July 7, 2015

TTYSB Encourages Residents to Get Involved in the ‘Year of the Story’

TTYS placemat
Have you noticed the “2015: Year of the Story” placemats at some of your favorite restaurants in the tri-town area, including Moravella’s, Pattaconk, The Villager and Wheat Market in Chester;  DaVinci Pizza, The Ivory, and the Whistle Stop in Deep River; and Centerbrook Pizza in Essex?

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau (TTYSB) is grateful for the support of these businesses in getting out the word about this year’s Community Story project. Individual adults and youth are also stepping up to participate in this story-making process. Each person, whatever their involvement, does make a difference.

Do you want to pass on your knowledge, experience, sense of resilience and possibility? What has it meant for you to be part of the Tri-Town community?

TTYSB encourages everyone to beciome involved in this project to celebrate our community through stories

How?

First, consider the most challenging thing you had to face while growing up; how did you manage to overcome it? Then tell your story to a trained story-gatherer—many of these volunteers are your friends and neighbors and they will be collecting stories through April, 2015. After that a professional playwright will be turning our community members’ stories into a one-act play. T

Then during the summer of 2015, volunteer to become a member of the cast, crew or audience for the community performance to be held on Oct. 2, 3 and 4th. Three performances, two evening shows and a matinee, will ensure that every community member will get a chance to attend.

Finally, explore additional ways to build assets, community connections and supportive relationships for the benefit of individuals, families and the community throughout 2015 and beyond.

CBSRZ Hosts Community Passover Seder, April 4; Reserve by March 20

Do you remember the smell of Grandma’s Matzah Ball soup simmering on the stove as she prepared for Passover seder?

If you are looking for an opportunity to reconnect with your Jewish heritage, make a call to learn about Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ)’s Community Passover Seder at the synagogue in Chester.

The seder will be on the second night of Passover, Saturday, April 4, starting at 6 p.m.  The family-style seder, led by Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg and Cantorial Soloist Belinda Brennan, will stimulate lots of discussion, participation, and singing.

The meal, as prepared by Bob and Linda Zemmel, owners of Alforno Restaurant, will include delicious brisket, chicken, homemade matzah ball soup and many side dishes.  There will also be kid-friendly options.

Call the CBSRZ office at860-526-8920 for information on prices and to make a reservation.  Reservations are required no later than March 20.

Miller Backs Bill to Cap Monthly Fixed Charge on Electric Bills

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Philip Miller (D-Essex/Chester/Deep River/Haddam) is calling for approval of legislation that would cap the monthly fixed charge on residential electric bills.

Rep. Miller Tuesday submitted testimony in favor of S.B. 570, “An Act Concerning Electric Savings And Fixed Bill Fees”, a bill under consideration by the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee.

Rep. Miller emphasized he favors capping the monthly fixed charge on electric bills at ten dollars, saying it is fair and constant, not subject to change.

“Our recent utility hike on this fixed charge was done under the guise of investing to correct deferred maintenance,” Rep. Miller said. “I feel as though it was really a thinly veiled excuse to enrich utility shareholders.”

Lawmakers last year passed a public act that implemented several reforms to protect electric consumers. Included in the public act was a new provision that begins in July requiring that every residential customer’s monthly bill must display their rate for the coming month.

Rep. Miller contended that the providers should make the case for regular rate hikes as needed.

“Customers may practice conservation, including solar installation, among other emergent technologies, in efforts to reduce and limit their use, to save money,” Rep. Miller said. “Senate Bill 570 is a good bill and ought to pass.”

Rep. Miller is House Chair of the Planning and Development Committee.

Legal News You Can Use: The Do’s and Don’ts of a “Good” Divorce

Divorce_photoWe are delighted to introduce a new column today, which will be a monthly feature written by attorneys at Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law in New London. This month’s column discusses ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of a “Good” Divorce’ and is written by Attorney Robert G. Tukey. He is a Director at Suisman Shapiro whose practice concentrates in family law.

The Do’s and Don’ts of a “Good” Divorce

Unfortunately, more than 40 percent of marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce. Divorce can be financially and emotionally devastating and especially stressful for children involved.
If you are faced with the prospect of divorce, it is in your family’s best interest to approach it from an amicable perspective. As many divorced couples understand, it is possible to have a healthy breakup and start a new life.

Do be respectful and maintain a cordial relationship with your spouse. Try to keep the lines of communication open. Be reasonable about expectations, and cooperate with your spouse to achieve the best results for your family.

Do put your kids first, and ensure they know they are not the cause of the divorce. Make sure you and your spouse send a consistent and coordinated message to your children.

Do get professional counseling if needed, for yourself and your children.

Do document everything. Understand your assets and liabilities. Get appraisals, and make copies of important documents.

Don’t draw your children into your arguments, and never question them about your spouse’s activities. Always be respectful of your spouse in front of the children, and remember the Golden Rule: if you do not have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Kids do better when they maintain close relationships with both parents.

Don’t violate custody or visitation agreements, including the Automatic Orders that attach to every divorce. These Automatic Orders include not taking the child(ren) out of state without written permission or consent from the other party, maintaining an open line of communication between the child(ren) and the non-custodial parent, maintaining the child(ren) on any existing medical coverage, and completion of the Parenting Education Program for the benefit of the child(ren).

Don’t attempt to shield property or assets from your spouse. All items of value must be disclosed. Your credibility is your most important attribute, which cannot be restored should untruthfulness be exposed during the divorce process.

Do hire an experienced attorney. Beware of online divorce websites, which promote do-it-yourself divorce as a cheap and easy alternative to working with an attorney. While the Internet can be a good resource for information, you can also receive bad advice online.

There are many nuances in divorce and custody cases that make “cookie cutter” divorce kits inappropriate. It’s very important to protect your interests by hiring a knowledgeable attorney, because there are numerous things that cannot be changed after final judgment.

Do explore your options regarding alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration. In addition to facing the emotional trauma of separating a family unit, the process of dividing years of accumulated assets can be complicated and overwhelming. Divorce through the Connecticut State Court can take months, or even years, of time-consuming and expensive Court appearances.

The process of mediation is an attempt to resolve disputes outside of Court with the help of a neutral third party who can achieve a common ground and a mutually agreeable resolution. If the parties are unable to reach consensus, arbitration allows the parties to efficiently present their respective positions to an impartial, neutral third party decision-maker, similar to a trial judge, called an Arbitrator.

Through arbitration couples have much more control over scheduling and privacy. Both spouses and their attorneys agree on the Arbitrator, hearing time, and location. They also approve the rules and procedures ahead of time. The Arbitrator’s decision is binding, so appeals rarely become an issue in the future. The proceedings can be completely confidential and only the final decision will be approved and filed with the court.

Attorney Robert G. Tukey is a Director at Suisman Shapiro whose practice concentrates in family law. Contact him via email at rtukey@sswbgg.com or via phone at (860)442-4416 with questions regarding divorce and custody matters.

TTYSB Launches Six-Postcard ‘Parent Toolkit’ to Increase Marijuana Danger Awareness

ttysContinuing through June, 2015, Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau (TTYSB) is conducting a direct mail campaign to provide every household in the community with a “Parent’s Toolkit.” Not just for parents, the six-postcard toolkit is designed to enhance both the awareness of and the capacity for all adults in the tri-town area to share among themselves and to deliver valuable and consistent messages to youth about the dangers for young people in using marijuana before their brains have fully matured.

The toolkit counters the persistent myths and confusion around marijuana use, including that smoking marijuana is “no big deal,” and that “everything in moderation” is a prescription for child and adolescent health.

While we still need a machine—an fMRI—to literally illustrate the negative effects of marijuana on a young person’s brain, research clearly shows that marijuana use can hijack the brain’s sensitive construction process. Since human brain development continues through age 25, the rule — rather than the exception — for healthy youth development is delay, delay, delay any substance use, including the use of marijuana in any form.

The health of our children and young people is a measure of the health of our whole community. One researcher recently proclaimed: “Keep them alive ‘till 25!” She was talking to both young people and adults since youth have a responsibility to their futures selves. They can keep their healthy brain cells and process alive and well now to increase the likelihood that they will have the best chance of success for the rest of their lives.

Adults, meanwhile, can persist, in spite of the current controversies about marijuana decriminalization, medicalization and legalization — both in Connecticut and nationwide — to share among themselves the facts, rather than the myths, and to send consistent, science-based messages to our young people to ensure the greatest possibility of individual, family and community health.

The Parent Toolkit was originally developed by the Croton Community Coalition of Croton-on-Hudson, NY, and cited as a significant resource for community coalitions by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the premier membership organization representing those working to make their communities safe, healthy and drug-free.

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  The Bureau coordinates and provides 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

Join Sacred Heart Academy to Fundraise “Under the Tuscan Sun,” March 28

Join Sacred Heart Academy "Under the Tuscan Sun" Saturday Evening, March 28 Jeff and Frances Pellegrino Granquist '80 - 2015 "Under the Tuscan Sun" Auction Chairs.  Photo Courtesy of Storytellers Photography of North Haven

Jeff and Frances Pellegrino Granquist, Class of ’80, are the Auction Chairs at Sacred Heart Academy’s “Under the Tuscan Sun” event, March 28. Photo Courtesy of Storytellers Photography of North Haven

Experience the tastes of Tuscany with hors d’oeuvres, buffet dining, and Italian desserts at Sacred Heart Academy’s signature fundraising event – The 2015 Live and Silent Auction Under the Tuscan Sun – on Saturday, March 28.

This year’s Auction promises a wonderful evening – an event with a great theme, staging, cuisine, and the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind items,” offered President Sr. Sheila O’Neill, ASCJ, Ph.D.,’71.  The Auction is our signature event and chairs Jeff and Fran Pellegrino Granquist, Class of ’80, and their committee are working tenaciously to make this a tremendous success.” she added.

Doors open at 5 p.m. with complimentary wine and beer, hors d’oeuvres, buffet dining, and Silent Auction followed by desserts and Live Auction with renowned and spirited guest auctioneer, Eric Hummel. This year’s special guest is Marc Garofalo, as master of ceremonies.

