November 17, 2017

New Executive Director Has Big Dreams, Plans for Connecticut River Museum

Chris Dobbs, new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum

Chris Dobbs, new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum

Imagine if you will, a vintage, side-wheeler steamboat tied up, smartly, at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum. Imagine as well that on given days, this old, classic steamboat carries modern day passengers up and down the Connecticut River on both educational and pleasure cruises.

This is just one of the ambitious dreams held by the Connecticut River Museum’s new Executive Director, Christopher I. Dobbs. (He prefers to be called “Chris.”) Chris Dobbs recently replaced the museum’s former Executive Director, Jerry Roberts.

A resident of Deep River, the 42 year old Dobbs comes to his new post at the Connecticut River Museum after a nine year stint as Executive Director of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society in West Hartford. Prior to that, Dobbs was the Associate Director of Education at the Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea. Dobbs has an M.A. in Museum Studies from the State University College of New York, Cooperstown, New York.

To help him get the Connecticut River Museum’s top job, Dobbs submitted to the search committee an impressive, three paged, single space, small type resume, setting forth his previous experience and multiple accomplishments in the museum field. For example, his resume notes that as head of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, he “Developed and completed $1.2 million capital campaign (raised 20% more than goal).”

Also, noted is that in his previous position he “Acted as the chief fundraiser by working with individual donors, foundations, city government, and State of Connecticut legislatures and agencies, and that he “increased endowment 45%.

"Conversational" billboard entrance to the Museum

“Conversational” billboard entrance to the Museum

It is highly likely that the new Executive Director’s fund raising skills did not go unnoticed by the Connecticut River Museum’s search committee for a new Executive Director. Further evidence of Dobbs, successful fund raising was that he managed and fundraised for a 250th Birthday celebration for his previous employer’s namesake, Noah Webster.

The Dream of a Steamboat Tied Up at Steamboat Dock

In a recent interview Dobbs demonstrated that he is a person who can dream big. For example, he suggested that at some future date the Connecticut River Museum might acquire a fully working, side paddling steamboat. With this historical coincidence in mind, the new steamboat would be docked at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum. In the 19th century the Steamboat Dock was a frequent stop for steamboats operating along the river.

As for the present availability of old steamboats, Dobbs said, “There are some of them still around for sale.” Dobbs asks what could be more appropriate than to have a working steamboat tied up at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum.

This does not mean that the museum’s present sailboat, the “Mary E,” which seasonably carries paying passengers on short cruises up and down the Connecticut River, would be replaced immediately. However, the new Executive Director feels that having a working steamboat at the Steamboat Dock would be uniquely consistent with the Connecticut River Museum’s mission and history.

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

This talk of steamboats does not mean that Dobbs is not completely on board in commemorating next year’s 200th anniversary of the 2014 burning of the American ships in Essex by British forces during the war of 1812. However, Dobbs clearly feels that this one-time historic event should not be the principal focus of the Connecticut River Museum.

Tying the Museum to the Entire Connecticut River

Rather, the central mission of the museum in Dobbs’s view is that it should focus on the full length of the Connecticut River. As Dobbs puts it, “This is, after all, the Connecticut River Museum, and, therefore, the entire length of the river from the Canadian border down to the rivers mouth on Long Island Sound is what this museum should be all about.” It should be noted that the Connecticut River is 407 miles long, and that it begins just below the Canadian border and runs down to its mouth on Long Island Sound in Connecticut between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme.

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

Activities that the museum could sponsor, could be canoe excursions on the upper Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire. In addition, the new Executive Director envisions joining the fight against pollution in the Connecticut River, as well as children’s programs about animal and aquatic life along the Connecticut River, including teaching young and old how “to hold a fish and touch a crab.”

Dodd also raptures that the Connecticut River is, “America’s First Blue Way.” Also, like many environmentalists, he is grateful that the mouth of the Connecticut River between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme “has not been spoiled by development.”

In sum, Chriss Dobbs, the new Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, takes a broad and exciting view of his new position. As he puts it, “We are the Connecticut River Museum, and that is the Connecticut River, and that is what we are about.” He continues, “That means that the museum is entwined with the river, every single mile of it.”

 

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Literary Volunteers Valley Shore Needs Fundraising Committee Members

In the season of giving, why not give a gift of time in your community? While our attention and thoughts of volunteering are more dominant during the holidays, help is needed year round. LVVS are looking for friendly, outgoing people to populate their fundraising events committee. If you are a creative thinker and can commit some time to serve on a committee, they need you to help develop and facilitate the scheduling of fundraising events.

Meet new people, have fun, and be a part of a worthy organization. LVVS serves 11 CT Valley Shore towns through one-on-one tutoring programs in English as a Second Language(ESL) and Basic Reading(BR).  Fundraisers benefit these much needed programs.  Contact  info@vsliteracy.org or 860-399-0280.

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New $28 Million Medical Center in Westbrook Is on Track to Open in April 2014

The new Westbrook medical center under construction

The new Westbrook medical center under construction

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook is scheduled to open its doors to receive patients, as early as April 2014.

The Whiting-Turner Construction Company of New Haven is in charge of constructing the new Medical Center in Westbrook. The company estimates that the new facility will be finished by March 2014. Then, it will take much of April 2014 for Middlesex Hospital to furnish the new Center and to install medical equipment.

New Center Can Expand to 60,00 Square Feet

The new Medical Center in Westbrook will initially have 44,000 square feet of working space. However, the Center can be expanded to 60,000 square feet, if it becomes necessary. By contrast the Hospital’s present Medical Center in Essex is just over 20,000 square feet. On an historical note, the Essex facility has provided emergency medical care for shoreline residents for over forty years.

There is still work to do

There is still work to do

The new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center will be located on Flat Rock Place, which is just off Exit 65 of Interstate I-95. Flat Rock Place is a four-lane access highway, which has the auto dealerships of Honda and Toyota at the bottom end and the Tanger Outlets shopping mall at the top. The new Medical Center will be located half way up Flat Rock Place on the left hand side.

The present medical center in Essex

The present medical center in Essex

When complete, the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will have, “a whole host of diagnostic and treatment services,” according to hospital sources.  In addition, “radiological services will expand to include a new MRI testing area, and a designated woman’s imaging area.” Also, the new Center in Westbrook will continue to provide 24/7 medical care, and it will have a helipad for emergency helicopter trips, as well as paramedic services.

Advantages of New Westbrook Location

In addition to a large roster of medical services at the new Westbrook facility, there are significant access advantages as well. The new Westbrook center will be conveniently located, just off I-95 at Exit 65.

Also, the new Westport location will permit patients from towns, such as Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Clinton and Guilford, to have direct I-95 Interstate access to the new facility. In addition, the residents of Deep River, Chester and Haddam, via Route 9, will have I-95 Interstate access to the new Center as well.

Although patients from Essex will no longer have their very own medical center right in town; still it will be only be a few extra miles down Route 153 for Essex residents to reach the new Westbrook Center.

