote knowledge of America’s maritime heritage.  The Scout units are called “Ships”.  The local Ship out of Westbrook is captained by AJ Maxwell. For more information about Sea Scouts, contact the New England Sea Scout Flotilla Commodore Marshall Parsons at twinpars@earthlink.net and/or 860-938-7681.  Mr. Parsons is excited to have this opportunity and noted that “we are opening this up to a limited number of parents and teenagers who would like to know more about Sea Scouts.”

The three-day boat building workshop that the Connecticut River Museum is offering for families and adults will be held on August 22 – 24.  Participants can either do the workshop as individuals or as a group (up to four people).  There is no previous boat building experience required to build one of these kits.  However, organizers do expect that participants will have basic woodworking knowledge.

Space is extremely limited for the boat building workshop.  Participants must be at least 10 years old (13 if they are doing it as part of the Sea Scout program) and accompanied by an adult.  The deadline to register is Monday, July 14.  The $1,500 program fee includes all the supplies needed to build the CRM 12, oars, and instruction.  By the end of the weekend, participants will have a nearly completed boat (all but paint) that is ready to take home. The basic kit is designed to be rowed.  However, a sailing conversion kit and sail is available for an additional cost.  Paul Kessinger, owner of Madison Kit Builders, has donated and constructed a CRM 12 that is now on display at the Museum for those interested in seeing the final product. Thanks to the generous donation of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, there is no cost toSea Scouts. For more information, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

The Sea Scouts gathered at the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Tagliatela, Chris Dobbs and Boat Building Volunteers to celebrate the sponsorship. The Scouts will be one of the groups that take part in the public Boat Building Workshop held at the Museum in August. Left to right: Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parsons, Museum Director Chris Dobbs, Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, Paul Kessinger of Madison, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook, Skipper AJ Maxwell of Chester and Tom Doggart of Niantic.

The Sea Scouts gathered at the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Tagliatela, Chris Dobbs and Boat Building Volunteers to celebrate the sponsorship. The Scouts will be one of the groups that take part in the public Boat Building Workshop held at the Museum in August. Left to right: Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parsons, Museum Director Chris Dobbs, Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, Paul Kessinger of Madison, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook, Skipper AJ Maxwell of Chester and Tom Doggart of Niantic.

 

A Brand New Theatre Group Starting at The Ivoryton Playhouse

The Ivoryton Players director, Joyce Beauvais

The Ivoryton Players director, Joyce Beauvais

Ivoryton:  We are so excited to announce a brand new program at the Ivoryton Playhouse starting in July. The Ivoryton Players is an opportunity for adults who love the theatre to have fun, meet new friends and put on a show!

You will learn about professional theater while preparing and rehearsing for a staged reading with the performance on 12/09/14 on the Ivoryton Playhouse Stage!  All levels of experience or no experience are welcome.  Here comes the fun …  NO MEMORIZING!

If you are interested in performing again in your life or it is on your bucket list to see what it’s like to be “in the theater”, here’s your chance. If you want to be a part of this fun group but would prefer to be involved in the backstage work essential to a great show, there are props, costumes, set design, stage managing, publicity, understudies and more.

We will be performing a riotous comedy to be announced.  The first meeting will include a welcome packet for all, an overview of the club and some hilarious get-acquainted improvisations.  We will then start the rehearsal process in the next meetings.

The Ivoryton Players director is Joyce Beauvais.  Joyce, after settling in CT, currently runs this program in Old Saybrook and also starting in East Lyme.  Ms Beauvais brings with her a lifetime in the theater performing her first professional role at age seven.  She lived in NYC for over 25 years as an actress in stage, TV and film, also a Broadway and Off-Broadway producer and 5 years as owner and operator of Chez Beauvais, Restaurant and Cabaret.  Chez Beauvais was a boite on Tenth Ave., NYC offering fine cuisine and the best of New York City jazz.  She partnered with uber agents Jack Rollins and Jane Rollins.  After moving to FL she continued to perform as an actress but also developed this program that today will be the Ivoryton Players.  “The mix of people and experience”, Joyce finds, “turns into the magic one only finds in theater”.  Joyce promises this will be one of the times of your life!

Sign up now for our very first meeting of the Ivoryton Players.  We begin Monday, July 18th from 1:00 to 3:30PM (time flexible according to membership needs) and will meet every Monday up till the show at the Playhouse Rehearsal Studio, 24 Main Street, Centerbrook. Call Krista at 860-767-9520, ext 205 to register.

There is limited enrollment and only a $5 charge per class (funding available for those who need it), so come and join us.  I promise you, after one meeting you’ll be hooked!

Letter: OS Economic Development Commission – Become Informed About Preserve

To the Editor:
In Preparation for the Upcoming Town Meeting to discuss the ‘Preserve’ which is currently scheduled to occur on June 30th, the Economic Development Commission of Old Saybrook believes that it is important for the town be properly informed regarding the ‘Preserve’ purchase. We have the following questions which we hope will be answered at the upcoming meeting:

1. If hunting is allowed, how will it be regulated? Are you comfortable having hunting here? What types of ammunition will be allowed?
2. What is the exact cost per taxpayer?
3. Has anyone from Old Saybrook approached Lehman Brothers directly regarding an outright purchase by Old Saybrook? What would OS purchasing the land itself cost dealing directly with Lehman Brothers? What would $3,000,000 buy without the state’s added investment?
4. Why is the State interested in investing into the ‘Preserve’?
5. What are the Pro’s and Con’s to this purchase?

We encourage residents to attend the meeting come prepared with your own questions. “If you have all the facts the decision will make itself.”
Respectfully,
Old Saybrook Economic Development Commission

Extension of Connecticut River Paddleway Celebrated at Gillette Castle in Lyme

The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC), along with the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Vermont River Conservancy, launched the extension of the Connecticut River Paddler’s Trail into Massachusetts and Connecticut at Lyme’s Gillette Castle State Park last Saturday, June 21.

The Council, along with project leaders from the other two organizations, unveiled the plan for the expanded trail, which currently just serves Vermont and New Hampshire.

“We’re excited to be a part of a collaborative effort to enhance this resource for those who paddle our great river,” said Andrew Fisk, CRWC Executive Director. “This trail is an investment for those who are enthusiastic about being out on the water, and the 410-mile journey from the river’s source to the sea is one of New England’s iconic adventures.”

The Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail is managed by a collaborative of organizations working together on trail planning and development, building and stewarding primitive campsites, improving access points and portage trails, and disseminating information to visitors.

canoes

Steve Grant, a Pulitzer-prize nominated journalist, spoke at the Celebration. Jim Dina, an intrepid explorer and author of The Voyage of the Ant, was also a featured guest. The two guests have deep connections with the river. Grant has worked as an outdoor and environmental reporter for the Hartford Courant for over 29 years and wrote a 17-part chronicle of his journey from the headwaters of the Connecticut River down to the Sound. Dina’s work, The Voyage of the Ant, relays his experience paddling up the Connecticut River in his birchbark canoe, made using Native American tools and techniques.

The Celebration also included the presentation of the Bud Foster Award and lunch on site at the state park.

Many of those present launched their canoes and kayaks at the ferry landing and paddled down to Selden Island State Park on the Lyme shore of the Conn River.

For more about the Paddlers’ Trail, visit www.ConnecticutRiverPaddlersTrail.org.

The CRWC works to protect the watershed from source to sea. As stewards of this heritage, it celebrates the River as a four-state treasure and collaborates, educates, organize, restores and intervenes to preserve its health for generations to come.

To learn more about CRWC, or to make a contribution to help protect the Connecticut River, visit www.ctriver.org or call 413-772-2020, ext. 201.

For more information, visit http://www.ctriver.org/river-celebration-announces-launch-of-expanded-connecticut-river-paddlers-trail/#sthash.nP6eiSVf.dpuf

Deep River P&Z has New Application and New Lawsuit for Main Street Property

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission has a new special permit application for a used car dealership at the 444 Main St. property owned by local resident George Bartlett Jr., and also faces a new lawsuit filed by Bartlett over amendments to zoning regulations for motor vehicle dealerships that were approved by the commission last month.

The lawsuit and the permit application that is scheduled for a July 17 public hearing are the latest developments in two years of disputes over Bartlett’s plans for the former manufacturing site on the west side of Main St. (Route 154) that he purchased in February 2012.

A June 2012 zoning board of appeals approval of a six-foot variance of the 150-foot road frontage requirement for motor vehicle dealerships in the Turnpike Interchange Zone led to a split between the ZBA and the planning and zoning commission, and a subsequent lawsuit filed by Bartlett against the ZBA after it clarified the limits of the variance approval. The initial lawsuit is now the subject of settlement negotiations

But Bartlett, represented by Essex lawyer John Bennet, earlier this month filed a new lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court challenging the commission’s approval  in May of amendments to the town’s zoning regulations governing motor vehicle sales and repair operations, and also gasoline stations, in the Turnpike Interchange Zone. After presenting the changes at a May 1 public hearing, the commission on May 15 approved amendments that removed the 150-foot road frontage requirement for such uses, while also adding new setback and paving requirements for the uses.

Entrances to motor vehicle sales and service operations, and gasoline stations, would be required to be 30-feeet wide, and have a 30-foot setback from any adjoining property line. Paving would be required for areas where there would be outside storage of motor vehicles.

Bennet contends in the new lawsuit that zoning amendments would make development of the 444 Main St. parcel for a used car dealership “virtually impossible” due to the “extraordinary setback provisions.” of the amendment. The lawsuit also contends commission members and Zoning Enforcement Officer Cathy Jefferson have “personal animus and prejudice,” against Bartlett.

Jefferson said this week the commission was simply trying to update the regulations for vehicle dealerships and gasoline stations that had not been revised for more than a decade. She said removal of the road frontage requirement was actually an effort to help Bartlett, while also addressing concerns about safe access and paving to contain any possible leakage of motor fuels and other fluids.

Jefferson said Bartlett’s new application for a dealership on the 444 Main St. parcel would be considered under the earlier regulations, and will go forward to a public hearing on July 17 separate from the latest lawsuit over the amendments.

Essex Island Marina to be Sold to the Highest Bidder at Auction on Tuesday, August 5

A bird's eye view of the Essex Island Marina

A bird’s eye view of the Essex Island Marina. (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneer)

One of the land marks of the Town of Essex, the Essex Island Marina, will be sold at auction on Tuesday, August 5. The auction will be held at the Essex Island Marina, which is located on its very own island, and which has the address of 11 Ferry Street in Essex. The auction will start at 11:00 a.m.

The Essex Island Marina will be sold at what is called an “Absolute Auction.” This means that the marina will be sold to the winning bidder, regardless of the price, as long as it is over $75,000.

A representative of JJ Manning, the company which is conducting the auction, was asked if this is not a dangerous strategy to open with such a low price. The representative said that in the long run, “having a low, opening price frequently attracts the highest sales price for the property.”

The Essex Island Marina’s property consists of 13.2 plus, acres on a private island on the Connecticut River. The site has 125 boat slips, a gas dock, a repair shop, a laundry, a swimming pool, a dog walk, and inside and outside boat storage facilities. There is also a restaurant on the site. In addition, the sale includes the boats used to take passengers to and from the island, and miscellaneous equipment and leases.

