December 20, 2014

36th House District Contest Pits Two-Term Democratic Incumbent Against Republican Newcomer

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE— The election contest in the four-town 36th House District pits a two-term Democratic incumbent with previous experience as a first selectman against a Republican newcomer whose most recent full-time job was as a bartender. The district includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller, 56, of Essex, is seeking a second full term in a seat he first won in a Feb. 2011 special election. After serving a nearly full term that included votes for the tax and budget plan presented by Democratic Governor Danel Malloy, Miller was re-elected in 2012, defeating Republican Vince Pacileo of Essex on a 7.105-5,352 vote. Miller previously served four terms as Essex first selectman, winning the top job in 2003 after unsuccessful runs in 1999 and 2001.

Robert Siegrist

Republican candidate Robert Siegrist

Robert Siegrist, 31, of Haddam, is making his first run for political office from a spot on the Haddam Republican Town Committee. Siegrist emerged as a candidate in June after the nominee of the May party convention, Chester Harris of Haddam, withdrew to run for lieutenant governor on a conservative petition ticket. A 2001 graduate of Haddam-Killingworth High School, Siegrist received a degree in political science from Quinnipiac University and has worked as a bartender in recent years at two establishments in Chester. Siegrist said he gave up bartending in August to focus on the campaign, and currently works for a local landscaper.

Both candidates have received the $27,850 grant for House races through the state’s Citizen’s Election Program, and are waging active campaigns that have included door-to-door visits in the four towns. Siegrist, seeking to build some name recognition, has deployed more than a dozen large signs at various locations in the district.

An Oct. 8 debate at Valley Regional High School in Deep River showed Miller, known as a progressive with a focus on the environment, and Siegrist, who has a libertarian bent, agree on several social issues such as support for abortion rights, same sex marriage, and decriminalization of marijuana. But differences have emerged over state spending, taxes, and the possibility of returning tolls to two interstate highways in Connecticut.

Miller said this week he does not believe any possible budget shortfall in 2015 will be as large as predicted by some fiscal analysts. He discounts the possible need for new or higher taxes, and suggests any future tax increase should be limited to a hike in income tax for the state’s wealthiest citizens. Siegrist believes the deficit could be higher, and calls for a renewed effort to cut state spending. He also calls for reducing state taxes on gasoline and social security income, along with elimination of a business entity tax on companies with less than 50 employees.

The rivals differ sharply on the issue of restoring tolls, with Siegrist rejecting any consideration of tolls as a way to boost funding for road and bridge projects. Miller said he could support restoring tolls to certain locations on Interstate 95 and Interstate 84 as a way to build funding for transportation projects while also allowing for reductions in the gasoline tax that would put Connecticut prices more in line with prices in neighboring states.

The candidates may also differ on the possible authorization of red light cameras in Connecticut. Siegrist said he would oppose any legislation for red light cameras. Miller said he is undecided, but sees some possible benefits that could include greater safety for pedestrians and bicycle riders “It’s a tough issue and there needs to be a lot more discussion on it,” he said.

The candidates have avoided negative campaigning and personal attacks, Siegrist said he has been running a positive campaign that seeks to present himself as a new face in local politics. Miller said Siegrist’s lack of government experience could hamper his efforts for the district. “I respect that he is a working person but I don’t think Bob has the knowledge and skills to discern what is important.” Miller said.

Giuliano Commends Funding to Preserve Open Space

State Rep. Marilyn Giuliano (R-23) along with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced state grants of: $351,000 to preserve 2.87 acres of open space in Lyme, $162,500 to preserve 40.76 acres of land on 106 Four Mile River Road in Old Lyme and $650,000 to preserve 186 acres of Horse Hill Woods – Phase II in Westbrook. The collective grants will help preserve over 405 acres of open space.

Open Space projects are a continuation of the supportive roles that these Towns and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) have had in preserving open space and protecting habitat.

Sheldon Creek River Access in Lyme will receive $351,000 to preserve 2.87 acres of land. Currently, the property is maintained as a meadow with 157 feet of waterfront access along Sheldon cove on the Connecticut River. This parcel is recognized as a “Wetlands of International Importance,” with public parking and recreation to the river are easily accessible.

The 106 Four Mile River Road property, in Old Lyme, boasts over 1,250 feet of frontage and public access which will seek to be added to a open space parcels totaling 147 acres. The $162,500 grant will protect the property, which is traversed by two wetland tributaries of the Three Mile River and is covered by diverse upland forest and stands of mountain laurel.

Additionally, the state also awarded a $650,000 grant to the town of Westbrook, aimed at protecting Horse Hill Woods – Phase II, which consists of two separately owned but abutting parcels of land: the Russo (143 acres) and Miele (43 acres) properties.

Rep. Giuliano persistently lobbied to secure the purchase of “The Preserve” – a 1,000 acre coastal-forest area that the state is seeking to purchase along with the Town of Old Saybrook and surrounding towns.  The $471,250 award to the Essex Land Trust supports that organization’s plans to purchase a 70.6-acre section of “The Preserve”.

“An investment in preserving open space in Connecticut is one which will surely pay off. These grants will help safeguard the natural beauty and habitats our district is known for. Through these grants, we will ensure that generations to come will continue to enjoy the abundant natural beauty,” said Rep. Giuliano.

Aiming to preserve 673, 210 acres of undeveloped Connecticut land by 2023, the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) developed the Open Space program. To date, the state has reached nearly 74 percent of its goal, preserving an impressive 496, 182 acres.

Court Orders Recovery of Legal Expenses in Region 4 Principal Lawsuit

REGION 4— A Middlesex Superior Court judge has authorized the regional school district to recover legal costs in the lawsuit involving former Valley Regional High School Principal Eric Rice that was resolved in the district’s favor in August after more than two years of legal proceedings.

After an Oct. 21 hearing at the Middletown court, Judge Julie Aurigemma ordered Rice to pay the district $54,149 in attorney fees and court costs for the lawsuit he filed in December 2011 against the three town school district, Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy and former assistant superintendent Ian Neviaser. The amount includes $52,327 in attorney fees and $1,832 in court costs.

Rice, who was a Chester resident, resigned as principal at the high school in October 2010 after only weeks in the job amid reports he had been given a resign or be fired ultimatum from Levy based on complaints and concerns raised by some staff at the high school. Under terms of the resign and release agreement, Rice received $62,000 in severance pay and medical coverage until he secured new employment. The agreement also called for both parties to refrain from public comment about Rice’s employment with the school district.

But Rice, represented by the Hamden firm Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Srignari, later claimed in the lawsuit that he was defamed in a June 2011 Hartford Courant article about the situation that included information from emails and other communications released by the district to the newspaper under a freedom of information request. In a summary judgment issued in August, Judge Aurigemma dismissed the lawsuit after determining the resign and release agreement signed by Rice was comprehensive, and that school officials responded properly to the newspaper FOI request.

In the Oct. 21 order on legal fees, Aurigemma also noted the resign and release agreement included a provision that could require Rice to pay “all costs including court costs and reasonable attorney fees,” if he later filed suit against the district. The judge noted she had reviewed an accounting of legal fees and court costs provided by attorney Peter Murphy with the Hartford firm Shipman and Goodwin, who worked on the case for the school district.

Rice is attempting to appeal the Middlesex judge’s decision to the Connecticut Appellate Court. Aurigemma rejected a motion from Rice’s attorneys to stay the order on legal fees, noting that issue could be part of any appeal to the higher court.

33rd Senate Candidates Face Off at Final Debate in Clinton

CLINTON— The three candidates for the 33rd Senate District seat faced off in a final campaign debate at Morgan High School in Clinton Thursday, with the sharpest exchanges coming during the final minutes of the one hour session.

About 100 voters turned out for the debate that was organized by students in the school’s current issues class, with students posing questions and moderating the session. It is expected to be the final public debate between one-term incumbent Republican Sen. Art Linares of Westbrook, Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg of Lyme, and Green Party nominee Colin Bennett of Westbrook.

The candidates stuck to familiar themes through most of the debate. Linares pledged to work to reduce state taxes on gasoline and phase out taxes on retirement benefits while touting his endorsement by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. Bjornberg said Linares has “voted against the most vulnerable among us,” over the past two years while noting her endorsements from the Connecticut Working Families Party, unions representing teachers and college professors and various women’s and environmental groups.

Bennett, declaring he “will not pander,” occasionally used his time to raise issues that were not part of the initial question, including racial justices, police shootings of minority citizens, and the expense of incarceration for non-violent crimes. He called for a “maximum wage” rather than just increasing the minimum wage and higher tax rates for the wealthy.

Most of the exchanges were cordial in a formant that did not discourage applause and cheers from the audience. But the gloves came off in the final minutes after Bjornberg noted that Linares is “the only person on this stage who has proposed a tax increase,” as she pointed to Republican budget proposals backed by Linares that would eliminate the state’s earned income tax credit that provides limited cash rebates to low income workers. Bjornberg also criticized Linares votes on issues related to the environment and women’s rights.

Linares said the earned income tax credit is ” a tax credit for people who don’t pay taxes.” In his closing statement, Linares said Bjornberg “desperate and void of solutions, has begun a smear campaign against me in regards to women and the environment.”, before pointing to his support for funding for the Preserve land purchase and labeling of genetically modified foods.

Bennett used his closing statement to claim that some Bjornberg supporters have contacted him and urged him to withdraw from the race to avoid pulling liberal-leaning votes from Bjornberg. While confirming that he would “rather see Emily elected than Art,” Bennett said such efforts are “100 percent antithetical to democracy” and vowed to continue his campaign to the Nov. 4 vote

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

Three Dogs Quarantined After Attack on Smaller Dog in Ivoryton

ESSEX— Three dogs are being held at the town dog pound after an morning incident on Oct. 14 where the dogs attacked and killed a smaller dog on Chord Lane in the Ivoryton section. The fatal attack was witnessed by neighborhood children waiting for school bus pick up.

Phil Beckman, of 16 Chord Lane, raised the issue at the Oct. 15 meeting of the board of selectmen. First Selectman Norman Needleman said the three dogs were brought to the town shelter by Animal Control Officer Jae Wolf, with the incident under investigation by town police.

The dogs, described as mixed Labradors, are owned by Pauline Budney of 23 Chord Lane. The dog that was killed, a Papillon, was owned by Robert and Mary Lizotte of 6 Chord Lane. The three dogs are expected to be held at the town shelter for 14 days, though Wolf could not be reached Friday for comment on the status of the dogs.

Essex Corinthian Flo Wins the Tri Club Series

Toby Doyle and the crew of Flo race to honors in the2014 Tri Club River Race Series

Toby Doyle and the crew of Flo race to honors in the2014 Tri Club River Race Series

The yacht Flo skippered by Toby Doyle from the Essex Corinthian and Pettipaug Yacht Clubs, took overall honors in the 2014 Tri Club River Race Series.  The Tri Club series consists of three Connecticut River races sponsored each October by the Essex, Essex Corinthian, and Pettipaug Yacht Clubs.

Joined by crew members Bill Robinson, John Peterson, and Cindy Gibbs; Toby guided Flo to first place in the Thomas Willets Memorial Race, sponsored by the Essex Yacht Club on October 4th; and the Tom Clark Memorial Race sponsored by the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club on October 11th.

L to R:  Bill Robinson, Deb Sands, Toby Doyle, and Cindy Gibbs.  Not pictured:  John Peterson.

L to R: Bill Robinson, Deb Sands, Toby Doyle, and Cindy Gibbs. Not pictured: John Peterson.

Last year’s defender, Celebration, skipped by Jeff Going and Ed Birch, won the Charles Birch Memorial Race sponsored by the Pettipaug Yacht Club on October 18th.  Jeff and Ed are past commodores of both the Essex Corinthian and Pettipaug Yacht Clubs.

While each race presented unique challenges around wind, weather, current, and river navigation; every race provided crews fun sailing and camaraderie during and after racing.

The series traditionally ends at the Decommissioning Party of the Pettipaug Yacht Club where the Tri Club River Race trophy was presented to the winning crew.

Friends of the Essex Library Donate $10,000 to the Library for New Front Doors

Friends Essex Library October 2014

Linda Levene, President of the Friends of the Essex Library presented Richard Conroy, Director of the Essex Library with a check for $10,000 at the Annual Meeting of the Library on Wednesday evening October 15.  The donation will be used to install new, easy to operate front doors on the Library’s Grove Street entrance.  Richard Conroy thanked the Friends for their gift, saying it would be “…appreciated by everyone each time they visit the Library.”

The Friends donation is the result of two very successful fundraising events this Fall:  “Our Library Rocks” in September and the annual Fall Book Sale in October.