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The Shockingly Unthinkable Has Happened – A Library With No Printed Books …

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It’s like going to the moon.  Unthinkable when I was a boy.  But it happened …

Now something else totally unthinkable to me has happened.  A brand-new library has been built but with zero printed books.  It’s filled with digital books– only e-books.  Can you believe it?

This isn’t a science-fiction fantasy.  That e-library is a reality, here on this planet and now, with its doors open to the public as I write.

It’s in Texas, in San Antonio, which is in Bexar County.  It was designed and built just for this radically new purpose, so it’s futuristic looking, of course.  Take a good look at the photo I’ve included.

Read full story on John’s blog

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New Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum Appointed

Chris Dobbs will take the helm as Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum on November 18th.

Chris Dobbs will take the helm as Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum on November 18th.

ESSEX, CT — Christopher I. Dobbs has been named Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum. For the past nine years, Dobbs has been the Executive Director of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society in West Hartford. During his tenure, Dobbs led efforts to restore the Webster House, which is a National Landmark building, and reinvigorate its exhibits. He also developed many innovative public programs, including “Tavern Nights”, “Webster’s War of the Words” a word game show featuring Connecticut celebrities, and “West Hartford Hauntings,” a popular historical program that was held in cemeteries. Under his leadership, the Webster House won several awards for its exhibits, and the museum received several significant grants. The museum’s attendance and its number of volunteers increased, and membership grew by 40 percent. Dobbs also helped lead a capital campaign that raised $1.2 million, 20 percent more than its goal.

“Chris Dobbs is a seasoned and innovative museum professional who has a proven track record as a museum leader who can inspire community engagement,” said Peter Prichard, chair of the Connecticut River Museum. “He is also a very versatile and talented manager. We were fortunate to be able to hire him and we expect great things under his leadership.”

Brenda Milkofsky, the founding director of the Museum who has served as interim director since July, said: “Next year is the Museum’s 40th Birthday so this is the perfect time for fresh ideas and renewed energy and Chris Dobbs brings both to this maturing institution. He’s an experienced museum professional, well-grounded in history who will help us recommit to the public service and educational standards of our mission.”

Dobbs said “I am looking forward to taking the helm of the Connecticut River Museum and working with its Board, staff, and community to expand the museum’s reach and cultural impact.” He went on to say that “The museum has a critical mission to preserve, document, and engage thousands of visitors each year with New England’s most significant, and in my opinion, most beautiful inland waterway.”

Dobbs, 42, has a bachelor’s degree in American history from Indiana University and a Master’s Degree in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, which is a joint project of the State University College of New York and the New York Historical Society. He now serves on the board of the Cooperstown Alumni Association. Dobbs began his career in history museums as an intern when he was still in college in the mid-1990s. In 1998 he joined Mystic Seaport, where he served as Supervisor of Special Interpretative Programs, including the Lantern Light Tours, before being promoted to Associate Director of Education. For the past six years, he has also served as a Peer Advisor to museum and non-profit leaders for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, assisting non-profits around the state with strategic planning, development and program creation.

In his spare time, Dobbs enjoys woodworking and recently restored an antique boat. He is married to Jennifer White-Dobbs, Director of Education of the Connecticut River Museum. The couple has two children and they live in Deep River.

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Jim Schneider the Super School Traffic Cop

IMG_0165Old Saybrook, CT– It’s a nice, sunny afternoon. I stand on the corner in amazement. Jim Schneider is the traffic cop here.The school day is over and the loaded school buses are filing out from the Goodwin School, one after another. Also parents who have picked up their kids. Soon teachers and staff will be driving out. It will be a hectic 40 minutes or so.

I say in amazement because Officer Jim is doing his thing. Right out there in the middle of the intersection, mind you. And nobody does it better. He’s 72 but as agile as an Old Saybrook High varsity tennis player. And just as determined and energetic.

I’m one of his fans. I stop by the town library on many afternoons. It’s just up the street. I like to stroll over at 3:15 now and then to watch him. He is really something to behold.

Read the full story here

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Essex Savings Bank Rated 5 Stars – Eighteen Consecutive Years

Essex –  Essex Savings Bank has once again earned the highest 5-Star rating for strength and stability from BauerFinancial, Inc. of Coral Gables, Florida, the nation’s leading independent bank rating and research firm.  Bauer Financial has been reporting on and analyzing the performance of U.S. banks since 1983.  No institution can pay BauerFinancial to rate it, nor can an institution choose to be excluded.  Essex Savings Bank has proven its commitment to superiority by earning this top rating for 71 consecutive quarters.  Fewer than 10% of the nation’s banks can claim this distinction.  In order to do so, the Bank has excelled in areas of capital adequacy, delinquent loan levels and profitability to name just a few.  Consistently earning BauerFinancial’s highest rating assures customers and the community that Essex Savings Bank is a strong financial institution that will be able to fulfill their banking needs for years to come.

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

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Letters: ECSI – Thanks to Our Community and Supporters

To the Editor:

small logoThe Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. (ECSI) is the sole provider of Meals On Wheels to homebound seniors in the nine Estuary towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Killingworth, Chester, Deep River, and Essex, and the Town of Madison.  We also provide noon meals for active seniors in four café sites.  Just about every family on the Shoreline knows someone who is either receiving Meals On Wheels or enjoys meals at our café sites.

Like so many other nonprofits, ECSI has budget cuts and has to tighten its belt.  Although we get funding from Senior Resources Area Agency on Aging and donations from our clients, the funding does not cover the cost of providing the meals.  We could not provide our services without fund raising events.  Our latest Autumn on the Dock Wine Tasting and Auction was held on September 21 and was a success again this year.  I would like to thank all those generous people who attended the event and opened their wallets to support our seniors.  Len DiBella of Luigi’s was our honorary chairman and an eloquent spokesman for our senior nutrition program.

I urge you to support and thank our great sponsors as they donated $23,350 for our senior nutrition program.  They are Scranton Financial Group; Fred Cliffe; Middlesex Hospital; Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale; First Niagara Foundation; Rachel Thomas Real Estate; the Essex Savings Bank; Tri State Maintenance; Reynolds’ Garage & Marine; the Safety Zone; the Clark Group; the Guilford Savings Bank; Claremont Sales Group; Gladeview Rehabilitation & Health Care; Kitchings & Potter, LLC, Home Instead Senior Care, Ceil Printing, and the Wine Cask.

If you know of a senior in need of our nutrition service, or if you would like to volunteer to drive for Meals On Wheels, please call Peg Barrett at 860-388-1611.

Thank you,

Paula C. Ferrara,
Executive Director

Estuary Council of Seniors Inc.

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Transportatation: Metro-North Meltdown

Jim CameronFirst of all, despite what some commuters may recently be thinking, the folks who manage and operate Metro-North are not stupid.  Inconsiderate and uncommunicative sometimes, but not stupid.

Metro-North managers and employees are railroad professionals, justifiably proud of the 96+% on-time performance they achieve on one of the busiest commuter line in the US.  They want to run a world class railroad.  But they can only achieve as much as the states of NY and Connecticut fund them to do.