Property Tour on July 22

Boat storage at the marina (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneers)

Boat storage at the marina (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneers)

There will be a tour of the site for prospective bidders on Tuesday, July 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Terms for the winning big include: payment of a 10% certified deposit of the winning bid, due within three business days of auction, and payment of the full price of the bid, 45 days after the close of the auction.

JJ Manning, conductor of the auction, bills itself as, “the leading professional auction marketing firm in the Northeast U.S.” The company is headquartered in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.

Marina Is Presently Family Owned

The present owner of the Essex Island Marina is Wallie Schieferdecker, who lives in Essex. Schieferdecker operates the marina with the assistance of his two daughters, Dawn and Kyle.

Paul Risseeu, the Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy in Essex, and who occasionally operates the ferry from the main land to the Essex Island Marina, says that the Essex Island Marina, “is a class operation.”  Risseuw also observes that, “the yacht business has been tough lately, because people are moving to owning smaller boats.” Also, “it is part of the five year recession in the country,” he says.

Editor’s Note:  Justin J. Manning, President of the Auctioneer Firm J.J. Manning, has provided the following clarification of the auction process: “The auction is Absolute, which means that it sells to the highest bidder, period.  The $75,000 is merely the initial deposit made by the buyer on auction day, not the starting bid.  This Marina appraised 14 years ago for $1.23 million and would likely appraise today for well over $2 million.  The real estate tax appraisal in $1.53 million.”

Essex Board of Appeals Continues Public Hearing on Cease and Desist Order for 33 Plains Road Property

ESSEX— The zoning board of appeals has continued the public hearing on an appeal of a town cease and desist order for alleged zoning violations at 33 Plains Road. The hearing will resume at the board’s next meeting on July 15.

Property owner John Finkeldey is appealing a cease and desist order issued last January by Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow for a structure that Budrow maintains was constructed without zoning and building permits from the town. Budrow also maintains the structure is being used as a dwelling on a section  of the property that is located in the town’s limited industrial zone, where residential dwellings are not permitted under zoning regulations.

Tuesday’s session was continued from May 20 to allow for completion of a detailed current survey map of the property. But local attorney Terrance Lomme, representing Finkeldey, told the board he did not receive the survey in time for the meeting. Lomme said the survey map is “critical,” and asked for a continuation of the public hearing.
Lomme also serves as the elected judge of probate for a nine town region that includes Essex. Elected to the newly created position in 2010, Lomme, a Democrat, is seeking a second four-year term in the Nov. 4 election.

While granting the continuance, board members also asked Budrow to begin presenting his case for the order. Budrow said he learned of the structure in June 2013 based on information provided by a town police officer. Budrow said Finkeldey later maintained the structure had been in place for more than three years, which could make it a legal non-confirming use if there was no town enforcement action taken within that time.

Budrow said further investigation, including reviews of town records and aerial photos, confirmed the structure has not been in place on the property for more than three years.  “Clearly we have a second house on a property with another house,” he said.

Peter Sipples, lawyer for the zoning commission, said the panel is most concerned about use of the structure as a dwelling in the limited industrial zone. Sipples said the residential use would have to have been active before 1973, when the regulation on limited industrial zones was adopted, to have valid nonconforming status.

Michael Wells, lawyer for the ZBA, told Lomme he should be prepared to present documentary evidence the structure was built before January 2011, three years before the issuance of the cease and desist order, when the public hearing resumes next month.

Essex Sets July 16 Town Meeting for $200,000 Contribution to Preserve Land Purchase

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has scheduled a July 16 town meeting to vote on a $200,000 appropriation that would be the town’s contribution towards the planned $8.1 million purchased of the 1,000-acre Preserve property that includes 70 wooded acres in Essex. The town meeting vote in contingent on referendum approval in Old Saybrook of a $3 million bonding authorization that would be that town’s contribution to the total land purchase.

Under a plan announced earlier this spring by state and Old Saybrook officials, the $8.1 million for the purchase would be raised through a combination of state grant funds, municipal funds, and private donations raised by the land conservation trust organizations in Old Saybrook and Essex. State grants, including some state bonding, would account for $3 million of the purchase price. Old Saybrook voters will be asked to authorize $3 million in bonding for the purchase in a referendum expected during the first two weeks of July, possibly on July 8. In addition to the proposed $200,000 in town funding, the Essex Land Conservation Trust is expected to provide a matching $200,000, mostly from private donations.

The 1,000 acre forest, the subject of failed development proposals dating back to 1999, can be accessed from either Ingham Hill Road and Schoolhouse Road in Old Saybrook, and from Bokum Road that connects Essex and Old Saybrook. The property became a target for acquisition and preservation as open space after the fall 2008 financial crash that began the Great Recession.

Paul Greenberg, with the Essex Land Conservation Trust, told the selectmen at Wednesday’s meeting that Bokum Road would be the access point in to the property from Essex, with plans to construct a small parking area and trails that would connect to a larger network of trails in the vast Old Saybrook section of the parcel.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the $200,000 would come from the town’s open space sinking fund, which currently contains about $225,000. Needleman said he believes town voters will support making a contribution to the Preserve purchase project, even though only 70 acres of the property are in Essex. The 70 acres in Essex has been valued at about $700,000 in two appraisals.

Literacy Volunteers Hold Annual Meeting and Recognition Awards

LVVS Director John Ferrara presents the Vi Brache Student of the Year Award to Westbrook’s Sabrina Kosky at the organization’s 2014 Annual Meeting on June 18th.  (Photo courtesy of Joanne Argersinger)

LVVS Director John Ferrara presents the Vi Brache Student of the Year Award to Westbrook’s Sabrina Kosky at the organization’s 2014 Annual Meeting on June 18th.
(Photo courtesy of Joanne Argersinger)

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) held their annual meeting and recognition awards program in the community room of the Westbrook Library on June 18, 2014.  The organization recognized their tutor, student, and volunteers of the year.  This year’s tutor of the year is Judy LeVesque of Clinton. She will be presented the Barrie Potter Award representing the tutor who most exemplified the caring and dedication of Mr. Potter, a long time tutor and volunteer of LVVS.  Judy is a 17 year volunteer tutor at LVVS teaching countless students and families to help those in need.  Judy came to LVVS after a 25 year career teaching the deaf at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford. Also awarded was. Sabrina Kosky of Westbrook was presented the Vi Brache Student of the Year award which is given to the student who has achieved in learning English and putting that learning to work. Sabrina has learned to speak English fluently, has twice won the organization’s student essay contest, became an American citizen, business owner and plans to further her education.  Co-Volunteers of the Year honorees are Audrey Jacobson of Ivoryton and Edna Shaw of Deep River. Every week each of them come to LVVS to help with book sales, mailings or other tasks around the office.

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore trains volunteer tutors to teach Basic Reading and English as a Second Language (ESL) to adults to help them read, write and speak English to improve their basic life and work skills.  LVVS tutors provide confidential, one-to-one instruction without charge.  Volunteers currently provide language instruction to over 200 students in the eleven shoreline towns of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Guilford, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

Valley Regional High School Graduates 135 in the Class of 2014

DEEP RIVER— A 135 member Valley Regional High School Class of 2014 celebrated the conclusion of their high school yearsWednesday at the school’s 63rd annual commencement ceremony. A crowd of several hundred friends and family members from the Region 4 towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex watched the program in sunny but cool weather from a field on the southeast side of the school grounds off Kelsey Hill Road.

Principal Kristina Martineau welcomed the crowd by noting the retirement of six longtime district teachers, including high school English teacher Margaret Meehan and foreign language teacher Maria Tellechea. Martineau said members of the class had many accomplishments in academics, athletics, and arts during the past four years while also often serving as volunteers in the school system and the three district towns. “Achieving and living this balance- the pursuit of personal success and service to others, is what it means to be a Valley Regional High School Warrior,” she said.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy noted that school staff, parents, and family members have played a role in mentoring the graduates through their years in Region 4 schools, and urged them to also serve as mentors in their post-high school lives.  “As you, the Class of 2014, move on from Valley, and in to your adult lives, I encourage each of you to seek out your niche and live an amazing life. to be both a mentee and a mentor,” she said.

The three student speakers, all from Essex, looked back at their years at VRHS, and ahead to the future. Honors Essayist Kelly Carufe recalled the volunteer efforts of class members, noting that “it takes many individuals working together to achieve change.”

Valedictorian Phoebe Petrivic expressed appreciation to her teachers and other school staff. “Each of you has benefitted from a similarly essential relationship, whether a coach, a director, a teacher, or a friend. Other’s belief in us, and the resulting belief in ourselves, has helped fuel our growth,” she said.

Salutatorian Hannah VanBenschoten praised the school, and urged underclassmen to “know that each day is a rare gift, especially in such a safe and encouraging community.” She urged her classmates to “look back at your time at Valley with fondness and nostalgia,” because the past four years at the school had “given us the tools to accomplish great things.”

Members of the Class of 2014 are:

Erica    Alexander

Maxine Allen

Jenna Armenia

Linnea Barbour

Connor Barnes

Peter Barry

Mia Belval

Shelby Bersing

Cori Camire

Kelly Carufe

Daniel Caulfield

Christopher Chiappa

Alexandra Clymas

Matthew Cole

Tazmin Corbett

Alan Cote

Jake Cuccaro

Lindsey Cullinan

Sarah  Curran

Gabriel Cusack-Mercedez

McKenzie Davis

Kiernan Decker

Brandon Dole

Kelly Duggan

Dale Duguay

Amelia Dyson

Nicole  Eline

Dillon Eriksson

Connor Ewart

John Forsythe

Emily Fuentes

Luke Gagnon

Audrey Garden

Claudia Gates

Sara Giangrande

Brittany Gilbert

Stone Gilbert

Andrew Goehring

Jessica Grote

Bobby Hamblett

Ashton Harris

Evan Haston

Erin Hayes

Mary Helchowski

Alexandria Hollwedel

Alexander Hougrand

Tyler Jaynes

Ryan Johnson

Samuel Jones

Nathaniel Joyce

Wyatt Joyce

Aubrey Karg

Jakob Kasimir

Kara Kelly

Holden King

Madeline Kozlik

Dashiell Krempel

Robert Kuchyt

Angela LaMark

McClent Langellier

Robert Lanouette

Jill Larsen

Michaela Lavy

Emily LeGrand

Alexander Lewis

Jacob Luster

Scott Lynch

Chloe MacNeil

Caroline Madden

Cole Magee

Paige Malcarne

Jessica Markland

Katelynn Maxwell

Seamus McGinley

Brendan McGirr

Casey McKeon

Dustin Meadows

Naomi Menard

Jonathan Metsack

James Molyneux

Marcella Mosier

Katherine Mulligan

Heather  Negralle

Joseph Nevins V

Ryan Newman

Iestyn Norton

Cobi O’Connell

Beatrice O’Neil

Michelle Odekerken

Shelby Olson

Michaela Paholski

Fenna Palmieri

Marcia Pandolfi

Jordi Paredes

Hanna Partyka

August Pearson

Phoebe Petrovic

Sean Porter

Jean-Luc Poulard

Tiffani Ramcke

Eric Rannestad

Deidre Regan

Alexandra Riggio Clark

Zachary Robertson

Emily Roise

Samuel Rosenberg

Kyle Ruthstrom

Nicholas Schultz

Sarah Shepard

Owen Sheppard

Jack Simoneau

Colin Smith

Sena Spinella

Samuel Spitzschuh

Abigail Stempel

Jacqueline Stevens

Gabrielle Stratidis

Joshua Szachewicz

Angela Tabor

Julia Tackett

Liza  Thayer

Ethan Thompson

Bryanna Tobin

Emma Trabucchi

Oscar  Valera Rico

Hannah Van Benschoten

Clay Vernon

Seth Verry

Veronica Villafana

Whitney Wachtarz

Kristen Watson

Lauren Webb

Jack Wislocki

Destinee  Yenovich

 