Jeff and Frances Pellegrino Granquist of Wallingford, are spearheading “Under the Tuscan Sun” along with a committee comprised of more than 75 parents, alumnae, and friends of the Academy.

Up for bid this year is a Ten Day Escape to Sicily, a Week at Florida’s Marriott Grande Vista and  a Week in Aruba, Five Days in Vegas, a Vespa Scooter, sports tickets including Yankees, Red Sox, NY Giants and more, a Walking Tour of New Haven, a NYC Scavenger Hunt, golf packages, catered dinners, electronics and much, much more.

Adding to the festivities is the $10,000 Cash Raffle. Tickets, at $20 each, are currently on sale and can be purchased by calling the Academy at 203-287-8181, x372. To download a raffle ticket order form, visit www.sacredhearthamden.org/auction. The drawing will be held at 9 p.m. the night of the Auction and winner need not be present.

For additional information on the Auction, including the latest items available and menu, or to make your reservations for “Under the Tuscan Sun” visit www.sacredhearthamden.org/auction or contact Maryanne Pisani at 203-287-8181, x372 or mpisani@sacredhearthamden.org. Tickets are $70 per person and tables of 10 are $700.

Sacred Heart Academy, an independent Catholic college preparatory school founded in 1946 by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, successfully prepares young women in grades 9 – 12 for learning, service and achievement in a global society. Over 500 students hail from New Haven, Fairfield, Middlesex, New London and Hartford counties.

Essex Resident Earns High Honors at Sacred Heart Academy

Sacred Heart Academy Principal Sr. Maureen Flynn, ASCJ recently announced the Honor Roll for the second marking period of the 2014 – 15 academic year.

Sophie Park of Essex earned High Honors.

Honors are awarded at the end of each quarter to students attaining an average of 3.5 or better. Those students who achieve a Grade Point average of 3.8 or greater are awarded High Honors.

Sacred Heart Academy, an independent Catholic college preparatory school founded in 1946 by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, successfully prepares young women in grades 9 –12 for learning, service and achievement in a global society. The Academy has an enrollment of 500 students hailing from New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex and New London counties.

Ribbon-Cutting Celebrates Chester Town Hall’s Solar Array Installation

At the ribbon cutting ceremony for Chester Town Hall's new solar array were (from left to right): Michael Benjamin, Raen Corbett, James Tedeschi, First Selectman Ed Meehan, Chris Lenda from Aegis Solar, Leah Bargnesi, Maggie Treichel from CT Solar Challenge, and Pat Woomer from Chester Energy Team.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony for Chester Town Hall’s new solar array were (from left to right): Michael Benjamin, Raen Corbett, James Tedeschi, First Selectman Ed Meehan, Chris Lenda from Aegis Solar, Leah Bargnesi, Maggie Treichel from CT Solar Challenge, and Pat Woomer from Chester Energy Team.

CHESTER — On Feb. 12, the Chester Energy Team hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Chester Town Hall’s solar array. Due to the weather, the ribbon cutting was reenacted indoors by students from the Chester Elementary School’s Energy Team. The town hall’s photovoltaic solar array, which was installed recently, was awarded to the town for operating the CT Solar Challenge, which resulted in 20 new residential photovoltaic and thermal installations.

“The town hall’s new system marks another step on our town’s path to carbon neutrality,” said Pat Woomer, chairman of the Chester Energy Team. “We are proud to be moving forward with these significant investments in clean energy because we believe we have an obligation to be a model for Chester and other communities.”

With the Energy Team’s help, by 2018 Chester hopes to achieve its commitment to the Clean Energy Pledge signed in 2013.

(Ice) Dammed If You Don’t …

An example of a roof ice dam in Willimantic.

An example of a roof ice dam in Willimantic.

Ice dams form when water from melting snow refreezes at the eaves or gutters.  Water can then pond above the ice dam and even leak into the building.  This is almost always a sign that (1) the attic is not properly insulated, (2) the roof is not properly ventilated, and (3) if there is leakage, the membrane beneath the shingles is not working.

In an ideal situation, proper insulation does its work to keep heat inside the house, and the roof is merely a means to keep rain or snow out.  If your attic is not a living space, lots of insulation between the ceiling below and the attic space ensures that very little heat gets up there.  Proper ventilation of the attic space then ensures that the roof never gets warm enough to melt snow on top of it.

Even if the room directly beneath the roof is a living space, the same principles apply.  In this case, it is much harder to install enough insulation, but there should be a space between the insulation and the roof’s inside sheathing so that cold air can flow from eave vents up through that space to carry away any heat that gets through the insulation.

Modern materials such as “snow and ice membrane” provide a very good seal beneath the shingles.  If your roof is old, it may have tarpaper, which degrades and becomes brittle. If so, it may be time (this summer) to have your roof stripped down to the sheathing and to have lots of membrane and good flashing installed.  It may be possible to have soffit vents and adequate roof ventilation installed at the same time.

But in the meantime, if you have ice dams, it is important to drain the pond above the dam.  Unfortunately it is almost impossible to do this with heat or an ice pick. Here’s a suggestion of a good temporary fix:  make “sausages” by filling a stocking or similar porous tube with either rock salt or calcium chloride crystals and lay this across the ice dam so that it melts a channel through the dam to drain the pond.

Good Luck!

Rick Holloway is a longtime member of the Chester Energy Team. Look up the E-Team on the www.chesterct.org town site or Facebook.com/ChesterCTEnergyTeam

‘China Day’ at Essex Elementary Offers Lantern Learning

3rd Grader Raegan Wyrebek-Brasky makes a paper lantern during EESF's China Day.

3rd Grader Raegan Wyrebek-Brasky makes a paper lantern during EESF’s China Day.

ESSEX — Second and third grade students recently practiced martial arts, made paper lanterns and learned new letters during China Day at Essex Elementary School.  The celebration, funded by the Essex Elementary School Foundation’s (EESF) Justus W. Paul World Cultures Program, included activities with Asian Performing Arts of Connecticut and Malee’s School of Tae Chi.
Chinese lanterns made during China Day at Essex Elementary School funded by the EESF.

Chinese lanterns made during China Day funded by EESF at Essex Elementary School. .

The EESF is looking for your support.  The not-for-profit, volunteer organization provides funds for enrichment programs that bring a mathematician and historian-in-residence into the classrooms, as well as an iPad lab and author visits.

For donation information, visit www.essexelementaryschoolfoundation.org.

Acton Public Library Presents Key Chain Collection During March

For the last weeks of February and the month of March, the Acton Public Library will be hosting a display of 7th grade St. John’s Student Katie Conklin’s collection of keychains. Katie has been collecting keychains since the age of three.

The Acton Public Library is open Monday through Thursday from 10am until 8:30 pm, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.

 

Essex Garden Club Hosts Successful Terrarium Workshop

EGCterrarium1

Sandy Meister, left, works with a participant at the terrarium workshop.

 

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club and Essex Library Association co-sponsored a terrarium workshop on Saturday, Feb. 7, at Essex Library.

Workshop participants create their masterpieces.

Workshop participants create their masterpieces.

Twenty participants were given step-by-step instructions by Sandy Meister of the Essex Garden Club.  She also provided information on choosing plants and tips on garden maintenance.

 

‘Healthy Addiction’ in Old Lyme Offers New Indoor Rowing Classes, All Levels Welcome

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 8.07.37 AM

OLD LYME — Healthy Addiction, located at 5 – 1 Davis Rd. East in Old Lyme, has announced the opening of four, new indoor rowing classes each week. These classes are run by Lizzie Simons, a certified “rowing” and “learn-to-row” instructor, as well as a personal trainer.

Monday and Thursday classes are for advanced rowers, meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m., with “Long and Strong” rowing on Mondays, and “Strength and Speed” on Wednesdays. Tuesday and Thursday classes take place between 5:30 and 7 p.m., with an emphasis on “Heart Health.”

Lizzie Simon in action

Lizzie Simons in action

Rod Clingman, a Tuesday-Thursday rower, comments, “Staying true to my New Year’s resolution of keeping in shape, I was very happy to learn about the offerings of Healthy Addiction … I took advantage of a free learn to row seminar on a Sunday afternoon and was quickly brought up to speed by the instructor, Lizzie Simons. I was now ready to row! He continues, “We run through different drills which include rowing and stretching. Lizzie has a new lesson plan for each session to keep your workout fresh. Healthy Addiction really is a hidden gem.”

For more information, visit HealthyAddiction.net or call 860.237.3707.

Talking Transportation: Is Metro-North Irreplaceable?

What is Connecticut’s relationship with Metro-North? Client – vendor? Shared partnership? Stockholm syndrome? Or is the railroad a “fanged sloth” hanging around our neck?

All of those analogies has been made to the state’s 30+ year relationship with Metro-North, part of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). But given their dismal safety record and deteriorating service in recent years, many have asked, “Is it time to fire Metro-North and find someone else to run our trains?”

I posed that very question almost four years ago and people were shocked, not knowing that such a thing was even possible. Now there are even laws being considered in Hartford to rid us of the railroad.

But even though Metro-North works for us, CDOT’s Commissioner Jim Redeker says they should not … in fact, cannot … be replaced.

Redeker recently testified that Metro-North is uniquely qualified and staffed to run a commuter rail operation of its size and that there are no other potential competitors he’d consider as operator, let alone try to build our own agency from scratch. On this point he’s probably right.

Where he’s wrong is in arguing that replacing Metro-North would mean we wouldn’t be allowed to run “Our trains” into “Their station,” Grand Central Terminal (GCT).

There are plenty of railroads with operating rights on others’ tracks. New Jersey Transit has no trouble getting into Penn Station. Virginia Railway Express runs into downtown DC. Does Commissioner Redeker really think that our Congressional delegation couldn’t force the MTA to give us access to GCT? It wouldn’t be an easy fight, but this is certainly no deal-breaker to replacing Metro-North.

