May 28, 2016

Townwide Tag Sales Today Bring Hundreds to Chester

townwide tag sale 1

CHESTER: Chester’s 26th Annual Townwide Tag Sale will be on Saturday, May 28 – the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Sales open at 8 a.m. and end by 3 p.m.(or earlier). The event is rain or shine.

You’ll find well over 50 tag sales throughout the entire town of Chester, in residences and businesses.

As you enter town, you will see friendly volunteers selling maps (a mere $1) that will give you the locations of everyone hosting a tag sale. Spend more time with the maps and less time trying to find the sales by randomly driving around– although, that is fun,  too.

The first such event of its kind in the Lower Connecticut River Valley, the Chester Townwide Tag Sale was started by a group of Chester merchants in the mid-90’s and was run by the Merchants Group for several years.  In 2003, the Chester Historical Society took over the event and ran it for the next seven years.  The event is now organized by Chester Republican Town Committee..

For more information, contact Kris Seifert at (860) 526-8440 or kris.seifert@gmail.com.

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Democrats Nominate Essex First Selectman Needleman for 33rd Senate District Seat

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (file photo)

AREAWIDE — Democrats Monday nominated Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman to challenge two-term Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook in the 12-town 33rd Senate District.

Needleman, now in a third term as first selectman of Essex, was the unanimous choice of about 50 delegates gathered for the party nominating convention held at Angelico’s Lakehouse in East Hampton. The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland , Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Linares was first elected in 2012 to the seat, which was held for two decades by the late former State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook.  He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,762-17,326 vote.

Needleman, 64, is a Brooklyn, N.Y. native who has lived in Essex since 1984. He is a founder and owner of Tower Labs, a company that manufactures effervescent products at plants in Clinton and the Centerbrook section of Essex. Needleman was elected to the Essex Board of Selectmen in 2003, and to the position of first selectman in 2011.

Needleman was nominated by Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, who described Needleman as a “special friend,” who offers voters “three in one, a good person, a good businessperson, and a great local town leader.” Bransfield said getting more municipal leaders elected to the General Assembly would “help save Connecticut” friom its current fiscal problems.

There were seconding remarks from Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in a Democratic primary in 2012, former State Rep. Brian O’Connor of Clinton, and 36th District State Representative Phil Miller of Essex, who picked Needleman as his running mate when he served as Essex first selectman from 2003-2011. Miller, who is seeking a third full term this year, described Needleman as “a person who cares for other people and follows through.”

In remarks to the convention, Needleman said small towns like most in the 33rd District are getting hurt as a result of the state’s fiscal problems. Needleman described himself as a “problem solver”, and contended Linares has been “an ineffective legislator who is working on building his own resume and not representing the 33rd District.”

Another candidate who recently expressed interest in the nomination, former Green Party nominee Colin Bennet of Westbrook, was present at the convention, but was not nominated and made no request to address the delegates. Bennet, who garnered 527 votes districtwide as the Green Party nominee in 2014, said he may pursue his campaign as a petition candidate in the Nov. 8 election.
Bennet said the Connecticut Green Party is expected to nominate a different candidate for the 33rd District seat this year.
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VRHS Students Finish Strong at State’s Robotics Competition

Valley robotics Relaxing after their second competition

Valley robotics relaxing after their second place finish

REGION 4 – Valley Regional High School was among 40 teams from Connecticut and Massachusetts that convened at two weekend-long First Robotics’ Competitions (FRC) New England held in March and April of this year. The April event took place at Hartford Public High School, April 1-3, and officials of the school said it was the biggest event in the state related to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM education.

In only their second year with a robotics team, Valley Regional High School’s “Human Error” took second place at the March competition held in Waterbury, beating out nearly 30 other teams. Then, on day one of the Hartford event, Human Error placed second overall but ultimately dropped in rank on the final day just missing the cut to advance.  Last year Valley’s team was awarded Rookie of the Year.

“It’s a little disappointing that we didn’t get picked for an alliance in order to advance, but we accomplished every one of our goals set for the robot we built and we all feel really good about that,” said Valley sophomore Rocket Otte.

Being Otte’s first time with the Valley team, he described the competition experience as “electric” and “exciting” and like no other. He explained he really appreciated the spirit of cooperation among all the teams.

“I really like how FRC organizes their events. They have this term called ‘gracious professionalism’ where they encourage all the teams to cooperate with each other in alliances and helping out with tools and equipment. If you’re missing a part you can post it and other teams will help out regardless. That’s really cool.”