New Guests on the Lawns of Essex, Deep River and Chester – Lawn Signs

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It started with the posting of just a few lawns signs on the lawns of Essex, Deep River and Chester. Among the first signs in view were those of Bob Siegrist, Republican candidate for State Representative, who is running against incumbent State Representative Phil Miller. Notably, the signs that Siegrist put up in Deep River were “extra large,” so that they could not be missed. Then, shortly thereafter, Siegrist’s lawn signs were then even exceeded in size by those of his Republican running mate, State Senator Art Linares, who is running for re-election.

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Where were the Democratic lawn signs one began to wonder?   They first appeared modestly along North Main Street in Essex.  Then individual lawn signs began poking into view, including the normal size signs of Emily Bjornberg, Democratic candidate for State Senate, who is running against Senator Linares, and signs for State Representative Phil Miller, who Siegrist is challenging.

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In the deluge of lawn signs that was ultimately upon us, the Republicans devoted front row positioning, in cluster after cluster, to the election of Anselmo Delia, the party’s candidate for Judge of Probate. The incumbent Judge of Probate, Terrance Lomme, then not only responded in kind with a splattering of lawns signs, he even went so far as to pay for a commercial billboard located  on Main Street coming into Deep River.

Judge of Probate candidate Anselmo Delia

Judge of Probate candidate Anselmo Delia

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Election Day is November 4 this year. Shortly thereafter the lawn signs will disappear, and our area’s laws will return to their normal condition.

University Professors Endorse Emily Bjornberg for State Senate

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

On Tuesday Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg announced the endorsement of her campaign by the Connecticut State University American Association of University Professors (CSU-AAUP) and the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges (4C’s). The two organizations are only the latest of a number of groups representing educators who have endorsed Bjornberg and her vision for education in Connecticut.

“In these times, some kind of post-secondary education has become a practical necessity for middle class life. The cost of college is constantly increasing, whether you are aiming for a two-year or a four-year degree. Options for technical education in high-demand fields seem to be shrinking, rather than growing. We must widen the doors of opportunity for young people, and for others looking to boost their careers,” said Bjornberg.

In a letter of endorsement, Mary Ann Mahoy, Chair of the CSU-AAUP wrote that, “This endorsement is a result of careful consideration of your positions and our perception that you recognize the needs of public higher education in Connecticut. Your efforts to maintain and improve public higher education in the State of Connecticut will be most appreciated.”

The CSU-AAUP represents faculty at four state universities across Connecticut, including Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, and Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

The Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges (4C’s) represents full-time and part-time faculty and other professional employees at Connecticut’s 12 community colleges, including Middlesex Community College.

Emily Bjornberg has also been endorsed by Connecticut’s public school teachers. Both the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) and the Connecticut affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have voted to endorse Bjornberg for the November 4th General Election. The organizations collectively represent all of Connecticut’s public school teachers.

“Education is the tried and true path to a brighter future. As mother with two children in the Lyme public schools, I will work tirelessly to ensure that in our community, your opportunities in life are limited only by your work ethic and determination,” said Emily Bjornberg.

Bjornberg added, “At present our small towns are not getting their fair share of education aid from the state, which puts upward pressure on all of our property taxes. We need a stronger advocate in Hartford who can deliver results for our communities.”

More than 2,100 CEA and AFT Connecticut members live in the towns of the 33rd State Senate District, which includes the communities of: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

 

Gun Rights Supporters Voice Opposition to Requested Chester Shooting Ordinance

CHESTER— Gun enthusiasts packed the Chester Meeting House Tuesday to express opposition to a requested municipal ordinance that would prohibit target shooting and discharge of a firearm in residential neighborhoods.

But a smaller group of residents expressed support for an ordinance, or some other restrictions, that would regulate the shooting that is frequently occurring on a nine-acre Wig Hill Road parcel that is owned by a Deep River resident. More than 150 residents, including some non-residents, turned out for a public information meeting that was called by the board of selectmen in response to a petition submitted in August by more than a dozen residents living near the Wig Hill Road property. The board of selectmen has taken no position on the requested ordinance.

The undeveloped parcel, owned by Deep River resident Warren Elliot, contains a fixed trap target shoot area that neighbors contend is a heavily used rifle range. John Ratchford, whose 85 Wig Hill Road property abuts the Elliot parcel, said an ordinance would enhance public safety by clarifying what type of shooting is allowed in a residential neighborhood. His wife, Sally, said the frequent sound of gunfire from large rifles has driven her indoors on sunny days.  Marzena Adams said she is concerned for the safety of visitors and children in the neighborhood, noting “it only takes one bullet.” Cynthia Monahan said she is “all for guns but I’m not for shooting in may back yard.”

Other residents, including many gun owners and some who shoot on the Elliott property, said any town ordinance would be unnecessary and could not be tailored to the topographical conditions of Chester. Some said target shooting should be expected in a rural town like Chester, and one resident compared the request for a shooting ordinance to a  controversial 2012 request from one resident for a zoning regulation to prohibit hens and roosters in residential areas.

Jason LaMark, of 62-1 Wig Hill Road, said a small hill separates the shooting area from any nearby homes that he contends are nearly 500 feet away. LaMark said existing state laws already prohibit reckless discharge of a firearms, and noted conditions on the Eilliot property have been monitored by police. He added that no rural towns in Connecticut have a local shooting ordinance.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan, who has also inspected the Elliot property, said  he believes the shooting “is being conducted in a safe way,”  based on differences in elevation and distance to nearby homes. Meehan said the board would discuss the shooting issue further at a future meeting, while also noting that any possible ordinance would require approval from voters at a town meeting.

Based on the volume of applause for speakers on both side of the issue at Tuesday’s meeting, a shooting ordinance would be unlikely to win voter approval at a town meeting. But resident Joe Cohen, speaking at a selectmen’s meeting that followed the public information meeting, said the shooting activity on Wig Hill Road is a land use issue. Cohen said selectmen should have investigated regulating the activity through that avenue before calling an information meeting on an ordinance.

“A Letter From Paris” is Back! Amidst Economic Depression, Two Nobel Prizes for France Lift the Communal Spirit

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

We are delighted to welcome back Nicole Logan, who has returned to Paris for the winter from her summer home in Essex.  She writes our weekly, “Letter from Paris,” which gives a unique insight into France and the French.  Today she writes about the depressing state of the French economy and contrasts it to the tremendous excitement that winning two Nobel Prizes has brought to the country.

It is the time of year when financial laws are voted on and budgets submitted.  The 2015 budget represents a triple hurdle for France since the country is under scrutiny from the European Union (EU) Commission in Brussels headed now by Jean Claude Yuncker from Luxemburg; the Eurogroup (made up of the ministers of finances from the 18 members of the euro zone) and led by Jeroen Dijsselbloem from the Netherlands; and finally by the European Council, presided over by Herman Van Rompuy from Belgium.

Will France meet the criteria set in the 1992 Maestrich Treaty, namely an annual deficit of less than 3 percent and a public debt no more than 60 percent of that GDP?   It is most unlikely, since the latest figures stand at a 4.3 percent deficit.  François Hollande is criticized for not having used the two years respite, granted in 2013, to undertake structural reforms.  Instead, he has limited his action to carry out an austerity program by steadily increasing taxes on the most vulnerable individuals like retirees, wage earners or small entrepreneurs.

So to-day the French government is scrambling for ways to reduce its expenses by 21 billion Euros.  Three sudden measures have shocked public opinion:  closing of the Val de Grace hospital, an historical institution in Paris, the military base of Chalon, and the oldest air base of France in Dijon.  More savings are on the table but promise to provoke violent confrontation since they are all considered as untouchable taboos.

Given the fact France’s economy is the second of Europe, the widespread opinion is that it cannot be allowed to fail.  Imposing sanctions of 0.02 percent would make it even more impossible for the country to pull out of a recession with dire consequences for the rest of the continent.  Behind the scenes, the new French Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron and his German counterpart are at work on the elaboration of a common investment policy.

Two Nobel prizes have just been awarded to French nationals. This unexpected news has definitely lifted the spirits here.

Patrick Modiano

Patrick Modiano

Patrick Modiano received the prize for Literature, following in the footsteps of Camus, Sartre and Gide.  Several of his many novels take place during the German Occupation of France. One of them inspired Louis Malle for his outstanding 1974 film Lacombe Lucien.

The Nobel prize for Economics is particularly interesting because it rewards  not only an individual, but also an institution.  Jean Tirone, born in 1953 and a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique, holds a PhD from MIT.  In 2007, he founded  the Toulouse School of Economics (note that this name is in English), inspired  from an American model.  It is today one of the world’s 10 most important centers for economic research.

Tirone belongs to the school of economists using a rigorous scientific and mathematical approach.  His research is centered on the regulation of free market economy.  Tirone’s nomination follows the phenomenal success of Thomas Piketty ‘s ” Capital in the Twenty First Century” published in 2013.

 

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About the author:  Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter.  She will write 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 will cover 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.

Pagliugos Win Ivoryton Library’s 5K Road/Trail Race

Meghan Pagliuco

Meghan Pagliuco

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Christopher Pagliuco

Christopher Pagliuco and Meghan Pagliuco were the overall winners in the Ivoryton Library’s Run Local Read Local 5K Road Trail on Saturday, October 18. Beating 150 other competitors, Christopher was the first to cross the finish line at 19:17 minutes and Meghan finished first in the women’s group at 21:43 minutes.

Second place overall winners in the men’s and women’s groups were Paul Mezick and Nikki Bauman. Third place overall winners were Nick Klomp and Anna Iacovella.

The winners of all age groups as well as the times for all participants can be found on the website of RAT RACE Timing: www.aratrace.com.

The morning’s competition began with the Pumpkin Run for children 8 and under. Directed by the Library’s “Queen of Hearts”, the children’s librarian, Elizabeth Bartlett, the race ended with pumpkin decorating and storytelling for the 20 children participating.

Of the several costume awards, the best group costume prize went to Jerry and Louisa Ketron for their Ocktoberfest costumes.

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This was the Library’s 5th annual race and was sponsored in kind by the Essex Land Trust, Essex Park and Recreation, Essex Police Department, Essex Fire Department, the Ivoryton Congregational Church,  The Order of Ancient Weeders, Riverside Press, Olsen Sanitation, CL &P, Carl Echtman, Essex Boy Scouts (Troop 12), the Village of Ivoryton and the Town of Essex.  Scott’s Essex Farm Market provided the pumpkins for the children.

The fabulous food donations were generously provided by the Blue Hound Cookery, The Ivoryton Tavern, Panera Bread of Waterford, Adams Market, Colonial Market, Stop and Shop of Old Saybrook, Big Y, and Dunkin’ Donuts of Deep River.

The Library is grateful to the many volunteers who worked tirelessly for months up to and including Saturday morning to make this fun, family-friendly event the success that it was.

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Deep River Republican Town Committee Endorses Linares, Siegrist

The Deep River Republican Town Committee takes great pride in endorsing Art Linares for a second term as State Senator of the 33rd District and Bob Siegrist for his first term as State Representative of the 36th District, along with the other well qualified Republican candidates running this year.  Art and Bob representing us in Hartford will help attract more business, resulting in lower taxes.

Art Linares, seated State Senator for the 33rd Senate District, encompasses the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.  Senator Linares is a second generation American and resides in Westbrook.  Sen. Linares attended Westbrook public schools and graduated from the Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa in Florida, where he majored in entrepreneurship, developing his own company as he earned a college degree. Senator Linares co-founded Greenskies, a successful, Middletown-based, commercial solar energy company.

Sen. Linares is Ranking Member of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Banks Committee and Ranking Member of the Select Committee on Children. Linares also serves on the Commerce and Education Committees. Senator Linares has a solid voting record – from protecting people’s rights as stated in the state constitution to understanding that jobs and business growth is the way to balance budgets, not tax increases. He has stood up for children and families, while also protecting the rights of seniors and the environment.    Senator Linares has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Connecticut REALTORS, who fully evaluate candidates in determining who may best ensure there is a positive environment for living in or transferring property in Connecticut.  Real estate is essential to economic recovery and stability in the state and the nation and helps to build communities.

Bob Siegrist is the challenger for the 36th Representative District. His main focus as State Representative is all about the economy. A combination of lower taxes with more and better paying jobs is what Connecticut needs to improve our economy and with Bob as State Representative, he will vote against any budget that includes another tax hike for Connecticut’s residents.

Art Linares and Bob Siegrist will form a powerful team in Hartford to reverse ever-increasing State spending, hold the line on any new taxes, and encourage new business growth.   Be sure to vote on Tuesday November 4th and we encourage you to vote for Art, Bob and the Republican team.

Test Results Place Country School Math Students at the Top – Worldwide

TIMSS FINALIn an international math assessment, Madison Country School 4th Graders placed in the highest band possible—alongside students in Singapore and Chinese Taipei.