In recent years our legislature gave MNRR $1+ billion to buy badly needed new railcars, a very visible manifestation to commuters that the state was investing in the railroad.  But sufficient funding for inspection and repair of the tracks, the catenary and our 100- year-old bridges is still lacking.

New cars are sexy.  Giving them safe tracks to run on and wires to power them, not so sexy.

What happened when Con Ed’s back-up feeder cable failed at 5:30 am on Wednesday Sept 25th was not an act of God, but human error.  The two agencies knew the main power cable was going to be out of service and calculated, very wrongly, that the single back-up cable would be sufficient.

This raises a number of questions:  Did Con Ed monitor that back-up cable for signs it might fail?  Was it wise to save $1 million by not constructing a back-up for the back-up?  Does Homeland Security know or care that the entire Metro-North and Amtrak Northeast Corridor were depending on this calculation? How many other power sub-stations are in similar danger?

The effects of this outage are many:  the inconvenience to 125,000 daily riders, the economic impact on those commuters’ businesses, and longer-term, the economic recovery of our state and nation.

Governor Malloy quickly called this outage just the latest black eye for our state in his efforts to attract businesses to set up shop in the Nutmeg State.  Even if they can tolerate our high taxes, do relocating CEO’s really want to rely on Metro-North to get their employees to and from work or fight the perpetual rush-hour crawl on I-95?

I fear some individual commuters may be reaching the tipping point.  There are plenty of other New York suburbs with good schools and more reliable transportation.  If fed-up Connecticut commuters decide to vote with their feet and move to Westchester or Long Island, they will take their taxes with them.  Remember that Fairfield County pays 40% of all state taxes in Connecticut, so anything that makes our neighborhoods less attractive, hurts the entire state.

And it hurts our house values too.  People live in the towns served by Metro-North because they need to rely on those trains to get to high-paying jobs in NYC.  When that trust is broken, those towns and their houses become less attractive.

If housing values sag, town taxes will have to go up.  The schools will suffer making our towns even less desirable for those leaving the city for the good life in the ‘burbs.

Reliable train service at an affordable price is what makes Fairfield County thrive.  When you begin to doubt the ability of the railroad to keep operating, let alone be on time, it may be time to rethink where you live.

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JIM CAMERON has been a Darien resident for 22 years.  He is a member of the CT Rail Commuter Council and the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com  or www.trainweb.org/ct

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Essex Resident Served on Shore Crew of U.S. Winner of Recent America Cup Race

Essex resident Jason Sanstrom holding the American's Cup after the race

Essex resident Jason Sanstrom holding the American’s Cup after the race

Jason Sanstrom, an Essex resident, played an important role in the recent winning of the America Cup by Oracle Team USA. Jason is the son of Sandy Sanstrom, a Member of the Board of Governors of the Pettipaug Yacht Club in Essex.

The younger Sandstrom, 27, is a specialist in the carbon fiber construction of racing sailboats. Because it is lighter and stronger, carbon fiber construction has become the favorite over fiber glass, in the construction racing, sailboat hulls.

The younger Stanstrom worked not only on this year’s American entry in the 34th America Cup Race, he also worked on the American entry in the 33rd America Cup Race. In this year’s final race the America team, Oracle Team USA, beat out the Emirates Team New Zealand by a mere 44 seconds.

To capture the America’s Cup the U.S. team, funded by Larry Ellison, had first to win seven consecutive races in order to catch up with the New Zealand team. In the final race, initially, the New Zealand boat had a 40 meter lead; however, eventually the wind and the tide favored the Americans in going upwind, which enabled them to win.

The entire cup race lasts barely twenty minutes; the boats are so fast in going around the course.

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Old Saybrook Photographer Releases Photo of the Preserve, Which He Helped Save from Development

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Aerial photograph of the undeveloped, forested Preserve courtesy of Robert Lorenz, Lorenz Photography

Old Saybrook resident, Robert Lorenz, has played a leading role in the effort to save to 1,000 acres of forested land from development. Specifically, he has served as the “injured party” in a number of legal actions against those who wanted to developer the Preserve with private homes, golf courses, country clubs, parking lots, and “other improvements.”

The reason that Lorenz has been able to play this role is that he is the co-owner of forty acres of land that abut the Preserve land. This gives him legal “standing” in court to assert that his personal property would be damaged by the various schemes put forward by the would-be private developers of the Preserve.

Lorenz is also a professional photographer, and to mark the recent agreement, whereby the Trust for Public Land will organized the purchase of the 1,000 acre Preserve property from River Sound Development, LLC, upon payment of $10-$11 million, he has made available for publication a striking aerial photograph of the undeveloped, forested Preserve.

In the aerial photograph that Lorenz took the general parameters of the Preserve can be made out. They include:

1) Very clearly, running along the bottom of the photograph one can see Route 153, sometimes called Plains Road and Westbrook Road. The vacant, forested land pictured above Route 153 marks the northern boundary of the Preserve.

2) As for the southern boundary of the Preserve property, it runs at the top of the photo, just below visible line developed property along the shoreline of Long Island Sound.

3) Very clear as well at the top left of the photo is the mouth of the Connecticut River, as flows into Long Island Sound.

4) Finally, in the midst of the forested land in the photo, there are two parallel lines, which are abandoned railroad tracks.

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The Trust for Public Land Announces Conservation Opportunity for The Preserve

A vernal pool on the Preserve (photo by Jerome Wilson)

A vernal pool on the Preserve (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Its status in flux for fifteen-years, the largest unprotected coastal forest between New York City and Boston may soon provide hiking, bird watching, and recreational opportunities for public

The Trust for Public Land announced today that it has reached an agreement with River Sound Development, LLC, to purchase 1,000 acres known as The Preserve – the last large unprotected coastal forest between New York City and Boston – for conservation, recreation, and habitat protection.  If the acquisition is successful, the land will be permanently protected from future development and open to the public to enjoy for passive recreational activities such as hiking and wildlife viewing.  The property, which is rich in natural resources and wildlife, will connect to 500 acres of existing town parkland and miles of existing hiking trails.

Alicia Betty, The Trust for Public Land’s Connecticut State Director, said her organization is moving forward with the acquisition and fundraising efforts to raise $10 – $11 million in public and private funds by June, 2014, in order to acquire the property and cover stewardship and costs.

“We are thrilled to be able to present this opportunity to the state of Connecticut’s land conservation community,” Betty said.  “We’ve been able to end 15 years of uncertainty and can now move forward toward protecting this valuable property of regional significance.”

“The work of the Trust for Public Land to secure rights to The Preserve represents a major milestone in our efforts to preserve critical lands in this state,” said Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy.  “We look forward to partnering with the Trust for Public Land and others to make this purchase a reality and protect this property for the future.”

Located in Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, CT, The Preserve includes 38 vernal pools and 114 acres of wetlands and more than 3,100 linear feet of watercourses. The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles. Bobcats and fisher cats have also been spotted on the property.