Valley’s team Human Error, made up of about 30 students, spent more than 200 hours working after school and on weekends to build and refine the robot’s functionality. Each member or specific group works on a particular aspect of the robot, from sensors, to gears, to bumpers to programming, using math, science, logic and other educational disciplines. But the key is teamwork.

“Working collaboratively and coordinating skills and talents is what happens in this space; students determine themselves who does what to get the robot working, they organize themselves; the other teachers, mentors and myself are on the sidelines offering guidance and support when needed,” explained Valley Biology teacher Dr. Peano.

Another key element to the team is programming skills. This year that effort was led by rookie member and sophomore Sam Paulson, who worked in the Java programming language to accomplish the task of instructing the robot’s functions, programming it to drive and move its metal arm.

“Programming is something I learned myself with online sites and it’s something that interests me, so when I joined the team I offered to work on that. I learned programming the robot to drive is easier than programming the arm to move,” said Paulson.

He added, “I learned a lot this year and I’ll be able to do a lot more next year like make the robot do more complex tasks. But for this year I was content with what our team did and how the robot worked.”

In the end the competition was more than winning or losing. It was about brainpower, creativity, collaboration and having fun, all done in an environment outside the usual classroom setting.

Valley Regional High School team roster:
Alexandro Adamson, Tanner Aikens, Samantha Bartlett, Ian Bott, Matt Caron, Allie Champion, Gavin Collins, Jaedyn Correa, Jared Dompier, Meagan Gephart, Samuel Griswold, Michael Johnson, Nate Luscomb, Patrick Myslik, Nicholas Otte, Samuel Paulson, Cooper Robbins, Francis Stino, Sam Swap, Nolan Tackett, Ethan West
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Duane Gates Appointed to Open Deep River Selectman Seat

DEEP RIVER — Eight weeks after the unexpected March 25 death of 26-year Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith, the board of selectmen returned to a full complement of members Friday with the appointment of Duane Gates to fill an unexpired term ending in November 2017.

Gates, a Democrat, was appointed at a special meeting by interim First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., also a Democrat, and Republican Selectman Dave Oliveria to fill the vacancy created last month when McDonald, with Oliveria’s support, was appointed as interim first selectman. Gates was sworn in to office immediately by Town Clerk Amy Winchell.

McDonald said six residents had submitted letters of intent and qualifications since the vacancy was created after his appointment as first selectman on April 21. McDonald said he and Oliveria had met with all of the interested individuals, holding closed door special meetings with prospective candidates on May 14 and last Monday. “It came down to a very difficult decision,” he said.

Gates 52, is a lifelong Deep River resident with a background in the construction industry. Gates currently works as a union representative and recording secretary for the Hamden-based Operating Engineers Union Local 478. He is the married father of a 22-year-old daughter.

Gates has served previously on the local board of education, to which he was first elected as a Republican, and the Region 4 Board of Education, where he served eight years from 2005-2013. Gates was elected to a full six-year term as a Democrat in 2005, and for a two-year vacancy term from 2011-2013.

Gates said he has been interested in serving on the board of selectmen, and had expressed his interest in conversations with Smith. “I am honored to serve the remainder of the term and I look forward to working with Angus and Dave,” he said.

The appointment Friday completes the transition that was forced by Smith’s unexpected death. The Gates appointment could be forced to a special election with a petition signed by at least 158 town voters that must be submitted to the town clerk within 15 days of the appointment. There was no petition for special election with McDonald’s appointment as interim first selectman.

The current terms expire on November 21, 2017, two weeks after the next municipal election on Nov. 7, 2017

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Community Music School Names New Executive Director

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School has named Abigail Nickell as its new Executive Director, where she will be responsible for the leadership and management of the active school and its outreach programs.  She replaces Robin Andreoli, who left the organization in March.

Abigail Nickell is a seasoned non-profit executive with more than a decade of experience in the social sector.  She took the helm at the Community Music School in April.  She most recently served as the Executive Director of MADD Hawaii, overseeing their statewide operations and fundraising.  Prior to that, she served as the Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Hawaii, a statewide grantmaking agency, and Executive Director of Save the Food Basket, an AIDS service organization.

Nickell began her career as the Assistant Director of the Northampton Community Music Center and is thrilled to be working in arts administration again.  Her undergraduate degree is in music and dance from Smith College and she received her MBA from Chaminade University’s Non-Profit Management program.

“I’m so pleased to join the staff and our incredible faculty at CMS in our mission to make music education accessible to all,” said Nickell.  “I look forward to working with our dedicated board of trustees to develop innovate strategies that will allow us to operate efficiently while engaging new audiences in support of our efforts.”

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.  Learn more at visit www.community-music-school.org or call (860)767-0026.