Region #4 Board and Valley Regional High School Honors Top Ten Percent Seniors

The Region #4 Board of Education and Valley Regional High School will honor the top ten percent ranking seniors who have achieved outstanding scholastic records.  A Senior Awards ceremony and reception was held Wednesday, June 4, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. in the VRHS auditorium.  The top ten percent senior students listed alphabetically are:

Kelly Estelle Carufe                             daughter of  Kristin and Patrick Carufe of Ivoryton

Audrey Kennedy Garden                     daughter of Lisa and Rognvald Garden of Chester

Claudia Allyn Gates                             daughter of Comer Rudd-Gates and Jeffrey Gates of Chester

Erin Katrina Hayes                              daughter of Karen and David Hayes of Essex

Madeline Rose Kozlik                        daughter of Nancy and Michael Kozlik of Chester

Emily Smith LeGrand                          daughter of Kathleen and David LeGrand of Essex

Jacob Ryan Luster                               son of Mary and Steven Luster of Essex

Katherine Taylor Mulligan                   daughter of Michelle and John Mulligan of Ivoryton

Phoebe Robin Petrovic                        daughter of Kari and Marc Petrovic of Centerbrook

Samuel Bruno Rosenberg                    son of Jennifer and Robert Rosenberg of Ivoryton

Jack Paul Simoneau                             son of Diane and Paul Simoneau of Ivoryton

Sena Olivia Spinella                             daughter of Karli Gilbertson-Spinella and Paul Spinella of Chester

Abigail Rose Stempel                           daughter of Kelly and David Stempel of Ivoryton

Hannah Morgan VanBenschoten         daughter of Susan and Wayne VanBenschoten of Ivoryton

Popular Jenny Tripp to Retire as Programming Librarian at the Essex Library

Departing Program Librarian Jenny Tripp and Chief Librarian Richard Conroy

Departing Program Librarian Jenny Tripp and Chief Librarian Richard Conroy

After nine years of creating some of the most interesting adult programs on the Connecticut shoreline, the Essex Library’s Programming Librarian, Jenny Tripp, is  be retiring from her position effective July 1.  During her service at the library Tripp has been the creator of many of the library’s most popular programs.

They include, the “Science for Everyone” series, which included talks on the “Mars Rover,” the concept of “Time Travel,” and a program on the similarities of the actions of human beings and monkeys. As Tripp puts it, “Each of the species [human and monkey] seem to be hard wired to make the same mistakes repeatedly.”

Another popular library program that Tripp created is the “True Crime” series.” This series featured discussions of “cold cases,” an examination of the murder trial of Martha Moxley, and a lecture by Dr. Henry Lee, a noted forensic pathologist, who has reviewed hundreds of cases of foul deeds.

Created Popular Bereavement Group

Another significant accomplishment of Tripp has been her creation of a Bereavement Support Group, which meets twice a month, and which she characterizes as “the program of which I’m most proud.” Roughly a dozen of evolving library patrons attend the sessions of the open group, based on personal need.

Another activity of Tripp has been chairing two of the library’s book clubs. One of the clubs is the Classic Plays Readers Club, which has exhaustively discussed Shakespeare’s plays, and other classic works as well. The next play to be discussed is Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie.

Tripp’s second book club, the Classic Readers Group, has tackled tomes as diverse as The Magic Mountain and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The current selection of the club is The Red and the Black by Stendhal. As if this was not enough, Tripp has also hosts a memoir writing group at the library.

In addition to these activities Tripp has been the editor of the library’s Ex Libris, the Library’s twice-yearly mailed newsletter. When asked about her, likely impossible to find, replacement, Tripp says dismissively that “You really don’t need a trained librarian to do this, just someone with some imagination who is prepared to make a lot of phone calls.”

For all her reputation as the “go to” person on perhaps every aspect of the library, Tripp has been actually a part time employee working only 24 hours a week. As for her own personal background, Tripp was an English major at the University of California (Berkley). She has also worked extensively as a screen writer, and is a lifetime member of the Writer’s Guild of America.

On a personal note about her work at the Essex Library, she says, “I have never held a job this long.”

Library Director Lauds Tripp

Essex Library Director Richard Conroy was fulsome in his praise of  Tripp’s work at the library. He said, “She has been one of the key factors in the success of the library this past few years,” He noted that library attendance is up, and that there has been an upgrade as well in the quality of the library’s services.

Conroy especially praised Tripp’s, “intellectually stimulating programs,” singling out the True Crime series, the Science for Everyone series, and her Shakespeare and Classic Book clubs as well. “How do we replace the irreplaceable?” he concluded.

As for her future plans, in addition to helping out at the Essex library from time to time, Tripp says that she is going to engage, “in helping people to write their books.” Asked if this this means she is going to be a professional “ghost writer,” her answer is, “Just call me Casper.”

Valley Regional Students Make a Difference with “Civics in Action” Food Drive

Valley Regional High School 10th grade students (l-r) Sam Armenia, Alex Tiezzi and Ben Toles.

Valley Regional High School 10th grade students (l-r) Sam Armenia, Alex Tiezzi and Ben Toles.

Lessons learned in civics class transformed into tangible help for local families in need when three 10th grade students from Valley Regional High School held a “Civics in Action Stuff-A-Truck” food drive for The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) at  Deep River Adams Supermarket.

The students, Alex Tiezzi, Sam Armenia and Ben Toles, all of Chester, explained their project and asked shoppers to donate groceries for the drive.  In a single afternoon the boys had filled the SSKP truck with 1,751 pounds of non-perishable food. The food was delivered to SSKP’s Westbrook Pantry, which distributes over 15,000 pounds of food every month to hundreds of local families in need. Deep River Adams Supermarket manager Jeff Prindle also helped in the effort, by providing food “at cost” for a $1,000 donation made by supporters of the food drive.

“What a wonderful example these three young men have set for their fellow students,” said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP. “On behalf of those we serve, who experience a community that cares deeply each time they attend a pantry, I thank these students  and all those who donated food during the drive for remembering those in need on the shoreline.”

Founded 25 years ago, The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River. Last year with a small staff and over 900 dedicated volunteers, SSKP served over 908,000 meals worth of food to shoreline neighbors in need.

Essex Zoning Board of Appeals Public Hearing on Appeal of Cease and Desist Order

ESSEX— The zoning board of appeals will hold a public hearing Tuesday on an appeal of a town cease and desist order for alleged zoning violations on a property at 33 Plains Road. The hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

John Finkeldey, the property owner, is appealing an order issued in January by Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow on the existence and use of a structure that was constructed without permits from the town. Finkeldey is expected to be represented in the appeal by Terrance Lomme, an Essex lawyer who also serves as the elected judge of probate for the nine-town region.

Budrow said he learned of the alleged zoning violations based on a complaint received last summer. He said efforts to resolve the issues through meetings and correspondence with Finkeldey were unsuccessful, leading to the case and desist order.

Budrow said the single-story structure was constructed without required approvals from his office, or the town health and building departments. Budrow said he believes the structure is being used as a dwelling, but much of it is located in the town’s limited industrial  zone, where dwellings are not permitted.  Budrow said there are also setback violations related to the structure and other accessory buildings on the property. Budrow said he believes there are violations of ten town zoning regulations related to the structure and accessory buildings.

Under state law, the ZBA has authority to uphold or overturn cease and desist orders issued by a municipal zoning enforcement officer. Lomme, a Democrat, was elected in 2010 as judge of probate for a nine town region that includes Essex. He is seeking a second four-year term in the Nov. 4 election in a contest with Anselmo Delia, the Clinton Republican who also ran for the position in 2010.

Essex Garden Club Announces 2014 Scholarships

The Essex Garden Club is pleased to announce the winners of its 2014 scholarships.  Scholarships of $1,100 each were award to three Essex students:

Tyler Jaynes, Senior at VRHA, will attend the University of Vermont

Sarah Watson will be a sophomore at Gettysburg College

Allyson Clark will be a freshman at Drew University

Additionally, 13 campership awards of $125 each were given to Essex Park and Recreation Summer session.  These will be distributed by Park and Recreation.  Three awards of $520 were given to Bushy Hill Nature Center to be distributed by the Center.

The Essex Garden Club congratulates all the winners and thanks the Essex community for its ongoing support which allows the Club to provide these educational opportunities to our students.

Friends of the Essex Library Donate $30,000 to the Library in Last Year

Wendy Madsen, President of the Friends of Essex Library, presents Richard Conroy, Library Director, with the Friends’ annual donation on June 5, 2014.

Wendy Madsen, President of the Friends of Essex Library, presents Richard Conroy, Library Director, with the Friends’ annual donation on June 5, 2014.

The Friends of the Essex Library presented Richard Conroy, Director of the Library, with a check for $10,000 during their Annual Meeting on Thursday June 5.  This supplements the $20,000 donation the Friends gave the Library in November 2013, making the Friends total donation this year $30,000.

“The Friends are crucial in making the Essex Library an exciting and vibrant community resource,” said Richard Conroy in accepting the check.

The Friends’ donation has been used by the Library to enrich their offerings in a variety of ways.  It has allowed the purchase of Ancestory.com for genealogical research, Mango.com for foreign language study, Zinio.com for online magazines, passes to local museums for patrons to borrow, and DVDs of popular series.  It has supported the Library’s Book-a-Baby outreach, the children’s summer reading program, and participation by Library staff in professional development conferences.

If you would like to support the Essex Library, please consider joining the Friends of the Library.  There are no dues, just camaraderie!  www.youressexlibrary.org/friends

All Bids for Deep River Sewer Expansion Over Budget

DEEP RIVER— Town officials and engineers will be revisiting a sewer expansion project planned for several streets in the town’s north end after all six bids opened last week were over the $4 million allocated for the project.

First Selectman Richard Smith said he and members of the water pollution control authority will meet with project engineers, with the Meriden firm Cardinal Engineering, to review options for scaling back the project to reduce the cost. Voters at a May 2013 town meeting authorized the project with a funding limit set at $4 million. The project, which would extend sewer service to about 120 properties on and around River Street and Kirtland Street, was to be funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a $1.2 million grant and a $2.8 million loan that would be repaid over 40 years at 2.75 percent annual interest.