Alternative #3 is to renegotiate our contract with the railroad. This opportunity only presents itself every five years, and 2015 is one of those windows. Maybe we should get them to commit to service standards, as their current contract has no metrics to measure their performance. But again, Commissioner Redeker seems reticent to fight for our state or its commuters.

He reminded lawmakers that the last time Connecticut arbitrated the contract, we were out-smarted and ending up with a worse deal than we’d had before. The MTA’s army of lawyers took us to the cleaners, costing us millions more in payments to Metro-North each year. Apparently the Commissioner thinks we’re not smart enough to negotiate a better deal, so why even try?

So, just to recap … our Commissioner of Transportation says we have no real options, that we have to work with Metro-North, but we’re probably not savvy enough to get any better deal than we have now. So let’s just wave the white flag before the battle begins and keep paying $70+ million a year for lousy train service.

Now there is inspired leadership! Declare defeat and just walk away. Let the “fanged sloth” continue to hang around our necks. We really have no choice. Suck it up because Metro-North, our vendor, is running the show.

Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron

About the author:
Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com
For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, see www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

Tractor Supply Co. Announces Third Annual National FFA Scholarship Program

AREAWIDE — Coming off the heels of a successful second year in 2014, Tractor Supply Company has announced the third annual Growing Scholars program in partnership with the National FFA Foundation. Last year, Tractor Supply customers donated $447,671, resulting in 334 scholarships awarded to FFA members in their pursuit of a college degree.

The Growing Scholars program will be supported nationally by each of the more than 1,400 Tractor Supply and Del’s Feed & Farm Supply stores Feb. 20 – March 1, which includes National FFA Week. Tractor Supply customers can donate $1 or more at store registers during the checkout process to support local FFA chapters and their members. Ninety percent of funds raised through Tractor Supply’s Growing Scholars program will be utilized to fund scholarships for FFA members. The remaining 10 percent of donations will benefit state FFA organizations.

“The funding we received from our customers last year was tremendous,” said Tractor Supply President and CEO Greg Sandfort. “We’re honored to be able to provide critical funding to FFA members who intend to pursue a college degree. Many of these students go on to be agriculture educators – and we know how important ag. ed. is to our communities, customers, and the lifestyle they value. Local FFA chapters enrich the lives of young members by teaching life skills, citizenship and leadership qualities. Giving back to our 1,300-plus communities that we serve is very important, and the Growing Scholars program is one of the ways that we support our current and future customers and future team members.”

To be eligible for the scholarship program, students must be current FFA members and either high school seniors or a freshman, sophomore or junior college student seeking a two- or four-year degree or other specialized training program. Major areas of study will also be considered when determining scholarship recipients.

“We can’t thank Tractor Supply and its customers enough for supporting FFA, student and alumni members and agriculture education in general,” said National FFA Foundation President Molly A. Ball. “The Growing Scholars program truly makes a difference in the lives of our youth.”

In addition to the Growing Scholars program, Tractor Supply and the National FFA Foundation have many other joint initiatives, including the FFA horse evaluation career development event, National FFA Week and the annual National Association of Agricultural Educators Conference. At an individual store level, Tractor Supply continually hosts fund-raising events and works closely with local FFA chapters and high school agriculture advisors to provide resources and leverage synergies.

“Local high school agricultural advisors and FFA chapters feel at home in their local Tractor Supply stores,” said Christi Korzekwa, senior vice president of marketing at Tractor Supply. “These groups often host fund-raising events at our stores to raise money for community projects, like building a school greenhouse, a new bridge in a public park or an animal care lab. Our stores also work with local FFA members to support specific programs and proficiencies by providing demonstrations from knowledgeable Tractor Supply employees and our vendor partners, which brings significant value to both organizations.”

Tractor Supply has been a sponsor of the National FFA Foundation for 28 years. The National FFA Foundation is the fundraising arm of the National FFA Organization, which provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 610,240 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,665 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Tractor Supply Company

Tractor Supply Company operates more than 1,400 stores in 49 states, including one in Old Saybrook. Located in the outlying towns in major metropolitan markets and in rural communities, Tractor Supply Company stores are focused on supplying the lifestyle needs of recreational farmers and ranchers and others who enjoy the rural lifestyle, as well as tradesmen and small businesses. The Company offers a comprehensive selection of merchandise for the health, care, growth and containment of horses, livestock and pets including select Purina and Nutrena brand feeds; hardware, truck, towing and tool products; and seasonal products, including lawn and garden items, power equipment, gifts and toys. In addition, the company sells work/recreational clothing and footwear for the entire family and maintenance products for agricultural and rural use. For more information on Tractor Supply, access the website at www.TractorSupply.com.

National FFA Foundation
The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agriculture education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees comprised of educators, business leaders, individual donors and FFA alumni, the foundation is a separately-registered nonprofit organization. About 82 percent of all sponsorship dollars received by the foundation support FFA members and agricultural education opportunities. For more, visit the National FFA Foundation at http://www.FFA.org/Give.

Chester Grand List Shows One Percent Increase

CHESTER — The grand list of taxable property is up by one percent after a full townwide property revaluation completed in 2013 led to a 12 percent decrease in the grand list total. Assessor Loretta Zdanys has filed an October 2014 grand list that totals $442,507,270, an increase of $3,546,603, or one percent, from the 2103 total.

There were relatively small increases in each of the categories of real estate, personal property and motor vehicles. The 2014 increase is expected to generate about $123,500 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 24.82 mills, or $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

The town’s 1,720 real estate accounts have a net assessment total of $398,866,600, up by $2,603,840 from the 2013 real estate total. The town’s 417 personal property accounts have a net assessment total of $14,791,350, up by $425,860 from the 2013 personal property total. The town’s 4,156 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $28,849,320, up by $516,903 from the 2013 motor vehicles total.

Following are the town top ten taxpayers with the current assessment totals:
1)  Chester Woods Inc. (Chester Village West) — $15,263,650
2)  Whelen Engineering Co. — $8,196.720
3)   Connecticut Water Company — $5,049,830
4)   Connecticut Light & Power Company — $4,540,170
5)  The Eastern Company — $4,059,760
6)  Whelen Aviation LLC (Chester Airport) — $3,843,340
7)  Roto Frank of America Inc. — $3,521,530
8)  Margaret & Robert Sbriglio (Aaron Manor Nursing Facility) —  $2,235,180
9)  Chester Point Real Estate LLC — $2,079,830
10) Arthur & Judith Schaller — $2,045,890

LVVS Seeks Volunteers to Help Valley Shore Residents with Reading, Writing

AREAWIDE – Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization. Their mission is to train tutors to teach Basic Reading (BR) and English as a Second Language (ESL) to residents of the Valley Shore area who wish to improve their reading, writing or speaking English to improve their life and work skills. This one-to-one instruction is held confidential and is completely without charge to the student.

Tutor training is a 14-hour program conducted over seven sessions held each spring and again in the fall of every year. The next training session begins March 26 and runs through May 12. Workshop Leaders at LVVS have developed a comprehensive program that provides prospective tutors the skills and resources to help them succeed. A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to helping a student improve their skill in basic literacy or English as a Second Language over the period of one year after the completion of training.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor, contact the Literacy Volunteers office in the basement of Westbrook’s Public Library by phone at 860-399-0280 or by e-mail at jferrara@vsliteracy.org.  Registration for the fall session is open now and the deadline for applications is March 2.

Linares Meets with AARP Volunteers to Discuss Issues Affecting Seniors

From left to right, Barbara Rutigliano of Essex, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook, Sen. Art Linares, and Jean Caron of Old Saybrook.

Gathered for a photo during Senator Linares’s meeting with AARP volunteers are (from left to right) Barbara Rutigliano of Essex, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook, Sen. Art Linares, and Jean Caron of Old Saybrook.

Sen. Art Linares met with Connecticut AARP volunteers at Essex Coffee and Tea Co. on Feb. 5, to discuss issues impacting seniors.  Linares urged seniors from throughout the region to contact him with any issues of concern.

He can be reached by phone at 800-842-1421 or email at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or on the web at www.senatorlinares.com.

Essex Grand List Shows Small 0.33 Percent Increase

ESSEX — The grand list of taxable property has remained nearly flat after a revaluation-driven drop in 2013, with the October 2014 total showing an increase of only $3.72 million or 0.33 percent.

Assessor Jessica Sypher has filed an October 2014 grand list that totals $944,905,200, up by $3,726,569 from the 2013 total. There were small increases in each of the categories of real estate, personal property, and motor vehicles. The increase is expected to generate only about $60,000 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 20.99 mills.

The grand list, which previously had totaled over $1 billion, dropped by 7.72 percent after the full townwide property revaluation that was completed in 2013. The 2012 grand list was also down very slightly, dropping by about six one-hundredths of a percent.

Sypher said a court settlement for two of about a dozen appeals that followed the revaluation had resulted in a loss of about $700,000 in assessed value, or about $21,000 in tax revenue.

Brewer’s Marina appealed the revised assessments for marinas it owns on Ferry Street and Chandler Street. Sypher said attorneys for the town recommended a settlement that would split the difference between the revised assessments and the values claimed by the marina company. The compromise that was approved by a superior court judge last month dropped the assessed value for the two marinas from about $5 million to $4.3 million.

The town’s 3,253 real estate accounts have an assessment total of $943,246,673, up by only $727,030 from the 2013 real estate total.The town’s 722 personal property accounts have an assessment total of  $41,873,673, up by $1,213,929 from the 2013 personal property total.

The town’s 7,697 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $62,881,170, up by $1,785,610 from the 2013 motor vehicles total.

Following are the town’s top 10 taxpayers with current assessment totals

1) Essex Meadows Inc. — $22,875,400
2) Lee Company — $14,820,920
3) Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $6,875,610
4) SLK Partners LLC — $5,708,900
5) River Properties Inc. — $3,597,210
6) Griswold Inn LLC — $3,378,640
7) Essex Savings Bank — $3,355,950
8) Stephen R. Cline Successor Trustee — $3,319,200
9) Herbert T. Clark III — $2,760,140
10) Macbeth Ventures LLC — $2,759,500

Literacy Volunteers Feature Romance Novels in February Book Sale

AREAWIDE — February’s monthly book promotion by Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) features romance novels. Authors include Barbara Taylor Bradford, Jackie Collins, Jude Deveraux and many more.  Hard covers are on sale for $2 and paperback for only 50 cents.

