February 23, 2017

Earth2 Presents a WELLfed Event in Essex, Friday, to Raise Funds to Build a Sustainable Well in Uganda

Villagers in Oculoi, Uganda, collect drinking water from an unsafe source. The WELLfed event being held Friday at Centerbrook Architects will change these people’s lives by funding a well to provide them for the first time with clean drinking water.

ESSEX — On Friday, Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Earth2 presents their fifth WELLfed fundraiser, at Centerbrook Architects & Planners at 67 Main St., Centerbrook, Conn. Guests will wander the tasting stations, learn about the nonprofit beneficiary and well-building partner, Call To Care Uganda, and add their artistic touch to a quilt gift that will travel to Africa.

In so doing, guests will let their kindness stretch across borders and fuel profound change, improve health and sanitation, inspire critical educational opportunities, and jumpstart the safety and empowerment of over 800 people of all ages in Oculoi Village in the Kaberamaido District in Uganda.

In-kind donors include venue sponsor Centerbrook Architects & Planners, A Thyme To Cook, Caseus, Black Hog Brewing Co., Coastal Cooking Co., Fresh Salt at The Saybrook Point Inn, RIPE Craft Bar Juices, Wright’s Steakhouse, J Cakes, La Cuisine Catering, Cafe SoL, rental sponsor Connecticut Rental Center, Earth2, Gourmet Galley, graphic designer Julie Clements-Reagan, La Belle Aurore, Savvy Tea, SKYY Vodka, Spice Catering Group, quilt sponsor The White Dress by the Shore, Zest Fresh Pastry, and more.

The brief program will include Centerbrook Architects partner Chad Floyd, Josh Chalmers (Earth2 CEO and WELLfed founder) and Martha Wells-Hoffman (Call To Care Uganda Executive Director and founder), who notes that “supplying a source of clean water to Oculoi gives the gift of life. The world doesn’t stand a chance without water. It is what is standing between a billion people and their health, safety and the opportunity to unlock their true potential!”

“Earth2’s mission statement is ‘Change the world before bedtime,’” says Chalmers, “and WELLfed brings that goal to life for our guests and empowers them to make an enormous change with a small-but-potent effort, all while eating, drinking and socializing with old and new friends. What we create in just two hours is immeasurable. Safe water means improved health, opportunities, and time for education – and the villages make a commitment to maintaining the wells for generations to come.”

Chalmers recently made a pledge to help build 100 wells by the end of 2020 and WELLfed is launching other fundraising challenges, including a WELLfed Fashion event in New York City, WELLfed WEDNESDAY restaurant day on March 22 in Boston in partnership with Summits Education to build a clean water system in Haiti, and other local and national initiatives and collaborations.

Event tickets are $75 per person, all-inclusive, with 100 percent of the ticket price going directly to the well build. Tickets and details are available at this link or by contacting Earth2 at Josh@earth2company.com.

If you cannot attend this event and want to support the dream, donation pledges can be arranged through the same contact email and fundraise.com link. You may also contact Chalmers with questions, for more information and photos, or to join the fun as a tasting station donor.

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‘The Kate’ Hosts Annual Fundraising Oscar Party, Sunday

OLD SAYBROOK — The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, The Kate, will hold a fundraising benefit on Oscar Night, this Sunday, Feb. 26, beginning at 7 p.m. and continuing until the Oscars are all awarded!  The Oscar Party is The Kate’s annual red-carpet event that honors 12-time Oscar-nominated, four-time-winning theatre namesake, Katharine Hepburn, while also making for a great party.

  • Walk the red carpet.
  • Pose for a photo or two.
  • Bid on an auction item.
  • Hold a real Oscar.

Watch the Oscars live on The Kate’s gigantic screen as you indulge in delicious appetizers, treats, and beverages.  Come and celebrate like a star!

A few individual tickets to attend the event are still available at www.thekate.org or call 877-503-1286.

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9 Town Transit Partners with Google Maps for Online Trip Planning

AREAWIDE — Finding local bus route information just got a whole lot easier.  In fact, you probably already have it available on your smartphone.  Google Maps now includes local bus routes and schedules in its directions feature.

Riders no longer have to read timetables.  They simply enter the date and time that they hope to arrive at their destination and the trip planner will provide three options, showing the amount of time and number of transfers for each option, letting you easily select the most convenient trip.

