October 1, 2014

Sticker System for Essex Trash Compactor Site Effective Oct. 1

ESSEX— A new sticker system for residential users that is intended to eliminate cash transactions at the town solid waste transfer station will be effective on Wednesday Oct. 1

First Selectman Norman Needleman announced the new effective date for changes at the transfer station at a meeting of the board of selectmen last week. The selectmen had approved the new site rules and fees last winter, but the effective date for the changes has been pushed back as town personnel prepare to implement the new system.

As of Oct. 1, the current pay-per-bag system for residents using the site for disposal of household trash will end, along with all other cash transactions at the facility located off Route 154 near the Route 9 exit four interchange. Resident users will be required to purchase a use sticker for their vehicle at a cost of  $125 per year, with a reduced change of $75 per year for senior citizens. Occasional users will be allowed to purchase a book of stickers at a price of  $25 for ten trips to the compactor site.

All payments must be made by check or credit card, ending the need for site personnel to handle cash paid for use of the site. The plan also includes higher fees for disposal of bulky waste and demolition materials, but there will be no charge for disposal of recyclables, including bottles, cans, plastics, newspapers and magazines.

In other business last week, selectmen approved a transfer of funds remaining in a legal services account for the now defunct sanitary waste commission to the legal budget for the water pollution control authority. Voters at a town meeting in June approved a revised ordinance dissolving the sanitary waste commission, ending an arrangement dating to the early 1990s where the town maintained an appointed joint sanitary waste commission/water pollution control authority.
Under the previous ordinance, the sanitary waste commission helped supervise the solid waste transfer station and town recycling efforts, while the WPCA directed the town’s water pollution control and sewer avoidance efforts.

With the funds transfer, which also requires approval from the board of finance at an Aug. 21 meeting, $4,000 remaining in the sanitary waste commission legal account will be added to the $5,000 that is in the legal budget for the WPCA for a total legal account of $9,000 for the WPCA in the current fiscal year that began July 1.

Adios Dear Deep River!

John Guy Laplante

John Guy LaPlante

Well, Friends, it’s time for me to say goodbye to the town I love. I never thought this day would come. Never wanted it to come. I have been happy here. Fifteen years ago I chose Deep River as my retirement community– chose it deliberately, mind you.

It’s a strange story: I had my whole career in Massachusetts.  Just retired, I came here to Connecticut for a one-week program at what is now Incarnation Center in Ivoryton.  Well, one thing led to another and I became the director of its big and fine Elderhostel Program.  Spent eight good years there.  And that’s how I got to discover Deep River.  I caught the town at the cusp, it seems.  It was just coming out of a prolonged sleepy period. My instinct told me it was about to flower. How right I was.  What I longed for was real, genuine small town life.

Within a few days I bought a condo at Piano Works—yes, the one I am living in.  It turned out to be perfect for my needs.  Then right away I applied to join the town Rotary Club.  Rotary had long appealed to me but I was always too busy. That was another smart decision.  It was a happy day when the Rotarians swore me in.  I made friends in the club and in town.  I became involved in remarkable programs—Rotary always commits to serving its community however it can.

A big project was the creation of Keyboard Park with its pretty Gazebo and Fountain. Another very meaningful one was our annual Patriotic Fourth celebration on Independence Day right there at Keyboard Park.  Another was the purchase of what is now the Town’s  iconic Elephant Statue in front of Town Hall. That was a big expense for our club but we considered it important.

Here’s a nice memory. On one Deep River Family Day we inflated balloons through the elephant’s trunk! Honest!  Handed them to delighted kids. I admit we had a second motive.  We wanted to prove to everybody that that statue is really a fantastic water fountain. Water shoots out the elephant’s trunk!  I still don’t understand why water hasn’t been connected to it permanently.

Another project was the re-dedication of the Observation Deck at the bottom of Kirtland Street that overlooks the Connecticut.  It’s Rotary that made that deck possible years ago.  We had a beautiful ceremony with speeches, a fife and drum corps, the whole works.  (But know what? Some vandal has destroyed our beautiful brand-new plaque for it!  I’d like to shoot him. Or her.)

I’m happy to tell you that those projects were always accomplished with the full cooperation of the Town and the help of First Selectman Dick Smith.

Yes, Deep River Rotary was wonderful. I’ve lived in numerous places, but emotionally I’ve considered Deep River home. In fact I’ve loved the whole area,  including the delightful neighboring towns and villages on both sides of the Connecticut Estuary.

Oh, I had been a journalist on a big newspaper.  Here from Deep River I found fresh outlets for that passion of my younger days.  And I’m still enjoying creating articles and now blogs … though momentarily I’m slowed down by all the work of selling out and moving to California.

The reason I’m leaving is simple.  I’m old and feel it and show it.  My dear daughter Monique out there in Morro Bay wants me under her wing.

Know what?  Many times over the years, I’ve heard the call,  “Go West, Young Man!”  Well, after all these years, and now far from young, I’m saying yes to that call.

But for sure there will be tears in my eyes when I do go to Bradley to fly off for that big and ultimate chapter in my life.  Living at Piano Works in this gorgeous corner of the world has been great.  Thank goodness I’ll have wonderful memories to sustain me.  And I hope to come back and visit.

Essex Island Marina Sells for $3,465,000; Higher Price than Some Expected

The welcoming building at the Essex Island Marina

The welcoming building at the Essex Island Marina

One of the prospective bidders said before the auction took place that he had decided not to bid, “because of possible environmental problems that a purchaser might have to address.” Also, this naysayer said that there was a rumor that Jack Brewer tried to buy the property before the auction took place, but that his offer had not been not accepted by the owner.

Typical luxury yacht found at Essex Island Marina

Typical luxury yacht found at Essex Island Marina

Since there was no mutually agreed upon sale of the property before the auction date of August 5, the formal Absolute Auction of the Essex Island Marina was ready to go.  The auction began shortly after eleven o’clock on Tuesday, August 5, and there was an interested crowd of some 100 people in attendance, all seated under a large tent on the grounds of the Essex Island Marina. Most of those in attendance were interested spectators, but at least 20 in the crowd were serious bidders, who came prepared with $75,000 deposit in-hand.

The crowd that attended the JJManning's "Absolute Auction" of the Essex Island Marina

The crowd that attended the JJManning’s “Absolute Auction” of the Essex Island Marina

The interest in the property by these serious bidders was understandable, since what was being auctioned off was one of the premium marinas along the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

The auction itself was conducted by Justin J. Manning, who is the President and CEO of JJManning  Auctioneers, which is headquartered in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts. Manning began the auction with the friendly query, “Did anyone come by boat today?” However, it turned out that no one had, so he got down to the business at hand.

The “Manning” Style of Running an Auction

Manning’s style in conducting the auction of the Essex Island Marina was to engage in a continuous line of chatter. He would only pause to accept a bid of a certain amount. Then, immediately after accepting this bid, he would ask for a higher one. Generally, the higher amount that he called for, was in the $50,000 range.

Justin Manning, who conducted the recent "Absolute Auction" at the Essex Island Marina

Justin Manning, who conducted the recent “Absolute Auction”
at the Essex Island Marina

The only time Manning paused in his continuous line of chatter of accepting and asking for new higher bids, was to permit a bidder to stop the auction for 30 seconds, so that the he or she could speak with an attorney or money source on the telephone. Once the thirty seconds was up, Manning immediately continued his auction patter.

In his introduction before the formal bidding began, Manning noted that his family has been in the auctioning business since 1976. As for the mindset of the present owner of the Essex Island Marina, Manning said, “He’s done, he wants to retire, and get out of the marina business.”

Also, before the auction began Manning read out loud a detailed description of the property being auctioned. He also said that prospective bidders had been given confidential information about the property that was not available to the general public.

Manning explained that the winner of the auction would have to pay a 10% Buyer’s Premium on top of the highest bid, to arrive at the total purchase price, and the final closing of the sale would take place on or before September 18.

In his remarks before the auction began, Manning stressed that the property was being sold “as is,” In addition, he said the boats presently with slips at the marina for the season would not have their leases cancelled. Manning also noted before the auction that there were 35 slip owners, presently at the marina, who wanted to turn the marina into a private yacht club condominium. However, this prospect faded quickly, when the actual bidding began.

The sale at auction included all the real estate of the marina, Manning said, and the equipment listed in the P&S.

The “Absolute Auction” Begins

At the auction itself, Manning first asked for a bid of $5 million for the property. No one responded, so he slipped down to asking for $2.5 million. There was still no response. Finally, the bidding opened at $400,000, then $1.2 million, $2 million, $2.3 million, $2.4 million, $2.5 million, $2.6 million, $2.65 million, and then before you knew it the bidding had climbed to well above $3 million, until it reached the final auction price.  Manning exhorted the bidding to continue, but to no avail. After a further pause, he proclaimed the winner of the auction, who was none other than Jack Brewer.

The actual bidding in the auction took no more than forty minutes. Also, worth noting was that the auctioneer Justin Manning wore a stylish, dark blue suit, with a tastefully appropriate shirt and tie. Clearly, this was no “blue collar “country auction, where the auctioneer pauses from time, to time to spit from the tobacco he has been chewing.

When it was all over a number of guests at that auction stayed around to compare notes. It was a general consensus that Jack Brewer could have paid less for the marina, if he had been able to strike a deal with the marina owner before the actual auction took place. JJ Manning proved to be a master in running up the price to over $3 million.

Jack Brewer Now Owns 29 Marinas

Nevertheless, even though Brewer may have paid somewhat more than what was anticipated, in the view of one the visitors at the auction, he has purchased a property that will be the flagship of what is now his 29 Brewer marinas. Also, since he already owns two marinas in Essex Harbor he has a clear monopoly on rental slips there.

The former owner of the Essex Island Marina, Wally Schieferdecker said, when the auction was all over, “I’m not happy, I’m not sad, and I am glad it is over.” The Schieferdecker family had owned and operated the marina for 56 years.

 

The Marvel That Is the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, and its Director Paul Risseeuw

Getting the boats ready to launch with Junior Instructors helping out

Getting the boats ready to launch with Junior Instructors helping out

Since the year 2007 one man has been in charge of teaching young people, ages 8 to 16, the art of sailing. That man is Paul Risseeuw of Essex, the Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy.  Organizationally, Risseeuw reports to the Chairman of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, David Courcy.

Assisting Risseeuw, as the chief administrator of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, are seven senior sailing instructors and seven junior sailing instructors. Many of the instructors are themselves graduates of the Academy.

The Petttipaug Sailing Academy has two teaching sessions each summer, each lasting three weeks. This year the first session of the Academy was from June 30 to July 22, and the second session, that is presently underway, began on July 24 and ends on August 15. Both sessions at the Academy have three-hour morning classes and three-hour afternoon classes.

Young sailors launch their sailboats into the Connecticut River

Young sailors launch their sailboats into the Connecticut River

The morning classes at the Academy are designed for younger sailors, ages 8, 9, 10 and 11 years old. Afternoon classes, which are more advanced, teach sailing to young adults, ages 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16.

These age assignments are not rigid. A young sailor of 10, who can sail like a 14 year old, could find him or herself assigned to the more advanced afternoon classes. On the other hand a totally inexperienced sailor of 13, might find him or herself assigned to the morning classes with other beginning sailors.

Tuition for attending each of the sessions at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy is $400. In many cases students are enrolled in both teaching sessions of the Academy, which costs $700.

Counting the Sailors at the Sailing Academy

The first teaching session at the Academy this year had 91 student sailorss. The second session, presently underway, and pictured in the attached photos, has 93 students. This adds up to 145 different students learning to sail at the Academy this summer.

Learning to sail at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy is very much an on-the water affair, and there are only a limited number of lessons on land. The sailboats used at the Academy are: Optimist dinghies, 420 class sailboats and Blue Jays.

Academy students, when sailing, are on their own. However, instructors in motorboats weave between the sailboats, and rescue student sailors, when their boats capsize. At the end of their sailing courses students are given ranks for sailing proficiency. From the bottom up the ranks are: Seaman, Seaman First Class, Second Mate, First Mate, Bos’n, Skipper and Racing Skipper.

There will be a single graduation ceremony for the two teaching sessions on August 15. The day before graduation, all of the students from both sessions will sail down river to Nott Island for a picnic. It is always an exciting conclusion to the Academy’s premier sailing program.

What could be better than this, a gentle wind and a happy crew

What could be better than this, a gentle wind and a happy crew

Other Sailing Programs at the Pettipaug Yacht Club

 Besides the Sailing Academy there are a host of other sailing programs at the Pettipaug Yacht Club, and there is a powerboat course as well. The first event in the club’s sailing season is the High School Sailing program, which is held in the month of March. Racing teams from three nearby high schools compete: Valley Regional High School in Deep River, Daniel Hand High School in Madison, and Xavier High School in Middletown.

The teams from “Valley and Daniel Hand” use 14 sailboats owned by the Pettipaug Yacht Club. Xavier has 12 sailboats of its own for their team. For students wanting to participate in these races there is one requirement. They must be members of the Pettipaug Yacht Club, which costs $15 a year.

Next on the sailing schedule at Pettipaug is a five day Racing Clinic, which is held from June 23 to June 27. 16 students took the course this year, and instructors Travis Carlisle and Maria Keogh taught the course. The tuition was $200.

Next on the schedule was a two-day, Windsurfer Course on June 26-27. Tuition was free, and the course instructor was Ned Crossley, a retired gymnastic coach at West Point.

In addition, there is a schedule of Powerboat Courses during the boating season. Remaining dates for the full day course are: August 18, 19, 20, 21; and September 6. The course is taught by Paul Risseeuw and three other powerboat instructors. The tuition is $180. Pettipaug Yacht Club motor boats are used for the course.