 

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Letter From Paris: The Grand Palais in Paris to Old Lyme — CT Impressionist Exhibits Both Sides of ‘The Pond’

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

Talking with Jan Dilenschneider is entering a beautiful world of marshes, rushes swaying in the breeze, ponds reflecting the sky,  and clusters of trees taking on the many hues from the painter’s palette contrasting with the softness of the wild flowers.

Dilenschneider is a Darien artist who has recently been making inroads on the Paris art scene. She was one of only a very few artists to participate in the “Art Paris Art Fair” held in March 2016 at the Grand Palais and, in a switch of continents, she will have a solo exhibition at the Sill House Gallery of the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in October of this year. For an artist, whose work so closely resembles Impressionism, to exhibit her paintings in the same year both in Paris and in Old Lyme – the home of the American Impressionism –  is a remarkable and very special event.

A classic work by Jan Dilenschneider.

A classic work by Jan Dilenschneider.

For the past three years, Dilenschneider has shown her work in Paris at the upscale Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier in the Marais district, close to the Picasso Museum. I was treated to a private showing of Jan’s paintings by the gallery’s owner, who knows her well.  Then I had the pleasure of meeting Jan personally at the Grand Palais.  Thanks to the badge Challier obtained for me, I was able to enter the giant steel and glass 1900 structure through the cavernous entrance reserved for the exhibitors. 

The Paris artistic calendar is overcrowded and art professionals are scrambling to find a time slot.  The “Journal des Arts” describes the artistic events taking place in the spring as a “galaxy in fusion.”  The last weekend in March is particularly in demand.  It was therefore a real breakthrough for “Art Paris Art Fair” to be able to establish itself under the nave of the Grand Palais at that time.  The Fair has a special format — only galleries can participate, not individual artists.  This year, 143 major galleries from from 22 countries around the world showed their collections.  All media are allowed, including sculpture, design, photographs or digital art.

"Trees with broken color" by Jan Dilenschneider

“Trees with broken color #2,” oil on canvas, 36″ x 36″, by Jan Dilenschneider.

As I approached the Challier space, several potential buyers were looking at the gallery’s collection.  A striking blonde woman was standing in front of one of her paintings – an icy white and blue landscape – being interviewed by a French television team from the Canal Sat network channel “Luxe.”  It transpired the woman was Dilenschneider and after the TV crew left, she and I started chatting and did so for a long time.  I immediately liked her as a person and was attracted to her sunny personality.  Her passion for nature was contagious.

“Any work starts from the abstract, and the abstract is never far under the painting,” she explained, adding, “Each artist makes a contribution to art history.”  In one of the handsome catalogues the Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier has published relating to her exhibits, she writes, “If I were to have lunch with four artists, I would choose Wolf Kahn, Henri Matisse, Franz Kline and Michelangelo.”

In a video series named “Nec plus ultra,” produced by the “Magazine de l’art de vivre” of TV 5 Monde, Dilenschneider is shown caught in the throes of her creating process.  She paints with gusto, happily digging into the colors lying heavily on her palette.  She uses spatulas, all sizes of brushes, and even squeegees to diversify her technique.

Painting is her way of meditating, which she says she can do eight hours a day.  Even when she is not painting, she is taking photographs from trains, at airports … wherever she is, to be used in her future work.   

Dilenschneider has a remarkable way with words and writes, “I become the water, I become the trees, I become the birds and reeds — but I don’t need to tell you [that] — my paintings already do.  Living on Long Island Sound, the beauty of the world is my inspiration.”

She wants to make people enjoy the beauty of nature and is happy to use her privileged situation to make an impact.  With the help of her influential husband, whose communications counseling company is based on the 57th floor of the Chrysler building in New York City, she has created the “Janet Hennessey Dilenschneider Scholar Rescue Award in the Arts.”  This year she rescued a Syrian artist, her husband and two sons.

Although she has been painting since the age of 17, she has not exhibited her work until recently.  Thus, she has long been a hidden treasure, which now finally all can enjoy.

Editor’s Note (i): Dilenschneider’s exhibition at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts opens Friday, Oct. 7.

Editor’s Note (ii): 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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Ivoryton Resident Darcy Chmielewski Honored by Webster’s Banking Center

webster bank

From the left, are Darcy Chmielewski, Jessica DaRe, Andrea Myers and Alex Nodden

IVORYTON – Darcy Chmielewski, a resident of Ivoryton and manager at Webster’s banking center in Essex, is an honoree of the bank’s “80 Days of Giving” employee volunteer campaign. The volunteer effort is part of Webster’s 80th Anniversary celebration. An awards ceremony was held May 3 at the Radisson Cromwell Hotel.