In addition to its recreational and habitat resources, The Preserve provides important water quality benefits to residents.  Surface waters on the property drain to 3 different watersheds: the Oyster River, Mud River and Trout Brook, as they make their way to Long Island Sound.  The protection of The Preserve will ensure that stormwater on the site is recharged to local aquifers.  An aquifer protection area is located just east of the Preserve and supplies an average of 200,000 gallons per day of drinking water to Old Saybrook and surrounding communities.

The Preserve is located in the area designated by FEMA’s Hurricane Sandy Impact Analysis as having experienced “high impact” from the Superstorm Sandy. Coastal forests like The Preserve have been losing ground for some time as saltwater gradually moves inland as a result of rising tides and sea levels. The Preserve acts act as a sponge for stormwater, releasing it slowly into the tributaries and rivers that lead to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, protecting downstream property owners from flooding.

“This is an immensely positive development, and I commend The Trust for Public Land for their leadership in preserving and protecting this priceless natural resource. As Attorney General, I was proud to fight on behalf of hundreds of Old Saybrook residents and environmental advocates seeking to protect The Preserve from ecologically devastating development. Once lost, forests and habitats such as The Preserve can never be recovered. This is a great day for Old Saybrook, Long Island Sound and Connecticut’s environment,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

“This property is the last of its kind–an intact thousand acre maritime forest, the source waters of three separate watersheds,” said Philip Miller, Representative for the 36th district.  “It is said that water will be to the twenty-first century what oil was to the twentieth.  This will help assure a bright future for this region of Connecticut.”

The Preserve was the subject of development proposals dating back to 1998, including plans to build more than 200 homes and an 18-hole golf course. These plans met with strong opposition and lawsuits from conservation groups and residents.  Over the years, multiple attempts were made to acquire the land for conservation, but an agreement was never reached and efforts to develop the property continued.

“Old Saybrook looks forward to working with The Trust for Public Land towards a successful closing on this property, a closing that economically and environmentally favors The Town of Old Saybrook and the region,” said Carl Fortuna, Old Saybrook First Selectman.  “This property has been at the center of attention, good and bad, for 20 years. It is now time for a resolution. We are optimistic that enough private and public funds can be raised to purchase the property and preserve the Preserve in its natural state. The Town will work cooperatively with all parties in this effort, including the DEEP. Most importantly, I will work for and listen to Old Saybrook’s residents as they decide the future of this parcel.”

Many entities and conservation organizations have come together over the years to defend this natural asset for Connecticut and to create this opportunity.  The collaboration will continue and will be essential to a successful outcome next year.  These entities include:  the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), the Towns of Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook, the Old Saybrook Land Trust, the Essex Land Trust, The Connecticut Fund for the Environment / Save the Sound, The Alliance for Sound Area Planning, Audubon Connecticut, and The Nature Conservancy.

Suellen McCuin, a resident of Essex, neighbor of the Preserve and member of the Alliance for Sound Area Planning, stated, “I am so happy to know that this incredible piece of nature will now be forever available for our family, others in the community and future generations to hike, explore and seek solace.  It is also great news that so many will continue to benefit from the now protected pristine waters that fill our local public and private wells. We are inextricably linked to this forest. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, ‘Forests are the lungs of our land.’”

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

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The Pratt House, A Treasure Trove of Essex History

Pratt House on West Avenue is the third house down from Essex Town Hall

Pratt House on West Avenue is the third house down from Essex Town Hall

Essex residents, as well as other local history buffs, owe it to themselves to visit the Pratt House, an authentic survivor of over 300 years of local history.  Located directly on West Avenue, three doors down from Essex Town Hall, the Pratt House has ample space for parking on its spacious side lawn.

Furthermore, admission to the Pratt House is free, as are the lectures of knowledgeable docents, who are on hand to enhance the visitor’s experience.

Co-Docent Coordinators (l to r), Mary Ann Pleva and Bette Taylor

Co-Docent Coordinators (r to l), Mary Ann Pleva and Bette Taylor

The Pratt House is open to visitors from the months of June to September, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Also, private appointments to see the Pratt House can be arranged by calling 860-767-0681

The Pratt House Through the Years

The Pratt family’s connection with the Town of Essex began in 1648 when William Pratt came down from Hartford to survey vacant land in an area that was called Potapoug. Potapoug at the time encompassed what are now the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester.

William Pratt was born in England, and he came to the American colonies in 1637 to serve as a lieutenant in the Pequot War, which was being waged against the Pequot Indians. After the war William Pratt decided to stay in the colonies, and he, ultimately, moved to the Saybrook Colony and became a farmer.

William Pratt’s genealogy continues with the birth of his son, John Pratt, who when he grew up, became the first in a long line of blacksmiths in the Saybrook colony. John Pratt also bought land that was to become a part of Essex, and he deeded this land on his death to his own son, John Pratt, Jr.

In 1701 John Pratt, Jr., built the first homestead on the property that his father had given him, and this property is now the site of the present day Pratt House.

Additions to the original 1701 structure were made by members of the Pratt family in 1732 and 1750, and the final structure of the Pratt House, as it is today, was completed in 1800.

In 1852 the Town of Essex was jurisdictionally severed from Old Saybrook and  was incorporated as its own town, according to a State of Connecticut plaque in Essex’ Main Street town park. This meant that Essex was no longer under the town government of Old Saybrook.

Pratt Family Had Many Occupations 

Throughout the years the owners of the Pratt House besides being blacksmiths also became, “farmers, soldiers, ship captains and a manufacturer,” according to Essex Historical Society materials.

Old four poster bed, note the chamber pot

Old four poster bed, note the chamber pot

Then in 1915 members of the Pratt family sold the Pratt House to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Griswold. However, in a sense the house still remained in the Pratt family, because Mrs. Griswold’s maiden name was Susannah Pratt, whose father was Elias Pratt.

An original fireplace at Pratt House that at one time provided the only heat

An original fireplace at Pratt House that at one time provided the only heat

After the Pratt House property had been purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Griswold, the main house was converted into a rental property with individual rooms in the house being rented out to various tenants.

Next in 1953 the Pratt House was willed to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, which turned it into a museum. Then, In 1985 ownership of the property was transferred to the successor organization, the Essex Historical Society.

The Pratt House Today

The furnishings in the present day Pratt House, according to Pratt House materials, “reflect a mixture of styles, including William and Mary, Queen Ann, Chippendale and Hepplewhite. None of the furnishings are original to the house but are similar to items listed in Pratt family inventories.”

Continuing, it is noted that, “Functional furniture would have been kept in the family and handed down from one generation to the next, so it is in keeping with the family’s actions that rooms are furnished in more than one style of furniture.”

In addition to the Pratt House’s museum space, there is a private renter in the back portion of the building. On the property  there is also a  reconstructed barn which holds materials belonging to the Essex Historical Society. Finally, way in the back of the two acre property, there is an old fashioned outhouse building, still standing.

