May 27, 2015

$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.

Essex Teen Receives Award for Fundraising Efforts to Support Shelter Dogs

Jenny Merrick receives her award

Jenny Merrick receives her award

Jenny Merrick, 14, of Essex received an award in December for her fundraising efforts to help save shelter dogs. For the fourth year in a row, Jenny has given up birthday gifts, asking instead for donations for the ‘Red Dog Project,’ a program of ‘Dog Days Adoption Events’ of Old Saybrook.

Jenny is not only an active volunteer, but her donations have helped transport and
provide veterinary care for many dogs from high kill shelters so that they
could find loving and responsible homes.

Dog Days has programs for kids of all ages, for more information or if you would like to volunteer contact info@godogdays.org.

Proposed Library at North Quarter Park: Update

CHESTER — With the New Year comes a new burst of activity regarding Chester’s proposed new library at North Quarter Park. On Tuesday, Jan. 6, the Library Trustees will request funds from the Board of Selectmen to complete necessary site evaluation work and underwrite the costs of developing schematic plans for a new library building. With the Selectmen’s approval, this request will move to the Board of Finance in mid-January and then to the public for approval. This funding would come from the current year’s budget. The goal is to have this work completed this spring.

Got questions? Denny Tovey, Chair of the Library Building Committee, will host a Question and Answer session at the library on Saturday, Jan. 10 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Drop in for a cup of coffee and share your concerns.

The Library Building Committee welcomes community input and encourages your attendance at its monthly meetings that will take place at Chester Town Hall at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month throughout 2015.

Send a message to the library at Library@chesterct.org to be put on the list for building project updates via email.

Linares Denies Rumors of Challenge to Courtney in Next Election    

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

“I have heard the rumors,” State Representative Phil Miller told ValleyNewsNow.com in a recent interview regarding State Senator Art Linares considering a challenge to Congressman Joe Courtney in the 2016 elections. Miller noted that the 2014 elections were tough for Democrats, citing the loss of 14 State Representative seats in the statehouse. Miller also commented that he, himself, had an uphill battle to survive the Republican sweep.

Linares’ spokesman, Adam Liegeot, said, “No,” however, when asked if Linares might challenge Courtney in the next Congressional race.

Linares’ numbers in the last election were impressive. He beat his Democratic challenger, Emily Bjornberg, 22,335 to 17,046, out of a total 39,932 votes cast. The percentages were: 56 percent for Linares and 43 percent for Bjornberg. Most impressive about Republican Linares’ victory was that he won what was once considered a safe Democratic district.

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

As for Courtney in the last election, he won his fifth term in office with landslide numbers against New London real estate agent Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh. Many considered the Congressman’s challenger weak, however, and state Republicans did not appear to mount a major effort to defeat Courtney.

The Republicans already control the House of Representatives, 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats. Some might argue that if Linares were to become a member of the House Majority, he would be in a better position to help his constituents than Minority member Courtney.

In the same interview, State Representative Phil Miller also commented on what he considered the negativity of candidate Bjornberg’s recent campaign against Linares. “People around here don’t like that,” Miller said. In contrast, however, it might be noted that the winning candidate for Governor, Dan Malloy, ran highly negative TV ads charging that his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, paid no taxes, and yet Malloy went on to win in what was, unquestionably, a tough year for the Democrats.

DR Firehouse Committee Recommends Demolition/Rebuild at Union Street Site

Deep River Firehouse

Deep River Firehouse

DEEP RIVER— The firehouse study committee has recommended construction of a new firehouse at the 57 Union St. site of the existing building, a plan that would require demolition and a temporary relocation of fire department services to another location during a one-year construction period.

The board of selectmen and board of finance Tuesday received the report of a new study committee that was established last April to analyze options for a firehouse building project. The six member committee included two selectmen, Angus McDonald Jr. and Dave Oliveria, two representatives of the fire department, Chief Tim Lee and assistant chief Tim Ballantyne, and two at-large members that included local architect Alan Paradis.