Without question the central figure behind all of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy’s “on the water” activities is Paul Risseeuw. With the young people from the ages of 8 to 16 who attend the sailing classes, Risseeuw is the epitome of courtesy and understanding.

Pettipaug Sailing Director Paul Risseeuw provides assistance when necessary

Pettipaug Sailing Director Paul Risseeuw provides assistance when necessary

Most likely, Risseeuw’s students, past and present, will never forget how to sail. Nor will they forget who thought them how to do it..

Bjornberg Challenges State Senate Race Opponent to 12 Debates in 12 Towns

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

LYME, CT – In hopes of promoting widespread public discussion of state and local issues, Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg proposed today that she and her Republican opponent hold twelve public debates before theNovember 4th General Election, one in each town of the 33rd State Senate District.

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

“The people of the 33rd Senate District deserve a full and vigorous public debate of the issues in this election year. There is too much at stake—our economy, our schools and our values—to not have a comprehensive series of discussions, of real substance,” said Bjornberg. “The 33rd District is so large, stretching from the heart of Connecticut to the shoreline and beyond, that anything less than twelve debates in twelve towns would be a disservice to each of them.”

“I welcome invitations to debate from any genuinely nonpartisan and unbiased organization in the 33rd District, and I will prioritize invitations from towns that have not yet seen a debate,” added Bjornberg. “Each town in this district is a unique community with its own historic characteristics and local concerns. This distinctiveness calls for a separate debate to address the specific issues of each town.”

Bjornberg continued, “I urge my opponent to join me in this effort to take both of our campaigns to every corner of the 33rd District. As a resident of one of our region’s smallest communities, many people have told me that they feel their town was left out of the discussion in the last election. Too few debates were held. We cannot allow that to happen again, and the responsibility lies with both of us, together.”

State Senator Art Linares Qualifies for Public Financing

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

Nearly 15 days after the Senator Art Linares’ campaign for re-election announced it had reached its campaign funding goal, the state has certified State Senator Art Linares, R-33rd, for public financing.

Campaign Manager Ryan Linares told a group of volunteers at a July 31st orientation meeting, “We surpassed the required number of in-district donors by a huge margin in comparison to two years ago.” he said. He added that Senator Linares has been getting an enthusiastic reception everywhere he goes within the district.

Senator Linares has personally knocked on 2,000 doors in the district so far, about 300 more than his marker at the same time two years ago, Ryan Linares shared with the group of 13 volunteers.

“What we have learned is that the people of this district are well in-tune with what is happening in Hartford.  When the Senator meets constituents at the doors they have concerns and the Senator has answers” he said.

“Senator Linares is working hard seven days a week on this campaign, attending events throughout the district, knocking on doors and listening to the people about issues that are important to them,” he concluded. “We have one of the hardest working senators in the state and one of the hardest working candidate, and that should be motivation for all of us.”

The volunteers attending the orientation represented all 12 towns within the 33rd Senatorial District. Anyone else interested in volunteering can send an e-mail to senatorlinaresmanager@ gmail.com.

State Police Apprehend Suspect in Saturday Essex Bank Robbery

ESSEX— State troopers quickly apprehended a suspect Saturday morning minutes after he allegedly robbed the Bank of America branch at the Bokum Center Shopping Plaza. Joshua Green, 33, of Niantic, was arrested on Route 153 (Plains Road) soon after the robbery was reported around 10 a.m. Saturday.

Green was northbound approaching the Route 9 exit 3 interchange when the Subaru station wagon he was driving was stopped by two troopers. He was arrested and charged with third degree robbery, first degree larceny, and operating a motor vehicle without a license. Police report a “large amount of stolen currency,” was recovered from the vehicle. Green was held over the weekend at the Troop F barracks in Westbrook for arrangement Monday at Middletown Superior Court.

2014 Women of Fire Named

Lynn Giroux, named as a 2014 Woman of FIRE

Lynn Giroux, named as a 2014 Woman of FIRE

ESSEX– Lynn Giroux of Essex Savings Bank has been named a 2014 Woman of FIRE by The Commercial Record. Women of FIRE is an annual award that recognizes the key, female players in the local FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) sector.  The annual Women of FIRE award celebrates the best and the brightest women in the industry.

“We searched for the best of the best – those women who are making a difference through innovation, hard work, team-building, philanthropy, mentoring or leadership – and these women demonstrate these exemplary qualities,” said Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of The Warren Group, publisher of The Commercial Record.

Lynn is a Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Essex Savings Bank responsible for Deposit Service Operations,Branch Administration, Compliance, Human Resources and Facilities Management along with numerous other duties.  She also makes time to serve our community on the Board of Camp Hazen YMCA, is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, and is an ambassador to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce.

“Lynn has made an outstanding difference at our bank, for our staff and the community. Her positive attitude while balancing multiple disciplines is amazing.  In this year alone, she has handled human resource management – where she has overhauled the Bank’ssalary structure, implemented due diligence procedures for the Bank Secrecy Act, managed the renovation of our Old Saybrook branch, has served as compliance officer with responsibilities for the labyrinth of new regulations for Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the Dodd- Frank Act  and implementation of remote deposit capture andother business banking enhancements all on top of her everyday Branch Administrative duties… She is an inspiration to all of us here at the Bank, well respected in our community – I can think of no one more deserving of this award, “stated Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank.

“I feel overwhelmed and incredibly honored to receive this special award.  More importantly, I am grateful to President Shook and the Board of Directors to have been given the opportunity throughout the years to make a difference and impact the lives of our employees and our customers of Essex Savings Bank in meaningful ways. Finally, although this award is about how we women have made a difference in our field of expertise, what has made a difference in my life has been working with all of the great people that I have come to know over the years both professionally and personally and receiving the support that my family has always provided to me.”

Lynn was one of 13 women named this year’s Women of FIRE.

About the Women of FIRE awards

The Commercial Record is shining a light on the female innovators who are making a significant impact on the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) industries. There is a growing amount of women who are paving the way in what was once a male-dominated sector, and as more and more women rise to the top of these industries, their achievements should be illuminated, acknowledging them and inspiring others.

Nominees must be women employed in Connecticut by any business or institution facilitating transactions for finance, insurance or real estate at any level.

The awards luncheon will be held at The Hartford Club on August 20th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Commissioner Evonne M. Klein will give the keynote speech. The Commercial Record will be running profiles of each woman in a special section in the August issue.

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

Essex Capital Projects Could Total Over $6 Million

ESSEX— The board of selectmen is expected to receive a report in August detailing capital projects that could total over $6 million. The report is expected to set the stage for community debate on a bonding authorization resolution that could go to town voters before the end of the year.

Selectman Bruce Glowac said this week the five-member advisory capital projects committee is working to complete a final report for submission to the board of selectmen at its Aug 19 meeting, Glowac, a Republican and former first selectman, has chaired the capital projects committee since he assumed the minority party seat on the board of selectmen last November.

Glowac said the report would include specific cost estimates for each project. “We hope to have some pretty firm numbers to go forward with the various projects,” he said. But Glowac stressed the list of projects is subject to change as it is reviewed by the board of selectmen and board of finance in September. “We have not settled on any amounts yet,” he said.

Glowac said the top priority projects are replacement of most of the roof at Essex Elementary School, and replacement of town bridges on Ivory Street and Walnut Street in the Ivoryton section. Glowac said projects related to the elementary school and the two bridge projects would be eligible for state and federal grants that would reduce the final expense for the town.

Essex Elementary School: New Roof: a High Priority Capital Project

Essex Elementary School: New Roof: a High Priority Capital Project (photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson).

Glowac said the preliminary list includes other improvements at the elementary school, which was built in 1952 and last renovated and expanded in 2006. The possible improvements include air conditioning for a building that is now used year-round, repaving of the school driveway and some parking areas, and improvements to the school media center.

The library/media center was relocated to a former gymnasium after a renovation in the 1990s, but the floor under the media center contains final pockets of potentially hazardous asbestos material. Glowac said the asbestos must be removed before any other possible improvements to the media center are considered.

The list also includes improvements at town hall, including roof replacement, air conditioning, new energy efficient windows, and an upgraded fire and security alarm system. The town hall, built in 1892 as the former Pratt High School, has had some renovations in recent years. The list could also include improvements at the town public works garage located off Route 154, which was first constructed in the early 1990s. The building also needs roof replacement, along with an upgrade of the heating system.

Glowac said an initial cost estimate for the total list of projects came in at $6.5 million, a figure that could be reduced by $2-$3 million in state and federal grant funds. He added that some projects on the preliminary list could be removed from the final list of proposed projects that would be presented to town residents at a public hearing this fall. Glowac said it is too soon to predict when a bonding authorization resolution to fund capital projects would be presented to town voters for approval in a referendum.

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts Becomes Sixth College of University of New Haven

The Chandler Academic Center at Lyme Academy College

The Chandler Academic Center at Lyme Academy College

The University of New Haven announced Thursday that it has finalized its affiliation with Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, making the fine arts school in Old Lyme the university’s sixth college.

“This a historic event, and we look forward to providing outstanding educational opportunities to generations of aspiring artists,” said University of New Haven President Steven H. Kaplan. “The affiliation of our two institutions will raise the stature of fine arts education in the Northeast while providing expanded benefits, services and opportunities to students, faculty and alumni at both the University of New Haven and Lyme Academy College. We also intend to expand the outreach efforts at Lyme Academy College to benefit local residents and, in fact, all Connecticut residents.”

The Board of Governors of the University of New Haven and the Board of Trustees at Lyme Academy College approved the affiliation in early April. The Connecticut Office of Higher Education and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges also approved the affiliation. Since that time, both institutions have worked to merge their student services, faculty units and other support and operating systems. Those integrations will continue through the upcoming academic year.

Todd Jokl, associate professor and past chair of the UNH Department of Art and Design, will serve as the campus dean at Lyme Academy College. Jokl will be based at the College in Old Lyme. Jokl received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Connecticut.

“I envision great things happening in the months and years ahead,” Kaplan said. “We will work closely with Lyme Academy College to create a top-tier fine arts education program.”

The affiliation presents many advantages to both institutions. Lyme Academy College will benefit from the operational breadth and depth of the University of New Haven, gaining access to an expanded range of liberal arts courses and complementary UNH art programs, such as design and digital media. The University of New Haven also offers study-abroad opportunities at its campus in Tuscany, Italy, where Lyme Academy College students can attend classes. Lyme Academy College students also will gain access to the university’s broad liberal arts program and new learning opportunities.

Administrators have said that little will change regarding the student experience at Lyme Academy College. The small classes will be retained, and students will continue to be provided the hands-on experiences and the opportunity to become immersed in figurative and representational art. But through the affiliation, students will be provided access to more courses, technologies and academic initiatives that will strengthen their educational experience.

The University of New Haven will add Lyme Academy College’s high-quality Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) program to its curriculum, making it possible for UNH students to study painting, sculpture, drawing and illustration. The university does not currently offer a B.F.A.

“Our university is known for the unique experiential programs it offers to students,” Kaplan said. “The program at Lyme Academy College fits in well with our rapidly expanding offerings at our main campus in West Haven, our new campus in Orange, and our international program in Italy.

“We are determined to protect and preserve the mission of Lyme Academy College, retaining the unique qualities that appeal to students seeking an arts degree in an idyllic, rural setting that nurtures creativity,” he added.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. The university has 80 degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Founded in 1920, the university enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts is nationally known for its academic tradition of figurative and representational fine art that prepares students for a lifetime of contemporary creative practice. The college offers bachelor of fine arts degrees in drawing, illustration, painting, and sculpture (full- and part-time study); certificates in painting and sculpture, a post-baccalaureate program; continuing education for adults; and a pre-college program for students aged 15-18.

Sen. Art Linares Renews Call for Hearings to Address Child Tragedies

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

HARTFORD – In light of the tragic and unsettling Child Fatality Review Report, released yesterday by the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), State Senator Art Linares (R-Westbrook) is renewing his call for a public hearing to review the recent child fatalities involving children under the care of the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

“This report gives us a closer look into the horrible accounts of child deaths connected to families involved with DCF. The sad and eye opening report also recommends annual public hearings on these fatalities.”

The report identified 24 infant and toddler deaths among families with DCF involvement. The review also discusses recommendations to prevent future fatalities, including a recommendation to hold an annual public hearing on child fatalities along with a focused discussion on infant-toddler deaths.

“A public hearing is needed to improve transparency and open the dialogue between DCF, lawmakers, child advocates and community members. We need to not only recognize the problems, but we must also work together to determine the cause of any system weaknesses and identify the appropriate actions to prevent future tragedies.”

In a letter to the co-chairs of the Children’s Committee Linares again urged the committee to schedule a public hearing considering the report results.

“Everyone needs to have a seat at the table when it comes to the safety of children. Legislators need to understand the short and long term needs of caseworkers and child advocacy officials. Caseworkers need to understand what policies would most benefit families. A hearing would allow us to better understand what is being done and what still needs to be done to put an end to these serious and devastating events,” said Linares.

State Senator Art Linares represents the 33rd senatorial district comprised of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland & Westbrook. He serves as Ranking Member of the Committee on Children.