All of the bids opened last week were over $4 million, with the lowest bid from Baltazar Contractors Inc. of Ludlow, Mass. coming in at $4,828,958 for a base bid and a bid of $5,5,507,658 that would include all project alternates. The second lowest bid was $5,397,039 and $6,066,954 from C. J Fucci Inc. of New Haven.

Smith said the project would be revised and rebid over the next few weeks. Smith said he is hopeful a revised bid for a scaled back project could be approved by the board of selectmen and WPCA in time for a late summer start of construction for the project.

Deep River Town Meeting Approves Revised $15.27 Million Budget After Initial Referendum Defeat

DEEP RIVER— A slightly reduced $15,277,887 town/schools spending plan for 2014–2015 was approved at a town meeting Monday on a 92-24 paper ballot. The budget, which will require a 0.80 increased in the property tax rate, was initially rejected on a 115-78 vote in a May 27 referendum.

After the referendum defeat, the finance board approved a $25,000 reduction, $12,500 from the town government budget and $12,500 from the appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. But the board was unable to make any changes to the major factor in the tax increase, the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget, after it was approved in a separate referendum on May 6. Voters in Deep River opposed the Region 4 budget, 156-69, but it was approved with support from the voters of Chester and Essex.

With more students attending Valley Regional  High School and John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River faced a steep $442,063 increase in it’s share of the Region 4 budget. The Region 4 increase accounted for all but $56,313 of a total spending increased of $498,376. With declining enrollment, the $5,461,500 appropriation for the elementary school was actually down by $49,658.

Finance board chairman John Bauer said the board was unable to make any reductions in the Region 4 appropriation that could have reduced the tax increase. “Nothing can be done after that budget is approved” in the three-town referendum, he said. Bauer said the town government and elementary school appropriations were already “very tight,” adding the town is unable to transfer any money from an undesignated fund balance that only contains about $500,000.

Richard Balducci, a former speaker of the house who also served on the local board of finance, urged the crowd to approve the revised budget, and then become more involved in the Region 4 budget process and referendum next year. Balducci contended the supervision district budget, which funds shared services in the school system and is then included with the Region 4 and elementary school budgets, can be a major factor in higher education costs even with lower student enrollment.

After about 30 minutes of discussion, voters lined up to cast paper ballots on the budget. The new tax rate of 25.88 mills represents $25.88 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

CT Water Donates Proceeds of Family Fun Day to Shoreline Soup Kitchens

CT Water employees Chris Lanfair, Dave Radka, Claire Bellerjeau, SSKP Director of Development & Outreach, and CT Water employees John Holland and Cathy Mullen.

CT Water employees Chris Lanfair, Dave Radka, Claire Bellerjeau, SSKP Director of Development & Outreach, and CT Water employees John Holland and Cathy Mullen.

Employees of the Connecticut Water Company’s office in Clinton presented The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries a donation of $1,172, representing the proceeds from their Family Fun Day held on May 3rd.

The event, which was free to the public, included a tag sale comprised of employee donations and office equipment and electronics donated by CT Water. The public was also encouraged to donate non-perishable food items which were delivered to Shoreline Soup Kitchen’s Clinton Pantry. A CT Water ‘Touch a Truck’, bounce house for kids, and other activities rounded out the day of fun.

Employees volunteered their time to organize the event as a way to help those facing economic challenges. “This was the first year we held the Family Fun Day,” said Chris Lanfair, one of the organizers. “Hopefully we will be able to continue the tradition. Nine of the eleven towns served by The Shoreline Soup Kitchens are also in our service area, so it seemed like a great way to give back. We are happy we were able to raise so much to help those in need.”

Connecticut Water serves about 90,000 customers, or 300,000 people, in 56 towns across Connecticut. Connect to CT Water on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CTWtr and Twitter at www.twitter.com/CTWtr.

Founded 25 years ago, The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River. Last year with a small staff and 900 dedicated volunteers, SSKP provided enough food for 908,000 meals to shoreline neighbors in need.

TTYS – Talk Early, Talk Often!

Tri-town area parents who took Tri-Town Youth Services’ Parent Survey recently overwhelmingly support the Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition’s efforts. Parents show awareness of the harm the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs can cause for youth and report having rules in place to discourage such use.

While a large majority of parents said they discourage their children and youth beginning in elementary school and throughout high school from using cigarettes, marijuana and from misusing prescription drugs, many report they wait until their young person reaches middle school levels to discourage alcohol use.

According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), parents and caregivers are the leading influence in a young person’s decision not to drink. SAMHSA recommends parents talk with their children about alcohol use earlier than middle school.

SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You” campaign aims at reducing underage drinking by providing parents and caregivers with information and resources they need to start addressing the issue of alcohol with their children as early as 9 years old. To access traditional and web based resources for talking to children and youth about alcohol, visit beta.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking.

Many parents who took the Tri-Town Parent Survey also entered a drawing to receive one of several gift cards. Winners include Alan Parker of Ivoryton, Dawn Saunders of Chester, Doreen Breault of Essex, Liz Tracy Montecalvo of Deep River and Kathryn Ryan of Ivoryton.

Essex Town Meeting Amends Ordinances, Sanitary Waste Commission Discontinued

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Wednesday approved amendments to two town ordinances, effectively ending the role of the sanitary waste commission and revamping the 2004 delay of demolition ordinance for historic structures.

About 15 residents turned out for the town meeting that was preceded by a public hearing on the changes that were endorsed last month by the board of selectmen. One amendment, which drew an opposing vote from Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac, ends the joint commission status for the water pollution control authority/sanitary waste commission that was established under a 1991 town meeting vote. The seven appointed members of the dual commission will continue as the water pollution control authority with staggered two-year terms and a renewed focus on sewer avoidance and wastewater management issues.

The amendment ends the appointed sanitary waste commission that was first established in 1958 to supervise operations of the former town landfill, and more recently the solid waste transfer station and recycling center. First Selectman Norman Needleman recommended the change, noting the trash compactor and transfer station are currently managed by town employees under the supervision of the board of selectmen. Needleman said the amendment would “eliminate the theoretical purview of the sanitary waste commission in running the transfer site.”

But Glowac, who served on the sanitary waste commission before winning election as first selectman in 1991, maintained there is still a role for a volunteer commission in coordinating the town’s solid waste disposal and recycling efforts. “Municipal solid waste, bulky waste and recycling are ever changing subjects in today’s world and a volunteer commission can be an asset to the town,” he said. The amendment was approved on a nearly unanimous show of hands vote, with Glowac opposed.
The revision of the delay of demolition ordinance was approved on a unanimous vote without discussion. Needleman said the amendments clarify the process for an ordinance that was first adopted in 2004 at the urging of the late town historian and author Donald Malcarne.

The amendments do not change the 75 years trigger date where advance posting and notice are required before a demolition permit is issued by the building official for a potentially historic structure.. If the town historian or Essex Historical Society raises an objection, a 90 days delay would be required before the building official could issue a demolition permit.

Local Authors Donate to the Chester Chapter American Legion

From left to right; Art Christensen, Bob Sumner, Todd Curry, Christopher Abbott and Jerry LaMark (Photo taken by Bruce Watrous)

From left to right; Art Christensen, Bob Sumner, Todd Curry, Christopher Abbott and Jerry LaMark (Photo taken by Bruce Watrous)

Authors Todd A. Curry and Christopher D. Abbott have donated a portion of their profits from one of their recently released thrillers, to the Chester Chapter American Legion, Post 97. The donation is to offset the cost of flags that Legion members place on the graves of our fallen soldiers.

For more than 200 years, Old Glory has served as a symbol of our Nation’s freedom and as a source of pride for our citizens. On “Flag-day” we recognize our veterans who served to protect the flag. We honor those many soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, in the name of Liberty, Unity, and Justice. The members of the American legion, post 97 in Chester, are just a few of the 800,000 members of the National American Legion, who volunteer millions of hours of their time yearly.

Curry and Abbott wanted to recognize the sacrifices these veterans make, and express their gratitude to the Legion members who volunteer their time. They decided to make the donation to the Legion, in order to help offset the cost of the flags. Curry, a veteran himself, said: “The guys here in Chester are all War heroes who never ask for anything themselves. They simply move forward every day volunteering time to help their brother and sister veterans, and their families.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Chester American Legion can do so by Jerry LaMark or mail a contribution to American Legion, PO Box 54, Chester, Ct 06412

Anyone interested in purchasing “Revolting Tales” can find links to it here: www.cdanabbott.com/ buymybooks.html

“Scouting For Food” Helps Fill Pantry Shelves

Members of the Essex Cub Scouts, Pack 4.

Members of the Essex Cub Scouts, Pack 4.

This spring local Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts participated in “Scouting for Food” service projects to benefit The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

Twelve members of the Essex Cub Scouts of Pack 4 held a food drive, collecting 707 pounds of non-perishable food. The Essex Cub Scouts, who are between 7 and 10 years of age, each gathered an average of 55 items of food, or about 60 pounds of food each.

Also, a group of four Westbrook Boy Scouts from Troop 38 made a special visit to SSKP’s Westbrook Pantry to learn more about the issue of hunger along the shoreline, and presented a $200 donation on behalf of their troop.

“We sincerely thank the Cub Scouts of Pack 4 for their food drive, and the Boy Scouts of Troop 38 for their donation and their desire to learn more about those in need,” said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP. “It’s great to see Scouts of all ages working to help others. In the spring months we have a need for additional food drives, so “Scouting for Food” is very much appreciated. With the support of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and so many others in our community, we are able to make a place at the table for all our neighbors.”

Founded 25 years ago, The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River. Last year with a small staff and over 900 dedicated volunteers, SSKP served over 908,000 meals worth of food to shoreline neighbors in need.

Beloved Exercise Instructor Says Goodbye to the “Y”

 

Exercise instructor Lisa Laing receives applause from her students

Exercise instructor Lisa Laing receives applause from her students

The Valley Shore YMCA, located on Spencer Plains Road in Westbrook, is losing its number one exercise instructor. She is Lisa Laing, better known, simply as “Lisa” by her many friends and admirers. Lisa, who lives in Ivoryton, has been teaching four straight, one hour sessions, of advanced exercise classes, three days a week, at the Y since 1993. Her last day of teaching these exercise classes at the Y was on Thursday, May 29.

Exercise students, with Lisa, balancing for strength

Exercise students, with Lisa, balancing for strength

Central to Lisa’s exercise philosophy has been that she wanted every one of her students to do the best that they possibly could with each of the exercises. Also, while her students were doing their exercises, she, herself, did them as well.  This meant that when an exercise called for balancing on one leg, Lisa balanced on one leg; when the exercise called for going down on the mat, Lisa too went down on the map; and when the exercise called for rolling over, Lisa, herself, rolled her body over as well,

In addition to doing each exercise with her students, Lisa at the same time called out instructions, no matter how contorted her own body at that particular moment. Worth noting as well, her exercise sessions were non-stop, one exercise after another, unrelenting.

Strolling to the next exercise

Strolling to the next exercise

 

Furthermore, Lisa not only taught a one hour exercise class at nine o’clock, she taught another at ten o’clock, yet another at eleven o’clock, and finally another at noon. This meant that she was teaching and exercising for four hours straight. Nor did she skimp in doing all the exercises herself with her students. Three days a week, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, this was her schedule. The stamina, the refusal to admit fatigue, and to just keep going at each session, almost defies imagination. How did she ever do this crushing schedule for so long?