Pratt House visitors, Ann Good, Oakland, CA; Patti Klaje, Hamden, CT; and Kristen Pallord, Houston, TX

Pratt House visitors, Ann Good, Oakland, CA; Patti Klaje, Hamden, CT; and Kristen Pallord, Houston, TX

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State Department of Transportation Announces $1 Hike in Fares for Chester and Rocky Hill River Ferries and Another Increase in 2014

ferry 2CHESTER— The state Department of Transportation has announced a $1 increase in fares for the Chester-Hadlyme and Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Connecticut river ferries. Fares will increase July 8 from the current $3 to $4 for vehicles, and from $1 to $2 for walk-on passengers and bicyclists. The fare for vehicles and passengers will be $5 on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays.

The plan announced by DOT Commissioner James Redeker also calls for another fare increase in 2014, when fares for vehicles will increase to $5 on weekdays and $6 on weekends. The cost for a 20-ticket discount coupon book will also increase from the current $40 to $50. In 2014, the cost for a discount coupon book would increase to $60.

The increase, which is the first hike in ferry fares since 2003, is less than a proposed $6 doubling of the fare that was announced by DOT in the spring. The proposed doubling of fares drew objections from area elected officials, including first selectmen and legislators. About 60 residents turned out at the Chester Meeting House for a May 22 informational meeting ion the fare increase, with many residents suggesting they could accept a smaller than the proposed jump to $6.

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Talking Transportation: The July Gas Tax Increase

Jim CameronThis week marks the 30th anniversary of the Mianus River Bridge collapse, which killed three people.  That accident on I-95 in Greenwich was attributed to years of neglected inspections and maintenance, the inevitable result of penny-pinching in Hartford.

Will the recent Metro-North crash (which injured 76 passengers) also be tied to long-postponed repairs?

Last week, the CDOT’s Commissioner testified before US Senator Blumenthal that Connecticut has spent $3.2 billion in the last decade on the New Haven rail line, while Amtrak spent just $64 million.  And all that spending still couldn’t prevent the May 17 derailment.

But Commissioner James Redeker also said there’s another $4.5 billion needed to bring the line into a “state of good repair” in the short term.  That includes work on the catenary and replacement of four movable bridges, some of them 100+ years old.  Layer on top of this $130 million to meet the federal mandate for PTC (Positive Train Control), and you can see the problem.

Where’s the money to come from? 

Well, it will come from you and me.  On July 1st we will all start paying an additional 4 cents per gallon for gasoline, tax money that will go into the Special Transportation Fund (STF), supposedly to be spent on rails and roads.

But remember that it was Governor Malloy who (again) balanced this year’s state budget by raiding $110 million from that STF, something that, as a candidate, he swore he would never do.  Voters will decide if that makes Malloy a hypocrite… or just a pragmatist.  Either way, future Governors won’t be able to do it again as the legislature has voted to put the STF into an untouchable “lock box” starting in 2015, after the next election.

Over the past decade various lawmakers and Governors have stolen a billion dollars from the STF.  So not only are we about $4.5 billion short on needed funds for rail repairs, but the STF has been treated like a petty cash box and drained it at will.

How sad it is when we have to balance our state’s budget by taking money targeted for keeping our rails and highways safe… not to mention starting a state-wide Keno game, basically a “tax” on those ignorant enough to play it (with odds of about 9 million to one of winning the jackpot).

Kudos to Senator Blumenthal for pushing safety as a top priority.  Maybe he can also get Amtrak to start paying its fair share for running trains over our (state-owned and maintained) tracks.

But it’s not just our rails that are in bad shape.  This week the group Transportation for America released its annual report on the deterioration of US highway bridges:  one in nine of those bridges is structurally deficient and in need of repair or replacement.  In Connecticut, that number has grown, not declined, since last year.

Yet, our DOT is still moving forward with a half-billion dollar rebuild of the structurally sound Waterbury “mix-master” where Route 8 crosses I-84.  Why?

So, next time you’re filling your tank with the priciest gasoline in the Northeast, pick-up a Keno ticket.  You might have a better chance of winning there than ever seeing your taxes spent on improving transportation safety.

JIM CAMERON has been a Darien resident for 22 years.  He is Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, and a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at jim@mediatrainer.tv  or www.trainweb.org/ct

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Bus Shelter Dedicated to Local Transit Pioneer

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From the late 1800’s until the early 1900’s, shoreline residents could travel by trolley cars throughout the region. But automobiles soon caused the demise of the trolley companies, and regional public transportation became non-existent.

As the population grew in the 1970’s, Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency director Stan Greimann saw a growing need for public transportation. He envisioned a bus system that would not only enable commuting to New Haven, but would provide travel throughout the nine town region.  He worked tirelessly to spread his vision, until in 1981, nine estuary region towns created the Estuary Transit District (ETD).

Thirty-two year later, the transit district Greimann created and led for over two decades has grown to provide nearly 100,000 passenger trips annually servicing the estuary region with thirteen buses connecting to four other regional transit systems under the name 9 Town Transit.

As a tribute to Greimann’s contribution to public transit in the region, the ETD board of directors dedicated the new Old Saybrook bus shelter in his memory.  The dedication ceremony, held on April 25, 2013, was attended by local elected officials and members of his family.

Long time ETD board member Virginia Zawoy of Clinton said of Stan, “He spent countless hours looking for ways that would enhance public transportation in the estuary region.”

A plaque memorializing Greimann and his contributions to public transit was installed on the shelter located on the Boston Post Road across from Staples.  State representative Marilyn Giuliano commented that “Stan’s contributions were many, commendable and deserving of this honor.”

The Estuary Transit District provides public transit service to Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook through its 9 Town Transit service.  Connections are available to New Haven, Middletown, Hartford and New London/Norwich bus services as well as the Shoreline East Commuter Rail.  All services are open to the general public with no age or disability restrictions.

Additional information, route maps and schedules are available online at www.9towntransit.com or by calling 9 Town Transit at 860-510-0429.

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A Message from the Chester Resident Trooper

Subsequent to the Boston Marathon bombing, more than 100 websites were created to make people believe the site could have a legitimate charitable purpose to help those affected by the bombing.

It is believed many of the sites will instead, be used to solicit money fraudulently.  Those wishing to help should channel their gifts through reputable organizations, and verify new charities that claim to be set up to help victims of the Boston bombings.

As always, I can be contacted at (860) 526-3605 if anyone needs further assistance.

Regards,

TFC Matt Ewing
Chester Resident Trooper

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Frame Finished at New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook; April 2014 Opening

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Hoisting the final steel girders for the frame of the Westbrook medical center

In an informal “Topping Off” ceremony last Thursday morning, the steel-girded frame of the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook was declared complete. Or, as one observer put it, “The steel skeleton is now finished.”

Huge crane that put in place the steel girders for the new Westbrook medical center

Huge crane that put in place the steel girders for the new Westbrook medical center

There now remains the task of covering the frame, completely, with new surface materials, as well as constructing the entire interior of the new medical center building.