Chmielewski’s volunteer effort earned $1,000 for the nonprofit of her choice – the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries. She led a team of five Webster bankers who helped the local soup kitchen serve meals in November, filling a staffing void that occurs each month that has a fifth Monday. Chmielewski’s team shopped, prepared the food, served a meal to 12 people, and then cleaned up on Nov. 30 at the First Baptist Church in Essex. To make the event even more meaningful, nine of those who attended were able to take home enough food to provide them with an extra meal on the following day. The meal was sponsored by the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries of Old Saybrook.

The banker volunteer initiative, “80 Days of Giving,” was launched October 11, 2015. In all, 103 bankers nominated volunteer activities to receive one of the 80 grants. The breadth and impact of participation stimulated even greater community involvement by Webster bankers, who now contribute more than 125,000 volunteer hours annually.

Webster Bank is a leading regional bank serving businesses and consumers in the Northeast.

 

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Retire Your Worn American Flags, May 31 to June 10

american-flag-2a

OLD SAYBROOK – State lawmakers Sen. Art Linares, Sen. Paul Formica and Rep. Devin Carney encourage residents to retire their worn American flags from May 31 to June 10.

Drop-off locations include: Old Saybrook Town Hall, 302 Main Street, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook, Monday through Friday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The collected flags will be brought to the Old Saybrook American Legion Post 113 for proper retirement.

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Law Enforcement Officers to Carry Torch for Special Olympics Across CT, June 8-10

LETR_Mark_Connecticut_Color_1.1AREAWIDE – The 30th Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Connecticut will take place Wednesday through Friday, June 8 through 10, in communities across the state. Officers will volunteer their time to serve as torchbearers and carry the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope” through their towns and cities to raise awareness and funds to benefit Special Olympics athletes and inspire communities to accept and respect people of all abilities. To find out more about the Law Enforcement Torch Run, including dates and times it will be coming through your town, visit www.soct.org.

Over 1,500 local law enforcement officers are expected to participate in the Run, along with Special Olympics athletes in some areas, and cover more than 530 miles. Spectators are encouraged to come out and cheer on their local officers and show their support for the Special Olympics movement. In addition, and also to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Torch Run in Connecticut, rallies will take place at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Day 1 and at the State Capitol on Day 2 of the Run.

The three-day event will conclude at Southern Connecticut State University on Friday, June 10, when officers will run a “Final Leg” into Jess Dow Field on the university’s campus and light the ceremonial cauldron during Opening Ceremonies for the 2016 Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games, which begin at 7:15 p.m.

Over 2,400 athletes and Unified Sport® partners are expected to participate in Summer Games and compete in cycling, swimming, soccer, tennis and track & field throughout the weekend at Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent Avenue, New Haven and Hamden Hall Athletic Fields, 225 Skiff Street, Hamden. The public is invited and encouraged to attend Opening Ceremonies and Summer Games events throughout the weekend at no cost.

For more information about the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics Connecticut, visit www.soct.org, email specialolympicsct@soct or call 203-230-1201. And, follow Special Olympics Connecticut and the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Connecticut on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Law Enforcement Torch Run Platinum Sponsor include Dream Ride, JN Phillips Auto Glass, The Bearingstar Insurance Charitable Fund, Whelen Engineering and WWE. Gold Sponsors are Adams Hometown Markets / IGA Hometown Supermarkets and Papa’s Dodge. Media Sponsors are NBC Connecticut, iHeart Radio Connecticut and the New Haven Register.

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, and run the Final Leg as part of Opening Ceremonies for the Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games.

 

 

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Registration Open for 5th Annual ‘Run for Chris’ 5K in Essex

Run for Chris 5K (VNN file photo)

Run for Chris 5K (VNN file photo)

ESSEX — The 5th Annual ‘Run for Chris’ 5K will be held Saturday, June 25, at Essex Town Hall. It is both a memorial and charitable event, the primary purpose of which is to raise money for educational endeavors in the schools of the Lower Valley of Middlesex County.

Chris Belfoure greatly appreciated the opportunities afforded to him that introduced him to new places, peoples and cultures, such as his time spent studying and working in China. (He had participated in the trips abroad while at Valley Regional High School.) He felt that every young person should have similar opportunities to expand their horizons, since his experiences had so profoundly impacted him and his worldview.

Thus, to honor his memory and perpetuate his ideals, the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund has been established at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County. The proceeds from the ‘Run for Chris’ go directly to these causes.

