February 10, 2016

Essex Grand List Shows Slight Increase

ESSEX — The grand list of taxable property remained flat in 2015, showing only a slight 0.38 percent increase that was nearly identical to a similar tiny rise in 2014. Assessor Jessica Sypher has filed an October 2015 grand list that totals $1,040,877,591, a net increase of $3,950,411, or 0.38 percent, from the 2014 grand list total.

Sypher said a small decrease in the real estate assessment total was offset by modest increases in the assessment totals for personal property and motor vehicles. The $3,950,411 increase would generate about $83,000 in new tax revenue at the current property tax rate of 21.08 mills. The 0.38 percent increase for 2015 was nearly identical to the slight 0.36 percent rise in the 2014 grand list.

The net assessment total for real estate was $942,723,310, representing a decrease of $523,140 from the 2014 real estate assessment total.  Sypher said nearly all of the decrease resulted from a property owner’s decision to combine two building lots in the high value Foxboro Point subdivision on the Connecticut River.

The net assessment total for motor vehicles was $63,713,960, representing an increase of  $832,790 from the 2014 real estate total. The net assessment total for personal property was $34,440,321, representing an increase of $3,640,761 from the 2014 personal property total. Sypher said nearly all of the increase resulted from the new Southern Connecticut Gas Company natural gas line that was installed in sections of town last year.

The town’s top ten taxpayers showed one change from recent years. Solid waste hauler All Waste Inc. edged local businessman Herbert Clark III, who owns various residential, commercial and industrial properties. Following are the top ten taxpayers with current assessment totals:

  1. Essex Meadows Inc. — $22,875,400
  2. Lee Company — $15,633,120
  3. Connecticut Light & Power — $7,185,030
  4. SKR Partners LLC — $4,315,000
  5. All Waste Inc. — $4,147,560
  6. River Properties Inc. — $3,624,190
  7. Griswold Inn LLC — $3,377,680
  8. Stephen R. Cline Successor Trustee — $3,322,800
  9. Essex Savings Bank — $3,305,820
  10. MacBeth Ventures LLC — $2,759,500
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Revaluation Leads to $9 Million Decrease in Deep River Grand List

DEEP RIVER — A townwide property revaluation update completed last year has resulted in a 1.81 percent decrease in the grand list of taxable property.  Assessor Robin O’Loughlin has filed an October 2015 grand list that totals $490,476,253, a decrease of $9,076,156, or 1.81 percent, from the 2014 grand list total.  Small increases in assessment totals for motor vehicles and personal property were offset by an $11.96 million decrease in the real estate assessment total.

The revaluation update, required every five years under state law, was completed last year by O’Loughlin with assistance from Vision Appraisal of Northboro, Mass.  The town had used Vision Appraisal for the full property revaluation, including visual inspections of properties, that was done in 2010.

O’Loughlin said the decrease was less than expected, and smaller than the drop that had occurred with the 2010 revaluation.  The $9 million decrease would represent a loss of about $238,500 in tax revenue at the current property  tax rate of 26.28 mills, or $26.28 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.  The real estate assessment total was $430,864,720, a decrease of $11,960,340, or about 2.6 percent, from the 2014 real estate total.

The assessment total for motor vehicles was $35,876,260, representing an increase of $1,732,036. The personal property assessment total was $423,735,273, representing an increase of $1,152,148.

First Selectman Richard Smith said assessments for commercial and industrial properties in Deep River increased, despite the drop in assessed values for residential properties.  “We knew it was going to come,” Smith said of the grand list decrease, adding that effect on tax bills would vary between properties.  O’Loughlin said the revaluation was a “smooth process” that has generated few objections from property owners.  “It’s a market adjustment over five years,” she said.

The list of the town’s top ten taxpayers was largely unchanged from recent years.  Following are the top ten taxpayers with assessment totals.  The Boyd-Dernocoeur and Matalaniec accounts are for high value residential properties.

  • Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $5,649,517
  • BDRM Inc. — $4,197,840
  • Mislick Family Limited Partnership — $3,300,150
  • Silgan Plastics Corp. — $3,079,637
  • Deep River Associates LLC — $2,695,770
  • Connecticut Water co. — $2,587,473
  • 180 Main St. Partners LLC — $2,314,620
  • Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur — $2,269,930
  • Goodspeed Lasng Co. LLC — $2,218,790
  • Zbigniew Matulaniec — $2,159,290
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Tickets on Sale for Thursday’s Vintage Valentine’s Soiree, Benefits Deep River Rotary

 DEEP RIVER — Charles Shultz once said “all you need is love … but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”Vintage_Valentine

Lots of chocolate will be among the treats at the Vintage Valentine’s soiree on Thursday, Feb. 11, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., hosted by the Deep River Rotary and Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club at the beautiful Deep River Town Hall Auditorium/Theater.

Along with chocolate, you can fill your evening with decadent hors d’oeuvres, chilled champagne (and wine and beer), and sweets as you dance the night away to the tunes of the Shiny Lapel Trio.  Foods are being prepared by local restaurants, including The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook, Alforno, Penny Lane Pub and The Ivory.

The ticket cost is $45 per person and supports the many humanitarian projects of the Deep River Rotary and the Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club.

For tickets visit the Deep River Town Hall at 174 Main St. in Deep River, or Shore Discount Liquors next to the Deep River Post Office, or go online to www.vintagevalentines.eventbrite.com.

Questions? Email: deepriverrotary@gmail.com.

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Musical Masterworks Hosts Beethoven Bonanza Over Two Concerts at Weekend

Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park

Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park

AREAWIDE — Musical Masterworks continues its celebration of a quarter century of magnificent chamber music at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 3 p.m.

In a bold break from their traditional programming of repeat concerts, Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park will play two different programs in the Saturday and Sunday concerts, traversing the entire cycle of Ludwig van Beethoven’s works for piano and cello over the two days, providing a fascinating window into the arc of Beethoven’s compositional career.

The two different programs will include three sets of variations and five sonatas as follows:

Saturday, Feb. 13 at 5 p.m.

Sonata No. 1 in F Major, Opus 5, No. 1
Sonata No. 4 in C Major, Opus 102, No. 1
12 Variations in F Major on ‘Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen’, Opus 66
Sonata No. 3 in A Major, Opus 69

Sunday, Feb. 14 at 3 p.m.

12 Variations in G Major on ‘See the conqu’ring hero comes’, WoO 45
Sonata No. 2 in g minor, Opus 5, No. 2
Seven Variations on ‘Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen’, WoO 46
Sonata No. 5 in D Major, Opus 102, No. 2

For those who plan to attend both programs, Musical Masterworks is offering a 50 percent discount on tickets to the additional concert.

For more information, call the office at 860.434.2252 or visit www.musicalmasterworks.org to order your additional tickets.

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Author Bob Steele to Speak on ‘The Curse’ at Essex Congregational Church, Sunday

TheCurse_RHSteele_FrontCoverESSEX – With the Connecticut legislature expected to vote early this year on whether to approve a third casino, Essex author and former U.S. Congressman Bob Steele will speak in Essex on the impact of casino expansion on the state and the nation.  The talk, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14, at The First Congregational Church in Essex, 6 Methodist Hill in Essex Village.

Steele is on an author’s tour regarding his book, The Curse: Big-Time Gambling’s Seduction of a Small New England Town, speaking to some 350 groups across the Northeast.  The book, which has gone into its second printing, is a fact-based novel set against the explosion of casino gambling in Connecticut during the 1990s, when two Indian tribes build the world’s two biggest casinos in the southeastern corner of the state.

WBZ Boston’s Dan Rea calls the novel “powerful” and Connecticut author Martin Shapiro describes it as “compelling and timely … a riveting story of history, money and politics that will make you wonder where America is headed.”

Bob Steele

Bob Steele

The book comes at a time when the Northeast is becoming saturated with casinos and the legislature has created a multi-step process for opening the first of what could eventually be several additional casinos in the Nutmeg State, with the first in the Hartford area.

Steele is chairman of Connecticut-based NLC Mutual Insurance Company and has been a director of numerous other companies, including the American Stock Exchange.  A graduate of Amherst College and Columbia University, he served in the CIA before being elected to Congress, and was a nominee for governor of Connecticut.

For more information, contact The First Congregational Church in Essex at 860-767-8097.