Page Taft and Rachel Thomas Real Estate Merge

Page Taft Real Estate announced Wednesday that the company has merged its Essex, Conn., office with Rachel Thomas Real Estate. The Essex office of Page Taft~Christie’s International Real Estate will now be located in the former Rachel Thomas location at 5 Essex Square. The office will be home to 23 agents specializing in shoreline and Connecticut River Valley properties.
“We’re very pleased about our merger with Page Taft~Christie’s. Our agents are of like minds and both believe in the importance of fantastic customer service. By joining with an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate and one of the strongest companies in our marketplace, we are able to double the resources and services that we offer our clients,” said Maureen O’Grady, co-owner of Rachel Thomas Real Estate.
Rachel Thomas Real Estate has served Essex and surrounding communities under the expert guidance of Maureen and John O’Grady since 2000. During that time, the company has become a force in the luxury real estate market and was selected by Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate to be the exclusive “Regent” affiliate for the greater Essex area.
“I’m delighted to have a quality company like Rachel Thomas join forces with Page Taft. This strategic alliance will increase our presence in the communities we serve, from Branford to Old Lyme,” said Karen Stephens, Broker and Executive Vice-President of Page Taft.
Since opening its doors in 1980, Page Taft has earned an exemplary reputation in the Connecticut shoreline real estate market, earning a 96 percent customer satisfaction rating from the Real Living Premiere Service customer satisfaction survey. The agency is part of the Randall Family of Companies which also includes Randall, REALTORS in Rhode Island and Connecticut, Kinlin Grover on Cape Cod and Pequot Commercial in Connecticut.
“We’re excited about joining the experience and resources of Page Taft and Rachel Thomas,” commented Douglas Randall, CEO of the Randall Family of Companies. “I think it will be hard to find a more knowledgeable team of real estate professionals if you’re looking for a property along the Connecticut shore.”
Information about the Randall Family of Companies, their affiliates and the southern New England market area can be found on http://www.coastalnewenglandliving.com.

Nature Conservancy Begins Fish Passage Project on Falls River in Essex

ESSEX, CT—Work has started along the Falls River on a fishway that will benefit such migratory fish as alewife and blueback herring, as well as migrating American eel and other resident fish.

The work at the privately owned Tiley-Pratt dam will open the way for fish to access an additional 2.5 miles of river, as well as a half-acre pond above the dam. Located at a former mill site, the dam has a stone-wall lined channel that will be modified with a rocky ramp and four stone weirs. Falls River is part of the Connecticut River system.

Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection staff is assisting with construction.  The Essex Land Trust and the dam’s owner are also providing financial and other support for the project, which is expected to be completed during August.

“Connecticut streams are riddled with small dams that have big impacts.  Reconnecting rivers by removing dams and building fishways improves river health by increasing species diversity and providing fish access to more and varied habitat.” said Sally Harold, director river restoration and fish passage for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut.

The Conservancy is working with the Essex Land Trust to develop and install an educational sign describing fish passage and river restoration strategies at the land trust’s nearby Tiley-Pratt Preserve.

“The east bank of Tiley-Pratt Pond is one of six Essex Land Trust preserves which border the Falls River, the ecological and historical lifeline linking together the villages of Essex,” said Bob Nussbaum, past president and current vice president, of the Essex Land Trust, which also has committed $2,000 towards the gravel to be used in constructing the fishway. “We are very excited to participate in this project to improve the river habitat and restore connectivity for migratory river species.”

The Tiley-Pratt dam project also is supported by an $85,000 grant award from The National Fish and Wildlife Foundations’ Long Island Sound Futures Fund.

Portions of the Long Island Sound Futures Fund grant also will support work at Coleytown dam on the Aspetuck River in Westport and a dam on Beaver Lake in Oyster Bay, Long Island. The grant required a Conservancy match of almost $60,000, secured through donor support and in-kind contributions.

New Bids to be Opened August 28 for Deep River Sewer Expansion project

DEEP RIVER— A second round of bids will be opened Aug. 28 for the town’s sewer expansion project after the bids opened in June came in higher than the $4 million in available funding for the project.

All of the six bids opened last month were over the funding authorization that was approved by voters at a May 2013 town meeting. The lowest bid, from Baltazar Contractors Inc., of Ludlow, Mass., was $4,828,958for a base bid and $5,507,658 for a price with all construction alternates. The project, which would extend the town sewer system to about 120 properties on and around River St. and Kirtland St., is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant of $1.2 million and a $2.8 million 40-year loan.

First Selectman Richard Smith said this week funding for the project can not be increased, leading engineers to publish the latest bid documents without seven residential properties on River Lane. An alternate would include River Lane, while a third alternate would include a new pump station in the vicinity of the Putnam Park apartments.

Smith said two of the River Lane properties are new homes with new septic systems, while other dwellings on the street have not had major septic system problems. Smith added that he is hopeful the town can eventually complete the entire project, including River Lane. Smith said he is hopeful construction on the sewer expansion can begin this fall, for completion by October 2015.

Beautiful New Tennis Courts Open in Essex, Part of a Civic Campus Enhancement Project

 Tennis playing couple Julie Burdelski and Alex Bell of Essex on new Essex courts

Tennis playing couple Julie Burdelski and Alex Bell of Essex on new Essex courts

The Town of Essex has two brand new tennis courts, and they are a beauty. The new courts opened officially on July 24 of this year, and they have been well used ever since the day they opened. The new courts are surrounded by a “see through” wire fence, and according to a ranking Essex town official, the new courts were, “Completely rebuilt from below the ground up.”

Building the new courts meant the total excavation of the subsurface of the old courts. Furthermore, in installing the new courts, the very best equipment and materials were used from top to bottom. Also, a new interior drainage system was installed with the new courts. The total cost of the town’s new courts was within the $100,000 original budget allocation, however the new court fencing was funded by the Park & Recreation Sinking Fund.

In addition the new courts have new lighting for night play, costing over $10,000, which paid for by a private donor.

As for the expected life of the new courts, a town official said that, “Asphalt does crack in time.” However, his estimate is that the new courts could have a life span of as much as 15+ years. Throughout this new courts building process this town official stated, “We tried to use the very best materials.”

Tennis Courts Are Part of a New Town Enhancement

The new tennis courts are a component of what is called a, “Civic Campus Enhancement Project,” for the Town of Essex. A state grant of $472,000 funded the majority of the project. In addition to the new tennis courts, the town enhancement project includes a new and already heavily used children’s playground, and a completely resurfaced Town Hall parking lot with new curbing throughout.

Enjoying new playground equipment in Essex

Enjoying new playground equipment in Essex

The new playground and the new parking lot were completed for use in December of 2013. Another component of the project was new crosswalks from the town hall parking lot to the Essex Library, which is just across Grove Street from town hall.

The official grand opening of the entire Essex town enhancement project is slated for September 10, 2014.  A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 5:00pm, followed by a showcase of the playground and tennis courts from 5:30-6:30pm.

Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical Trial Seeks Volunteers, Includes Free Memory Screening

Adults under the age of 90 who have been diagnosed with mild or moderate Alzheimer’s disease, or undiagnosed individuals experiencing noticeable memory loss may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial for Alzheimer’s disease currently being conducted at CCRStudies in New London, Conn. The study will include a free memory screening.

This clinical trial research program, led by Dr. Laurence Radin of Neurological Group, PC in New London, is examining an investigational medication being developed to slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Fellow researchers include Andrea Bartels APRN, and Andrea Stewart APRN.

According to Dr. Radin, “this research will ideally bring us closer to a cure for Alzheimer’s, and will help to give hope to the individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s.” The trial is being sponsored by TauxRx Therapeutics.

More than five million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and there is no cure. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger onset Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, resulting in loss of memory, loss of thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes. “People suffering from memory loss and those around them will tell you how devastating this disease can be,” said Dr. Radin.

CCRStudies is seeking volunteer participants for the current clinicaltrial. Those who become eligible for the trial will receive study related care and psychological testing at no cost. Reimbursement for
time and travel may be available. No insurance is needed to participate in the clinical trial.

For a preliminary phone evaluation, interested individuals can contact CCRStudies at 860-443-4567. Those looking for more information can also visit www.ccrstudies.com.

For further information, contact MaryLou Gannotti, Public Relations and Communications Director for CCRStudies at 860-443-4567, or email marylou@ccrstudies.com.

Ivoryton Village Named to National Register of Historic Places

Rose Brother’s Store and village gathering spot, as it was almost a century ago

Rose Brother’s Store and village gathering spot, as it was almost a century ago

ESSEX— The Village of Ivoryton has been placed on the National Parks Service National Register of Historic Places in recognition of the number of historic structures in the village and it’s role as a “well preserved company town” from the Industrial era of New England.

The town’s planning commission played a key role in the village’s nomination and inclusion on the National Register, which includes hundreds of historic sites and structures in all parts of the United States. The commission established a subcommittee more than three years ago that surveyed and documented nearly 100 historic structures in the three villages of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton with assistance from the State Office of Historic Preservation. The effort was aided by the work of the late former Town Historian Donald Malcarne, who wrote several books about the town’s historic in its historic structures.

Gather  today.  The building is practically unchanged from a century ago when it served as the location of the Rose Brother’s Store (photo by Jody Dole)

Gather today. The building is practically unchanged from a century ago when it served as the location of the Rose Brother’s Store (photo by Jody Dole)

With more then 200 identified “contributing” structures, the National  Register highlights an area roughly bounded by Main St., North Main St., Oak St., Blake St., Summit St. and Comstock Avenue. These streets include many structures tied to the village’s two major industries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the ivory import and manufacturers Comstock, Cheney & Co. and Pratt, Read & Co, Many of the houses in the area were home to immigrants from Germany, Poland, Italy and Sweden that worked in the two ivory processing factories.

Between 1860 and the late 1930s, Ivoryton was a self-sufficient industrial center that was home for more than 600 workers. Both the Ivoryton Library and Ivoryton Playhouse buildings date back to this era.

The addition of Ivoryton village to the National Register represents a tribute to its continuing historic character and contributions to the Industrial Era in New England, but the honorary designation carries no regulatory burden and imposes no obligations on private property owners. There are no restrictions on the use, transfer or disposition of private property, though the designation could open the possibility of funding assistance for restoration of identified historic structures,.

Deep River Zoning Hearing on 444 Main Street Plans Continued to August 21

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission has continued its public hearing on a special permit application for a used motor vehicle dealership at 444 Main St. to an Aug. 21 session. The public hearing, which was briefly opened at a July 17 meeting, was continued because the site plan requires review, and possible permit approval, from the inland-wetlands commission.

Local resident George Bartlett Jr. is seeking approval; for a used motor vehicle dealership at the former manufacturing site located on the west side of Main St. (Route 154) near the town’s southern border. Bartlett’s plans for the property have been the subject of zoning disputes, and two lawsuits, over the past two years. But the lawsuits involving both the commission and the zoning board of appeals could be settled as the commission moves to consider a new application for the property.

Essex lawyer John Bennet, representing Bartlett, requested continuation of the public hearing, citing both the need for an inland wetlands review and the absence of project engineer Donald Carlson. The commission continued the hearing after first reading a letter from Bennet that clarified elements of the application that call for motor vehicle repairs and service on the site.

Bennet advised that the proposed business would not be a full service vehicle repair shop, with any repair work limited to vehicles that are on the property for sale as part of the proposed used vehicle dealership.

The zoning board of appeals on July 8 approved two variances that were required for the new application, along with a location approval for the used motor vehicle dealership that is required under state law. The board approved a variance of a requirement in zoning regulations for a raised island in the paved parking area, and a 20-foot reduction in the 50-foot front yard setback rule to 30-feet. The Aug. 21 hearing on Bartlett’s new application will convene at 7 p.m. in town hall.

“Talking Transportation: Is It Safe To Ride Metro-North?

Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron

It has been seven months since a drowsy engineer drove a speeding Metro-North train off the tracks at Spuyten Duyvil, killing four and injuring 59. Months earlier a derailment and collision near Bridgeport sent 70 to the hospital.

Ever since, the railroad has promised that improving safety is its top priority. So does that mean the railroad is now “safe”?

Aside from taking the word of management, how are we to know? Just because we haven’t had another accident doesn’t mean the railroad is safe. Nobody suspected it was unsafe until those two accidents last year showed us just how dangerous our daily commute had become.

In April this year The Commuter Action Group surveyed 642 commuters and asked them, “Do you feel safe riding Metro-North?” and 56% said yes, 15% said no and 29% said they “weren’t sure”.

Neither am I, but I ride those trains regularly, hoping for the best. And so far, so good. I take the railroad at its word when it says safety is its top priority, but I have no way of telling it that’s true. As Donald Rumsfeld famously said, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

Waiting on a station platform, how can the average commuter look at the tracks, the overhead wires or signals and know that Metro-North is safe? We can’t even see the engineers because they hide in their control booth behind jerry-rigged cardboard curtains ‘lest riders should watch them at work.

Here’s what we do know. The trains are running slower (on-time performance was only 79% in May). And last week we also learned that an entire class of conductor trainees had been dismissed because they were caught cheating on a safety exam. Good for the MTA for catching and disciplining them. But the worry is whether this kind of cheating has been going on for years. Reassuring?

The only way to be sure that Metro-North is safe is better federal oversight by the FRA, the Federal Railroad Administration. That agency still hasn’t issued its final report on the May 2013 derailment… and only fined the railroad $5,000 following a Metro-North trainee’s mistake, which killed one of their own track foremen. As US Senator Richard Blumenthal put it, “The watchdogs were asleep. The FRA has been lax and sluggish.”

That’s why commuters should be reassured that Senator Blumenthal will soon introduce a bill to give the FRA some real teeth: increasing civil penalties for railroad mistakes, strengthening railroad oversight, mandating new safety gear, introduction of a fatigue management plan for personnel, requiring anonymous reporting systems for whistle-blowers, installation of cameras, alerters and redundant safety systems for track workers.