It was no wonder that her students held a party for her to show their appreciation in the final days of this schedule at the Y. No less than 150 people attended to party to play tribute to Lisa. “I was stunned and honored” by the turnout, she said modestly.

Getting up the heart beat by walking sideways

Getting up the heart beat by walking sideways

At her last exercise session on May 29 a number of her students were asked what they thought about Lisa. This is what they said:

Ann Bates of Essex, “She affords an inspirational opportunity to be physically fit. Also, she knows how to modify the exercises so that everyone is on board.”

Michelle Davis of Old Lyme, “I think it is a wonderful testament to her. She has brought me a long way.”

Norma Rogin of Essex, “She is the best,”

Janet Fay of Westbrook, “She has been an inspiration to us.

Fred Scribner of Old Saybrook, who was one of the few males in the exercise sessions, “Lisa has kept me alive, keeping my heart and other organs functioning.”

Ursula Wilson of Essex, “She is extremely energetic, and she is fun to exercise with.”

They call these “planks.” A lot of fun? Not!

They call these “planks.” A lot of fun? Not!

 Lisa’s Unique Insights about Exercise   

“What I have seen,” Lisa says, “is that many people are ‘scared,’ when they first consider exercising.” It seems that, “they are almost afraid of breaking something.”  However, others approach exercising as “something new and exciting,” she says. Also, she points out, when someone is new to exercising, “We are very conscious of their safety, and of working at a person’s own level.”

Lisa calls out the orders, while she herself is exercising

Lisa calls out the orders, while she herself is exercising

Lisa says that one of her teaching secrets is that, “I am great about asking people’s names.” Also, she also loves, “to see the growth and new vitality by people who once were self-professed couch potatoes.” She continues, “I love to witness peoples’ little ‘ah’ moment, when they realize that they have accomplished something,” by exercising.

She observes, “I am a nut about form, and about people doing things correctly. When you do something properly, you don’t get hurt.” She also says that she has witnessed cases where n “people could barely walk [and] five or ten years later they were dancing to the music. They worked so hard.”

Also, in teaching exercising Lis says, “I count my success in hugs, and I give a lot of hugs.”

Not Totally Leaving the Y

Lisa says that although she will no longer be teaching a full schedule of exercise classes at the Y, she will continue to help lead the Y’s “Hope Is Power,” a program for cancer survivors. This wellness group meets two times a week with one hour and a half sessions. Lisa, herself, is a certified Cancer Exercise Specialist, and she co-leads the program with fellow instructor, Linda Lawton.

After taking the full summer off, Lisa says that next fall she will be exploring new opportunities, especially in the area of helping people continue their fitness programs.  “Fitness is about community,” she says, “and it makes me happy to serve the community.” As for her future, she says, “I want to work with adults, so they can continue having healthy lives.”

Five New Eagle Scouts for Old Saybrook’s Boy Scout Troop 51

Eagles at candles

Old Saybrook’s Boy Scout Troop 51 gathered on April 6, 2014 at Grace Church to celebrate their five newest Eagle Scouts. The five new Eagle Scouts are Jack Frysinger, Daniel Puttre, Cody Walden, Joshua Chang and Timothy Foley. These fine young men received the Eagle Scout award, Boy Scouting’s highest honor that is achieved by just 5% of the Boy Scouts in the nation. Each of these new Eagles have spent years in scouting performing community service, earning merit badges, and helping to teach younger scouts camping and leadership skills. Additionally, each of these young men planned and executed an Eagle project to better the community.

Jack Frysinger chose to rehabilitate the pavilion at Town Park for his Eagle project. With the help of many scout and adult volunteers, he removed the broken supports for the old benches and installed and painted new benches outfitted with sturdy supports. He and his team also repainted the upright roof columns, replaced missing rocks in the stone foundation, and cleaned out years’ worth of trash and debris. Currently a senior at Old Saybrook High School, Jack will attend Northeastern University in the fall to study Computer Science.

Daniel Puttre’s Eagle Project was to refurbish the decking, steps, and ramp entrance to Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services. Dan enlisted the help of scouts and community members to complete his project. It entailed removing and replacing the wooden handrails and several balusters, sanding and staining all the wood surfaces, painting the metal handrails and the caution marks, and replacing the safety striping. Dan will graduate from Old Saybrook High School in June, and will attend Keene State College in the fall to study Sustainable Product Innovation and Design

Joshua Chang renovated the trailhead and restored the fishway near the Crystal Lake dam for his Eagle project. His project involved installing a drainage pipe and filter fabric under the trail, spreading gravel, sand, and round stones and placing large paving stones over the trail. The fishway in the trailhead area, which allows fish swimming upstream to access the lake to spawn, was damaged in the flood of March 2010. The restoration of the fishway included recovery of surge stones that were washed down stream by the flood and rebuilding of several weirs in the fishway. Joshua is completing his freshman year at Old Saybrook High School and plans to remain active in scouting for the remainder of his high school career.

Cody Walden’s Eagle Project was to further protect Long Island Sound by building and installing Fishing String Recyclers to help birds, fish, and turtles remain tangle-free from fishing line disposed of in the Sound. The recyclers were placed at major spots in town: the Causeway, Dock and Dine, Gardiner’s Landing, North Cove, Town Dock and three marinas in the Town of Old Saybrook. Cody is a senior at Old Saybrook High School and will graduate in June. Cody will attend Keene State College in the fall to major in History and Political Science.

Tim Foley’s Eagle Project was to refurbish the seawall, sidewalk and grassy area at Gardiner’s Landing in Old Saybrook. Tim and his team of fellow scouts also received assistance from the Old Saybrook Land Trust and Public Works. The project included filling large crevices and holes with riprap stone; covering the area with stabilizing tarp; adding topsoil and planting grass. Additionally, Tim installed a permanent pole for a fishing line collector. Tim is a senior at Old Saybrook High School, graduating in June. Tim will attend the University of Vermont in the fall to study engineering.

These new Eagle Scouts are grateful to their fellow scouts, leaders, adult volunteers, and family and community members for their assistance and guidance throughout their years in scouting and during their Eagle projects.  Troop 51 extends a heartfelt thank you to Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, for their many years of support and sponsorship.  Old Saybrook is very fortunate to have such a successful program to guide and build independent young leaders. If your son would like to join Troop 51 or if you are interested in supporting this program, please contact Scoutmaster Bill Hart , or Committee Chairman John Puttre at 860-388-6116.

High Kicking in Old Saybrook – Irish Dance Teacher Joins Dance School

Riverdance: Photo Credit Jack Hartin reproduced courtesy of Riverdance

Riverdance: Photo Credit Jack Hartin reproduced courtesy of Riverdance

The Gray School, Old Saybrook is delighted to announce that Craig Ashurst, TCRG will be joining their faculty this summer.

“Craig brings with him enormous talent, impressive experience, and immense passion for Irish dance. We could not be more excited to officially welcome him into our Gray School family!” said Iris Gray, principal of the Gray School of Irish Dance.

Craig Ashurst,  TCRG (Photo courtesy of Christina Dozall)

Craig Ashurst, TCRG (Photo courtesy of Christina Dozall)

Craig started dancing in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia at the age of 5. By the end of his competitive career, he held 10 Regional titles and 9 Australian National titles, in addition to winning the British National, Great Britain, and North American Championships.  Craig also had the honor of winning the much-coveted All Ireland title while dancing with the prestigious Danny Doherty Academy in England.

Upon making the switch to performing in shows, he danced along side Michael Flatley during the filming of the Lord of the Dance 3D movie. Craig performed as a principle dancer in Riverdance for most of his 6 and a half years with the show and was also awarded his Irish dancing teachers certificate (T.C.R.G) from the Irish dancing commission in Dublin Ireland. Craig has instructed Irish dance at the Camp Rince Ceol Irish Dance Camp for five summers and has conducted various workshops in different parts of the world.

“In addition to his international career, Craig is well known to this part of New England through his performances as dance soloist and choir member with the show, Celtic Woman and is featured on their PBS special, DVD and in concerts at the Radio City Music Hall, NYC,” said Maura Gray, joint principal of the Gray School. “We are very pleased announce that Craig will be joining our  faculty.  Craig will be with us at our July camps and we look forward to more exciting times at the Gray School as we continue to grow.”

Irish Dance is a great sport no matter what direction you choose to take. It is fantastic exercise that builds both confidence and discipline and offers students the opportunity to participate both individually and as part of a team.  The Gray School of Irish Dance, is the premier School of Irish Step Dance in Connecticut, with over 35 years of experience teaching dance to children from all over Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.  They offer introductory or recreational dance class for fun and exercise, as well as competitive classes for those who wish to compete in the USA and Internationally. They offer classes and graded exams in Traditional Irish Dance taught to the standards of An Coimisiùn, Ireland for children and adults.

For more information about Craig and the Gray School of Irish Dance please visit:

http://www.grayschool.com/ pages/main/faculty.html or email Iris Gray Sharnick: iris@grayschool.com

Deep River Finance Board Approves $25,000 Cut, June 9 Town Meeting to Vote on Revised Budget

DEEP RIVER— The board of finance has approved a $25,000 cut in the $15.3 million budget plan that was rejected by voters in a referendum this week, with a June 9 town meeting vote scheduled on a revised budget for 2014-2015. The town meeting will convene at 7:30 p.m. in the town hall auditorium.

The finance board, meeting jointly with the board of selectmen Thursday, approved a reduction of $12,500 in the town government budget, and a $12,500 reduction in the appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. The cut will allow for a small reduction in a planned 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate that had generated some controversy in this year’s budget process and set the stage for Tuesday’s 115-78 referendum defeat for the budge, the first rejection of a budget in Deep River since 2001.
The new tax rate would be 25.88 mills, a 0.80 mill increase from the current tax rate. The spending plan defeated in the referendum called for a tax rate of 25.93 mills. The new rate would represent $25.88 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

First Selectman Richard Smith said finance board reviewed various budget accounts during Thursday’s special meeting, often considering cuts of only $500. But after discussion with the selectmen, the board approved only a $25,000 reduction. He noted the review confirmed that most of the town budget accounts are “very tight,” with reductions possibly leading to budget overruns at the end of the next fiscal year.

Smith said the $12,500 cut in the town government budget would come from an additional $25,000 that was included for storm clean up in 2014-2015, an addition that was made in response to the harsher than usual past two winter seasons. The  $12,500 reduction in the elementary school appropriation will be determined by the local board of education.

There could be no changes in the town’s $5.6 million share of the Region 4 education budget that had been approved on a 319-253 vote in a May 6 referendum. Chester and Essex voters had supported the Region 4 budget, though voters in Deep River opposed the budget 156-69. With more students attending Valley Regional High School and john Winthrop Middle School, Deep River had a $442,063 increase in its Region 4 budget share that accounted for much of the total $523,376 spending increase that led to the proposed 0.85 mill tax increase.

Smith said selectmen and the finance board are prepared to publicly oppose the Region 4 budget before the 2015 referendum if it includes a large increase in the Deep River share that would require a tax increase for 2015-2016.