Town officials, and members of the fire department, have been considering options to renovate or replace the existing 1961 firehouse at the corner of Union and West Elm St. since a proposal for a $2.4 million renovation and expansion project failed on a 347-312 vote in a July 2010 referendum. A more costly building plan was rejected by a much wider margin in a 2007 vote.

Oliveria said Tuesday a review of other potential sites, and the determination by firefighters that any new firehouse should be in or near the downtown area, led to the recommendation to refocus on the existing site. Oliveria said the .72-acre parcel containing the existing firehouse could be combined with an abutting parcel at 51 union St. that is owned by the department to create a 1-acre lot that could support new two-story firehouse of between 9,500 and 10,100 square feet. The size of the proposed new building would double the size of the existing 5,084 square-foot firehouse, but is scaled back from the building plan presented to voters in 2010.

But committee members acknowledged the recommendation to demolish and rebuild on site is not without complications. The most notable would be the need to relocate all department services, including storage of trucks and equipment, to a temporary fire headquarters during the approximate one-year construction period. The cost of a temporary relocation for the department has not been determined.

There have also been some objections to demolishing a house on the 51 Union St. parcel, though Chief Lee said a majority of the volunteers would support directing the 51 Union St. parcel to provide space for a new firehouse. The parcel was acquired by the fire department a decade ago.

The committee included two alternative sites in the report, options that would require the town to purchase additional property at an undetermined additional cost. The sites are residential properties at 208 Main St. and 423 Main St. on the south end of town near the intersection with Kelsey Hill Road. “There are two other properties but the next best alternative, I don’t know,” said McDonald.

The committee recommended the two boards consider hiring an architect to develop more detailed plans for demolition and new construction at the Union Street parcels. Selectmen and the finance board are expected to discuss the firehouse building project further in 2015.

Essex Selectmen Appoint Four New Members to Conservation Commission

ESSEX–Two weeks after a plan for lethal trapping of beavers at Viney Hill Brook Park drew dozens of residents to its December meeting, the board of selectmen have appointed four new members to the conservation commission.

Selectmen last week appointed Robert Ward, Mark Reeves, and Frank Hall to the commission that oversees the town’s open space land. Jerri MacMilllian was appointed as a commission alternate. The appointments bring the panel close its full compliment of seven regular members and three alternates. One alternate position remains vacant.

Hall has been an active member of the town’s clean energy committee. Reeves, a former Old Saybrook resident now living in Essex, was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for first selectman of Old Saybrook in 1999.

The commission was down to five members when it voted in November to authorize lethal trapping of beavers in a pond at Viney Hill Brook Park. The decision, prompted by reports of damage from beaver activity to trails and trees, drew strong opposition from dozens of residents at the commission’s Dec. 4 meeting. The commission later decided to further explore alternates and defer any action on lethal trapping.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said all four appointees volunteered for vacancies on the commission in the days since the controversy over trapping of beavers.

Crash With Street Sweeper Kills Chester Volunteer Firefighter

ESSEX— A 28-year-old Deep River man who had served as a local volunteer firefighter was killed Monday morning when his vehicle collided with a town street sweeper on Route 154.

State police reported Anthony Camire Jr. was pronounced dead at the scene when a Volkswagon Jetta he was driving  crossed the center line and collided with the sweeper operated by 27 year-old Ryan Welch, a, Essex public works employee. The accident was reported at 7:42 a.m. Camire was travelling northbound, with the street sweeper going southbound, when the crash occurred at a sharp curve just south of the Route 9 exit 4 interchange.

Camire, who worked as an electrician, had served as a volunteer firefighter with the Deep River and Chester volunteer fire departments. The accident remains under investigation by state police.

Essex Parks and Recreation Director Leaves for New Position

ESSEX— Rick Audett has resigned from the town parks and recreation director position he has held for the past four years. His last day was Dec. 19. First Selectman Norman Needleman said Audet left to take a new job in New Jersey.