Further, the bill would also require stronger safety standards for crude oil rail-tankers, the “pipelines on wheels” carrying crude oil and petroleum products on US railroads.

The only thing missing? Mandatory transparency. I’d hope that the FRA would be required to explain its oversight and reassure all railroad riders of their safety in a simple, understandable manner. That would make me feel safe.

Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron has been a Darien resident for 23 years. He is the founder of the Commuter Action Group and also serves on the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed in this column are his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

Bjornberg Expresses Concern for Implications of Family Institute’s Support of Linares

 

Emily Bjornberg

Emily Bjornberg

Emily Bjornberg, candidate for the 33rd District State Senate Seat, pledged she will oppose any efforts in Connecticut to limit contraceptive coverage for workers through their employer-provided health plans. 

“The recent decision by the US Supreme Court has serious ramifications on women’s rights and their reproductive health,” Bjornberg said, “The most appalling aspect of this decision is that women who are the victims of sexual assault will be denied coverage to emergency contraceptives.” 

Connecticut law requires fully-insured employee benefit plans to include contraceptive coverage, although certain companies such as Hobby Lobby, a lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, are able to avoid this requirement due to preemption by federal law. 

The Hobby Lobby case has emboldened anti-choice organizations like the Family Institute of Connecticut to seek further legislative changes in states that would provide similar exemptions on what supporters say are religious freedom grounds.

Bjornberg pledged to oppose any efforts to change the law to further limit coverage of contraceptives. 

Her opponent, incumbent State Senator Art Linares, has yet to make any public statements on the issue. Linares did, however, earn the endorsement’s of the Family Institute in 2012 for his support of their issues opposing same-sex marriages and women’s reproductive choices. Family Institute members were seen demonstrating at a Connecticut Hobby Lobby store supporting the Supreme Court decision. 

“As a youth and family ministry director in Deep River I am a strong supporter of religious freedom in our country, but that freedom does not give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others,” Bjornberg added, “The fact my opponent has been silent on this issue yet has been endorsed by an organization that opposes contraceptives even for victims of sexual assault should give every voter in the 33rd district cause for concern.” 

Editor’s Note: Connecticut’s 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.

For more information about Emily Bjornberg, visit www.emily4ct.com.

Sen. Linares Endorsed by Connecticut REALTORS

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

Connecticut REALTORS announced that their association voted to endorse Senator Art Linares’ candidacy for Senate District 33.

The association is Connecticut’s largest trade association representing 15,000 real estate professionals.

“We carefully 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.  We thank you for your commitment to serve,” stated Debra Chamberlain, President, Connecticut REALTORS and Jack Heckman, Government Affairs Director.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the association.  Realtors understand the importance of a strong economy and affordable, predictable property taxes that will attract businesses to Connecticut. Taxes are a deciding factor for people who are looking to become new homeowners,” stated Senator Art Linares.

Connecticut REALTORS was founded in 1920 with a mission to support real estate professionals and maintain the preservation of property rights, while maintaining a strict Code of Conduct.

Essex Selectmen Hear Concerns About Ivoryton Village Parking Issues

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has received an appeal from business owners for renewed town efforts to increase the availability of free public parking in Ivoryton village. Members of the Ivoryton Village Alliance attended the board’s meeting last week to press their appeal for assistance with parking issues.

The group included Elizabeth Alvord, director of the Ivoryton Library, and owners of several businesses, including the Ivoryton Tavern, Blue Hound Restaurant, and Gather, a business located in the former Ivoryton Store building. Alford noted there is currently less than 30 designated free public parking spaces in the village.

Jim Crowell, owner of the Ivoryton Tavern, said businesses in the village have been doing well in recent months, though parking is “the one thing that is holding us back.” Deanna Pinette, owner of Gather, said visitors are confused about where to park,  particularly when there is a show at the Ivoryton Playhouse and the owner of a private lot charges a $5 fee for parking. The lot is owned by Carl Echtman of Deep River.

First Selectman Norman Neeleman said Echtman has shown no interest in selling the lot, dating back to 2006 when the town applied for a state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant to purchase it. The grant was not approved after the town planning commission declined to support the application. “There is no magic bullet when the property in question is private property,” he said. Needleman said he would work with the director of public works and business owners to “make the most out of what we have,” while continuing to explore ways to increase public parking.

Selectman Bruce Glowac said the selectmen understand the importance of the parking situation for business owners, visitors, and residents. “We all hear you loud and clear,” he said.

Deep River Resident Victorious in Vermont Equestrian Competition

Amanda Strain and Carrara 11 won the $10,000 Marimekko Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, on July 17 at the 2014 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont (photo courtesy of David Mullinix Photography)

Amanda Strain and Carrara 11 won the $10,000 Marimekko Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, on July 17 at the 2014 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont (photo courtesy of David Mullinix Photography)

Amanda Strain of Deep River won the $10,000 Marimekko Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, held July 17 at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.

The Vermont Summer Festival hosts six weeks of equestrian competition at Harold Beebe Farm, where some of the country’s best equestrians converge each summer.  Show jumping competitors go head-to-head in the weekly $10,000 Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, over a course of obstacles measuring nearly five feet in height.

The lion’s share of the $10,000 in prize money is awarded to the rider and horse combination that clears both rounds of competition in the fastest time while leaving all the jumps in place.  For her efforts, Strain took home her share of the $10,000 in prize money, in addition to a $1,000 gift card to Marimekko.

Marimekko store manager Elisabeth Hazelton presents Amanda Strain and Carrara 11 as the winners of the $10,000 Marimekko Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets (photo courtesy of David Mullinix Photography).

Marimekko store manager Elisabeth Hazelton presents Amanda Strain and Carrara 11 as the winners of the $10,000 Marimekko Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets (photo courtesy of David Mullinix Photography).

Strain, who operates Lone Wolf Stables in Deep River, won the $10,000 Marimekko Welcome Stake on her horse, Carrara 11, after beating out 23 other challengers.  Eight horse and rider pairs advanced to the second round jump-off, but Strain’s daring inside turn to the second-to-last fence gave her an advantage, and she stopped the timers in 40.44 seconds for the win.

Strain has ridden Carrara 11 for the past two years, and described the mare as one of her favorite horses to ride thanks to her exceptional talent.  “She’s super fun to ride,” said Strain of the eight-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Helen Krieble.  “She doesn’t spook at anything, and she can turn incredibly well.  She’s such a wonderful mare.  She can do anything!”

The Vermont Summer Festival offers a full schedule of equestrian competition through August 10 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.  Competition runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m.  The $10,000 Open Welcome Stake Series, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, is held each Thursday.  The week’s featured event, the Grand Prix, takes place on Saturdays at 1 p.m.

Admission prices are $5 for adults, $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday.  On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children.  100% of the gate proceeds benefit area libraries, including Manchester Community Library.

 

Essex Zoning Board of Appeals Continues Hearing on 33 Plains Road Cease and Desist Order

ESSEX— The zoning board of appeals has continued its public hearing on an appeal of a town cease and desist order for a disputed structure at 33 Plains Road to an August 19 session. The board agreed to continue the hearing after a meeting Tuesday where it received new evidence about a structure that Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow maintains was constructed without permits and is being improperly used as a residential dwelling in the town’s limited industrial zone.

Budrow issued a cease and desist order in January to property owner John Finkeldey after an investigation that began following receipt of a complaint in the summer of 2013. Finkeldey is appealing the order, represented by local lawyer Terrance Lomme, who also serves as the elected judge of probate for the nine-town region.

The hearing began in May, and resumed at a June 17 session where Lomme requested a continuance because a current survey map of the two acre parcel was not completed. Lomme presented the survey map Tuesday, along with letters from a current and former “tenant” in the structure.  The survey map shows three buildings on the parcel, including the house where Finkeldey lives, another structure that is also used as a dwelling, and a third structure on the northwest corner of the property that is the subject of the zoning dispute.

Budrow, in the cease and desist order, maintains this structure was constructed without zoning, building, or health department permits from the town, and is being improperly used as a dwelling because it is located on the limited industrial zone where town zoning regulations prohibit residential dwellings.

Lomme said the letters from tenants support Finkeldey’s claim the structure has been in place for more than three years without enforcement action from the town, making it a legal structure under state law. David Burke reported in his letter that he lived in the structure from 2000-2004, and that it contained running water and plumbing facilities.  Jane Graham reported in a letter that she has lived in the structure since October 2009. Lomme also presented a letter from Finkeldey’s father, Robert Finkeldey of Old Saybrook, maintaining the structure was built in the 1950s, and has had people residing there in subsequent years.

Peter Sipples, attorney for the zoning commission, said the panel maintains the structure can not be used as a dwelling in the limited industrial zone, even if has been in place for more than three years. He said the structure would have to have been used continuously as a dwelling since before 1973, when the town adopted the regulations defining the limited industrial zone, to have legal non-conforming status. Sipples added the town has no records of permits being issued for the structure or any improvements to it.

In continuing the hearing from the June 17 session, the board asked Budrow to provide information on what town tax assessment records show for structures and improvements on the property. Budrow presented a letter from Assessor Jessica Sypher advising that personnel working on the townwide  property revaluation that was completed last year did not fully inspect the property because there were no trespassing signs and no one was home at the time of the inspection visit. The 2013 revaluation was to have included visual inspections of all properties, a process that is required every ten years under state law.

When board members asked to review records of previous revaluations that included inspections of all properties, Lomme agreed to request a continuation of the hearing for the additional research.

Essex Town Meeting Gives Unanimous Approval for $200,000 Contribution to Preserve Land Purchase

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Wednesday gave unanimous approval for a $200,000 appropriation as the town’s contribution for purchase of the 70-acre portion of the Preserve property in Essex. More than 100 residents turned out for the meeting in the town hall auditorium, with a round of applause following approval of the funding on a voice vote without discussion.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the $200,000 would come from an open space acquisition sinking fund available in the current town budget. The town meeting vote ends years of debate about the wooded property that includes the Essex acreage off Ingham Hill Road that had been the subject of a subdivision application  in 2011.

Paul Greenberg with the Essex Land Trust, said the non-profit group is expected to at least match the town contribution for purchase of the portion of the property in Essex. Greenberg said the Trust has applied for a state grant of up to $350,000 that is awarded in October. He said the Trust would also use private fundraising for the purchase.

Old Saybrook voters in a July 8 referendum approved $3 million in bonding for purchase of the much larger 930-acre section of the property in their town. State bond funds will also be used for the total $8 million purchase, which is being coordinated by the non-profit Trust For Public Land. The purchase of the total 1,000-acre property for preservation  as public open space is expected to close by the end of the year.

Greenberg said the Essex section of the property would be owned by the Essex Land Trust,  while the larger Old Saybrook portion would be co-owned by that town and the state. Greenberg said access to the property from Essex would be off Ingham Hill Road, with trails in to the property to be improved for greater public access next year.

Selectman Bruce Glowac, who lives on Ingham Hill Road, spoke for the crowd when he expressed appreciation for the public acquisition of the total property. “We look forward to having 1,000 acres in the town next to us and in our town,” he said.

Ballot News Ranks Connecticut’s 33rd Senate Race One of Most Competitive Statewide

Bjornberg1

Emily Bjornberg, Democratic candidate for the 33rd Senate Seat

Ballotnews.org ranked the most competitive legislative races in Connecticut on their website today, with the 33rd Senate contest ranked as one of the top four.

The ranking comes a day after Emily Bjornberg, the Democratic candidate for the 33rd Senate Seat, was approved by the State Elections Enforcement Commission for a clean elections fund grant ahead of her incumbent opponent Art Linares.

State grants require the candidate to demonstrate significant support behind their campaign, with small contributions required from at least 300 constituents and at least $15,000 raised in the aggregate.

The 33rd Senate contest is one of only four state senate races statewide held by an incumbent to be ranked as competitive on the Ballotnews.org list.   The full list can be found at:  www.ballotnews.org/ state-legislatures/ legislative-lowdown- identifying-competitive- connecticut-elections-in-2014/ 

Connecticut’s 33rd State Senate District includes the communities of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook as well as Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Lyme, Portland and Westbrook.

 

Essex Zoning Commission has Monday Public Hearing on Plains Road Industrial Building Expansion

ESSEX— The zoning commission has a public hearing Monday on a special permit application for an 11,300 square-foot expansion of the Bell Power Systems LLC building at 34 Plains Road. The session begins at 7 p.m. in town hall.
The company, which refurbishes engines to make the equipment more environment-friendly, proposes the addition for the south side of its existing 33,871-square-foot building. The new addition would be used for engine storage. The total size of the building after expansion would be 45,172 square-feet.

The company, which currently has 61 employees, would add a handful of additional employees after the expansion is completed. Any new construction and equipment related to the expansion would add to the town’s grand list of taxable property, which has shown weak growth in recent years.

Deep River Selectmen Pick Three Firms to Build on Town-Owned Industrial Land

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has picked three firms to be offered a chance to build on a town-owned parcel at the Plattwood Park Industrial Area off Route 80. The firms are Winthrop Tool LLC, Top Notch Electrical Services, and  Moyers Landscaping Services LLC.

The firms will be allowed to construct three new industrial buildings as part of an economic development plan endorsed by the selectmen last year. The town purchased a four-acre parcel located off Industrial Park Road from local resident Gary Mislick for $270,000 to be paid in three annual installments. To pay for the acquisition, it used income derived from rentals in two industrial buildings that were constructed using state grant funds in 1997 and 2004.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the town will sponsor construction of a 300-foot road that would open up the parcel for three new industrial buildings. Under preliminary plans, Winthrop Tool LLC would construct a 12,000 square-foot building, Moyers Landscaping a 9,600 square-foot building, with Top Notch Electrical Services to construct a 4,500 square-foot building. Contracts expected to be signed later this summer would require the firms to begin construction within six months. Smith said Monday all three firms are ready to begin construction this year.

Under the contracts, the town will receive property tax revenue for the land, even though it is the land owner, and all buildings, equipment, and machinery on the parcel. Each of the three firms is already involved in the Plattwood Park Industrial Area, with Winthrop Tool and Top Notch Electrical Services currently leasing space in the two existing town owned buildings. Smith said the two firms have “maxed out,” in their rental space and are looking to expand. Moyers Landscaping Services owns an abutting parcel that contains a 12,000 square-foot building.

Smith said new buildings for Winthrop Tool and Top Notch Electrical Services would free up space in the two town owned buildings for new tenants. Smith said the board of selectmen next year would consider selling the two existing buildings, with income from the sale to be placed in a separate fund for future economic development efforts.

100 Pink Flamingos Spotted in Chester!

Flamingos arrive in a 1970 Ford pickup truck

Flamingos arrive in a 1970 Ford pickup truck

On July 13th, during the much loved Chester Sunday Market, pink flamingos converged on the lawn at 4 Water Street in front of a brand new storefront: lark!  Rumor has it that scouts were sent in on Saturday, and the rest arrived Sunday by way of a 1970 pickup truck.

At lark! you will find an ever changing array of hand crafted gifts and unique accessories.  Visit Chester!  Visit Lark!  Experience Chester Sunday Market!  (Through October 15)

Saybrook Point Inn & Spa Donates $25,000 to The Preserve

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, Old SAybrook.

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, Old Saybrook.

OLD SAYBROOK –– The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, through the Louis F. and Mary A. Tagliatela Family Foundation, has donated $25,000 to “The Preserve,” a swath of 1,000 acres of coastal forest along the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, Connecticut.  As the largest unprotected coastal forest between New York and Boston, this land is rich in natural resources, wildlife and habitat that not only offers residents with outdoor recreational opportunities, but also provides an important coastal buffer against storm waters during natural disasters.  Residents of Connecticut treasure this 1,000-acre coastal forest as a place to connect with nature close to home. Known locally as The Preserve, the woodland plays an important role in maintaining water quality in Trout Brook and the Oyster and Mud rivers, which feed into the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. The partnership to preserve and protect this natural ecosystem in Connecticut consists of the State of Connecticut, neighboring towns (Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook), and The Trust for Public Land.

“On behalf of my family, we are proud to be able to preserve and protect one of Connecticut’s most sacred ecosystems for generations to come,” said Stephen Tagliatela, Innkeeper/Managing Partner, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa. “It’s always been a founding principle of our family to care and maintain the environment we live in. It’s through our efforts, in cooperation with the Trust for Public Land, Town of Old Saybrook, and Essex Land Trust, that we will conserve this important coastal forest to forever as a natural asset for our region and our state.”

On Tuesday, July 8th, voters in Old Saybrook overwhelmingly approved the purchase of “The Preserve,” which will now be protected in perpetuity as open space for Connecticut residents for generations to come. As the largest unprotected coastal forest between New York City and Boston, this 1,000-acre ecosystem will be permanently protected from future development. It will connect to 500 acres of existing town parkland providing expanded opportunities for hiking and viewing a variety of birds and other wildlife.

“We are very grateful that the Tagliatela family has made this very generous gift to support the Campaign to Protect the 1,000 Acre Forest,” said Kate Brown, Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land. “This is a wonderful boost that will help us move closer to the fundraising goal and permanent protection of the land.”

The Louis F. and Mary A. Tagliatela Foundation was established in 1997 by North Haven business leader Louis F. Tagliatela. Over the years, the Foundation has donated more than $9 million to support local non-profit organizations including hospitals, schools and churches. In addition, the organization helped establish the Tagliatela School of Engineering at the University of New Haven and the Tagliatela School of Business at Albertus Magnus College.

The Preserve is a 1,000-acre coastal forest located in Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook, Connecticut. It is the largest unprotected coastal forest remaining between New York City and Boston. The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles. Bobcats and fisher cats have also been spotted on the property.  The land includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, headwaters of the Oyster River, and tributaries of the Mud and Trout Brook Rivers. These rivers eventually flow into Long Island Sound.

The property has a fifteen-year history of development proposals, foreclosure, and lawsuits by neighbors and conservationists opposing its development. The land is currently owned by Lehman Brothers Holdings, the holding company that emerged from the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. The holding company has agreed to sell the property to The Trust for Public Land for its fair market value of $8.09 million. If protected, this highly unusual intact coastal forest will be preserved and the public will have passive recreational access to the property via trails.

The Trust for Public Land is working in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environ-mental Protection, the Towns of Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook, the Old Saybrook Land Trust, the Essex Land Trust, The Connecticut Fund for the Environment, the Alliance for Sound Area Planning, Audubon Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy, and others to raise the funding necessary to protect The Preserve. The goal of the fundraising effort is to raise $10 million to cover the purchase price, costs and stewardship. We expect to raise $3 million via a private fundraising campaign, to supplement $7 million in public funding.

Since it opened 25 years ago, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa has adapted and changed. It has taken a decidedly green direction, win­ning numerous awards for its often best-in-class green practices, including the first Connecticut inn to be named a Certified Energy Hotel in 2007. The Inn now features SANNO, a full service European spa, as well as Fresh Salt, a restaurant designed by Peter Niemitz that opened to strong reviews in 2011.  The property employs more than 260 hospitality professionals in the town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, and is among the town’s top employers and economic engines.

Saybrook Point Inn & Spa recently opened its new Three Stories guesthouse adjacent to the main Inn. Thiscompletely renovated Italianate home overlooking Long Island Sound was originally built in 1892 as a single-family home for the prominent engineer William Vars. The property has been fully refurbished and revitalized as a seven-room guesthouse with wrap around porches and private gardens, making it the perfect retreat for couples, families and friends to reconnect, rejoice and create lasting memories and experiences. Each individually designed room features a pri­vate balcony, fireplace, fine linens, heated bathroom floors, multiple showerheads, extensive water views, and original artwork by local artists. As a testament to its rich history, each room at Three Stories tells the story of a famed local resident who made sure that the history of the community was well preserved. This includes Katharine Hepburn’s mother, who was a co-founder of Planned Parenthood and leading suffragette, and Anna Louise James, who had the distinction of being one of the first African-American female pharmacists in America and ran the James Pharmacy locally.

About Saybrook Point Inn & Spa

Situated along the picturesque coastal community of historic Old Saybrook, Connecticut in the hamlet of Saybrook Point, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa features 82 elegantly appointed guestrooms, a rejuvenating full-service spa called SANNO, and a casual fine dining restaurant named Fresh Salt. Luxurious spa amenities include 11 treatment rooms, and diverse menu of services including massages, facials, body wraps, manicures and pedicures. SANNO is a latin word meaning to make sound or to heal. The goal at SANNO is to help guests be well, look well, feel well, and eat well. Fresh Salt diners savor fresh, seasonal and local cuisine served in Old Saybrook’s most spectacular setting – the spot where the fresh waters of the Connecticut River meet the salt of Long Island Sound. It’s a treasured and historic place, rich in life, and the restaurant reflects that lively diversity. The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa also features the historic Saybrook Point Marina, a landmark yachting dock conveniently located at the mouth of the Connecticut River with easy access to Long Island Sound. The marina is Connecticut’s first designated Clean Marina, featuring friendly concierge service, award-winning onsite cuisine, AAA Four Diamond accommodations, an indulgent spa, and a community-based member-driven health club. It can accommodate vessels from 12 to 200 feet and has received numerous premier Connecticut marina awards. More information is available at www.saybrook.com.

About the Trust for Public Land

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at www.tpl.org.

 

Camp Claire Receives Donation Of Automated External Defibrillator Machine

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Surrounded by Camp Claire campers, Russell Sage, center, Michael Sage’s father and Director of the MVSDF, stands with James P. Berryman (left in blue shirt), a Director at Suisman Shapiro, which is a major sponsor of MVSDF, after the presentation of an AED to Camp Claire’s Director, Beth Owen-Mishou.

Representatives of the Michael Vincent Sage Dragonheart Foundation, Inc. (MVSDF) donated a new automated external defibrillator (AED) machine to Camp Claire last Thursday, July 10, at a group meeting for staff and campers.

An AED is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. The shock can stop an irregular rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume in a heart that is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of cardiac related death in the United States; it strikes without warning, and if not treated within minutes, quickly leads to death.

There are 1,900 to 14,200 cases of out-of-hospital SCA in children each year. Early defibrillation with an AED and CPR can more than double chances of survival. The American Heart Association estimates that 20,000 to 100,000 Sudden Cardiac Arrest deaths could be prevented if defibrillation was readily available.

The MVSDF was established in memory of Michael Vincent Sage, who died on February 5, 2010 at the age of 29 from a sudden cardiac arrhythmia (SCA). He was active in sports for most of his life and never exhibited any of the warning signs associated with SCA, such as episodes of dizziness, fainting, or seizures. He arrived at work at the New London offices of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law on a beautiful February morning, had a cup of coffee with his colleagues, then collapsed and died.

People on the scene attempted to revive Michael using CPR, but there was no AED available, and by the time the paramedics arrived, Michael could not be saved. In a matter of moments, Michael was gone.

The mission of the MVSDF is to raise awareness and support research into the early diagnosis and prevention of sudden cardiac arrest, including bystander awareness education, CPR training, and availability of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools, athletic facilities, and other public forums.

Camp Claire, a summer camp for children aged 7-14 located in Lyme, Conn., applied to the MVSDF for the donation of an AED defibrillator machine and was selected by the Board of Directors to receive the gift. Organizations must meet various criteria including the required number of CPR-trained employees; the number of persons served and their age groups; current AED status; and overall worthiness/need of the organization.

The cost of an AED defibrillator machine ranges from $1,000 to $2,500. The MVSDF has donated more than 30 machines to organizations in Connecticut over the last two years.

The mission of Camp Claire is to provide a natural community environment that encourages curiosity and creativity, and increases self-esteem, while providing a lifetime of memories that prepares children for an active place in a multicultural society. The camp began as a conference retreat for members of the First Congregational Church of Meriden in 1916. It incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1954, and relies on the support of alumni and friends to continue its mission of providing children with an enriching and memorable camping experience.

Major sponsors of the Michael Vincent Sage Dragonheart Foundation include Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law (New London), Defibtech, Inc. (Guilford, CT), The Survival Group (North Haven, CT), and The Ralph L. Rossi Foundation (Hamden, CT).

For more information about the MVSDF, visit the Foundation’s website at www.defibandlive.org

To learn more about Camp Claire, visit www.campclaire.org .

Linares Two Months Ahead of 2012 Donation Level

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Senator Art Linares, 33rd District

WESTBROOK — 33rd District Senator Art Linares’ Re-election Campaign has announced that the campaign is two months ahead of their fundraising goal from two years ago. The campaign said that they are very encouraged by the number of new donors.

In addition, they are pleased that previous donors have also returned. “The fact  that we have the funds this early  to meet our matching fund obligation is very encouraging news going into the middle of the summer season when fundraising is always  more difficult,” said campaign manager Ryan Linares, who is also the Senator’s brother .

The campaign is still working on inputting the information of the 400 individuals who have so far donated to the campaign, 300 are required to meet their matching fund obligation. Senator Linares’ campaign manager added, “What is most interesting about all of this is Senator Linares did not raise money in the traditional way by having fundraisers. Instead, he personally appealed to people in the district. Most of the donations have come from an e-mail and letter request campaign done in April and in the last 72 hours. The Senator’s schedule has been booked with public events in the district.  This has raised the Senator’s profile, which has also helped with the donations,” Ryan Linares added.

He also said, “Donations are always a good sign of support from people and so far this year people have been donating with letters thanking him for the work he is doing and for representing them in Hartford. The Senator is well in tune with the values of the district and the people see him as a person who listens without regard to political affiliation.  Let there be no doubt that Senator Linares plans to campaign just as hard, if not harder, than he did in 2012 when he became the youngest sitting Senator.  The Senator is not interested in what his opponents are saying. His interest is with the needs of the people in the district.”

Master Plan Suggests Library Site for Chester’s North Quarter Park

Chester Library Is Considering an Expansion

Chester Library Is Considering an Expansion (photo by Jerome Wilson)

CHESTER— A proposed master plan has identified a potential site for a new library and other possible improvements for the town’s North Quarter Park. The plan recommended by the town’s North Quarter Park committee was presented to about 25 residents at a public information meeting Wednesday.

The plan for the 22-acre park on the eastern end of Main Street was prepared over the past eight weeks by landscape architects Richter & Cegan Inc. of Avon. A key component of the plan suggests locating a two-story, 8,000-square foot library on the front section of the parcel, with the main entrance from a proposed 50 space parking area in back of the building.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the plan would help guide the efforts of a separate library building committee that is currently working to develop preliminary plans for a new library building in time to meet an August 29 deadline for submitting an application for a state library construction grant of up to $1 million. “The committees are working together to do sufficient work to be positioned well for the grant application,” he said. The library building committee has recommended hiring LLB Architects (Lerner, Lads & Bartells) of Pawtucket, R.I. to prepare preliminary design plans for the library building.

Landscape architect Mike Cegan outlined other possible improvements for the park, including a pavilion and lawn area, a multi-purpose improved recreation field and trails that would provide access to the northern section of the park that has views of tidal wetlands and Chester Creek. The existing children’s playground would be relocated, with the site of the former community center building that has frontage on Route 154 recommended as the location for a parks and recreation storage shed. There would be no improvements in wetlands areas.

The proposed master plan drew a generally positive response from residents at the meeting, though two residents continued to question the decision made earlier this year by the board of selectmen and library board of trustees to abandon plans for a renovation and expansion of the existing 1907 library building on West Main Street (Route 148).

Joe Cohen contended there are “too many moving parts” to the library/park project and a separate plan to reconstruct a section of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 to the entrance of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. Cohen also questioned the total cost of the library project and possible park improvements.

Meehan said securing the state grant that is awarded in November would be a major step in lining up funding for construction of a new library, though a bonding authorization would also be required to pay for construction of the new building. Meehan said the town could pursue completion of other improvements at the park “over time” by setting aside funds in the annual town budget’s capital improvements plan, and seeking other grant funding.

Old Saybrook Gives Overwhelming Approval for $3 Million Preserve Land Purchase

Polling taking place at the Old Saybrook High School (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Polling taking place at the Old Saybrook High School (photo by Jerome Wilson)

OLD SAYBROOK— Voters Tuesday gave overwhelming approval for $3 million in bonding for the town’s share of a planned $8 million purchase of the Preserve property, described as the “1,000 acre forest.” The bonding for the 930 acres located in Old Saybrook was approved on a 2,002-242 vote in an eight-hour referendum.

About 20 percent of the town’s 7,361 registered voters turned out for the referendum, with 115 property owners who are not registered voters in Old Saybrook also casting ballots. The bonding approval is the key element in a combination of funding sources that is expected to lead to a closing on the property by the end of the year.

First Selectman Carl Fortuna said he was not surprised by the huge margin of support. “This has been a generational issue in this town and it’s finally being put to bed,” Fortuna said, adding that he was aware of no organized opposition to the bonding authorization while “there was certainly organized support.”

The parcel, which includes 70 acres in Essex and four acres in Westbrook, is located off Bokum Road and Ingham Hill Road in Old Saybrook and Ingham Hill Road in Essex. The property had been the subject of development proposals dating back to 1999 that once called for over 200 homes and a golf course. It is currently owned by River Sound Development/Lehman Brothers, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers setting the stage for negotiations that led to a purchase plan earlier this year. The purchase negotiations were coordinated by the non-profit Trust For Public Land.

Along with the Old Saybrook contribution, the plan calls for about $3.3 million in state funding and about $1.9 million from the Trust For Public Land. Essex voters will be asked at a July 16 town meeting to approve a $200,000 town funding contribution, with the Essex Land Conservation Trust also contributing through private fund raising. The Essex town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m.at town hall.

Fortuna said the acreage in Old Saybrook would be co-owned by the town and the state. The Essex Land Conservation Trust will own the section of the property in Essex. Fortuna said trails through the vast property should be improved and ready for public use by the summer of 2015.

Supporters of the referendum near the polling station (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Supporters of the referendum near the polling station (photo by Jerome Wilson)

 

Blumenthal Urges “Yes” Vote for $3 Million Towards Purchase of ‘The Preserve’

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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at July 7 rally for a “yes vote” at July 8 referendum

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal came to the Old Saybrook Green on Monday, July 7, to urge Old Saybrook voters to vote “Yes” in a referendum to grant $3 million of town monies to help purchase 930 undeveloped acres in the open land known as The Preserve. The referendum for Old Saybrook voters will be held on Tuesday, July 8, at the Old Saybrook High School gymnasium, and the polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

Other public officials urging a “Yes” vote on the July 8 town referendum were: Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, State Representative Phil Miller; and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna said in his prepared remarks, “This property has been at the center of attention, good and bad, for 20 years. It is now time for resolution. We are optimistic that enough private and public funds can be raised to purchase the property and preserve The Preserve in its natural state. The Town will work cooperatively with all parties in this effort, including DEEP. Most importantly, I will work for and listen to Old Saybrook’s residents as they decide the future of this parcel.”

State Representative Miller said in his prepared remarks, “We’re grateful to the citizens of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, and our allies, the Trust for Public Land, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Governor Malloy, Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, Congressman Courtney, First Selectmen Fortuna and Needleman and the Connecticut legislature. A thousand acres forever preserved. What a rightful thing.”

Essex First Selectman Urges “Yes Vote”

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said in his prepared remarks, “Over in Essex, we’re excited about the proposition for acquiring this majestic property. Essex will hold a public hearing and town meeting to approve a $200,000 appropriation for the purchase on July 16 and look forward to joining our neighbors in Old Saybrook in support of this wonderful project.”

The Essex town meeting to consider approval of the town’s $200,000 appropriation to The Preserve’s acquisition will be held at 6:45 p.m. on July 16 at Essex Town Hall.

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Senator Blumenthal takes time to chat with Democratic State Senate candidate, Emily Bjornberg, at referendum rally

Other Supporters of Acquisition

Other remarks for the occasion were offered by Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, who said, “Coming off July Fourth weekend, this is an exciting time for Old Saybrook to exercise their patriotic rights and vote to protect this important piece of land here in town.”

Also, Alicia Sullivan, Connecticut State Director of the Trust for Public Land said, “We commend Governor Malloy and the General Assembly for the state’s early funding commitment to this significant landscape. Also, we are grateful to Senator Blumenthal and our congressional delegation for supporting federal conservation programs that the state will use for this acquisition.”

An audience of some 30 to 40 persons attended the pre-vote July 7 rally.

TriTown Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition to Take Part in National Conference

Health advocates from the Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (SAPC) will join more than 1,700 substance abuse prevention specialists from across the country at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s (CADCA) 2014 Mid-Year Training Institute in Orlando, Fla., from July 20-24. The week-long training will take place at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Hotel.

CADCA’s Mid-Year Training Institute—a one-of-a-kind intensive training opportunity—will offer more than 70 half-day and two-day courses geared towards helping participants find solutions to their community’s toughest substance use/abuse concerns. Attendees will participate in a variety of lecture and hands-on sessions to expand their knowledge in prevention science and improve their skills in implementing evidence-based strategies to reduce drug and alcohol use.

The conference will feature renowned experts in the field of substance abuse prevention and will cover a wide range of topics – everything from how to prevent prescription drug abuse and the abuse of synthetic drugs to how to create tobacco-free environments, reduce impaired driving and develop policies to reduce marijuana use and underage drinking. SAPC and other community members attending this Mid-Year Training Institute include Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith, Deep River Resident Trooper Dawn Taylor, Deep River Constable Pete Lewis, Gina Sopneski, Dave Fitzgibbons, Claire Walsh, Gail Onofrio and Cate Bourke.

Tri-Town Youth Services and the SAPC offer programs and services to support the positive growth and development of youth and families in Chester, Deep River and Essex. Through education, counseling, youth development programs and prevention activities, Tri-Town serves to help community members of all ages thrive. For more information on the conference, Tri-Town Youth Services or the SAPC, see www.tritownys.org or call 860-526-3600.

New Application for 444 Main Street Requires Variances from Deep River Zoning Board

DEEP RIVER— The new special permit application to allow a used motor vehicle dealership at 444 Main Street will require approval of variances from the zoning board of appeals before it can proceed to a scheduled July 17 public hearing before the planning and zoning commission. A public hearing on the variance requests is scheduled for July 8 at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

Local resident George Bartlett Jr. is seeking approvals for a used motor vehicle sales and service operation at the site of the former manufacturing building he purchased in 2012. The effort has led to two years of zoning disputes, and two lawsuits involving the planning and zoning commission and the ZBA.

An initial proposal in June 2012 led to a lawsuit with the ZBA that is now headed for a settlement to clarify exactly what variances the board approved after a June 19, 2012 public hearing.   The planning and zoning commission in May approved revised regulations governing motor vehicle dealerships and gasoline stations that eliminated one of the issues that forced Bartlett to apply for a variance in 2012, a requirement  that such uses have at least 150-feet of road frontage in the turnpike industrial zone.

But Bartlett, represented by Essex lawyer John Bennet, objected, and later filed a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court challenging the zoning amendments approved by the commission on May 15. Bennet contends two other amendments that were approved, requiring that entrances be at least 30-feet wide with a 30-foot setback from adjoining lot lines and for paving of areas where vehicles are stored, would make it “virtually impossible” for Bartlett to develop the property as a motor vehicle dealership. Bennet also alleges in the lawsuit that commission members are prejudiced against Bartlett and his plans for the property.

But Bartlett has also filed a new special permit application for the vehicle dealership that will be considered by the planning and zoning commission under the previous regulations that were in place before the approval of the amendments. The application is scheduled for a July 17 public hearing with the PZC.

Under the new site plan, Bartlett is requesting variances of the requirements for an island for the parking area at the rear of the property, and to reduce the requirement for a 50-foot front yard setback to 30-feet. He is also seeking location approval for the motor vehicle dealership under a state law that requires approval from zoning appeals boards before a state license can be approved for a motor vehicle dealership.

Cathy Jefferson, zoning enforcement officer, said Monday she has not been instructed by the commission to appear at the July 8 ZBA hearing and speak in opposition to the variances, as was the case in 2012. Jefferson said the commission is ready to proceed with the July 17 public hearing on the new application. “If he gets the variances, we’ll take the next step,” she said.

Letter: Responding to the OS Economic Development Commission on The Preserve

To The Editor:

The OS EDC, which has itself endorsed the acquisition of The Preserve, recently released a letter asking five questions.  They deserve a response.  In order of importance, they are:

  1. Cost to the taxpayer.   In short, very little and perhaps nothing at all.  Read on.

    Acquiring The Preserve under the proposed agreement saves Old Saybrook potentially tens of millions of dollars the town would have incurred if development as planned had gone forward—and might still incur if The Preserve is left open to development.  Perhaps more important to some residents is that acquiring The Preserve will almost certainly save Old Saybrook money.  First, the cost to taxpayers for the bonding required for the town’s share of the purchase price—less than 40%–implies annual property taxes for a median home of $12 to $24 dollars, depending on the form of bonding.  So for $1-$2 a month, residents take control of an extraordinarily important 1000 acres, the headwaters of three rivers, a critical source of clean water for the area aquifer, and an environmentally important area.  Second, the costs the town now incurs will almost certainly go down.  The proposed agreement includes a very substantial permanent endowment (perhaps reaching $1 million) which will provide funds to cover proper management of The Preserve, including trail mapping, trail marking (so folks no longer get lost on the unmarked, tangled trails they now hike), and permit sustainable forestry practices.  In addition, because of the partnership with the State, state conservation officers will share the responsibility for policing the area, relieving Old Saybrook police of some of that responsibility.  And because the area will now be managed properly, residents in Old Saybrook and adjacent towns no longer face the very real threat of damage to the aquifer and degradation of their water supply—thus again saving potentially thousands of dollars for every household affected.  On balance, it is almost certain that town costs will fall by more than the cost of the bonding.

    Wen considering costs, beyond the offsetting savings we can immediately recognize, preserving The Preserve will create value for the town and the region.  Real estate professionals will tell you that the two things potential home buys ask about are the quality of the schools and access to public open space, whether parks or forests.  Multiple studies confirm that towns that acquire and manage significant open space clearly benefit along a host of vectors.   Given how well this acquisition is planned, with the creation of an endowment to provide continuous funding and the partnership with State, preserving The Preserve will deliver real value to the town and the region.

  2. Why the State is interested in assuming more than 40% of the purchase price: Connecticut has, since the early 1970s, taken a very strong bipartisan interest in preserving open space and improving environmental quality.  Perhaps some remember when the lower Connecticut River was heavily polluted and the target of quite embarrassing coverage by the New York Times.  The river is now remarkably clean and a major asset to the region.  Moreover, the Federal government provides significant financial incentives and support for these kinds of initiatives, which are so important to sustaining and strengthening a healthy natural environment.
  3. Has anyone approached Lehman Brothers directly?  I don’t know; I suspect not.  Frankly, Old Saybrook could acquire very little by trying to “go it alone” with its $3 million.  Buying two fifths of The Preserve appears absurd on its face—it avoids none of the potential costs the town would incur if the balance of the land were then developed (new school, new police and fire stations, roads and bridges to maintain—a frightening potential cost)—and captures almost none of the benefits.  It would not achieve environmental protection nor guarantee against degradation of the aquifer with the threat to the three rivers that draw on The Preserve; it would not create well-managed public access; it would not provide an endowment to provide funding to manage and maintain the property.  It is an approach that would have secured virtually no benefit but left the town open to potentially massive expenses in the future.
  4. Is hunting allowed?  Just as with the existing 500-acre Gleason property that Old Saybrook owns, state law does permit “regulated hunting” on these kinds of open spaces.  But Old Saybrook has never permitted hunting on the Gleason property, and it is unlikely that the town would permit it on The Preserve.  Moreover, given that this a state statutory requirement, if the issue ever did emerge—and there is no reason to anticipate that it will, as it has never come up with the Gleason property—then modifying the state law would be quite straight forward.   Besides, leaving The Preserve in private hands would make hunting in all forms much much more likely—just as leaving it in private hands runs the very significant risk of future developments that will impose significant continuing costs on the town.
  5. What are the pros and cons?  The comments above point to multiple pros.  Whether your interest is in environmental protection, assuring access to high quality water (the aquifer), avoiding degradation to rivers flowing form The Preserve, having easy access to a wide array of passive recreational activities, making the region more attractive to potential residents, or simply preserving the forest canopy which mitigates global warming (the NE is an important carbon sink, especially during some months), acuiring The Preserve for a comparatively small sum makes eminent good sense.  And then add the shared responsibility (and costs) with the state and the first-ever dedication endowment in support of a part or open space, and it is extremely hard to find an argument against this acquisition.

    The cons?  I have been listening intently for nearly a year.  I haven’t heard one argument against this initiative that withstood careful scrutiny and thought.   I believe that the answers to the OS EDC questions strongly confirms that view.

Acquiring The Preserve and thus preserving it for all time is simply a winner on every count.  Old Saybrook will be quite wise to join with the Trust for the Public Lands, the State of Connecticut, and hundreds of individuals who have pledged more than $1 million of their own money to make this happen.  Let’s take control of our future: vote “Yes” on July 8.

Sincerely,

Fred V. Carstensen

Professor of Finance and Economics
Director, Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis
University of Connecticut

Resident: Old Saybrook

Essex Police Officers to Host Tip-A-Cop for Special Olympics at the Griswold Inn

ESSEX – Officers with the Essex Police Department will host a Tip-A-Cop event to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut at the Griswold Inn on Monday, July 21st, from  5 to 10 pm. The Griswold Inn is located at 26 Main Street, Essex.

During the event, officers will assist restaurant staff in taking orders and serving meals to restaurant patrons. At the end of the evening, all tips the officers receive for their efforts will go to Special Olympics Connecticut to support its year-round sports, health and fitness programs for athletes of all abilities.

Tip-A-Cop is a Law Enforcement Torch Run event to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut.

About the Special Olympics Connecticut Law Enforcement Torch Run®

The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Connecticut is one of the movement’s largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicles. This year-round program involves law enforcement officers from across the state who volunteer their time to raise awareness and funds through events including Tip-a-Cops, Cop-on-Tops, and Jail N’ Bail fundraisers.

In addition, each year in June, over 1,500 officers and athletes carry the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope” through hundreds of cities and towns across the state, covering over 530 miles over three days.  The runners run the “Final Leg” and light the ceremonial cauldron during Opening Ceremonies for the Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games.

Law Enforcement Torch Run Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors: Dream Ride 2014, Whelen Engineering, WWE; The Bearingstar Insurance Charitable Fund; JN Phillips Auto Glass;Gold Sponsors: Adams Hometown Markets / IGA Hometown Supermarkets, Papa’s Dodge.

About Special Olympics Connecticut

Special Olympics Connecticut provides year-round sports training and competitions for over 14,000 athletes of all ages with intellectual disabilities and Unified Sports® partners – their teammates without disabilities.

Through the joy of sport, the Special Olympics movement transforms lives and communities throughout the state and in 170 countries around the world by promoting good health and fitness and inspiring inclusion and respect for all people, on and off the playing field. (www.soct.org)

Partner Sponsors: Adams Hometown Markets/IGA Hometown Supermarkets, Connecticut Light & Power/Yankee Gas/Western Massachusetts Electric (Northeast Utilities Companies), Law Enforcement Torch Run, NBC Connecticut, TD Bank, United Technologies and WWE.

Year-Round Suppliers: Adams Hometown Markets/IGA Hometown Supermarkets, Campus Customs/Cymplify, The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New England, Crystal Rock Water and Coffee Company, Dunkin’ Donuts, Graebel Connecticut, Guida’s Milk and Ice Cream, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, Marcus Communications, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Community Service and Worx Branding & Advertising.

Durham Offers General Public Transit Service

Durham First Selectman Laura Francis boards a 9 Town Transit bus at Durham Town Hall (photo by Amanda Pederson)

Durham First Selectman Laura Francis boards a 9 Town Transit bus at Durham Town Hall (photo by Amanda Pederson)

Durham residents will soon have greater mobility with new access to a regional transit system. Beginning July 1st, the town of Durham will begin a contract with 9 Town Transit to provide general public Dial-A-Ride service throughout the town.

9 Town Transit, operated by the Estuary Transit District, currently provides Dial-A-Ride service throughout Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, East Haddam, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.  Any location within Durham will now also be included in the new expanded service area.

9 Town Transit will also offer Durham residents service to parts of Middletown including Stop & Shop supermarket, downtown, Middlesex Hospital and the Saybrook Road area medical offices.

Previously, only Durham seniors and persons with a disability through an application process could utilize public transit.  That service, provided by Middletown Area Transit, will continue to operate within Durham, Middlefield, Middletown, Portland and East Hampton for those residents meeting these criteria.  The new service by 9 Town Transit will be available to the general public who do not meet these criteria, or seniors and persons with disabilities traveling to the 9 Town Transit region.

The partnership is a direct result of information sharing fostered by the recently expanded council of governments and the efforts of Durham First Selectman Laura Francis.  “I am happy to begin our business relationship with 9 Town Transit, which will allow all residents of Durham to get reliable, affordable transportation,” says Francis.

To reserve a trip, customers will call 9 Town Transit at least one day in advance.  The fare will be $3.00 each way, with seniors age 60 and over eligible to ride at a suggested donation of $1.50.  The hours of service are 6:00 AM until 6:00 PM Monday through Friday.  The service is open to the general public with no age restrictions.  All vehicles are fully accessible with wheelchair lifts and service is available for any trip purpose.

Additional information, route maps and schedules are available online at www.9towntransit.com or by calling 9 Town Transit at 860-554-0551.

NY Times Bestselling Author Chris Bohjalian to Speak at the Bee & Thistle Inn

 New York Times Bestselling author Chris Bohjalian at the Bee & Thistle Saturday, July 12, 2014

New York Times Bestselling author Chris Bohjalian at the Bee & Thistle Saturday, July 12, 2014

OLD LYME  – The Big Book Getaway invites readers to convene at the Bee and Thistle Inn for an intimate luncheon with New York Times Bestselling author Chris Bohjalian on Saturday, July 12, 2014.  The first seating from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m is sold out.  A second seating from 2-4pm has been added! This is the second of four events in the Blockbuster Summer Reading Series. The Bee and Thistle Inn will serve a full luncheon and dessert to attendees, prepared by Chef Kristofer Rowe.

Having gained recognition from authors and readers all around the world, Chris Bohjalian is set to deliver yet another masterpiece in writing. With 17 novels published in more than 25 languages, nine of which made their way to the New York Times Bestsellers list, Bohjalian’s latest story, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands will be released on July 8.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves. Half a year earlier, a nuclear plant in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom had experienced a cataclysmic meltdown, and both of Emily’s parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault. Was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to flee their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer’s apartment, and inventing a new identity for herself — an identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. When Emily befriends a young homeless boy named Cameron, she protects him with a ferocity she didn’t know she had. But she still can’t outrun her past, can’t escape her grief, can’t hide forever — and so she comes up with the only plan that she can. A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian’s finest novels to date.

Bohjalian’s most recent novel, The Light in the Ruins, debuted in 2013 as a New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and national Indiebound bestseller.  Several of Bohjalian’s other books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon. He has been honored with the ANCA Freedom Award for his efforts to inform Americans about the Armenian Genocide. Bohjalian also won a number of awards for his titles including Sandcastle Girls, The Night Strangers, and Midwives.

Bohjalian has written for a various array of newspapers and magazines, such as the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. A resident of Vermont, he is also a weekly columnist for the Burlington Free Press since 1992.

Tickets to “An Intimate Luncheon with Chris Bohjalian” are $45 each; which includes a full luncheon, dessert, author presentation and book signing session. Visit www.thebigbookclub.org for more information or to purchase tickets. Tickets are also available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/684006.

The historic Bee and Thistle Inn is an important stop within Old Lyme, Connecticut’s art colony, arguably one of the most famous Impressionist-oriented art communities in America.   While retaining the integrity of the historic landmark built in 1756, the transformed Bee and Thistle Inn provides a link to the past while nurturing artists of the present.  Innkeepers Linnea and David Rufo are building a truly inspirational environment, which serves as a gathering place for artists and authors to collaborate, display and sell their work.  The Inn is located directly next door to the renowned Florence Griswold Museum. Visit the Inn’s website at www.beeandthistleinn.com.
The official bookseller for the event is Bank Square Books of Mystic. Locally owned and independently operated, Bank Square Books has been a staple of the downtown Mystic community for 25 years.

The Big Book Club is a creation of LaFrancois Marketing Consultants and Essex Books.  Initiated in February 2013, The Big Book Club has presented multiple “Big Book Getaway” events at Mohegan Sun, the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and the Bee and Thistle Inn.  Since its inception, more than 200 authors have presented their work to over 1,500 enthusiastic attendees.  The official website is www.thebigbookclub.org .

Thursdays on the Dock Heats Up this Summer

Enjoy an evening of live music on the Essex waterfront at the Connecticut River Museum each Thursday in July and August.

Enjoy an evening of live music on the Essex waterfront at the Connecticut River Museum each Thursday in July and August.

ESSEX — Now in its fifth year at the Connecticut River Museum, Thursdays on the Dock has for many become the unofficial start to the summer weekend.  This year thanks to lead sponsorship from the Essex Wellness Center and supporting sponsors Guilford Savings Bank and Connecticut River Dock and Dredge, the event that features a different band each night, Connecticut made beer and wine and the panoramic views of being on the River is back and bigger than ever.

Thursdays on the Dock takes place every Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., July 11 through August 28 on the museum’s historic steamboat dock.  Phyllis Stillman, Connecticut River Museum Development Manager, said that “We are fortunate to have received more sponsorship this year that is allowing us to bring in a broad range of musical acts that will appeal to a diverse audience.”  In addition to the lead sponsor, support is also coming from Guilford Savings Bank and Connecticut River Dock and Dredge.  Museum director Christopher Dobbs noted that patrons will hear the sounds of “Dixie land jazz, classic rock, folk, to even steel drum music during the series.”  In fact, some of the performances will be by the steel drumming White-Eyed Lizard Band, noted Irish folk singer Danny Quinn, and the locally jazzed-up Corinthian Jazz Band. Heidi Kunzli owner of the new Essex Wellness Center and leading sponsor said that she has always enjoyed coming down to the museum for these events, “There’s nothing quite like a relaxing evening by the harbor taking in the music and the view. . . It’s a wonderful experience!”  Kunzli is so impressed with the location that she will be offering as part of her business yoga and tai chi on the Museum’s docks this summer.

Kicking off the season on July 11 will be the Small Pond All Stars.  This popular local music group has played at the Old Lyme Inn and Gelston House, performing light jazz and old rock favorites that get people singing and dancing.   Members of the group include John Williams (drums), Dan Bernier (guitar and vocalist), Anthony Nero (bass), Geoff Cox (saxophones), Raphael Stover (percussion), and Steve Cryan (harmonica and trombone).  Cryan is not a stranger to the museum. For twenty years he has been the creator of the annual Holiday Train Show that mesmerizes young and old alike with the miniature world of model trains.  Dobbs laughed, saying that “Steve has become an integral fixture here.  We are placing him on display as part of the museum’s 40th Anniversary exhibit where he will have his summer art studio.”

Schedule of performers:

  • July 11 – Small Pond All Stars
  • July 17 – Longsplice
  • July 24 – Don Sineti
  • July 31 – White- Eyed Lizard Band
  • August 7 – Tom Briggs and Andy Sherwood
  • August 14 – Uncle John’s Clan
  • August 21 – Danny Quinn
  • August 28 – Corinthian Jazz Band

In addition to the lively music, drinks and light snacks will be served.  The Museum’s main floor galleries and gift shop will also be open for a bit of waterfront and local history. The cover for the event that includes the live music, galleries, and breathtaking views is $5 per person (members are always free).

For more information, please call 860-767-8269. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is a membership supported educational organization. Membership is open to all. More information can be found at www.ctrivermuseum.org

Deep River Historical Society Exhibit Marks World War I Centennial

Arthur Winschel and Alice Johnson. Winschel's father was the parent of World War I veteran, William Winschel

Arthur Winschel and Alice Johnson stand in the new World War I exhibition at the Stone House Museum in Deep River. Winschel and Johnson’s father was World War I veteran, Pte. William Winschel. (Photos by Jerome Wilson.)

DEEP RIVER— The Deep River Historical Society is hosting an exhibit highlighting the role of town residents in World War I, which began as a conflict among the great powers of Europe in August 1914. The exhibit, at the society’s Stone House Museum on Main Street, opens Saturday and continues through the end of October.

America entered the war in May 1917 in the wake of German submarine attacks on ships in the Atlantic Ocean. Records show a total of 112 Deep River residents served during the 18 months of United States involvement in the conflict that ended with the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. The date that is now marked as the Veteran’s Day holiday.

Kathy Schultz, assistant curator at the Stone House, said the society reviewed its collection, and received several new donations and loans to prepare for the exhibit. The exhibit has uniforms and equipment, including helmets and gas masks, used by town residents during the war. There are also photographs and century-old postcards brought home from France, where most of the town residents served.

Uniform of World War I Sergeant Harry Mavin, who war the first Commander of American Legion Post 61 in Deep River

Uniform of World War I Sergeant Harry Mavin, who war the first Commander of American Legion Post 61 in Deep River

While the last of the town’s World War I veterans died in the 1970s and 1980s, there are several residents whose fathers served in the war that some called “the war to end all wars.” Siblings Arthur Winschel and Alice Johnson are the children of Private Willam Winschel, who entered the war at age 21 in the fall of 1917 as part of the New York-based 305th Infantry regiment. Winschel was wounded during fighting in France in November 1918, and returned to Deep River several months later.

Arthur Winschel said his father survived a German mustard gas attack that damaged his lungs. Despite the injury, William Winschel later worked at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and died in 1974 at age 77. The Winschel siblings, who were not yet born when their father was in the war, have donated several items to the exhibit, including his uniform.

Schultz said society members are hoping other residents from Deep River or nearby towns with relatives who served in World War I will visit the exhibit, and possibly provide information or photographs of area residents that served in the war. “We want it to be an ongoing exhibit,” she said.