Workers precariously perched on narrow steel girders at construction site

Workers precariously perched on narrow steel girders at construction site

Also, according to an official of Middlesex Hospital, which is building the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook, the project is still on track to open its doors for new patients in April 2014.

New Westbrook Center Will Be Off Exit 65 of I-95

The new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will be located on Flat Rock Road at Exit 65 off I-95. The new 40,000 square, emergency medical facility will be twice as large as the present Shoreline Medical Center in Essex, which it will replace.

A Middlesex Hospital spokesperson said that there are still no plans as what to do with the Essex Shoreline Medical Center, once the Westbrook center takes its place.  Further dwarfing the size of the present Essex Shoreline center, the new Westbrook Shoreline Medical Center can be expanded from 40,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet, if necessity demands it.

Although Middlesex Hospital’s publicity materials stress that the new Shoreline center in Westbrook is only three miles away from the present Shoreline center  in Essex, in the minds of many Essex residents, it feels like their emergency center is gone forever, regardless of the new improvements in care promised at the new Westbrook facility.

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

Read related article by Jerome Wilson:

New Emergency Medical Center to Replace Essex’s Medical Center in April 2014

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Letter: Senator Linares’s Vote Against Gun Control, Contrary to Majority of Constituent’s Wishes, Requires Explanation

To The Editor:

I write to thank ValleyNewsNow for its coverage of Senator Linares’s recent vote against the gun control law enacted by the Connecticut Legislature with broad bipartisan support following the Newtown massacre.

Mr. Linares’s constituents have a right to know the reasons for his opposition, given the undeniable support in his district for child safety, the strong endorsement of the bill across party lines, and the uncertainty as to what credible alternative Mr. Linares is offering.

However, while the ValleyNewsNow coverage of Senator Linares’s “no” vote is helpful, it was not altogether satisfying.  The article reports that Mr. Linares issued a statement which “concluded the bill does not address the most important problems”.  But it does not tell us how Mr. Linares reached that conclusion or what measures he would advocate instead.

Senator Linares reportedly said that he decided to vote against the gun law “after talking to many residents of the 33rd district”.  If Mr. Linares means to suggest that his vote reflects the majority of his constituents’ views, I would guess that claim is almost certainly preposterous. To my knowledge, Mr. Linares never conducted a hearing on the issue in his district, and the extensive testimony he heard as a member of the Newtown Task Force led other legislators to broad bipartisan support for the measure.  The true basis of Mr. Linares’s position remains a mystery.

Mr. Linares’s official website sheds no light on the matter either.  As of today, April 19 – over two weeks after the bill’s enactment – Mr. Linares’s web site does not even mention his vote, let alone carry the statement described by the Valley News.  Instead, when one consults the web site’s “in the news” section, one learns that in the aftermath of the legislation, Mr. Linares spent his time commending kindergartners for helping others, extolling the Haddam Shad Museum, and “high fiving” intermediate school students on tour of the State capitol.

One need not begrudge Senator Linares his “feel good” press releases or his energetic attempts to have them covered in the  local press, no matter how modest the content. (See, for example, the 10 or so articles appearing in the Valley News since mid January extensively covering among other things Mr. Linares participation in various meetings, his tours of local factories, and even his attendance at someone else’s press conference)  But they are not a substitute for keeping his district informed of what he is actually doing in Hartford and why.

The public’s right to know our representatives positions is not a partisan issue.  It applies left, right and center. Again, the  Newtown legislation is being cited as a model of bipartisan cooperation worthy of emulation at the national level. Residents of the 33rd District, whether they be Republican, Democrats, or Independents, deserve to understand why Mr. Linares took an outlier position on this historic legislation

Sincerely,

David Harfst,  
Essex

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Essex Savings Bank Announces Community Investment Program Results

Essex– Results of the recent voting by Essex Savings Bank customers who participated in the Bank’s Community Investment Program were announced at a meeting of employees, directors and trustees at the Bank’s Plains Road Office on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.  The Top Ten Winners in attendance received special recognition.

The customer balloting portion of Essex Savings Bank’s 2013 Community Investment Program, began on February 1 and concluded on March 15.  During the first phase of the program, the Bank’s customers were asked to select from a list of 71 qualified non-profit organizations that made application to the bank.

Gregory R. Shook, President and Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank stated, “Our Community Investment Program is designed to provide vital financial support and visibility to these dedicated organizations and their people who enhance the quality of life in our communities.”

Each year the bank donates 10% of its after tax net income to non-profit organizations within the immediate market area consisting of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.   According to Thomas Lindner, Vice President and Community Relations Officer for Essex Savings Bank, 7,180 votes were cast this year.  Mr. Lindner stated that $77,400 is to be disbursed during the month of April based on ballot results.  The remaining $180,591 will be distributed over the year by the Director’s, Senior Management and Branch Managers.  By year end 2013, $257,991 will have been allocated to over 200 organizations bringing the total distribution since the inception of the program in 1996 to $3,673,544.

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

RESULTS OF ESSEX SAVINGS BANK CUSTOMER BALLOTING COMMUNITY INVESTMENT PROGRAM 2013

 

Organization

# Votes

$

Amount

1

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

708

$7,632

2

Valley Shore Animal Welfare League

391

$4,215

3

Forgotten Felines, Inc.

328

$3,536

4

Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc.

287

$3,094

5

Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Meals on Wheels

275

$2,964

6

Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM)

263

$2,835

7

Pet Connections, Inc.

215

$2,318

8

Essex Library Association

212

$2,285

9

Bikes For Kids, Inc.

184

$1,983

10

The Lyme Fire Company, Inc.

171

$1,843

11

Camp Hazen YMCA

170

$1,833

12

Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc.

155

$1,671

13

Bushy Hill Nature Center

154

$1,660

14

Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc.

151

$1,628

15

Ivoryton Library Association

139

$1,498

16

Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, Inc.

138

$1,488

17

Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, Inc.

136

$1,466

18

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc.

115

$1,240

19

Essex Community Fund, Inc.

114

$1,229

20

Friends of the Acton Public Library

112

$1,207

21

Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc.

111

$1,197

22

Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc.

110

$1,186

23

Graduation Night, Inc. – Old Saybrook

108

$1,164

24

Old Saybrook Education Foundation

108

$1,164

25

Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association

102

$1,100

26

The Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock

91

$981

27

Chester Historical Society

85

$916

28

Old Lyme Land Trust, Inc.

84

$905

29

Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association, Inc.

82

$884

30

Literacy Volunteers – Valley Shore, CT, Inc.

74

$798

31

Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau

73

$787

32

Community Music School

72

$776

33

Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc.

72

$776

34

Lyme Public Library, Inc.

68

$733

35

Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, Inc.

67

$722

36

Friends of the Chester Public Library, Inc.

66

$711

37

Essex Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, Inc.

64

$690

38

Essex Historical Society, Inc.

62

$668

39

Old Saybrook Historical Society

59

$636

40

Essex Garden Club, Inc.