Needleman said Mary Ellen Barnes, the department’s program director, would assume the director duties until the parks and recreation commission make a hiring recommendation to the board of selectmen for a new director. The salary range for the full-time 35 hours per week position is between $49,098 to $61,712, which was the salary Audet was receiving at the time of his departure. Barnes also has part-time duties as the town’s social services coordinator.

Three Region 4 Administrators to Swap Positions in Next School Year

REGION 4— Region 4 school boards this week unanimously approved a reassignment of three administrators that was recommended by superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy after a retirement decision by one administrator. The changes that are effective in July 2015 will  put different people in the positions of assistant superintendent and principals at Valley Regional High School and Chester Elementary School.
Levy said Friday the moves were prompted by the decision of Assistant Superintendent Joanne Beekley to retire in June after a 38-year career in  public education. Beekley, a Haddam resident, assumed the assistant superintendent position in 2012 after six years as principal at Essex Elementary School, the largest of the three district elementary schools.
Levy said after Beekley confirmed her plans at the beginning of the month, she began considering options that would allow the district to retain experienced administrators while also promoting from within the ranks of the current team. Levy said she met with the Region 4 Administrators Association, the bargaining unit for district administrators, and found support for her plan.
Under the plan, Beekley will retire on June 30, but continue working for two years as principal at Chester Elementary School, the smallest of the three elementary schools. Kristina Martineau, principal at Valley Regional High School since 2010, will assume the position of assistant superintendent. Michael Barile, a Haddam resident who has served as principal at Chester Elementary School since 2008, will become principal at Valley Regional High School.
The reassignments prompted a series of special school board meetings this week, where the boards conducted closed door interviews before voting to approve the changes recommended by the superintendent. Levy advised district staff and the first selectmen of Chester, Deep River, and Essex of the changes on Tuesday.
Levy said the reassignments will maintain continuity, while also allowing the district to move forward and give experienced administrators an opportunity to advance. She noted that each administrator will remain with the district and available to assist and mentor their successor.  “This will provide a whole circle of support for one another,” Levy said. The Chester Board of Education will begin the process of hiring a successor for Beekley in 2017.

Essex Garden Club Donates to Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

Xmas_2014_donation

Pictured packing the food for delivery to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries are Dianne Sexton and Carol Denham.

Essex Garden Club members collected non perishable food items for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) at the club’s annual festivities at Essex Meadows.  Individual members and the club also donated $1,510 to the SSKP, which will be matched by the Gowrie Challenge.

Chester Library Trustees to Seek Appropriation for Design Work on New Library at North Quarter Park

CHESTER— Wasting no time after receiving a  $1 million state grant with a three-year timeline, members of the library board of trustees advised the board of selectmen Tuesday of plans to seek a town funding appropriation to prepare engineering design plans for a proposed new library at North Quarter Park.

Trustee Terry Schreiber said the group, working with a volunteer building committee, would have a specific total for the funding request at the board’s next meeting on Jan. 6. Any appropriation of town funds, which is expected to be in the range of $100,000, would also require approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting. The appropriation would pay for preparation of a site plan and schematic design plans for a new library building at the park.
Schreiber said the trustees have also met with a professional fundraiser to discuss options for a fundraising campaign for a library building project that could cost as much as $4 to $5 million to complete, with the state grant covering only a portion of the total cost. An authorization of town bonding would also be needed to pay for the project

The building committee was established by the selectmen last summer as part of an effort to complete the state grant application by an end of August deadline. The committee, with support from the selectmen, hired Lerners, Lads, & Bartells Architects, a Pawtucket, R. I. firm that has experience with library construction projects.

As part of information required for the grant application, the architects prepared very preliminary plans for a two-story 5,600-square-foot library building that would be located in the front section of the 22-acre park on the east end of Main Street. The $1 million grant was approved by the State Library Board last month

Schreiber said the trustees and building committee have made no final decisions on the size of a new library, whether it should have one or two floors, or whether a community center component should be included in the project. The trustees are planning a public information meeting on the project for Saturday Jan. 10 at the library.

The trustees had spent nearly two years considering options for a renovation and expansion of the 108 year-old existing library building on West Main Street before deciding earlier this year, with encouragement from the selectmen, to focus on the option of a building a new library at North Quarter Park.

Sen. Linares Collects Over 800 Signatures to Protest CL&P Rate Hike

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (Rep. Westbrook) has collected over 800 signatures from local residents protesting Connecticut Light & Power plans to adopt a rate hike. According to the Senator at its December 17 meeting, the state’s Public Utilities Commission, “is expected to finalize a $7.12 increase in the average monthly bill that Connecticut Light & Power sends out to its residential customers.”

“The $7.12 rate would come on top of a Jan. 1 increase of $18.48, on average, for CL&P residential customers,” Linares said.

Linares continued, “As a state senator, I represent 100,000 people in a region that stretches along the Connecticut River Valley from Portland south to Old Saybrook and Lyme. Hundreds of Connecticut rate payers have signed this petition because they want state regulators to deny CL&P’s proposed service rate hike. We can’t afford more and more and hikes.”

“Regardless of whether rates are hiked on Wednesday, December 17, Sen. Linares urged residents to continue to email state regulators at: PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov to express their concerns about rising costs,” Linares said in a press statement.

Senator Linares also urged residents to sign his online petition at www.senatorlinares.com in opposition to Connecticut Light & Power proposed rate hike, regardless of the Commission’s actions on December 17.

Sen. Linares: “We can’t afford more rate hikes.”

Sen. Art Linares (R-Westbrook) today sent to state regulators a list of nearly 800 people who have signed his online petition at www.senatorlinares.com in opposition to Connecticut Light & Power’s proposed service rate hike.

On Wednesday (Dec. 17), the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is expected to finalize a $7.12 increase in the average monthly bill that Connecticut Light & Power sends out to its residential customers.  The $7.12 hike would come on top of a Jan. 1 increase of $18.48, on average, for CL&P residential customers.

“As state senator, I represent 100,000 people in a region that stretches along the Connecticut River Valley from Portland south to Old Saybrook and Lyme,” Sen. Linares said.  “Hundreds of Connecticut rate payers have signed this petition because they want state regulators to deny CL&P’s proposed service rate hike.  We can’t afford more rate hikes.”

Regardless of whether rates are hiked on Wednesday, Sen. Linares urged residents to continue to email state regulators at PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov if they wish to express their concerns about rising costs.

All Five Essex Bonding Authorizations Approved in Low Turnout Referendum

ESSEX— Voters Monday authorized up to 8.085 million in municipal  bonding, approving five separate ballot questions in a low turnout referendum. A total of 257 of the town’s 4,654 registered voters turned out for the 14-hour referendum, along with two property owners who are not registered voters in Essex.

An authorization of $2,845,000 to replace the Walnut and Ivory street bridges in the Ivoryton section had the widest margin of approval, 221-38. A combination of federal and state funds will reimburse 80 percent of the cost of the Walnut Street bridge project, while the much smaller Ivory Street bridge will be paid for entirely by town bond funds.

A $2,815,000 bonding authorization for improvements at Essex Elementary School was approved on a 193-64 vote. The improvements include replacement of the school roof, which will be eligible for partial state funding reimbursement, along with $600,000 for air conditioning at the 61 year-old school.

Improvements to the town  hall, including renovations to the land use offices, at an estimated cost of $1.3 million won approval of a 175-81 vote.  Improvements at the town public works garage, with an estimated cost of $525,000, won approval of a 178-80 vote. Voters authorized bonding of $600,000 to purchase a new fire truck on a 186-71 vote.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said he is pleased the capital projects initiative won voter approval. ” Thanks to everyone that came out and voted and thanks to the committee that did all of the hard work,” he said.
The capital projects plan was developed over the past year by a building committee chaired by Selectman Bruce Glowac. The first bonds are expected to be issued by 2017 for a pay off over 20 years ending in 2037.

‘Simply Sharing’ Eases Transition from Shelter with Furniture, Household Donations

(l-r): Simply Sharing President and Founder Alison Brinkmann shares a special moment with a client from Gilead Community services after helping her move into her new home.

(l-r): Simply Sharing President and Founder Alison Brinkmann shares a special moment with a client from Gilead Community services after helping her move into her new home.

ESSEX – When Simply Sharing President and Founder Alison Brinkmann decided to dedicate her time to a good cause and create an organization that would have a meaningful and lasting impact, she had no idea where that decision would take her.  She did know that she wanted to create a collaborative effort, one with a simple, single mission.

Through her involvement with the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Brinkmann saw the potential to help homeless individuals and families in local communities by building a network of shared services and resources.  After numerous discussions with leaders from area organizations and agencies, it was evident that there was a great need to secure furnishings and household items for those transitioning from shelters to sustainable and supportive housing.

So with a leg up from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, who provided fiscal oversight and funding, the Essex resident launched ‘Simply Sharing’ in April 2012 and has been on the move ever since.

“When someone first moves out of a shelter, the money they’re earning usually doesn’t go very far, and many can’t afford furnishings,” explained Brinkmann, “ A kitchen table and chairs, beds and sheets, pots, pans and dishes – these are basic household goods many of us take for granted. Yet for individuals and families who have been homeless, these basic necessities are, indeed, luxuries.”

While the concept of collecting donated items for redistribution is not a new one, ‘Simply Sharing’ takes a more collaborative, personal partner approach on both ends of the process. The all-volunteer, non-profit organization welcomes material and financial donations from individuals and businesses and then works solely through other qualified non-profit agencies and organizations to identify clients that are in the most need of those donations.

In addition to the furnishings and funds given by residents throughout Middlesex County, ongoing relationships with Bob’s Discount Furniture, Essex Meadows, Gather, and Realty 3 CT have built a solid foundation of additional resources.  Working with Columbus House, Gilead Community Services, The Connection, Inc, Middlesex Hospital and Central Connecticut State University, Simply Sharing has helped well over 50 families get a fresh start in a new home.

That help comes in the well-orchestrated form of Brinkmann and other ‘Simply Sharing’ volunteers making house calls to pick up donations or receiving them at their warehouse space in Essex, cleaning, selecting and organizing goods for the specific needs of identified families, and then delivering and “setting up” the items in the new living space. “It’s the most gratifying part of our work,” added Brinkmann, “ To be able to meet the people you are helping and see their reaction and appreciation for all the good that’s being given to them – it’s hard to keep a dry eye.”

For more information on ‘Simply Sharing,’ visit simplysharing.org, email info@simplysharing.org or call 860-388-7390.

Champions! Valley/Old Lyme Football Defy Odds to Win State Class S-Large

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!  Photo by W. Visgilio.

Congratulations to coach Tim King and his Warriors on an incredible win!

New Britain – Quarterback Chris Jean-Pierre’s four-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining rallied top-seeded Valley Regional/Old Lyme to a 21-20 victory over No. 2 Ansonia in their Class S-Large state championship football game at Willow Brook Park on Saturday morning. Click here to read the remainder of this full initial report of the game by Ned Griffin, which was published in The Day yesterday

And here’s another link to great article about the game.

And, finally, here’s Tim Devlin’s video of all Saturday’s state game highlights.

Essex Zoning Commission has January Public Hearing on Separate Proposals for Bokum Road Life Care Zone

ESSEX— The zoning commission has scheduled a Jan. 26 public hearings on separate proposals to expand and revise regulations for the residential life care zone on Bokum Road. The zone had been established in the 1980s to accommodate the Essex Meadows life care complex that is now the town’s largest taxpayer.

Resident Marc Bombaci has submitted an application for a zone change from rural residential to residential life care for a 35.8-acre parcel that surrounds his 80 Bokum Road residence. Sections of the property on the  west side of Bokum Road abut land owned by Essex Meadows.

Bombaci, represented by local lawyer Campbell Hudson, has also proposed a zoning text amendment that would apply more recent regulations for active adult communities, or cluster-style housing for persons over age 55, to the residential life care zone that refers to housing and services for persons over age 62 The revised regulation would also allow the commission to waive under certain conditions a requirement that 80 percent of all the units in an active adult community must be owned by persons over age 55

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said if the zone change is approved, Bombaci would have to secure special permit and site plan approval from the commission for any future residential life care or active adult community development on his property.

The commission will also hold a public hearing next month on an application by Essex Glen LLC to revise the residential life care and active adult community regulations for a parcel on the opposite side of Bokum Road that was approved for a 55-unit active adult community development in 2007. The partnership never pursued the development plan that was approved in 2007.

Budrow said the partnership, represented by lawyer Terrance Lomme, is preparing to submit a new application and plan for the property that calls for 22 units in separate buildings. Essex Glen LLC is requesting a revision to regulations for an active adult community that would change the setback requirements that are part of the current regulations.

The change would reduce the front setback requirement from 80-feet to 40-feet, and the side and rear setback rule from 80-feet to 30-feet. Budrow said the change would accommodate a revised development proposal for the property with separate buildings. Lomme, who was re-elected last month as judge of probate for a nine-town region, had represented Essex Glen LLC during the 2007 application process.

Chester Town Meeting Approves Accepting State Grant Funds for Main Street Project

CHESTER— Voters at a town meeting Tuesday formally authorized acceptance of two state grants totaling $783,088 that will be directed to the revised Main Street East improvement project. Despite some talk of rejecting the grant funding over opposition to a now deferred element of the project plan, voters authorized accepting the funding on a unanimous voice vote.

About 60 voters turned out for the town meeting, acting on the resolution after about 45 minutes of discussion. The vote comes two weeks after the Main Street Project Committee, and the board of selectmen, decided to scale back the project to eliminate plans for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street that had drawn opposition from some residents and at least one property owner fronting on the proposed sidewalk. There were concerns that opposition to the sidewalk, which would also require removal of two mature trees, would delay the project and lead to a possible loss of the state grant funding.

The town has received two separate Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants, one of $450,000 and the other $333,088. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the grant funds would cover most of the cost of the revised Main Street East Project that is now estimated at about $800,000. The project area is now limited to a 1,000-foot section from the intersection with School Lane west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery.The initial plan, including the north side sidewalks had a cost estimate of about $1.2 million.

Meehan said the revised plan includes five new drainage catch basins in the vicinity of the Chester Post Office, new granite curbing, new sidewalks with a four-foot width that meets Americans With Disabilities Act standards, and additional lighting for the parking area at the entrance to the historic cemetery. Improvements to the street east from School Lane to the intersection with route 154 would be limited to milling and repaving, and possibly some repairs to a decaying state wall along the Chesterfields Health Care Center property on the south side of the street.

Meehan said final details of the revised plan are now under review by the committee and project engineers, with a goal of putting the project out to bid for a start of construction in the spring. Meehan added that further improvements to the eastern section of the street would await future community decisions on whether to building a new library with other improvements to North Quarter Park on the north side of the street. The town was recently awarded a $1 million state grant for construction of a new library at the park, but it would cover only about a quarter of the total cost of a library building project.

Voters also authorized the release of capital improvement funds, including $10,000 for two new police mobile radios and $6,934 for security enhancements at Chester Elementary School. The funds for the elementary school are a town match for a $59,000 state grant awarded to Regional School District 4 for security enhancements at the five district schools. The Chester Elementary School enhancements will include new interior and exterior cameras and a locked gate that would limit access from a wooded area on the west side of the school property.

Essex Tree Committee Awarded America The Beautiful Grant

Essex Tree-ATB grant 2014 (2)In the fall of 2014, the Essex Tree Committee, was awarded an America the Beautiful (ATB)  grant of $1,186 to plant trees in an effort to advance “urban forestry” as outlined by the ATB grant program.  These competitive grants are made available to municipalities and non-profit organizations by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Division of Forestry (DEEP).  The funding comes from the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry Program and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection described the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as “a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont to cap and reduce power sector CO2 emissions.”  Because of these efforts by RGGI, DEEP Forestry expanded the grant criteria to focus also on reduction of energy use.  Additionally, as a result of the recent storms, focus was placed on roadside tree management.  Invasive insects such as the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle were of great concern to the grant program as well.

Of the seven categories outlined by the ATB grants (see DEEP Forestry website: www.ct.gov/deep/forestry for more information), the Essex Tree Committee concentrated on: planting or maintaining legacy trees, planting or managing trees to reduce energy consumption or increase carbon sequestration, and the management of roadside trees for storm resistance.

Conforming to the 2014 ATB guidelines, the Tree Committee planted 8 non invasive trees at the following locations:

  1. An English Oak at the corner of Melody and Walnut streets in Ivoryton
  2. A White Oak/Swamp Oak at 44 Walnut St., Ivoryton
  3. A Sunset Maple at 46 Comstock Street, Ivoryton
  4. A Sweet Gum at 6 Donald St., Essex
  5. An English Oak at 46 Dennison St., Essex
  6. An American Hornbeam on the West St. strip, Essex
  7. A Sunset Maple on High St. at the corner of Prospect, Essex
  8. A London Plane (sycamore family) at 168 River Road, Essex.

The grant is a 50-50 grant in which the funding through the state program is matched by an equivalent contribution from the grant recipient.  This matched contribution was made by the Town of Essex in the funding of the purchase and planting of the trees.

The Essex Tree Committee under the leadership of Augie Pampel, completed the above plantings by December 2014.  On December 1, Chris Donnelly, Urban Forestry Coordinator for DEEP Forestry, came to Essex to inspect and approve the plantings in order that the monies from the grant could be awarded to the Essex Tree Committee in accordance with the ATB grant guidelines. One of his tasks was checking the root flares and girdled roots to make sure the trees were not planted too deeply and assure the roots would not strangle the tree in the future. (see below)

Essex Tree-ATB grant 2014

The Essex Tree Committee would like to thank Fred Weber and Associates for their help in planting the trees and all the people who worked with the committee to select the appropriate sites for the trees.

If you would like to make a donation to the Essex Tree Committee or discuss a tree memorial, please contact Augie Pampel at: augiepampel@att.net.

CT State Senator and State Representative Join in 35 Year Celebration in Chester

CT Senator Art Linares (33rd District), and CT Representative Philip Miller (36th District), congratulated and honored Roto Frank of America, Inc. at the celebration of their 35-year presence in North America.

CT Senator Art Linares (33rd District), and CT Representative Philip Miller (36th District), congratulate Roto Frank of America, Inc. at the celebration of their 35-year presence in North America.

On Thursday, December 4th, CT Senator Art Linares (33rd District), and CT Representative Phil Miller (36th District), congratulated and honored Roto Frank of America, Inc. of Chester at the celebration of their 35-year presence in North America. They presented Roto with an Official Citation from the General Assembly during the event. The festivities also included a retrospective of the company’s growth and development by Skip Branciforte, an employee who has been with Roto Frank of America since its beginning, as well as a catered luncheon and gifts for all personnel to commemorate the occasion.

The Chester, Connecticut facility houses Roto’s administration, engineering, manufacturing and distribution departments for their North American and European hardware. Roto Frank of America and Roto Fasco Canada combined form Roto North America, with over 120 employees, and are subsidiaries of the world’s largest manufacturer of OEM window hardware, Roto Frank AG.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this significant milestone in our company’s history, and we realize that this achievement would not have been possible without all of the dedicated Roto employees, customers, partners, and shareholders who have helped us along the way with their loyalty, integrity, and commitment,” says Chris Dimou, Roto North America’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

About Roto Frank of America, Inc.: Founded in 1979, Roto Frank of America, Inc. (www.rotohardware.com) has a long tradition of providing manufacturing solutions to OEMs in the window and door industry. The company specializes in window and door hardware, such as Casement/Awning, Single/Double Hung, Tilt & Turn, Sliding/hinged Patio and Euro.

Chester Rotary Participates In the Liberty Bank “Thanksgiving Dinner Drive”

Rotary 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner Drive Check Presentation

Rotary 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner Drive Check Presentation

On November 24, 2014 Gary Torello, the chairman of Chester Rotary’s Liberty Bank Thanks Giving Dinner Drive, presented a check in the amount of $2,407.51 to Rosie Bininger, Director of Human Services for the town of Chester, CT. Torello along with other Chester Rotarians raised funds throughout the month prior to this year’s Thanksgiving holiday in order to feed a growing number of Chester families on Thanksgiving Day. Funds not used to directly provide Thanksgiving dinners to area residents will be used to help stock the Chester Food Pantry in the coming months.

The Chester Rotary was one of 33 Rotary Clubs participating in the annual Liberty Bank/Rotary Club Thanksgiving Dinner Drive. While Liberty Bank had promised matching funds in the amount of 20% of funds collected by Connecticut Rotary Clubs, a last minute surprise by Liberty Bank President and CEO, Chandler Howard, increased it to 25 cents per dollar at the conclusion of the drive. All total, Connecticut Rotary clubs collected $167,476.11 which together with The Liberty Bank Foundation’s $41,869.03 in matching funds makes for a grand total of $209,489.82.

Essex Resident Claims “Frontier” Has Raised Rates, and the Senator Responds

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

Essex resident Robert Kern has written a letter to State Senator Art Linares, complaining that Essex’s new telephone and Internet carrier, Frontier Communications, has raised rates in Essex, when it promised not to do so, after it had acquired local service from AT&T.

Kern in a letter to the Senator wrote that his, “customer bills have gone up despite the pledge by Frontier to keep them the same.” Kern also sent to the Senator, “my recent bills from AT&T and Frontier as an example.”

Making the Case

Kern continued, “Even though the basic line service charge has remained the same, they eliminate a $6.00 monthly ALL DISTANCE promotional credit and added a bogus ‘Carrier Cost Recovery Surcharge’ of $1.99 per month.” As a result,” Kern wrote, “my bill for the exact same services rose from $30.15 to $39.50, an increase of more than 26%.”

“This is outrageous,” Kern wrote the Senator. “Please check this out, as I’m certain customers within your district and across the state are confronted with these unwanted increases in this most basic of utility services.”

Senator Linares’ Response

Promptly responding to Kern’s complaint, the Senator wrote on December 9, “I am bringing your complaint to the attention of state officials.” Also, the Senator advised Kern that, “A Dec. 22 public meeting has been scheduled with executives of Frontier Communications regarding complaints like yours,” and that the meeting would include a public comment section.

The December 22 public meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m., and it will be held at the offices of the Public Utility Regulatory Authority at 10 Franklin Square in New Britain.

The Senator also wrote, “I have found that many frustrated taxpayers are unaware of how to bring their complaints directly to state officials. If you wish to do so on the Frontier issue email PURA at Pura.Executivesecretary@ct.gov and the Office of Consumer Counsel at occ.info@ct.gov.”

The Senator also wrote to Kern, “To file a complaint about Frontier service with the state Department of Consumer Protection, send an email to dcp.fraud@ct.gov,” that includes your contact information and the particulars of your complaint. .