October 28, 2016

Colin Bennett Announces Run for State Senate as Democrat

Colin Bennett (file photo)

Colin Bennett (file photo)

WESTBROOK — Longtime area resident and small business owner Colin Bennett has announced his candidacy for state senate in the 33rd District – as a Democrat. Bennett has run for the seat multiple times, always as a Green, so this will be his first foray into the Democratic Party.

“I’ve been impressed with the popularity and success of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and have taken inspiration from his campaign,” Bennett explains. “Bernie and I agree on almost every major issue, so it makes sense that I would follow in his footsteps, especially since he carried nine of the twelve towns in the 33rd District,” he says.

“The thing is, this election is about more than me. It’s about more than any of the individual candidates or the parties they represent. Elected officials should be accountable to the people, not corporate lobbyists, but that’s no longer the reality – the people of Connecticut, and this country, have been sold out. I’m running because I want to help change that.”

In this election Bennett will take part in the Connecticut Citizens’ Election Program for the first time. According to Bennett, “The ability to fundraise has very little to do with the ability to be an effective legislator, especially when so many campaign contributions come from corporations, PACs and other special interest groups that are trying (successfully) to buy influence with candidates. Fortunately, the CEP is a big step in the correct direction.”

Bennett concludes, “People in the country are ready for and demanding change – Bernie and Trump have proven that. Given the (long overdue) anti-establishment political climate and with the support of the Citizens’ Election Program, the Bennett for Senate campaign is going all the way this year.”

For more information about Bennett, visit www.facebook.com/Bennett.for.Senate.


Chester Republican Committee Endorses Linares and Siegrist

CHESTER – The Chester Republican Town Committee (CRTC), at its monthly meeting, unanimously endorsed candidates State Senator Art Linares, the incumbent from Connecticut’s 33rd Senate District, and Bob Siegrist, the challenger in Connecticut’s 36th House District, for the upcoming election in November.

“These candidates bring essential experience and knowledge of the issues facing our district and thoughtful innovative solutions critical to resolving the current budget crisis in Connecticut,” said CRTC Chairman Carolyn Linn. “It is time for us to elect a legislature committed to once again making our state a desirable place to live, work, and be viable for business and industry growth.”


Essex Native Assumes Command of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron in San Diego

sailor pix 1ESSEX – The Navy Office of Community Outreach has announced that Essex native Cmdr. Robert Barr Kimnach, III assumed command of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49 in San Diego, California, on April 22.

A 1998 graduate of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Cmdr. Kimnach joined the Scorpions of HSM-49 in January of 2014 as executive officer. He was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1999 and has accumulated over 2,500 flight hours.

HSM-49 is made up of over 250 Sailors and ten MH-60R aircraft. The Scorpions source two aircraft MH-60R detachments for the Navy’s Cruiser and Destroyer warships.  Currently HSM-49 is supporting USS Momsen and USS Spruance as part of a Surface Action Group.

Cmdr. Kimnach’s personal decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and numerous campaign, unit and service awards.


Is it a Tunnel? An Aerial Structure? Learning the Latest on the Proposed High Speed Railroad Through Old Lyme

A large crowd gathered at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme to hear the latest on the proposed high speed railroad track.

A large crowd gathered at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme to hear the latest on the proposed high speed railroad track.

More than 80 people gathered in Gil Boro’s Studio 80 on Lyme Street in Old Lyme Sunday afternoon to hear a variety of speakers give updates on the latest developments in the saga involving the Federal Rail Authority’s (FRA) NEC Future’s proposals for an upgraded high speed railroad track from Washington DC to Boston. The event had a lighter side with musical performances from Ramblin’ Dan Stevens, Clayton Allen and friends, and the Localmotives with Eleanor Robinson, the Shrivers and friends. But the main thrust of the program was to educate and inform the attendees about the status of FRA’s plans … and what to do about them.

Greg Stroud, who has spearheaded the movement to fight Alternative 1 –- the route that travels through the center of Old Lyme – spoke first explaining that in spring 2012, when the FRA first announced a plan to invest in and modernize high speed rail in the northeast corridor, they began with 98 alternatives. He pointed out that back then, “I don’t think you’ll find a single complaint from Old Lyme, “Because not one of these alternatives included plans for running a railroad through the historical district of Old Lyme.”

Greg Stroud makes a point during his presentation in Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds.

Greg Stroud makes a point during his presentation in Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds.

It was only in November 2015 when the FRA issued their Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that “Old Lyme was mentioned for the first time” in the proposals and by that time, the original 98 alternatives had been narrowed down to just three. Moreover, the route through Old Lyme – the 50-mile bypass running from Old Saybrook to Kenyon, R.I. known as Alternative 1 – featured an “aerial structure’ traversing Lyme Street some 40 ft. above street level. He commented calmly, “This was kind of disturbing.”

The initial comment period for the Tier 1 study closed at the end of January. It was then extended to Feb. 15 and after an extraordinary number of comments from the residents of Old Lyme (1,200 out of a total of 3,000 according to Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder), the FRA introduced the idea of a tunnel going from Old Saybrook and Stroud said, “coming out around Whippoorwill [Rd.]”

Stroud pointed out that although “a tunnel sounds better … we’re a community of marshes .. this Historic District is built on soil and groundwater,” and suggested the audience should Google the word “dewatering.” He said that in order to build a tunnel, “You have to pump the water out of the soil,” noting soil tends to settle, “when you pump out groundwater,” adding, “There really isn’t a nice way to build a tunnel,” and then the comment, “It’s troubling.”

Stressing that he could not say definitively this would happen, Stroud noted that the FRA is unable to do so either. He mentioned that the FRA is “pretty friendly” and in numerous conversations with involved parties in Old Lyme, the FRA has said consistently that it, “will do the studies afterwards.”

Stroud’s point, however, is that the FRA is currently determining its preferred route for the track based on the feedback it has received to date. It will announce that route in September and then undertake the necessary studies. But, Stroud emphasized, “Once that route is drawn on the map, and if that route runs under, over, or through Old Lyme, it’s going to be enormously difficult and expensive, to erase.”

State Senator Paul Formica (R- 20th, center) and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd, right) listen carefully to an attendee's point.

State Senator Paul Formica (R- 20th, center) and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd, right) listen carefully to an attendee’s point.

Stroud continued that it was important to know where town government and state officials stood on the proposal, noting, “I know where our First Selectwoman [Bonnie Reemsnyder] stands on this,” and adding that from the start, State Representative Devin Carney (R), “took me seriously” and State Senator Paul Formica (R), “was very supportive,” drawing laughter when he confessed, “ And I’m a Democrat!”

But Stroud noted despite the fact, “We’ve back-channeled and we’ve front-channeled … it’s been pretty quiet,” and there has been “Little from [Congressman Joe] Courtney,” and with regard to Senator Richard Blumenthal, Stroud stated emphatically, “We don’t know if he’s with us or against us.” He urged the audience to “get our public representatives to take a stand,” by calling and/or writing to Senator Blumenthal’s office asking him to take a stand in order to, “Get this off the table.”

Pre-addressed postcards were available at the event for attendees to write a personal note to Senator Blumenthal, who Stroud noted is “the most active supporter of high-speed rail in Congress” and the ranking member of the Senate committee in charge of the rail planning process. Stroud said Blumenthal could therefore be enormously influential in the final route decision.

BJ Bernblum reads Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder's statement to the audience.

BJ Bernblum reads Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder’s statement to the audience.

BJ Bernblum then read a statement on behalf of Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who was unable to attend the event. It opened with Reemsnyder thanking all the people who had written to the FRA during the Tier 1 comment period, noting that at a subsequent meeting with the NEC Futures team, “ I believe that our concerns were taken seriously,” adding, “Of those concerns, we were effective in the most important one, and that is the removal of the plan for an aerial structure going through the heart of Old Lyme.”

Reemsnyder noted in her statement, however, “While this is good news, I acknowledge that the idea of a tunnel across the Connecticut River comes with its own set of concerns, which we also addressed in our meeting. The Connecticut River and its estuary are of such vital importance that we must assure that valid research and extreme caution are used in planning this type of work.” She stressed that a team of people from the regional government council (RiverCOG) and some Old Lyme residents “are gathering important data on the Connecticut River to be used if and when the time comes to thoroughly discuss the impact of a tunnel.”

In conclusion, Reemsnyder’s statement said, “We are continuing to keep the communication open with the FRA, our state officials, our Connecticut Delegation and state representatives to advocate for our community and protect our future,” adding, “You can see our summary of our meeting in a letter to the FRA on the town website, along with their response to that summary.”

Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the CT Trust for Historic Preservation, discusses a point after his presentation.

Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the CT Trust for Historic Preservation, discusses a point after his presentation.

The third speaker was Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. He commented that from both his perspective in his current position and his prior experience as a municipal government member in the Town of New Scotland, N.Y. that Old Lyme’s town government “was doing the right things,” but stressed, “They need you [the audience],” explaining, “Their effectiveness is bolstered by a grassroots movement.”

He described the positive relationship between the Old Lyme town government and the local environmental, cultural and historical organizations as, “a potent mix” that he felt could be effective in conveying the message that “there are other ways to deliver high speed rail … without the wreckage of going through Old Lyme.”

In similar vein to Stroud, he reflected that, “While the process has been silent (while the FRA considers which option to select as its preferred route), I want to encourage you not to be silent,” adding, “You need to keep pressing home the point that this is not the place for high speed rail.”

Greg Stroud addresses the audience from the mezzanine level where the musicians played during Sunday's event.

Greg Stroud addresses the audience from the mezzanine level where the musicians played during Sunday’s event.

He explained that the Trust has “taken on fiscal responsibility” for the project known as ‘SECoast,’ which is described on its Facebook page as, “An independent nonprofit, partnered with the Connecticut Trust and currently focused on the topic of high-speed rail in Southeastern Connecticut,” with a mission of, “Organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley.”

Mackay said the Trust will be “picking up costs” associated with the project and donations to the group can now be accepted. He said information on how to donate to support the project is on the SECoast website and 100 percent of any donation will go to the project and is tax-deductible.

Mackay then cited what he described as a “visionary” Statement of Significance written in 1971 by Margaret Crosby Brown of Old Lyme when the town was applying to establish an historic district. Crosby Brown mentioned, “The town’s long awareness of the necessity for strong stewardship for both the historical and environmental aspects of Old Lyme,” noting at that time, “This is especially so when the destructive forces of accelerated change are all too apparent.”

Concurring with Crosby Brown’s opinion about the “necessity for strong stewardship,” he concluded with the words, “You have something very special here,” adding emphatically, “Let’s press that point.”


Essex Foundation Underwrites Material Costs for Essex Gateway Bridge Painting


ESSEX – For 46 years, the Essex Foundation has been quietly tending to the unique and special needs of the Essex community, answering calls for assistance when fast action is needed.

Most recently, the nonprofit group lent financial support to the highway bridge painting project at the Route 9, exit 3 section of town. The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s tree and shrub removal along state highway barriers had further exposed the patched-paint and rusted appearance of the bridge and left the landscape bare. Public outcry over the “tacky” condition of what is considered the gateway to Essex was fierce, with local residents asking town officials to find a solution.

That solution came in the form of a collaboration between Essex residents Steve and Susan Bogan, owners of Blast-All Construction, who provided the in-kind donation of project planning, supervision, equipment, and labor services; the Town of Essex who provided police supervision and traffic re-routing services; and the Essex Foundation, the Essex Rotary Club and many individual donors, who together provided a total of $18,000 for the purchase of the paint.