The book sale is located at the LVVS offices in the lower level of the Westbrook Public Library 61 Goodspeed Dr. Westbrook, Conn. Hours are: Monday- Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

All proceeds LVVS tutoring programs.

For further information, contact LVVS at info@vsliteracy.org or 860-399-0280.

Welcome to Our Newest Intern, Adina Ripin

Adina Ripkin

Old Saybrook High School junior and Shoreline Web News LLC newest intern Adina Ripin

We are delighted to welcome Adina Ripin to the staff of Shoreline Web News (SWN) LLC through the internship program at Old Saybrook Hgh School (OSHS).  Adina will be working for us through June of this year writing for both of our community news websites, ValleyNewsNow.com and LymeLine.com.

Adina is a junior at OSHS and already much involved in the world of journalism.  She has been writing for the school newspaper, “The Rambler,” for two years and serving as an editor for one.  She comments, “I love participating in The Rambler … it’s a lot of fun,” adding, “I also write and edit for cteenvoice.com, which tries to bring together schools from across the region.”  Not surprisingly for someone who is both a talented and an aspiring writer, one of Adina’s favorite subjects at school is English, but she also likes the sciences.

Adina is involved in the upcoming school production of  the musical, “West Side Story,” for which she is assistant in creating the costumes.  She also is a member of the group known as “Goodwin Buddies,” which she explains is, “A program where high school students help elementary schoolers with their homework.”

Outside school, Adina is an avid reader and enjoys walking her dog.

Last semester Adina was an intern at the Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook where, in her words, she, “learned what it was like to be in a professional medical environment.”  She notes, “It was great — I was mainly in the lab, which I loved because everyone there was so nice and interesting.  It helped me to get a much more concrete idea of what to expect after college.”

Adina will be covering a range of stories for SWN ranging from town events and municipal news to theater reviews and school happenings … and more.  She told us, “I am lucky to be interning with ValleyNewsNow and LymeLine to experience what it’s like to work for a newspaper. I’m excited to get started.”

Well, we’re certainly excited to have you on board, Adina, and hope you not only thoroughly enjoy but also learn from the experience.  Welcome!

$499.5 Million Deep River Grand List up by $9.14 Million From 2013 Total, Largest Increase in Years

DEEP RIVER — The 2014 grand list of taxable property is up by $9.14 million, a larger than expected increase that will generate about $236,000 in new tax revenue. Assessor Robin O’Loughlin has filed an October 2014 grant list that totals $499,552,409, an increase of $9,145,804, or 1.86 percent, over the 2013 total.

O’Loughlin said the increase, by far the largest since the last property revaluation in 2010, would generate $236,700 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 25.88 mills. Last year, the 2013 grand list was up by only 0.47 percent after a 2012 grand list jump of only 1.2 percent.

There were increases in each of the three categories, real estate, personal property and motor vehicles, with the largest increase coming in the personal property total. The town’s 658 personal property accounts totaled $22,583,125, an increase of $6,677,804 from the 2013 personal property total.O’Loughlin said a 2014 sale and relocation of Tri-Town Precision Plastics to Massachusetts-based Smith and Wesson Co., and a new local subsidiary, Deep River Plastics, had resulted in 224 new personal property accounts for machinery and equipment. But the assessor cautioned that many of these accounts would be eligible for tax deferrals under the state’s Manufacturing Machinery Program, which could lead to some reductions in the higher personal property totals in 2015.

The town’s 2,186 real estate accounts have an assessment total of $442,825,060, an increase of $2,1778,120 from the 2013 real estate total. O’Loughlin said there were four new homes completed in 2014, along with several renovations and expansions of existing dwellings. The town’s 4,800 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $34,144,224, an increased of $289,394 from the 2013 total.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the increase was higher than he anticipated, and good news for the town. “It’s the best increase we’ve had in several years,” he said, adding, “it’s going to help an awful lot with the budgets this year.” The town is conducting a statistical revaluation update of all real estate properties this year, with any changes to be reflected on the October 2015 grand list.

Following are the town’s top 10 taxpayers, along with the assessment totals. The Boyd-Dernocoeur, Olson, and Cribiore accounts are for high value residential properties.

1) Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $5,576,999
2) BDRM Inc. — $4,171,277
3) Mislick Family Limited partnership — $3,173,870
4) Silgan Plastics Corp. — $2,917,775
5) Deep River Associates LLC — $2,917,600
6) Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur — $2,430,610
7) 180 Main Street Partners LLC — $2,277,450
8) Goodspeed Leasing Co. LLC — $2,145,010
9) John & Jane Olson — $2,075,080
10) Alberto Cribiore — $1,934,590

CT Audubon Announces EcoTravel Day Trips, Dates Thru Feb. & March

AREAWIDE — Connecticut Audubon Society has announced its upcoming series of EcoTravel Day Trips.

Click here for a full listing of all the trips available and information regarding reservations.

LVVS Announces Jack Smith as New Board President

John McG (Jack) Smith

John McG (Jack) Smith

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, a volunteer based non-profit organization with a mission to help area residents improve their reading, writing and speaking of English as a way to better their life and work skills,has announced the election of John McG (Jack) Smith as the new President of their Board of Directors. Smith will lead the board’s efforts to raise awareness of Literacy Volunteers’ programs, events, fundraising and provide direction and guidance for the affiliate.

“Becoming President of the LVVS Board of Directors provides an opportunity to take a greater role in serving this wonderful organization,” said Smith. “So many volunteers give their time and talents to tutor clients, raise funds and broaden awareness of our mission. It is an honor to work with them and I look forward to helping Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore advance in the year ahead.”

Smith first came to the organization in April, 2014 after a career in medical device logistics and medical education software. He is also a Connecticut Realtor having recently joined the William Raveis Real Estate firm in Guilford.

He brings expertise in board development and operations from stints on the boards of the Waterbury Hospital/Greater Waterbury Health Network, The Connecticut Community Foundation, the Institute for American Indian Studies and as a Literacy Volunteer Instructor at the Greater Hartford YMCA Read to Succeed Program.

His term runs through June 2016.

Editor’s Note: LVVS serves the towns of: Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Guilford, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook

Free Tax Help Available for Households Earning $53,000 or Less

Volunteer David Morgan assists a client with taxes last year at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office.

Volunteer David Morgan assists a client with taxes last year at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office.

AREAWIDE — Families with a household income of $53,000 or less are eligible for free tax preparation assistance is available now through April 11, at two sites Middletown.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an official IRS program, and all tax preparers are trained and certified to ensure that low- to moderate-income families receive the refunds and credits that they have earned, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

In 2014, the two VITA sites in Middletown helped more than 530 Middlesex County area residents file their taxes for free and returned $767,781 back to taxpayers. Those who filed with Middletown VITA sites had an average Adjusted Gross Income of $19,676 and received an average refund of $1,706, money they have earned. This impacts not only those who filed their taxes, but also their families and the local economy.

Appointments are required and are being offered during the evenings and on Saturdays in downtown Middletown. To make an appointment, dial 2-1-1 from any phone. 2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Individuals should bring a check or bank statement for direct deposit of their refund. Direct deposit is the quickest way to receive the refund, usually within 7 to 14 days. When attending their pre-scheduled appointment, individuals should bring: valid photo ID for yourself and your spouse; social security cards or ITIN for everyone in the household; birth dates for everyone in the family; documentation for all income; interest and dividend statements; documentation for deductible education expenses and student loan payments; total amount paid for child care as well as day care provider’s tax identification number and address; property taxes paid, including automobile taxes; evidence of health care coverage in 2014; a copy of last year’s federal and state income tax returns, if available; and the current year’s tax package if you received one.

Middletown VITA sites are coordinated by the Middlesex VITA Coalition, a partnership of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team. The Middlesex VITA Coalition receives support from the Connecticut Association of Human Services.

Town of Essex, Fire Company Call for Help to Clear Snow from Hydrants

2)A snow-covered fire hydrant on Dennison Rd. in Essex, waiting to be cleared by residents.

A snow-covered fire hydrant on Dennison Rd. in Essex, waiting to be cleared by residents.

ESSEX – The Town of Essex and the firefighters of the Essex Fire Engine Company #1 have put out an urgent call to Essex residents to personally help clean the snow away from the town’s 136 fire hydrants. “Many are now covered with snow and hidden from Essex Firefighters needing them in an emergency,” the Town of Essex said in a statement.

“The snow won’t start melting anytime soon and more snow is on the way. Please take a few minutes to clear the snow from the fire hydrants next to where you live and work,” the Town and Fire Company urge.

A fire hydrant already cleared on North Main St. in Essex.

A fire hydrant already cleared on North Main St. in Essex.

This simple act will, “Help protect your family, property, and livelihood,” the Fire Company, located at 11 Saybrook Rd., explains.

 

‘Average Joe Photo Show’ on View at Lori Warner Gallery, Benefits Water.org

View of a Child by Maddy Richardson,  taken June 26, 2014, at Cuttyhunk, Mass.

‘View of a Child’ by Maddy Richardson, taken June 26, 2014, at Cuttyhunk, Mass.

The Average Joe Photo Show’s second exhibition is on view at the Lori Warner Gallery in Chester. A selection of photos selected for the show are pictured in this article.

The concept behind the exhibition was developed by two local women and a group of shoreline volunteers to celebrate the everyday perspective of the average person through a common medium: the camera app on a mobile phone.

'Glacier Water in July' by Peter B. Alosky, taken July 10, 2014, at April Bowl, Hatcher’s Pass, Alaska.

‘Glacier Water in July’ by Peter B. Alosky, taken July 10, 2014, at April Bowl, Hatcher’s Pass, Alaska

With a grass roots effort from January through December 2014 via word of mouth, social media and local papers, any “average joe” was invited to submit their cell phone photos while following a few simple rules, namely,that each image had to include some element of water as well as a component of the human figure.