The Stone House hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m., with the exception of Saturday, July 19, when Main Street hosts the annual Deep River Fife and Drum Muster.

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore Membership

Imagine coming to a country where the language and culture are foreign to you and only a smile is universal. Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore’s literacy program directly acclimates students to the English language, culture, and idioms. With expanding literacy skills, confidence grows and transition begins.  Imagine progressing from being functionally illiterate in the English language to gaining employment, building relationships, becoming a citizen or even owning your own business.  Memberships supports the literacy needs of you, your family, your employees or your neighbors to better improve their personal, work and life skills.

How is LVVS unique?  Our tutoring services are free, confidential, and supportive. LVVS endeavors to meet the student “where they are” and address their needs and wants. We have pride in what we do for the betterment of the community. LVVS is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit agency and your contribution, at any level, is fully tax deductible.  Visit our website www.vsliteracy.org to make a credit card payment or send a check to LVVS, Inc. P.O. Box 1006, Westbrook, CT 06498. Thank you for supporting an organization you care about in your community.

Six Firms Express Interest in Building on Deep River Industrial Land

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen is expected to decide next month on three firms that would be given an opportunity to construct industrial buildings on a recently acquired town-owned industrial parcel on the western side of the Plattwood Park Industrial Area.

Six firms submitted letters on interest for use of the industrial land last month. The firms are Top Notch Electrical Services LLC, Winthrop Toll and Tackle LLC, Interpro, Colaner Inc., and Olsen Sanitation Co., all of Deep River, and Moyers Landscaping Services LLC of Killingworth.

The town purchased the four-acre parcel earlier this year from local resident Gary Mislick at a appraised price of $270,000. The land is to be paid for in three installments, using revenue generated from the two town-owned small business incubator buildings on Industrial Park Road. The buildings, which are usually fully occupied with tenants, were constructed using Small Cities Program grant funds, with the first building completed in the late 1990s, and the second about a decade ago.

Smith said engineers with the Chester firm Nathan Jacobson Associates have determined up to three new industrial buildings could be constructed on the parcel, two larger buildings of up to 12,00 square-feet, and a small 5,000 square-foot building. He said contracts would require a start of construction within six months of signing.

The new industrial buildings are expected to generate tax revenue on buildings, equipment and machinery, along with creating new jobs for area residents. Smith said the board would discuss, and possibly act, on the proposals at its July 8 meeting.

Robert Siegrist of Haddam is New Republican Candidate in 36th House District

AREAWIDE— Robert Siegrist of Haddam has been nominated as the Republican challenger in the 36th house District after the candidate nominated at the party convention last month, Chester Harris of Haddam Neck, withdrew to run for lieutenant governor on a conservative petition ticket.

Siegrist, 31, stepped forward and was nominated last week by a vacancy committee made up of delegates from the May 14convention. He will challenge incumbent Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex in the Nov. 4 election. The district is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Delegates at the convention had nominated Harris, who had run unsuccessfully for state representative in the district in 2010. But earlier this month Harris decided to run for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Joseph Visconti of West Hartford. Visconti had run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination but failed to muster enough delegates at the May 17 GOP State Convention to qualify for the Aug. 12 primary. The Visconti-Harris ticket must file petitions signed by at least 7,200 registered voters by an Aug. 6 deadline to gain a spot on the statewide ballot.

Siegrist is the secretary of the Haddam Republican Town Committee. A 2001 graduate of Haddam-Killingworth High School, he graduated from Quinnipiac University in Hamden with a degree in political science. Siegrist, who is single, currently works as a bartender at the Brush Mill Restaurant in Chester.

Siegrist said Tuesday he is planned to wage an active, “but positive,” campaign for the Nov. 4 vote. Miller, who served as Essex first selectman from 2003-2011, was elected as state representative in a Feb. 2011 special election. Miller was re-elected for a full two-year term in 2012.

Saybrook Point Inn Sponsors Sea Scouts at CRM Boat Building Workshop

Commodore Marshall Parsons of the Sea Scouts and Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina shake hands to commemorate the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina’s sponsorship. The sponsorship will allow several Sea Scouts to take part in the Connecticut River Museum’s public Boat Building Workshop to be held in August. From left to right: Reggie Walden of Old Saybrook, Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parson, Steve Taglietela, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook and Cameron Fogg of Old Saybrook.

Commodore Marshall Parsons of the Sea Scouts and Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina shake hands to commemorate the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina’s sponsorship. The sponsorship will allow several Sea Scouts to take part in the Connecticut River Museum’s public Boat Building Workshop to be held in August. From left to right: Reggie Walden of Old Saybrook, Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parson, Steve Taglietela, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook and Cameron Fogg of Old Saybrook.

The Connecticut River Museum is pleased to announce that it has received a sponsorship from the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina that will allow Sea Scouts to build a CRM 12 skiff as part of a public three-day workshop in August.  The 12’ skiff is reflective of the traditional boats that were built locally in the late 19th and early 20th century.  With great versatility, these skiffs were used for fishing, rowing and sailing on the River and in the tidal marshes and tributaries.

After hearing that the Museum was piloting a summer boat building workshop for families and adults, Stephen Tagliatela (2012 “RiverMan” of the Year), managing partner of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina wanted to make a difference by sponsoring a boat that the local Sea Scout crew members could build.  Tagliatela’s father was an Eagle Scout and built model power and sail boats.  Two of the models won awards in the New York Boat Show of 1939 and are now displayed in Saybrook Point Inn’s restaurant, Fresh Salt.  He said “It is important to provide opportunities to our future adults and leaders.”  Tagliatela went on to say that “building a boat creates a sense of accomplishment and helps to develop the critical life skills of problem solving and teamwork.”

Since 1912 Sea Scouts has been part of the Boy Scouts of America.  Sea Scouts is a coed program offered to young adults 14 years (or 13 years and completed the eighth grade) through age 21. This youth maritime training program is organized to address members’ boating skills and promote knowledge of America’s maritime heritage.  The Scout units are called “Ships”.  The local Ship out of Westbrook is captained by AJ Maxwell. For more information about Sea Scouts, contact the New England Sea Scout Flotilla Commodore Marshall Parsons at twinpars@earthlink.net and/or 860-938-7681.  Mr. Parsons is excited to have this opportunity and noted that “we are opening this up to a limited number of parents and teenagers who would like to know more about Sea Scouts.”

The three-day boat building workshop that the Connecticut River Museum is offering for families and adults will be held on August 22 – 24.  Participants can either do the workshop as individuals or as a group (up to four people).  There is no previous boat building experience required to build one of these kits.  However, organizers do expect that participants will have basic woodworking knowledge.

Space is extremely limited for the boat building workshop.  Participants must be at least 10 years old (13 if they are doing it as part of the Sea Scout program) and accompanied by an adult.  The deadline to register is Monday, July 14.  The $1,500 program fee includes all the supplies needed to build the CRM 12, oars, and instruction.  By the end of the weekend, participants will have a nearly completed boat (all but paint) that is ready to take home. The basic kit is designed to be rowed.  However, a sailing conversion kit and sail is available for an additional cost.  Paul Kessinger, owner of Madison Kit Builders, has donated and constructed a CRM 12 that is now on display at the Museum for those interested in seeing the final product. Thanks to the generous donation of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, there is no cost toSea Scouts. For more information, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

The Sea Scouts gathered at the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Tagliatela, Chris Dobbs and Boat Building Volunteers to celebrate the sponsorship. The Scouts will be one of the groups that take part in the public Boat Building Workshop held at the Museum in August. Left to right: Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parsons, Museum Director Chris Dobbs, Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, Paul Kessinger of Madison, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook, Skipper AJ Maxwell of Chester and Tom Doggart of Niantic.

The Sea Scouts gathered at the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Tagliatela, Chris Dobbs and Boat Building Volunteers to celebrate the sponsorship. The Scouts will be one of the groups that take part in the public Boat Building Workshop held at the Museum in August. Left to right: Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parsons, Museum Director Chris Dobbs, Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, Paul Kessinger of Madison, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook, Skipper AJ Maxwell of Chester and Tom Doggart of Niantic.

 

A Brand New Theatre Group Starting at The Ivoryton Playhouse

The Ivoryton Players director, Joyce Beauvais

The Ivoryton Players director, Joyce Beauvais

Ivoryton:  We are so excited to announce a brand new program at the Ivoryton Playhouse starting in July. The Ivoryton Players is an opportunity for adults who love the theatre to have fun, meet new friends and put on a show!

You will learn about professional theater while preparing and rehearsing for a staged reading with the performance on 12/09/14 on the Ivoryton Playhouse Stage!  All levels of experience or no experience are welcome.  Here comes the fun …  NO MEMORIZING!

If you are interested in performing again in your life or it is on your bucket list to see what it’s like to be “in the theater”, here’s your chance. If you want to be a part of this fun group but would prefer to be involved in the backstage work essential to a great show, there are props, costumes, set design, stage managing, publicity, understudies and more.

We will be performing a riotous comedy to be announced.  The first meeting will include a welcome packet for all, an overview of the club and some hilarious get-acquainted improvisations.  We will then start the rehearsal process in the next meetings.

The Ivoryton Players director is Joyce Beauvais.  Joyce, after settling in CT, currently runs this program in Old Saybrook and also starting in East Lyme.  Ms Beauvais brings with her a lifetime in the theater performing her first professional role at age seven.  She lived in NYC for over 25 years as an actress in stage, TV and film, also a Broadway and Off-Broadway producer and 5 years as owner and operator of Chez Beauvais, Restaurant and Cabaret.  Chez Beauvais was a boite on Tenth Ave., NYC offering fine cuisine and the best of New York City jazz.  She partnered with uber agents Jack Rollins and Jane Rollins.  After moving to FL she continued to perform as an actress but also developed this program that today will be the Ivoryton Players.  “The mix of people and experience”, Joyce finds, “turns into the magic one only finds in theater”.  Joyce promises this will be one of the times of your life!

Sign up now for our very first meeting of the Ivoryton Players.  We begin Monday, July 18th from 1:00 to 3:30PM (time flexible according to membership needs) and will meet every Monday up till the show at the Playhouse Rehearsal Studio, 24 Main Street, Centerbrook. Call Krista at 860-767-9520, ext 205 to register.

There is limited enrollment and only a $5 charge per class (funding available for those who need it), so come and join us.  I promise you, after one meeting you’ll be hooked!

Letter: OS Economic Development Commission – Become Informed About Preserve

To the Editor:
In Preparation for the Upcoming Town Meeting to discuss the ‘Preserve’ which is currently scheduled to occur on June 30th, the Economic Development Commission of Old Saybrook believes that it is important for the town be properly informed regarding the ‘Preserve’ purchase. We have the following questions which we hope will be answered at the upcoming meeting:

1. If hunting is allowed, how will it be regulated? Are you comfortable having hunting here? What types of ammunition will be allowed?
2. What is the exact cost per taxpayer?
3. Has anyone from Old Saybrook approached Lehman Brothers directly regarding an outright purchase by Old Saybrook? What would OS purchasing the land itself cost dealing directly with Lehman Brothers? What would $3,000,000 buy without the state’s added investment?
4. Why is the State interested in investing into the ‘Preserve’?
5. What are the Pro’s and Con’s to this purchase?

We encourage residents to attend the meeting come prepared with your own questions. “If you have all the facts the decision will make itself.”
Respectfully,
Old Saybrook Economic Development Commission

Extension of Connecticut River Paddleway Celebrated at Gillette Castle in Lyme

The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC), along with the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Vermont River Conservancy, launched the extension of the Connecticut River Paddler’s Trail into Massachusetts and Connecticut at Lyme’s Gillette Castle State Park last Saturday, June 21.

The Council, along with project leaders from the other two organizations, unveiled the plan for the expanded trail, which currently just serves Vermont and New Hampshire.

“We’re excited to be a part of a collaborative effort to enhance this resource for those who paddle our great river,” said Andrew Fisk, CRWC Executive Director. “This trail is an investment for those who are enthusiastic about being out on the water, and the 410-mile journey from the river’s source to the sea is one of New England’s iconic adventures.”

The Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail is managed by a collaborative of organizations working together on trail planning and development, building and stewarding primitive campsites, improving access points and portage trails, and disseminating information to visitors.

canoes

Steve Grant, a Pulitzer-prize nominated journalist, spoke at the Celebration. Jim Dina, an intrepid explorer and author of The Voyage of the Ant, was also a featured guest. The two guests have deep connections with the river. Grant has worked as an outdoor and environmental reporter for the Hartford Courant for over 29 years and wrote a 17-part chronicle of his journey from the headwaters of the Connecticut River down to the Sound. Dina’s work, The Voyage of the Ant, relays his experience paddling up the Connecticut River in his birchbark canoe, made using Native American tools and techniques.

The Celebration also included the presentation of the Bud Foster Award and lunch on site at the state park.

Many of those present launched their canoes and kayaks at the ferry landing and paddled down to Selden Island State Park on the Lyme shore of the Conn River.

For more about the Paddlers’ Trail, visit www.ConnecticutRiverPaddlersTrail.org.

The CRWC works to protect the watershed from source to sea. As stewards of this heritage, it celebrates the River as a four-state treasure and collaborates, educates, organize, restores and intervenes to preserve its health for generations to come.

To learn more about CRWC, or to make a contribution to help protect the Connecticut River, visit www.ctriver.org or call 413-772-2020, ext. 201.

For more information, visit http://www.ctriver.org/river-celebration-announces-launch-of-expanded-connecticut-river-paddlers-trail/#sthash.nP6eiSVf.dpuf