Last year, when they were in 4th Grade, members of The Country School’s Class of 2018 participated in a math assessment known as the Connecticut Independent School Test of Mathematics. Given through the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, the test is a replica assessment drawn from previous administrations of the international math test, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). By participating in the test, Connecticut independent schools are given a benchmark, allowing them to compare Connecticut students to relative students in 26 countries in the TIMSS sample.

The results, announced recently by the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, include some great news for The Country School: The score of the average Country School math student falls in the highest band possible. In fact, the score of the average TCS student “places the school at or above the achievement level of the countries in the top decile of performance (Singapore and Chinese Taipei),” according to an announcement from Doug Lyons, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools. “You and the faculty at The Country School should be proud of this result,” Dr. Lyons said. “Bravo!”

John Fixx, Head of School at The Country School, said the school is immensely proud of the results—and of students and teachers. “For almost 60 years, The Country School has reviewed and adopted best practices in education,” he said. “I am so proud of our faculty for wholly embracing curricular advances and for their deep commitment to our students. Likewise, I am proud of our students for being such eager and enthusiastic learners.”

Mr. Fixx also thanked the community for its commitment to teacher professional development. “To prepare our graduates for the finest secondary schools and high schools in the United States requires a perpetual commitment to the professional development of our faculty,” he said. “It is both exciting and rewarding to see The Country School community come together to support our students, who show they are among the best in the world.”

Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent day school serving students in PreSchool through Grade 8. At The Country School, a rigorous academic program is accompanied by a commitment to hands-on learning, a dynamic STEAM curriculum (integrated science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), and a focus on the whole child. The Country School prepares students to meet the future with confidence, encouraging them to reach their highest, both in school and in life. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org.

Oct. 21 Information Meeting on Shooting Ordinance to be Held at Chester Meeting House

CHESTER— The Oct. 21 public information meeting on a possible municipal ordinance regulating target shooting in residential neighborhoods will be held at the Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. The location of the meeting is a change because most town meetings over the 18 months have been held in a second floor meeting room that was constructed after interior renovations to the town hall on Route 154.

The board of selectmen scheduled the session in response to a petition submitted in August signed by about 30 residents requesting consideration of a town ordinance that would limit and regulate target shooting and discharge of a firearm in Chester. Most of the petitioners were from the Wig Hill Road-Baker Road neighborhood, with many objecting to shooting that is occurring at one residential property in the area. First Selectman Edmund Meehan will present information at the meeting on shooting ordinances that are in place at other cities and towns in Connecticut.

Letter: Old Saybrook Causeway Litter is Eyesore and Safety Issue

To the Editor:

Walking the causeway in Old Saybrook is more of an obstacle course than relaxing.  The condition of the causeway is an absolute disgrace.  There are mothers with baby strollers walking in the roadway to avoid the mess and stench on the sidewalk left by fishermen.

The blood stains, fish parts, plastic bags, fishing hooks, fishing line, broken nets, beer and liquor bottles are trashing one of Old Saybrook’s most scenic areas.  This litter is not just an eyesore and safety issue, but also has a major impact on our wildlife.

Others who walk the causeway see the same mess and they have gone to express their concerns to the First Selectman’s Office who in turn told them he has written letters to the DEEP, and all to no avail was his response.

Fishing is permitted year round here.  Unsafe habits of the fishermen will continue to destroy our beautiful Sound and endanger our wildlife.  Just as the town beach is regulated, the causeway needs to be too.  Perhaps charges need to be set per fishing pole/net to offset cleanup costs and deter such behavior.  Maybe your readers will have other thoughts how this abuse can be stopped.

Sincerely,

Christina LaVaughn,
Local resident

Essex Selectmen Schedule Nov. 5 Public Information Meeting on Ivoryton Main Street Project

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has scheduled a Nov. 5 public information meeting on a grant-funded improvement project for a section of Main Street in the Ivoryton village. The session will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.
The project, which includes four new raised crosswalks, new curbing and sidewalks and some new lighting, is to be funded by a $435,000 grant awarded last year from the state’s Main Streets Investment Fund program. The town has hiredAnchor Engineering Services of Glastonbury to prepare design plans for the improvements.

Selectwoman Stacia Libby, who been coordinating the project said at Wednesday’s board meeting that project engineers would be at the Nov. 5 meeting to review the plans with residents and answer questions. Libby said the plans have been reviewed by the parks and recreation and planning commissions, and had received a favorable response at a recent meeting with members of the Ivoryton Alliance, a group comprised of business and property owners in Ivoryton Village. The preliminary design plans will also be on display at the Ivoryton Library before the Nov. 5 meeting

The plans also include removal of a paved island at the intersection of Main and Summit streets that was constructed in the early 1970s. The removal would create a wider T-shaped intersection that would be safer and more convenient for winter snow plows and fire trucks from the Ivoryton Firehouse on Summit Street. Selectmen are hoping to put the project out to bid by May 2015 for construction next year.

Linares, Bjornberg to Meet in Final 33rd District Debate

AREAWIDE— Republican State Senator Art Linares has committed to participating in a final 33rd Senate District debate on Oct. 23 at Morgan High School in Clinton after skipping a session held Tuesday at Haddam-Killingworth High School amid disagreements with the sponsor and moderator for the session.

Linares announced his willingness to participate in the Oct. 23 debate, set for 7 p.m. in the auditorium at the Clinton school, after declining to participate in the session Tuesday that was sponsored by the Haddam Bulletin, a monthly newspaper for Haddam. The Oct. 23 debate will be run by students in the Morgan High School current issues class, which had sponsored 33rd Senate debates in previous years.

Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg and Green Party nominee Colin Bennett faced off Tuesday before about 30 voters in the Haddam-Killingworth High School auditorium, with an empty chair on the stage for the absent Linares. Moderator Edward Schwing, editor of the Haddam Bulletin said Ryan Linares, the senator’s brother and campaign manager, had imposed several conditions on participation in the session that included a demand to review questions in advance. Schwing said such a condition would be “contrary to the spirit and intent of the debate.”

Ryan Linares said Wednesday it was Schwing’s role as moderator that prompted the demand to review questions in advance. He noted that Schwing had helped run the 2012 state senate campaign of Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag in the three candidate contest where Art Linares was elected for his first term. Schlag was elected in 2013 as the Democratic first selectwoman of Haddam, and has endorsed Bjornberg for the Nov. 4 vote. “The senator is not interested in that kind of debate,” he said.

Bennett, who has run as the Green Party nominee in previous 33rd Senate contests, used the session in Haddam to contend the current Democratic majority in the Legislature has failed to address several issues and priorities that Bjornberg has stressed in her campaign. Bennett said he is “100 percent committed to this campaign” despite raising and spending no money on the race. Bjornberg said if elected she would be a voice for the district towns in the majority party caucus.

The three candidates had faced off previously at debates on Sept. 16 at the Lyme-in Old Lyme High School, Sept. 23 at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, and an Oct. 6 session with House candidates that was sponsored by the Westbrook Council of Beaches. But Bjornberg has pushed for a debate in one of the northern towns of the sprawling 12 town district, and suggested the session Tuesday at Haddam-Killingworth could have been the missing northern town debate. The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and parts of Old Saybrook.

Bjornberg said Wednesday she will participate in the Oct. 23 session in Clinton, but contended Linares is “locking out” the northern towns of the district from a public debate. “The district’s two most populous towns in particular, Colchester and East Hampton, deserve to have their residents’ questions asked and their issues addressed” she said.

Bjornberg said she is still working to have the Norwich Bulletin sponsor a debate at the high school in Colchester, but Ryan Linares said Wednesday no one from the newspaper has contacted the campaign about a debate in Colchester.

Essex Garden Club Installs “Francesca”

Franchescagardenclub

Essex Garden Club has created “Francesca” to compete in this year’s Scarecrow Competition sponsored by the Essex Board of Trade. Pictured left to right are Eve Potts, Mylan Sarner and Sandy French.  “Francesca” sits at the entrance to Town Park on Main Street where the Garden Club members recently completed their fall cleanup.

Essex Savings Bank Earns Sustained Superiority Award

ESSEX — Essex Savings Bank has earned the prestigious Sustained Superiority Award from BauerFinancial, Inc. of Coral Gables, Florida, the nation’s leading independent bank rating and research firm, for continuing at their highest 5-Star rating for strength and stability.  Bauer Financial has been reporting on and analyzing the performance of U.S. banks since 1983.  No institution can pay BauerFinancial to rate it, nor can an institution choose to be excluded.  Essex Savings Bank has proven its commitment to superiority by earning this top rating for at least the latest 57 consecutive quarters.  Fewer than 10% of the nation’s banks can claim this distinction.  In order to do so, the Bank has excelled in areas of capital adequacy, delinquent loan levels and profitability to name just a few.  Consistently earning BauerFinancial’s highest rating assures customers and the community that Essex Savings Bank is a strong financial institution that will be able to fulfill their banking needs for years to come and is the gold standard of choices in a complex financial industry. Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO, noted, “ We are proud to receive this award and hope that individuals, families and businesses will appreciate the opportunity to build long term relationships with us.”

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

CT Firefighters & Policemen Endorse Emily Bjornberg for State Senate

On Friday Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg announced that the police officers and firefighters of the Connecticut Police and Fire Union (CPFU), as well as the Uniformed Professional Firefighters Association of Connecticut (UPFFA), have officially endorsed her candidacy in the November 4thelections to represent the 33rd State Senate District.

“Our state’s police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities and look out for the safety and well being of our families. They have earned all our gratitude for their hard work, and deserve our ongoing support as they continue to perform their duties. I am honored to receive their endorsement in this election,” said Bjornberg.

“Emily Bjornberg is an exciting candidate and a passionate advocate for her community. She is committed to promoting and preserving public safety, and can be counted on to ensure our firefighters and policemen have the support they need to carry out their duties and get the job done,” said Glenn Terlecki, President of the Connecticut Police and Fire Union.

Emily Bjornberg’s husband, Jason Bjornberg, served as a Military Police Officer in the Connecticut National Guard from 1998 to 2004. He was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in January of 2003, and returned home in April of 2004.

Jason now volunteers as a firefighter with the Lyme Fire Company, an all-volunteer non-profit fire and rescue service. As an employee of the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, Jason also serves as a member of the Connecticut Interstate Wildfire Crew, whose members travel all across the continental United States to combat wildfires and protect the people, property and essential ecosystems threatened by the flames.

This past August, Jason was deployed with the Interstate Wildfire Crew to fight the Eiler fire in Northern California, a blaze which burned 32,416 acres of land that month before it was contained, destroying 7 residences, 2 commercial facilities and 12 outbuildings.

“I could not be more proud of my husband’s service as a firefighter, whether as a volunteer at home in Lyme or across the country with the Interstate Wildfire Crew. I know firsthand that first responders’ service also asks a lot of their families, but as Jason and I tell our children, a service done for others benefits us all,” said Bjornberg.

The Connecticut Police and Fire Union (CPFU), IUPA Local-74/IAFF Local S-15, is comprised of over 900 public safety professionals employed across the State of Connecticut.

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

Local Student Awarded Carolyn Greenleaf Memorial Music Award

The Carolyn Greenleaf Committee is happy to announce the winner of this semester’s Carolyn Greenleaf Memorial Music Award.  She is Elizabeth (Libby) Ryan, an oboe student of Johanna Lamb at the Community Music School and a student at Nathan Hale Ray High School in East Haddam.

The award was established in honor of Carolyn Greenleaf, who was passionate about music education. To ensure Carolyn’s legacy, the Carolyn Greenleaf Memorial Award Committee partnered with the Community Foundation of Middlesex County in 2007 to establish the Carolyn Greenleaf Memorial Fund.

This merit-based award, open to students in Middlesex County and the Lymes, provides a semester of private instruction at the Community Music School.

In addition to her study at the Community Music School, Libby has participated in several master classes at the school and plays principal oboe and English horn in the Thames Valley Youth Symphony, as well as in her high school band.  In addition, she has participated in CMEA All-state Orchestra as principal oboe and the UCONN and UMASS High School Honors Bands.   This past summer she participated in the Ithaca College Summer Music Academy.  Her future plans include majoring in music in college.

The Carolyn Greenleaf Memorial Music Award Committee accepts applications twice a year.  The deadline for the Spring 2015 semester will be Friday, January 9th at 4 PM. Applications may be downloaded from the websites of the Community Music School (www.community-music-school. org) and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (www.middlesexcountycf.org) in June and January each year.