To preregister for the race, go to aratrace.com, and click on ‘Run For Chris.’ (Race day registration starts at 7 a.m.) Overall and age-group awards will be given, and all participants will receive a free, tech t-shirt. Fun Run for Kids 6 and under starts at 8:15 a.m. along with the CB4 Mile Run for ages 7-14. The 5K and 2 mile walk start at 8:45 a.m. The run through beautiful Essex is USATF Certified. There will be great raffle items and a face painter to add to the fun.

Registration link: http://www.chrisbel4mf.com/run-for-chris-5k.html

 

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Letter to the Editor: Thanks from Friends of Essex Library

To the Editor:

The Board of the Friends of the Essex Library would like to thank all who contributed to the success of our recent book sale.  This exceptionally large sale required significant work by many volunteers including those who worked during the event and those who sorted, repaired, priced and stored books in preparation for the sale, helped set up for the sale and put everything away afterwards.    We thank all the students who are committed to Community Service and generously offered their time to help us.   Many carried boxes upon boxes of books from an outdoor shed to the library in preparation for the sale.  Others provided assistance with our clean-up efforts.   The library staff has been very supportive and for this we say thanks, with a special thank you to Anna Cierocki.

We would be remiss in not thanking those who contributed, and those who purchased, books, CDs and DVDs.   Your support of the library is deeply appreciated.

Look for our ‘Beach Books’ sale June 1-30 when sale items will change daily.

Peggy Tuttle
Book Sale Coordinator

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Talking Transportation: Infrastructure – Dangling by a Thread

The recent fire under the Park Avenue viaduct in Harlem, which disrupted commutes of a quarter million Metro-North riders, got me thinking:  our aging, crumbling and vulnerable transportation infrastructure is close to collapse, and the effects of such failure could be catastrophic.   Consider this track-record:

JUNE 1983: Inadequate inspections and repairs cause the collapse of the Mianus River Bridge on I-95 in Greenwich. Three people were killed and three others injured.   For almost five months, 80,000 daily vehicles had to detour through city streets.

MARCH 2004:  An oil tanker crashes on I-95 in Bridgeport and the ensuing fire is hot enough to melt steel supports on the Howard Avenue overpass.  Traffic was disrupted for a week.

SEPTEMBER 2013:    Con-Ed plans to replace a crucial electric feeder cable for Metro-North in the Bronx.  The railroad decides to forgo the $1 million cost of a temporary back-up cable and the main cable fails, disrupting train service for weeks, both on Metro-North and Amtrak.

JUNE 2014:    Twice in one week the Walk Bridge in South Norwalk (built in 1896) won’t close, cutting all rail service between New York and Boston.  Cost of replacement will be more than $450 million.

MAY 2016:  Illegally stored chemicals and propane tanks at a gardening center under the Park Ave viaduct catch fire.  The flames’ heat melts steel girders, cutting all train service out of GCT and stranding thousands.  Limited train service in the following days leads to subway-like crowding and lengthy delays.

NTSBSpuytenDuyvilDerailment2013

Aftermath of the derailment at Spuyten Devil, NY.

Mind you, this list does not include fatal accidents and disruptions caused by human error, like the Metro-North crash at Spuyten Duyvil that killed four.

Our lives, our jobs and our economy rely on safe, dependable transportation.  But when the roads we drive and the rails we ride are museum pieces or go uninspected and unrepaired, we are dangling by a thread.

WA single fire, whether caused by accident or act of terrorism, can bring down our infrastructure in an instant, cutting us off from work for days and costing our economy billions.

What can be done?  Safety inspections by engineers and fire departments looking to prevent disaster are obvious.  Better enforcement of speed limits and safety are as well.  But prevention of accidents cannot make up for decades of neglect in reinvestment in our roads, rails and bridges.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ annual infrastructure report card gives the U.S. a D+.  They estimate we will need to spend $3.6 trillion to get things back into good shape… less than the cost of the last 15 years of U.S. fighting in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

As the old auto-repair ad used to say, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” But sooner or later, we will have to pay.

Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron

About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

 

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A la Carte: Corn and Chicken Chowder

My friend Lisa Marber-Rich, who spends about a quarter of her time in the town of Madison, is a marvel. In addition to working full-time in New York City and Los Angeles (she has a talent agency and a partner who lives on the West Coast, and has two teenage sons and a divine husband), she arranged for her younger son, Dashiell, to have a bar mitzvah party over the last weekend. She had family and friends for a little Friday evening supper for around 40 at their home and arranged for a dessert party at the synagogue just a few hours later (with her cousins). The next day, after the bar mitzvah itself, there was a lunch. That night there were to be two parties, one for the younger set (bar mitzvahs take place right around the son or daughter’s 13th birthday) and, at the same time, a party for the grownups, close to a hundred people at the Surf Club in Madison.

Then came the weather report of teeming rain and gusty winds. With just two days to go, Lisa was able not only to change the venue to the synagogue’s hall, but also the decorations and the food (no lobster rolls or fried clams in the temple). She and her amazing family and friends were still blowing up balloons an hour after the party. The next day there were friends and family again at their house for brunch. ”What would she do once everyone went home,” I asked, laughing. She said there were two things, but I can only tell you the first: a nap. What is most amazing? That she would still have time leftover for the other.

Only once did I plan a fairly big party: my daughter’s wedding at Old Sturbridge Village. The buffet dinner was catered by a friend of mine who made the wedding cake (a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting), my mother got shingles and couldn’t come for the celebration, and my brother got roaring drunk and, according to my daughter, fell flat while dancing. Even worse: the marriage was over in less than two years. These days I make dinner for eight to ten people who don’t expect me to be the hostess with the mostest. The one thing I did for the bar mitzvah: cornbread for 150, to go with the fried chicken. I decided to make it in disposable pans and to slice it thin. It wasn’t as good as it should have been.

In the meantime, I still have lots of sweet corn in the freezer, so I am making a big pot of corn and chicken chowder this weekend.

 

Corn and Chicken Chowder

Adapted from “50 Chowders” by Jasper White (Scribner, New York, 2000)

 

3 ears corn (about 2 cups of kernels), fresh or frozen

4 ounces slab bacon, diced into one-third-inch dice (I used 4 ounces of bacon, diced)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (salted is fine here)

1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice

½ large red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 to 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1/2 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1 pound Yukon Gold or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 cups fresh chicken stock or low-salt commercial chicken stock

kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 to 4 cups cooked chicken, cut into one-inch chunks

2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup (or less) heavy cream

 

If you are using corn on the cob, husk corn, remove silk by hand, cut kernels from cobs and place in a bowl. Use back of knife and scrape down cobs, adding the milky substance to the corn.

Heat 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over low heat and add diced bacon. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase heat to medium and cook until bacon is crisp. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat, leaving bacon in the pot.

Add butter, onion, bell pepper, thyme, cumin and turmeric and saute, stirring occasionally, with wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, until onion and pepper are tender but not browned.

Add corn, potatoes and stock, turn up heat, cover, and boil vigorously for about 10 minutes. Some potatoes will have broken up. Use back of spoon to smash a bit of the corn and potatoes against side of pot. Reduce heat to medium and season with salt and pepper.  Add chicken and cook until hot.

Stir cornstarch mixture and slowly pour into pot, stirring constantly. As soon as the chowder has come back to a boil and thickened slightly, remove from heat and stir in cream. Adjust seasoning if necessary. If you are not serving chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit at room temperature for up to an hour, allowing the flavors to meld.

When ready to serve, reheat chowder over low heat; don’t let it boil. Ladle into cups or bowl and sprinkle with chopped chives or thinly sliced scallions.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant.  She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. 

 

 

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Samuel Magaziner of Essex Graduates with Honors from Columbia

Sam Magaziner

Sam Magaziner

ESSEX —  Samuel James Magaziner of Essex graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry from Columbia University in the City of New York’s commencement ceremony, held on May 18.  Magaziner received departmental honors in Chemistry and was inducted into the Columbia chapter of the New York Delta Phi Beta Kappa.

While at Columbia, Magaziner conducted independent research and served as a research assistant with the Wang and Cornish Labs of Columbia University and was appointed a Research Team Leader and Co-founder for Columbia’s first International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM). He served as a Clinical Research Assistant in the Sinai Research Associates Program at New York Mt. Sinai St. Lukes’s and Roosevelt Hospitals. Magaziner participated in The Charles Drew High School Pipeline Program, where he served as a mentor to underrepresented and economically disadvantaged high school students seeking to enter into health and science professions by providing guidance and a strong support network among fellow Columbia students and faculty.

Magaziner has been recognized as a Guthikonda Fellow of the Columbia University Chemistry Department and is a member of the The Charles Drew Premedical Society and Chandler Chemistry Society of Columbia University. He serves as an executive member of the Nu Nu Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Magaziner will attend the University of Cambridge in England in the fall to pursue an advanced degree.

Magaziner is a 2012 graduate of Xavier High School and is the son of Mr. and Mrs. James R. Magaziner of Essex, and Rumson, NJ.
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36th House Election a Rematch Between Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller and Republican Bob Siegrist

Republican nominee Bob Siegrist stands with State Senator Art Linares (R-30th) after the former accepted the Republican nomination to run for the State Rep. seat currently held by Phil Miller.