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New Train Station Parking Lot Opened with Ribbon Cutting

Rep. Devin Carney, Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares (L-R) joined with state transportation officials and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new 200-space parking lot at the Old Saybrook train station.

Rep. Devin Carney, Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares (L-R) joined with state transportation officials and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new 200-space parking lot at the Old Saybrook train station.

OLD SAYBROOK – On Feb. 4, the new 200-space parking lot at the Old Saybrook train station was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, state DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker, and local elected representatives.

According to a release from Nancy Wyman’s office, the ribbon cutting for “the new $2.5 million rail station expansion in Old Saybrook … celebrates the completion of 200 parking spaces, sidewalks, a bus shelter, and other improvements. The Shoreline East carries about 600,000 passengers per year.”

With the 200 new parking spaces, there are now 324 parking spaces at the station available to commuters, free of charge.

The Shoreline East website further notes: “Free parking is also available to commuters along both sides of 3 North Main Street. Please note overnight parking in this area is prohibited. There is a third, privately owned parking lot located East of the Old Saybrook train station, adjacent to the shops, which allows overnight parking for a fee. An envelope will be left on your car window with which to mail in your payment. Shore Line East is not affiliated with this parking area.”

More information at ShorelineEast.com.

 

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Essex Library Offers “Demystifying the Future” Career Series for High Schoolers

Essex Public Library where the Career Series is being held.

Essex Public Library where the Career Series is being held.

ESSEX — As the middle of the winter season drags on and springtime can be just vaguely made out in the distance, many are looking forward to the exciting prospects that the new season will bring. For some, it is merely the release from Connecticut’s raw winter weather and the enticement of warm weather activities; while for a body of young people, the anxious wait for college application decisions has begun.

Selecting a college major, along with a career path, may appear to be a perplexing ordeal to those who have not yet found their niche. As a member of the restless class of teenagers who are anticipating the decision that will become the foundation for their future careers, I empathize with others who are in the same boat as I am and have not yet chosen a designated career path.

logoThankfully, the Essex Library has teamed up with Education Solutions of Essex to lend a helping hand to students who freeze up when that all-too-familiar, “What do you want to major in?” question strikes.

The Essex Library is a professionally-run, free public library that encourages all visitors to explore all that is offered. The youth and teen program, headed by Jessica Branciforte, is especially vibrant.

Branciforte is the smiling face behind the wonderful programs that are offered at the library for adolescents ranging from toddlers to teens. Education Solutions is a consulting firm that helps students and families identify and navigate through the process of selecting a school or career pathway.

Exterior_brick&sign_213KBA career series entitled “Demystifying the Future” has been created for students aged 12 and older who are searching for the career path that will suit them best. During each session, the Essex Library hosts a professional from a wide variety of areas ranging from communications to engineering, robotics, business and beyond. These informational sessions give students the opportunity to learn about classes required, industry trends, job prospects, degree information, salary ranges, and additional principal information regarding the career path.

Branciforte is co-heading the project along with Teal Reamer at Education Solutions, and discusses the motive behind creating the program. Branciforte comments, “Students are entering into a world where the options are overwhelming, and the pressure is on. Seeing a career description on paper is quite different from immersing oneself in the field, so it is both thrilling and reassuring to bring in experts who are willing to share their passion.”

The series runs through May 2016. The third session in this series is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, from 6 to 7 p.m. and will feature keynote speaker Jeff Reamer who will share his experience with business and finance. The program is an opportune time to interact with people who have had first-hand experience in career areas that gives invaluable insight into a career field that may be of interest.  

To register for the session or for more information, contact the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560.

Editor’s Note: Essex Library Association is located at 33 West Avenue, Essex, CT 06426. Opening hours are Monday and Wednesday, 10am – 6pm; Tuesday and Thursday, 10am -7pm; Friday, 10am – 5pm; and Saturday, 10am – 4pm. The library is closed on Sundays. For more information, visit  http://www.youressexlibrary.org or call (860) 767-1560

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Letter from Paris: Marmottan Monet Museum Offers Rare Glimpse Inside Villa Flora

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

It is a well kept secret that Switzerland’s private foundations own a wealth of art works. Swiss law does not require them to be registered commercially and offers them favorable tax and legal conditions, creating thus a “paradise” for art collectors. The Villa Flora, in Winterthur near Zurich, is one of the richest of these family foundations. Since the museum is under renovation this winter, its contents found a temporary home at the Marmottan Monet museum in Paris and currently form the Villa Flora exhibition subtitled, “A Time of Enchantment.”

In 1898 Hedy Hahnloser inherited from her father, a well-to-do textile industrialist, a large house and moved in with Arthur, her husband. For a short time, Arthur practiced ophthalmology in the clinic he installed on the property but soon the couple became fully engaged in the passion of their life, which was to create long-lasting friendships with painters and to collect their works.

Over the years, the rambling house was turned into a studio and an art gallery — every available space was used to place the paintings. Hedy had always been interested in arts and crafts and in the English movement by that name. She decorated her house’s parquets and wainscots with the geometric designs characteristic of the 1897 “Viennese Recession” led by Gustav Klimt.

A trip to Paris in 1908 was for the couple a total immersion into the frantic artistic scene of the French capital. Braque and Picasso were experimenting with cubism, while the Fauvist movement was at its pinnacle. The natural flair of the Hahnlosers in selecting art work was sharpened by their contacts with art merchants like Ambroise Vollard and Gaston Bernheim.

During that trip they met and struck up a friendship with Felix Valloton (1865-1925), who became a close friend, spent much time at the Villa Flora and also introduced them to the artistic circles of Paris. They remained friends until his death. For the Swiss couple to welcome artists and hold Tuesday coffees became a way of life.

One can compare their creative and welcoming home with the boarding house in Old Lyme, Conn., where Florence Griswold invited American Impressionists. Or consider Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo who, like Arthur and Hedy, opened their “salon” on 27 rue de Fleurus to artists and writers. And in yet another example, in the late 19th century, Russia also had its own artist colonies, which grew around enlightened members of the nobility. The best known was Abramtsevo, near Moscow, created by the industrialist Savva Mamontov.

Pierre Bonnard, Débarcadère (or L'Embarcadère) de Cannes, 1928-1934

Pierre Bonnard, Débarcadère (or L’Embarcadère) de Cannes, 1928-1934

The Hahnlosers’ collection contained works by Cezanne, Van Gogh, Manet, Renoir, Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, the symbolist Odilon Redon and many others. But it is the abundance of Nabis’ art, which made it quite unique.

It was a post-impressionist movement in the mid 1890s. “Nabi” means prophet in Hebrew and Arabic. The leading members of this group — Maurice Denis, Felix Vallotton , Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard — considered themselves as the prophets of a new era in the arts. Each one had his distinctive style, but there was always a message behind their way of depicting reality, whether it was religious, intellectual or emotional. They were versatile artists, working in oil, and also lithography, wood cuts, satirical drawings, and book or poster illustration.

Vallotton stylized his subjects and used the technique of “aplats” or flat areas of contrasting colors with sharp outlines. There is a feeling of enigmatic emptiness in his works. “La Charette” or cart drives away on a deserted dirt road, two slender umbrella pines contrast with the darker mass of trees bordering the road.

man&woman
Le provincial,” pictured above, shows a couple in a cafe. One barely sees the profile of the elegant woman wearing a huge hat. The feather on the hat and the ruffled blouse are the only bright notes in this scene of a non-communicating couple in the male chauvinistic society at the turn of the 20th century.

Vallotton’ masterpiece is “La Blanche et la Noire” (The White and the Black). A white woman is lying, unabashedly naked, on a bed while a black woman is staring at her with insolence and a sort of inappropriate familiarity, a cigarette is sticking out of her mouth. The painting is reminiscent of the “Olympia” by Manet but with a different underlying story.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Bonnard’s paintings have an effusive and warm quality. His colors are luminous, his brush strokes seem unbridled, full of life. He is inspired by the intimacy of domestic scenes — “Le Tub” is a picture within a picture thanks to the mirror placed at the center of the composition. A plunging angle reveals Marthe, his wife and beloved model, near the tub.

Pierre Bonnard, Le Thé, 1917

Pierre Bonnard, Le Thé, 1917

Bonnard cherished his villa in the Var, not far from Cannes. “Le Thé” is a peaceful scene of young women having tea . He plays with an array of hat colors. The vegetation seems to overflow into the porch. On “Le Debarcadère” or pier, young people lean over a railing, as if frozen in the contemplation of the rough Mediterranean waters.

This is indeed a rare opportunity to see an exceptional private art collection created by two extraordinary citizens, who according to the exhibition’s guide, lived their lives by following a simple mantra, “Living for art. Collecting. Such was the raison d’être of [this] couple.”

Nicole Prévost 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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Free Tax Preparation Help Available Until April 12

AREAWIDE — Low- and moderate-income families can receive free tax preparation in Middlesex County. Households with income up to $53,000 are eligible for free tax preparation assistance now through April 12 at local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites, and households with income of up to $62,000 can prepare their taxes free online at myfreetaxes.com.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an official IRS program, and all tax preparers are trained and certified to ensure that low- to moderate-income families receive the refunds and credits that they have earned, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

Appointments are required and are being offered during the evenings and on Saturdays in downtown Middletown. To make an appointment, dial 2-1-1 (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or visit 211ct.org.

Individuals should bring a check or bank statement for direct deposit of their refund. Direct deposit is the quickest way to receive the refund, usually within 7 to 14 days.

When attending their pre-scheduled appointment, individuals should bring: valid photo ID for yourself and your spouse; social security cards or ITIN for everyone in the household; birth dates for everyone in the family; documentation for all income; interest and dividend statements; documentation for deductible education expenses and student loan payments; total amount paid for child care as well as day care provider’s tax identification number and address; property taxes paid, including automobile taxes; evidence of health care coverage in 2015; a copy of last year’s federal and state income tax returns, if available; and the current year’s tax package if available.

In 2015 the two VITA sites in Middletown helped more than 570 local households file their taxes for free and returned $773,120 back to taxpayers in the Middletown area. The sites are coordinated by the Middlesex VITA Coalition, a partnership of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team. The coalition receives support from the Connecticut Association of Human Services.

Households with income up to $62,000 last year can prepare their state and federal taxes for free at myfreetaxes.com. MyFreeTaxes tax filing software is provided by H&R Block and is sponsored by United Way, with a grant from the Walmart Foundation.

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Chester Land Trust Erects New Signs on Its Properties

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

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

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

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

More information about the organization is at chesterlandtrust.org.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Connecticut History’s Bad Boys” Annual Lecture Series in Essex Begins Feb. 21

ESSEX – Explore the dark side of the state’s past this winter at “Connecticut History’s Bad Boys,” a lecture series presented by Essex Historical Society and Essex Meadows, Sundays, Feb. 21, Feb. 28 and March 6 at 3 p.m. The illustrated talks will be held at Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Rd., and are free and open to the public.

Each program will feature in-depth discussion about our state’s shadowy characters, such as spies, rum-runners and traitors, placing them in historical context with their equally dark and mysterious times along Connecticut’s Shoreline.

The series begins on Sunday, Feb. 21, with “Spies Among Us: Connecticut’s Crucial Role in the Secret War of American Independence” with Rachel L. Smith. In addition to Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold, the state was also home to diplomats, double agents, couriers and innovators who took intelligence-gathering to new heights and altered the course of the Revolutionary War. Discover how Connecticut’s geographic, political, and cultural climate helped it play an outsized role in supplying and sustaining the secret war for independence.

Rachel Smith, a historian of Early America, works for the Office of the Connecticut State Historian at the UConn as a historical consultant and as an administrative editor for Common-place: the Journal of Early American Life.

“Capture of Nathan Hale, Korder,” 1940, courtesy of Rachel L. Smith

“Capture of Nathan Hale, Korder,” 1940, courtesy of Rachel L. Smith

On Sunday, Feb. 28, Robert McKenna will present “Smuggling at Sea During Prohibition: The Real McCoy, The Bootleg Queen, Rum Row, and the Origin of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

McKenna is an author and the expert on rum-running during Prohibition. He has researched, updated, edited and republished six books about liquor smuggling in the 1920s. He was a researcher, subject matter expert and executive producer of the five-time Emmy Award winning documentary film The Real McCoy (2012), and a contributor to Connecticut Public Television’s Emmy-winning documentary Connecticut Goes Dry (2012). As a former Coast Guard officer, he interdicted smugglers and practiced the legal precedents that were established during the Prohibition-era.

“Liquor-Laden Schooner,” courtesy of Robert McKenna

“Liquor-Laden Schooner,” courtesy of Robert McKenna

The series concludes on Sunday, March 6, as Eric D. Lehman, author of Homegrown Terror: Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London,  discusses how Connecticut native Benedict Arnold and 1,600 British soldiers and loyalists captured Fort Griswold and burned down the settlement of New London in 1781, and explores how and why Arnold betrayed his countrymen and killed his neighbors.

Lehman, a professor of creative writing at the University of Bridgeport, has widely published fiction, travel stories, essays and nonfiction.

Cover of “Homegrown Terror,” courtesy of Eric Lehman

Cover of “Homegrown Terror,” courtesy of Eric Lehman

More information can be found at www.essexhistory.org or by calling Essex Historical Society, 860-767-0681.

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Disabled Workers Committee Offers $10K Matthew Shafner Memorial Scholarship

The Disabled Workers Committee, Inc. has announced a $10,000 scholarship in honor of Matthew Shafner.  The Committee is a Connecticut-based, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help impaired workers.  Shafner, a nationally recognized attorney and former Chairman of the Disabled Workers Scholarship Subcommittee, passed away in September 2015.  The scholarship will assist a child of a worker, who lives in Connecticut and has been totally disabled in the workplace, to attend college.

The scholarship has been awarded since 1993. In 2016, it has been renamed the Matthew Shafner Memorial Scholarship for Sons and Daughters of Disabled Workers.  The 2016 scholarship will provide one $10,000 award to be divided evenly over four years of college ($1,250 per semester.)  It will be given to a student demonstrating both academic  excellence and financial need.

Matthew Shafner was recentiy described as “a legal giant and humanitarian who broke new ground with asbestos, maritime injury and workers compensation cases,” by The Day. He was only the ninth person to receive the Connecticut Trial Lawyer Association’s lifetime achievement award since the association formed in 1954.In2015,U.S. News & World Report’s Best Lawyers in America recognized Shafner as a “Lawyer of the Year”.

“The pressures that fall on disabled workers and their families are tremendous,” explained Matthew Shafner in 2010 when he was Chairman of the Committee.”This scholarship fund eases one of the important financial burdens that disabled workers often face.”

Applications are available throughout Connecticut in the offices of high school guidance counselors, labor unions and Workers Compensation Commission offices. They should be received by April 1, 2016 at the Scholarship Fund, Disabled Workers Committee, Inc, c/o Suisman  Shapiro Attomeys-at-Law, 2 Union Plaza, Suite 200, New London, CT 06320. A statewide committee of independent prominent educators will select the successful students.

The Disabled Workers Committee, Inc educates the public about helping impaired workers return to their workplace as soon as possible. The Committee is co-sponsored by the Connecticut State Medical Society and the New London County Medical Association

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Tractor Supply Company, National FFA Foundation Offer “Grants for Growing”

OLD SAYBROOK – Tractor Supply Company has launched its national “Grants for Growing” program, which allows opportunities for local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters to make their communities a better place to live.  The deadline for local FFA chapters to sign up for this competitive grant process is Feb. 15. The in-store event to raise funds by allowing Tractor Supply shoppers to donate $1 at checkout will run Feb. 19-28.

Tractor Supply is located at 400 Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook.

In partnership with the National FFA Foundation, the “Grants for Growing” program raises funds for local FFA chapter initiatives and awards minimum $500 competitive grants to participating chapters. While $500 is the minimum grant amount that will be awarded to selected chapters, there is no cap on the amount of funding that a chapter can choose to request for its project.

If selected, chapters can use the funds in a number of ways to benefit their community including buying vegetation, trees, seed, chickens, feed, mulch or tools to help start or expand an FFA project that will continue for years to come.

Chapter advisors are required to complete the grant application, and eligibility will be based on the evaluation of how the money will be used, volunteer hours, and promotional activities during the fundraising period.  The grant application can be found at www.FFA.org/grantsforgrowing/application.

For more information on Tractor Supply, access the website at www.TractorSupply.com.

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Valley Regional Presents “The Addams Family” March 11-13, Tickets Now on Sale

addams family artREGION 4 — Valley Regional Musical Productions will present a new musical comedy, “The Addams Family,” on the weekend of March 11-13 at Valley Regional High School in Deep River.

The musical is based on the characters drawn and made famous by Charles Addams.

Rehearsals have already begun under the direction of Ingrid Walsh. “The Addams Family” features a cast of 73 and a crew of 30 with an additional nine students in the music pit.

Four shows will be presented: Friday, March 11, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 12, at 1 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, March 13, at 1 p.m.

Tickets for all seats are $12 except for the Saturday matinee, which will be $10. Tickets will be available beginning Jan. 31 at the school, Celebrations, Elephant Crossing, Toys Ahoy, and The Wheatmarket.

“The Addams Family” cast members (L-R): front: Miranda Holland, Nathan Russo; second row: Maggie Walsh, Connor Riordan, James D’Amico, Annie Brown, Jonny Leffingwell; back: Dilan Rojas, Jennifer Roberts, and Mitch Conrad

“The Addams Family” cast members (L-R): front: Miranda Holland, Nathan Russo; second row: Maggie Walsh, Connor Riordan, James D’Amico, Annie Brown, Jonny Leffingwell; back: Dilan Rojas, Jennifer Roberts, and Mitch Conrad

The Valley Regional Musical Program (VRMP) has been under the direction of Ingrid Walsh since 1998 and has been recognized by the Connecticut High School Music Theatre Awards multiple times for such awards as Outstanding Hair and Makeup, Outstanding Sound Design, and Outstanding Actress, among others.

The VRMP won awards for Outstanding Production of the Year in 2012 for “Titanic” as well as Outstanding Chorus in 2012 and 2013. Last year VRMP was honored with the inaugural “The Future of Theatre Award,” recognizing its success in producing the new musical show, “Band Geeks.”

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Vista’s Starlight Benefit “Sets Sail” in April, Sponsorship Opportunities Available

Members of Vista’s Starlight Benefit Committee are gearing up for this year’s Gilligan’s Island-themed event on April 16. From left are Margie Butler, Jean Brookman, Heidi Teubert and Francoise Williams. Photo credit: Vanessa Pereira

Members of Vista’s Starlight Benefit Committee are gearing up for this year’s event on April 16. From left are Margie Butler, Jean Brookman, Heidi Teubert and Francoise Williams. Photo credit: Vanessa Pereira

AREAWIDE — Set sail aboard the S.S. Minnow for a “three-hour tour” during the Vista Starlight Benefit at the Water’s Edge Resort and Spa on Saturday, April 16.

The event—Vista’s annual spring fundraiser and social event—features a cocktail function, live and silent auctions, dinner and entertainment. Guests are encouraged to embrace this year’s “Welcome Ashore” theme by coming dressed as a shipwrecked castaway from the 1960s.

Charles Steinberg

Taking the helm is event honoree Charles Steinberg, owner of Branford Jewelers. Steinberg is a great friend of Vista and a tremendous supporter of many organizations along the shoreline. An avid cyclist, Steinberg supports a number of charitable rides, including the Vista Tour de Shore cycling event and fundraiser. Vista is proud to honor him for his dedication and commitment to the Vista and shoreline communities.

More than 250 people attended last year’s Broadway-themed Starlight Benefit, which netted over $90,000. Funds raised at the event support the many programs and services offered at Vista, an organization that serves individuals with disabilities. A unique auction held during the evening benefits Vista’s Student/Member Enrichment Fund, which helps underwrite special projects and initiatives that directly benefit students and members in Vista’s programs.

Event tickets start at $100. Sponsorships and online fundraising opportunities are also available. Visit www.vistavocational.org to support the Starlight Benefit. For questions or to get involved, contact Jessica Liedke, Manager of Fundraising and Events, at jliedke@vistavocational.org or (860) 399-8080 ext. 268.

Editor’s note: Based in Madison and Westbrook, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success. For more information about Vista, visit www.vistavocational.org.

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