A Hole in the Ground Where There Once was a Slum House

A hole in the ground, where once was the Slum House (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

A hole in the ground, where once was the Slum House (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

Finally the unoccupied property on North Main Street has been demolished. Early in the morning of Tuesday, May 27, a work crew from Shea Construction brought heavy equipment to the site, and methodically demolished the property and removed the debris, leaving a hole in the ground where there once was a slum.  Read the full story:  Eyesore No More, Essex Slum House Is Taken Down.

Girl Scout Volunteer Receives Local Honor

Left to right: GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, Maureen, and GSOFCT Board President Caroline Sloat. (Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of Connecticut.)

Left to right: GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, Maureen, and GSOFCT Board President Caroline Sloat. (Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of Connecticut.)

OLD SAYBROOK — Girl Scouts of Connecticut is proud to announce that Maureen Francescon of the Marsh Service Unit (Old Saybrook/Westbrook) was awarded the prestigious Girl Scouts of Connecticut Pin at the organization’s Annual Meeting on May 28.

The Girl Scouts of Connecticut pin was developed exclusively by Girl Scouts of Connecticut and is the highest award given to adults on behalf of the Council. The Girl Scouts of Connecticut Pin recognizes any registered Adult Girl Scout giving outstanding service to a Council-wide assignment, or whose service and dedication impacts the success and development of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience for Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

Maureen Francescon has been the leader of Travel Troop #3 for 35 years, leading 45 girls in numerous opportunities abroad, including Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. She has also taken groups of girls to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. In addition, she ensures the troop participates in two community service trips per year.

The photo attached, from left to right: GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, Maureen, and GSOFCT Board President Caroline Sloat. Photo credit is Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

For more information, visit www.gsofct.org.

About Girl Scouts of Connecticut

Girl Scouts of Connecticut is the largest girl-empowerment organization in the state, serving nearly 44,000 girls and more than 18,000 adult members. Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

For further information, visit www.gsofct.org or call 1 (800) 922-2770.

New Principal Appointed for Deep River Elementary School

The Deep River Elementary School Board of Education is pleased to announce the  appointment of Mr. Christian Strickland to the position of Principal at Deep River Elementary School. Christian Strickland has most recently served as the Assistant Principal at Griswold Elementary School in Berlin, Connecticut for the past four
years.

Strickland replaces an interim principal who has directed the school since January, Nancy Haslam of East Haddam. Haslam, who had worked previously as principal at an elementary school in Waterford, was hired by the local school board at the end of last year to replace Jennifer Byars.

A local resident who was hired in 2012, Byars left to accept a position as assistant superintendent of schools for the Ledyard school district. The previous principal was Jack Pietrick, who held the job for 13 years before retiring in 2012.

Prior to his experience as Assistant Principal, Strickland was a Math Instructional Specialist for two years. Strickland began his career in education as a third and fourth grade teacher in Maryland and then in the Berlin Public Schools. Strickland has been recognized as a Teacher of the Year, and nominated for the CAS Assistant Principal of the year. Outside of school, Christian is an avid swimmer and enjoys participating in Spartan Races.

Strickland completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary education, his Master of Science Degree and his Sixth Year Degree in Educational Leadership, all from Central Connecticut State University.

The Deep River Board of Education and Search Committee were very impressed with Strickland’s knowledge, commitment to excellence, integrity, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for elementary school students, families, and the Deep River community. The Board of Education unanimously endorsed Strickland on Thursday May 15th, at their Board of Education meeting. We are confident that Strickland will provide excellent leadership for the students at Deep River Elementary School.

Strickland resides in Middletown with his family. He will begin his tenure in the Deep River Public Schools on July 1st, 2014.

Proposed $15.3 Million Deep River Budget Plan Fails in Low Turnout Referendum

DEEP RIVER— A proposed $15,302,887 budget plan for 2014-2015 was rejected Tuesday on a 115-78 vote after an eight hour referendum. The board of selectmen and board of finance will hold a special joint meeting Thursday to consider any possible changes to the spending plan, which would then be submitted for a second vote at a town meeting expected in the second week of June.

While the spending plan presented Tuesday included a proposed $3.78 million town government budget, a $5.47 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s $5.6 million share of the Region 4 budget, only the town and elementary school portions of the total spending plan are still subject to revision by the board of finance. The Region 4 budget was already approved on a 319-253 vote in a May 6 referendum, with Chester and Essex votes supporting the budget over a 156-69 opposing vote in Deep River.

The total spending plan rejected Tuesday would have required a 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate, for a new rate of 25.93 mills. Of a total spending increase of $523,376, $442,063 is for the town’s share of the Region 4 budget that is determined by the number of students from Deep River attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. A higher than anticipated increase in the Deep River average daily membership at the two schools made the town’s taxpayers responsible for a larger share of the Region 4 budget.

First Selectman Richard Smith noted that with the Region 4 amount locked in, there is little the selectmen and finance board can do to reduce the increase in the tax rate. “You’ve got to get close to $100,000 in cuts to have any real impact on the mill rate,” he said, adding that both the town and elementary school budgets are already “very tight.”
But Finance Board Chairman John Bauer said the board should make a final review of the town and elementary school budgets for any possible cuts, even with the understanding that cuts in these appropriations would bring little change to the tax rate. Bauer said the second vote on any revised budget should be done by voters at a town meeting, not a referendum. “It’s a waste of money for the amount of people who showed up today,” he said.

Eyesore No More, Essex Slum House Is Taken Down

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

It was a day of celebration in small town Essex. Finally, finally the town’s number eyesore was coming down. Early in the morning of Tuesday, May 27, a work crew from Shea Construction, which is headquartered on Westbrook Road in Essex, brought heavy equipment to the site, and methodically smashed the old slum house to the ground.

The pile of debris gets larger

The pile of debris gets larger

The crushed fragments were then loaded into a waiting dump truck, which took the debris to a local land fill. Joseph Shea, Owner of Shea Construction, was personally on hand to supervise the operation. “We will completely finish the job,” he said, including filling the hole left in the ground by the house’s removal with fresh clean land fill. Also, the work entails not only crushing and removing the entire building structure but also removing the old house’s septic system. This full process should take a week, Shea said. In addition, once the house has been removed, “All of the nails will be pulled out of the boards,” he said, as an environmental measure.

The trip to the dump is next

The trip to the dump is next

Among the spectators watching the destruction proceedings from the side walk was Tom Rutherford, who lives on nearby Laurel Hill Road in Essex, “We all have been ready for this to happen for a long time,” he said.” Rutherford also expressed his and the town’s gratitude to fellow Essex resident Ina Bomze, who paid $142,000 to purchase the property of the old slum house from the bank, and hired the contractor to clear the site. She will also fund the conversion of the property  into a new town park. “I think it is wonderful thing that she has done,” Rutherford said, referring to Ms. Bronze.

A central feature of the new park will be a solid bronze statue of Ms. Bromze’s late canine companion, “Morgana“, which she always refers to as a person. Also, the street address of the new park is 63 North Main Street, and Ms. Bromze, lives just across the street at 64 North Main Street. Once the new park is completed she will be able not only to see the new park, but also the memorial statue of “Morgana” from her front windows.

The Essex Land Trust has agreed to maintain the park in the future with its memorial statute to a beloved companion in full display.

Deep River Referendum Tuesday on Proposed $15.3 Million Town and Schools Budget

DEEP RIVER— Polls will be open from 12 noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the library community room for a referendum vote on the proposed $15,302,887 town and schools budget plan for 2014-2015.

The total spending package, which is up by $523,376 from the current amount,  includes a $3,826,230 town government budget and capital expenditure plan, $384,670 for debt service, a proposed $5,474,000 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s $5,602,987 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 total was already approved in a May 6 referendum, with voters of Chester and Essex supporting the budget and Deep River opposed on a 156-69 vote.

With more students attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River is paying a larger share of the Region 4 budget this year. The town’s share of the budget is up by $442,063, or 8.57 percent, an increase that accounts for nearly all of a planned .085-mill hike in the property tax rate that is required to fund the spending total.

The proposed tax rate of 25.93 mills represents $25.93 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value, a 3.4 percent increase in the tax rate. The amount of the tax increase led the board of selectmen to decide to send the spending plan directly to a referendum vote. After more than a decade of  budget referendums with ever decreasing vote turnout, the town last year approved the budget by a town meeting vote for the first time since 2000.

Democrats Nominate Rep. Phil Miller for New Term in 36th House District

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE— Democrats have nominated incumbent State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex for a new term in the 36th House District. Miller was the unanimous choice of the 15 delegates gathered for the nominating convention Wednesday at the Haddam Firehouse. The district includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.
Miller was nominated by Fred Vollono, a former town chairman in Essex, with seconding remarks from Claire Tiernan of Essex. Vollono described the incumbent as a “leader with foresight” at the Capitol. Also praising Miller as a “devoted, knowledgeable and respected” legislator was Emily Bjornberg of Lyme, the Democratic nominee for state Senate in the 12-town 33rd district.

Miller, in remarks to the delegates, said his goals for a new two-year term would be “investing in our young people,” protecting the state’s “most vulnerable” residents and enhancing protections for consumers. Miller serves on the Legislature’s Environment, Public Health, and Human Services committees.

Miller, a former naturalist at an Episcopal Church run camp, served four terms as first selectman of Essex from 2003-2011. He was elected to the General Assembly in a February 2001 special election after the previous five-term Democratic incumbent, James Spallone of Essex, resigned the seat to take a job as deputy secretary of the state. Miller defeated Republican Vince Pacileo, a former Essex selectman, on a 7-105-5,352 vote in 2012.

Republicans last week nominated Chester Harris of Haddam to challenge Miller in the Nov. 4 election. Harris was the unsuccessful Republican nominee against Spallone in 2010.

 

Nominating Conventions Set Up Contest Between Democrat Emily Bjornbergand Republican Art Linares in 33rd District

AREAWIDE— Democrats Monday nominated political newcomer Emily Bjornberg of Lyme to challenge one-term incumbent Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook in the 12-town 33rd Senate district.

Bjornberg, 33, was the unanimous choice of the 45 delegates gathered for the Democratic convention at the Old Town Hall in Haddam. Linares, 25, was nominated by delegates at the May 12 Republican convention at the Riverhouse in Haddam.

Linares, cofounder of a Middletown-based solar energy company, was elected in a three-way contest in 2012, succeeding a 20-year Democratic incumbent, former Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook. Ljnares defeated Jim Crawford of Westbrook, who was then serving as a state representative, on a 23,915-21,251 vote in a race where an active Green Party candidate, Melissa Schlag of Haddam, garnered 4,317 votes. Schlag later rejoined the Democratic Party was elected last year as first selectwoman of Haddam, She was present at the convention Monday to support Bjornberg.

Also offering support at the convention was Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, telling delegates “we’re finally going to get someone who will replace Eileen Daily.” Bjornberg was nominated by Crawford, with seconding remarks from Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam, who competed with Crawford for the party nomination at an August 2012 Democratic primary, and Daily.

Bjornberg, the married mother of two grown children, contended Linares’s views and votes over the part 18 months are “clearly out of step with the majority of his constituents.” She cited Linares vote against raising the minimum wage, and opposition to bills that included grant funding for local projects in the district.

Bjornberg said Linares would often vote against total funding bills, and then claim credit for grants that are awarded for projects in district towns. “I will be a strong voice for our district inside the majority caucus,” she said.

Linares was nominated last week by former state representative and environmental protection commissioner Sidney Holbrook of Westbrook, with seconding remarks by Carl Chuznik of Portland. Linares told the delegates he would continue efforts to improve the business climate in Connecticut and support policies that provide more flexibility and local control in education.

The 33rd Senate District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex,, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and sections of Old Saybrook.

Tri-Town Youth Services Adopts New Logo

TTYS New Logo

TTYS New Logo

When Tri-Town Youth Services updated its logo recently, it dug deeply into the history of the region.  Chester, Deep River and Essex were all towns in the Saybrook Colony up until 1644.  Repurposing a simple border element found in the original Saybrook Colony coat of arms, the rendering is both geometric and symmetrical, motivational and energetic, and speaks to a sense of deep history and community pride that is evident throughout the tri-town area.

“Our goal is to promote health, wellness, strength, and collaboration among our youth, families, community institutions and organizations,” says Tri-Town Youth Services Director Gail Onofrio.  “We may be three towns but it is our intentional, supportive interconnectivity – cultivated by all of us for all our kids all the time – that ensures that the whole tri-town community thrives.”

The process of developing the new logo itself involved youth and adult community members’ participation in focus groups, the engagement of the brand development and design organization, co:lab, which works exclusively with organizations committed to social value.  Sandy Vaccaro of Smart Graphics has designed the agency’s new letterhead and business cards.  The new logo arrives just in time for Tri-Town Youth Services to celebrate its 30th anniversary this fall.

Tri-Town Youth Services continues to coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration, at www.tritownys.org

State Rep. Giuliano Supports STEAP Grant for Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK - State Rep. Marilyn Giuliano petitioned the Small Town Economic Assistance Program for a grant of $500,000 to fund the town of Old Saybrook’s creation of the Main Street Connections Park and Parking Lot Project.

“This grant will improve our Main Street business district with much needed downtown parking and a recreational park for people to enjoy our downtown attractions,” said Giuliano.

The town will use the grant funding for capital improvements including redeveloping the irreparably storm-damaged Police Department property.  Additional downtown parking and a park with a canopied pathway and seating area are planned.

Giuliano said, “Old Saybrook has made an outstanding effort to redesign our downtown area. I am thankful to all those who assisted with this project and I look forward to seeing the progress.”

Valley Regional’s Production ‘Secret Garden’ Receives 12 Nominations for Music Theater Awards

Valley Regional Musical Productions’ newest cast member(s), Mr. Robin, arrives at rehearsal of THE SECRET GARDEN at Valley Regional High School.  (Back, left to right): VRMP cast members Megan Ryan, Shelby Talbot, Kristen Kilby and Annie Brown. (Front): Puppet artist Linda Wingerter

Valley Regional Musical Productions’ newest cast member(s), Mr. Robin, arrives at rehearsal of THE SECRET GARDEN at Valley Regional High School. (Back, left to right): VRMP cast members Megan Ryan, Shelby Talbot, Kristen Kilby and Annie Brown. (Front): Puppet artist Linda Wingerter

Valley Regional High School’s 2014 Production of The Secret Garden received 12 nominations for Connecticut High School Music Theater Award this year. The Award ceremony will take place at the black tie gala on Monday June 2, at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. Good luck to all our nominees!

OUTSTANDING HAIR & MAKE UP ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING COSTUMING ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY

OUTSTANDING MUSIC DIRECTION

OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTRESS, Maggie Walsh -MARY LENNOX

OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTOR, Andrew Goehring -ARCHIBALD CRAVEN

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR, Casey McKeon – DICKON SOWERBY

OUTSTANDING CHORUS

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR

Democrats Nominate Terrance Lomme as for Second Term as regional Judge of Probate

AREAWIDE— Democrats Thursday nominated incumbent Judge Terrance Lomme of Essex for a second four-year term as judge of probate for the nine-town region. Lomme was the unanimous choice of the 31 delegates gathered for the nominating convention at Essex Town Hall.
The nine-town region, which was established under the statewide consolidation of probate courts in 2010, includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. The court is located in Old Saybrook.
Lomme was nominated by Bruce Edgarton of Deep River, with seconding remarks from Larry Oullette of Clinton. Edgarton said Lomme has “invaluable experience,” as a practicing lawyer for 30 years and former local judge of probate in East Haddam during the early 1990s. He said Lomme had successfully implemented the consolidation of the nine local probate courts during the eight weeks between election day 2010 and the start of the new judge term in January 2011.
Lomme, in brief remarks to the convention, recalled his initial endorsement for the judge of probate position at a May 2010 party nominating convention where six candidates competed through six ballots before he secured a majority of the delegates. “What a difference four years makes,” he said, adding that “compassion and understanding” are requirements for the regional judge position..
Lomme won the party nomination in 2010 after an August primary with Raymond Rigat of Clinton, who was serving as that town’s local probate judge at the time. Lomme later defeated the Republican nominee, Clinton lawyer Anselmo Delia, by a 419 vote margin in the general election. Lomme faces a rematch contest with Delia in the Nov. 4 election. Delia was nominated for a second run for the regional judge position by delegates at the Republican convention on May 8.

Letters: Pleased with Sen. Linares’ Voting Record

To the Editor:

I’m sorry to read Mr. Harfst (letter May 13, 2014) is unsatisfied with Sen. Linares’ voting record.  I am quite pleased with it myself.

Senator Linares understands what raising the minimum wage does to small businesses.  He understands in this abysmal economy, forcing small business owners to pay a higher minimum wage can mean forcing them to cut low-wage jobs in order to stay afloat.  Otherwise the businesses go under, and then who does that help?  If Mr. Harfst believes those in menial jobs deserve higher pay, why stop at $10.10?  Why not go to $15?  How about $25 as the Swiss have proposed?  Low skill jobs were never intended to be the highlight of one’s career.  They were to be rungs in the ladder to help them achieve a higher ambition.  My own children did unpaid internships, worked for less than minimum wage in jobs during the summers, and now, as adults, they all have careers they busted their tushes to attain.  That’s the way our system is supposed to work.  People get rewarded for hard work done well.

Absentee ballots have been abused over the years.  With all the volunteers who are willing to drive people to the polls and the long hours the polls are open, it’s hard to believe people can’t get themselves to the polls one way or another.  It’s called personal responsibility.

Gun safety laws (i.e., gun control) after a tragedy like Sandy Hook help the population feel as though they’re doing something good after such a horrific event, however all the laws already on the books at the time of the tragedy didn’t prevent it.  Maybe if people at the school had been armed, someone may have been able to stop the perpetrator before he killed so many innocents.  We don’t read of the crimes stopped and people saved by armed citizens with concealed carry permits because those kinds of reports don’t fit the liberal narrative.  Personally, I feel safer thinking there might be someone in the shopping mall, theater, or restaurant who, at a moment’s notice, could fend off a madman.

And, speaking of the Constitution, I assume Mr. Harfst is for it.  I assume he enjoys the freedoms it assures.  If he is, then he is a Tea Partier.  Welcome!  Tea Party members, like me, believe in protecting the document that has been the envy of people all over the world, hence the reason so many want to become Americans.

As far as Sen. Linares voting “no” to certain legislation, I’m sure his reasons were as valid for his no vote as Mr. Harfst’s party’s reasons for voting for it.  As Justice Antonin Scalia says, and I’m paraphrasing, “Our system is set up to have roadblocks when it comes to legislation.  It helps prevent bad bills from being passed.  If both sides finally agree on a bill, it’s probably a good bill.”  I trust Sen. Linares to represent his constituents by using his judgment as to whether a bill is good or bad.  I also find it sad Mr. Harfst considers Sen. Linares’ “exploits” like supporting toy drives and hosting flag collections as unworthy endeavors.  I doubt the children who receive the toys or the patriots who know their tattered flags will be disposed of properly consider these events a waste of time.  And for him to vote “no” on even higher gas prices, I say “YAY”!  They’re already some of the highest taxes in the country and any increase hurts most the aforementioned low-wage earners Mr. Harfst presumes to want to help.

Senator Linares is continuously meeting, speaking to, and most of all, listening to his constituents so he can do the work they want him to do.  In other words, he’s doing exactly what he was elected to do.

Sincerely,

Adrienne Forrest
Essex

Carney Cruises to Victory in 23rd District Republican Convention

Devin Carney

Devin Carney

Devin Carney, Republican candidate for State Representative, won the 23rd District Convention by a vote of 10-4. His campaign was able to earn unanimous support from Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. This included votes from the Lyme First Selectman, Ralph Eno, the Old Saybrook First Selectman, Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., and the current State Representative for the 23rd District, Marilyn Giuliano, who also gave Carney his nominating speech and has endorsed him.

In a statement, Giuliano said, “I believe Devin will work for all of us with energy and integrity, and with an interest not in politics, but public service.” Giuliano lost her convention in 2002 by onlytwo votes on a second ballot vote after the first vote failed to determine a winner by majority, but defeated her opponent in a primary due to her showing in her hometown of Old Saybrook.

In addition to the support at convention, Carney has received support from each town – which can be seen through his strong fundraising effort. He collected 95 donations from Old Saybrook, 57 from Old Lyme, 35 from Westbrook, and 18 from Lyme.

Carney stated, “The results at convention were a testament to the hard work I’ve put in these past few months and to the confidence the delegates have in me to win in November. I bring new, fresh ideas to the table and can’t wait to get up to Hartford to offer some much-needed common sense. I am not your typical politician, but rather a regular person just trying to fix our economy, get jobs back in Connecticut, and help rejuvenate the Republican Party in this state.”

He continued, “Most importantly, I believe the people of the 23rd District deserve a representative who understands the unique issues in each of the four towns. While I live in Old Saybrook, my family is from Westbrook, my mother lives in Lyme, and my longtime girlfriend lives in Old Lyme with her children. I have a personal stake in each town and will be a representative for all; the people of the 23rd deserve nothing less.”

For more information about Carney’s campaign, contact Melissa Bonner at carneyfor23pr@gmail.com.

Talking Transportation: America’s Interstate Highways

The 47,000 miles of highways that comprise America’s interstate highway system are nothing short of an engineering marvel, surpassed only by what China has built in the last few years.

We take them for granted, but when they were designed almost 60 years ago these super-highways presented both great opportunity and vast challenges. The US wasn’t the first with super-highways. Those bragging rights go to the Germans, whose Reichsautobahn saw cars zooming along at 100+ mph in the 1930′s.

Most credit President Eisenhower, whose troops rode the Autobahn in WWII, for seeing the military value of an American equivalent, though engineering such a complex across the US was far more difficult.

Of course, by 1940 the US already had the Pennsylvania Turnpike and, by 1954, the NY State Thruway, but private toll roads were just the beginning.

To build a road expected to last, in 1955 the federal government, AAA and automakers first built a $27 million seven mile test road near Ottawa, Illinois. Half was concrete, the other half asphalt. The 836 separate sections of highway had various sub-surfaces and 16 bridges. For two years army trucks drove night and day, seeing which road designs would hold up.