Republican nominee Bob Siegrist (right) stands with State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd), who nominated Siegrist to run for the State Representative seat currently held by Phil Miller (D-36th).

AREAWIDE — Party nominating conventions this week have set up a Nov. 8 election rematch, with Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller’s bid for a third full term facing a challenge from Haddam Republican Bob Siegrist in the 36th House District that is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

In 2014, Siegrist was awarded the GOP nomination in June, following the withdrawal of a candidate nominated at the convention in May. After a spirited campaign, Miller was re-elected on a 5,522-4,701 vote, with Miller carrying Chester, Deep River and Essex and Siegrist carrying Haddam. Miller was elected to the seat in a February 2011 special election while serving his fourth term as first selectman of Essex. He was elected to a full term in 2012.

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State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) offers congratulations to Bob Siegrist.

Siegrist was the unanimous choice of about 15 delegates and supporters at the convention Monday at the Pattaconk Bar & Grille in Chester. Seigrist was nominated by Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook, who holds the 33rd Senate District seat that includes the four district towns. In seconding remarks, Phil Beckman of Essex said Seigrist, “gets the priorities, the budget, economy and taxes,” which he described as the “Bermuda Triangle in the Legislature right now.”

The nomination of Siegrist (left) was seconded by of Essex.

Bob Siegrist (left) stands with Ed Munster.

In brief remarks after the nomination, Seigrist said he would focus on priorities and work to represent all of the residents of the four district towns. Seigrist, 32, currently works with a landscaping business after working previously as a bartender before his 2014 campaign.

Miller was nominated for a third full term Tuesday by delegates gathered in the community room at Chester Town Hall.  He was nominated by Lisa Bibbiani, the Deep River tax collector who said Miller has dedication and a positive attitude. In seconding remarks, Brian Cournoyer, chairman of the Essex Democratic Town Committee, praised the incumbent’s “passion for the environment and the Lower Connecticut River Valley.”

Miller told the delegates that this year’s legislative session, which struggles with a looming state budget deficit, mirrored the situation when he arrived at the Capitol in late February 2011. Miller defended the 2016-2017 budget plan approved by the House last week on a 74-70 vote, noting the plan made tough choices to address the budget deficit, including $900 million in cuts, while avoiding tax increases and a deeper cuts to education funding.

Miller said he was also proud to vote last week against a Republican amendment that would have ended the Citizen’s Election Program funding for legislative campaigns. Miller said the program, established in 2007 under a law pushed by his predecessor in the 36th District seat, current Deputy Secretary of the State James Spallone, limits the influence of large campaign contributions while also helping to level the playing field for challengers, including Siegrist. Spallone, an Essex resident, was chairman of the Tuesday convention.

Miller said he plans to run an active and positive campaign, and is ready for public debates with Siegrist. “I’ll be out and about meeting people like I normally do,” he said, adding “It’s my case to make and I think it is going to be clear, if it is not already, that I am a much better candidate.”

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Letter to the Editor: Thanks from Essex Garden Club

To the Editor:

On Saturday May 7th in Town Park, the Essex Garden Club held its 64rd May Market.  The Silent Auction Committee of May Market would like to thank our area merchants, friends and artists for the incredible generosity they showed in supporting this year’s Silent Auction.  They are:

Abby’s Place Restaurant, Acer Gardens, Aegean Treasures, Ashleigh’s Garden, Bartlett Tree Experts, Black Seal, Blue Hound Cookery, Diana Charnok, Connecticut River Publishing Co., Copper Beech Inn, Cortland Park Cashmere, Adriane Costello, Ron Cozzolino, De Paula Jewelers, Essex Olive Oil Company, Essex Winter Series, Sandy French, Friends of the Essex Library, Judy Greene, Goodspeed Musicals, Phyllis and George Graf, Haystacks, Hortus Perennials, Ivoryton Playhouse, Marily MacKinnon Interior Design, Wendy and John Madsen, J. McLaughlin, Charlotte Meyer Design, Musical Masterworks, New Earth Acupuncture, Old Lyme Inn, One N Main, Pough Interiors, Saybrook Country Barn, Patricia Spratt for the Home, That’s the Spirit Shoppe, Walker-Loden, Weekend Kitchen, and Weltner’s Antiques and Art.

With thanks,

Dawn Boulanger, Alyson Danyliw, Genie Devine, Marily MacKinnon
The Essex Garden Club
May Market Silent Auction Committee

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Essex Shad Bake to be Held June 4, Event Serves up CT History

Connecticut River shad baking in front of fire on oak planks.

ESSEX – Fifty-eight years ago, the Rotary Club of Essex introduced the quintessential New England shoreline tradition; a dining experience Yankee Magazine has called one of the “Top 20 Summer Events” – the Essex Annual Shad Bake.

The Shad Bake returns on Saturday, June 4, to the Connecticut River Museum (CRM), from 3 to 6:30 p.m. It is made possible by the support of lead sponsors The Gowrie Group, Guilford Savings Bank and AJ Shea Construction.

CRM’s executive director, Christopher Dobbs, said “We are once again pleased to partner with the Rotary Club of Essex on this iconic event that celebrates the river’s heritage and supports the many worthwhile projects of the Rotary.” This volunteer-run event has been organized by the Rotary Club of Essex and is now coordinated by Bake Master Joseph Shea. Shea said, “We offer a unique New England culinary tradition; at one of the most historic sites along the river. . . It is a winning combination!”  Visitors might find a local doctor or lawyer at the de-nailing table where they take the shad off the oak planks or a local banker shucking fresh clams.

For shad lovers, the lure is the secret ingredients and the authentic method of preparation and cooking handed down from Connecticut natives.  Done in front of the fire, the fish picks up the smoky flavor of the fire with the seasoned oak boards that it is cooked on.  Add homemade potato salad, tossed green salad and scrumptious pies from Lyman Orchards and you have yourself a gourmet meal!  Don’t care for shad?  The event offers BBQ chicken and hot dogs.

In addition to the food, participants will enjoy live music and touring the museum, which will be open until 6 p.m.  The atmosphere is vibrant with picnickers, music by the Corinthian Jazz Band and the delicious smell of shad roasting around the open fire.

This year marks an important milestone for Connecticut shad.  Back in 1866, the Connecticut State Legislature created the Fisheries Commission as a way to restore, manage and conserve the State’s natural resources.  One of the key concerns at the time was the shad fishery and the need to protect the species from unsustainable practices.  Since the Commission’s founding, it has developed into the DEEP Bureau of Outdoor Recreation.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary, the DEEP will be present with a display.  The Shad Museum in Haddam, the Connecticut River Museum and the Connecticut Watershed Council will also offer programs during the day on the history and traditions of the shad fishery.

Buy your tickets today to the Shad Bake.  The $30 adult and $10 child (10 and under) ticket includes the full meal and admission to the museum. A five dollar fee will be added to walk-ins.  Beverages (soda, water, beer and wine) will be available at an additional price.  No carry-in alcohol will be permitted.

To purchase tickets go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or buy them in person at the Centerbrook Package Store or the Connecticut River Museum.

Onsite and street parking at the Connecticut River Museum is limited.  On the day of the event, an Essex Meadows shuttle will be running between the museum and several key parking locations that include the Essex Town Hall parking lot and Pratt House field (29 West Ave.).  The free shuttle service will start at 3 p.m. and run until 7:30 p.m., with pick-ups and drop-offs every 15 minutes.

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street. For more information about the Shad Bake and Rotary Club visit www.rotaryclubofessex.com.

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Celebrate Haiti’s New Library at June 9 Party

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Sister Cities Essex Haiti board members Mary-Beth Harrigan, Jenifer Grant and Connie Connor plan food details with Claudia Odekerken from Marley’s Café.

ESSEX – Sister Cities Essex Haiti will be celebrating the opening of the Deschapelles Community Library in Haiti with a party on Thursday, June 9, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Brewer Essex Island Marini. The event will feature food by Marley’s Café, drinks and music by the Tangerine Trio. The public is invited.

Ticket purchases and reservations can be made until May 31 by email to: info@sistercitiesessexhaiti.org  or by calling 860-227-0848.

More info at http://www.sistercitiesessexhaiti.org/.

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Take a “Weekly Ramble” on Friday Mornings in June

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Join Tri-Town Youth Services for Weekly Rambles this June!

Tri-Town’s Parent Resource Coordinator invites local families with babies and young children to walk and talk on Friday mornings in June.  We will gather at some of the area’s most beautiful parks for stroller-friendly walks from 10 a.m. to noon.  Parents will get out in the nice weather, visit with other adults and have a chance to ask parenting questions or chat about current challenges.  Toddlers in the group will enjoy some fun, nature-based activities after our walk.

Caregivers are welcome to come to as many Rambles as they are able, which will be held at different locations each week.  To register and obtain a schedule, please call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600 or register online at www.tritownys.org.

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

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