'Red Parapluie… Paris' by Leighton Gleicher, taken Jan. 3, 2014, in Paris (France)

‘Red Parapluie … Paris’ by Leighton Gleicher, taken Jan. 3, 2014, in Paris (France)

Over 350 people submitted images that will be on display at the Lori Warner Gallery through Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22.

In the same way that most everyone throughout the world now sees the mobile phone as necessary to “survive” socially or professionally, everyone must have water to survive physically. With this in mind, the steering committee of the Average Joe Photo Show selected water.org as its 2014 philanthropic focus.

In 2015, Average Joe Photo Show will shift their philanthropic focus to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders to raise awareness and funds for their extraordinary humanitarian work and their efforts to give voice to communities disconnected from the world health system.

'Nectarine' by Sarah Rand, taken July 10, 2014, at Brookside Pool

‘Nectarine’ by Sarah Rand, taken July 10, 2014, at Brookside Pool

Each accepted photograph is printed in two limited editions and available for purchase, with 2 percent of photo sales donated to water.org or MSF/Doctors Without Borders and 40 percent going to the “Average Joe” Photographer.

If you missed submitting your photos for this year’s exhibition, you have until Jan. 1, 2015 to enter your photos taken during 2015.

Visit averagejoephotoshow.com for more information.

Former Governor Weicker Lauds President Obama’s New Openness to Cuba      

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Lowell Weicker, a former Governor and Senator of Connecticut, has expressed his support for the Obama’s administration new policy of normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. In taking this position, Weicker noted in an interview at his home in Old Lyme with ValleyNewsNow yesterday that current polls show that 60 percent of Americans support diplomatic recognition of Cuba.

In adopting a new U.S. relationship with Cuba, Weicker said, “Finally, we are catching up with the times.” He continued, “The U.S. embargo has lasted for 50 years, yet country after country has recognized Cuba with only the United States in not doing so.”  Weicker also expressed criticism of those who oppose the Obama Administration new policy of recognizing Cuba, such as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Positive Aspects of Today’s Cuba

According to Weicker, “The most positive aspects of the present Castro regime in Cuba are in the areas of health care and good public education. Ninety nine percent of Cubans have free health care and good public education, a complete turnaround from the days of Battista.” At the same time, Weicker faulted the present Cuban government, “for its lack of human rights and democratic elections.”

As for his personal relationship with Cuba, the former Connecticut Governor said, “My family owned a large business in Cuba, which was expropriated by the Castro government, after Battista fled the island. No one, especially myself, is going to extol Castro’s confiscation of private property.”

Weicker also noted his, “deep personal distaste for the dictatorship of Flugencio Battista, who preceded Fidel Castro. Early on,” he said, “most of the Cuban immigrants to the United States were allied with Battista. Indeed in my losing the 1988 Senate campaign, the Florida Cuban community poured late money into Senator Joe Lieberman’s campaign.”

Weicker’s Two Trips to Castro’s Cuba

File photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Weicker also stated, “When I was a U.S. Senator, I made two trips to Cuba in the early 1980s. The first was to organize a joint American-Cuban marine science mission. The second was to secure the release of six American women imprisoned in Cuba.” According to Weicker, he, “convinced Castro, personally, to release the women who were in jail on drug charges. Two of the six were from Connecticut.”

Weicker described how, while in Cuba, he and Castro went diving together and spent many hours discussing Cuban-American relations. When Castro inquired whether there was anything he could do for Weicker, the Senator jokingly responded by requesting the Major League Baseball franchise for Havana. Castro’s response was, ‘No, we keep that.’”

In Weicker’s account, “When I announced to the Senate that I was to go to Cuba to retrieve the six women, U.S. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina tried to block the trip.” Failing that endeavor, Helms asked Weicker, confidentially, if he could bring back some cigars for him.

Weicker also makes the point that the wrapper leaf for Cuban cigars are traditionally grown in Connecticut, so Connecticut would directly benefit from the lifting of U.S. restrictions on the importation of Cuban cigars.

In conclusion, Weicker said, “Cuban dictator Battista was bad news, and I agree that the Castro brothers have had their own failings.” However, Weicker does not want the U.S. to live in the past as regards Cuba. He states, “It is only a question of time … Cuba will become more and more democratic. It is a new world, and one that should see two old friends reconcile.”

‘EagleWatch’ Opens at CT River Museum with Exhibit, Boat Tours, Programs

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator, Bill Yule, leads the boat tours and helps participants spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and water fowl and other wildlife from the deck of Enviro-Lab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator, Bill Yule, leads the boat tours and helps participants spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and water fowl and other wildlife from the deck of Enviro-Lab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

ESSEX – Winter has arrived and the ice is starting to freeze across the Connecticut River. Bald Eagles and other winter birds are moving to the southern reaches of the river in search of open water and food. The eagles are primarily fish eaters and, as the lakes and rivers freeze to the north, the big birds begin to drift south looking for open water where they can catch fish and survive winter.

One of the best places to survive the hardships of a New England winter is Essex and the lower 12 miles of the Connecticut River. The combination of river-flow, tides and proximity to the coast creates a micro-climate that keeps the lower river from freezing solid and is perfect for winter fishing.

The arrival of the eagles signals the beginning of another season of the return of the majestic Bald Eagle to the lower Connecticut River and the Museum’s annual EagleWatch programs.

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

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

EagleWatch officially begins Jan. 30 this year and will run through March 15. As a part of this winter celebration of wildlife along the River, the Connecticut River Museum will offer an exhibit, boat tours, public programs and workshops.

Opening on Jan. 31, and running through March 15, the ‘Eagles of Essex’ exhibit tells the story of Bald Eagles along the Connecticut River, why they winter here and how they came back from near-extinction to becoming one of the greatest environmental come-back stories in history. In addition to an interactive eagle nest, the exhibit illustrates how to identify birds of prey and where the best land-viewing spots are located. An eagle sighting scoreboard and a digital photography display is also featured. Along with the exhibit, an Eagle Driving Tour is available in print and as an app to help birdwatchers discover key viewing sites along the lower River Valley.

A Community Photography section is also part of the exhibit. Amateur photographers who capture a great image of an eagle or other wintering bird along the Connecticut River are invited to submit their digital entry to curator Amy Trout. Your image will be on view in the exhibit as a part of the digital display. For more information or submit an image, contact Amy at atrout@ctrivermuseum.org

The Bald Eagles are here along the lower Connecticut River and boat tours in February and March can help you get a great look at them! Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

The Bald Eagles are here along the lower Connecticut River and boat tours in February and March can help you get a great look at them! Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

Boat Tours

Through a partnership with Project Oceanology, a Groton-based marine science and environmental education organization, the Connecticut River Museum will once again provide a dynamic, on-water, eagle-viewing experience.

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting on Jan. 30 and running through March 15, Project Oceanology’s Enviro-lab III, a 65-foot modern research vessel, will depart from the Museum’s docks for an up-close view of winter wildlife, Bald Eagles, and other big birds of prey.

Educators from the Museum and Project Oceanology will provide narration while passengers can enjoy viewing from the heated cabin or outside deck area. Boat tours are $40 per person and include free admission to the Museum. Advance boat tour reservations are strongly suggested.

Public Programs

Throughout the season, the Connecticut River Museum offers a variety of public programs.
Feb. 14 and March 7 at 1:15 p.m.: noted photographer Stanley Kolber will be at the museum for his popular Nature Photography Workshops.
Feb. 15 at 3:30p.m.: ‘A Place Called Hope’ will present their Live Birds of Prey program at Essex Town Hall.
Feb. 19 at 5:30 p.m.: Author Richard King will talk about his book, ‘Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History.’
Feb. 22: Wood carver Al Moncovich will demonstrate eagle carving in the Eagles of Essex exhibit.

For more information or to make reservations, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator, Bill Yule, leads the boat tours and helps participants spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and water fowl and other wildlife from the deck of Enviro-Lab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

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

State Awards Historic Haddam Jail $300,000 Redevelopment Funding

Front view of Haddam Jail

A view of Haddam Jail from the front.

HADDAM — Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has awarded the town of Haddam a grant of $300,000 for assessment and planning for the redevelopment of the Haddam Jail.

This grant is part of a $2,188,000 in assessment and planning grants given to eight municipalities throughout the state to support the redevelopment of historically significant brownfield sites.

“As we’ve raised the bar like never before in preserving our most treasured areas, we’ve also made historic progress redeveloping brownfields – because it boosts our economic development in the short- and long-term. It’s about the future, about revitalizing local communities, and enhancing our economy,” Governor Malloy said. “This is an investment now that will benefit these municipalities for years to come.”

First Selectman Melissa Schlag applied for the second round of DECD grants this fall in hopes to provide much needed funding to plan for redevelopment use of the old historic jail.

Historic image depicting the jail.

Historic image depicting the jail

The Middlesex County Jail built in 1845 is the oldest county jail in America, the first agricultural jail in the country and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Schlag stated, “Many hours of writing and research went into this grant, but I believed the state would recognize the significance of this jail to Haddam’s economy.” She continued, “That we are one of only eight towns in the state to receive this grant during these difficult fiscal times shows how important the state views this project for Haddam, the region and the state.”

“Eight historically significant brownfield sites will move closer to being restored and reclaimed,” said Tim Sullivan, director of Waterfront, Brownfield and Transit-Oriented Development. He added, “By combining brownfield remediation with historic preservation, we believe these sites represent unique opportunities to create new jobs while also honoring Connecticut’s industrial heritage.”

Inside the jail.

Inside the jail

Schlag commented, “The old historic jail turns 170 this year, I couldn’t think of a better anniversary gift than this much needed grant,” She noted, “This will allow Haddam to finally give one of the most significant buildings in our community an exciting income-producing future without having to raise property taxes to do it.”

“My goal is to have our jail open to the public by the 175th anniversary,” said Schlag.

Gov. Malloy Lifts Statewide Travel Ban

Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced this afternoon that he has lifted the statewide travel ban as of 2 p.m. today.