Community Foundation of Middlesex County is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Middlesex County.  Its two-fold mission is: (1) to work with charitably-minded individuals and organizations to build permanent endowments and other charitable funds; and (2) to support local nonprofit organizations through effective grant making and multiple programs to address community needs. Since its founding in 1997, the Community Foundation has provided over 1,100 grants totaling more than $3.6 million to organizations for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities, environmental improvements, and for health and human services. For more information, contact CFMC at 860.347.0025 or info@MiddlesexCountyCF.org

 

Region 4 School Boards Approve Three Year Contract for District Para-Educators

REGION 4 — District school boards have approved a three-year contract for the 82 para-educators working at the five district schools. The agreement was approved at an Oct. 2 joint meeting of the four district school boards.

The contract with Municipal Employees Union Independent SEIU Local 506, which is retroactive to July 1, extends through June 30 2017. It provides annual salary and step increases in exchange for high premium cost sharing in the health insurance plans for the employees.

A restructuring of the salary and step schedule will bring an overall cost increase for the 82 employees services of 4.62 percent in the first year, 2014-2015. In 2015-2016, the pare-educators will receive a 0.54 percent wage increase and a step increase for a total cost increase of 1.42 percent. In 2016-2017, there will be a 0.54 percent wage increase and a step increase for a total cost increase of 1.46 percent.

Employee premium cost sharing will rise each year for the two health insurance plans offered to the employees. Under the Century Preferred Plan, where premium cost sharing is currently set at 14 percent, the employee share will increase to 15.5 percent in the current tear, 16 percent in 2015-2016, and 16.5 percent in 2016-2017. Under the HSA plan, where employee cost sharing is currently set at 12 percent, the employee share will increase to 12.5 percent in 2015-2016 and 13 percent in 2016-2017. Garth Sawyer, district finance director, said this week most of the para-educators work a 32 hour week for 129 work days per year, with an average salary of about $20,000.

Re-Run of Race for Judge of Probate in Old Saybrook District

Voters of nine towns, including Lyme, in central Connecticut will decide on Nov. 4 whether to re-elect Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme of Essex for a second, four-year term or to replace him with Attorney Anselmo Delia of Clinton. The two ran against each other four years ago in 2010 when Lomme won by 419 votes. In the 2010 race, Lomme carried the town of Lyme, along with Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme and Old Saybrook while Delia carried Clinton, Haddam, Killingworth and Westbrook.

When Lomme ran against Delia in 2010, he committed that, if elected, he would become a full time Judge of Probate. However, after his election Lomme changed his position and in a recent interview he explained, “I thought the job would require a full time judge. However, once we merged the courts, I realized that it was not necessary to be on the job every minute, when the court is open.” The merger to which Lomme is referring was when the probate courts in nine towns were merged into a single court in Old Saybrook.

In the 2014 campaign, Lomme has been nominated unanimously for re-election for a second term by the Democratic Nominating Convention. The convention cited Lomme’s “invaluable experience” in urging his re-election. The convention also noted Judge Lomme’s pivotal role, “for implementing, successfully, the merger of the nine former town probate courts into a single Saybrook Court District.”

Lomme’s Record as a Judge

Discussing his work over the past four years as a Judge of Probate, Lomme said in a recent interview that he had held over 3,500 hearings since becoming a judge. He also observed  that most Judges of Probate in the State of Connecticut maintain private law practices. As for his current campaign for re-election, Lomme charged that his Republican opponent did not have the necessary experience to do the job. Lomme said that Attorney Delia has had only four cases before the probate court over the past four years.

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

In addition to serving as a Judge of Probate, Lomme in his capacity as a private attorney has represented a major New York City developer before regulatory bodies of the Town of Essex, including five public hearings before the Essex Planning Commission and another before the Essex Zoning Commission.

The Republican Challenger

Delia, Lomme’s Republican challenger, notes that he has been an attorney for 34 years and has represented legal clients in every federal and state court in Connecticut. Delia cites that he has chaired many important public bodies in his hometown of Clinton, including the planning and zoning commission, the board of education and the Youth and Family Service Bureau.

Republican candidate for Judge of Probate attorney Anselmo Delia

Republican candidate for Judge of Probate attorney Anselmo Delia

With regard to being a Judge of Probate, Delia comments, “Four years ago … I promised, as I do now, that if elected I would terminate my private practice and serve as a full time Judge of Probate. My opponent has opted to continue his private practice during his term in office. I believed then, as I believe now, that the office warrants the level of attention and avoidance of conflict of interest afforded by a full commitment.” Delia said, “I am ready to do the job from day one,” adding though, “It may take as much as six months to wind up matters with present clients.”

36th House District Candidates Face Off in Cordial Debate

AREAWIDE— The two candidates for the 36th House District seat, incumbent Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex and Republican challenger Robert Siegrist of Haddam,  faced off Tuesday in a cordial campaign debate held at Valley Regional High School in Deep river.

About 70 voters turned out for the 90-minute session in the school auditorium that was moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conroy, who posed questions that had been submitted in  advance by district voters. The 36th District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Miller, a former four-term first selectman of Essex who was elected in a February 2011 special election, said he is a “right to now advocate,” who has worked to help the four district towns on various local issues, including remediation and reuse of vacant “brownfield” industrial properties. Siegrist, a former bartender and member of the Haddam Republican Town Committee, said he is a “new face” who would be “beholden to no one,” at the state Capital. Siegrist stepped forward as a candidate in June after the candidate nominated by district  Republicans at the May convention, Chester Harris of Haddam, withdrew to run for lieutenant governor on a conservative petition ticket.

The two candidates found agreement on several issues, including support for decriminalization of marijuana and medical marijuana,  gay marriage rights, and the state’s  Citizens Election Program public financing of campaigns for state office. They also agreed to oppose unfunded mandates ion public schools and higher electric rates.

Miller said he was proud to support the increase in the state’s minimum wage that was approved by the Legislature this year. Siegrist said he does not object to the hike in the minimum wage, but believes it could become a burden on small businesses. There were also nuanced differences on the 2013 gun law, with Miller defending his vote in support of the law and maintaining it is not a burden on law abiding gun owners. Siegrist said the law has “some parts that are good,” but also represented an overreach that violates the rights of gun owners.

The candidates differed sharply on state spending, with Siefgrist contending government spending is “out of control” and pledging to oppose any tax increases to address a possible budget deficit for 2015. Miller, who supported the Malloy Administration tax increases of 2011, said the state was facing a “deficit that was too big to cut our way out of,” adding that he “hopes to avoid” tax increases during the next two-year term.

The rivals differed on a Nov. 4 ballot question that would allow the Legislature to consider changes in election laws to allow early voting. Miller said he would vote yes on the ballot question and support allowing the early voting that occurs in several other states. Siegrist said he would be voting no, declaring “the system we have in Connecticut works very well.”

One key difference emerged in the final minutes of the debate on a question about state transportation policy After Siegrist objected to past “raids” on the state’s dedicated transportation improvements fund, Miller said he would support restoring tolls to locations on Interstates 95 and 84. After the debate, Siegrist said he does not believe tolls are needed to maintain the dedicated transportation improvements fund.

Old Saybrook Land Trust Contributes $30,000 Toward Preserve Purchase

 (l-r) Old Saybrook Land Trust President Joe Nochera and Treasurer Mike Urban present Alicia Sullivan and Lori Fernand (l-r) of The Trust for Public Land with a check for $30,000 toward The Preserve purchase. Photo by Bob Lorenz, taken at The Preserve trailhead on Ingham Hill Rd., Old Saybrook.

(l-r) Old Saybrook Land Trust President Joe Nochera and Treasurer Mike Urban present Alicia Sullivan and Lori Fernand (l-r) of The Trust for Public Land with a check for $30,000 toward The Preserve purchase. Photo by Bob Lorenz, taken at The Preserve trailhead on Ingham Hill Rd., Old Saybrook.

OLD SAYBROOK – Old Saybrook Land Trust (OSLT) President Joe Nochera, and Treasurer Mike Urban recently presented Alicia Sullivan and Lori Fernand of the Trust for Public Land (TPL) with a $30,000 donation toward the purchase and preservation of the 1,000 acre Preserve.

For more than a year The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and their partners including the OSLT, have worked to secure state, town and private funds toward the purchase of this large tract of coastal forest.

Public financial commitments have added up to significant funds toward the $10 million goal. The state committed to $3.3 million, Old Saybrook voters approved $3 million, Essex is working to raise funds for the 70 acres in Essex through a town fund and a state grant sought by the Essex Land Trust. TPL has also received large private donations.

Despite this success, State Director for the TPL Sullivan says $1.13 million is still needed by the December 2014 closing date.

According to Urban, “In addition to those from of our regular members and donors, we received funds from a number of people who indicated the funds should be used toward The Preserve purchase. We matched those funds with $15,000 that we have received over time through our Annual Fund and Membership drives. The purchase speaks to our cause, it’s the biggest land acquisition that will come up in our lifetime.”

“We’re working to purchase the property, and working to make sure we can fulfill the dream people have had to make it publically accessible. That includes things such as trailheads, parking, restroom facilities and trail work,” Fernand, TPL’s Associate Director of Philanthropy, said.

If you would like to donate online visit oslt.org, or http://www.razoo.com/story/Preserve-The-1-000-Acre-Forest-1. Mail checks to The Trust for Public Land, 101 Whitney Avenue, 2nd Floor, New Haven, CT 06510. Call 203-777-7367, ext. 6, for more information. Donations are tax deductible.

“This is our opportunity to preserve, for all and forever, the huge coastal forest in our very midst. This chance may never come again.  Let this be our legacy to generations yet unborn.” Bill Childress, Campaign Committee Chair.

November Town Meeting Expected for Funding Votes on Chester Main Street Project

CHESTER— The board of selectmen is expected to schedule a November town meeting for votes on funding components for the Main Street East Project, including votes on accepting state grants for the project and authorizing the use of set aside town capital funds for the project that includes reconstruction of an 1,800-foot section of Main Street east of the downtown village.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan told the board of selectmen Tuesday that project engineers with Kent & Frost Associates of Mystic are expected to have nearly complete design plans for the project ready later this month. The project is scheduled for an advisory review by the planning and zoning commission at aNov. 13 meeting.

The estimated $1 million project calls for reconstructing an 1,800-foot section of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. The project drew some opposition at an April public information meeting held by the Main Street Project committee, which is coordinating the project along with plans for additional reconstruction and improvements to Main Street in the coming years. Some residents, including one property owner, had objected to plans for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street that would require removal of some mature trees.

Meehan said project engineers are working with all property owners on the street to reach agreement on final design plans. Officials hope to put the project out to bid during the winter for a start of construction in spring 2015.

Meehan said town meeting approval is required to formally accept two state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants awarded for the project, including a $450,000 grant awarded last April and a $333,000 grant that was redirected from funds left over from a previous grant that paid for construction of a new public water main on a northerly section of Route 154. He said a second vote is required to authorize release and use of $375,000 in town capital improvements funding that had been set aside for the project over several fiscal years.

The board Tuesday deferred setting a specific date for the town meeting, preferring to wait until after the board of finance considers the various funding components at an Oct. 16 meeting. Meehan said he wants to hold the town meeting after the Nov. 13 planning and zoning session, but before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Making Middlesex County Bully-Free – Countrywide Campaign

Working to prevent bullying, a group of Middlesex County business leaders and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC) announce the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities.

Aiming to highlight the No Bully Zone Program underwritten by the Council of Business Partners  Fund created through CFMC, the campaign will rally Middlesex County individuals, businesses, municipalities, school districts, libraries and other community organizations to “stand together” for a Bully-Free community.

“Bullying has destructive consequences on our young people, and it is something we don’t have to accept. It is a social behavior we’d like to see change,” said Dave Director, Council of Business Partners Chair and CFMC Board member. He also is President/owner of Connecticut Lighting Centers of Hartford and Southington.

“Our feeling [as business owners] is these kids are our future employees, and we need to do what we can to provide them with the necessary tools to be successful in society and to feel good about themselves,” Director said. “We’ve initiated a program that will truly make a difference in their lives, and in all of our lives, too.”

In 2009, working through the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, the Council of Business Partners Fund was established and with the help of Rushford, a Hartford Healthcare Partner, the “No Bully Zone” program was developed and funded. Council members contribute $1,000 annually along with $5,000 to $7,000 donated annually from the Interfaith Golf Open Tournament of Middletown which consists of Congregation Adath Israel of Middletown, CT and St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Portland, CT. The Interfaith Golf Tournament is also a Council member.

In coordinating the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities, CFMC and the Council of Business Partners has joined forces with the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS); EMPOWER; The First Tee of Connecticut; LiveKind; Rushford, A Hartford Healthcare Partner; Former NBA and UCONN basketball player Donny Marshall; and Elizabeth Shulman (LMFT), to encourage everyone in Middlesex County to take a pledge to stand together against bullying and all mean-spirited behavior.