Google Maps can even provide walking directions, so you can find out exactly how to get to the nearest transit stop or station, and how to get to your destination once you leave the train/bus.  For extra convenience, Google Maps has most locations already stored, so you only need the location name or just a category, such as fast food.

“We are pleased to welcome 9 Town Transit to Google Maps.”, says Ryan Poscharsky, Strategic Partner Manager at Google.  “This partnership shows 9 Town Transit’s commitment to innovating, as well as serving and attracting new riders. Together we can provide useful and accurate information to help people quickly get to where they want to go.”

Another important feature is the ability to plan trips across agencies and modes.  CT Transit New Haven and Hartford, CT Transit Express, Shoreline East and Metro North are all available in Google Maps, so it is easy to plan your trip from Old Saybrook to Hartford, from Manhattan to the outlet malls, or from your Clinton to downtown New Haven.  Google Maps tells you all transfers required along with the connecting agency name and contact information.

“We hope this tool makes it easier than ever to plan your trip by bus or train in our region”, says Joseph Comerford, Executive Director of 9 Town Transit.

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Siegrist Requests Changes to House Bill to Allow Chester to Receive Funds to Combat Invasive Species

Rep. Bob Siegrist testifies during a Public Hearing about invasive species.

HARTFORD – State Rep. Bob Siegrist (R-36) recently testified during a public hearing regarding a proposal that he co-sponsored, namely House Bill 5503, An Act Concerning Lake Authorities and Combating Invasive Plant and Animal Species. Siegrist asked that the legislation be amended to assist local towns like Chester.

Under current law, 25 percent of Community Investment Account funds within the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection can be used for municipal open space grants. House Bill 5503 would provide grants to lake authorities for the control of invasive species.

Rep. Siegrist is in full support of House Bill 5503, but suggests that the bill be amended to allow municipalities access to the grants to combat invasive species.

“Current law states that two or more towns that have a body of water of state water within their territory can establish a lake authority. Cedar Lake in Chester is wholly within the Town of Chester. The problem in Cedar Lake is similar to what many lakes are dealing with — invasive species,” Siegrist said.

“Mitigation of this problem can be very expensive and requires ongoing maintenance, approximately every two years depending on the aggressive nature of the species. Cedar Lake is a 70-acre-lake fully owned by Chester, whose residents enjoy it for passive and active recreation. This legislation as it is currently written, would not allow such towns to have access to this grant. It is my hope the legislature’s Environment Committee would consider my language to make it fair for those towns like Chester.”

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Letter From Paris: A European in Washington

Nicole Prévost Logan

On Jan. 27,  Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit the White House during Donald Trump’s era.  The prime minister’s red dress matched the US president’s red tie and they both seemed  determined to cheer each other for the wonderful things they were about to accomplish together.

On the eve of Brexit, it was crucial  for the British visitor to obtain US support. For Trump,  it was a chance to welcome the UK as a “privileged” partner, to stress how the latter will benefit from Brexit and become a model for Europe in freeing itself from the “Brussels consortium.”

Actually, at this point, the US is not in a position to be much help for England. It is a matter that will have to be worked out directly between the UK and the European Union (EU.)   Beyond the posturing, the British prime minister was trying to reconcile her vision of a “global England” open to the world with the protectionism policies launched by Trump.

The task for May is incredibly complex since she has made clear her intention not to sever all ties with the continent while implementing  the “hard Brexit”and also to avoid a “cliff edge” situation.  She will need all her political acumen to surmount the obstacles coming from all sides and negotiate the best deal.

British Prime Minister Theresa May meets US President Donald Trump.

The “divorce” process has not even started and already dissenting opinions are being heard, even in her own camp.  On Jan. 3, Sir Ivan Rogers, the permanent British representative to the EU,  resigned after sending warning signals, and was immediately replaced  by “euro-skeptic” Tim Barrow, former ambassador to Moscow.  On Jan. 11, the Minister of Immigration, Robert Goodwill, proposed to impose a tax of 1,000 British pounds on EU workers. The business circles protested and the government backed down.  Andrea Leadson, Minister of Agriculture,  had to reassure farmers that the hiring of seasonal labor would not come to a stop.  Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer disagreed  with the minister of Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson and proposed a departure “a la carte” from Europe. 

On Jan. 24, the British High Court voted by eight to three to route the Brexit process through parliament.  This decision created another hurdle for the prime minister. The House of Commons passed the text overwhelmingly.  The House of Lords will be next.    

The worst enemy of the UK in the Brexit process is the timetable.  Once triggered, Article 50 of the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon will take two years to be implemented and, of course, will have to be approved by all the EU members.  After that, it will take five or possibly 10 years for Britain to be legally able to conclude free trade bilateral agreements with other countries.

On Jan. 17, May gave a major speech at Lancaster House in which she spelled out the main points of her program.  This was followed a few days later by the publication of a White Paper containing a road map.  Control of immigration is a central preoccupation for the UK government.  It is understandable,  given the fact that that, from 2015 to 2016, 650,000 immigrants entered the country  (including 284,000 coming from the EU).  Britain had opted out long ago of the Schengen Zone, which allows for free circulation of goods, people, services and capital .

Right now Britain is a member of the European Customs Union and of the European single market. * Being a member of a single market like the EU, created by the 1957 founding treaty of Rome, comes with many constraints such as the harmonization of regulations, compliance with certain standards and the required contributions to the EU budget (Britain has already  committed 40 billion euros for the period 2016-2020.)  The European Court of Justice (based in Luxembourg) enforces those regulations and this explains May’s particular dislike for that institution.

In case of the departure of Britain from the EU,  there are alternatives to its present trade arrangements such as the ones used by  Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, which are not part of the European Customs Union.  Three of them are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which puts them close to the single market. Another example is Turkey, which is not part of the EU single market, but benefits from a special free trade agreement with Europe.  After her visit to Washington, May met with President Erdogan in Ankara to discuss these matters as well as a post-Brexit trade and military partnership.

One  of the most contentious issues of the Brexit is the future of The City.  For 30 years, it has been the financial hub of activities for the huge European market of 500 million people.  By leaving the single market, The City will lose its  “European passport”  and its say over the new regulations issued by Brussels every year.

Guy Verhofstadt, called “Mr. Brexit” at the European parliament, denounced the “illusion that it is possible to leave the EU while retaining its advantages.”

Michel Barnier has been appointed by Jean Claude Yunker, president of the European Commission, to head the negotiations with Britain.  This was a good choice.  Barnier is a man of consensus, experienced and pragmatic, according to The Telegraph.   Economist by training, he has held several posts as European Commissioner of various departments including finance, banking and defense. Interestingly, it was Barnier who supported the adhesion of Britain into Europe in 1972.

*for more on Cameron’s negotiations with the EU, which led to the June 23 referendum, see Logan’s article published by VNN on March 5, 2016.

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

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

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Local Lawmakers Urge State to Support ‘The Kate’ with Tourism Signage on Rte. 9 and I-95

Rep. Carney (left), The Kate’s Director of Development Dana Foster (center), and Paul Formica (right) at the Jan. 29 public hearing on the proposal to install signs for The Kate on local highways.

OLD SAYBROOK -– Old Saybrook lawmakers are urging the state legislature to help support the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (‘The Kate’) by passing legislation that would allow tourism signage for the center to be placed on Rte. 9 and I-95.

Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th), Sen. Art Linares (R-33rd) and Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) submitted testimony in favor of House Bill 5574 and spoke before the Transportation Committee to urge fellow lawmakers to support the local theater. ‘The Kate’ is a theater in the Town of Old Saybrook that provides entertainment for the region and is named for Connecticut Hall-of-Famer, multiple Academy Award winner, and former Old Saybrook resident Katharine Hepburn.

“We believe that ‘The Kate’ deserves to have signage along both I-95 and Rte. 9 because it will attract tourists to the theater and create an interest for those passing by the signs,” the lawmakers said in their written testimony, adding, “Similar theaters have signage along various highways throughout the state due to their importance and popularity and ‘The Kate’ is no different.”

They continued, “It is a cultural hub with entertainment that draws people from across the state and the country. It is an economic engine, not only for Old Saybrook, but for the region as a whole and helps nearby businesses like the many restaurants and shops in town. Signage along the highway will only improve the number of tourists to town and we believe it is in the state’s best interest to promote this important theater with the signage suggested.”

Sen. Formica and Dana Foster, Director of Development and External Relations at The Kate, testify before the Transportation Committee in favor of House Bill 5574 An Act Concerning Signs Indication the Location of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

Sen. Formica testified in person with Dana Foster, Director of Development and External Relations, at ‘The Kate,’ on Jan. 31, before the Transportation Committee on which Rep. Carney is a ranking member.

Foster explained the importance of signage along the highways, saying, “Signage would help our growing audiences navigate the multiple exits to Old Saybrook and help to further attract additional tourists and others to our historical building, great exhibit, and incredible arts and programming.”

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Festival of Women’s Plays Opens 2017 Season at Ivoryton Playhouse, March 3 & 4

IVORYTON:  The Ivoryton Playhouse announces the 2017 inaugural festival of the Women Playwrights Initiative –  Four One Acts by Four Fabulous Women Playwrights. Two evenings of staged readings will take place on Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4, at The Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT, followed by discussions with playwrights, actors and directors.

Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m.

There will be two readings presented:

Guenevere by Susan Cinoman. Teenagers, Guenevere and Arthur, are best friends–a fierce competitor, she always bests him in sword fights. What will be the outcome when confronted with Excalibur in the stone?

Apple Season by Ellen Lewis. To make arrangements for her father’s funeral, Lissie returns to the family farm she and her brother fled 26 years before. Billy, a neighbor and school friend, comes by with an offer to buy the farm. As memories, needs, and passions are stirred, we learn what happened to the siblings as children, and of Lissie’s startling price for the farm.

Saturday, March 4, at 7 p.m.

There will be a further two readings presented:

Buck Naked by Gloria Bond Clunie. Two daughters are thrown into a tizzy when they discover Lily, their 60-plus-year-old mother, has decided to spice up life by tending her back yard garden – “au naturel”!

Intake by Margo Lasher. An arrogant young psychiatrist meets an 80-year-old woman for what he assumes will be a routine examination. During the course of their relationship, he comes to realize how little he knows, and as she reveals her deep love and understanding of her two aging dogs, both doctor and patient learn about life, love, and hope.

Before the performance on Saturday at 5 p.m., the League of Professional Theatre Women will host a panel discussion with the playwrights, moderated by Shellen Lubin, followed by refreshments before the 7 p.m. readings.  If you would like to attend the pre-reading discussion, you must register by Feb. 26, at this link.

To purchase tickets for the Friday, March 3, or Saturday, March 4, readings – each starts at 7 p.m. – call 860.767.7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Tickets:  $20 adult each night; $15 senior each night; $10 student and LPTW members.

A special two-day pass (tickets for Friday and Saturday night performances for $30) is being offered.  Call the box office at 860.767.7318 to reserve your two-day pass.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT  06442.

For more information about the Women Playwrights Initiative, contact Laura Copland, Director of New Play Development, at laurac@ivorytonplayhouse.org.

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Annual Pancake Supper, Feb. 28, at All Saint’s, Ivoryton, Benefits Refugee/Immigrant Organization

ESSEX — Because of the extraordinary challenges faced by refugees in the present climate, All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Ivoryton plans to dedicate the proceeds of its annual pancake supper, to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28, to the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services of Connecticut (IRIS). This event is open to the general public and will take place at the Deep River Congregational Church, at 1 Church Street, Deep River, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Ashley Makar, the Director of Community Co-Sponsorship at IRIS and a graduate of Yale Divinity School, will speak about the organization’s work and the plight of refugees, from 6 to 6:30 p.m. followed by a pancake supper from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Tickets are $10.00 and can be obtained from area churches, Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe
Zedek, at the door, and online at https://pancakesuppertobenefitiris.eventbrite.com.

If you have questions about the event or would like to volunteer services, contact John Yrchik, chair of this event, at jyrchik@comcast.net.

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A la Carte: Craving a Crunch? Enjoy These Cashew Butterscotch Bars

Cashew Butterscotch Bars

It has been a while since we had a one-two-almost-three punch snowstorm. On the Wednesday before the storm, I had a meeting at 6 p.m. and then another at 6:30 (I was about 15 minutes late for the second one). In the first, my condo board meeting, we talked about the fact that snow was on its way.

We tried to figure out whether it was really going to be a tough one, or not. I felt it might be a real one, and I was prepared. Plenty of food for the cats (because, after all, they could not care less as long as they had a few warm velour throws, a clean litter box and cans of Fancy Feast to go with their dry food).

I do have a freezer full of people food, but that freezer is in the garage, a good walk easy when the weather is good but possibly not so if it really does snow for hours and hours. As it turned out, it snowed for around 10 hours and I couldn‘t get out of my condo for another half a day (except to shovel a path from my back door to the bird feeders).

But I had decided I wanted to cook.

It is actually my therapy, whether the weather is too hot or too cold, or too snowy. I had gotten chicken thighs from the freezer the day before and bought a big chunk of beef chuck and some ground meat for chili. For two of the recipes I used my slow cooker. I bought my first just  after my first marriage dissolved; my new one I have had for about eight years; I love my slow cooker although I usually sear the meat that will go into the crock pot these days.

The chicken thigh recipe was more work than it was worth  The pot roast was amazing (I added almost everything except the kitchen sink including half a can of Campbell’s tomato bisque from the fridge.) The chili, for which I used a package of Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Fire Chili, was yummy.

But a few days later, I wanted something sweet. Not chocolate, though. I found this recipe I had saved from the New York Times years ago. Boy, are these addictive.

Cashew Butterscotch Bars

From the food section of The New York Times, sometime within the past ten or so years

Yield: 36 bars*

Ingredients:

Two sticks plus 5 and one-half tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus butter for greasing pan
Three-quarter cup plus 2 tablespoons (packed) light-brown sugar
1 and three-quarters teaspoons kosher salt
2 and one-half cups all-purpose flour
10 ounces butterscotch chips
One-half cup plus 2 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon and 2 and one-half teaspoons water
2 one-half cups salted cashew pieces

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13-by-18-inch jelly roll pan, including sides.

2. To make the crust: in a mixer with a paddle or in a bowl with a rubber spatula, best ½ (one-half) plus 2 tablespoons butter and all the brown sugar together until smooth. Stir salt into flour, then add flour to butter and sugar mixture. Mix until dough is well combined but still crumbly; if dough is mixed until a ball forms, crust will be tough.

3. Pat the dough evenly along bottom of buttered pan, taking care not to pack the dough down. Place pan in oven and bake 5 minutes. With a fork, prick dough deeply all over. Return pan to oven and bake until sough is lightly browned, dry and no longer soft to the touch, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack; do not turn off the oven.

4. To make butterscotch topping: In a large saucepan, combine remaining 3 ½ (three and one-half) tablespoons, butterscotch chips, corn syrup and 1 tablespoon plus 2 ½ (two and one-half) teaspoons water. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until butter and butterscotch chips are melted, about 5 minutes. Pour topping over crust, using a spatula to spread, evenly all the way to the corners. Sprinkle cashew pieces on top, pressing down light.

5. Bake until topping is bubbly and cashews are lightly browned, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely before cutting into two-by-three-inch bars.

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Find Out the Facts About Marijuana Legalization at Two, Free Workshops, March 8 & 15

AREAWIDE — A new generation of children may soon grow up with both alcohol and psychotropic drugs as adult recreation.  If you have an opinion about this, it’s time to get involved.

Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition invites local residents to attend two important workshops about marijuana legalization in Connecticut.  Learn about marijuana and its impact on youth, health and society, and hear the latest information from states that have already legalized it.

The Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC) is hosting a two-part workshop series to provide facts, hear citizens’ concerns and help participants strengthen their political voices.  Participants will prepare talking points and persuasive testimony to share with legislators in Hartford.  Become knowledgeable and practice talking to others about this critical issue.

Workshop 1: Wednesday, March 8. 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Valley Shore YMCA

Workshop 2;  Wednesday, March 15, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Valley Shore YMCA

Save your space in this free workshop by calling MCSAAC at 860-347-5959 or email betsey@mcsaac.org.

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Letter to the Editor: Valley Shore Clergy Association Stands in Solidarity with Immigrants, Refugees

To the Editor:

We, a group of interfaith clergy from many religious streams and beliefs, feel called to express our support for refugees, immigrants, asylum-seekers, and others who wish to live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Our sacred texts provide the lens through which we view the world around us; these teachings affirm the following shared values across faith traditions:

• Every single human being is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:28), and we support the integrity and sanctity of every individual.
• We heed the teaching of Leviticus: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
• We are instructed to “Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18),” and thus to treat others how we wish to be treated.
• We are obligated to follow the prophetic call: “And what does the Eternal require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
• We are reminded of basic human kindness and compassion: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35)

We are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants. We have all known what it is to be the stranger. Safety and security of all is critical, and we understand the importance of appropriate and thorough vetting of all those who wish to be part of America. However, fear cannot dictate our values. Rather, we are reminded again and again that, when we reach out in love and righteousness, we are most secure.

We know all too well what religious bigotry has wrought in the past. History is filled with many reminders of the horrific destruction caused by hatred, persecution, and intolerance. Instead, we share a message of solidarity, understanding, and dialogue.

We denounce any laws or orders based on xenophobia, discrimination, or fear which run counter to our national interests. We are proud Americans, and we hold dear our country’s core beliefs in religious diversity, ideological diversity, and cultural diversity.

We call upon people of faith to represent moral conscience, compassion for all, and an overarching sense of justice and righteousness.

Sincerely,
Valley Shore Clergy Association

Rev. Martha Bays
The Congregational Church in Killingworth, UCC

Rabbi Marci Bellows
Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, Chester, CT

Rev. Robin Blundon, Interim Pastor
Northford Congregational Church

The Rev. Dr. M. Craig Fitzsimmons
United Methodist Church of Clinton

Rev. Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager, Pastor
First Church, East Haddam

The Rev. Dr. Jonathan H. Folts
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, CT

Rev. Dr. Jan Gregory-Charpentier, Pastor
First Congregational Church of Westbrook, CT

Brett Hertzog Betkoski
Trinity Lutheran Church – Centerbrook, CT

Reverend Amy Hollis
Winthrop Baptist Church

Rev. Lee A. Ireland
Interim Pastor, United Church of Chester

Rev Charlotte LaForest
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, CT

Rev. Joy Perkett
First Baptist Church of Essex

Rev. Suzanne Personette
Middlefield Federated Church

Rev. Kenneth Peterkin
First Congregational Church, UCC, Essex, CT

Rev. Geoff Sinibaldo, Pastor

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Old Saybrook, CT

Pastor Les Swenson
St. Mark Lutheran Church, Norwich, CT

Rev. John Van Epps, Pastor
North Guilford Congregational Church UCC

Rev. Cynthia C. Willauer
First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, UCC

Pastor Ryan Young
Living Rock Church of Killingworth

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March Madness is Almost Here! ‘First Friday’ Starts March 3, Offers $500+ Shopping Spree Prize Drawing

Suzie Woodward of ‘Lark’ prepares for First Friday in Chester.

CHESTER – Visitors who come to Chester’s downtown between Friday, March 3, and Friday, April 7, have a chance at winning a March Madness shopping spree worth more than $500.

Kicking off on First Friday in March and ending First Friday in April, shoppers, diners and gallery-goers can pick up a special “Chester” card at any business and each time they buy something their card will be validated.

Once they’ve made purchases at seven different locations, their card is eligible for the drawing April 7 when the winner will receive $25 gift certificates from each of the eight restaurants and 13 merchants participating.

Every store, gallery and restaurant in town is on board, and the cards will be available at each of them beginning on First Friday, March 3.

These customers of “Strut Your Mutt” are ready for First Friday.

Completed cards should be turned in to The Perfect Pear at 51 Main Street no later than 5 p.m. April 7 for the grand-prize drawing at 6 p.m. Players can complete more than one card for entry. The winner need not be present to win.

The participating restaurants are: The Good Elephant, Otto, Pattaconk 1850 Bar and Grille, River Tavern, Simon’s Marketplace, Thai Riverside, The Villager and The Wheatmarket.

The eligible retail shops and galleries are Black Kat Leather, Dina Varano, Elle Design Studio, The French Hen, Lark, Lori Warner Gallery and Swoon and Maple & Main Gallery, Also: The Perfect Pear, R.J Vickers Herbery, the Chester Bottle Shop, Strut Your Mutt, Matt Austin Studio and Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery.

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