Governor Malloy said, “I want to thank the residents of Connecticut for heeding the warnings and staying off the road.  We were able to reduce accidents on the highways and allow DOT workers to clear the roads. With decreasing snow bands and clearing roads, I have decided to lift the statewide travel ban effective at 2 p.m. today,”  He continued,  “I have coordinated this decision with Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  I would advise residents who are traveling to those states to check with state authorities regarding travel restrictions.  Again, thank you to the residents of the State of Connecticut for heeding the warnings and staying safe during this storm.”

The Governor is also informing third-shift nonessential state employees not to report to work this evening.  All state employees are to report to work as scheduled tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 28.  The Governor will continue to provide updates as necessary.

Old Saybrook Library Hosts Drop-In Storytime, Wednesdays & Fridays

The Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook hosts two year round, drop-in story time children’s programs.

“Story Times for Wee-Ones” is held every Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. for children ages birth to 2 and includes stories, songs, hand rhymes and time for grown-ups to socialize.  And “Preschool  Story Time” is held every Friday morning at 10:30 for children ages 2 – 5 and includes stories, songs, hand rhymes, creative activities and lots of fun.

For more information, call The Acton Library at 860-395-3184, or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10am – 8:30pm, Friday and Saturday 9am – 5pm, and Oct – May on Sundays 1pm – 5pm or visit on-line at www.actonlibrary.org  .

Chester Library’s Winter Book Sale Continues for Next Two Weeks

book sale 028

CHESTER – The Friends of Chester Library opeed the doors on the Winter Book Sale today, Friday, Jan. 23.
  Be sure you have a stockpile of reading for the long winter months ahead!  Drop in for a great selection of hardcover and paperback books and movies for children and adults at rock-bottom prices.
All proceeds from the sale help the Friends fund children’s programs and adult discussion groups, and purchase movies and museum passes for the library. The Book Sale is open for two weeks during regular library hours.

For more information, call 860-526-0018 or visit www.chesterct.org.

Tri-Town Offers Free, Two-Part Program on Children’s Anxiety, Starts Jan. 27

Tri-Town is offering a free, two-part program for caregivers who are newly aware of their child’s anxiety.  The first part of the program to be held Jan. 27, will be providing participants with coping skills, exercises, and resources.  The second part, slated for Feb. 3, is a platform for discussion and support.

Caregivers are welcome to come to one or both parts of the program, which is being held at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High Street in Deep River, at 7 p.m. on both nights.

To register, call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600 or visit www.tritownys.org.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  We 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

Local Lawmakers Meet With Old Saybrook Chamber 

Gathering for a photo are, from left to right, Angus McDonald of Angus McDonald/Gary Sharpe & Associates; Leigh-Bette Maynard of Liberty Bank;  Kristen Roberts of Comcast; Leland McKenna of Middlesex Hospital Primary Care; Kenneth Gribbon of Saybrook Point Inn & Spa; Lori Woll of the Octagon @ Mystic Marriott;  Judy Sullivan - Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director; Linda Brophy of Edward Jones and Suzie Beckman Executive Director of the Old Saybrook Economic Development Commission.

Gathering for a photo at the legislative forum are, from left to right, Angus McDonald of Angus McDonald/Gary Sharpe & Associates; Leigh-Bette Maynard of Liberty Bank; Kristen Roberts of Comcast; Leland McKenna of Middlesex Hospital Primary Care; Kenneth Gribbon of Saybrook Point Inn & Spa; Lori Woll of the Octagon @ Mystic Marriott; Judy Sullivan – Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director; Linda Brophy of Edward Jones and Suzie Beckman  – Executive Director of the Old Saybrook Economic Development Commission.

State Sen. Art Linares (R-33) and State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) on Jan. 15 met with the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce to discuss issues facing the state legislature and their efforts to improve the state’s business climate.

“This type of discussion and transparency amongst elected officials and constituents is essential,” Rep. Carney said. “We have to understand the concerns held by the people of our towns, along with the input from the business community, and be their voice in the Capitol.”

“We can make Connecticut a Top 20 state for business,” Sen. Linares said. “To get there, we must pass policies which reduce tax and regulatory burdens on businesses. We must pass pro-growth policies which unlock our potential as a state, address our weaknesses, and capitalize on our strengths. We need to listen to what Connecticut businesses here in Old Saybrook and across the state are telling us.”

Attendees at the legislative forum discussed a variety of issues, including state taxes, funding for transportation infrastructure, and the need to eliminate burdensome unfunded state mandates.

Essex Savings Bank Announces 2015 Community Investment Program Ballot

AREAWIDE: Gregory R. Shook, President & Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank announced today, “We are extremely proud of the contribution milestone we are reaching in support of our Community Investment Program in our 164th year.”

The Bank annually commits 10 percent of its after tax net income to qualifying organizations within the immediate market area consisting of  Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.  This program provides financial support to over 200 non-profit organizations who offer outstanding services to the ever-increasing needs of our communities.

By the end of the year, a total of $4,000,000 will have been distributed since inception in 1996.  Essex Savings Bank customers determine 30 percent of the fund allocations each year by voting directly for three of their favorite causes, charities or organizations who have submitted applications to participate.  Ballots will be available at all Essex Savings Bank Offices between Feb. 2 and March 2 to determine the allocation of funds.

The Bank’s Directors, Senior Officers, Branch Managers and Essex Financial Services, Inc., the Bank’s subsidiary, will distribute the remaining 70%.

Organizations (90) qualifying to appear on the 2015 ballot include:

Act II Thrift Shop, Inc.
Bikes for Kids, Inc.
Brazilian and American Youth Cultural Exchange (BRAYCE)
Bushy Hill Nature Center
Camp Hazen YMCA
Cappella Cantorum, Inc.
CDE (Chester, Deep River, Essex) Cooperative Nursery School
Chester Elementary School-Parent Teacher Organization (PTO)
Chester Historical Society
Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, Inc.
The Children’s Tree Montessori School
Common Good Gardens, Inc.
Community Music School
Con Brio Choral Society, Inc.
Connecticut Audubon Society Eco Travel
The Country School, Inc.
Deacon John Grave Foundation, Inc.
Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc.
Deep River Elementary PTO, Inc.
Deep River Fire Department
Deep River Historical Society, Inc.
Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, Inc.
Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc.
Essex Community Fund, Inc.
Essex Elementary School Foundation, Inc.
Essex Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, Inc.
Essex Fire Engine Company #1
Essex Historical Society, Inc.
Essex Land Trust, Inc.
Essex Library Association
Essex Winter Series, Inc.
Florence Griswold Museum
Forgotten Felines, Inc.
Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.)
Friends of Hammonasset, Inc.
Friends of Madison Youth
Friends of the Acton Public Library
Friends of the Chester Public Library, Inc.
Friends of the Lyme Public Library, Inc.
Friends of the Lymes’ Senior Center, Inc.
Graduation Night, Inc. – Old Saybrook
High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
Hope Partnership, Inc.
Ivoryton Library Association
Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, Inc.
Literacy Volunteers – Valley Shore, CT, Inc.
Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc.
Lyme Art Association, Inc.
Lyme Consolidated School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO)
Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc.
Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation
Lyme/Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club (LOLJWC)
Lyme Public Hall Association, Inc.
Lyme Public Library Foundation
Lymes’ Elderly Housing, Inc. (Lymewood)
Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau
Madison Historical Society, Inc.
Maritime Education Network, Inc.
Musical Masterworks, Inc.
Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center, Inc.
Old Lyme Fire Department
Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc.
Old Lyme Land Trust, Inc.
Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association
Old Lyme Rowing Association, Inc.
Old Lyme South End Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc.
Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association, Inc.
Old Saybrook Education Foundation
Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc.
Old Saybrook Historical Society
Old Saybrook Land Trust, Inc.
Pay Forward, Inc. (aka Pay4ward.org)
Pet Connections, Inc.
Potapaug Audubon Society
The Region 4 Education Foundation, Inc. (R4EF)
Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation
Scranton Library, Madison (aka E.C. Scranton Memorial Library)
The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries
Simply Sharing, Inc.
Sister Cities Essex Haiti, Inc.
Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM)
Tracy Art Center, Inc.
Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc.
Valley Baseball-Softball Booster Club, Inc.
Valley-Shore YMCA
Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, Inc. (VNLV)
Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc.
Westbrook Project Graduation, Inc.
Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc.
The Woman’s Exchange of Old Lyme, Inc.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851.  The Bank serves the Lower Connecticut River Valley with six offices in Chester, Essex (2), Madison, Old Lyme, and Old Saybrook.  Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.  Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value, are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

21st Annual Poetry Contest Announced by Acton Library

The Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook, announces its 21st Annual Poetry Competition. Submissions will be accepted through March 14 at the Library.

The rules for participants are as follows:

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

Winning poets will read their poems and receive their awards during the Library’s annual Poetry Night, Wednesday, April 22. The public is invited to attend.

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

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

The Library is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

Compassion Counts: Join a Shoreline Community Forum in Westbrook, Jan 29

Join this shoreline community conversation to listen and learn from each other and work together to support mental wellness with meaningful action. This discussion titled, ‘Compassion Counts: Exploring Mental Wellness in an Age of Stress and Anxiety’ will explore mental wellness in an age of stress and anxiety. It will be held on Thursday, Jan. 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Westbrook High School, 156 McVeagh Rd, Westbrook.

Snow date is Feb. 3, same place and time.

Light refreshments will be served.

Dan Osborne, Executive Director, Gilead Community Services will be the moderator.

Robert W. Plant, Phd the Senior Vice President at Valueoptions – CT Behavioral Health Partnership, will give the introduction.

Panelists include:

  1. Squitiero a mother of a son recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.
  2. Allen a professional recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.
  3. Dr. Lisa Donovan a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
  4. Alicia Farrell, Phd a cognitive psychologist and daughter of a suicide victim.
  5. Robert W. Plant, Phd the Senior Vice President at Valueoptions – CT Behavioral Health Partnership.

A light meal will be provided.

This is a FREE event. You may register online here.

For more information, contact Lucy McMillan at (860) 301-6634 or lmcmillan@gileadcs.org.