To date, the partnership has implemented the No Bully Zone Program in Keigwin Middle and Woodrow Wilson Middle schools in Middletown; in the Haddam-Killingworth school district; in Oddfellows Playhouse projects; The Country School; and in conjunction with The First Tee of Connecticut youth programs.  Most recently, the program was adapted for school bus travel on buses operated by M&J Bus Inc.

“The No Bully Zone Program has been a very successful initiative, and we are proud to come together as a community to provide positive and useful tools to not only our young people but, also to everyone no matter what age they are,” said Cynthia Clegg, CFMC President and CEO.

The Campaign for Bully-Free Communities will be ongoing, with a kick-off rally on October 22, 2014 that is Unity Day, the highlight of October’s national bullying prevention month. The rally will be held at EMPOWER, located at 2011 South Main Street in Middletown.

The Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CT) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Middlesex County.  Its two-fold mission is: (1) to work with charitably-minded individuals and organizations to build permanent endowments and other charitable funds; and (2) to support local nonprofit organizations through effective grant making and multiple programs to address community needs. Since its founding in 1997, the Community Foundation has provided over 1,100 grants totaling more than $3.6 million to organizations for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities,  environmental improvements, and for health and human services.

 The Council of Business Partners includes: John Sullivan of A&A Office Systems; Arlene Mazzotta and Laura Pedersen of A.R. Mazzotta Employment Specialists; William, Susan and Shawn McCann of BEST Cleaners; Colin Burr of Brown & Brown of CT, Inc.; David Director of Connecticut Lighting Centers, Inc.; David Gilbert of Direct Energy; William McMinn of Essex Printing/Events Magazines; Daniel Zimmerman of LiveKind; Mauricio Salgar of Gabrielle’s/The Black Seal; James Mahoney of Mahoney Sabol & Co., LLP; Marc Levin of Mallove’s Jewelers; Karen Beebe of M & J Bus Company; Theodore Rossi of The Rossi Group; David Shulman of Suburban Stationers, Inc.; Attorney Nancy Raczka; and St. Mary’s Church in Portland and Congregation Adath Israel in Middletown of the Interfaith Golf Open Tournament.

 

For more information on the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities, go to middlesexcountycf.org or call 860.347.0025

Emily Bjornberg Endorsed by Connecticut Social Workers

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Connecticut Chapter announced earlier this week that it would be endorsing 33rd State Senate candidate, Emily Bjornberg, in the upcoming November 4th election. The National Association of Social Workers takes actions to“promote and advance sound public policies and programs aimed at human need and improved quality of life.” In endorsing Bjornberg for State Senate, the chapter recognizes her lifelong devotion to serving her community and the world.

From running an AIDS clinic in South Africa to her work in hospice, Bjornberg exemplifies a strong commitment to social change and justice. Currently, she serves as the Youth and Family Ministries Director of the Deep River Congregational Church. In contrast, her opponent Art Linares recently stated at a debate that “social issues are ‘not important’ and that “anyone running on social issues has nothing important to run on.”

In speaking about her advocacy on issues of social justice, Bjornberg said, “I think my work has given me an insight into the wide diversity of our region—rich and poor, black and white, straight and gay, conservative and liberal. I have always believed that it is this beautiful tapestry of our community, our state and our nation that makes us strongest.”

While her opponent often supports questionable legislation to the sole benefit of large corporations, Bjornberg is focused on promoting the small businesses of the 33rd District, because they are the most significant job creators of the Connecticut economy. One of Bjornberg’s largest concerns is improving the quality of life and economic security of the families in her district, and there is no better way than by promoting small business and social safety nets such as affordable healthcare and the creation of a “living wage”.

In keeping with NASW legislative priorities, Bjornberg will bring to Hartford a voice that will fight for the vulnerable and underrepresented in the 33rd Senate District. This includes senior citizens, one of the district’s largest demographic groups. In a debate against her opponent, Bjornberg stated that she supports the creation of legislation to help seniors to stay in their homes and in their communities as they age.

“The 33rd District is a beautiful community and our senior residents have a right to remain in their homes. There are so many benefits to aging at home, including keeping families close to their loved ones and providing familiarity and comfort in what can be difficult times. Furthermore, keeping seniors inside of and active in their communities provides significant savings to both seniors and to state taxpayers,” said Bjornberg.

The support of the National Association of Social Workers Connecticut Chapter comes with the support of 3,000 chapter members, and their commitment to working with Bjornberg to improve the quality of life for all Connecticut residents.

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

Essex Selectmen Endorse Possible $8 Million Bonding for Capital Projects

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday gave a preliminary endorsement to a possible $8 million bond issue for capital projects, adding $600,000 for a new fire truck to a list of projects that had been recommended by an advisory capital projects committee.

The board discussed the capital projects report that was submitted last month for nearly an hour, along with a separate 10-year capital expenditures plan that was submitted by the Essex Volunteer Fire Department. The selectmen crafted a motion to approve a capital projects plan, but deferred a final vote on an exact recommended projects and bonding total to its Oct. 15 meeting.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the board of finance would begin discussing the capital projects plan at it’s Oct. 16 meeting, with the next step a public hearing on the projects and proposed bonding that would be held in mid-November. He said a referendum vote on a possible bonding authorization for capital projects could be held before the end of the year.

The volunteer fire department last month submitted a 10-year capital expenditures plan that would include possible renovation and expansion of the Ivoryton Firehouse in 2024. The most immediate item on the list is the $600,000 purchase of a new pumper fire truck by 2017 that would replace a 1994 model truck.

Selectmen agreed to add the new fire truck to the capital projects list recommended by the committee, concluding that bond funds should be available to purchase the truck by 2017. The capital projects plan recommended by the committee would require about $6 million in bonding, though the town would be eligible for $2 million in state or federal funding reimbursement for a bridge replacement project and improvements at Essex Elementary School.

The work at the elementary school, including roof replacement and other improvements, would cost about $2.52 million. The two Ivoryton section bridge projects, replacement of the 30 year-old Walnut Street bridge and a much smaller bridge on Ivory Street, are estimated to cost $2.1 million. The plan also includes $1.65 million for renovations and improvements at town hall, and $470,000 for improvements at the town public works garage.

There was no discussion Wednesday on removing any projects from the list recommended by the committee. But Needleman said the list of projects and proposed bonding total would be subject to possible change based on the review by the finance board and input received at the public hearing.

Mystic Company Picked for $4 Million Deep River Sewer Expansion Project

DEEP RIVER— The town has hired  B&W Paving and Landscaping of Mystic for the sewer expansion project in several neighborhoods in the Kirtland Street-River Lane area on the east side of Main Street. The board of selectmen voted unanimously to hire the firm at a Sept. 24 joint meeting with the town’s water pollution control authority.

B&W Paving and Landscaping, with a base bid of $3,609,985, had submitted the lowest of four bids for the project that were opened last month. The project was put out to bid a second time over the summer after all of the bids opened in June came in over the $4 million in available funding . Voters at a May 2013 town meeting had approved the $4 million project, which is funded by a combination of federal/state grants and a low interest 30-year loan. The project was intended to extend municipal sewer service to about 120 properties in the Kirtland Street-River Lane area.

But First Selectman Richard Smith said this week  several properties that are located on small streets that were listed as alternates in the bid documents would not receive service in the initial construction because of the limited funding. Alternates that have been deferred include providing service to four properties on River Street, and a new pumping station that would be located to the south on Essex Street. Smith said the town could work on the new pumping station separately, possibly using the pubic works department and subcontractors.

Smith said the work included in the base bid from B&W Paving and Landscaping would extend service to about 95 residential properties, along with bringing sewer service to the town landing on the riverfront  at the end of Kirtland Street.
Smith said the town has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for an increase in the grant and loan funding and is expecting to receive a reply to the request by the end of this month. He said selectmen decided to award the base bid now to advance the project because any additional grant and loan funding would require a separate approval from voters at a town meeting. Smith said preliminary work for the expansion project is expected to begin before the end of the year, with most of the construction of the new sewer line to be completed in the spring of 2015.

Essex Meadows Receives LEED Gold Certification

ESSEX — Imagine what a group of residents and staff who cares about its environment can do for a 26-year-old retirement community with 318,936 sq. ft. of space. With lighting upgrades, solar power, geothermal heating, low-flow plumbing and an ozone injection system, among other investments, the result is a resourceful use of water, chemicals and electricity in daily life. Essex Meadows, a lifecare retirement community located at 30 Bokum Road in Essex, Conn., has implemented these green principles, and is proud to announce that the U.S. Green Building Council has recognized the community’s efforts and has given it one of the organization’s highest honors: LEED Gold certification. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an initiative promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council to recognize organizations across the country and their efforts to reduce global footprints.

“We’re honored to receive this certification,” said Jennifer Rannestad, Executive Director of Essex Meadows. “We find it very important to make a difference, and now our efforts to do our part have been recognized.”

Senior living communities across the country are making renovations to improve environmental sustainability as a new wave of older adults, with progressive priorities in addition to a desire for the traditional necessities of retirement living, are searching for active, engaged communities to call home. Essex Meadows took the necessary steps to meet changing expectations, which include: installation of a solar power system; geothermal heating and cooling used in new construction; lighting upgrades; extensive HVAC balance testing; non-potable water used in irrigation; new low-flow plumbing fixtures; an ozone injection system added to laundry; a full recycling and green cleaning program; and naturalized meadows for wildlife and reduced mowing. Essex Meadows also purchases locally grown food when feasible, and provides real-time monitoring of the community’s solar power system on its website to show the positive impact the installation is having.

“Our green initiatives are important aspects of what makes Essex Meadows what it is,” Rannestad said. “And these initial principles we’ve implemented are a step in the right direction for us to continue making a difference.”

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program takes into account many factors while considering whether a structure is certified “green.” Categories judged and scored for each building include: Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, and Innovation in Operations.

 

New Pastor at First Baptist Church in Essex

On September 28th, First Baptist Church in Essex officially installed their new pastor, Rev. Joy Perkett.  Participants in the service included Rev. Joe Delahunt, a representative of the American Baptist Churches of Connecticut, Rev. Amy Hollis, a local Baptist pastor and former member of First Baptist Church in Essex and Philip Miller, the state representative for the 36th Assembly District.

Joy Perkett was called by the congregation in early May and her first Sunday was July 13th.    She is an ordained minister in the American Baptist tradition and holds a Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work from Boston University.  Rev. Perkett is also a Licensed Master Social Worker.  Prior to her appointment at First Baptist Church in Essex, she worked as a campaign coordinator around issues of economic justice and as a case manager with people recovering from addiction and mental illness.   Rev. Perkett’s vision for ministry is one in which we experience God’s love and peace in our own lives and then go forth and share it with the world.  She is passionate about spiritual growth and development as well as meaningful work in the community.   She was drawn to First Baptist Church in Essex by the deep, abiding love they share with one another and with the world.

First Baptist Church in Essex was founded in 1811 and built in its current location in 1846.  The church’s slogan is “Planting the Seeds of God’s Love since 1811”.  One of the notable ways the church planted seeds of God’s love is by envisioning and starting the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries in 1989.  Since then, the non-profit has grown to include eight soup kitchens and four food pantries in an eleven town area.  First Baptist Church remains active in the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and continues to envision new ways to serve including donating meat for the local food programs and collecting food donations at local grocery stores.  The church also fosters relationships and spiritual growth through its book and Bible studies.  They meet for worship on Sundays at 10 a.m.  For more information, visit the church website at www.fbcinessex.org or call the office at 860-767-8623.

Bjornberg Endorsed by Connecticut Working Families Party

The Connecticut Working Families Party announced their endorsement of 33rd District State Senate candidate Emily Bjornberg in the upcoming November 4th election. As a mother of two young children, the wife of an Iraq War veteran, and the Director of Youth and Family Ministries of the Deep River Congregational Church, Bjornberg represents the many facets of the Connecticut working family.

The Working Families Party line helps to elect a candidate with strong values and a history of standing up for the working and middle class and unemployed. Bjornberg’s family settled in the Lower Connecticut River Valley over 160 years ago, creating a true small business which still survives to this day.

As State Senator, Bjornberg will be committed to ensuring all Connecticut families have the same opportunities as her own family, including access to affordable healthcare and a quality education for all children. During a Tuesday September 23rd debate, these beliefs were reflected in Bjornberg’s statements about resolving the issues related to regressive axes, which negatively affect our state’s middle class and unemployed.

“My opponent has proposed multiple pieces of legislation that, if successful, would have eliminated the earned income tax credit—the equivalent of a tax increase on the working poor. In this difficult economy, that would impose a significant hardship on a great number of families. Instead, we should work to reduce regressive taxes—like the property tax and the car tax—wherever possible,” said Bjornberg.