58

$625

41

Florence Griswold Museum

57

$614

42

Friends of Hammonasset, Inc.

57

$614

43

Common Good Gardens, Inc.

56

$604

44

Maritime Education Network, Inc.

52

$561

45

Old Lyme South End Volunteer Association, Inc.

51

$550

46

Friends of the Deep River Public Library, Inc.

50

$539

47

Lyme Art Association, Inc.

48

$517

 

Organization

# Votes

$

Amount

48

Lyme Public Hall Association, Inc.

47

$507

49

Scranton Library, Madison (E.C. Scranton Memorial Library)

47

$507

50

Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc.

47

$507

51

Westbrook Project Graduation, Inc.

47

$507

52

Madison Ambulance Association, Inc.

44

$474

53

Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.)

43

$464

54

Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation

41

$442

55

Hope Partnership, Inc.

39

$420

56

Cappella Cantorum

38

$410

57

Camp Claire, Inc.

35

$377

58

Con Brio Choral Society, Inc.

34

$367

59

Lyme Consolidated School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO)

34

$367

60

Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation

32

$345

61

Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc.

31

$334

62

Friends of the Valley Railroad, Inc.

29

$313

63

The Country School, Inc.

28

$302

64

Friends of Madison Youth, Inc.

27

$291

65

Old Saybrook Community Foundation, Inc.

27

$291

66

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts

25

$269

67

Act II Thrift Shop, Inc.

20

$216

68

Madison Historical Society, Inc.

17

$183

69

Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club (LOLJWC)

15

$162

70

Tracy Art Center, Inc.

15

$162

71

Connecticut Audubon Society Eco Travel

13

$140

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Deep River Man Identifed and Charges in April 8 Police Chase and Shooting

AREAWIDE— State police have announced the arrest of the second suspect in the April 8 chase and shootout on Route 153 in Westbrook, Sebastian P. Award, 24, of 257 West Elm St. in Deep River.  Another suspect, 24-year-old Jonathan Alvarado of Deep River was shot to death in an exchange of gunfire with police that left Detective Scott Wisner with a shoulder wound.

Award and Alvarado were fleeing the scene of an armed robbery at the Days Inn motel on Route One in Old Saybrook, with police in pursuit, when their vehicle crashed into a vehicle operated by Wisner on Route 153 near Doc’s Hill Road in Westbrook. Award was injured in the crash and shooting, and has been under treatment and police guard at Hartford Hospital for the past week. Wisner is a former resident state trooper for Essex.

Award has been arrested and charged with two counts of criminal attempt to commit murder, two counts of first degree kidnapping, two counts of first degree robbery, three counts of second degree larceny, and assault on a police officer. He was expected to be arraigned Monday at Middlesex Superior Court in Middletown.

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Senate Republican Staff Attorney Prepares Summary of Provisions of New Gun Law

A summary of the provisions of Connecticut’s new “Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety” law has been prepared by Mike Cronin, Esq., a Staff Attorney of the Senate Republicans.  The summary, dated April 5, 2013, is available on the Connecticut Senate Republican’s website.

Using a question and answer format, the summary is a guide as how to obey the new gun control law. Typical questions posed in the summary include:

Do I have to give up any of my presently owned guns? How does the new law affect the sale of assault style rifles? Hand guns? Shot guns? What are the new registration requirements for assault style guns, and what are the new limits on ammunition purchases?

Private Guns Sales Covered by New Law

Also, the summary notes that the new gun control law requires a background check for firearm sales, including private transactions.

Here is one of the twenty-four questions asked and answered in Attorney Cronin’s guide:

Q. If I already own a large capacity magazine, can I still use it?

A. Yes. If you legally possess large capacity magazines prior to the passage of this bill you can still use it in your gun. If you are at home or at a target range or shooting clubs, you can load as many bullets as the magazine can hold. Anywhere else, you can only load 10 bullets in the magazine.

 

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Local Men, Former Essex State Trooper Involved in Monday’s Crash and Shootout

One of the gunmen involved is air-lifted from Middlesex Hospital, Essex to Hartford Hospital (photo by Jerome Wilson).

One of the gunmen involved is air-lifted to Hartford Hospital (photo by Jerome Wilson).

AREAWIDE— A Deep River man and a former Essex resident state trooper have been identified as participants in Monday’s police chase, crash, and shooting on Route 153 in Westbrook. The crash and shootout, which occurred Monday around 3:15 prm., followed an armed robbery of a resident at the Day Inn motel on Route One in Old Saybrook.

State police have identified the suspect who was shot and killed in the incident as Jonathan Alvarado, 24, whose last known addresss was in Deep River. Alvarado and another man were fleeing the scene of the Old Saybrook robbery, with police in pursuit, when the suspect’s vehicle crashed into a cruiser operated by Detective Scott Wisner. The crash occurred on Route 153 in Westbrook, near the intersection with Doc’s Hill Road.

In an exchange of gunfire that followed the crash, Wisner suffered a shoulder wound, while Alvarado received fatal gunshot wounds. Also firing his weapon during the exchange was Sgt. Keith Graham, a shift supervisor at the nearby Troop F barracks in Westbrook. The second suspect was injured in the crash and exchange of gunfire, and was transported by LifeStar helicopter from the Shoreline Clinic in Essex to Hartford Hospital.

Wisner, an area resident, was treated at the hospital and is now recovering at home. A 21-year veteran officer, Wisner served as resident state trooper in Essex for several years from the late 1990s until he was promoted to detective. Graham is a 14-year state police officer.

The second suspect had not yet been identified by state police as of Thursday, but he is believed to be an area resident. He remains under police guard at Hartford Hospital, but is expected to survive to face multiple criminal charges stemming from the incident.

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State Senator Art Linares Voted “No” on New “Gun Violence Prevention” Legislation

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares voted “no” on the recently enacted, new Connecticut state law, entitled, “An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.” Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed the bill into law on April 4.

In explaining his “no” vote the Senator said in a written statement, “Having witnessed the emotional accounts of parents, teachers and citizens after the Newtown tragedy, I am more committed than ever to help create a safer Connecticut.”

He continued, “After much consideration and talking with many residents of the 33rd district, I decided to vote no on the bill. While I support some of the individual elements such as criminal background checks and discontinuing the early release program for violent felons, I concluded that [the bill] did not correctly address the most important issues of safe neighborhoods, school security, and most importantly, mental health.”

Following three more paragraphs of explaining the reasons for his “no” vote, the Senator concluded, “Now that [the bill] has passed, I will continue moving forward, working with our school superintendents to address school safety issues, with our mental health experts to get access to needed resources, and with gun owners to help them understand the new regulations.”

Sen. Linares represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

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New Emergency Medical Center to Replace Essex’s Medical Center in April 2014

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

A new $28 million Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center, which is presently under construction in Westbrook, is slated to replace the hospital’s present Shoreline Medical Center in Essex as early as next April. According to Middlesex Hospital’s Harry Evert, Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning and Operations, the new Westbrook Shoreline Medical Center, “will double the number of rooms and bring a higher level of efficiency,” than exists at the present Essex facility.