Free 1.5 CEUs: This program has been approved for 1.5 Continuing Education Units by the National Association of Social Workers, CT and meets the continuing education criteria for CT Social Work Licensure renewal.

Partners for this event include:

• Aware Recovery Care • Child & Family agency • Clearview Consulting & Mental Fitness •
• Community Foundation of Middlesex County • essex Community Fund • Gilead Community Services • • Hamilton Educational Learning Partners • Joshua Center Shoreline-Natchaug Hospital •
• Middlesex Hospital • naMI Connecticut • Pathways • Region ll Regional Mental Health Board •
• River Valley Services•Comerrudd-Gates & Linda Nickerson•Rushford: a Hartford Healthcare Partner • Sierra Tucson • Turning Point •

Anne Penniman LLC of Essex Receives 2015 CT Landscape Architects Professional Award

The Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (CTASLA) announced the winners of its annual Connecticut Professional Awards competition at the chapter’s annual meeting in December.

Anne Penniman Associates, LLC  of Essex won two awards.  The first was in the  Landscape Architectural Design – Residential category and was an Honor Award for Blast Site Restoration (Private Residence, Essex).  The second was in the Landscape Planning & Analysis category and was a Merit Award for Vegetation/Habitat Mapping and Management Plan for Haversham Property (Private Residence, Westerly, RI)

CTASLA conducts the awards competition each year to recognize excellence in landscape architectural design, planning and analysis, communication, and research. To be eligible, an applicant must be a landscape architect or designer in the state of Connecticut, and the entrant or project location must be based in Connecticut.

“These award-winning projects exemplify Connecticut landscape architects’ skills in designing beautiful spaces that add value to the land, encouraging people to get outside and explore their surroundings while protecting habitat and natural resources,” said Barbara Yaeger, president of CTASLA and principal of B.Yaeger, LLC, of Madison, Conn.

Nautilus Architects of Lyme Receives ‘Best Of Houzz 2015′ Award

Pool house on Cove Rd. designed by Nautilus Architects

Pool house on Cove Rd. designed by Nautilus Architects

Nautilus Architects of Lyme, Conn., has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” for Design & Customer Satisfaction by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. This modern design studio was chosen by the more than 25 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than 500,000 active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz award is given in two categories: Design and Customer Satisfaction. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 25 million monthly users on Houzz, known as “Houzzers.” Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2014.

Winners will receive a “Best Of Houzz 2015” badge on their profiles, helping Houzz users around the world who discover and love a professional’s work to learn even more about that business’ popularity and satisfaction rating among their peers in the Houzz community.

Christopher Arelt of Nautilus Architects, says, “I encourage my clients and those considering any building/renovation project to use Houzz as a way to discover design ideas that work.”

Liza Hausman, vice president of industry marketing for Houzz, comments, “Houzz provides homeowners with a 360 degree view of home building, remodeling and design industry professionals, empowering them to engage the right people and products for their project.”  She comments, “We’re delighted to recognize Christopher Arelt of Nautilus Architects, among our “Best Of” professionals as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

Follow Nautilus Architects and Chris Arelt at this link.

Nature Conservancy Applauds U.S. Department of Agriculture Program to Help Long Island Sound Watershed

The Nature Conservancy offers the following statement of gratitude for U.S. Department of Agriculture support of efforts to reduce excessive runoff and nutrient loading to Long Island Sound from private lands within the Sound’s multistate watershed.

The Long Island Sound Watershed Regional Conservation Partnership Program is one of 115 high-impact projects that will collectively receive more than $370 million in federal funding as part of the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program, a new program in the 2014 Farm Bill administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS.) The grant awards were announced Wednesday, and the Long Island Sound program is the focus of an announcement today and event in Hartford, Conn.

“The Nature Conservancy is excited to be part of the Long Island Sound Watershed Regional Conservation Partnership Program,” said Kim Lutz, director of the Conservancy’s Connecticut River Program. “These funds will provide critical dollars to address conservation needs in two connected natural systems that are priorities for the Conservancy: the Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River systems. We’re especially happy to have the opportunity to expand our work helping improve resilience in the face of a changing climate.”

“The Conservancy is extremely grateful to Congressman Joe Courtney, of Connecticut’s 2nd District, and Congressional representatives throughout the multistate Long Island Sound watershed for support of this funding,” Lutz said. “We look forward to working with the NRCS and a diverse array of partners throughout the region to achieve the project’s ambitious goals.”

According to the project description: Excess nutrients have been identified as the primary driver of hypoxic conditions in Long Island Sound and are also impacting upland water resources within the watershed, which encompasses areas of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. This project will develop a comprehensive, whole-farm management certainty program for farmers in the area and use both working lands and easement programs to improve soil health and nutrient management, establish community resiliency areas with a focus on enhancing riparian areas, and institute a land protection program to protect agricultural and forestry areas.

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

Chester Library Hosts PBS Film About Civil Rights Activist, Town Resident, Jan. 29

Judge Constance Baker Motley. Photo courtesy Motley Family.

Judge Constance Baker Motley. Photo courtesy Motley Family.

To commemorate Black History month and the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, Chester Public Library will host the PBS film, Justice is a Black Woman, about the life and work of Judge Constance Baker Motley, a key Civil Rights leader who was a Chester resident for many years. The film, followed by a discussion led by local historian Marta Daniels, will take place on Thursday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m., in the Community Room at Chester Town Hall on Rte. 154.

Judge Motley was at the center of America’s Civil Rights firestorm for more than 40 years, first as a brilliant lawyer and strategist with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund under Thurgood Marshall, and later as a federal judge in U.S. District Court. Working closely with Dr. King as one of the movement’s chief litigators between 1940 and 1966, Motley played pivotal roles that helped desegregate southern schools, buses, and lunch counters. As an African American woman, she broke countless barriers and set many records in American history.

She was the original author in the landmark 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education, in which the High Court declared unconstitutional state laws establishing separate public schools for black and whites, and in 1962 she argued the case in the Supreme Court that resulted in the admission of James Meredith to the all-white University of Mississippi.

AP file photo: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. chats with his wife, Coretta, left, and civil rights champion Constance Baker Motley before the start of a Southern Christian Leadership Conference banquet in Aug. 9, 1965, in Birmingham, Ala.

AP file photo: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. chats with his wife, Coretta, left, and civil rights champion Constance Baker Motley before the start of a Southern Christian Leadership Conference banquet in Aug. 9, 1965, in Birmingham, Ala.

As Dr. King battled in the streets, Attorney Motley fought in the courts. A personal friend of the Kings, she won legal cases that ended segregation in Memphis restaurants and at whites-only lunch counters in Birmingham, Ala. She spent time in Mississippi under armed guard with Medgar Evers, the famous civil rights leader later murdered by the KKK, and she imperiled her own life by being in the courts of the Deep South at a time and place where racial tensions were burning white-hot.

In addition to her pioneering Civil Rights efforts, she was the first black woman to be appointed a federal judge (in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson) and she received the Medal of Honor from President Clinton in 2001.

The award-winning film Justice is a Black Woman, produced by Quinnipiac University’s Dr. Gary Ford and Michael Calia, first aired on PBS in 2012. Narrated by Juan Williams, it includes President Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Attorney Vernon Jordan, members of the “Little Rock Nine,” and Dr. Maya Angelou. Anyone interested in understanding the Civil Rights Movement will want to see this film and join the discussion that follows. Participants are also encouraged to watch the new film, Selma, now in area movie theaters to get a better understanding of the richness of Civil Rights history.

Chester resident Marta Daniels, part of the Chester Library’s new Human Book program, will lead the discussion. A longtime activist, she has devoted herself to expanding and improving civic engagement in public policy issues related to peace and justice. She participated in Civil Rights marches and voter registration drives in the ‘60s and helped organize the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, conceived by Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and carried out in the wake of King’s assassination. The campaign organized in support of economic and human rights for poor Americans, and set up a 3000-person tent city (Resurrection City) on the Washington Mall, where participants stayed for six weeks.

The library program on Jan. 29 is free and open to the public. No registration is needed. More information is available at Chester Library, 860-526-0018.

Community Foundation Supports KinderMusik Scholarships, Free Preview, Jan. 27

CMS_Kindermusik_kids

Through a generous grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Community Music School is pleased to offer scholarships for the award-winning early childhood development program, Kindermusik.

A free demonstration day is being offered on Tuesday, Jan. 27, at 10 a.m. for families with infants and toddlers interested in the program. The demonstration takes place at Community Music School, 90 Main St. in Centerbrook (in the Spencer’s Corner complex next to Essex Elementary School).

The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of the County, now and in the future, by developing endowments, making grants that have impact and assisting donors in meeting their philanthropic objectives. Since its founding in 1997, the Community Foundation has awarded 1,100 grants totaling over $3.3 million for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities, environmental improvements and for health and human services.

With more than 25 years of experience in early childhood development, Kindermusik is the world’s most trusted name in musical learning. It is a carefully researched, developmentally based program that offers children their first experiences with music and movement in classes that are inviting and enjoyable.

The classroom curriculum is supplemented with engaging take-home materials. If you’re looking for something special to share with your child, Kindermusik is the answer. Community Music School faculty member Martha Herrle will lead these engaging and fun music education sessions.

For additional information about the Kindermusik program or for a scholarship application, please call 860-767-0026 or visit www.community-music-school.org.

 

Local Legislators Applaud $2 Million Bond Issue to Help Purchase The Preserve

From left to right, Rep. Jesse MacLachlan, Essex resident Suellen McCuin, Chris Cryder of Save the Sound, Kate Brown of The Trust for Public Land, Sen. Paul Formica, Rep. Phil Miller, Sen. Art Linares, Rep. Devin Carney,  Rep. Terrie Wood, Jim Millard of The Trust for Public Land and Lori Fernand of The Trust for Public Land.

From left to right, Rep. Jesse MacLachlan, Essex resident Suellen McCuin, Chris Cryder of Save the Sound, Kate Brown of The Trust for Public Land, Sen. Paul Formica, Rep. Phil Miller, Sen. Art Linares, Rep. Devin Carney, Rep. Terrie Wood, Jim Millard of The Trust for Public Land and Lori Fernand of The Trust for Public Land.