“This election is about what Connecticut families need in order to build a strong future. One of the best ways we can help Connecticut families is by making sure our small and family-owned businesses can succeed,” stated Bjornberg. “Small businesses are the true engines of job growth in our economy, but too often our government caters to the needs of large corporations without a thought for the needs of small businesses, which can’t afford teams of lobbyists in Hartford.”

Bjornberg makes it clear that her politics are deeply rooted in her belief in the importance of giving back to the community. Her work at the Deep River Congregational Church focuses on addressing social needs like homelessness and hunger. She previously ran an AIDS clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa to tend to the needs of the sick and dying.

The Working Families Party focuses on economic justice issues like creating good jobs with fair pay and quality benefits, and ensuring that all workers can retire with financial security and dignity. These issues are of special concern for the 33rd District, and Bjornberg is committed to creating new opportunities for young families, as well as supporting seniors living on fixed incomes.

“We are proud to endorse Emily Bjornberg, an independent-minded candidate whose genuine concern for working people and strengthening the middle class is rooted in years of advocacy work both around the world and here at home. She is the best choice for voters on November 4th,” said Lindsay Farrell, Executive Director of the Working Families Party.

Bjornberg’s endorsement by the Working Families Party comes with the grassroots support of the Working Families Party, its formidable door-to-door voter mobilization program, and placement of the candidate’s name on the Working Families Party ballot line, Row C.

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

Essex Savings Bank Receives NEFMA Marketing Awards

The second annual New England Financial Marketing Awards Gala produced by Agility Resources Group, was held last Wednesday, September 26, at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in Framingham, Massachusetts.

The NEFMA Awards are presented to community banks and credit unions located throughout New England. They are broken up into six categories including, brand, loan, deposit, service, public relations and internal marketing. The NEFMAs salute the marketing campaigns, community projects and innovative people who have raised the bar on bank and credit union marketing and have achieved outstanding results. The awards gala also included the Community Champion Awards that honor community banks and credit unions that took extraordinary measures to service their communities. The Community Champion Awards are also divided into six different categories including, economic development, civic involvement, financial education, arts, overall philanthropy, and inspiration.

“Agility Resources Group is thrilled to recognize and celebrate the incredible efforts of these outstanding organizations,” said Vince Valvo, CEO of Agility Resources Group. “These banks and credit unions have demonstrated true creativity in their marketing efforts. In addition, they have gone above and beyond to make a difference in their communities and have greatly impacted the lives of many in need.”

From a field of fifty award-winners, Essex Savings Bank received five awards in the category of the Community Champion Awards 2013. They are:  *Gold Award – Economic Development; *Gold Award – Civic Involvement; *Gold Award – Overall Philanthropy (Awarded for the Bank’s Community Investment Program which was established to distribute 10% of the Bank’s net profits to 501(c)3s on an annual basis; *Silver Award – Branding; *Silver Award – Arts, awarded for the contributions of both Bank funds and employee volunteers to the local cultural arts.

Gregory R. Shook, President & CEO noted: “He was proud to see the bank receive recognition for our efforts to build goodwill and trust with our community and clients.”

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

Essex Historical Society Receives $12,500 Grant from 1772 Foundation

The Pratt House

The Pratt House

ESSEX — The Essex Historical Society (EHS) has been awarded a $12,500 grant from the 1772 Foundation, in partnership with CT Trust for Historic Preservation, to support restoration work on the Pratt House Museum. The award is part of the 1772 Foundation’s highly competitive matching grant program for historic preservation projects.

The funding will support repair on the Pratt House that was recommended by Building Conservation Associates, Inc. of Dedham, Mass., in its 2012 Architectural Conservation Assessment. These recommendations include: repair of the Pratt House’s exterior foundation, painting the exterior and glazing its windows, repairing gutter work, cleaning the interior of the chimney and replacing a missing door in the cellar.

“We are grateful to the 1772 Foundation for their support,” said Sherry Clark, president of the Essex Historical Society. “With the grant and the matched funding by the Essex Historical Society, nearly all of the necessary repairs and maintenance recommended in the Architectural Conservation Assessment of the Pratt House will be completed.”

The restoration work is scheduled to begin October 2014 and to be complete by May 2015.

The historic Pratt House was built in 1701 and was home to the descendants of Lt. William Pratt, one of the three first settlers of Essex for two centuries. Its barn, traditional herb garden and meadow complete the pastoral setting of a New England farmhouse. The house remained in the Pratt family ownership until 1952, when it was deeded to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now known as Historic New England). In 1985 Historic New England transferred the property and much of its contents to EHS, and EHS has been caring for the property ever since. Visitors are invited to tour the home Fridays through Sundays, from June through September.

About the 1772 Foundation —The 1772 Foundation was named in honor of its first restoration project, Liberty Hall in Union, NJ, which was built in 1772 and is the ancestral home of the Livingston and Kean families. The late Stewart B. Kean was the original benefactor of the 1772 Foundation. The Foundation seeks to continue his legacy throughout the country by helping preserve architectural and cultural history and agricultural landscapes for generations to come. For more information, visithttp://www.1772foundation.org/.

About the Essex Historical Society — The Essex Historical Society seeks to promote awareness and understanding of the people, places and events that have shaped the history of Essex, Connecticut. The Society collects and interprets artifacts and archival material, and provides educational programs and exhibits to bring those interpretations to the community. To house this collection and to provide a window into earlier Essex life, the Society maintains two historic structures: Pratt House (1701) and Hills Academy (1832). Recognizing the importance of the past to our understanding of the present and our planning for the future, the Essex Historical Society advocates the preservation of significant structures and sites that reveal the history of Essex. To learn more, visit the EHS website and follow EHS on Facebook.

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 Newest Eagle Scout

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 newest Eagle Scout Benjamin Dale Swartzell (Photo by John Kollmer)

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 newest Eagle Scout Benjamin Dale Swartzell (Photo by John Kollmer)

Boy Scouts of America would like to congratulate Benjamin Dale Swartzell for earning the rank of Eagle Scout. An Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held for Ben on September 21, 2014 at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Essex, CT.

To become an Eagle Scout, Ben earned 40 merit badges and advanced through the seven scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community. One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the boy’s community, school, or religious institution.

Ben’s project was to replace the boardwalk through the historic Cedar Swamp at Bushy Hill Nature Center in Ivoryton. The old walkway had deteriorated over time and was posing a safety risk for campers. The walkway allows campers to walk through the swamp to view ecological diversity at the camp. This project included building a new boardwalk, removing the old walkway and getting the site ready to install the new portion. Ben used leadership skills he learned by attending Boy Scouts National Youth Leadership Training and as a staff member of the CT Rivers Council National Youth Leadership Training program.

Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun. To learn more information about joining Troop 13 please contact our Scoutmaster, Steven Merola @ 860-526-9262

Following Strong Debate Performance, Bjornberg Challenges Linares to Appear in 33rd District’s Northern Towns

Following a strong performance Tuesday evening during a public debate at the Valley Regional High School in Deep River, Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg criticized her Republican opponent, Art Linares of Westbrook, for refusing multiple invitations for further debates from non-partisan organizations across the 33rd Senate District.

“My opponent may not wish to talk about his record in the Northern part of our district, but the residents of Colchester, East Hampton, Portland, Haddam and East Haddam deserve to hear what he has to say about it. And they should be concerned at his reluctance to appear there,” said Bjornberg. “There are important issues in this campaign, and real differences between my opponent and myself. We need to better address the needs of our small businesses, and put their interests first before those of lobbyists and special interests. We need lower property taxes, and greater state education aid to make that possible. We need to put more people back to work, particularly our unemployed returning veterans.”

Linares has not accepted a single invitation in one the district’s northern towns, including any and all proposed events north of the Town of Deep River.

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

“I believe in a full and open debate of the issues in this election. It takes over an hour to drive across the 33rd Senate District, one of the largest in the state. Each community has their own unique needs and concerns. For my opponent to agree to debates only in the southern portion of the district is a disservice and an insult to those northern communities,” said Bjornberg.

In response to a recent invitation to debate from the Haddam Bulletin, Linares’ campaign manager and brother, Ryan Linares, emailed the following statement in response (follow link to Linares’ full email):

“For this election  (just like last election) we’ve already been asked to participate in over 8-9 debates. Myself and our campaign team [sic] have decided to participate in four, believing that this is more then [sic] sufficient for all candidates to voice their opinion on certain matters. Those debates include the New London Day (Lyme), Rotary Club (Essex), Essex library (Deep River) & Westbrook Council of Beaches (Westbrook) – we made our decision off a first come bases [sic] and to geographically space them out for all to conveniently attend.”

Of the four events the Linares’ campaign has agreed to, two have already occurred, one of which was not located within the 33rd District itself (The Day’s debate was actually held in Old Lyme). Only one of the two events that remain will be open to the public, with approximately six weeks remaining before the general election. The Essex Rotary event is open to club members only.

“Art Linares may wish to limit public debate in this election, but the voters deserve a broader discussion. I have challenged my opponent to twelve debates in twelve towns, and I renew that challenge today. If my opponent is proud of his voting record and his positions on the issues, he has no reason to hide,” said Bjornberg.

To date, the Bjornberg campaign has accepted invitations for upcoming debates from all of the following organizations. Bolded events have either not received a response from the Linares campaign, or have had their invitation declined:

Haddam Bulletin Debate
October 14th or 15th, Time TBD
Haddam-Killingworth High School
95 Little City Road, Higganum, CT 

Colchester AARP Candidate Forum
October 28th at 2PM
Colchester Senior Center, 95 Norwich Avenue, Colchester, CT

Morgan School Debate
October 23rd, Time TBD
The Morgan School, 27 Killingworth Turnpike, Clinton, CT 

CT Mirror Debate at Chamard Vineyard in Clinton
Date TBD

Essex Rotary Club Candidate Forum
Tuesday, September 30th
Cocktails at 5:45pm, Dinner begins at 6:15pm
Essex Yacht Club, 13 Novelty Ln, Essex, CT

Westbrook Council of Beaches Candidate Forum
Monday, October 6th, 7pm
Teresa Mulvey Municipal Center, 866 Boston Post Rd, Westbrook, CT
The 33rd District includes the communities of: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Three 33rd District Candidates Hold Lively Debate at High School in Deep River

Democratic candidate Emily Bjornberg, Republican candidate Senator Art Linares and Independent Candidate Colin Bennett (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Democratic candidate Emily Bjornberg, Republican candidate Senator Art Linares and Green Party Candidate Colin Bennett (photo by Jerome Wilson)

DEEP RIVER— The three candidates in the 12-town 33rd State Senate District, one-term incumbent Republican Sen. Art Linares, Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg, and Green Party candidate Colin Bennett, held a lively debate Tuesday that covered the economy and taxes, along with social issues such as reproductive rights and possible right-to-die legislation.

A crowd of more than 100 voters filled the auditorium at Valley Regional High School, with sign waving supporters of the two major party candidates gathering outside the school before the start of the debate. The 90-minute session was moderated by Essex  Library Director Richard Conroy, who posed questions that had been submitted in writing before the debate from district voters.

Linares, describing his record as “pro-growth and pro jobs,” attempted to tie Bjornberg to tax increases imposed during the administration of Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Democrat-controlled legislature. Bjornberg noted that she was not in the legislature when most of the higher taxes were approved, and pledged to be “very wary” of increases in “regressive taxes,” such as the sales and gasoline taxes, in any future budget decisions.

Objections from Linares to the Malloy Administration First Five program of grants and loans for business expansion prompted one of the sharpest exchanges of the session, with Bjornberg noting that Linares had accepted a $350,000 state low interest loan for his Middletown-based Green Skies solar power company while later voting against funding for the program.  She also contended Green Skies resells cheaper solar panels from China at the expense of producers in Connecticut and the United States. Linares replied that Bjornberg’s comments show “my opponent is ready to attack a good thing,”  describing the business he co-founded as a clean energy company that is providing jobs.

The candidates differed on possible right-to-die legislation for the terminally ill, with Bjornberg pledging support for what she called the “compassionate choices” bill that failed to win approval in this year’s legislative session. Linares said he is “concerned about human error,” under the proposed legislation. Bennett also expressed support for the bill that is expected to be considered again next year.

A question on reproductive rights and insurance coverage for birth control brought passionate remarks from Bjornberg, declaring that she is concerned about her young daughter losing rights that women have fought for and secured over the past 40 years. Linares said he was “born a Catholic” and is “not running for the U.S. Supreme Court,” before changing the topic to his support for new legislation to protect women from domestic violence.

Marijuana and the minimum wage brought the most passionate remarks from Bennett, who has run as the Green Party candidate in three previous elections in the 33rd District. Bennett said  “ending the prohibition” on marijuana would help the state’s economy and finances. Linares dismissed the idea of legalizing marijuana, while Bjornberg said she would not support legalization at the present time but favors a “careful and measured” review of the option and possible further reductions in penalties for possession of marijuana.

Bennett said the minimum wage, set to increase to $10.10 per hour in the coming years, should be even higher and suggested there should be a “maximum wage” for the highest paid earners. Linares said he opposed the minimum wage hike adopted earlier this year because Democrats had blocked all amendments to establish a lower starting wage for workers under age 21. Bjornberg said Linares and state Republicans were “fear mongering” on the minimum wage issue and quoted Eleanor Roosevelt’s Depression era comment that “we all do well when we all do well.”

In her closing remarks, Bjornberg called on Linares to agree to hold another campaign debate in one of the northern towns of the sprawling district. Other sessions set for early October are more limited forums that include candidates for state House seats. The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep  River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and sections of Old Saybrook.

Talking Trash – Essex Land Trust Coordinates Shoreline Cleanup

In general, Essex is not one of those communities where trash in public places is a problem. Along the length of our Connecticut River shoreline, however, it is another matter. The amount of debris that accumulates along our shores is nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately, there seems to be a never-ending supply of debris along the riverbanks.

The Connecticut River’s steady flow towards its mouth brings with it logs, branches and other organic material that are swept into the river by storms, high tides and occasional flooding. It also brings with it an incredible array of items that have clearly been carelessly allowed to be swept away or dumped outright into the river.

For the past two years the Essex Land Trust has tried to do its part by focusing on cleaning up Essex’s Great Meadow. This past Fall, on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, 65 volunteers dedicated three hours to gathering all kinds of trash including, significant quantities of Styrofoam, bottles, cans, car tires and more.

This effort is part of an annual program sponsored by the Connecticut River Watershed Council Participating. Called the Source to Sea Cleanup, each September communities along the 410-mile length of the Connecticut River dedicate themselves to cleaning up their shoreline. This past year, 2,227 volunteers collected a total haul of 45 tons, which included electrical appliances, furniture, automotive parts, and mattresses, among many other items.

The list of debris collected on the Essex Great Meadow is shown below:

  1. Glass bottles (5 five gallon buckets)
  2. Plastic bottles (27 thirty gallon bags)
  3. Plastic items (3 five gallon buckets)
  4. Styrofoam (35 thirty gallon bags)
  5. Tires (19)
  6. Wood (19 lbs)
  7. Metal items (10)
  8. Other items (6′ x 3′ plastic tub, 50 gallon plastic and metal drums, 30 gallon plastic drum, 2′ x 4′ plastic float, fiberglass kayak, hunting tent, large float/raft, LP gas container, plastic sled)

Besides being unsightly, trash in our water bodies has a damaging effect on the environment particularly impacting wildlife and vegetation. One measure of this impact is the decomposition rate of common debris. The following chart illustrate how long items last in our environment, i.e., 200 years for aluminum cans and 450 years for plastic bottles.

Untitled

 

The Connecticut River has come a long way from the 1950s when it was called the “best landscaped sewer in the country.” The passage of the Clean Water Act and the ban on DDT in 1972 have done much to help the river recover to a Class B status, meaning that it is safe for all purposes excluding drinking. Turning to the future, our challenge is to build on the progress achieved by ensuring a cleaner and healthier river, one that would harken back to the days when the Algonquians gave it its name, the “quinetucket,” the place of the long tidal river.

The Land Trust intends to repeat the Great Meadow clean up this coming September. The date has already been set: Saturday, September 27 at 9 am. So, mark your calendars!

 

Local Resident Recalls Eleanor Roosevelt Endorsement of State Senate Candidacy

Eleanor Roosevelt endorsing the candidacy of Essex resident Jerome Wilson, when he was a candidate for the New York State Senate back in 1962

Eleanor Roosevelt endorsing the candidacy of Essex resident Jerome Wilson, when he was a candidate for the New York State Senate in 1962

What with much of the country riveted by the PBS documentary on the “Roosevelt’s,” Essex resident Jerome Wilson has released a photograph of his one time meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt. The photograph was taken in the fall of 1962, and it pictured Mrs. Roosevelt’s endorsement of Wilson’s candidacy for the New York State Senate in Albany. Wilson won his race in 1962 and went on to serve three terms in the New York State Senate.

Wilson was a member of what was called the Reform Movement in New York City in the 1960’s. The leaders of the Reform Democratic movement were three notable national Democrats: Eleanor Roosevelt, former New York State Governor Herbert Lehman and former Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Thomas Finletter. The purpose of this group was to defeat Tammany Hall, Democratic Party officeholders (the so-called “bosses”), and replace them with Reform Democrats.

On the West Side of Manhattan, the Reform Democrats had already beaten Tammany Hall candidates in the 1960 elections, electing a U.S. Congressman and a New York State Senator. Wilson’s election as a State Senator on the Manhattan East Side in 1962 would be yet another victory for the Reform Democrats. In addition to electing public officials, the Reform Democrats had set up Reform Democratic clubs on both on the West Side and the East Side of Manhattan. At the time of his election to the New York State Senate, Wilson was the President of the Yorkville Democratic Club, a Reform Democratic club located on East 79th Street in Manhattan.

Wilson’s most significant accomplishment during his service in the New York State legislature was to lead the fight to reform the state’s 179-year-old divorce law. New York’s divorce law up until 1966 had only one ground for divorce, which was for adultery. There was not even a ground for extreme physical cruelty. Through his efforts, as Chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee and Family Law, Wilson exposed the inadequacy of the one-ground divorce law, and, as a result, the New York State legislature adopted new grounds for physical and mental cruelty, among other humane grounds for divorce.

Essex Wellness Center – New Essex Business Unlike Any Other

ESSEX — The Essex Wellness Center has opened its doors at 28 Main Street in the colonial village of Essex, Connecticut.

The first of its kind in or near this idyllic riverfront community, Essex Wellness Center offers a strategically developed range of holistic services in one location. Medical specialties and complementary therapies include naturopathic and Chinese medicine, acupuncture, anti-aging techniques, nutrition for health and weight loss, hypnosis, life coaching, therapy for body image and eating disorders, massage, integrative nurse coaching, mindful meditation, life and business/executive leadership coaching, and counseling for substance abuse and addictions.

Having a team of holistic minded health professionals under one roof is beyond convenient; it allows for assessments and a comprehensive wellness plan for a client who may be experiencing complicated symptoms triggered by anxiety, allergies, burnout, sports injury, or for someone who wants to strengthen their immune system or overcome a struggle with weight, smoking, insomnia, phobias, substance abuse or addiction.

Services and classes at Essex Wellness Center’s waterside locations on nearby Novelty Lane include Tai Chi and Qigong with Master Teacher David Chandler, Pilates, yoga, mindfulness meditation, Reiki, Barre, Zumba and personal and private fitness training.Essex Wellness Center founder and director Heidi Kunzli, MS, LADC, created this consortium of highly experienced holistic providers following the same high standards by which she grew her internationally acclaimed Privé-Swiss mental health retreat program in Laguna Beach, California. Founded 14 years ago, Privé-Swiss maintains a world-renowned reputation for offering clinical excellence through practitioners who deliver exceptional quality in care.

“Bringing the Essex Wellness Center to this enchanting village of Essex is a thrill,” said Kunzli, a Connecticut native and Essex resident. “The charm of this town and natural beauty of the river seem like a perfect fit for our natural approach to healing and maintaining optimum physical and mental health for a long, fulfilling life.”

Program updates, class schedules, new services and news about health and wellness will be posted through  facebook.com/ essexwellnesscenter , on Twitter @essexwellnessct and at www.essexwellnessctr.com. Call 860.767.7770 with questions or to make an appointment.

Local Businesses Support Cancer Center goPINK Project

Logo14PINKblackbg2Now in its fifth year, the goPINK Project is an annual event held during the month of October, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in which hair salons, businesses and schools come together throughout Middlesex County to raise funds for the Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center.

Donations cover the costs of integrative medicine therapy for patients, a complement to conventional treatment that focuses on the whole person – mind, body and spirit. Patients choose from yoga, Reiki, massage, reflexology, meditation and more.

Middlesex Hospital’s Cancer Center and its Nationally Accredited Comprehensive Breast Center provide the latest technology, treatment and clinical trials for a wide variety of cancers, with the personal touch of a nurse navigator.

Georgi Marino and Ellie Gagnon, owners of EG Salon in Middletown, established this annual fundraiser in 2010. Since that time, the event has raised $68,393 to support breast cancer patients at Middlesex Hospital.

During the event, individuals receive pink hair extensions and purchase t-shirts for $20 each from area hair salons and can make purchases at local businesses to support the cause.

“We are extremely grateful for the overwhelming support the goPINK fundraiser provides to women in our community,” says Sarah Moore, Middlesex Hospital Director of Philanthropy. “The dedicated efforts of everyone involved make a real difference for our patients.”

Participating businesses in the Shoreline area include:

Chester

A Style Above Salon – offering pink hair extensions the entire month of October. Dyed pink streaks are also available, as well as t-shirts to purchase.

Clinton

Klippers Beauty Supply Depot – goPINK donation box at this location.

Essex

The Spa of Essex

Old Saybrook

Bella Capelli – offering pink hair extensions the entire month of October and t-shirts.

ESSENCE for Beauty & Wellness – October 23, 5 to 8 p.m., donating 10% of Gio Minerals sales. T-shirts also available for sale.

For more details about goPINK throughout October, go to www.middlesexhospital.org/events-and-calendar/2014/9/29/gopink-project-2014

About Lilith and Self-Repression in Women

I first met Lilith (a legendary character from post biblical literature) while doing some supplemental reading for a theology course. In the article “The coming of Lilith: Toward a Feminist Theology” authored by Judith Plaskow, Lilith is described as a “demon of the night” who according to rabbinic legend was Old Testament Adam’s first wife.

That night, after reading the article, I had what Carl Jung termed a Doppelganger dream (two representatives of the dreamer appearing in the same dream). In the dream, Ali A and Ali B were two little girls of about four years old. A was dressed in a pale pink, stiffly starched pinafore. B was dressed in torn jeans and on her feet she was wearing sneakers with big holes. She looked untidy-even dirty.

The two girls were sitting at an outside table playing scrabble. In the dream, A was busy assembling words such as good, quiet, polite and kind. Each time A finished a word, B would reach out and scatter the letters to the ground. Frustrated, A reached over and shoved B off her chair. B fell down, but dragged herself up and swept all the letters off of the table.

A then calmly entered a big white house and returned with a gun. She filled B with several rounds of bullets, stamped on the body until it was flat. Then, she folded the body into a square package and tossed it into a gutter.

When I awakened from the dream, I had no idea what the dream was telling me and made no connection of the dream to the Lilith article. It was several weeks later while listening to Dolores Williams, an Africa American Womanist theologian, speak about her “search for Hagar” (Old Testament Sarah’s Egyptian slave maid) and how this text became a powerful paradigm for Womanists that I began making connections between the article about Lilith and my dream.

I suspected that the legend of Lilith was a powerful paradigm for me. What were her characteristics that made it impossible for her to remain in Adam’s garden and why did I toss her in the gutter?

I told my sister who was a Jungian Analyst about the dream and she gave me an article published in The Quadrant-a journal of the C.G. Jung Foundation. The article was written by another Jungian analyst-Barbara koltov. The title of the article was simply-Lilith.

I only read to page three; my eyes were riveted to the description of Lilith: “It is said that Lilith has the form of a beautiful woman from the head to the navel, and from the navel down she is flaming fire.”  I had painted that picture many, many years before while attending a convent boarding school. It was Lilith. I would guess that the nuns tossed my painting as I never saw it again.

Reading further, I learned that the legend of Lilith, found in Arabic, Assyrian, Babylonian, Canaanite, Hebrew, Persian, Sumerian and Teutonic mythology abounds with her characteristics. She is the embodiment of rebelliousness and assertiveness. Lilith is instinctual, earthy, prophetic, intuitive, fiery, dark, a seductress, desolate and full of rage. She is powerful.

In the article, Koltov reminds her readers that the traditional patriarchal mode of dealing with such a counter-force that derives her energy from opposition has been to suppress-or cast her out. As my dream suggests, I took that part of my feminine nature, that part of me that wants to make trouble and cause chaos, and threw it in the gutter-out of Adam’s garden.

Is it any wonder? After all, there is ever in the consciousness of a small child the need to feel safe and consequently the tendency to deny or split-off what appears to be unacceptable. I am certain that as a child of a patriarchal culture, I learned early on that the characteristics of Lilith were unacceptable. However, sometimes our psyche urges us through dreams, meaningful coincidence and illness to exteriorate what lies within.