Billboards Promise New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook next year

Billboards Promise New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook next year

The hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will be located on Flat Rock Place, just off Exit 65 of Interstate I-95. The Center will be just down the road from the Tanger Outlet shopping mall. The frame of the new two story medical center is in the process of construction at the Westbrook location.

Construction workers busy at Flat Rock Place site, near Exit 65 of I-95

Construction workers busy at Flat Rock Place site, near Exit 65 of I-95

Essex’s “Shoreline Clinic” Served Area for 40 Years

The existing Shoreline Medical Center in Essex will be closed down as soon as the new Westbrook center is ready to accept patients. The Essex Shoreline Medical Center has provided emergency medical services to shoreline residents for the past 40 years, according to Middlesex Hospital materials.

What will happen to the Essex shoreline center, once it is phased out, however, has yet to be decided, according to Evert.

Some Essex residents are deeply concerned about closing of the present Shoreline medical center in their town. At the same time they can look forward to using a new larger and better equipped medical facility, when it comes on line neighboring Westbrook.

Essex Shoreline Center Was First of Its Kind  

According to a Middlesex Hospital sources, the shoreline facility in Essex was, “the first freestanding hospital-based emergency center in the country, and it became a model for other hospitals to follow.” In building a new medical center in Westbrook, the hospital notes, “We are moving three miles down the road from the current facility on Route 153 in Essex to Westbrook.” An advantage of the Westbrook location is that it “will provide easy access from I-95 as well as local roads.”

Middlesex Hospital’s Senior Vice President Evert also pointed out that the new Westbrook facility would be able to serve, more easily, the emergency medical needs of a number of towns along the I-95 corridor. For example, persons living in towns to the west of the new facility on I-95, such as Madison and Clinton, would have direct access to the new Westbrook center.

Also, towns to the east on the I-95 corridor, such as Old Saybrook, Old Lyme and Lyme, could be served by the new Westbrook center as well. The new Westbrook center could also serve the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester, as well as Haddam and Killingworth without difficulty. In addition, accident victims on I-95 could be treated more easily from the Westbrook center.

Middlesex Hospital’s Evert estimated that the increase in the number of patients at the new Westbrook facility over those at the Essex facility would be in the ten to fifteen percent range. However, when pressed he said that this might be a “low ball” figure, and that he “just wanted to be conservative.”

New Westbrook Center Twice the Size of Essex’s   

The new 40,000 square foot emergency and outpatient facility in Westbrook will be double the size of the present Essex medical center. Furthermore, according to Middlesex Hospital materials, “Should we need even more space we have the option to add a second level, which would increase the Shoreline Medical Center space to 60,000 square feet.”

Until the use of this additional 20,000 square feet becomes necessary, it will remain undeveloped on the second floor of the new medical center building.

A two story frame is in place for the new emergency medical center in Westbrook

A two story frame is in place for the new emergency medical center in Westbrook

The new 40,000 square foot facility, presently being built, on the first floor will have, “an expanded emergency center with an express care area for minor illnesses and injuries.” Also, the new 40,000 square feet facility will allow, “a separate ambulance entrance,” as well as a “covered drop-off area, and improved patient privacy.”

Outpatients at the new Westbrook emergency center will also have their own entrance, and at the center there will be, “a whole host of diagnostic and treatment services.” In addition at the new center, “Radiology services will expand to include a new MRI testing area, and designated women imaging area.” In addition, “Other offerings would include lab services, pre-surgical testing and chronic care management.”

In summary Middlesex Hospital released this summary of services at the new Westbrook emergency center:

  • Emergency: 24/7 care, Helipad, Paramedic service
  • Other Services: Pre-surgical testing, chronic care management programs.
  • Outpatient Diagnostics: X-ray, MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Mammography, Laboratory services

As for the staff at the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook, it will consist of:

  • Physicians, board certified in Emergency Medicine, providing coverage 24/7,
  •  Magnet nurses with a reputation for the highest quality care,
  • Laboratory and radiology clinicians credentialed in their areas of specialty.

Middlesex Hospital summarized by noting that, “Hospital emergency departments are the healthcare safety net for all in the community, any hour, day or night, seven days a week. All patients who come to the facility, regardless of their ability to pay receive care.”

The hospital also noted, “Each year, more than 23,000 people rely on the Shoreline Medical Center for emergency care.”

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Helicopter Air Lifts Wounded Gunman to Hartford Hospital After Gun Incident

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A Life-Star helicopter is loaded with injured gunman at emergency medical center in Essex

A “Life Star” helicopter air lifted a wounded gunman at Middlesex Hospital’s Emergency Medical Center in Essex for a trip to Hartford Hospital around four o’clock Monday afternoon.

Reportedly, the gunman engaged in a gun battle with a state trooper after a car chase and car crash on Route 153 near the Westbrook Essex line. A state trooper was also wounded in the gun battle, but not seriously.  In addition, a second gunman was killed in the exchange of gun fire.

 

After incident State Police troopers gather outside Middlesex Hospital's medical center in Essex

After incident State Police troopers gather outside Middlesex Hospital’s medical center in Essex

 

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Linares Honors Shoreline Student Artists at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts

from left to right:  Sen. Art Linares, Future Choices Co-Chair Kathleen Bidney-Singewald, Future Choices Co-Chair Ruth Baxter, student award winner Dai Yongzheng of Westbrook-based Oxford Academy, and Shoreline Arts Alliance Executive Director/CEO Eric Dillner.

from left to right: Sen. Art Linares, Future Choices Co-Chair Kathleen Bidney-Singewald, Future Choices Co-Chair Ruth Baxter, student award winner Dai Yongzheng of Westbrook-based Oxford Academy, and Shoreline Arts Alliance Executive Director/CEO Eric Dillner.

Sen. Art Linares presented official State of Connecticut citations to outstanding high school art students from the shoreline region during the Shoreline Arts Alliance’s Future Choices awards reception March 10 at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts’ Sill House Gallery. The art exhibition offers students the experience of being juried by experts in the arts and exhibiting in a professional gallery setting.

Students who reside or attend school in the shoreline region were eligible to submit works for the competition. Towns include: Branford, Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Haven, East Lyme, Essex, Guilford, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Middlefield, North Branford, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem, Westbrook.

Shoreline Arts Alliance Executive Director/CEO Eric Dillner, Sen. Art Linares, and Lyme Academy of Fine Arts President Scott Colley chat prior to the awards ceremony.

Shoreline Arts Alliance Executive Director/CEO Eric Dillner, Sen. Art Linares, and Lyme Academy of Fine Arts President Scott Colley chat prior to the awards ceremony.

“These young artists have tremendous talents, and it was my pleasure to help honor them,” Sen. Linares said.  “The support and encouragement these students have received from our communities has allowed them to thrive.”

Sen. Art Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. He can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at (800) 842 1421.

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