Weather and traffic dictated different designs: in desert areas the highways need be only a foot thick, while in Maine the tough winter and freeze-thaw cycles required that I-95 would be five feet thick.

Construction of the highways required moving 42 billion cubic feet of soil. To expedite construction of I-40 in California, there was even a plan to use nuclear bombs to vaporize part of the Bristol Mountain range.

As author Dan McNichol writes in his excellent book, “The Roads that Built America”, “VIP seating was even planned for the event. The (nuclear) bombing was to produce a cloud 12,000 feet high and a radioactive blast 133 times that of Hiroshima.” Needless to say, the mountains were moved using more conventional explosives.

Outside of Greenbelt, Md., another site tested the design of road signs … white lettering on a black background, white on blue (already adopted by the NY Thruway) or, what proved to be the winning model, white on green.

Just 5,200 of the original 41,000 miles of Interstates were to be built in urban areas, but those few miles accounted for almost half of the $425 billion total cost. By 1992 the system was deemed “completed”. Bragging rights for the longest of the interstates goes to I-90 running 3,020 miles from Boston to Seattle and our own beloved I-95, which runs 1,920 miles from the Canadian border to Miami, Fla.

As anyone who drives on I-95 in Connecticut knows, the interstates have far surpassed their expected traffic load and are in need of billions of repairs. Little did we know 60 years ago what our automotive future might bring.

Jim Cameron

Jim CameronJim Cameron has been a Darien resident for 22 years. He is the founder of the Commuter Action Group and also serves on the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

Local Companies Honored by Middlesex United Way

Jason Bohn, Paulette Swanson and Vin Capece accept an award for Middlesex Hospital at the Middlesex United Way Campaign Awards Breakfast. Capece served as chair of the 2013-14 Middlesex United Way Campaign for Middlesex County.

Jason Bohn, Paulette Swanson and Vin Capece accept an award for Middlesex Hospital at the Middlesex United Way Campaign Awards Breakfast. Capece served as chair of the 2013-14 Middlesex United Way Campaign for Middlesex County.

AREAWIDE – More than 75 companies, organizations, and individuals were honored May 6 for their contributions to raising $1.75 million for the 2013-14 Middlesex United Way Campaign.

Local companies recognized include: AAA Allied Group, Old Saybrook; AT&T, Inc., Essex and Old Saybrook; Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT, Essex; Community Health Center, Old Saybrook; Essex Savings Bank, Essex; Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., Old Saybrook; Liberty Bank, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook; Mahoney Sabol & Company LLP, Essex; Middlesex Hospital, Essex; Stop & Shop SupermarketCo., Old Saybrook; and Tower Laboratories, Centerbrook.

The top honor, the Corporate Spirit Award, was presented to Standard-Knapp, of Portland. The Corporate Spirit Award is the highest honor a company can receive for running a United Way campaign.

Other distinguished honors were awarded to: East Hampton resident Meghan Slater, of the Middletown firm Wright-Pierce, who was named Coordinator of the Year for bringing enthusiasm and creativity to the workplace campaign; Carol P. Wallace, CEO of Cooper-Atkins Corp. in Middlefield, who earned the Leadership Award for exemplifying philanthropic leadership through support of the United Way campaign; and Kuhn Employment Opportunities in Middletown, named Funding Partner of the Year for achieving noteworthy results in employee giving and special events by a Middlesex United Way funding partner.

Special Achievement Awards for outstanding Middlesex United Way campaigns were presented to: Henkels & McCoy, of Portland; Lyman Farm, Inc. of Middlefield, Town of Durham; and Middlesex Hospital and Webster Bank, both with locations throughout Middlesex County.

Colebrook Financial in Middletown was awarded the Small Business Community Partnership Award for outstanding support by a small business.

2013-14 Campaign Chair Vincent G. Capece, Jr., of Middlesex Hospital, was honored for his leadership during the campaign, and Dr. Pat Charles, superintendent of Middletown Public Schools, was announced as the incoming 2014-15 Campaign Chair.

The funds raised by these companies through the Middlesex United Way campaign will be invested in strategies to advance education, income, health and housing in Middlesex County. Middlesex United Way is a locally based organization dedicated to strengthening lives, helping people, and improving community conditions in the fifteen towns in Middlesex County. Middlesex United Way serves the towns of Chester, Clinton, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Middlefield, Middletown, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

For a complete list of all 2013-14 Middlesex United Way Campaign Award winners, visit www.middlesexunitedway.org/news.

State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg Addresses Nominating Convention of Rep. Joe Courtney

From left: Emily Bjornberg, Rep. Joe Courtney and State Rep. Mae Flexer (D-Killingly) at Courtney's nominating convention earlier this week.

From left: Emily Bjornberg, Rep. Joe Courtney and State Rep. Mae Flexer (D-Killingly) at Courtney’s nominating convention earlier this week.

Emily Bjornberg of Lyme, Democratic candidate for the State Senate in the 33rd District, addressed the nominating convention of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-2nd) on Wednesday evening at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield.

The 33rd District includes Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

“Joe Courtney has amassed a stellar record of fighting hard for education, defense, agriculture and small business. He holds true to the values that matter most to Eastern Connecticut, and we are proud to call him our representative,” said Bjornberg.

Courtney is seeking a fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of the second district of Connecticut for more than seven years, and I am looking forward to running again. I am grateful for the strong support displayed at our convention, which demonstrates the importance of the work we will continue to do in Connecticut and in Washington,” said Courtney in a prepared statement.

Essex Eyesore to be Demolished on May 27

Abandonned "Slum House" at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Abandonned “Slum House” at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Essex’s number one eyesore, the abandoned property at the corner of North Main Street and New City Street at 63 North Main Street, will be torn down on May 27. This is the promise of Ina Bromze, who purchased the property from the bank last April for $142,000.

According to Ms. Bromze, the highlight of the new park on the site will be a bronze statue of her beloved dog, “Morgana.” Morgana died last year, but when she was alive she and her mistress were a frequent sight walking around Essex.

Ms. Bronze still takes her walks around Essex, but now she walks alone.

Essex Finance Board Sets Tax Rate at 20.99 Mills For 2014-2015

ESSEX— The board of finance Thursday set a property tax rate of 20.99 mills to fund the total $23.05 million town/schools spending package for 2014-2015 that was approved by voters at the May 12 annual budget meeting. The rate, representing $20.99 in tax for each $1,000 in assessed property value, is up by two mills from the current rate of 18.99 mills.
Much of the two mill tax hike was required to make up for revenue lost after the townwide property revaluation completed last year led to a 7.72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property. Despite the increase, First Selectman Norman Needleman said Thursday about 80 percent of the town’s residential property owners would see only a “nominal” decrease or increase in the property tax bill they receive next month. Most, but not all, of the town’s residential properties had a drop in assessed value under the first revaluation conducted since the Great Recession began in 2008.
Finance Director Kelly Sterner presented the board with ten options for the tax rate, beginning with an “adjusted mill rate” of 20.62 mills to cover the drop in the grand list after revaluation. Sterner said the “break even mill rate,” with no planned deficit, would be 21.05 mills. She noted the finance board, in setting the rate at 18.99 mills last year, had projected a potential deficit of about $113,000, with the understanding that any possible deficit could be covered from the town’s estimated $2.7 million undesignated fund balance.
But with help from unanticipated revenue, a small Region 4 education budget surplus that was returned to the town, and under spending in some accounts, the projected deficit became a surplus of about $100,000 that will put the fund balance at about $2.8 million when the current fiscal year ends on June 30. Needleman predicted there would be some surplus remaining from the 2014-2015 budget, and urged the finance board to limit the tax increase to a 1.65 percent rise that would match the increase in spending.
A 1.65 percent increase would require a tax rate of about 20.96 mills, with a potential, but not certain, deficit of about $100,000. But board Chairman Keith Crehan said he would prefer to project a slightly lower deficit in the event there is less surplus remaining as the 2014-2015 fiscal year draws to a close. Crehan favored a tax rate of 20.99 mills, a figure that would project a deficit of around $55,000 at the close of the next fiscal year.
The 20.99 rate was approved on a unanimous and bipartisan vote, with Democratic members Campbell Hudson, Mary Louise Pollo, and Donald Mesite joining Republican Crehan in supporting the 20.99 rate. Democrat Fred Vollono and Republican Jeffrey Woods were absent fromThursday’s meeting.

Republicans Nominate Chester Harris of Haddam for 36th House District Seat

AREAWIDE— Republicans Wednesday nominated Chester Harris of Haddam for the 36th State House District seat. Harris, making his second run for the seat, will challenge incumbent Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex in the Nov. 4 election.
Harris, 56, was the unanimous choice of the 11 delegates gathered for the nominating convention at  the Griswold Inn in Essex. The district includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam
Harris, a resident of the Haddam Neck section of Haddam located on the east side of the Connecticut River, had run for the seat previously in 2010, losing to than incumbent Democrat representative James Spallone of Essex on a,6,055-4,251 vote. But Spallone never began the term he was elected to in 2010, resigning weeks after the election to assume the position of Deputy Secretary of the State.
Miller, who had served as Democratic first selectman of Essex since 2003, was elected in a February 2011 special election, defeating Republican nominee and former television news anchorwoman Janet Peckenpaugh. Miller was elected to a full term, in 2012, defeating Republican Vince Pacileo of Essex on a 7,105-5,352 vote. Miller is expected to be nominated for a new two year term by district Democrats at a May 20convention.
Harris has served previously as an elected member of the Region 17 Board of  Education that supervises schools in Haddam and Killingworth. After working previously as a livery driver, Harris is currently on disability leave. He is the married father of two grown step-children.
Harris said he is planning an active campaign for the fall election, but would not attempt to qualify for state funding through the Citizens Elections Program. Harris said he would be “willing to try to work with everybody to solve the state’s problems,” but would “never compromise on my principles.”

Lanier Reaches Goal to Qualify for Public Election Campaign Funds

Vicki Lanier (R) of Old Lyme has announced that in just six weeks of active fundraising, she significantly exceeded the required amount of funds and number of donors to qualify for public campaign funds to be used both in any

primary efforts and ultimately in her race against any Democratic candidate this November. Lanier’s donors have come from both statewide and the four towns with areas in the 23rd District, namely Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, Lyme and Westbrook.

Lanier commented, “I am excited by the level of support we have so quickly built for my campaign effort. My extensive experience of true civic service and real accomplishments as an elected official have prepared me for the demands of serving as an effective state assembly member. ”

She added, “With the close of the 2014 legislative session, I would also like to express my thanks to our distinguished retiring 23rd district state representative, Marilyn Giuliano. She has done an outstanding job of balancing leadership on issues with listening to constituents and advocating for their views.”

Vicki, a life-long resident of Old Lyme, was elected to the Regional District 18 Board of Education in 2009, where she served as treasurer. She holds a law degree from Quinnipiac University and practices family law. She is a contributing mentor to various women’s groups and active in community efforts supporting children and small businesses.

For additional information, contact vickilanier2014@gmail.com. Visit her page on Facebook at “Lanier2014″ and her website at www.lanier2014.com.