The initiative started in 2015 when the Bogans approached the Essex Foundation with a plan for painting the bridge at no cost to taxpayers. As a contractor for state and federal bridge work, Blast-All worked with the CT D.O.T. and the Union Apprenticeship program to have the Essex gateway bridge serve as a training site. The Bogans also met with town officials to secure local police assistance for traffic re-routing and worker safety, while the Essex Foundation, the Essex Rotary Club and many individual donors provided financial support for the paint and material costs. In less than a year, with an entire community behind the effort, the bridge painting work is complete with the exception of the end panels, which are soon to be repaired by the D.O.T. and then painted by Blast-All.

The Essex Foundation is now in the planning stages of a grounds beautification project that will include plantings for the area around the gateway bridge.

Founded in 1970, the Essex Foundation is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of Essex citizens by providing medical, educational, social, welfare, cultural, recreational and civic support. From the start, the foundation board wanted to make it possible for funds to be made available for special projects that are not typically supported by other non-profits and that required fast local action. In 1982, many local citizens were devastated by heavy flooding that destroyed homes and left people without food, clothing, refrigeration and heat. Because of the structure of the fund, the Essex Foundation was able, on an ad hoc basis, to help many people get back on their feet quickly. Other past projects supported by the Essex Foundation fund, along with individual donations, include the removal of the half-sunken barge in the Middle Cove, pond weed control for the Falls River neighborhood, repair and maintenance of the Town Clock in the tower of the Baptist Church, and the operation and maintenance of the Bumpy Warner Youth House on Bushnell Street used by the Boy Scouts. More information can be found at www.theessexfoundation.org or by emailing contact@theessexfoundation.org.


Ancient Order of Essex Weeders Honors Sam Rogers


ESSEX – The Ancient Order of Essex Weeders is a group of men who maintain the landscaping in Essex on Rte. 154 at the intersection of Rte. 153. It was founded in 1981 by Bob Swain, who became “Lead Weed,” and was succeeded by Erl Nord.

The group is also a social organization that gets together for coffee weekly and includes a book club that meets monthly.

The group recently had a retirement party for Sam Rogers. In the photo above, party attendees are shown with new “Lead Weed” Ray Coyle presenting Sam his retirement gift.

More information at http://essexweeders.weebly.com/.


Chester Walking Song Video Wins Gold Hermes Award

Peter Good and Janet Cummings created a Walking Town decal and pewter ornament.

Peter Good and Janet Cummings created a Walking Town decal and pewter ornament.

CHESTER – For years, the town of Chester knew the state was requiring that the Main Street Bridge be rebuilt, and this caused a lot of angst among merchants, selectmen, and residents. How would we cope with keeping the town center viable and reachable? Would the shops, restaurants and galleries continue to attract customers? Where would people park?

The selectmen required that the state do the reconstruction from the beginning of January 2016 until Memorial Day, to get it over with before summertime shopping and the Chester Sunday Market began. The town’s Economic Development Commission created a “Survival Guide” and held several planning meetings in an effort to minimize the impact on the business district.

Then, last fall the Chester merchants decided to meet the challenge head on. With a small group of creative merchants, Leslie Strauss wrote and recorded “The Chester Walking Song,” saying, “We are all so busy getting in shape on treadmills that we forget how much more enjoyable it is to get out there and ‘walk about.’ Chester Village shops, galleries and restaurants are, and will continue to be, more easily accessed than the average mall store. With parking lots within 70 steps, you can ‘walk right in and come hang out.’”

Annalisa Russell-Smith, of Chester-based Local Plant Productions, then volunteered to create a video of Chester Center with the song in the background.

As Leslie says, “Annalisa’s enchanting minute-long video reinforces the vibrancy of the village, and how accessible everything is to anyone willing to ‘walk right in, come hang out.’ The shops, galleries, restaurants and street scenes entice visitors of all ages to be sure to make Chester one of their New England favorites.”

This month, Annalisa’s video was selected for a Gold Award by the Hermes Creative Awards, an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional materials and programs, and emerging technologies. Hermes Creative Awards is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

Watch the video about Chester here:  https://vimeo.com/157448900. For more information about Annalisa Russell-Smith, go to http://www.localplanetproductions.com.  More information about the Hermes Creative Awards here: www.hermesawards.com.

Annalisa Russell-Smith shooting the Chester video in Chester Center. Photo by Al Malpa

Annalisa Russell-Smith shooting the Chester video in Chester Center. Photo by Al Malpa


Historical Weddings Featured at Deep River Tea

Sue Pire, Essex, with her mother Georgiana Czaplicki of Clinton. The dress was modeled by Katherine “Kat” Irena of Chester. Photo by Susanne Wisner

Sue Pire, Essex, with her mother, Georgiana Czaplicki of Clinton. The dress was modeled by Katherine “Kat” Irena of Chester. Photo by Susanne Wisner


DEEP RIVER – The Deep River Historical Society held their third annual Tea on April 9 at the Carriage House on the grounds of the Stone House. This event featured not only delicious food but also a special program that highlighted “Wedding Traditions through Time.”

This was a multi-generational presentation where several granddaughters modeled gowns of their grandmothers or mothers, along with other models. Several vintage gowns that dated back to the 1800s were also on display.

A slide presentation and raffle were also part of the sold-out event.





Essex Garden Club Offers Scholarship

ESSEX – The Essex Garden Club is offering a $1,000 scholarship for the school year 2016-2017. To be considered for this scholarship, applicants must be

  1. a resident of Essex, Centerbrook or Ivoryton, CT

2. a high school senior or undergraduate/graduate college student

3. have a “B” or better GPA

4.  be planning to pursue studies related to the environment in an accredited two-year or four-year institute of higher learning. Fields of study may include: Agriculture, Biology, Ecology, Horticulture, Forestry, Environmental Science and Engineering.  Closely related subjects may also apply: Land Conservation, Landscape Design, Nursery Management.

Application forms are available from Guidance Counselors, or go to essexgardenclubct.org. The deadline for receipt of applications is April 25, 2016. For more information call 860-581-8206.


Essex’s Medical Center Closed Almost Two Years Ago, Plans for Empty Building Not Yet Determined

Middlesex Hospital closed its medical facility in Essex on April 28, 2014, and the property has been vacant ever since.

Middlesex Hospital closed its medical facility in Essex on April 28, 2014, and the property has been vacant ever since.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

It has now been almost two years — April 28, 2014 to be precise — since Middlesex Hospital closed its medical center in Essex. For the present, however, according to Middlesex Hospital’s Director of Public Relations, Peg Arico, there are no specific plans by the hospital regarding the future of the shuttered facility.

Signs threatening prosecution for trespassers stand on the grounds of Middlesex Hospital’s former medical center in Essex.

Signs threatening prosecution for trespassers stand on the grounds of Middlesex Hospital’s former medical center in Essex.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said in a separate interview that he had learned that Middlesex Hospital had retained an “outside consultant” to explore options for its unused hospital facility in Essex where ‘No Trespassing’ signs stand at the perimeter of the site.       

Some Essex residents have expressed the hope that Middlesex Hospital will soon decide what to do with the unused property noting that the “No Trespassing” signs on Westbrook Rd. are not an especially pleasant way to welcome visitors entering historic Essex.

At the same time, Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center patient care facilities in Westbrook, which replaced the Essex clinic, have, in general, been very well received by Essex residents.


Registration Now Open for High Hopes Summer Equestrian Camp for Ages 3-12

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding’s summer camp in Old Lyme begins July 11 for children ages 3 to 12. No previous riding experience is needed.

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding’s summer camp in Old Lyme begins July 11 for children ages 3 to 12. No previous riding experience is needed.

OLD LYME – High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Inc., is once again hosting a youth equestrian summer camp for area children ages 3 to 12, on its beautiful 120-acre campus in Old Lyme. High Hopes offers summer campers equine-related educational opportunities in partnership with its herd of more than 20 horses and ponies. Each camp session is designed to meet the needs of participant groups by age and/or riding skill level, and offers children diverse equine-based activities conducted by a certified therapeutic riding instructor.

Campers build and/or develop horsemanship skills both on and off the horse by grooming and tacking their horse each morning in addition to a daily riding lesson. Other activities include gymnastics on horseback, carriage driving, inclusive team-building games and equine arts and crafts. No previous riding experience is necessary. During the school year, High Hopes provides therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-assisted activities for people with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities.

Four weekly sessions are scheduled beginning the week of July 11. Each session is limited to 16 participants and is Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration deadline is June 10. Contact Carrina Echeandia, cecheandia@highhopestr.org, 860-434-1974 ext. 118 for more information.

Editor’s note: High Hopes is one of the oldest and largest therapeutic riding centers in the United States, operating since 1974 and accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International (PATH Intl.) since 1979. High Hopes is committed to providing the highest quality service to all who might benefit, regardless of their financial means.  www.highhopestr.org



Linares Welcomes Essex Historical Society to Capitol

Senator em

Essex Historical Society Director Melissa Josefiak and Sen. Art Linares

ESSEX – Historical societies and preservationists from across the state gathered at the State Capitol on March 23 to raise awareness about their organizations’ dedication to promoting Connecticut’s heritage for present and future generations.

The Essex Historical Society (www.essexhistory.org) was among the groups that traveled to Hartford to speak with Sen. Art Linares and other state lawmakers.

Sen. Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.



Photo Gallery by Kim Tyler of Monday Night’s Vigil for Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith

DEEP RIVER — Deep River resident and professional photographer Kim Tyler, who graciously supplied all of the photos published with Charles Stannard’s story on ValleyNewsNow.com, has also generously agreed to make many of the photos that she took at the vigil available to our readers at no charge.

We applaud her wonderful act of public service and the photos are now published below.

For more information about Kim Tyler Photography, visit ktphoto.net



Essex’s Popular Village Provision Store Closes Doors, March 31

 Village Provision co-proprietor, Claudia Odekerken, stands outside the store.

Village Provision co-proprietor, Claudia Odekerken, stands outside the store. Photos by Jerome Wilson.

Essex’s popular Village Provision store closed its doors on Thursday, March 31. Village Provision has been operating at 6 Main Street in the heart of downtown Essex for the past fifteen and a half years, according to Claudia Odekerken, who with her husband, Jeff, has managed the unique and popular store. 

A regular customer of Village Provision for many years, Barry Fulford, said that the closing of the store was, “Absolutely dreadful.” Fulford like many of the store’s customers begins his day with a coffee, and perhaps a bagel on the side. The store also carries a full line of daily newspapers.

Village Provision’s owners in a written statement wrote, “It is with deep sadness that we announce the closing of Village Provision Company this Thursday, March 31, 2016. Due to the owner’s desire to sell the property, our lease was not renewed this year. We have been asked to vacate the property by April 1 in order for the new owner to take possession. This development has been very hard on our family, after more than 15 years of service and growth in the community, and with little time we must pack our little store and move on to a new adventure.”

The statement continued, “We would like to thank you all for your continued support through the years and for becoming more than just customers but friends. We will truly miss seeing you all every day, but our time here is not forgotten and we will look back to it with happiness, and at the many memories that we have share with you all. We will still be at Marley’s Café this summer, and we hope to see you there.”

We would also like to invite you to join us for a farewell lunch on Thursday March 31 at the Provision Store. Sincerely, Jeff, Claudia, Dylan, Michele, Patrick, Katherine and Milkey.” 

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 3.40.01 PM

Owner Claudia Odekerken relaxes briefly inside the store.

As to what Claudia and Jeff are going to do after the closing of Marley’s, Claudia said in an interview that she and her husband would continue to operate Marley’s restaurant on the island of the Essex Island Marina. The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner from May to September. “After that,” Claudia said, “we are just going to have to figure it out.”

Claudia also noted that she and her husband were still, “going to cater weddings, funerals and birthday parties.” Claudia noted that they also will continued to do, “plates for special occasions.” As for the rest of their future, Claudia and Jeff, remain undecided.


CT Legislators Support Study to Preserve Plum Island From Commercial Development

Aerial voew of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

Aerial view of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

OLD SAYBROOK — Last Thursday, March 24, at a press conference in Old Saybrook, a triumvirate of Congressional legislators from Connecticut, State Senator Richard Blumenthal and US Representatives Joe Courtney (D-2nd District) and Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District) confirmed their support for a study to determine the future of Plum Island located in Long Island Sound.

Members of the Plum Island Coalition — which has some 65 member organizations all dedicated to preserving the island — were in attendance to hear the good news.

The island still houses a high-security, federal animal disease research facility, but the decision has already been taken to move the facility to a new location in Kansas with an opening slated for 2022. The current facility takes up only a small percentage of the land on the island and significantly for environmentalists, the remainder of the island has for years been left to nature in the wild.

In supporting a federal study on the future of Plum Island, Sen. Blumenthal said, “This study is a step towards saving a precious, irreplaceable national treasure from developers and polluters. It will provide the science and fact-based evidence to make our case for stopping the current Congressional plan to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder.”

He continued, “The stark truth is the sale of Plum Island is no longer necessary to build a new bioresearch facility because Congress has fully appropriated the funds. There is no need for this sale – and in fact, Congress needs to rescind the sale.”

Congress, however, still has a law on the books that authorizes the sale of Plum Island land to the highest bidder. Therefore, opponents of the sale will have the burden of convincing Congress to change a law that is currently in place.


Areawide Firehouse Food Drive to Benefit Shoreline Soup Kitchens

SSKP_FHFD_image_2016AREAWIDE – For the fifth year, local fire departments hosted an areawide food drive to collect non-perishable food for area residents in need. The fire stations received donations on Saturday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The donations will go to local food pantries run by the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP).

SSKP hopes to include as many fire departments as possible in the 11 shoreline towns they serve. So far, the Old Saybrook, Chester, Essex, Clinton and Westbrook fire departments have committed to the event. All fire departments are welcome to participate.

At a time of year when food donations are low, this food will help to restock the pantries and ensure that everyone in our communities will have a place at the table. Last year’s drive raised 5,200 pounds of food.

The most needed items are:

Canned meats (tuna, chicken, salmon)

Canned fruits & vegetables

Peanut butter

Canned & boxed meals

Canned or dried beans

Pasta & rice


Items not accepted:

Rusty or unlabeled cans

Perishable items

Homemade ttems

Noncommercial packaged or canned items

Alcoholic beverages & mixes

Open or used items

For more information, call (860) 388-1988, email cbellerjeau@shorelinesoupkitchens.org or visit www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org.

Editor’s Note: The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River. Founded 27 years ago, in 1989, at the Baptist Church in Essex, the agency continues in its mission to feed the hungry in body and spirit. Last year with a small staff and over 900 dedicated volunteers, SSKP served enough food for over one million meals to shoreline neighbors in need.


Town of Deep River Announces Death of First Selectman Dick Smith

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

DEEP RIVER — The Town of Deep River has announced the passing yesterday afternoon (Friday, March 25) of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith. An announcement on the town’s website states, “The Town of Deep River has suffered a terrible loss in the passing of Dick Smith. The town has lost a leader of over 26 years, the community has lost a friend, and we are saddened beyond words, but its immediate thoughts are with Dick’s family, who has lost a father and a grandfather.” The statement adds, “Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

Details of services have not yet been announced.

Our reporter Charles Stannard wrote in an article published July 28, 2015, on ValleyNewsNow.com that Smith, then 64, was, “one of the longest serving municipal elected officials in Connecticut.”  The article also noted that Smith said he, “never considered stepping aside this year,” adding, “I love what I do, it’s like my extended family.” Smith told Stannard during the interview that his priorities for the next two years were, “Keeping taxes down as much as we can,” along with a firehouse renovation and expansion project.

Stannard also reported, “Smith’s last challenge for the top job came in 2007 from the now defunct Deep River Independent Party. He was uncontested for re-election in 2009, 2011, and 2013. Town Republicans have not nominated a candidate for first selectman since 2005.”

We extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Smith’s family.


Essex Zoning Commission Continues Hearings on Cumberland Farms Rebuild, Plains Rd. Apartments to April 18

ESSEX — The zoning commission has continued to April 18 the public hearings on separate applications for a rebuild and expansion of the Cumberland Farms store at 82 Main St. in the Centerbrook section, and a 52-unit apartment complex with an affordable housing component on Plains Rd.

Both applicants agreed at public hearings Monday to extend the legal deadline for closure of the public hearings on the two applications.  Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the extensions will require the commission to vote on April 18 on the site plan review application from Signature Contracting Group LLC of Westport for the apartments, while the panel will have until June to act on the Cumberland Farms application.

The Cumberland Farms application includes a demolition, rebuild, and expansion of the existing store to include three gasoline pumping stations under an canopy.  The new 4,250-square-foot store would include a public restroom, a new septic system, and lighting.  The size of the canopy, along with the need for a third pumping station, generated the most discussion, and some objections, Monday.

Nearby residents  Robert and Laurie Hernandez objected to the size of the canopy, which would be about 80-feet long, and the third pumping station.  Laurie Hernandez said the applicants were ‘trying to jam and prototype onto a very small lot,” to build “something that would be at an I-95 off ramp.”

Joel Marzi, the town clerk who is an abutting property owner at 21 Westbrook Rd., said he has concerns about the size of the canopy, but would also appreciate an upgrade of the site.

Joan Wallace, who lives on the opposite side of Westbrook Rd., said she has concerns about the canopy, lighting, and also traffic flow, contending there are already traffic backups for vehicles heading north to the Centerbrook traffic light.  Wallace asked if Cumberland Farms would be willing to proceed with an expansion and upgrade of the store without a third fuel pumping station.

Joseph Williams, an attorney for Cumberland Farms with the firm of Shipman & Goodwin, said an additional fueling station was key to the company’s plan to pursue an estimated $3 million expansion and upgrade of the store.  Two residents, Kenneth Bombaci and Strickland Hyde, spoke in support of the project.

With several issues still under discussion, and approval of the new septic system still pending from the town health department, Williams agreed to continue the hearing to April 18.

The site plan for the apartment complex on a 3.7-acre parcel that would combine parcels at 21, 27, and 29 Plains Rd., including the long vacant Iron Chef restaurant property, has been filed under state statute 8-30g, which is intended to encourage additional affordable housing in Connecticut.  The proposed 52 units in three separate buildings would include 16 units designated as moderate income housing.  Each building would have a septic system, which requires approval from the state Department of Public Health.

One new development Monday came when lawyer John Bennet announced that he has been designated an intervener in the application process for Northbound 9 LLC, which owns the commercial building on the opposite side of Plains Rd.  The building contains the office of Bennet’s law firm, and a local construction company.

Bennet said the objections to the project focus on the potential for “environmental damage.”  Under the 8-30g law, the commission could reject the application only for public health and safety reasons.


What’s the Latest on That Proposed High Speed Train Track Through Southeast CT?

Many readers have contacted us to inquire what has happened — as well as a sea of other questions — to the Federal Rail Administration’s (FRA) proposal to route a high speed rail track through the center of Old Lyme bifurcating Lyme Street just to the south of the I-95 bridge. The ‘comment period’ closed Feb. 15 and so we feel the questions raised by our readers — many of whom submitted comments — are entirely justified.

We turned to Gregory Stroud to seek some answers.

Stroud, an Old Lyme resident, has taken a deep and enduring interest in the FRA’s proposal and has, in the process, become extremely knowledgeable on the complexities of the project. For regular readers, you will recall that Stroud wrote the original editorial on LymeLine.com that sparked an avalanche of interest in and concern about the FRA’s proposal. He graciously agreed to respond to our questions and we are planning to publish his responses — question by question — in a series starting today.

Stroud has also created a Facebook page titled SECoast at Old Lyme where readers can glean a plethora of information about the project and be kept current on developments.

And if you ready to be shocked, take a look at the rendering below to get a sense of how the railroad will intrude into our quiet, relatively reclusive life in Old Lyme … and we stress, this image is to scale.

Rendering by Robin Breeding of the high-speed train in Old Lyme drawn/created to scale.

Rendering by Robin Breeding of the high-speed train in Old Lyme drawn/created to scale.

Here’s our first question:

Question (LymeLine.com ): What has happened since the “Comment” period was closed?

Answer (Gregory Stroud): Great question. But first, let me offer a little background. The Federal Railroad Administration actually outsources the planning process to a contractor, a huge multinational based out of Montreal, called Parsons Brinckerhoff. They specialize in this sort of project. They worked on The Big Dig up in Boston. They are same people who planned the Baldwin Bridge, and who electrified the rail lines to our east a few years ago. Parsons Brinckerhoff knows Old Lyme. They’ve faced local community activists before. And they’ve won.

So … with two weeks to go before the comment deadline, Parsons Brinckerhoff was reading a lazy stream of public comment, averaging just a comment every other day for a few years, and suddenly all heck breaks loose. Comments start pouring in from Old Lyme—1,200 comments out of 3,000 received from every town and city from Washington to Boston. Those numbers pretty much guarantee that more people cared enough to comment in Old Lyme, than in Manhattan, or Boston, or even Baltimore, which has its own contentious tunnel project. Add in the outreach to Hartford and Washington, and suddenly Old Lyme is on the map.

The good news is that the contractor has actually reached out to Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, to Daniel Mackay at Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, and others. Parsons Brinckerhoff is making cordial, if maybe grudging, efforts to respond to the local outcry. You have to understand, as a contractor, they are in a tough place. They need to get this done by the end of the summer. They want to make their bosses at the Federal Railroad Administration happy. They have to make the people funding this in the Senate and Congress happy. It has to be something that Hartford can swallow.

In this grand balancing act, Old Lyme is a bit of a nuisance. I don’t get the sense that Stamford or New Haven or Hartford are somehow secretly plotting to send high-speed rail through Old Lyme. It’s not malicious. From what I understand, nearly everyone in-state would actually prefer Alternative 2, connecting Hartford to Boston. Parsons Brinckerhoff just wants to get this done. Right now they are busy with their statutory obligation of weighing every one of those 1200 comments.

That said, no one really wants a small town at the mouth of the Connecticut river to upset the tea cart. If at the end of the day, Washington and Hartford decide that a train has to run through Old Lyme, then they plan to run a train through Old Lyme. I think it’s fair to say that pretty much everyone wants us to pipe down and behave.

So, of course, they start telling us what they think we want to hear. Most importantly, for the first time the idea of tunnel is floated, privately, details to be determined at some uncertain date, perhaps 2 billion dollars added the price tag—quite an accomplishment for a few weeks work! But don’t believe it for a second.

At Tier 1, the current planning stage, these vague promises mean almost nothing. Sure, they can relabel the purple line running through Old Lyme, and call it a tunnel. But it’s the purple line that really matters. In two years they can just decide that a tunnel is too expensive or impractical, and it’s a bridge all over again. To be clear, no one has actually carried out engineering or environmental studies on a tunnel. In this planning process, the decisions are coming before the studies. The cart before the horse.

So, where are we now in the process? Everyone should understand that the Federal Railroad Administration is replacing their master plan for the Northeast. The current plan dates back to 1978. The next plan will reshape rail in the Northeast for the next 25 years.

A decision will be made, probably in August. The choice will be announced around September 1. And if the Federal Railroad Administration chooses Alternative 1, and Alternative 1 still has a purple line running through Old Lyme, then we are in for the fight of a lifetime. We have a once-a-generation chance to shape federal plans for Old Lyme, and we need to get this right.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Gregory Stroud.


Land Trusts’ Photo Contest Winners Announced

Hank Golet Mitchell Award a

Winner of the top prize, the John G. Mitchell Environmental Conservation Award – Hank Golet

The 10th Annual Land Trusts’ Photo Contest winners were announced at a March 11 reception highlighting the winning photos and displaying all entered photos. Land trusts in Lyme, Old Lyme, Salem, Essex and East Haddam jointly sponsor the annual amateur photo contest to celebrate the scenic countryside and diverse wildlife and plants in these towns. The ages of the photographers ranged from children to senior citizens.

Hank Golet won the top prize, the John G. Mitchell Environmental Conservation Award, with his beautiful photograph of a juvenile yellow crowned night heron in the Black Hall River in Old Lyme. Alison Mitchell personally presented the award, created in memory of her late husband John G. Mitchell, an editor at National Geographic, who championed the cause of the environment.

William Burt, a naturalist and acclaimed wildlife photographer, who has been a contest judge for ten years, received a special mention. Judges Burt; Amy Kurtz Lansing, an accomplished art historian and curator at the Florence Griswold Museum; and Skip Broom, a respected, award-winning local photographer and antique house restoration housewright, chose the winning photographs from 219 entries.

The sponsoring land trusts – Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Essex Land Trust, the Old Lyme Land Trust, Salem Land Trust, and East Haddam Land Trust – thank the judges as well as generous supporters RiverQuest/ CT River Expeditions, Lorensen Auto Group, the Oakley Wing Group at Morgan Stanley, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Ballek’s Garden Center, Essex Savings Bank, Chelsea Groton Bank, and Alison Mitchell in honor of her late husband John G. Mitchell. Big Y and Fromage Fine Foods & Coffee provided support for the reception.

The winning photographers are:

John G. Mitchell Environmental Award, Hank Golet, Old Lyme

1st: Patrick Burns, East Haddam
2nd: Judah Waldo, Old Lyme
3rd: James Beckman, Ivoryton
Honorable Mention Gabriel Waldo, Old Lyme
Honorable Mention Sarah Gada, East Haddam
Honorable Mention Shawn Parent, East Haddam

1st: Marcus Maronne, Mystic
2nd: Normand L. Charlette, Manchester
3rd:  Tammy Marseli, Rocky Hill
Honorable Mention  Jud Perkins, Salem
Honorable Mention Pat Duncan, Norwalk
Honorable Mention John Kolb, Essex

1st: Cheryl Philopena, Salem
2nd: Marian Morrissette, New London
3rd:  Harcourt Davis, Old Lyme
Honorable Mention Cynthia Kovak, Old Lyme
Honorable Mention Bopha Smith, Salem
Honorable Mention  Pat Duncan, Norwalk

1st: Mary Waldron, Old Lyme
2nd: Courtney Briggs, Old Saybrook
3rd: Linda Waters, Salem
Honorable Mention Pete Govert, East Haddam
Honorable Mention Marcus Maronne, Mystic
Honorable Mention Marian Morrissette, New London

1st: Chris Pimley, Essex
2nd: Harcourt Davis, Old Lyme
3rd: Linda Waters, Salem
Honorable Mention Thomas Nemeth, Salem
Honorable Mention Jeri Duefrene, Niantic
Honorable Mention Elizabeth Gentile, Old Lyme

First place winner of Wildlife category - Chris Pimley

First place winner of Wildlife category – Chris Pimley

The winning photos will be on display at the Lymes’ Senior Center for the month of March and Lyme Public Library in April. For more information go to lymelandtrust.org.


Invasive Species Explored at CT River Museum’s Featured 2016 Exhibit Opening April 1

invaders pic 2

The “Invaders” exhibit features original artwork by Michael DiGiorgio and explores the issues related to invasive species in the River Valley and local region.

ESSEX – The Connecticut River Museum unveils its 2016 featured exhibit Invaders: They Come by Air, Land & Water! on Friday, April 1. Invaders examines the threat of invasive species to the Connecticut River Valley, a region celebrated for its ecological and biological diversity. As the exhibit notes: “In many cases, the invasion resembles a classic monster movie that unfortunately has serious, real-life consequences.”

The museum commissioned accomplished illustrator Michael DiGiorgio to create original movie poster artwork that uses invasives in place of the classic monsters. The museum also collaborated with Channel 3 Eyewitness News to create fascinating “Orson Wells style” in-the-field interviews with invasive species experts.

Experts include Cynthia Boettner from Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, David Molnar from the Connecticut DEEP Marine Fisheries Division, Judy Preston from the Long Island Sound Study, and the museum’s own environmental specialist William Yule.

Invaders explores current threats through the themes of air, land and water. William Yule said, “Over the past four centuries of European and global contact, humans have intentionally and inadvertently introduced non-native life forms to this fragile ecosystem.” Of the dozens of invasive species explored in the exhibit, some of the highlights include Asiatic bittersweet that people often use in holiday decorations, and the beautiful purple loosestrife.

Also featured is didymo, known as “rock snot” which is often spread via fishing equipment. This asexual single cell organism likes cool, fresh water and can quickly multiply creating a thick mat on the bottom of riverbeds, destroying trout habitats.

There is also a laboratory that will allow children and adults to explore and identify invasive species through microscopes, specimens and fun activities. The exhibit closes with a “Call to Action” on the many ways the public can make a difference.  As the Museum Curator Amy Trout noted, “Once visitors can identify and understand these invasive species better, they can take action through prevention and activism.”

Executive Director Christopher Dobbs said, “The museum has a mission and a responsibility to lead in the preservation of the Valley’s cultural and natural heritage.” Dobbs was quick to note that the exhibit would not have been possible without the support from presenting sponsor, the Long Island Sound Study, and other dedicated sponsors that include Channel 3 Eyewitness News; the William and Alice Mortensen Foundation; the Rockfall Foundation; the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of Tourism; the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; Saybrook Point Inn & Spa; the Edgard & Geraldine Feder Foundation; and the many supporters of the Connecticut River Museum.

The exhibit will be on view at the Museum in Essex until Oct. 10, when it will begin to travel to libraries, schools, museums and nature centers. Dobbs said, “We want it to be an ambassador of the museum and help spotlight this important issue.”

For more information on the exhibit, related programs, or to arrange a tour destination, contact the Connecticut River Museum (860-767-8269) or visit the website, ctrivermuseum.org.

The Connecticut River Museum is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley. The museum is located at 67 Main St., Essex, and is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photo Credit: The Connecticut River Museum’s 2016 exhibit Invaders: They Come by Air, Land and Water! features original artwork by Michael DiGiorgio and explores the issues related to invasive species in the River Valley and local region.




Senators Fight to Preserve Crucial Hospital Services

AREAWIDE – Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares met with area hospital officials at the Legislative Office Building on March 23 to discuss ways to protect vital health care services for vulnerable populations like the disabled, children and seniors.

To protect those most in need, Formica and Linares, along with Senate and House Republicans, are proposing a plan to restore the governor’s funding cuts to Connecticut hospitals. The 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly ends in May.

Sen. Formica (www.senatorformica.com) represents Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

Sen. Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.


Letter From Paris: A Divided Europe is Too Weak to Resist Turkish Pressure

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

The European Union (EU) is going through what most consider the toughest times in its history. The surge of migrants, not only from the Middle East but also from South East Asia and Africa, has provoked an untenable human crisis on the continent. It is threatening the fundamental principles on which the (EU) was built. In desperation, Europe turned to Turkey for help and became the prey of an authoritarian government whose main objective is to force its way into the EU.

More than ever Angela Merkel has become the homme fort (the strong man) of Europe. She is the only one among the 28 heads of state of the EU to have taken a clear stand on how to manage the migrant crisis – albeit without a well-thought-out plan. The general opinion here is that, as a good pastor’s daughter, she has been motivated by a sense of moral duty when she opened her arms to the migrants at the end of 2015.

German Chancellor Angela merkel shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the historic agreement between the European Union and Turkey.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the historic agreement between the European Union and Turkey.

On the flip side, her methods have irked many Europeans such as her several one-on-one talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The day before the crucial March 7 meeting in Brussels, she met Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davitoglu for a six-hour long discussion, which lasted late into the night in an hotel near the Commission. The only officials present were Jean Claude Junker, president of the European Commission and Netherland Mark Rutte, president of the Council of Europe (not to be confused with the European Council).

The French daily Le Monde described what happened in an article titled, “The night when Angela Merkel lost Europe.” On the morning of March 7, diplomats and EU officials were stunned to discover the text of the pre-agreement. None of them had been in the loop, not even Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, who had talked to every single EU leader state seeking to create a consensual policy.

To speak in the German Chancellor’s defense, however, one should stress the pitiful lack of solidarity between the 28 EU members. From the start the Visegrad group (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic) – a remnant from the former Iron Curtain countries – closed their borders to the migrants. Other East European countries like Bulgaria and Rumania are also opposed to mandatory refugee quota.

The chancellor felt betrayed when, on Feb. 24, Austria called a meeting of the Balkan states to stop the influx of migrants. Greece, the Balkan country most affected by the migrant crisis, was not invited. Neither Brussels nor Berlin was notified. David Cameron is too embroiled with his Brexit issue to get involved.

France has its own problems — it is still recovering from the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks, it does not want to help the right wing Front National by opening its borders too much and it is busy fighting radical Islam in five countries of the Sahel. The “Franco-German couple” was described by some people as “moribund.”

As regional elections were approaching, Merkel made a 180 degree turn by tightening her immigration policy. It was back to realpolitik lest public opinion forgets that she is a tough politician.

The German elections on March 13 did reflect the growing opposition to the influx of migrants. The populist parties made substantial gains in the three Landers, both in the affluent West and in the remnant of the poorer RDA : in Bad Wurtenberg the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) gained 15.1 percent and in Rhineland Palatinate 12.6 percent. In Saxe-Anhalt , AfD placed second, right behind the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) with 24.3 percent of the votes.

Daniel Cohn Bendit, former “green” euro-deputy commented, “What is important is that 55-60 percent of the German population still supports Angela Merkel’s policy regrading the migrants. Such scores would make many politicians green with envy.”

On March 18, the negotiations between the EU and Turkey toward the final agreement looked like a haggling process with a “toxic but needed partner,” to use the words of Pierre Servent, military expert. Immediately the text raised violent criticisms across the board.

The plan concocted by Davitoglu is complicated, requiring extremely challenging logistics to implement. The objectives are to stop the drownings, curtail the despicable activities of the passeurs (smugglers), legalize entry into Europe of persons entitled to asylum and send back to their countries of origin the “economic refugees.” From now on all the migrants arriving in Greece – whether “real” refugees or not – will be shipped back to Turkey. Then, for one Syrian refugee leaving Europe, one Syrian refugee will return to Europe through an humanitarian corridor.

Turkey will be the central player of the plan, which it will co-steer with the UN Frontex agency. For this job Turkey expects to receive another three billion Euros. Some commentators describe the whole process as a mass deportation. Legal experts find the plan to be a violation of human rights as written in the European constitution and in the 1949 Geneva convention on the right to asylum.

The task is herculean, commented Jean Claude Yunker. A heavy responsibility is being placed on Greece. Judges, translators, and up to 4,000 people will have to be hired to process the human flow. France and Italy worry that the migrants, in order to avoid Turkey, will look for other access routes to Europe .

Turkey demanded two sets of compensation for services rendered: simplification of visa requirements for Turkish individuals traveling to Europe and acceleration of Turkey’s acceptance into the EU. At first the European negotiators wanted these topics to be red lines not to be crossed. They had to be satisfied with the inclusion of a few caveats in the text — 72 criteria for obtaining a visa; only one chapter open for the membership discussion and not five as Turkey wanted.)

It is to be expected that Europe will drag its feet to accommodate Turkey. After 52 years, its position on Turkey still has not changed — it does not think Turkey belongs in Europe.

The migrant crisis has left Europe weaker, not very proud of itself and more divided than ever.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole LoganAbout the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.


Salt Marsh Opera Hosts Master Class Led by Soprano Patricia Schuman

Patricia Schuman

Patricia Schuman

AREAWIDE – The internationally acclaimed soprano Patricia Schuman will lead a Master Class on Friday, April 1, at 7 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. The class is sponsored by the Guild of Salt Marsh Opera.

Ms. Schuman has been engaged with the most distinguished opera houses throughout Europe and the United States, including the Metropolitan Opera with James Levine, La Scala with Riccardo Muti, Vienna State Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

The church is located at 2 Ferry Rd., Old Lyme. Suggested donation is $20. A reception will follow the Master Class.



New Trustees Join the Board at The Kate

kate logoOLD SAYBROOK – The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (the Kate) has welcomed three new members to the Board of Trustees that oversees the Kate – Devin Carney, Thomas Gezo and Anne Barosewicz-Mele.

Devin Carney is the Connecticut State Representative for the 23rd District, which includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.   For several years he has been involved with the Kate’s Oscar Party, where he proudly contributes his grandfather Art Carney’s Oscar to the festivities.

A business coach and consultant, Thomas Gezo has previously managed projects and contracts in his corporate career for high-tech software companies. He is a certified SCORE business mentor and the AVP of the Southern New England Chapter of PMI, responsible for programming in the New London region.  He and his wife, Evelyn, are current volunteers with the Kate.

Anne Bartosewicz-Mele is an energy infrastructure expert, having worked with Northeast Utilities and currently Burns & McDonnell. She has also served on various nonprofit boards, including the Bushnell Park Foundation and Leadership Greater Hartford.

“The staff and the Board of Trustees of the Kate are delighted to welcome the new trustees into the organization,” said the Kate’s executive director, Brett Elliott. “We look forward to combining backgrounds and talents on behalf of the Kate for its long-term mission.”


AAUW Offers Education Grants to Area Women

AREAWIDE – The Lower Connecticut Valley Branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women) is offering a $2000 grant to women who are pursuing undergraduate education. Successful applicants will be awarded $1000 upon registration for the fall semester and $1000 upon successful academic performance and registration for the spring semester.  Recipients will be chosen on the basis of personal goals, academic performance and financial need.

Applicants must be 21 years of age or older, hold a high school diploma or equivalent, be pursuing an associate or bachelor degree from an accredited college or university, and reside in Chester, Clinton, Deep River, East Haddam, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook or Westbrook.

Applications must be postmarked by May 30. Grants will be announced by July 1.

The American Association of University Women is a national organization whose mission, since its founding in 1881, is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.

For information or an application, contact Carolyn Cohen at 860-526-8209 or lcvaauw@gmail.com.



New Rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek

Rabbi Marci Bellows

Rabbi Marci Bellows

CHESTER – Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester has announced that Rabbi Marci Bellows will take over religious leadership of the synagogue on July 1, 2016. Members voted unanimously to ratify the decision on Thursday evening, March 17.

“Rabbi Bellows will bring song, courage, excitement and wisdom to our community,” said Congregation President Stephen Davis. “We are delighted to welcome another great leader to follow Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg.”

Rabbi Goldenberg has successfully led the congregation for the past nine years. She will be establishing a new congregation in the New York metropolitan area focused on innovative styles of worship to involve young, unaffiliated Jews.

“As I begin a new chapter in my rabbinate, and as our family moves to a new community, I’m filled with gratitude for the time we have had here in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley,” Rabbi Goldenberg said. “Our time at CBSRZ has been filled with meaningful moments of learning, celebration and connections. And we have treasured the small town experience, living in Deep River and sending our kids to Deep River Elementary School. We will miss the wonderful people we’ve met, and hope to stay in touch. We won’t be too far!”

Rabbi Bellows has been for seven years the spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Torah in Wantagh, New York, a synagogue with some 400 families. Prior to that, she was an assistant rabbi and director of Adult Programs at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York. Beyond her synagogue responsibilities, she has written for New York Jewish Week and for the Union for Reform Judaism’s 10 Minutes of Torah and has been a faculty member at URJ’s Crane Lake Camp and a participant in various URJ programs. Rabbi Bellows’ mother was cantorial soloist for 27 years at the family’s synagogue in Skokie, Illinois, where Rabbi Bellows grew up. Rabbi Bellows is a graduate of Brandeis University and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.

“It is truly an honor and pleasure to be selected as the next rabbi at CBSRZ. The congregation, known for its warmth, wisdom, and wide variety of programming, is beautiful inside and out. I look forward to being part of its distinguished legacy and impact on the area,” Rabbi Bellows said.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek—Hebrew for ‘House of Peace, Pursuers of Justice’—last year marked its one hundredth birthday. Congregants come from 36 towns, from Hartford to Westbrook, Norwich to New Haven. Its sanctuary, situated near the Connecticut River, is renowned in the international art world as the only public building ever designed by 20th-century master artist Sol LeWitt. It was the subject of a film called “We Built This House.” Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is a home for both traditional ritual and pioneering spirituality, earning it the tagline “ancient and cool. ”It also regularly hosts music and learning programs open to the community. More information may be found on the new website www.cbsrz.org.


Republican Robert Siegrist Announces Second Run for 36th House District Seat

Flanked by Devin Carney (R-24th) to his left and Senator Art Linares (R- 33rd) to his right, Bob Siegrist announces his intention to run for the 30th District seat in November.

Flanked by State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) to his left and State Senator Art Linares (R- 33rd) to his right, Republican Bob Siegrist (center) announced his intention to run for the 36th House District seat in November.  Photo used with permission of Rep. D. Carney.

AREAWIDE — Republican Robert Siegrist of Haddam  formally announced a second run for the 36th House District seat Monday, setting up a likely November rematch with incumbent Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex.

About 70 supporters from the district towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam filled two rooms at the Brush Mill Restaurant in Chester to cheer Seigrist’s declaration of candidacy. The restaurant off Rte. 148 is where Seigrist had worked as a bartender before becoming a candidate in 2014. Siegrist, who entered the 2014 race in June after the withdrawal of a candidate nominated by Republicans at the May convention, lost to Miller on a 5,522 – 4,701 vote.

Siegrist, 32, carried his hometown of Haddam by about 300 votes, while losing to Miller in Chester, Deep River and Essex. Miller served four terms as first selectman of Essex before winning the seat in a February 2011 special election. Miller was elected to a full term in 2012 over Essex Republican Vincent Pacileo.

There were indications Republicans have targeted the 36th District seat, as several area Republican legislators, along with former legislators and municipal elected officials, turned out Monday to pledge active support for Siegrist’s campaign. On hand were 33rd District State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook, and representatives Melissa Ziobron of the 34th District (East Haddam-East Hampton), Devin Carney of the 23rd District (Old Saybrook-Old Lyme), and Jesse MacLachan of the 35th District (Clinton-Killingworth and Westbrook). Carney and MacLachlan were elected in 2014, with MacLachan unseating an incumbent Democratic legislator, Tom Vicino of Clinton.

Ziobron said she would campaign door-to-door with Siegrist to help elect “another partner at the capitol”, while Carney described Miller as “one of the most liberal members of the House of Representatives.” Siegrist said Connecticut is “at a crossroads,” adding, “We desperately need a representative, a leader that listens, truly listens. to this district and votes for their concerns, issues, and pocketbooks.” Siegrist said he is ready to “knock on every door” in the four -town district to end “one party rule in Hartford.”

Siegrist, who formed a candidate committee last month and is participating in the Citizens Elections Program for most of his campaign funding, said he is currently working for a Haddam landscaping business, In Full Bloom LLC. Siegrist, a member of the Haddam Republican Town Committee, said he was active in last fall’s municipal election in Haddam, where Republican Liz Milardo unseated former Democratic First Selectwoman Melissa Schlag by a close 25-vote margin. Milardo was on hand Monday to stand with Siegrist.

Miller has not yet formed a candidate committee or declared as a candidate, but he is expected to seek a third full term this year. State House and Senate candidates for the Nov. 8 election will be formally nominated at district conventions in May.


Local Essex Realtor’s 2015 Sales Total $24.8 Million

Award-winning Essex realtor Colette Harron stands outside the Sotheby's International office on Main Street in Essex.

Award-winning Essex realtor Colette Harron stands outside the Sotheby’s International office on Main Street in Essex.

ESSEX — Essex resident Colette Harron of Sotheby’s International Realty sold an unprecedented $24.8 million of real estate in the 2015 calendar year.  This record-breaking amount not only placed Harron in the “Top 15 Company Wide Dollar Volume” in sales among Sotheby’s 1,500 realtors but also put in the “Top Producer’s Dollar Volume” in the Sotheby’s sales office in Essex.

The properties that Harron sold last year were located in the towns of Essex, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Deep River and Chester. As for the keys to her success, Harron said in a recent interview, “I work very hard, and even more importantly I always make myself available for my clients.” She also noted, “I know the area very well.”

In addition, Harron has Joanne Tyrol as a full time assistant, who Harron described as, “Just Perfect.”

Harron also noted, “I’m well established in the community, and have been doing this work for the last 15 years,” adding, “I’m always working, and I am always available.” In addition to English, Harron is also in fluent in Spanish and French.  Another secret of her exceptional performance is, in Harron’s words, “I try not to remember the bad times, and just remember the good.” She concluded, “It is a tough business, and the challenges are high,” … but there is no question that she has made the very best of both.


Chester Library Installs “Computer Bar,” Thanks to Community Collaborative Efforts

joe at computer bar 1CHESTER – The Chester Public Library is always praised for its friendly and personable staff and its historic building.

But it never won any accolades for its computers. Make that “computer,” singular. Yes, for years there has been only one public computer for years at the Chester Library because the building is so small and on such a limited budget, that squeezing in a second computer was out of the question. Library patrons were frustrated. They’d come in to use the computer and find someone else working on it. Or, if working on it, feel they needed to rush to finish for a person who was waiting. The librarians were frustrated too, because their everyday goal is to see that all visitors to the library are able to accomplish their missions.

But last year, Library Director Linda Fox received a $5000 donation from a library patron who said she wanted Linda to go “a little crazy” in spending it – something out of the box.

Linda conceived of the idea of a “computer bar,” a counter-height workspace for two computers, with two stools, and with pullout drawers for audiobooks. Steve and Karen Bradley, owners of the Chester-based Pondside Kitchens and Hearth, said yes indeed, they could custom design it to fit in the present library building and be movable to a future building.

The computer bar was custom designed by Pondside Kitchens to include drawers for the audiobook collection.

The computer bar was custom designed by Pondside Kitchens to include drawers for the audiobook collection.

The Friends of Chester Public Library, a 501c3 nonprofit group, applied for a grant from the Middlesex County Community Foundation for the funds needed to make the computer bar a reality. The grant requested – and won – was for $4687.

Fast forward to this week. The computer bar was installed, the wiring done and the all-in-one computers, purchased through the town’s technology supplier CT/Comp, are operating. Two people have been able to work side by side. And no one has had to wait! And there are even USB charging stations for mobile devices.

The Computer Bar at Chester Library.

The Computer Bar at Chester Library.

“I am absolutely thrilled!” said Linda Fox. “The computer bar will make such an incredible difference for everyone who uses the library. It’s the result of tremendous community collaborative effort – from the anonymous donor to the Community Foundation of Middlesex County/Sherry and Herb Clark Family Fund and River View Cemetery Fund, Pondside Kitchens and Hearth, and the Friends of the Library – everyone was so generous to make this happen.”

Editor’s note: The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of the County, now and in the future, by developing endowments, making grants that have impact and assisting donors in meeting their philanthropic objectives. Since its founding in 1997, the Community Foundation has awarded 1,564 grants totaling more than $4.7 million for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities, environmental improvements and for health and human services. More at middlesexcountycf.org


Linares Welcomes Gillette Castle, Friends of CT Parks to State Capitol

SenatorLinaresFriendsofCTStateParks3-9-16 281 new On March 9, Sen. Art Linares (center) welcomed representatives from Connecticut State Parks to the State Capitol to mark State Parks Day. Discussions focused on ways to preserve, protect and enhance Connecticut’s state parks, including Gillette Castle State Park. This year, Linares is part of a first-of-its-kind effort to amend the state Constitution to better ensure protection of state-owned forests, parks, farmland and other conservation lands.

He is shown here with Harold Niver and Theodora Niver at the State Capitol. The Nivers bring William Gillette and his wife, Helen, to life in an entertaining and informative performance at Gillette Castle State Park. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes, but Holmes was brought to life by William Gillette. Gillette also put together the “costume” – the hat, pipe, lens and cape – that we associate with Holmes to this day.

Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.


Kate’s Summer Camp for Kids Opens for Registration

Kate's Camp, 2015

Kate’s Camp, 2015

OLD SAYBROOK – The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Community Music School present Kate’s Camp for Kids, a performing arts summer camp program, which will be held at The Kate, 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook, from July 11 to Aug. 5.

Launched in 2013, Kate’s Camp for Kids is a state-licensed arts camp for children ages 5 to 10 years old incorporating music, dance, theater, and visual art in weekly sessions that culminate in a performance for family and friends. A diverse range of activities is offered on a rotating basis to ensure a fresh experience for even the most frequent camper.

Directed by Nancy Thomas, a 20-plus-year member of the Community Music School faculty and certified Kindermusik educator, the camp features four, one-week sessions that meet Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tuition for each camp week is $260 and scholarships are available for families with a financial need.

Each week of camp has a different theme. On July 11-15, “In a Galaxy Not So Far Away,” explores the music by composer John Williams made famous in the “Star Wars” movies. July 18-22 is “Dreamcatcher,” an original musical story of peace, harmony and joy. July 25-29, “Hats!”  features a clever rhyming script and songwriting; and Aug. 1-5, “We Haz Jazz,” which will explore the work of great jazz musicians.

Kate’s Camp for Kids is generously supported by the Boody Family Fund, the Maximilian E. and Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, NewAlliance Foundation and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County/River View Cemetery Fund.

For additional information visit www.community-music-school.org or call 860-767-0026.


Carney, Formica Advocate for Connecticut Tourism

tourism caucus press

AREAWIDE – On March 15, a newly formed alliance met at the State Capitol in Hartford to push for more reliable funding for Connecticut’s tourism industry. Area legislators are investigating the formation of a tourism caucus, in order to have an open discussion about tourism funding.

Shown here, from left, are: State Senator Paul Formica (R-20); Viola and Stephen Tagliatela, owners of the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa in Old Saybrook;  Brian J. Freeman, Manchester Community College student; and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23).

For more information about the Connecticut Tourism Coalition and how to get involved, please visit www.tourismCT.com.


Chester’s Oldest Home, the Dunk House, on Market

Known locally at the Dunk House, this antique Cape Cod-style home is priced at $595,000.

Known locally at the Dunk House, this antique Cape Cod-style home is priced at $595,000.

CHESTER – The oldest home in Chester, built in 1672, is on the market with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.

Named after the property’s first owner, the Thomas Dunk Homestead is a Cape Cod-style residence that has been thoughtfully restored and expanded over the years.

Located just steps away from Chester’s historic village center, this four-bedroom, three-bath home underwent a complete renovation in 1976 by former owner and retired historian Jean Simmons. The undertaking involved a total rebuild using the structure’s original timbers, beams, floor boards and wall planks. Insulation was also installed throughout the home’s ceilings, walls and floors. The exterior was re-sided with clapboard and a new roof was added, while interior walls were plastered in the authentic, period style and the aging central fireplace was replaced.

Not long after, a local attorney purchased the home, developing plans for a reproduction barn addition based on a 1700s design. The 1,100 square-foot expansion provided space for a two-car garage and an upstairs suite with a full bath, ideal for an office, in-law apartment, guest suite or rental. Utilities were also upgraded, and cedar shake shingles were added on the roof.

The residence is currently home to French-born local artisan and former chef of the popular Simsbury restaurant, Metro Bis. Claude Martin, and his wife, Catrin, have continued the tradition of historically correct improvements and maintenance on the now 340-year-old structure, and have recently completed a kitchen renovation. The space was expanded to include a second rear kitchen area, adding granite counters, locally crafted shelving, pot racks and even subway doors and seating discovered from the early Parisian metros.

Artisans at heart, the Martins additionally transformed the property’s previous barn addition into a studio, which houses the Thomas Dunk gallery. This space serves as Martin’s fine art restoration studio, where he conserves, cleans and restores oil paintings with classic tools and 21st-century technology.

Outside, the property is bordered by a gently flowing stream, as well as a private and peaceful rear patio that is surrounded by English-style gardens complete with perennials, flowering trees and landscape lighting.

The property is represented by Essex agent Tim Boyd, and offered at $595,000. For more information on the property, located at 16 North Main Street, please visit the firm’s website here.

Editor’s note: The information used in this article came from a release from William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.


Estuary Council Offers Support Groups, Classes

estuary council logoAREAWIDE – The Estuary Council of Seniors in Old Saybrook has support groups that meet several times a month at the center located at 220 Main St., Old Saybrook. Better Breathers meets the first and third Thursdays at 1:30 p.m., Diabetes Support the second Thursday of each month at 9 a.m., Stroke Support the first Monday each month at 12:45 p.m., Caregiver Support the first Wednesday at 1 p.m., and Chronic Illness the last Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m.

A Tai Chi for Seniors class meets Wednesdays at 10:45 a.m. The fee is $5 a class on a walk-in basis. It is designed with the 50-plus age group in mind. Tai Chi can help improve one’s overall health and well-being. If you have issues with balance, joint pain or stress, this could be the class for you.

Several yoga classes meet regularly at the Senior Center. Gentle Yoga and Chair Yoga are offered by certified instructors, classes are walk-in, ongoing and open to anyone age 50 and up. Wear loose-fitting clothing and come join the fun.

For more information, call the Estuary Council at (860) 388-1611 ext. 204 or visit the website at www.ecsenior.org.

The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Regional Senior Center serves Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.



Senator Linares Visits Middlesex Community College

linares photoSen. Art Linares (center) visited Middlesex Community College to speak to students in Jane Stamler’s political science class on March 8. Linares discussed his duties as a state senator and the reasons why he chose public service.  He urged the students to consider ways in which they can serve their communities.  Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 and at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.


TTYS Host Mental Health First Aid Training, May 10 and 17

Tri-Town Youth Services, in collaboration with Rushford Center and with funding from Middlesex United Way and Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services, will offer the 8-hour training certification course, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) in two parts from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Deep River Public Library, Community Room, on May 10 and 17.  Teaching a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions and secure appropriate care for the individual, MHFA introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments.  This CPR-like program is effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental health disorders, reducing stigma, and increasing the amount of help provided to individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis or developing a mental health concern.

With preference to residents and employees of Middlesex County, anyone can take the 8-hour Mental Health First Aid course – including first responders, faith community leaders, human resource professionals, teachers, individuals who typically work, with the general public, parents, other concerned citizens, etc. – to help them identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.

For more information or to register, please call Christine Culver at 203-630-5261 or email her at Christine.culver@hhchealth.org

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


YMCA ‘Grow Fit’ Program Aims to Keep Teens and Tweens Active After School

pho_facilymcaAREAWIDE – The Valley Shore YMCA has just launched a new non-competitive fitness program for children ages 11 to 18, thanks to a generous donation from the Brady Family Foundation.

Grow Fit is fitness-based training for small groups (five per group).  The objective is to keep teens and tweens active after school, provide healthy social interaction and aid in battling obesity and related health issues.  Participants will experience improved endurance, strength, coordination, energy and self-esteem.  Held Monday through Friday, participants are able to choose to attend the 3 or 4 p.m. session each day.

Grow Fit is led by David Fernandes, a member of the US National Champion Rugby Team in 2015 who played in the Premier Soccer League. He has a degree in physical education and kinesiology, so Grow Fit participants will experience a high-quality training program.  Along with his athletic accomplishments, David is also the director for the Westbrook Park & Rec Summer Camp Program.

“David has the perfect set of experiences to lead Grow Fit,” remarked Ellen Nichele, wellness coordinator for the Valley Shore Y. “He brings a wealth of athletic, health and wellness knowledge while being able to relate and make connections with children. He will ensure Grow Fit is fun and a program that kids will want to be a part of.”

Grow Fit will be held in the Valley Shore Y’s Health and Wellness Center. Students will utilize the weight room, cardio room and functional training room. Outdoor activities will be incorporated, weather permitting.  The fee for unlimited sessions per week is $85 per month for Y members and $170 per month for folks not members of the Y.

Any questions, please call Ellen Nichele at 860-399-9622 ext. 121 or email enichele@vsymca.org.


Essex Art Association Juried Exhibition Opens May 6

ESSEX – The Essex Art Association will open its 2016 season with the exhibition themed “Story Lines.” This show is juried for entries as well as for awards. The juror, Suzanne Siegel, is a Connecticut artist living and working in Guilford. A total of $1700 in award money will be given to exhibiting artists for their work in various media.

Each season five EAA artists are selected by a juror to exhibit their work in the EAA’s small “Exit Gallery” (labeled such because the EXIT sign for the gallery is located directly above the entrance to that small gallery!).

"Revelation" - Judith Osborne

“Revelation” – Judith Osborne

The Exit Gallery artist during this first exhibition is Judith Osborne. As an artist working with poems and spiritual texts, Judith is interested in both verbal and non-verbal ways of knowing and understanding. By continually returning to the space where verbal and non-verbal meet, she sinks more deeply into the meaning (intended and otherwise) of her chosen texts. She has titled her exhibit, “Staining the Wind.” To view more of Judith’s work, visit jboart.com.

The “Story Lines” exhibition opening will be held Friday, May 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. Both exhibits are open at no charge to the public, May 7-28.

The Essex Art Association Gallery is located in the sunny yellow building in the center of Essex at 10 North Main Street. Gallery hours are 1-5 p.m. daily, closed Tuesdays. For more information, call 860-767-8996.



Historic ‘Dickinson Mansion’ in Essex Reduced to $2.79M

The sale price of the historic Dickinson Mansion on North Main Street in Essex has just been reduced to $2,790,000. Photo by J. Wilson.

The sale price of the historic Dickinson Mansion on North Main Street in Essex has just been reduced to $2,790,000. Photo by J. Wilson.

ESSEX — Close to the very heart of downtown Essex, the imposing Dickinson mansion is now being offered for sale with a substantial reduction from its original asking price. The historic mansion is located close to the town center of Essex and its street address is 21 North Main Street.

Originally built in 1841 by a local merchant, the landmark property is also closely connected to the family that created and produced Dickinson Witch Hazel. Edward E. Dickinson bought the mansion property in 1888 and the mansion stayed in the Dickinson family until 1971.

The 20-room mansion, which today has 10 fireplaces and many artisan-crafted details, has been re-created in the Greek revival style and sits on a 0.62 acre site. The expansive mansion has 20 rooms, four bedrooms, four bathrooms and two entertainment rooms.

The original sales price for the property was reduced, according to Jeanne Rutigliano, managing broker of Coldwell Banker in Essex, because in her view, “Many home buyers looking in the shoreline area are seeking water-frontage.”   

The Dickinson Mansion has an attractive side entrance with distinctive columns.

The Dickinson Mansion has an attractive side entrance with distinctive columns.

The current owners of the Dickinson Mansion are Famah Sells and Greg Hoffman, who bought the property in 2000. “It’s a beautiful, great house, and we’ve done a lot to improve it,” Sells wrote in a recent summary of the property, adding, “We have opened our home numerous times for community and charity events.”

In regard to restoring the property, Sells said, “We tried to do restorations versus reconstruction. We kept as many of the original details as possible. That’s what the beauty of this house is.” 

The present owners also noted, “The interior of the mansion has been meticulously restored and updated without compromising the integrity of the original structure. Every space from the formal living room and the 1,000 square foot master suite, to the kitchen’s double pantries and the state-of-the art home theater is filled with imaginative details.”

Among recent improvements at the Dickinson Mansion are the installation of high velocity air conditioning and a “commercial grade” generator.

Now the hope is for a sensitive buyer to purchase this unique Essex property.


Essex Wellness Center Expands Services to Include Advanced Health & Longevity

Essex Wellness Center at Novelty Ln. in Essex.

Essex Wellness Center at Novelty Ln. in Essex.

Essex Wellness Center is now offering specialized longevity services geared toward the 50+ crowd interested in aging well physically, mentally and emotionally.

The nation’s 90-and-older population nearly tripled over the past three decades, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and National Institute on Aging, and that trend continues to grow.

“While aging puts a person at risk for several health issues, illness and disability are not inevitable,“ said Essex Wellness Center Founder Heidi E. Kunzli, MS, LADC, adding, “Working on your health now improves the odds for good health later. Advancing age requires advanced health strategies to increase longevity with a high ‘active life expectancy.’ This is a projection of how long a person will stay independent, healthy and well.”

Unmanaged aging can adversely affect quality of life with conditions resulting in:

  • Insomnia
  • Memory decline
  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Chronic pain
  • Circulatory issues
  • Acute or chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Poor self esteem and body image
  • Dwindling energy
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Medication side effects and interactions
  • Cancer, hypertension and other aging-related diseases

If this isn’t what you see for yourself as you acknowledge the passage of time, Advanced Health & Longevity offers an array of evidence-based integrative interventions that include complete functional testing and assessments, nutrition consultation, one-on-one stress management, acupuncture, specialized therapeutic massage, hypnosis, health coaching, fitness programming, injectables, facial enhancements and other advanced aesthetics, body wraps, scrubs and more.

Naturopathic physicians Dana Krete, ND, and Derrick Schull, ND, lead a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable practitioners, each of whom is highly regarded as being “the best of the best” in their specific field. Both Drs. Krete and Schull treat conditions related to the “dis-ease” of aging.

While Dr. Krete is known for her work with functional assessment and natural treatment for chronic conditions, nutrition, supplements, specially formulated tinctures and Chinese medicine, Dr. Schull’s work has been focused on treating pain and discomfort related to the neuromuscular and skeletal systems. He is also proficient with physical therapy techniques, neurofeedback and craniosacral therapy. Acupuncturist Alicia DeMartin, LAc, specializes in orthopedic conditions such as arthritis, injuries and post-surgical pain following joint replacement.


Advanced Health & Longevity is located directly behind Essex Wellness Center’s anchor location at 28 Main Street in Essex Village with free off-street parking. New patients are being accepted for primary care and a la carte services. Essex Wellness Center is happy to complement care received through a patient’s existing medical professionals and specialists. Some major insurance is accepted; check with your insurance provider.

For more information, call 860.767.7770 or visit essexwellnessctr.com.

Essex Wellness Center, located at 28 Main Street and 8 Novelty Lane in historic Essex Village, Connecticut, was founded in 2014 to provide personalized wellness programs through a wide range of holistic and complementary therapies that help people attain long-lasting health improvement. The Center attracts visitors from the Connecticut shoreline and Connecticut River Valley areas as well as destination travelers looking for a day or weekend of self-improvement classes and one-on-one coaching. For information, visit www.essexwellnessctr.com or call 860.767.7770.


27th Annual ‘High on Life’ Week Celebrated May 1 – 7

REGION 4 – Celebrated annually throughout Chester, Deep River and Essex, High on Life week will be observed May 1-7 this year as per the three selectpersons, Lauren Gister, Richard Smith and Norm Needleman, who signed the proclamation.

Multiple sectors of the community contribute in various ways to make the substance abuse awareness and prevention week a success, including schools, the faith community, the business community and others. Events planned for the week are described in the High on Life brochures that are available in town halls, libraries, throughout the faith community, at Tri-Town Youth Services, and elsewhere.

This year’s High on Life week is the 27th awareness week organized by Tri-Town Youth Services. While many “old favorites” such as window painting in Deep River will be featured, there are several new dimensions this year.

To celebrate High on Life 2011, Diana Carfi, Art Teacher at Deep River Elementary School, and sixth grade students painted windows at businesses along Main Street in Deep River.

To celebrate High on Life 2011, Diana Carfi, Art Teacher at Deep River Elementary School, and sixth grade students painted windows at businesses along Main Street in Deep River.

For the first time, there is a digital version of the High on Life brochure in addition to the printed version.  The digital brochure can be accessed on Tri-Town’s website: www.tritownys.org.

Also, Tri-Town has partnered with Ivoryton Public Library and the Essex Lions Club to offer free vision screenings at the Ivoryton Library on Wednesday, May 4, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. And, on Thursday, May 5, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Essex Public Library, Allison Abramson, Tri-town’s Parent Resource Coordinator, will offer “Screen-Free Family Fun: Show Me a Story!”

On Tuesday, May 3, Tri-Town Youth Services will host a free Community Coalition Breakfast/Town Hall Meeting at Camp Hazen YMCA in Chester, 8 to 9:30 a.m. Please call Tri-Town (860-526-3600) to register by April 8.

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


Observe World Rare Disease Month by Taking the ‘Blindfold Breakfast’ Challenge


What is your most difficult morning challenge? Choosing your outfit for the day? Getting the kids ready for school? Trying not to hurt your arm as you sling the alarm clock across the room?

Beginning Feb. 29, designated World Rare Disease Day because it’s the rarest day of the year, and through March, Rare Disease month, readers are challenged to eat your breakfast — even if it’s just a bowl of cereal — while wearing a blindfold.

Why, you ask? Sofia Sees Hope, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of rare inherited retinal diseases, wants you to challenge yourself to experience just one simple meal without the use of your sight. This is what life is like every day for someone suffering from a rare inherited retinal disease.

Join hundreds of other families, schools, children and celebrities to show us how well you eat your breakfast blindfolded – and then challenge five of your friends! Take a video, take a photo, take a selfie of your experience and share it on social media with the hashtag #blindfoldbreakfast.Sofia Sees Hope will grab the best and share them. Learn more at http://www.blindfoldbreakfast.org/

Sofia Sees Hope is inspired by a young teen with a rare inherited retinal disease, who hopes to someday be able to see the stars at night. The organization is dedicated to making this possible for all those affected by blindness caused by Leber Congenital Amaurosis and other rare inherited eye diseases.Sofia Sees Hope does this by raising funds for:

  • Research into treatments and cures
  • Patient support for diagnosis and treatment
  • Patient and medical community education and outreach
  • Public awareness of inherited retinal disease and treatments

If the Blindfold Breakfast experience inspires you to change someone’s future, visit www.sofiaseeshope.org to make a donation. Follow Sofia Sees Hope on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sofiaseeshope/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/SofiaSees)


Your Book Donations to Literacy Volunteers Earn Dividends

AREAWIDE – Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc. in Westbrook is looking for donations of clean books that were loved and now need a new home! If you have books with a copyright date of 2006 or newer that you read and loved and want to see go to a good home, we have the opportunity for you!

Please consider donating those adult or children’s hardcover or soft cover books as well as DVDs or puzzles to Literacy Volunteers at 61 Goodspeed Drive, Westbrook, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays. In return, you will receive a certificate for $5 off the purchase of any books in our inventory totaling $10.

You can feel good about your “friends” becoming a part of our family of books, games, puzzles and media items for sale to only the most discriminating buyers who want, like you, to help the cause of literacy.

Anyone interested in more information regarding this program, our upcoming events or any of our services is encouraged to call our office at (860) 399-0280, visit us on the web at www.vsliteracy.org or e-mail us at info@vsliteracy.org.


Opinion: “The Menace in our Midst:” Comments Closed to FRA About Proposed Railtrack Through Old Lyme,

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder stands at the podium at Wednesday's press conference at the Florence Griswold Museum. State officials and some of the signatories of a letter to the FRA denouncing Alternative 1 stand around her.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder stands at the podium at Wednesday’s press conference at the Florence Griswold Museum. State officials and some of the signatories of a letter to the FRA denouncing Alternative 1 stand around her.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 2.28.57 AMIn the space of just a few short weeks, the residents of Old Lyme have become aware of a menace in their midst. Most unusually for these same residents, their response has been to a man (or woman) identical. When that happens in this town — unquestionably, a rare event — you can be sure that, ‘Something is rotten (to misquote Hamlet) in the state of Old Lyme.’

The ‘menace’ in this case is Alternative 1 of the three high-speed railtrack routes proposed by the Federal Railroad Authority (FRA) in their Northeast Corridor (NEC) Future plan.

But let’s backtrack for a second — why is the FRA proposing these new routes? Their objective is, “to improve the reliability, capacity, connectivity, performance, and resiliency of future passenger rail service … while promoting environmental sustainability and continued economic growth.” Let’s say right away that we are fully supportive of this objective — we are huge fans of rail-travel — you cannot grow up in Europe without taking rail travel for granted. The trains there are fast, clean and efficient … they are a way of life. We absolutely wish it were the same in the US.

So what is the difference here? Why has the reaction to Alternative 1 been so strong, so united, so passionate? In case you are unaware, Alternative 1 calls for the high speed rail track to cross the Connecticut River over a new bridge a little higher up the river than at present and then travel to the center of Old Lyme bisecting Lyme Street by eliminating both the western and eastern campuses of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts before turning north and crossing I-95. The 1817 John Sill House, currently owned by the Academy and situated on its campus, would likely be acquired by the FRA by eminent domain and then demolished.

The impact of a high-speed railtrack through that sector of town would be totally devastating for our community, effectively destroying its very heart.

This editorial could now run for pages to explain the full spectrum of impact to Old Lyme of this proposal.

We could discuss the horrific effects on our incredible local environment — one which has inspired artists for generations including some of the greatest impressionist painters in American history and one officially designated as a “Last Great Place.”

We could talk about the untold damage to the storied structures on Lyme Street and list the irreplaceable buildings that will either be completely destroyed or permanently scarred by this new train track construction, many of which are either National Historic Landmarks or on the National Historic Register.

We could mention that Lyme Street is the joyful, bustling hub of our little town — it has a unique personality and touches every aspect of our community life. It is home to our town hall, our public schools, our daycare, our youth services, our library, our churches, our village shops, our art college, our art association (the oldest in the country), and the Florence Griswold Museum (a national institution.) Can you even begin to imagine Lyme Street with a high speed railroad running across it?

And let’s just consider for a minute what this proposal, if implemented, would achieve? Bearing in mind that you can already travel from London to Paris (286 miles) in 2 hours and 15 minutes, would we be able to hop on a train in Old Saybrook and be in Washington DC (334 miles) roughly two hours and 45 minutes later? No, the current travel time of six hours would be reduced by a grand total of 30 minutes to 5 hours and 30 minutes. Unbelievable.

As we said, we could go on for pages but others have kindly taken care of that for us. There was a splendid press conference yesterday, which spelled out the craziness of Alternative 1 from every angle — coldly, clinically and objectively. The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library has a full print copy of the NEC Future tome if you care to read it in its entirety. There are links galore on the Old Lyme Town website to the statement and attachments submitted yesterday (Feb. 10) on behalf of some 20 local organizations to the FRA.

So please read and educate yourself on Alternative 1, but most importantly, please, please write to the FRA with your thoughts. There are many questions as to why and how this proposal was able to be presented without a single public hearing being held closer than 30 miles away from a town on which it was having such a major impact. But that is history now …

The comment period was originally only until Jan. 31, but there was such a huge outcry as the reality of Alternative 1 began to be fully understood that it has been extended to next Tuesday, Feb. 16. The FRA needs to hear from each and every one of us — you don’t need to write an essay, you don’t need to write eloquently, in fact, you don’t really need to write much at all, but you do need to write — today or tomorrow, even the next day, but if you have anything to say about Alternative 1 and want your voice to be heard, you absolutely must write.

There are three ways to contact the FRA:

Online through the NEC website: Submit your comment directly at http://www.necfuture.com/get_involved/

Email: Send comments with attachments to comment@necfuture.com

Snail-mail: Mail your comments to:
NEC Future
U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration
One Bowling Green, Suite 429
New York, NY 10004

We sincerely hope that there will soon be a public forum of some sort where people can ask questions and comment in person but, in the meantime, we say again, PLEASE, PLEASE WRITE TO THE FRA!


Chester-based Roto Frank of America Donates to Shoreline Soup Kitchens, Pantries

roto frank donationAREAWIDE – On Feb. 5, Roto Frank of America, Inc. presented a check for $2,867 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries. The presentation was made on behalf of the Roto Frank of America employees by Chris Dimou, President & CEO of Roto Frank of America, Inc., and Sue LeMire, HR/General Accounting Manager of Roto Frank of America, Inc., to representatives of the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries, including Board of Directors member Reverend Dr. Jonathan Folts, Executive Director Patty Dowling, and Director of Development and Outreach Claire Bellerjeau.

The funds were raised during an employee campaign that ran from February to December 2015, during which employees voluntarily elected to make donations via payroll deduction, as well as supporting a variety of fundraising events. Roto Frank employees also collected and donated more than 300 pounds of canned good and pasta.

“It’s a great feeling to know that the funds we raised will provide enough food for more than 7,350 meals,“ said Sue LeMire. “We’re pleased to be able to help out a local organization that does such fantastic work for the shoreline communities,” said Chris Dimou.

Based in Essex, the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries provides food for families in need through its pantries located in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Old Lyme and East Lyme and meal sites in Centerbrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, and Old Lyme.

Founded in 1979, Roto Frank of America, Inc. is a Chester-based manufacturer of window and door hardware. Roto Frank of America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Roto AG, a global company headquartered in Germany, with 13 production plants and 40 subsidiaries worldwide.For more information visit www.rotohardware.com.


Irmar Foundation Donates $20,000 to Operation Fuel

opfuel-logo-lg1OLD SAYBROOK – The Irmar Foundation/Wayne Eisenbaum Charitable Foundation, located in Old Saybrook, has donated $20,000 to Operation Fuel for its energy assistance program.

Operation Fuel is a private, nonprofit program that provides emergency energy assistance year-round through its statewide network of fuel banks to lower-income working families and individuals, the elderly, and disabled individuals who are in financial crisis. For more information on Operation Fuel or to make a donation, go to www.operationfuel.org.


Energy Fair & Free LED Light Bulb Swap for Essex Residents, April 9

ESSEX –  On Saturday, April 9, the Town of Essex and the Essex Citizens for Clean Energy (ECCE) will host an energy fair and free LED light bulb swap for Essex residents. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall.

Essex residents, with identification, may bring up to five incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) in any condition and exchange them for new, energy-efficient LED bulbs free of charge.  (Offer is for up to 5 LED light bulbs per household while supplies last.)  Other styles of LEDs and lighting products will be available for purchase at a discounted rate.

A single LED bulb has a life expectancy of 23 years, uses up to 80 percent less energy, and can save homeowners as much as $10 per year versus a traditional incandescent bulb, which has about a 1.5 to 2.5 year lifespan.

Energy experts from Eversource will be on hand at the light bulb swap to answer questions and provide people with additional information on how they can save money and energy at home, including the popular in-home service, Home Energy SolutionsSM (HES).  There will be an activity for children and alternative fuel cars from local dealers will be on display.

In addition, a variety of energy-related information and services will be available from vendors such as Competitive Resources, Ameri Group, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Benedetto Heating & AC.   Representatives from Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and the Public Utility Regulation Authority (PURA) will be on hand to talk about the electric industry in Connecticut and discuss selecting suppliers to save money on residential electric bills. (Residents may bring a recent electric bill.)

The town is using a $4,500 grant, earned through participation in Energize Connecticut’s Clean Energy Communities (CEC) program, to fund the exchange.  In October 2012, Essex signed the CEC pledge, committing to make efforts to reduce municipal building energy consumption by 20 percent, attain 20 percent of municipal electricity needs from renewable sources, and take other actions to support the deployment of clean energy by 2018.

Residents and businesses that took advantage of Energize Connecticut energy efficiency solutions helped the community earn the grant and will reap the benefits with this LED giveaway.

For more information about how residents and businesses can save energy and money visit EnergizeCT.com or call 877.WISE.USE (877-947-3873).

For more information on the Energy Fair & LED Light Bulb Swap visit the ECCE website at www.essexcitizensforcleanenergy.com, call 860-227-7753 or check us out on Facebook.


Chester Land Trust Erects New Signs on Its Properties

Richard Harrall, Chester Land Trust president (left) and Bill Meyers, Trustee, installed new Land Trust signs. Photo by Vivian Beyda

Richard Harrall, Chester Land
Trust president (left) and Bill Meyers, Trustee, installed new Land Trust signs. Photo by Vivian Beyda

CHESTER –  The Chester Land Trust, an all-volunteer non-profit organization in Chester, provides stewardship for 10 preserves and three easements. These properties are protected for open space in perpetuity.

Recently, new Land Trust signs have been installed on Rte. 154 by the bridge and along  Water Street for the Chester Creek preserve (46 acres in three  parcels). Another sign was placed on the south side of Rte. 148 near Camp Hazen for the Duck Pond Preserve (6.1 acres).

More information about the organization is at chesterlandtrust.org.



Gowrie Group Leads the Way to Raise $1 Million for Shoreline Soup Kitchens

(left to right): Ed Gumbrecht, Gowrie Group; Patty Dowling, SSKP executive director; Whitney Peterson, Gowrie Group; Lindas Dillon, Gowrie Group & SSKP board; Carter Gowrie; Rev. Martha Bays, SSKP board chair; Barbara Whitcher, SSKP board; and Claire Bellerjeau, SSKP.

The Gowrie Challenge raised over $150,000 in 2015 for Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries. Shown (L-R): Ed Gumbrecht, Gowrie Group; Patty Dowling, SSKP executive director; Whitney Peterson, Gowrie Group; Lindas Dillon, Gowrie Group & SSKP board; Carter Gowrie; Rev. Martha Bays, SSKP board chair; Barbara Whitcher, SSKP board; and Claire Bellerjeau, SSKP.

AREAWIDE – The results are in for the 2015 Gowrie Challenge. This was a record-breaking year — more than 400 businesses and individuals raised more this year than ever before: over $150,400.

Over the past 12 years, the Gowrie Challenge has raised over one million dollars for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP). Surpassing this “Million Dollar Mark” was possible through thousands of contributions given since 2004 by caring and committed members of the shoreline community.

This year’s goal was achieved with the combined effort of many, including “Partner Sponsors” L.C. Doane (Ivoryton), Safety Zone (Essex), Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale (Westbrook and Madison), the Tariq Farid Foundation (Wallingford), and Tower Labs (Essex). The Challenge also had generous media sponsors – Shore Publishing and WLIS/WMRD – helping to spread the word about hunger on the shoreline.

Once again this year two special community events raised additional funds for the Challenge – the Benefit Concert at The Kate and the “Ahavah” ballet by the Christian Academy of Dance.

Most important, the 12th Annual Gowrie Challenge funds will provide enough food for more than 385,800 meals. This nutritious food will fill the shelves at SSKP’s five weekly pantries, and will be given to those who are struggling to feed themselves and their families.

Carter Gowrie, CEO and Founder of Gowrie Group, which is located in Westbrook, said, “Since 2004 we have partnered with the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries to feed our neighbors and those in need. I am extremely proud to be part of a local community that comes together each year to support this challenge and to have raised over one million dollars to benefit the SSKP.”

Patty Dowling, Executive Director of the Shoreline Soup Kitchens, said, “The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries is so grateful for Gowrie Group’s support, and all those who contributed to the Gowrie Challenge this year. This campaign shows the commitment of our community to caring for others. On behalf of the thousands of those we serve every year, I say thank you!”

Gowrie Group and the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries are proud of all that they have accomplished in the past 12 years of partnership, and both look forward to continuing the annual Gowrie Challenge in future years.