Several months after my encounter with Lilith, my body, through illness, presented me with another image that punctuated the repression of my rebellious and assertive characteristics. I learned that I had a melanoma near my right jaw. While under local anesthesia, I can remember that as I lay on the table and the surgeon made his incision, I had an image in my mind’s eye of my jaw as a channel lock-locked in a position of about one-third open. As the surgeon continued working, although I could not feel anything, it “felt” as if a pin had been removed from my jaw and I would finally be able to open my mouth fully.

It was at that moment that I knew that Lilith’s energy that had been walled off for so long was finally going to be available to me. I had been holding dear to false security for too long. Thanks to many meaningful coincidences, I welcomed that part of me, the part that I tossed into the gutter, back home.

It is still a struggle. But when I feel that energy-mostly my fiery anger with cruelty to animals (e.g., the hideous and unnecessary drowning of “pesky” beavers in Essex), the cynical and scandalous disregard of our military, the politically inspired obtrusion, aimed at low information voters, that there is a “war on women” and dopey academic elites who indoctrinate our children and grandchildren with the “joy” of Socialism and the ruse of human-caused climate change (aka, Global warming), I am no longer polite or taciturn.  To ignore those feelings would simply be an out-picturing of a once deeply embedded false belief that my full feminine nature is not worthy of my deepest respect.

These are a few of my hot-blood issues. I suspect that there are legions of women, particularly from the over-fifty crowd, who experience this brand of self-repression; the anger wells-up, the blood begins to boil, but the fire in the belly is quickly extinguished for fear of being labeled “bossy,” bitchy or aggressive. I say self-repression as it seems unproductive to keep chiseling and growling about our American men who made the mistake of also being born into a patriarchal culture. Oppressing them as we feel or felt oppressed is not the answer.

Old School feminists, who achieved much for American women, made the mistake of projecting their dissatisfaction outward onto our guys and launched a war on the men in this country. For the past forty plus years, there has been a concerted effort to demonize, infantilize, feminize and over-medicate American men and boys.

It appears to me that as long as we project dissatisfaction outward onto the men in our society, we are using a neurotic means of attempting to overcome the uneasiness of self-repression. Yes, we were born into a patriarchal culture as were our men, but the path to wholeness is to pay attention to our own unique inner-drama by listening to what our psyche is trying to communicate to us through dreams, meaningful coincidences, illness and that fire in the belly.

Essex Selectmen Review Plan for Ivoryton Main Street Improvements

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday reviewed a conceptual plan for state grant-funded  improvements to Main Street in the Ivoryton section that could be put out to bid in the spring of 2015.

The town last year was awarded a $435,000 state Main Street Investment Fund grant for several improvements that would  slow traffic through Ivoryton village and create an improved pedestrian environment with four new or improved raised crosswalks. Based on a recommendation from an advisory committee chaired by Selectwoman Stacia Libby, the town earlier this year hired Anchor Engineering Services of Glastonbury to prepare preliminary plans for the project.
One key component of the plan is the removal of a raised island at the intersection of Summit Street and Main Street  that was constructed in the early 1970s with little input from the public.  The removal would create a wider T intersection for the two streets.

The plan also calls for new curbing and sidewalk, along with the new crosswalks. There would also be several new lantern pole-style streetlights installed on the easternmost end of Main Street, extending lighting that was first installed with state grant funding in 2005.  A reconfiguration of the parking area for the Ivorvton Park on the north side of Main Street would add a handful of additional public parking spaces for the village.

Libby said some of the improvements depicted in the plan would require approval from owners of private property on the street. Libby said the conceptual plan is now being reviewed by several town commissions, with a goal of putting the project out to bid by May 2015.

33rd Senate Candidates Clash Over Task Force Appointment in First Campaign Debate

Colin Bennett (Green Party), Republican Senator Art Linares and Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg in first campaign debate

Green party candidate Colin Bennett, Republican Senator Art Linares and Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg in first campaign debate

OLD LYME— A legislative appointment to a state task force on children’s jewelry was the focus of the sharpest exchange Tuesday as three candidates for the 12-town 33rd State Senate District seat faced off in the first campaign debate.
Republican State senator Art Linares of Westbrook, Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg of Lyme, and Green Party nominee Colin Bennett of Westbrook appeared before a crowd of nearly 100 voters at the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School for an hour-long session that was co-sponsored by the New London Day and the League of Women voters. Day editor Paul Chionere posed written questions, most submitted from audience members, to the candidates.

Linares, a 25 year-old incumbent seeking a second term, and Bjornberg, a mother of two who works in the Youth and Family Ministry of Deep River Congregational Church, agreed on some issues, such as support for small businesses, and differed on others, such as the  stricter state gun law enacted last year. Linares had voted against the gun bill, contending it was never fully presented at a public hearing and imposed “unnecessary” restrictions on “law abiding citizens.” Bjornberg, noting she is from a “family of hunters”, said she would have supported the legislation, and contended Linares was not engaged during the crafting and debate on the bill.

Linares called for tighter control over state spending, along with possible reductions in the state gas and sales taxes. Bjornberg promised “fiscal responsibility,” while adding that she would “not balance the budget on the backs of children and senior citizens.”

But it was a question on the environment that prompted the sharpest exchange of the session, with Bjornberg contending a Linares appointment to a 16-member state task force reviewing the safety of children’s jewelry, particularly the presence of cadmium in the jewelry, showed a lack of concern for the environment and children’s safety.

As the ranking Republican member of the Children’s Committee, Linares was appointed to the task force, or allowed to designate a member in his place. Linares named Brent Cleaveland, the executive director of the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association of  Rhode Island.

Bjornberg said Cleaveland is a paid lobbyist for the children’s jewelry business, and has publicly opposed limits on the mineral cadmium in jewelry.  She noted that cadmium has been listed as a potential human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration, and also claimed that Cleaveland has publicly downplayed the hazards of lead. Bjornberg raised this issue during the exchange on the environment, and again in the final minutes of the debate.
Linares said Cleaveland is “an advocate for making children’s jewelry safe.”  Linares also contended a bill that Bjornberg had expressed support for, to ban all pesticides from high school athletic fields, would have imposed a costly new mandate on schools districts in the 33rd District.

Bennett, a substitute teacher who has run for the seat previously on the Green Party line, avoided direct criticism of the two major party candidates. Bennett said he was uncertain whether he would have supported the 2013 gun law, but expressed opposition to plans to expand natural gas service in Connecticut because much of the gas is produced through hydraulic fracking. Bennett also called for expanded investments in clean energy technology and legalization of the recreational use of marijuana as economic development measures for the state.

Bennett will also participate in a second debate scheduled for Tuesday Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at Valley Regional High School in Deep River. Another debate sponsored by the Westbrook Council of Beaches is scheduled for Oct. 6 at the Mulvey Municipal Building in Westbrook. The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and sections of Old Saybrook.

Regional School District 4 Prevails in Lawsuit Filed by Former High School Principal

REGION 4— A summary judgment from Middlesex Superior Court Judge Julia Aurigemma has ended a lawsuit filed against the school district by former Valley Regional High School Principal Eric Rice, though an appeal of the decision to the Connecticut Appellate Court remains a possibility.

In a decision issued on August 15, Judge Aurigemma rejected claims by Rice that the school district violated terms of his October 2010 release and resignation agreement when it released emails and other information on his brief tenure as the high school principal in response to a freedom of information request from the Hartford Courant. The newspaper published an article on Rice’s departure from the principal position in June 2011 that included information from the emails. Rice, represented by the Hamden law firm Gesmonde, Petrosimone & Srigrinari, filed a lawsuit in December 2011 contending the release of the information violated the terms of the agreement and defamed him. The legal action was also filed against Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy and former assistant superintendent Ian Neviaser as individuals.

After months of proceedings and motions before four different judges, and depositions from Levy and Neviaser, Aurigemma agreed last spring to hear arguments and issue a summary judgement on the case, which was initially listed for a trial at the Middletown courthouse in November.

In the decision, Aurigemma determined the release and resignation agreement between Rice and the school district that was signed before his departure from the high school principal job in October 2010 was “comprehensive,” and under its terms Rice waived any further legal claims against the school district. Under the agreement, Rice, who assumed the principal job in August 2010 and was later a subject of complaints from teachers and other staff, received $62,000 in severance pay and health insurance coverage until he found other employment.

The agreement also included a letter of recommendation which was negotiated by attorneys for Rice and the school district. Rice, a Chester resident, later assumed a teaching position with the West Haven school system.
The judge’s decision also rejected claims that the school district had defamed Rice by releasing the emails and other documents in response to the freedom of information request. Aurigemma determined that all of the documents were from the time period covered by the release and resignation agreement, and that school officials had been “deliberative” in deciding which documents to release to the newspaper. The judge determined that Rice had not been defamed by the school district, or by Levy and Neviaser.

Attorneys for Rice earlier this month filed a motion to appeal Aurigemma’s decision to the Connecticut Appellate Court. A status hearing ion the case is scheduled for Oct. 9 at Middlesex Superior Court.

Essex Savings Bank Donates to Non-Profits

ESSEX – Gregory R. Shook, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank announced the completion of distribution from the Directors’ portion of the Community Investment Fund amounting to $44,000.  Amounts range from $10,000 to $500.  Total distributions for the year will amount to $223,373 and $3.9 million since the 1996 inception of distributing 10% of after tax net income.  Donations for this portion have been allocated to the following non-profit organizations.

Camp Hazen YMCA * The Chester Historical Society, Inc. * Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, Inc. * Community Foundation of Middlesex County * Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock * The Deep River Historical Society * Essex Historical Society * Essex Land Trust * Essex Winter Series * Florence Griswold Museum * The Ivoryton Library Association * Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center & Theatre * Lawrence & Memorial Hospital * Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts * Lyme Art Association * Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc. * Lyme Public Library, Inc. * Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau * MacCurdy Salisbury Educational Foundation, Inc. * Madison Community Services, Inc. * Madison Land Conservation Trust * Middlesex Hospital * Musical Masterworks * The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association, Inc. * Rotary Club of Essex Foundation * Tri-Town Youth Service Bureau, Inc. * Valley Shore YMCA * Vista (Vocational Independent Supported Transitional Alternative).

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

Eastern Connecticut Ballet Partners with The Kate

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Let the dancing begin! In September young dance students from our shoreline communities will soon be putting on ballet slippers for classes at The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center. Eastern Connecticut Ballet is proud to offer its Young Children’s Program for ages 3-7 in this landmark theater.

Known for encouraging creativity and fun, the program was voted The Shoreline’s Best Children’s Ballet School by Connecticut magazine. With expert instruction, girls and boys learn basic ballet skills, coordination, and a love of music. The classes provide an excellent foundation for the future study of classical ballet.

Founded in East Lyme in 1992, Eastern Connecticut Ballet is one of the state’s premiere schools for dance with an enrollment of more than 300 students from age two to college-age. From their first steps in the studio to performing onstage, ECB dancers discover the joys of this vibrant art form.

Space is available in classes on the East Lyme main campus as well.

Visit easternctballet.com for information and registration forms or call ECB at 860-739-7899.

Contracts to be Signed for Deep River Industrial development

DEEP RIVER– The board of selectmen this week approved contracts with three local firms for development on a town-owned parcel at the Plattwood Park Industrial Area. The board endorsed the contracts at a meeting Tuesday after selecting the three firms earlier this summer following a request for proposals.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the three firms, Top Notch Electrical Services LLC, Winthrop Tool LLC, and Moyers Landscaping Services LLC, will be required to begin construction of an industrial building on their assigned parcel by April 2015. The industrial building lots are being divided from a four-acre parcel on the northwest corner of the town industrial area that the town purchased last year for $270,000 from local resident Gary Mislick.

The plans, which have received approval from town land use commissions, call for three lots fronting on a new road that would end in a cul-de-sac. The agreement calls for the town to construct the access road for the parcels.
Under the contracts, the three businesses would be required to pay municipal property tax on the property, including tax on all buildings and equipment. Under the terms of a 40-year lease, the businesses would pay a nominal rent on the land of only $1 per year for the first ten years, with annual rent increasing to $3,600 per year in October 2024. The lease also includes an option to buy the parcels, with the annual rent on the parcels rising every ten years through 2054.

In a separate development Smith reported that a large manufacturing company that had expressed interest in a 59-acre industrial parcel on the east side of Route 154 has now stepped back from a possible purchase of the land from the Mislick family. Smith had announced a possible sale of the parcel, which was rezoned industrial in 2006, at the Aug. 12 board of selectmen meeting.

Smith said the costs of constructing an access road in to the parcel, which would have to extend more than 1,000 feet after a crossing of the Valley Railroad tracks, were too much for the unidentified prospective buyer. Smith said the land remains on the market for sale and development.