October 7, 2015

Dry Pants Model Yacht Club Hosts Successful 2015 New England Spring Regatta

Sail away!

Sail away!

DEEP RIVER — Plattwood Pond in Deep River was the home over the May 16-17 weekend to one of the most popular model sailing events in the Northeast: the 10th Annual  New England Spring Regatta  for  CR-914 model yachts.  Once again, it was a great success for both participants and curious onlookers.

Competitors were invited from all over the northeast. The top five sailors in order of finish were Kevin Dooley (USCG Academy sailing coach), Brain Jobson ( Essex), William James ( Worcester, Mass.), Brian Kerrigan( Essex), and John Skerry (Marblehead, Mass.) The top two sailors have previously won National CR-914 Championships.

Regatta winners proudly display their certificates.

Regatta winners proudly display their certificates.

The boats that were sailed are known as CR-914s, a nationally syndicated one-design class of boats that are 1/12 scale copies of America Cup racers. Over 5000 exist and can be found in every state of the nation. These radio-controlled boats are 36” long and can easily be carried in the trunk of most cars fully-rigged. They are fast, very competitive, and identical in every way-including weight. Winning and losing is totally dependent on the competence of the skippers.

Interested parties in the lower Connecticut River Valley can find club members sailing every Sunday at Plattwood Park in Deep River from 10:30 a.m. until noon as well as Thursday evenings until dark. Visitors are always welcome to try sailing these boats.

For more information, visit the Dry Pants Model Yacht Club’s website or call 860-767-5052.

Essex Garden Club Announces 2015 Scholarships

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club has announced the winners of its 2015 scholarships.

Scholarships of $1,000 each were awarded to Mackenzie Goller of Ivoryton, and Sarah Watson and Elsbeth Kane, both of Essex.

Goller, a 2013 graduate of The Williams School has just completed his freshman year at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.  He is pursuing an independent major in agriculture, called Food and Environmental Studies.

Watson is a junior at Gettysburg College.  Her major is  Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development.  This past semester, she was in Denmark with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad continuing her studies in sustainability of various issues such as sustainable chocolate production and urban gardens.

Kane is a sophomore at Columbia University majoring in Environmental Biology.   She has also studied abroad, spending last summer in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in an Ecosystems Experience Program at a reforestation site within the Atlantic Forest.

Additionally, 15 camperships at $125 each were given to Essex Park and Recreation Summer Session to educate younger children on the beauty and wonder of nature.  The Club also supports the Bushy Hill Nature Center in Ivoryton by offering four camperships of $520 each.

The Garden Club wishes to thank all those who supported the club’s annual May Market, the proceeds from which enable the club to make such donations.

Essex Resident DeLeeuw Named CT Middle School Principal of the Year

Judy DeLeeuw, Principal of East Lyme Middles School and CT Middle School Principal of the Year.

Judy DeLeeuw, Principal of East Lyme Middles School and CT Middle School Principal of the Year.

ESSEX — Dr. Judy DeLeeuw, Essex resident and principal of East Lyme Middle School (ELMS), has been named the 2015 Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) Middle School Principal of the Year. Described by former East Lyme First Selectman and current State Senator Paul Formica as an “inspirational and collaborative leader,” DeLeeuw was selected for her intrepid leadership, her commitment to educational equity, and her what’s-best-for-kids approach to school administration.

She has worked with a broad network of stakeholders to build and sustain a student-centered, engaging, inclusive and academically rigorous school where student achievement is abounding; teachers are challenged and supported; and parents are vital partners in their children’s education.

Reacting to the announcement of her selection, DeLeeuw remarked, “I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this award from CAS. I will celebrate this accolade with those who inspire me to lead each day; the teachers and the students.”

During her eight years as ELMS principal, DeLeeuw has distinguished herself as an industrious and reform-minded leader who cares deeply about the well-being of all members of the school community. According to ELMS Assistant Principal Jason Bitgood, who nominated DeLeeuw for the award, “As a leader committed to change, Dr.
DeLeeuw faces challenges with passion, perseverance and compassion.”

Language Arts teacher Audrone Venduras adds, “A sign at the entrance to ELMS reads, ‘Welcome to Your School.’ This is not an empty slogan but a philosophy which Judy embraces by successfully fostering a sense of ownership and collaboration among students, parents and staff to make ELMS the educational powerhouse that it is.”

Selected as the CAS Middle School of the Year in 2012, ELMS is a dynamic, creative, student-centered middle school where innovation and excellence flourish. The energy and vitality that permeate the school building are a direct result of DeLeeuw’s passion for educational excellence.

The 900-student school facility is divided into Kivas, or “gathering places,” which serve as small, personalized learning communities for students and teachers. This unique design concept supports differentiated learning and interdisciplinary instruction, which facilitate the development of 21st-century skills critical for success in the recently implemented Connecticut Core assessments.

Noted one member of the CAS School of the Year Selection Committee: “ELMS is a cutting edge school. Its interdisciplinary units are far-reaching and promote authentic learning; and, its eighth grade Capstone projects are the equivalent of research at the college level.”

DeLeeuw works tirelessly to maintain a vibrant, caring, student-centered culture which allows all children to grow socially and emotionally as well as academically. A constant presence in the corridors and classrooms, she uses every available opportunity to interact with and build relationships with her students.

Says Venduras, “Walk down the hallway, stop by the cafeteria, or observe bus dismissal and you will see a constant stream of children greeting their principal, for Judy has a remarkable relationship with her kids. She is accessible and genuinely interested in what they have to say.”

Recalls ELMS sixth grader Jack Derry, “During our end-of-the-year assembly, Dr. DeLeeuw joined the staff in a flash mob dance to the song ‘Happy.’ She was laughing and just having fun with everyone. My friends and I appreciate that she truly understands and relates to kids our age.”

One of DeLeeuw’s greatest achievements was her successful transformation of ELMS’ instructional services for special education students. She led her staff in transitioning from special education pullout classes to general education inclusion classes, increasing the amount of time students with disabilities spend with non-disabled peers from 56 to 90 percent. ELMS is now a place where all students learn together in the same well-supported classrooms with the values of tolerance, acceptance and sensitivity as cornerstones for success.

The Principal of the Year Program, sponsored annually by the Connecticut Association of Schools, was established in 1984 to bring recognition to the principalship and to spotlight the important role of the principal in shaping the educational environment and experiences of children. The program recognizes outstanding school principals who have succeeded in providing high quality learning opportunities for students. These administrators have demonstrated excellent leadership, commitment to staff and students, service to their communities, and contributions to the overall profession of
educational leadership.

Each year nominations are solicited for an Elementary, Middle and High School Principal of the Year. The winners are chosen by a selection committee consisting of active and retired principals and assistant principals. State principals of the year must demonstrate success in the areas of collaborative leadership; personal excellence;
curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and personalization.

DeLeeuw will be honored by CAS at the “Celebration of Distinguished Administrators” to be held on Oct. 22, 2015.

Red Cross Launches Campaign to Reduce Deaths, Injuries Caused by Home Fires

AREAWIDE — The American Red Cross has launched a campaign to reduce deaths and injuries caused by home fires by 25 percent in five years. There are two actions you can take to substantially reduce the risk of death or injury in a home fire.

Install smoke alarms: Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a fire in half. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home inside bedrooms and sleeping areas. The Red Cross offers a program to install FREE smoke alarms in your home and provide additional fire safety information. Call 1-877-287-3327 and press option one to request a home fire safety visit or register for a visit at http://www.redcross.org/ct/schedule-a-visit.

Practice fire drills at home: Fire experts agree that you may have as little as 2 minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. Use this Home Fire Escape Plan worksheet to plan your evacuation and practice it at least twice a year as a family.

Learn more about the Red Cross home fire prevention campaign.

Fire takes everything. It takes security. It takes safety, dignity and routine. Help the Red Cross give back what fire takes – the items that provide safety and comfort.

World Renowned Singers Pittsinger, Schumann to Star in Ivoryton’s ‘South Pacific’

David Pittsinger

David Pittsinger

IVORYTON —  Ivoryton Playhouse announced yesterday that world renowned American bass-baritone David Pittsinger* will be revisiting the role of Emile deBecque – the role he played in the Lincoln Center production to great critical acclaim – in the July production of South Pacific at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

Peter Marks of the Washington Post wrote of his performance’ “That quadruple bassoon of a voice interpreting the Richard Rodgers melodies – among the most melting ever composed for the theater – is all the seduction that you or Nellie need. Somehow, the effortlessness of Pittsinger’s technique helps in the illusion that the great romance at the core of “South Pacific” truly is operatic in scope.

Mr. Pittsinger is a stage performer of the greatest distinction.  Having appeared on the world’s leading opera and concert stages in Vienna, Salzburg, Brussels, Paris, Tanglewood, Pesaro, New York, Santa Fe, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and San Francisco, he is equally at home in baroque through contemporary operas, as well as musical theater.

Patricia Schumann

Patricia Schumann

He will be joined by his wife, internationally celebrated soprano Patricia Schuman*, who will also be making her Ivoryton Playhouse debut, as Bloody Mary. A performer of great breadth, Ms. Schuman began her career with the great Mozart repertoire, performing Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) and Contessa Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) at the Metropolitan Opera and has performed at most of the great opera houses throughout Europe and the United States.

David and Patricia made their home in Essex almost 20 years ago, and even though their work in the opera world has them travelling all over the world, they both feel a special connection to Connecticut shoreline. David, who grew up in Clinton and attended the University of Connecticut and Yale, is thrilled to be giving back to his community and the Playhouse is honored to welcome both of them to the historic Ivoryton stage.

South Pacific opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on July 1 and runs through July 26. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.  Additional matinee performances are at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, Saturday, July 18, and Saturday, July 25.  Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.  There is no performance on Saturday, July 4.

Tickets are $42 for adults, $37 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Area Legislators Applaud $7.5 Million Grant to Old Saybrook for Dredging North Cove

OLD SAYBROOK – Area legislators are applauding the State Bond Commission’s approval last Monday (May 11) of $7.5 million for the dredging of the North Cove, Connecticut River in Old Saybrook.

The funding, which comes from the state’s Grants-In-Aid program, will go toward improvements to ports and marinas, including dredging and navigational direction.

“This is a smart investment for our town,” Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) said. “Dredging the North Cove will keep property values up and protect our natural resources. I was pleased to work with local and state officials to secure this grant for Old Saybrook. This is great news.”

“This dredging project will create construction-related jobs while providing a lasting benefit to our region,” Sen. Art Linares, who represents part of Old Saybrook, said.  “We are grateful to the governor and the bond commission for moving this project forward.”

“North Cove has been a port of call going back to the town’s early days,” Sen. Paul Formica, who represents part of Old Saybrook, said. “This project is really important.  We need to make sure the ecological balance remains and that dredging allows for safe recreational boating.”

“This is a critical project for our town,” said Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., First Selectman of the Town of Old Saybrook. “The dredging last done in 2009 insufficiently opened up North Cove. This project will greatly add to the recreational usage of North Cove, as well as restoring it fully as a harbor of refuge in storms. We are thankful for the support of the Governor and the State Bond Commission.”

The North Cove in Old Saybrook is a part of the southern boundary of the Gateway Conservation Zone. The Gateway Conservation Zone boundary only extends 50 feet inland from the mean high water line. The proposed dredging of the North Cove would alleviate siltation issues due to reduced tidal flushing, which occurs when the openings to the river have been reduced by man-made structures. This also creates a problem for some deeper draft sailing vessels that moor at the North Cove.

Memory Care Community at Saybrook at Haddam Dedicated to Helen Shulz

The family of Helen Shultz of Old Saybrook gathered at The Saybrook at Haddam for the unveiling of the personalized plaque to commemorate her position as Safe Harbor’s first memory care resident.  Pictured here next to the plaque, left to right, are: Dan Sullivan, Richard Shultz, Judy Sullivan, Peter Sullivan, Bob Shultz, and Matthew Shultz. Two of Helen’s sons, John Schultz of Staten Island, N.Y., and Mark Shultz of Mequon, Wis., were unable to attend.

The family of Helen Shultz of Old Saybrook gathered at The Saybrook at Haddam for the unveiling of the personalized plaque to commemorate her position as Safe Harbor’s first memory care resident.  Pictured here next to the plaque, left to right, are: Dan Sullivan, Richard Shultz, Judy Sullivan, Peter Sullivan, Bob Shultz, and Matthew Shultz. Two of Helen’s sons, John Schultz of Staten Island, N.Y., and Mark Shultz of Mequon, Wis., were unable to attend.

HADDAM – The Saybrook at Haddam has dedicated its Safe Harbor neighborhood to its very first memory care resident, Helen Shultz of Old Saybrook, who lived at the specialized community throughout its inaugural year.  Members of the Shultz family joined the retirement community at a brief ceremony on May 6 to unveil a personalized plaque placed in Safe Harbor in honor of Helen’s memory.

Helen’s children attended the ceremony with their families.  Her daughter, Judy Sullivan, who is executive director of the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce, was joined by husband, Dan, and son, Peter; Bob Shultz of Hudson, New Hampshire, attended with his son Matthew from Avon, Conn.; and Richard Shultz came from Norwich, Conn.

During the celebration, Helen’s children expressed their appreciation for the care she received at The Saybrook at Haddam – and for the tremendous support the community offered their own families.

“When a loved one suffers from a memory illness, the family is forced into quite a learning curve,” Judy Sullivan said.  “The entire team at The Saybrook at Haddam walked us through that process, helping us understand Mom’s new ‘world,’ how to have patience, and most importantly how to continue enjoying each moment we had with her.  We are indebted to this community for their care, kindness and expertise and are so honored to have Mom forever be a part of Safe Harbor.”

Helen actually moved into The Saybrook at Haddam in 2011 a few weeks before Safe Harbor was completed.  As soon as the doors officially opened, she moved over to Safe Harbor.  During this time, The Saybrook at Haddam was working to build awareness of its unique and personalized approach to helping those suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia and other memory-related illnesses, and the Shultz family was the first to put its faith and trust into this new community.

“We owe a debt to the Shultz’s as well, as they were the first to recognize and trust in our approach to memory care,” Kathy Ryan, executive director of The Saybrook at Haddam, said.  “Of course, since Helen was our only resident for a short time, she essentially had one-on-one care and really stole the hearts of our entire community. I like to say she was ‘holding court,’ because she always had a group around her listening to stories, sharing meals, and meeting her every need with lightning speed.  Although we have grown tremendously since those days, Helen helped shape the quality and personality of the community we have become.”

Staff members who cared for Helen also shared warm memories of their premier resident, talking with fondness and laughter about their experiences with her.  They enjoyed her “no-nonsense” style, which likely was a result of the 40 years Helen worked as owner of the successful Shultz Appliance and TV retail shop in Old Saybrook.
Staff appreciated her real sense of family and knew they had made an impact when Helen began treating Safe Harbor like her home.  This was considered a milestone since Helen’s home in Old Saybrook was immensely important to her as the epi-center of very large family holidays, gatherings and memories.
“Safe Harbor really did become her home, and for us that was the true blessing,” Sullivan said.  “If there was a silver lining in Mom’s illness, it was getting to know everyone at The Saybrook at Haddam.  This plaque forever memorialized our connection to this community, and reinforces our hopes that other families find solace and reassurance here as they navigate through the difficult maze of memory loss.”
Editor’s Note: The Saybrook at Haddam (www.thesaybrookathaddam.com) is one of the region’s premier assisted living, retirement, and memory care communities; it offers 106 apartments for individuals or couples.  The manor is located in Haddam, Conn., with proximity to major highways, medical services, restaurants and entertainment venues.  Private tours are being scheduled, and applications for residence are available by calling 860-345-3779.

Essex Park & Rec. Announces Summer Program Schedule

Summer Camp

The Essex Park and Recreation Department has announced the following schedule of summer programs:

BUS TRIP – Lobster Bake in Gloucester & Rockport on Cape Ann

Essex Park and Recreation will be offering a bus trip to the Lobster Bake in Gloucester, on June 13. The program will cost $121 per person and includes: luxury motor coach transportation, a tour director, Lobster Bake at the Gloucester House, a visit to the Fisherman’s statue, and leisure time in Rockport at Bearskin Neck. What’s on the menu at the Gloucester House? 1 lobster, ½ chicken, or steak with corn, potato and lemonade, each prepared to perfection. Busses will depart from Madison commuter Parking Lot at 7:00AM and depart from Gloucester at 5:00PM.

For more information or registration, visit www.essexct.gov/park-and-recreation . You may also call the office at 860-767-4340 x110 or email recreation@essexct.gov.


Join Essex Park and Recreation for an exciting, engaging Summer Camp. Essex Park and Recreation will offer eight Summer Camp sessions, the first starting on June 22. Campers grades K-7 (fall 2015) will enjoy water games, fun gym and field activities, arts and crafts and much more. Camp meets Monday-Friday from 8:30AM-3:30PM and the registration fee is $125 per camper, with the exception of Week 2 which has a registration fee of $105.

For more information or registration, visit www.essexct.gov/park-and-recreation . You may also call the office at 860-767-4340 x110 or email recreation@essexct.gov.


Tennis Essex Park and Recreation is offering a series of week long Summer Tennis Clinics with Gary Ribchinsky, starting June 22. The clinics are designed to teach the fundamentals of tennis while featuring individual, group, and age appropriate instruction. The program will focus on improving all facets of the game with an emphasis on fun and success. Registration fee is $70 and open to children ages 5-15. Sessions will meet Monday – Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. throughout the summer.

For more information or registration, visit www.essexct.gov/park-and-recreation . You may also call the office at 860-767-4340 x110 or email recreation@essexct.gov.


Essex Park and Recreation will be offering Running Rams Track and Field camp with local resident and Old Saybrook High School Track and Field Coach Pete Capezzone. The camp will feature instruction for several track and field disciplines. Each day will also include a fun activity, such as ice cream sundae night, pizza night or an awards ceremony. The program runs Monday through Friday starting June 22, from 5-8PM, at Valley Regional High School. Registration fee is $130 and open to children ages 6-15.

For more information or registration, visit www.essexct.gov/park-and-recreation . You may also call the office at 860-767-4340 x110 or email recreation@essexct.gov.


Essex Park and Recreation is offering Slamma Jamma Basketball Camp with Kevin Woods and VRHS Players at Valley Regional High School. The camp is focused on individual instruction and fundamentals. Children in grades K-8 (fall 2015) can participate and registration fee varies by session. Fee includes basketball, t-shirt, and certificate.

For more information or registration, visit www.essexct.gov/park-and-recreation . You may also call the office at 860-767-4340 x110 or email recreation@essexct.gov.


Essex Park and Recreation will be offering a Baseball Camp with Jeff Riggs and Between the Lines Staff this summer from July 13-16 at Comstock Park, 9AM-1PM. The camp will help improve overall baseball skills and will be taught through drills, technique instruction and various games. Registration fee is $150 and open to children ages 6-12.

For more information or registration, visit www.essexct.gov/park-and-recreation . You may also call the office at 860-767-4340 x110 or email recreation@essexct.gov.


Essex Park and Recreation will be offering a “Made in the Summer Girls Basketball Camp” with coaches Matt Mesite and Geoff Konstan. The camp is specifically focused on drills that will improve each camper’s shooting, passing, dribbling, and defense. Camp meets M-F from 5:30-8:00PM, July 13- 17 at John Winthrop Middle School. Registration Fee is $45 and open to girls in grades 5-8. Includes a Jersey for each player.

For more information or registration, visit www.essexct.gov/park-and-recreation . You may also call the office at 860-767-4340 x110 or email recreation@essexct.gov.


Essex Park and Recreation is offering a Girls Lacrosse Camp with Coach Greg Ruel. The camp will run August 3-7, from 5:50-8PM at Essex Elementary School. Girls will be taught the fundamental and technical skills designed to make them all-around better players. All lacrosse equipment will be provided by the clinic except a mouth guard (all that is needed is an inexpensive one from Walmart or Target), which is mandatory to participate. The clinic will provide light dinner each night. Registration fee is $105 and open to girls ages 6-15.

For more information or registration, visit www.essexct.gov/park-and-recreation . You may also call the office at 860-767-4340 x110 or email recreation@essexct.gov.

Eight Fire Departments Raise 5,200 Pounds of Food for Shoreline Soup Kitchens

Members of the Westbrook Fire Department help collect food for the needy.

Members of the Westbrook Fire Department help collect food for the needy.

AREAWIDE — The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries’ 4th Annual Firehouse Food Drive was a great success, raising 5,200 pounds of food for local residents in need.  Held on April 11, firefighters and community volunteers worked together to collect food from generous donors throughout the area. The eight fire stations taking part this year included Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Essex, Chester, Deep River, Killingworth, Clinton and Niantic.

Spring can be a challenging time for many food pantries, as there are traditionally fewer food drives. This collection of over 5,000 pounds of food will help to fill the shelves out SSKP’s 5 area food pantries.

“It’s so heartwarming to know that these firefighters, who work so hard year-round to protect us, are willing to come together on a sunny Saturday to answer the call of our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Patty Dowling, SSKP Executive Director. “We saw hundreds of residents – students, families, seniors – some with one bag and others with carloads, coming down to their local fire houses to make sure our shelves would be full. We are so grateful to those who donated and especially to all the fire houses that made this year’s drive a success.”

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving 11 shoreline towns. Founded 26 years ago, they accomplish their mission with the help of over 900 dedicated volunteers. Last year SSKP distributed over one million pounds of food to over 8,300 local residents in need.

Essex Winter Series Takes its Emerging Artists to Essex, Deep River, New London

Andrew Yee of the Attacca Quartet lifts his cello over his head as the musicians describe their instruments to students at Deep River Elementary School.

Andrew Yee of the Attacca Quartet lifts his cello over his head as the musicians describe their instruments to students at Deep River Elementary School.

DEEP RIVER, ESSEX — As part of its robust outreach program, Essex Winter Series (EWS) brings highly-accomplished musical artists to public schools and senior residences in several Shoreline communities each year.

The Attacca Quartet, the New York-based string quartet that appeared on the Essex Winter Series in January, were the 2015 Fenton Brown Emerging Artists who took part in this year’s outreach program. Their whirlwind schedule took them to two cities, three towns, five schools, three senior residences, and one community service organization over the course of just four days, from April 20 to 23.

The members of the Attacca Quartet are violinists Amy Schroeder and Keiko Tokunaga, violist Luke Fleming, and cellist Andrew Yee. Although its members are young–still in their early 30s–the Attacca Quartet is an established and critically-acclaimed ensemble that has been around since 2003. Since its inception, the Attacca Quartet has recognized the importance of bringing high-quality classical music into the community, and have enthusiastically developed their skills in connecting with audiences of all ages in a variety of settings.

The Attacca Quartet and students from the Community Music School in Essex gathered after a string master class on Monday, April 20. Left-Right:   Luke Fleming, Keiko Tokunaga, Nadia PenkoffLidbeck, Noelle Avena, Andrew Yee, Bridget Haines, and Amy Schroeder.

The Attacca Quartet and students from the Community Music School in Essex gathered after a string master class on Monday, April 20. From left to right: Luke Fleming, Keiko Tokunaga, Nadia Penkoff Lidbeck, Noelle Avena, Andrew Yee, Bridget Haines, and Amy Schroeder.

On Monday, April 20, the quartet conducted a master class for string students at the Community Music School in Essex, which is a community partner of EWS. The next day, they performed for and took questions from Middletown High School students and played two concerts at Covenant Village in Cromwell.

New London was the focus of activities on Wednesday, with visits to Jennings Elementary School, Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School, Kindred Crossings, and the after-school program of the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut. The four-day outreach concluded on Thursday, with a visit to two classes at Deep River Elementary School and the Essex Meadows Health Center.

members of the Attacca Quartet take a bow after playing for students at Deep River Elementary School.

members of the Attacca Quartet take a bow after playing for students at Deep River Elementary School.

The outreach programs were sponsored by the EWS’s Fenton Brown Circle, The Community Music School, and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County.

The extent of the EWS outreach program is the vision of artistic director Mihae Lee. “This program is very important to me, as we need to break down barriers to classical music,” she said. “EWS is committed to touch every age group with the power of music by bringing live classical music to young students and to senior citizens who are not able to come to our concerts.”

For more information of Essex Winter Series and its outreach activities, write to office@essexwinterseries.com, visit www.essexwinterseries.com, or call 860-272-4572.

With Protection of The Preserve, Partners Secure Historic Conservation Gain

Conservation acquisition of almost 1,000-acre coastal forest in Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook expands Connecticut’s conservation legacy and is the culmination many years of work.

OLD SAYBROOK, CT—A coalition led by The Trust for Public Land and including The Nature Conservancy today announced protection of The Preserve, a huge swath of undeveloped forest located primarily in Old Saybrook.

To support this project, The Nature Conservancy will hold a conservation easement over almost 900 acres of The Preserve.

Over the years, the Conservancy was involved in many efforts with partners to protect the land. In the end, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) took the lead and, in 2013, negotiated The Preserve’s acquisition from River Sound Development LLC. TPL secured $10 million for project costs with financial commitments from the state, Old Saybrook, Essex and many public and private donors. The state and Old Saybrook are sharing ownership, with the Essex Land Trust owning 70 acres in Essex. The state will hold an easement over the acreage in Essex.

“Helping protect a place of this magnitude is an opportunity that simply does not come around often. When it does, you take it,” said Frogard Ryan, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “It’s gratifying for the Conservancy to be able to play a crucial role in this milestone—a success that adds substantially to Connecticut’s remarkable legacy of conservation.”

The Preserve is an extraordinary expanse of forest, wetlands and vernal pools. It includes the headwaters of the Oyster River. It is a stopover spot for migratory birds and provides habitat for dozens of animal and plant species.

“The Preserve was the last remaining opportunity in Southern New England to protect a block of coastal forest this large,” Ryan said. “We’re inspired—and galvanized for the future—by the leadership and vision of the many partners who made this achievement possible.”

In 2014, to provide extra protection for public lands, the Connecticut General Assembly gave the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection authority to grant protective easements over state park and forest land to nonprofit organizations. Lawmakers also granted authority for an easement over The Preserve. Because of the Conservancy’s experience, the state, TPL and Old Saybrook asked the Conservancy to hold that easement.

The Conservancy is thrilled to be able to accept the easement and is grateful for financial support for long-term costs from TPL and philanthropist Joan Livingston Tweedy, her family and their Tortuga Foundation.

“This is an iconic conservation success story, and we’re honored to play a part in it,” said Sarah Pellegrino, land protection and strategies manager for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “The Trust for Public Land, the Tortuga Foundation, the state of Connecticut, the towns of Old Saybrook and Essex, Connecticut Fund for the Environment: The list goes on. So many people have played a part in making this dream a reality.”

David Sutherland, government relations director for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut said: “Connecticut’s conservation community long has been working to preserve this property. Through years of hopes and setbacks, the impact of raging real estate markets and the weight of global financial forces, The Preserve and the wildlife that lives on it has endured. This acquisition will enable them to continue to thrive for decades to come.”

Essex Resident Elected to Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s Board of Directors

ESSEX — Essex resident Jennifer Ahern was recently elected to the Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s Board of Directors at its annual meeting on April 26.

Ahern is Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning and Sales Delivery for Webster Bank.

Visit http://www.gsofct.org/pages/JenniferAhern.php  to view her biography.

Essex Historical Society Celebrates its 60th Year with Dickinson Initiative

Essex Historical Society members Herb Clark, Susan Malan and Sherry Clark outside the Yellow Label Building with Rob Bradway of the Valley Railroad (second from right).

Essex Historical Society members Herb Clark, Susan Malan and Sherry Clark outside the Yellow Label Building with Rob Bradway of the Valley Railroad (second from right).

ESSEX — The Essex Historical Society (EHS), a non-profit organization formed in 1955 and boasting 250 members today, will be celebrating its 60th year throughout 2015 with a variety of special events and programs.  Of special note is the Dickinson Initiative, a series of five events aimed at increasing awareness of the impact of the E. E. Dickinson Witch Hazel business on Essex.

According to EHS President Sherry Clark, “We wanted our anniversary celebration to have a purpose and highlighting the Dickinson legacy seemed like the perfect choice given the company’s historical significance for much of the 20th century.  We are particularly excited to unveil our plans to refurbish the “Yellow Label” building in partnership with the Valley Railroad Company.”

The “Yellow Label” building, which sits on the southern end of the railroad depot property on Plains Road, is a familiar and somewhat iconic site to area residents although most are probably not aware of its history. First constructed around 1915 as a birch mill for the production of birch oil, it served as a storefront for the E.E. Dickinson Witch Hazel products in the 1980’s.

The renovation project entails the replacement of windows, roof, and deteriorated structural elements as well as general cleaning and painting, all to be done by the Valley Railroad. EHS will refurbish the Yellow Label signs and install Dickinson history exhibit panels in the newly repaired space.

Plans are now being finalized for a Dickinson Initiative Pre-Construction Party to take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 15 on the grounds surrounding the Yellow Label building. The free event is open to the public and will feature tours of the Yellow Label building, Witch Hazel advertising art on display in the Jensen Gallery, River Valley Junction building, and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. At 6:15 p.m., a short presentation of the Dickinson Initiative plans and a Yellow Label Day Proclamation by the Board of Selectman of Essex will take place.  The dedication and unveiling of the refurbished building is targeted for one year later on May 15, 2016.

Other 60th Anniversary/Dickinson Initiative events will include a special fundraising reception to take place at three Dickinson buildings on North Main Street in Essex on Sunday, Sept. 13; the EHS 5th Annual Fall Foliage Antique Auto Show and Tour of Dickinson business and family sites in partnership with the Belltown Antique Car Club on Sunday, Oct. 18; and a special program entitled “Creating the E. E. Dickinson National Brand” to be presented in January by EHS and held at the former Dickinson corporate office at 31 North Main Street, Essex, now the Wells Fargo office building.

The Essex Historical Society was formed and incorporated in 1955. According to news reports at the time, the Town of Essex was about to announce its intention to sell Hills Academy located on Prospect Street. It was no longer useful to the Town for classroom space and had been rented to various tenants for many years. A concerned group sprung into action and the first unofficial meeting of the Board of Directors was held at Essex Town Hall on Friday, December 10, 1954. Edwin B. Pratt was nominated President, John A. Bjerkoe, Vice President, Elizabeth J. Mundie became treasurer and William H. Matthews, curator.

The newly formed Essex Historical Society purchased the Hills Academy building from the Town for one dollar. From 1955 to 1985, Hills Academy served as the Society’s meeting house, as home to its growing collection of Essex memorabilia, and as exhibit space depicting the story of Essex history.

Then in 1985, the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (known then as S.P.N.E.A. and now renamed Historic New England) deeded the Pratt House Museum on West Avenue to the Society and the focus of activity shifted to the Pratt family narrative.

Today, Pratt House continues to interpret 18th century farm life in Essex and the nine generations of Pratt Smithies, many of whom lived in the house. The barn houses a set of panels depicting a time line of Essex history and an early loom that is worked on by an award winning group of weavers. The beautiful meadow to the rear of the property is the site of the Community Garden and often the scene of antique car shows and old fashioned summer fairs. Hills Academy provides additional meeting and exhibit space on the first floor and storage and office space on the second floor for the collection and archival files.

Essex Historical Society serves the three villages of Essex — Centerbrook, Essex and Ivoryton –  and strives to be the center of excellence for collecting and sharing historic resources for Essex and the surrounding area, and to be the facilitator among other organizations focused on the history of the area, so that they may inspire future generations.

For more information on the Essex Historical Society, its events and membership, visit www.essexhistory.org or call 860-767-0681.

Essex Garden Club “Seedy Ladies” Prepare for May Market

Pictured L>R are Dee Dee Charnok, Jane Dickinson, Coral Rawn, Gay Thorn, and Daphne Nielson  preparing tomato plants for the Essex Garden Club May Market.

From left to right, Dee Dee Charnok, Jane Dickinson, Coral Rawn, Gay Thorn, and Daphne Nielson prepare tomato plants for the Essex Garden Club May Market.

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club hosts its May Market at Town Park, Main Street, Essex Village on May 9, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine.

A most popular feature of the sale is the home grown tomato plants.  This year there will be 24 varieties of plants to choose from including bush, early, heirloom, artisan, and grape.  The “Seedy Ladies” grow all the plants from seed in a home greenhouse and nurture them until they are ready for the sale.

These plants sell out quickly, so mark your calendars and come early to find the plant of your choice.

Essex Savings Bank Donates Over $29,000 as Part of Community Investment Program

ESSEX — Results of the recent voting by Essex Savings Bank customers who participated in the Bank’s Community Investment Program were announced at a meeting of employees, directors and trustees at the Bank’s Plains Road Office on Wednesday, April 8.

The Top Ten Winners in attendance received special recognition.  They were in order by number of votes:

  1. The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries
  2. Forgotten Felines, Inc.
  3. Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc.
  4. High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
  5. Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM)
  6. Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc.
  7. The Essex Fire Engine Company No. 1
  8. Bikes for Kids, Inc.
  9. Pet Connections, Inc.
  10. Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, Inc. (VNLV)

The customer balloting portion of Essex Savings Bank’s 2015 Community Investment Program, began on Feb. 2 and concluded on March 2. The program entitles the Bank’s customers to select up to three charities from a list of 90 qualified non-profit organizations. Fund allocations are awarded based on the results of these votes.

Gregory R. Shook, President and Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank stated, “At Essex Savings Bank, we believe the way to move the world forward is by giving back. Our Community Investment Program is designed to provide vital financial support to those organizations that enhance the quality of life in our communities.”

Each year, the Bank donates 10 percent of its net income to non-profit organizations within the immediate market area consisting of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. This year, the Bank has allocated $98,741 to assisting non-profit organizations who offer outstanding services to our community and one third of that amount is then voted upon by the Bank’s customers.

According to Thomas Lindner, Vice President and Community Relations Officer for Essex Savings Bank, 6,987 votes were cast this year for a total of $29,620. By year end 2015, the total distribution of charitable funds will reach 4 million dollars since the inception of the Bank’s Community Investment Program in 1996.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and Shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, 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.

Click here to see the full results with voting numbers and amounts donated to each organization.

Middlesex Land Trust & CT River Gateway Commission Announce Open Space Acquisition in Haddam Neck

haddamNeckMapRaulBrownFINAL031815_v2HADDAM NECK — In February of this year the Middlesex Land Trust, in partnership with the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, purchased 50 acres of open space for permanent protection in Haddam Neck. This new preserve offers breathtaking views across the Connecticut River to Haddam Meadows State Park from a rough path that runs along the base of dramatic cliffs created from the property’s historic use as a quarry.

The Middlesex Land Trust now owns the preserve and is planning to develop a trail system for the public to enjoy for hiking, passive recreation and education. The tract lies along Injun Hollow Road just north of the 585 acres Connecticut Yankee property.

The land has been named the Brainerd Quarry Preserve to reflect the historic importance of the Brainerd Family in Haddam. Daniel Brainerd was one of the 28 founding settlers of Haddam in 1662, and a century later, in 1762, Deacon Esra Brainerd opened a quarry on the now preserved site. The quarry operated for more than 150 years, shipping stone down river to New York and as far south as Maryland, Virginia and New Orleans.

A 2011 study of the history and archeology of the area describes the Brainerds as “a family of entrepreneurs in the forefront of early industry and commerce in the Connecticut River Valley” and recommends the quarry site as “an ideal candidate for use as an outdoor classroom for studies in local history, geology, mining, early American industry, the Industrial Revolution in Connecticut and other related topics for grammar school, high school and college students.”

This significant property along the Connecticut River is now owned and managed by the Middlesex Land Trust, a regional not-for-profit volunteer land conservation organization that, since 1987, has been dedicated to the preservation of open space in northern Middlesex County.

The purchase was initiated by, and made possible through grant funding from the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, a state-local compact that protects the Lower Connecticut River Valley, one of the “most important ecological landscapes in the United States” according to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

A dedication ceremony for the new Brainerd Quarry Preserve and the opening of the preserve to the public is anticipated for the summer of 2015.

Students Support Meals on Wheels, ‘Blizzard Bag’ Drive a Great Success

OLD SAYBROOK – ‘Meals on Wheels’ in the Nine-Town Estuary region are provided to seniors along the Shoreline exclusively by The Estuary Council of Seniors and delivered by dedicated volunteers. Their volunteers brave all kinds of weather, from extreme heat to thunderstorms to snow.  They go out of their way to ensure that the nearly 200 clients have meals and a friendly visit each weekday.  However, there are days when weather conditions make it impossible to deliver meals and provide that all important personal visit.

An essential part of the Meals on Wheels program is to make certain homebound seniors have food in the case of emergency when delivery is not possible. The emergency meal is a day’s worth of shelf-stable food items, which is provided at no charge to clients. Each time meal delivery is canceled, the emergency meal is replenished.

This year, Old Saybrook students held the first annual “Blizzard Bag Drive”, collecting non-perishable food items for the emergency “Blizzard Bag” food for Meals on Wheels clients. These Blizzard Bags replaced the former pre-packaged emergency meals.  Each Blizzard Bag was decorated by local students and included a personal item for the recipient.

A meals on Wheels spokesperson commented, “The students did an outstanding job reaching out to our community and local businesses to generate incredible support of our homebound neighbors. Thank you to everyone who helped us with this first annual “Blizzard Bag” drive.”

If you, or anyone you know age 60 years old or better, need Meals on Wheels, call Carol Adanti at 860-388-1611, x217 for details.

VRHS Students Travel to Paris, Transport to JFK Paid by Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund

Ready for take-off: Valley Regional HS language students gather for a photo at the school immediately prior to departure.

Ready for take-off: Valley Regional HS language students gather for a photo at the school immediately prior to their departure across ‘The Pond.’

REGION 4 — The Valley Regional High School (VRHS) World Language Department organized a week-long trip to Paris over the 2015 spring break.

A $1,300 grant from the Christopher Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County provided for the group’s transportation to John F. Kennedy airport in New York City for their flight to Paris. These funds were, as in years past, generated by the Run For Chris 5K, held annually in Essex in Belfoure’s memory.

"Embark on your journey and only look forward. Not too fast but not too slow. It is the ones that remain idle that get lost in the memories of the past and not the dreams of the future. We as human-beings need to dream again once more.”   These words were written by Chris Belfoure to his friend Valerie Tinker.

“Embark on your journey and only look forward. Not too fast but not too slow. It is the ones that remain idle that get lost in the memories of the past and not the dreams of the future. We as human-beings need to dream again once more.”  These words were written by Chris Belfoure, pictured above, to his friend Valerie Tinker.

Belfoure was just 24 when he tragically died in July 2011. Yet his passions – his belief in the global community, his dedication to teaching and the environment – will be shared through the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC).

A graduate of VRHS and West Virginia University, Belfoure spoke fluent Mandarin and was pursuing a career as a corporate trainer in Shanghai. He is remembered as a charming, intelligent, ambitious man with a zest for life and adventure.

Belfoure believed knowledge to be a bridge between cultures and a key in developing innovative approaches to education and customer service. He loved to talk and knew that overcoming the barriers of language provided people an opportunity to learn about one another, to share hopes and dreams, and that just by talking, one could encourage people to see themselves as members of a global community.

Belfoure’s mother and stepfather, Robin and George Chapin, established the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation in January 2012. This designated Fund supports Middlesex County-Lower County public schools and public library programs focused on integrating multicultural experiences, learning foreign languages, and environmental programs into the curricula.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.12.48 AMThe Chapins and a host of family friends launched the Fund with the first annual Run for Chris – Run for Education on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Essex; the proceeds were donated to the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund.

This year’s event will be held June 27.  There will also be a 2- mile walk, 1-mile run for ages 7-14, and a kids’ Fun Run. Registration is open at ARatRace.com

Robin Chapin says, “Keeping Chris’ dreams alive is so important to us. Chris was passionate about life, and I want to share his passion and determination with others, so they can grow and enhance their lives. He was always smiling and inspiring others to pursue their dreams.” She continues, “The Fund allows us to provide opportunities for schools and libraries to fund their foreign language programs and global education programs. Giving back to the community was a part of who Chris was. This all helps to keep his memory alive.”

Editor’s Note: Information about and the photograph of Christopher Belfoure and the fund named after him have been taken from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County website.

Brett Elliott Appointed New Executive Director at ‘The Kate’

Brett Elliott

Brett Elliott

OLD SAYBROOK — The Board of Directors of the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (“The Kate”) has announced the appointment of Brett Elliott as Executive Director.

Elliott served as ‘The Kate’s’ Interim Director since founding Executive Director Chuck Still announced his departure in December.

Sonny Whelen, President of the Board of Trustees, stated, “We couldn’t be happier having Brett join us as our next Executive Director. In his position as interim director, Brett has shown us that he has all of the skills and leadership qualities to bring the Kate forward as we continue to expand our role in the community. This is a very exciting time for all of us”.

Starting in 2012, Elliott spent two years in Chicago where he received his MFA in Arts Leadership from DePaul University, a joint program with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Elliott produced several projects for Chicago Shakespeare including the world premiere of “Since I Suppose”, a technology driven, live interactive performance developed by Australia’s one step at a time like this. Elliott also spent a brief period in the finance and operations department at Broadway in Chicago.

Elliott is no stranger to Eastern Connecticut or the Kate. He worked at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center from 2009-2012. He then found his way to ‘The Kate’ through lighting and production work.

Holding a BA in Theater from Saginaw Valley State University, Elliott is a proud product of the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival, an organization, which gave him his start.

“After six years, there is no doubt about the quality, quantity, and variety of entertainment at ‘The Kate’; it truly is a cultural gem on the shoreline,” Elliott stated. “I am very proud to not only be back at ‘The Kate,’ but to lead this organization at such a vibrant and exciting time. I look forward to getting to know those in the community, as well as the thousands of patrons that come to the Kate each year,” Elliott concluded.

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, ‘The Kate,’ is a non-profit performing arts organization located in the historic theatre/town hall on Main Street in Old Saybrook. Originally opened in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, ‘The Kate’ has been renovated with public funds from the town of Old Saybrook and donations raised by the Trustees of the Center.

It includes a 250-seat theatre and a small museum honoring Katharine Hepburn, Old Saybrook’s most celebrated resident. As befits an organization born of such a public/private partnership, programming is eclectic, offering something for all ages and income levels on the Connecticut shore and in the lower river valley.

Miller Testifies in Support of a Bill to Increase Education Grant for Haddam

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

HADDAM — State Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester/Deep River/Essex/Haddam) testified this week in support of legislation that he is co-sponsoring that would increase the education grant for Haddam up to the 50 percent  level under the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula (ECS).

Miller testified before the legislature’s Appropriations Committee on SB 816, “An Act Establishing A Minimum Level Of Funding Under The Education Cost Sharing Grant Formula.”  Miller was joined by Haddam First Selectwoman Melissa Schlag and Region 17 Haddam-Killingworth Superintendent, Dr. Harry Thiery.

Miller pointed out that of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities, more than 40 of them are overfunded under the ECS formula, while 19, including Haddam, are underfunded below the 50 percent ECS funding level. He added that introducing a bill that would fully fund Haddam would be futile, because similar requests have died in committee in the past.

“This bill, however, would bring the 19 lowest, including Haddam, that are all funded less than 50 percent, at least up to the halfway point,”  Miller commented. “It is not a long term solution, but it is a step in the right direction. We should fund the overfunded municipalities at the full funding level, and no more.”

First Selectwoman Schlag, speaking in support of the bill, told committee members the proposed legislation is a step in the right direction, saying, “If we can’t fix the regressive property tax system in Connecticut, let’s at least fix the ECS system making it fair for all municipalities, large and small.”

Miller noted that the bill has bi-partisan support, which he believes gives the measure a better chance of passage as it continues along the legislative process.

Calling all Chester Poets, Submit up to Three Poems for ‘Chester Voices’ by April 23

CHESTER — For five years, the Chester Public Library has presented a reading by Chester poets in celebration of National Poetry Month. This year, “Chester Voices” will be on Monday evening, May 4, at the Chester Meeting House.

The featured poets each year have been published Chester poets as well as a few Chester Elementary sixth graders who worked with Chester poet Pamela Nomura.

This year, the library is taking a slightly new direction. Besides several published Chester poets who will read their work on May 4, everyone from Chester of any age is asked to submit a poem to the library’s contest by April 23. The submissions will be read by several judges, who will then select several to be read at the May 4 “Chester Voices” evening.

The guidelines for writing the poems are:

In keeping with the “Chester Voices” theme, all poets must be Chester residents

Poets of all ages are encouraged to submit no more than three poems each

All poems must be original to the poet

All poets must be willing to read their poem aloud to the audience at the “Chester Voices” evening, May 4

All submissions should not contain language unsuited to an audience that will include children

All submissions must be labeled with the name of the poet and age group into which the poet falls:  up to 12 years old, 13-18, or 19 +.  Unlabeled submissions will not be accepted

Decisions of the judges are final

The poems must be emailed to Library@chesterct.org or delivered to the Chester Public Library by Thursday, April 23, at 6 p.m. The library phone number is 526-0018 if you have questions.

RiverQuest Offers Osprey/Eagle Cruises in April

An osprey, returned from his winter spent in the southern hemisphere, feeds his young on the nest.

An osprey, returned from his winter spent in the southern hemisphere, feeds his young in the nest.

HADDAM — Late March into early April is when the Osprey returns to Connecticut from its southern wintering grounds. It is a wonderful sign that spring is here …

The Osprey is a large bird of prey (raptor) with a wingspan up to 6’ that eats fish, hence, it is sometimes referred to as the fish hawk. Connecticut Ospreys migrate south in late August through late September to areas where their food supply will not be affected by frozen rivers and lakes, sometimes as far south as Argentina. Ospreys of breeding age, at least three-years-old, are returning north now to start a new nest or to re-establish and re-build a nest they may have used in previous years.

Ospreys nest along the edges of the lower Connecticut River, from the mouth of the river in Old Lyme/Old Saybrook up river as far as Middletown. There will be activity on the many man-made nesting platforms at the Roger Tory Peterson Preserve near the mouth of the river in Old Lyme and on several other nesting platforms on the river, in “natural” tree settings and on the top of each of the navigational day markers that indicate the river channel. It is also hoped there will be Ospreys nesting on the new Osprey platform placed on the 101-year-old East Haddam Swing Bridge.

A great way to see this nesting activity is by boat. RiverQuest, an eco-tour vessel located at Eagle Landing State Park in the Tylerville section of Haddam is offering several cruises to the general public throughout April to view and learn about the Osprey and other wildlife that may be spotted, including hawks and another famous raptor, the American Bald Eagle.

After disappearing from Connecticut in 1948, the Bald Eagle has made a return and there are several active eagle nests on the river. It will be possible to view two of these nests from RiverQuest and very possibly, see one or more of the local resident Bald Eagles.

Other areas of interest that will be seen on the cruise include the Goodspeed Opera House, Gillette Castle and the Chester/Hadlyme Ferry. The cruises are about 2.5 hours in length and cost $40 per passenger (no children under 10-years-old.) There will be complimentary coffee and tea and a limited supply of binoculars on loan for the cruise.

To learn more about these informative cruises and/or reserve your spot with the easy on-line booking system, visit ctriverquest.com or phone 860-662-0577.

VRHS Seeking Hall of Fame Nominations, Deadline is April 30

AREAWIDE — Nominations and applications are being accepted for the 32nd annual Valley Regional High School (VRHS) Hall of Fame Award. Anyone may nominate a VRHS graduate who has gone on to excel in a particular profession, avocation, business, hobby, sport, etc., and who was graduated from Valley at least five years prior to nomination.

Call the VRHS office  at 860-526-5328 for an application, or write to the principal, Mrs. Kristina Martineau, 256 Kelsey Hill Rd., Deep River, CT 06417, listing the name of the candidate, address, telephone number, year of graduation and his/her outstanding accomplishments. Deadline for submitting applications is April 30, 2015.

The winner of the Hall of Fame Award will be honored at the graduation ceremony at VRHS on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

CT River Museum Offers Canoe, Kayak Paddle Program Partly Funded by Cabela’s

Connecticut River Museum Expands On-water Experiences with the Development of a Canoe and Kayak Paddle Program. Photo credit: Joan Meek.

Connecticut River Museum Expands On-water Experiences with the Development of a Canoe and Kayak Paddle Program. Photo credit: Joan Meek.

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum (CRM) will launch a canoe and kayak paddle program on the museum campus in Essex, CT this summer as a major expansion of its environmental outreach.  The Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion, conservation and improvement of wildlife and wildlife habitat, hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoor sporting and recreational activities, has made a generous contribution to CRM that will fund the purchase of 10 boats as well as assorted equipment that will make this important educational program possible.

According to the museum’s director, Chris Dobbs, “The Connecticut River Paddle Explorations Program is an exciting expansion of our ongoing environmental education activities and will allow more members and visitors to get out on the water.  We are thankful to the Cabela’s Outdoor Fund for making this possible.”

“Cabela’s Outdoor Fund is proud to support the Connecticut River Museum and its efforts in educating and exposing the community to the great outdoors,” said Jeremy Wonch, vice president of Cabela’s Outdoor Fund. “The Connecticut River Paddle Explorations Program will be great for both the community and the conservation efforts on the Connecticut River.”

Between June and September, CRM will offer canoes and kayaks at a nominal fee as a member benefit and to the public.  The program will allow visitors to explore the local marshes and tributaries around CRM, a great way for adults and families to access the River.

Dobbs commented, “Through the generosity of the Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, the museum will be able to use these boats for a variety of education programs.”  He said that this would include “guided paddles, exploration of nature preserves along the River, and places further afield.”  As part of the expanded vision for the museum, Dobbs would like the paddle program to partner with land trusts, historical societies, and other organizations up and down the River as a way to build appreciation for this “magnificent cultural and environmental resource.”

For more information about this program, to volunteer with the paddle program or to provide additional support, contact the Connecticut River Museum at 860.767.8269 or via email at crm@ctrivermuseum.org.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 AM – 5 PM and closed on Mondays until Memorial Day. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children age 6-12, free for children under 6.

For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.


Photo Credit: Support from Cabela’s Outdoor Fund will allow the Connecticut River Museum to expand its paddle programs and provide more people with wonderful experiences like the annual swallow migration. Photo courtesy of Joan Meek.

New State Funding Announced for Elderly Affordable Housing in Essex

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

ESSEX — State Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester/Deep River/Essex/Haddam) has welcomed the announcement that elderly affordable housing development in Essex will benefit from a $60 million statewide investment to bolster housing programs announced by Governor Dannel P. Malloy.

The funding for Essex is as follows:

  • Essex Place, Essex– Department of Housing will provide up to $3.83 million to assist in the development of Essex Place, a newly constructed 22-unit affordable elderly apartment building.  Essex Place will be located adjacent to the existing 36-unit Essex Court elderly housing development.  The site is walkable via town sidewalks to local services, grocery stores, restaurants and other community resources. The project is in close proximity to public transportation offered by the Estuary Transit District (ETD) that has regularly scheduled service on the Riverside Shuttle from Chester to Old Saybrook.  The project will consist of 18 one-bedroom and 4 two-bedroom rental units.  The units will serve residents or below 80% of the area median income.

“I welcome the Governor’s announcement that Essex will be awarded $3.83 million for the development of Essex Place. The development of affordable elderly apartments will help residents who live in the community stay in the community,” Rep. Miller said, “In addition the construction of new units has a positive economic impact by creating jobs and providing dollars for the purchase of materials and services. I thank Governor Malloy for this initiative in Essex.”

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

‘Paws and Read’ at Acton Public Library, Saturdays

OLD SAYBROOK — Calling all kids! Bring your favorite book or use one of the library’s to read to Hazel, a sweet Border Collie mix who will be at the Acton Public Library on select Saturdays waiting for you to read to her.

Hazel is a certified therapy dog who is trained and fully insured and will be accompanied by her handler. She is an Allan’s Angels Therapy Dog (AATD), which is a chapter of  The Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc.

Call and register for a 15-minute reading session on Saturday, April 18 beginning at 10 a.m., first come, first served. Free and open to all ages.

For more information, call 860-395-3184 during service hours: Monday – Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Nature Conservancy’s CT River Conservation Work is N. American RiverPrize Finalist

Aerial view of the Connecticut River.

Aerial view of the Connecticut River.

AREAWIDE — The International RiverFoundation recently recognized conservation work on the Connecticut River by selecting it as one of just four finalists for the Foundation’s “North American RiverPrize.”

The winner will be selected on May 2, following a presentation of achievements from each finalist at the River Rally 2015 in New Mexico.

The River Foundation heralded a 10-year collaborative partnership at the Connecticut River and specifically cited work with which The Nature Conservancy Connecticut River Program has been deeply involved.

Information published on the International River Foundation’s website regarding the Connecticut River’s submission states,

“As the largest river in New England, the Connecticut River watershed comprises one-sixth of the New England region and is home to 2.3 million residents, as well as hundreds of species of plants and animals. The Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) was established in 1997 and is the only multi-state watershed-based refuge in the United States’ vast system of federal refuges. It’s aim is to conserve the aquatic and terrestrial habitat resources of the entire 7.2 million-acre Connecticut River watershed across the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

In 2005, a group of passionate and engaged individuals came together to discuss how best to collaborate to ensure that the vision of the original Refuge founder could be built upon and following that meeting, the Friends of the Silvio O. Conte Refuge (Friends of Conte) was launched.. From the beginning, the Friends of Conte have committed to a collaborative effort to further three Central pillars: conservation, outdoor recreation and environmental education. Almost a decade later years later, their membership is comprised of59 non-profit organisations and 10 state and federal agency partners, working collaboratively towards these shared ideals. Activities have ranged from developing a set of hydrology models to help inform dam operations, collaborating on land protection and water quality initiatives and working to extend the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail – The Friends of Conte know firsthand that getting people out on the river is the first step to educating them about the opportunities and the urgency to conserve this essential freshwater resource.”

Eversource Notifies Essex Community of 2015 Tree Trimming

ESSEX — Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden, was notified by Eversource, formerly CL&P, that additional tree trimming in the local community would begin this spring.  Residents will see bucket trucks and chippers from Asplundh and Lucas Tree throughout Essex.  These contractors are obliged by the new PURA(Public Utilities Regulatory Authority) laws to go from door to door to notify abutting owners and ask if the owner agrees with the trimming.

Pampel wants residents to know that, according to these new laws, they have the right to challenge the tree companies about the trimming. Those wishing to challenge the trimming or removal should follow the procedure described in the handouts received from the permissions contact person.

The following information was provided by Eversource and will be given to each abutting property owner affected by the upcoming tree work.

Eversource informs residents that year round trimming is “one of the ways we provide safe and reliable electric service”.  By removing potential hazardous growth close to power lines, they provide not only reliable service but also safer physical and visual access for their employees who work on the lines.  Problems can therefore be solved more efficiently.  Eversource states that all work is performed following professional tree care industry standards and best practices.

There are several clearance specifications outlined in the literature provided to you by the permissions contact. You should discuss the specific one that will be used in your area with the permissions contact, who leaves the permission slip with you.

The trees at risk are:

  • Those trees that can fall on or contact power lines and cause an outage.
  • Tree professionals will determine a tree’s hazardous potential based on species, location, health and structural composition.
  • Eversource arborists will also determine a tree’s risk of causing an outage and prioritize removal accordingly.  If a tree must be removed, it will be cut as low to the ground as possible
  • Critical trimming can occur without permission by the abutting owner if there is evidence that the tree or brush are in direct contact with power lines or have visible signs of burning.  This is “to protect public safety and system reliability.”

Low growing shrubs and grasses will not be removed in order to maintain a low-growing plant community.

Eversource will treat hardwood trees that can re-sprout from a cut stump with an herbicide to prevent regrowth.  As per Eversource, the herbicide has been tested and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  It will be “selectively applied with a handheld spray bottle by state licensed and certified personnel only to the outer edge and side of a stump.”

According to the Connecticut General Statutes (22a-66a) certain herbicide label information must be provided to the property owner where herbicides are used.  Property owners can ask the tree contractor requesting permission for trimming if herbicides will be used and request the herbicidal labels.

Eversource will make available to customers free of charge all cut wood or mulch produced from the tree work.  Larger limbs and tree trunks will be cut into manageable lengths and mulch can be dumped where vehicle access is possible.

In an effort to provide effective communication and better customer service, Eversource will seek property owner approval in advance of the tree work.  They will stop at all homes abutting areas of potential work to provide information and request approval for the trimming.  It is incumbent upon the property owner to read the material carefully, ask questions and/or contact the Eversource permissions contractor listed on the enclosed forms provided to property owners.   You may also call Eversource Customer Care Center at 800-286-2000 or the Eversource Business Contact Center at 888-783-6617. You can email Eversource directly at treeCT@eversource.com.

For trees that hang over the public right-of-way, you may ask for additional consultation:

  • If you live on a town road, please contact your local Tree Warden (Augie Pampel).
  • If you live on a state road, contact the state Department of Transportation (DOT), Commissioner’s Office, 2800 Berlin Turnpike, Newington, CT 06131

Not granting permission:

  • If a property owner does not wish to grant approval for the proposed tree work, he/she should follow the procedures outlined in the material left by the permissions contact.
  • Both the property owner and Eversource may further appeal that decision to the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) within 10 days.
  • Contact PURA at 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051.  PURA will hold a mediation session within 30 days of an appeal or an arbitration hearing within 60 days, to reach a resolution.

According to Eversource, no property owner will be billed for damages to Eversource power lines or equipment caused by trees on the owner’s property that fall, regardless of the outcome of an appeal.

Augie Pampel is available to anyone who may have questions, concerns or who require more information about this upcoming tree work.  Contact him at 860-767-0766

Senators Linares, Formica Tour CT River Museum

From left to right: Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs, Museum Trustee Eileen Angelini, Sen. Linares, Museum Vice Chairman Joanne Masin, and Sen. Formica.

From left to right: Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs, Museum Trustee Eileen Angelini, Sen. Linares, Museum Vice Chairman Joanne Masin, and Sen. Formica.

On March 9, area legislators toured the Connecticut River Museum on Main Street in historic Essex village.  Senator Art Linares of Westbrook and Senator Paul Formica of East Lyme pledged to continue to raise public awareness of the museum at the State Capitol and throughout their senate districts.

On the web:  www.ctrivermuseum.org .

Richard Pittsinger Receives Carolyn R. Greenleaf Memorial Award

Richard Pittsinger and Oxana Laura

Richard Pittsinger and Oxana Lauria

ESSEX — The Carolyn R. Greenleaf Memorial Music Award Committee announced Richard Pittsinger as the Spring 2015 recipient. Pittsinger is a 10th grader at Valley Regional High School where he sings with the chorus, concert choir, and Madrigals, as well as the ensembles Natural Minors and Mad Men. In addition, he will be seen as one of the leads in the Valley Musical Production of “Band Geeks” that runs through 15.

A former student at the St. Thomas Choir School in New York City, Pittsinger has been accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College Program, which he will begin his senior year. He will study piano at the Community Music School with Oxana Lauria.

The Carolyn Greenleaf Memorial Committee accepts applications twice a year. This merit-based award is open to students of Middlesex County and the Lymes and is awarded by the Community Foundation of Middlesex County/Carolyn R. Greenleaf Fund.

Connecticut River Museum Announces April Vacation Week Workshops


Join the Connecticut River Museum during April School Vacation for a week of creativity and discovery. Come for one session or the whole week.

Kid_drawing_CRMThis year the Connecticut River Museum (CRM) will run two Vacation Workshop sessions.  Session I runs April 6-10, Session II runs April 13-17. Each Session’s programs are Monday – Friday from 9:00am – 12:00pm.  When school is out, CRM is the place to be — bring your imagination and come prepared to create and experiment during an exploration of the River and its history.

The workshops are designed for ages 6 – 12 and include exploration activities in the museum, time outdoors doing nature, science and history projects, and arts and crafts. Programs are $20/day, $85/week for CRM members and $25/Day, $110/week for nonmembers. Advance registration is required and space is limited.

To register, visit ctrivermuseum.org/camps-workshops for details on each day’s program and to download the registration form.  Email jwhitedobbs@ctrivermuseum.org or call 860.767.8269 x113 to reserve. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street.


Watershed Council Appoints New Steward to Protect Lower Connecticut River

Alicea Charamut

Alicea Charamut

Middletown, CT— The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) has announced the appointment of  Alicea Charamut as the new Lower River Steward for the Connecticut region. She works from CRWC’s office in the deKoven House in Middletown, CT. However, she is responsible for protecting the Connecticut River basin from the Massachusetts border all the way to Long Island Sound.

“Water is one of our planet’s most critical resources,” notes Alicea. “Unfortunately, our rivers and streams are taken for granted. It is up to organizations like CRWC with its passionate members, staff, and volunteers to protect and restore our watersheds for future generations. I consider myself fortunate to join the staff and begin work on behalf of the Connecticut River watershed.”

Charamut is already working on a number of important projects, including: Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), upcoming water quality standard revisions, Long Island Sound clean-up plan revisions, extension of the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail into MA & CT, Connecticut Yankee barrier, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for tires, state-wide Water Planning, and is co-lead on CRWC’s Source to Sea River Cleanup.

An advocate for Connecticut’s rivers and streams for nearly a decade, Charamut has a strong background in biology and water resource issues. She currently serves as the President of the Farmington Valley Chapter and on the Executive Committee of the State Council of Trout Unlimited. Her work as a volunteer leader has given her many useful skills and knowledge of water issues, which she is eager to put to work for our rivers.

Charamut can be reached at 860-704-0057 or acharamut@ctriver.org.


The Connecticut River Watershed Council works to protect the watershed from source to sea. As stewards of this heritage, we celebrate our four-state treasure and collaborate, educate, organize, restore and intervene to preserve its health for generations to come. Our work informs our vision of economic and ecological abundance. To learn more about CRWC, or to make a contribution to help protect our rivers, visit www.ctriver.org or call 413-772-2020, ext. 201

Essex Savings Bank Receives Affordable Housing Award

Gregory R. Shook, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank, has announced that the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston has named the Bank as one of its 2014 Affordable Housing Program Award winners.  Each year, applications for funding of affordable housing developments are submitted by member institutions and are awarded in a single competitive round (107 applications for 2014).

This year, the program provided $25 million in subsidies to a total of 51 approved initiatives with over 1,900 for‐sale homes and rental apartments across New England, plus Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Saybrook Village South was awarded $880,776 in total subsidy, along with a $935,000 loan advance subject to certain conditions.  Saybrook Village South is a 15 unit elderly and affordable housing village located in Old Saybrook, CT.  The project’s sponsor is the Elderly Housing Development Corp of Old Saybrook.   The project will incorporate many sustainable development and efficient operating features.  Essex Savings Bank will provide construction financing in addition to permanent financing.  Additional funds will be provided by the Connecticut Department of Housing.

The Bank is committed to creating housing opportunities and meeting specialized community credit needs by actively competing for funding such as those offered by the Affordable Housing Program.  The Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston commended Essex Savings Bank for its substantial expenditure of professional expertise and effort in underwriting and competing for this award of Affordable Housing Program funds for Saybrook Village South.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851.  The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, 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 and are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

Chester Town Meeting Approves Funding For Library Design, Main St. Reconstruction

CHESTER — Voters at a town meeting Thursday approved funding for two major town projects, including $100,000 for architectural schematic design plans for a new library at North Quarter Park, and $100,000 as the final town funding component for reconstruction of a section of Main Street east of the downtown village.

About 60 residents braved lingering snow and slick roads tor turn out for the votes at the Chester Meetings House, approving both appropriations on voice votes after about an hour of discussion. The additional funding for the Main Street Project was approved on a unanimous vote, while the appropriation for library design fees was approved on a voice vote with a handful of opposing votes.

The town will use $100,000 from the undesignated fund balance to pay for architectural schematic design fees for a new library at North Quarter Park, a 22-acre town-owned parcel on the east end of Main Street. Library supporters and the board of selectmen decided last year to pursue construction of a new library at the park, rather than pursued a potentially costly and complicated renovation and expansion of the 109-year-old existing library building on West Main Street, though some residents continued to question the plan for a new library at the park during meetings last fall.

In November, the town was awarded a $1 million state grant toward the estimated $4 million cost of a new library, funds that must be used for a building project within the next three years. A library building committee, with support from the board of selectmen, last summer hired the Pawtucket, R.I. firm of Lads & Bartells to prepare very preliminary plans for a new library at the park as part of the grant application, though there has been no decision on hiring a firm for the actual building project.

The $100,000 for the Main Street East Project is the final town funding component for an estimated $800,000 project that is mostly paid for by state grant funds. The project, which has been under discussion for years, was scaled back last November to focus on reconstruction of a 1,000-foot section of Main Street from the intersection with School Lane west to the entrance to the Laurel Hill Cemetery.

A more costly plan for reconstruction of a larger section of Main Street east to the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Rte. 154) that included a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street had drawn opposition from some residents. The project is expected to be put out to bid soon for a start of construction this spring.

Deep River Town Meeting Authorizes Additional $1.1 Million for Sewer Expansion Project

DEEP RIVER — Voters at a town meeting Thursday authorized an additional $1.1 million in funding for a sewer expansion project that had been approved as a $4 million project by a May 2013 town meeting. Like the initial $4 million, the funding comes as a combination of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant and loan funds. About 20 voters braved lingering snow to turn out for the meeting, with the funding authorization approved on a voice vote with two opposed.

The additional funding for the project was approved by USDA late last year after bids that were opened last summer came in above the $4 million in approved funding. The project was rebid, with the board of selectmen in September selecting  B&W Paving and Landscaping of Mystic on a base bid of $3,610,000.

The higher than anticipated bids forced selectmen to defer some elements of the project that will now be covered by the $1.1 million in additional funding that includes a $495,000 grant and a 20-year $605,000 loan The resolution approved Thursday also authorizes the town to borrow funds in advance of reimbursement by the federal grant and loan funds.

The additional funds will allow completion of the full north end sewer expansion project that will offer municipal sewer service to about 120 residential properties in the Kirtland Street-River Street area. The additional funding will pay for an extension of sewer service to properties on five small connecting streets off Kirtland and River streets, including Fairview Avenue, Old River Street, River Lane, Phelps Lane, and Read Street.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the town has the option of accepting B&W Paving’s original alternate bids for the additional work, or rebidding this segment of the project. Preliminary construction work that began in November is expected to resume next month.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miller Backs Bill to Cap Monthly Fixed Charge on Electric Bills

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  The Bureau coordinates and provides resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essex Resident Earns High Honors at Sacred Heart Academy

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

Sophie Park of Essex earned High Honors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Ice) Dammed If You Don’t …

An example of a roof ice dam in Willimantic.

An example of a roof ice dam in Willimantic.

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

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

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

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

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

Good Luck!

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

‘China Day’ at Essex Elementary Offers Lantern Learning

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

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

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

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

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

For donation information, visit www.essexelementaryschoolfoundation.org.

Acton Public Library Presents Key Chain Collection During March

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

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


Essex Garden Club Hosts Successful Terrarium Workshop


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


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

Workshop participants create their masterpieces.

Workshop participants create their masterpieces.

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


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

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

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

Lizzie Simon in action

Lizzie Simons in action

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

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

Talking Transportation: Is Metro-North Irreplaceable?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron

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

Tractor Supply Co. Announces Third Annual National FFA Scholarship Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tractor Supply Company

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

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