Five state legislators, State Senators Art Linares and Paul Formica, and State Representatives Phillip Miller, Devin Carney and Jesse MacLachan have applauded the Jan. 12, approval of a $2 million state bond issue to assist in the acquisition of the Preserve. The Preserve property consists of 1,000 acres along the shore of Long Island Sound that is presently open space.

“This is terrific news,” said Sen. Art Linares, who represents Essex, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. “Permanently protecting this forest and wetland is critical, not only for the animal and plant species whose survival greatly depends upon it, but also for the local communities whose water supplies and recreational enjoyment of Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River could be irreparably damaged if development were to occur.  This news is the result of the determination of the many environmental champions in our region, like Rep. Phil Miller and former Rep. Marilyn Giuliano.  We also thank Gov. Malloy for his commitment to this effort.”

“I am delighted to see this vast expanse of land will be protected for future generations. Residents in southeastern Connecticut care deeply for the environment and enjoy hiking and bird watching in The Preserve, among other recreational activities.  This wise purchase by the state will ensure that future generations will be able to continue the stewardship of this land,” said Sen. Paul Formica, who represents Old Saybrook and is a member of the Energy and Technology Committee.  “I thank Rep. Phil Miller, former Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, The Trust for Public Land and the many environmental advocates from our region who have worked so hard for this funding.”

“The approval today by the Bond Commission of $2 million in funding to ensure the purchase of The Preserve shoreline property represents an important landmark decision that is certainly welcomed.” said Rep. Philip Miller (D – Essex/Chester/ Deep River/Haddam). “This will enable us to protect and preserve open space property that will benefit not only people who live in the region, but all of Connecticut’s citizens, for generations to come.”

“The funding for the Preserve will allow generations to come the opportunity to enjoy some breathtaking landscape in its unencumbered state, right here in Connecticut” said Rep. Devin Carney (R), representing Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. “Many people in Old Saybrook and along the shoreline will be thrilled by the finalization of these funds. For many, it has been a long time coming – I am happy to see that all of their passion and hard work has paid off.”

“The citizens of Connecticut value the abundance of beauty within our state and want it to be protected in perpetuity,” said Rep. Jesse MacLachlan (R), representing Clinton, Westbrook and Killingworth.  “It’s wonderful to see that we are making it a top priority to preserve the natural beauty and rural character of towns along the shoreline. Only through initiatives like these can our state’s rural areas obtain the true protection they need for years to come. I’d also like to express my sincere gratitude to all parties involved in seeing this come to fruition.”

Other Facts about The Preserve

Voters in Old Saybrook authorized the town to provide $3 million in funding to purchase a portion of The Preserve located in Old Saybrook and a small piece in Westbrook. The Trust for Public has also raised an estimated $1.2 million to cover the final portion of funding for the purchase, and the Essex Land Trust has agreed to purchase 70 acres of land in Essex that is a portion of The Preserve with the help of a $471,250 open space grant from DEEP.

One of the numerous vernal pools found in The Preserve.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

One of the numerous vernal pools found in The Preserve. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

The Preserve consists of approximately 1,000 acres of land along Long Island Sound in three towns: 926 acres in Old Saybrook; 71 acres in Essex; and four acres in Westbrook. The Preserve includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, more than 3,100 linear feet of watercourses, high quality coastal forest, and an Atlantic White Cedar swamp.

The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a critical refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles. In all, more than 100 species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds thrive on this property, some of which are state-listed species of special concern and others of which are declining in other areas of the state.

In addition to its recreational and habitat resources, The Preserve provides important water quality benefits to residents.  Surface waters on the property drain to three different watersheds: the Oyster River, Mud River and Trout Brook, as they make their way to Long Island Sound.  The protection of The Preserve will ensure that storm water on the site is recharged to local aquifers.  An aquifer protection area is located just east of the Preserve and supplies an average of 200,000 gallons per day of drinking water to Old Saybrook and surrounding communities.

The Preserve also offers benefits for coastal resiliency in the face of climate change, and conservation of it will ensure lessened storm water impacts from hurricanes and other intense storms. The Preserve acts act as a sponge for storm water, releasing it slowly into the tributaries and rivers that lead to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, protecting downstream property owners from flooding.

Editor’s Note: This article was prepared directly from a press release issued by the House Republican Office.

How Local Residents Can Memorialize Recent Tragedies in Paris

Je_suis_Charlie_sticker
There is a quick and easy way that local residents can demonstrate their sympathy and concern for the recent victims of terrorism in Paris. They can do so by posting in the rear windshields of their cars, the slogan of defiance, “JE SUIS CHARLIE,” which translates into English, “I am Charlie.” .
To make this posting, a person simply has to download from the Internet the phrase, “JE SUIS CHARLIE.” Then print this image on a piece of paper, making sure that the image covers the entire paper. Next, take a piece of cardboard for backing for the poster, such as one that is used when shirts come back from the laundry, and lightly glue the piece of paper with the slogan to the cardboard backing. Then prop the poster in the center of the back window of your car.
The end result can be seen in the image above.
Let’s see how many rear windshields we can get to look like this here in our area of Connecticut!

Two Taken to Hospital After Accident Monday on Rte. 9

On Sunday morning, the Deep River Fire Department responded to a single car motor vehicle accident on Rte. 9 northbound, between exits 5 and 6. The car had been traveling in the high speed lane when it went through the guard rail and down a 60 ft. embankment.

Essex Fire Department was called in as mutual aid. One passenger self-extricated the vehicle while Deep River and Essex Firefighters extricated the second victim.

Both victims were transported to local hospitals.

Essex Winter Series Presents Four Concerts in 2015

Essex Winter Series (EWS) will present four diverse and exciting concerts in 2015, including two programs of classical chamber music, a concert of jazz from the early part of the twentieth century, and — for the first time — a world-renowned chamber chorus. Programmed by EWS artistic director Mihae Lee and newly-appointed Jazz Impresario Jeff Barnhart, these concerts offer world-class performing artists and an impressive array of styles and genres.

Three concerts, all Sundays at 3 p.m., follow the season opener on Jan. 11. The Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert on Feb. 8 at Valley Regional High School will feature Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.  On March 1,  Chanticleer, “ An Orchestra of Voices” will perform a program entitled “The Gypsy in My Soul” at Old Saybrook High School. The final concert, on March 29 at Valley Regional High School, will be an exciting program of piano trios, with Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee, violinist Chee-Yun and cellist Julie Albers.

StringFest2 is co-sponsored by Guilford Savings Bank and Essex Meadows.

All tickets to EWS concerts are general admission. Individual tickets are $35; four-concert subscriptions are $120, which represents a $20 saving over the single-ticket price for four concerts. Tickets may be purchased on the EWS website,www.essexwinterseries.com, or by calling 860-272-4572.

 

 

Snow on Roads: Guidelines from Essex Department of Public Works

Mailbox_in_snow_Essex
The Essex Public Works Department has recently issued an advisory as to what Essex residents should do when there is snow on the town’s roads. Here is a summary:

  1. The Department wants safe driving conditions, when it plows the snow on the Essex town roads.
  2. Plowing snow from private driveways into an Essex road is prohibited.
  3. The Department only removes snow from Essex town roads, and residents are responsible for plowing their own driveways.
  4. Essex residential mail boxes should have sufficient support posts, so that the Essex town snow plows won’t knock them down.
  5. If the Essex town snow plow destroys a mail box or post, the town of Essex will pay up to $75 to replace it.
  6. Essex residents should not put trash cans and recycling bins in a town road when it snows.
  7. Any plantings, fences, walls, invisible dog fences, sprinkler heads, and the like, which are damaged by Essex town plows are not the Town of Essex’s responsibility to replace.

For further details, call the Essex Public Works Department at 860-767-0715.

Playhouse’s Hubbard Joins WWI Xmas Eve Truce Centennial Celebration in Europe

Xmas_Eve_football_game_335KB

World War I soldiers transport an injured comrade.

World War I nurses prepare to tend the injured.

World War I nurses prepare to tend the injured.

ESSEX – Ivoryton Playhouse Executive Director Jacqueline Hubbard and her daughters recently took a memorable trip to Europe.

The three of them spent Christmas in Belgium visiting the battlefields of Ypres where they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the extraordinary Christmas Eve Truce, which was observed during World War I in 1914.

As happened in 1914 and 100 years later memorialized in a  2014 Christmas advertisement made by the British grocery chain of J.Sainsbury, a soccer game was played in Ypres in costumes from the war period.

Hubbard notes, “It was an incredibly moving experience.”

She also shared with ValleyNewNow a link to a story that was written by a journalist for an Aberdeen newspaper that accompanied Hubbard and her daughters on the tour. https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/uk/440689/video-watch-re-enactment
-christmas-day-truce-football-match/

View the J. Sainsbury advertisement below:

Miller Appointed House Chair of Planning & Development Committee

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller (File photo)

HARTFORD — State Representative Phil Miller (D-Essex/Chester/ Deep River/Haddam) has been chosen to serve as House Chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Planning and Development Committee by House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden).

Rep. Miller replaces Rep. Auden Grogins of Bridgeport, who was nominated to the State Superior Court, and is leaving the legislature.

The Planning and Development Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to local governments, housing, urban renewal, fire, sewer and metropolitan districts, home rule and planning and zoning; regional planning and development activities and the State Plan of Conservation and Development, and economic development programs impacting local governments.

“I am honored to have been appointed House Chair of the Planning and Development Committee by House Speaker Sharkey,” Rep. Miller said. “I look forward to serving on the Speaker’s leadership team as we develop an agenda that affects matters relating to local governments and our cities and towns.”

“The Planning & Development Committee plays a critical role as to the state’s relationship with its municipalities, and Rep. Miller not only brings his state legislative experience to his new role as chair, but his valuable experience as a former first selectman of his home town,” said Speaker Sharkey, a former chair of the Planning & Development Committee himself.

Rep. Miller was first elected in 2011 in a special election. He represents the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam.