March 21, 2018

Chester Garden Club Hosts Avian Author John Himmelman Tomorrow

CHESTER — On Tuesday, March 20, at 7 p.m., the Chester Garden Club will be hosting a presentation by author, John Himmelman from Killingworth, Conn., on“Birds; Their Side of the Story …” at the United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, CT.

He will share light-hearted stories of birds and bird watching – from cuisine to cartoons; ornaments to icons, murmurs to murders. You’ll be given a whole new look at the avian friends we so admire (and some, not so much…)

Members of the Chester Garden Club and the public are invited to attend.  The cost for guests will be $5.

For additional information, contact Chester Garden Club Co-President Brenda Johnson at (860) 526-2998.


2018 Season at Ivoryton Playhouse Opens Wednesday with ‘The Fantasticks’

Rehearsing for The Fantasticks are, from left to right, Carly Callahan, David Pittsinger* and Patricia Schuman.*

ESSEX — The Ivoryton Playhouse will open its 2018 season with a romantic fable that has enchanted audiences around the world for over 50 years. The Fantasticks by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt is a timeless tale of young love, shattered dreams and universal truths and it opens in Ivoryton on Wednesday, March 21.

The show was first performed Off Broadway in May 1960 and ran for 42 years, making it the world’s longest running musical. It has helped launch the careers of Liza Minnelli, Glenn Close, F. Murray Abraham, Kristin Chenoweth, and even Ricardo Montalbán.

The Fantasticks has been performed in 82 countries, and each year some 250 productions are mounted worldwide. Its themes — the blind passion of youth, the meddling of parents, the deepening of love through pain and struggle — are timeless and continue to captivate audiences everywhere. This intimate show with a bounty of catchy tunes and beautiful melodies, including the classic “Try to remember the kind of September …”, is a quintessential celebration of love in all its gorgeous simplicity and heartbreaking complexities.

In rehearsal for The Fantasticks seen here are, from left to right, Ryan Bloomquist, Cory Candelet and Kimberley Immanuel*.

David Pittsinger*, who has performed in Ivoryton to great critical acclaim as Emile de Becque in South Pacific,  and  Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, will be playing the storyteller – El Gallo.  He will be joined by his wife, Patricia Schuman*, Carly Callahan, R. Bruce Connelly*, William Clark, Kimberley Immanuel*, Ryan Bloomquist and Cory Candelet.

The show is directed and choreographed by Brian Feehan, the set is designed by Martin Marchitto, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Cipollina. Musical direction is by Jill Brunelle.

Don’t miss this opportunity to fall in love again and catch the magic one more time!

The Fantasticks opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse runs through April 8. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. There will be no performance on Easter Sunday, April 1 — the replacement show will be on Saturday, March 31, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults, $45 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity


Pegs from the Past Create Art for the Present; Chester Historical Soc. Hosts Reception for Challenge, April 7

CHESTER — What would you do if you were given three wooden pegs to reimagine?

If you’re one of the area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelers, designers (you get the picture), you’d turn those pegs into something unique and/or useful, decorative and/or functional, whimsical and/or practical.

All for the Creative Challenge hosted annually by the Chester Historical Society.

For this year’s Pegs Challenge on Saturday, April 7, the Chester Historical Society was given a box of wooden pegs, discovered years ago at M.S. Brooks & Sons on Liberty Street.

Over the past years, the Chester Historical Society’s Creative Challenge has invited area artists to use artifacts from Chester’s rich manufacturing history to create items for a silent auction and reception to raise funds for the Historical Society.

There have been challenges based on hooks from the Brooks factory, knitting gauges from the C.J. Bates factory, manicure sticks from the Bishop & Watrous factory, and even rusted pieces “unearthed” from the yard of one of Chester’s earliest houses.

The finished pieces of “pegs” art, jewelry, sculptures, photographs, etc. will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Reception on Saturday, April 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Chester Meeting House.

The reception will feature hearty hors d’oeuvres and desserts from Chester kitchens served with wine and non-alcoholic beverages.

Tickets for the evening are $30. They can be purchased at Maple & Main Gallery and Lark, both in the center of Chester, or by calling Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery, 860-526-9822. They may be available at the door, if they have not sold out.

All the proceeds from the event will benefit the preservation and showcasing of Chester history through the Chester Historical Society and the Chester Museum at The Mill. Information is available on the Society website, or at


See ‘From Field to Frame: The Avian Art of Michael DiGiorgio’ at CT River Museum Through May 3

Inca jay by Michael DiGiorgio 2005

ESSEX – The new Spring Exhibit at Connecticut River Museum is From Field to Frame:  The Avian Art of Michael DiGiorgio.  There is a member preview on Friday, March 16, at 5:30 p.m.  The exhibit opens to the public on Saturday, March 17, and runs through May 3.

Michael DiGiorgio is a nationally recognized artist living in Madison, CT.  His paintings and drawings have appeared in nature books and journals, including Birds of Brazil vol. 1 and 2, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Audubon Field Guide to Birds/Eastern and Western Region, and The Narrow Edge by Deborah Cramer. DiGiorgio recently completely revised the artwork for the new edition of Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds.

DiGiorgio has painted birds since he was five and studied bird painting under the late Don Eckelberry.  Under Eckelberry’s critical eye, DiGiorgio developed his style emphasizing the character of the bird and its relationship to the environment.  Committed to painting from life, DiGiorgio has traveled extensively to create field sketches of birds, plants, and habitat from all over the Americas, West Indies, Trinidad, and the Outer Islands of Britain.

DiGiorgio won the first ever Eckelberry Endowment Award from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for his Bird Illustration work.  His paintings have been exhibited at numerous museums and institutes including the Roger Tory Peterson Institute; The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; and the The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

The Connecticut River Museum is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For questions, call 860-767-8269 or visit


Death of Former Chester Resident William (Bill) Hanford Burr Announced

William Hanford Burr (Bill), age 87, died on February 11, 2018, in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  A memorial service will be held on June 8, 2018 at 2:00PM at the site of interred cremains in Oak Land Cemetery in Fairfield, CT. 

Born on August 28, 1930 in Westport, CT to parents Morris Lyon Burr and Catherine Aretta Burr, he was married to his surviving spouse Marilyn Jean Weber on August 18, 1962.  He has three surviving children: daughter Catherine Margaret Burr-Utter (married to Steven Utter; children Nathan Michael Utter and Hannah Elizabeth Utter); son William Osborn Burr II (married to Carole Westhfer; children Thaddeus James Burr and Noah Hanford Burr; and daughter Elizabeth Forrest Burr (married to Dale C. Deutscher; children Bremmer William Mock, John Morgan Mock, and Satari Austin Deutscher). 

Dad has three siblings: brother Morris Lyon Burr Jr. (spouse Arlene Davis (deceased)); sister Mary Bolin (deceased) (spouse United States Army Col (retired) James Bolin); and sister Aretta Muir (spouse James Muir).

His education and military experience include a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture from the University of Connecticut and a Masters in Business Administration from Bridgeport University.  He was inducted into the United States Army and served two years in the rank of Specialist as a Medical Corpsman.  His career in business management brought him to Handy & Harmon in Fairfield, CT and later to Lewis Engineering in Naugatuck CT and finally to Bavier, Bulger, and Goodyear Management Consultants in New Haven, CT where he remained until retirement in 1996.

Throughout dad’s life, he lived in Westport, CT from childhood until 1997 when he and Marilyn moved to Chester, CT.  In 2003, they moved to Bozeman, MT and remained there until their move to Port St. Lucie, FL in 2017.

Dad believed in giving back to his community and did so by remaining actively involved in leadership roles at Greens Farms Congregational Church of Westport, CT and the United Church of Christ of Chester, CT.  He regularly volunteered his labor on environmental conservation projects conducted by the Land Trust of Chester, CT.  In Bozeman, MT he maintained a weekly routine of volunteering at the local food bank and tending plants at the Gallatin Gardeners Club.

Dad loved gardening.   He had the soul of a farmer.  He loved all kinds of outdoor work.  He was a driven do-it-yourself handyman, indeed, a frustrated carpenter, woodsman, and homesteader who insisted on doing any size job himself and with antiquated manual tools and equipment leftover from the bygone Burr Farms era of his childhood.  Of his few allowances for modern methods was his 1929 Farmall B-N model tractor that had to be crank started from the front end.  And when he was not growing and putting up vegetable stores (particularly onions) with an intensity that made one believe survival through the winter months hung in the balance, he was sailing on Long Island Sound.  Neither foul weather nor any number of sea-sick crew members hanging over the side was a reason for him to consider a day on the water unpleasant.  A dousing spray of salt water and vomit he considered a reasonable character building experience for all.

Our father was not a verbose man and not one to seek public attention.  He was fond of a saying: “fools names and faces are seen and heard in public places”.  He was not given to overt demonstrations of intense emotion.  Nevertheless, he had a stoic charm that conveyed a genuine strength of character and integrity.  He cherished family gatherings, most especially at Christmas.  He loved us, his children and his wife.  And we love him.  He is remembered with the fondness and respect.  He is missed.


Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Continues with ‘Designing for Fun: The State of Play,’ March 23

A free, illustrated talk on Luckey Climbers, an example of which is shown in the photo above,  will be presented by Spencer Luckey at 7 p.m. March 23 in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects. Luckey will focus on where Luckey LLC came from, why they do what they do, and why they push the boundaries of sculpture, play, art and design with each piece.

Luckey LLC is a small design/build firm in New Haven that produces whimsical play structures throughout the world. Part artwork, part playground, Luckey Climbers can be found at children’s museums, science centers, malls and public parks.

On Friday, March 23, at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects, Spencer Luckey will talk about where Luckey LLC came from, why they do what they do, and why they push the boundaries of sculpture, play, art and design with each piece. The lecture will cover built and unbuilt schemes in an attempt to demonstrate the struggles and triumphs of the intrepid playground designer.

Luckey is president and chief architect of Luckey LLC, which creates bespoke children’s climbing sculptures for institutional and commercial clients around the world. Creating soaring, whimsical, gravity-defying play structures for kids, Luckey is helping to reinvent the state of play, inspiring it with the limitlessness of a child’s imagination and the complexities of conceptual art.

After completing his degree at the Yale School of Architecture, Spencer rejoined Luckey Climbers in 2006 after his father, Thomas Walker Luckey, suffered a terrible accident.

Tom, Spencer and the making of the 2007 Luckey Climber at The Boston Children’s Museum were the subjects of the documentary film “Luckey” that depicts the early struggles and triumphs the family had in reconciling life directly following Tom’s accident. The film played at festivals all over the world including SXSW and was aired several times on the Sundance Channel.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. Centerbrook Architects is located at 67 Main St. In Centerbrook.


Essex Land Trust Hosts UConn Professor on Protecting CT’s Groundwater Resources, March 29

Dr. Gary Robbins will speak March 29 on Connecticut’s groundwater resources at Essex Town Hall.

ESSEX — The Essex Land Trust presents a lecture on protecting Connecticut’s groundwater resources on Thursday, March 29, at 7 p.m. at Essex Town Hall, 29 West Ave. The lecture will have a focus on the lower Connecticut River valley.

Gary Robbins, Professor of Geology in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut, Storrs will be stressing groundwater resources—so will start with a Groundwater 101. Then look at the hydrogeology of the lower CT river valley and talk about groundwater conditions and contamination issues now and in the future.

Dr. Robbins specializes in Hydrogeology and has been at UCONN for 31 years. He has published many papers related to Connecticut groundwater resources.

It is important to note that the date for this event has changed from March 26 to March 29.


Middlesex Hospice & Palliative Care Seeks New Volunteers

AREAWIDE — At Middlesex Hospice and Palliative Care, volunteers are an integral part of the interdisciplinary team, reaching out to patients and families as they cope with the challenges of terminal illness. Volunteers are eligible to begin after completing 12 hours of classes and a 12-hour mentorship on our inpatient hospice unit.

Training is held on Saturday April 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and April 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both sessions are mandatory. The Hospice is specifically looking for individuals who would like to work in homecare and nursing homes visiting patients. 

For more information and to begin the application process, contact Jackie Orlowski, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator, at (860) 358-6955 or at your earliest convenience.


Needleman Calls for Increased Staffing, Improved Response Times from Utility Companies

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman

ESSEX — Today, March 12, in response to unacceptable and inadequate utility response time during power outages, Essex First Selectman and businessman Norm Needleman submitted public testimony in support of new proposed legislation to have utility companies increase staffing and equipment levels.

Senate Bill 329, An Act Concerning Minimum Utility Staffing and Equipment Levels, would require the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to initiate a docket and issue a final order regarding minimum utility staffing and equipment levels. The Authority was originally meant to create these minimum levels following Tropical Storm Irene, but has yet to finish its work.

Needleman, who is in his fourth term as Essex First Selectman, has seen the responses by the local utility company Eversource get slower and less efficient with every storm. His testimony, which was submitted to the Energy and Technology Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly, is detailed in the following paragraphs:

“In recent years, I have witnessed an alarming deterioration in response to power outages by Eversource, causing inordinate delays in power restoration to homes and businesses in Essex. It is my strong belief that this inadequate response to power outages is the result of two factors. First, Eversource has drastically reduced repair personnel and equipment, instead relying on resources from private contractors and service units from outside of their system.

Second, and equally alarming, is the lack of operating management oversight in directing and coordinating whatever resources are available.  Said another way, Eversource does not maintain staffing levels sufficient to provide adequate response to power outages, and they have failed to develop a communications and management system to direct the outside resources that eventually arrive.

This service problem is not confined to Essex. In consulting with officials in surrounding  towns, they have detailed their frustrations with prolonged power outages, inadequate staffing, and incorrect information from Eversource.”

Not only have I experienced these problems as a First Selectman trying to provide basic services to residents but also as a business owner and a household customer myself. My manufacturing plant in Michigan has lost power one time in 14 years and they have pretty drastic weather conditions, especially during the winter. Meanwhile, my manufacturing plant in Centerbrook loses power regularly and sometimes for no reason at all.

Considering we are paying one of the highest prices in the country for electricity we should have a world class system, not a third world system, which is what it feels like we have. The lack of reliable electricity is a serious deterrent for new businesses considering locating in Connecticut.

Repeatedly, Eversource has ignored their responsibilities by failing to implement effective weather-related response and repair. Instead, they have chosen to implement staff and equipment reductions to effect cost economies. As a matter of public safety, Eversource should be required to maintain adequate staffing and equipment levels. S.B. 329 will help remedy this crippling public utility problem.”

The 33rd State Senate District consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and a portion of Old Saybrook.


Carney (R) Seeks Third Term as State Representative, Democrat Pugliese Announces Challenge

State Rep. Devin Carney

UPDATED 3/7 10:09pm: OLD SAYBROOK: Devin Carney, a Republican who ran unopposed for a second term in 2016, has announced his intention to seek a third term as State Representative for the 23rd General AssemblyDistrict, which includes the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and coastal Westbrook. But this November, Carney will be challenged by Old Saybrook resident and Democrat Matt Pugliese.

Pugliese, a non-profit arts executive, notes in a press release that, “The frustration that our community feels is palpable.  The community wants change, wants new voices.  I’m running for state representative to help lead that change.   I’m a listener, and a leader who believes in building consensus, finding compromise and getting things done.”

Carney, who works as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Old Saybrook. explains his decision to seek a third term in a press release in this way, “Over these past two terms, I have always put the people of the 23rd District first.This community is everything to me. I was raised here and I understand the unique values and needs of my constituents. In these difficult and divisive times, it is important that the state has leaders with a proven track record of putting people over politics and who will work together to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order.”

Matt Pugliese.

Pugliese, a resident of Old Saybrook, has spent his career working in the non-profit theatre industry, beginning at the Ivoryton Playhouse.  He served as the Executive Director at Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theatre in Middletown, CT and now is the Executive Producer at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, based on UConn’s Storrs campus. Pugliese holds his BA in Theatre (’04) and his Masters in Public Administration (’17), both from UCONN. Pugliese said, “My work in the arts has been about activism.  It is about bringing together diverse audiences and creating opportunities for dialogue.  That is how we solve problems.  Every day running a theatre is about creative, problem solving and strategic thinking. The intersection of the arts and government – that is community.  That has been my professional career for 15 years.”

A lifelong resident of the district, Carney graduated from Old Saybrook Public Schools and currently lives in Old Lyme. He is the Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee, meaning he is the highest-ranked House Republican on the committee, and he serves on the Environment Committee and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. In addition, Carney chairs the bipartisan Clean Energy Caucus, was the founding House Republican of the bipartisan Young Legislators Caucus, and serves on both the bipartisan Tourism Caucus and bipartisan Intellectual and Developmental Disability Caucus. He has also served as the Connecticut House Republican State Lead for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

Pugliese comments in the release, “Non-profit organizations need to run efficiently and effectively.  We know how to get the most out of every dollar.  My experiences in the non-profit sector in Middlesex County really opened my eyes to the incredible need we have in our community.  We have young people and families facing the most extreme and basic risks.  But we also have incredible resources in our community to draw upon.  That is what makes our district a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.”

Over his first two terms, Rep. Carney says he advocated for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, seniors, tourism, small business, local public education, and improving I-95. In 2015, he voted against the second largest tax increase in Connecticut’s state history. In 2017, he voted against the SEBAC agreement, but supported the bipartisan budget compromise in October.

Pugliese’s community involvement includes Old Saybrook’s Economic Development Commission since 2015, of which he was recently elected Chairperson.  He served on the Board of Directors for the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce for two years.  He served as the co-chair of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County Live Local Give Local 365 initiative when it was launched in 2011.  In 2012, Pugliese was named to the Hartford Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” for his professional work and civic involvement.

Carney’s community activities include serving on the Board of Trustees at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and the Board of Directors at Saye Brook Senior Housing. He is a member of both the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce and the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce, a lector at Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, and serves on both the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee as a member and the Old Saybrook Republican Town Committee as an honorary member.

Public education is a key issue for Pugliese. He comments in the release, “When I think of our communities, I think of our strong public education systems. I will fight for the funding we deserve from Hartford necessary to support our schools.  I believe we need to invest in our higher education system. We want to have a vibrant university system to educate our young people, ensure their access to this education, and keep them here as part of our workforce in Connecticut.”

Commenting on his achievements in the past four years, Carney says, “I have pushed back against drastic tax increases to residents, defeated a federal rail proposal that would have devastated the region, supported bipartisan initiatives to combat our opioid crisis, and fought Governor Malloy’s proposal to push teacher pension costs onto local school districts. I have always put the taxpayer first and engaged with the community.”

Pugliese is an advocate for paid family leave, ensuring rights for women and minorities and championing arts, culture and tourism.  He adds, “Part of the identity of our community is the incredible cultural resources we have in the 23rd district. These resources drive tourism, which is critical to the economy of the towns in our region.  We need to ensure the viability of our cultural assets, and the public infrastructure needed to support tourism.”

Carney highlights in his press release, “I have never missed a vote,” adding, “Connecticut is at a crossroads and our residents and businesses cannot afford the same tax-and-spend policies that have put the state into this mess. It is imperative Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook continue to have a strong voice at the table during this tough fiscal reality.”


State Representative Bob Siegrist to Seek Re-Election

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

AREAWIDE — State Representative Bob Siegrist, III (R-36) announced today that he plans to seek re-election for a second term.  Siegrist states, “I am proud to have served the residents of the 36th House District these past two years as their State Representative.  I have listened to the people of the district and voted their concerns, their issues and most importantly, their pocketbook.”

He continues, “I have always considered this seat the people’s seat and I will continue to fight for children, families, senior citizens, and for a better business climate to create and retain jobs. I will fight for common sense budgeting and fiscal responsibility to keep more of your own money, and I will advocate for policies that will make Connecticut more affordable for the residents of the 36th.”

Siegrist concludes, “There is a lot more work that needs to be done and that is why I am announcing my plans to seek re-election as State Representative of the 36th House District seat.  With your help and support we can make Connecticut what it once was; the embodiment of the American Dream. A state with unending opportunities for everyone.”

Siegrist, a Republican, has represented the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam since 2017. He currently serves on the Public Safety and Security, Insurance and Real Estate, and Veterans’ Affairs committees.


Rebooting New England: What Do YOU Think? Op-Ed from SECoast

On Tuesday, Feb. 27 we [SECoast] participated in a round table in New Haven hosted by New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, with 40 or so others to discuss alternatives to NEC Future high-speed rail planning. Attendees included administrators from Yale and Trinity college, Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) head Kristina Newman-Scott, former CTDOT Commissioner Emil Frankel, engineer Foster Nichols, among others. The project is being organized by former RPA head Bob Yaro, and former DECD head Kip Bergstrom. You can download the 50 mb 200+ page document here.

In the most simple terms, the plan resembles NEC Future Alternative 3.2, with high-speed rail service heading north, rather than east from New Haven, and then east from Hartford, through Storrs, to Providence. Yaro and Bergstrom are specifically offering “Rebooting New England,” as they call it, as an opportunity to avoid the impacts (and opposition) through southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island to NEC Future planning. It also includes the audacious idea of a tunnel across the Sound.  Here’s an illustration:

And while NEC Future was tailored for the needs of the largest cities along the Northeast Corridor, Yaro and Bergstrom have rather crafted a plan which also benefits inland and mid-sized cities along the corridor, by drawing from similar efforts in Great Britain to connect Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle, in the north, to London.

You can find an hour-long video presentation of the project from last July to the Lincoln Institute here. Given the current lack of funding, it’s an ambitious plan, but a serious one, worth serious consideration. SECoast’s Gregory Stroud will be meeting with project leaders again on Thursday for further discussions. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to take a look at the project, and tell us what you think.

About those Transit hearings…

With Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund on the verge of insolvency, and the Malloy administration proposing a first wave of drastic cuts, and fare increases, to train and bus service to take effect on July 1, [detailed here], the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) has been holding hearings over the last three weeks across Connecticut, and (more surprisingly) in Massachusetts.

SECoast board and staff members attended a February 28 hearing in New London, where a diverse group of 50 or so members of the public — young and old, poor and well-to-do, African-American, Asian-American, Latino, and White — offered relatively muted criticism of proposed fare increases, together with broad and pointed opposition to proposed service cuts. [Take a look at Kim Drelich’s  coverage for The Day here].

In turn, CTDOT commissioner James Redeker presented a persuasive case for increased revenues and investments, including two-cents yearly increases over seven years to the gasoline tax, and new tolling along the state’s major roadways, to avoid these unsustainable cuts to transportation.

This all made for good theater for the Malloy administration, but also missed an essential purpose of such hearings, which is not just to allow the public the chance to air its grievances, but also to take part meaningfully in the decision-making process. As far as the latter goes, meaningful public participation requires a level of transparency which has been lacking in the materials provided. And we have significant concerns that these proposals have been presented as simply mandated, rather than as the result of limited, but real choices made behind closed doors.

In much this vein, RiverCOG executive director Sam Gold briefly outlined lengthy written comments and opposition to the proposed cuts. Gold questioned the fairness of cuts to towns like Old Saybrook, which played by the rules, embraced CTDOT priorities, and heavily invested in transit-oriented development (TOD). Gold further questioned the priorities and motivation of CTDOT cuts which would spare CTDOT’s own CTTransit, while falling heavily on towns like New London with municipal-supported (and controlled) transit. We agree.

In contrast to an earlier hearing in Stamford, where elected officials have faced criticism for cutting a lengthy line to present comments, few elected officials turned up in New London. State Rep. Devin Carney, ranking member on the Connecticut General Assembly Transportation Committee, was a notable exception.

We strongly encourage you to write to CTDOT by March 16 with your comments. Just click here.

Widening I-95

On Feb. 22, as part of a larger coordinated rollout by the Malloy administration of revenue proposals, announced project cuts, service cuts, and fare increases, CTDOT reintroduced targeted plans to widen I-95 through Fairfield County and southeastern Connecticut. Kim Drelich covers the announcement for The Day, here, you can also find coverage in the Hartford Courant, and in the Yale Daily News here.

While we appreciate the need to improve safety and reduce congestion on I-95, we have several concerns about the announcement. Most importantly, whether you are for or against proposals to widen I-95, by failing to release the actual studies, and by providing the public with only summary findings, CTDOT is depriving the public of a chance to meaningfully participate in a decision on the topic.  In southeastern Connecticut, we are left to wonder whether this latest plan differs materially from earlier planning proposed in 2005, which would require significant takings and environmental impacts. In Fairfield County, we are left to wonder about the impacts to the densely settled corridor.

In the case of the National Historic Landmark Bush-Holley house for example, it appears that while keeping to the existing right of way, and to CTDOT property, such widening could still significantly impact properties alongside the corridor, with enormous potential impacts to the property, and to ongoing projects  by the Greenwich Historical Society.

Take a look at a graphic we produced by cross-referencing the released graph of potential land use, with project parameters, and mileage markers:

We are of course encouraged that the plan keeps as much as possible to the existing right of way, and to CTDOT property, but we’d like to know much more about the actual impacts and plans for construction at the Mianus river crossing in particular. Such plans are simply too important to made behind closed doors, and without timely and sufficient public scrutiny. And they obviously make little or no sense when paired with transit cuts that would send thousands of additional commuters onto I-95.

SECoast has submitted a Freedom of Information Request to obtain planning documents. We [SECoast] will let you know, when we know more about these plans …

Editor’s Note: We also urge readers to write to CTDOT by March 16 with your thoughts on the first wave of drastic cuts, and fare increases, to train and bus service to take effect on July 1.  Just click 


Letter From Paris: Annual ‘Salon de l’Agriculture’ Prompts a Peek into Farming in France

Nicole Prévost Logan

The Salon de l’Agriculture (agricultural fair) is the most popular event of the year in Paris.  For two weeks, the Porte de Versailles is turned into an oversize farm   Four thousand animals – bovines, pigs, sheep and fowl – move in for the delight of both children and adults.  It is the largest agricultural show in Europe.

The French are emotional about their relationship with the countryside and never forget that they share a common rural ancestry and that, just a few decades ago, 25 percent of the population lived and worked on the land. The fair is an opportunity for rural and urban communities to get together and have a good time.

Food is a big attraction at the fair.  Thirty seven restaurants offer culinary specialties from each region: trip à la mode de Caen (tripe cooked in cider and calvados), boeuf bourguignon,  tartiflette (Savoyard gratin with Reblochon cheese, cream and pork), Toulouse cassoulet , bouillabaisse and hundreds more dishes, accompanied by the best wines.

French President Emmanuel Macron meets the much-admired cow named Haute at the Salon de l’Agriculture.

Entertainment reaches its height with the competition for the best animal. This year the star of the show is Haute, a 700 kilo blonde cow of the Aubrac breed raised in Aveyron (a volcanic plateau in the south west), whose big black eyes are made-up with mascara.  Haute has a pedigree in the same way as a racehorse and her offspring are already in line to compete in the 2024 fair – the same year that the Olympics will be held in Paris. 

From the air, the French landscape looks like a beautiful tapestry with colored patches of fields, woods and clusters of roofs huddled around a church steeple. Behind this idyllic picture, it is hard to believe that there is a tough world of fierce competition, hard work, and for some, a struggle to survive . 

Among the 450,606 working farms in France to-day, many of them are small with less than 10 hectares (one hectare is equivalent to 2.47 acres.) Their owners find it hard to make a living. The average income of a farmer is 1,525 euros for month and can be as low as 500 euros, which is well below the poverty threshold.  There are many reasons for this. 

Food today represents only 20 percent of a family budget as compared to 34.7 percent in 1960.   The agri-business and chains of supermarket distributors, in order to increase their profit margin, force the farmers to sell their milk or meat at rock-bottom prices.

Farmers are deep in debt because of the necessity to invest but they have ways to show their anger and frustration, such as pouring manure or truck loads of raw eggs on public squares.  Another effective way is for them to launch an operation escargot (snail offensive.) They bring their five-mile an hour tractors on the highways with the expected result.   

European farmers could not survive without financial subsidies from Brussels.  In 1962, the Politique d’Agriculture Commune (PAC – Common Agricultural Policy) was set up by the European Union (EU) to assist and guide the agriculture of its members.  The PAC is the second largest item in the EU budget and one of its pillars.  Methods and objectives have changed over the years.  

For a while, it requested farmers to lay fallow their cultivated land.  Quotas for milk were stopped in 2015 and sugar in 2017.  Today the PAC is putting more emphasis on the development of organic food and protection of farmers against the climatic vagaries.  France is the leading agricultural country in Europe with production valued at 71 billion ahead of Germany (56.7 billion), Italy (54.2 billion) and Spain (49 billion.) France remains the top beneficiary of financial assistance from the PAC. 

Most Europeans are hostile to the use of pesticides.  Brussels wanted to set a 10-year-moratorium on the use of the herbicide Glyphosate.  Macron fought and demanded three years.  Finally Brussels decided on a period of five years. 

In France, Monsanto has become the prime bad guy.  Europeans are also against genetically-modified food and the addition of hormones and antibiotics in meat.  The French are getting very finicky about the traceability of products   A couple of years ago, horse meat was found in prepared food produced in Eastern Europe.  The French public went up in arms.   Since then, on every package or can, the geographic origin of the product has to be indicated.

Macron, during his visit to the Agricultural Fair asked the crowd, “Did you know that that 70 percent of the meat you eat in French restaurants is imported?  It makes no sense when French meat is probably the best in the world.”  The president is not a protectionist but, in his eyes, free trade agreements have to be equally  beneficial for both sides.  At present, the signing  of  the Mercosur Treaty between Europe and four South American countries is stalled, leaving Europeans worried.

It is a “must” for each French president to visit the fair.  Macron outdid all his predecessors by mingling with the crowd for more than 12 straight hours.  Always eager to explain his policies, he did not hesitate to plunge into the fray and engage in heated discussions with angry farmers. 

The day before the opening of the Salon, Macron had invited 700 young farmers to the Elysees palace.  As always, his method was not to promise financial assistance, but help his guests find creative solutions to make their farms more competitive.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

About 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.


CT River Museum Hosts Tavern Night, March 23

The Connecticut River Museum’s 1814 Tavern Night features an evening of food, drink, music and games in the Museum’s historic Samuel Lay House. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum’s (CRM) second Tavern Night of 2018 will take place on March 23. Join Museum staff and supporters for a lively 19th-century evening as the historic Samuel Lay House is transformed into a seaside tavern.

Folklorist Stephen Gencarella and CRM Director Chris Dobbs will host the tasting table featuring a variety of heritage wines and ports. Gencarella and Dobbs will share the background of the wines, and the intrigue and nuances of the world of port. Catering by Selene is creating a sampling of appetizers/light dinner featuring early 19th-century food. These are based on chef Selene Sweck’s extensive research and collection of early American cookbooks.

This evening features music by Joseph Morneault, a member of the Jovial Crew, which performs at the Griswold Inn. He is a performer of early American music, traditional Irish and sea music. As part of the evening, participants will also have an opportunity to try their hand at historic games such as Skittles (played with a top that goes through a maze knocking down pins) and Captain’s Mistress, a game with a scandalous sounding name.

Space is extremely limited with programs offered at 6 and 8 p.m. The $24 CRM museum member and $29 general public tickets include the beer tasting, appetizers, and entertainment. Additional drinks will be available for purchase.

Call 860-767- 8269 or visit to buy your tickets. Reservations are required and you must be 21 or older to participate.  Special thanks to our sponsors: Catering by Selene, Connecticut Rental Center and Bob’s Centerbrook Package Store.

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the waterfront in Essex, CT. The Museum offers exhibits and programs exploring the history and environment of the Connecticut River and its valley. It is open Tuesday to Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter season. 

For more information, visit


The Kate, Community Music School Team Up to Offer Kid’s Camp Starting March 21

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Community Music School (CMS) are partnering again under the umbrella of their performing arts summer camp, “Kate’s Camp for Kids,” to present a spring program and show entitled “It’s Saturday!”

This exciting program takes place at The Kate, 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook, and runs for seven weekly sessions on Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 5 p.m. beginning March 21.  Launched in 2013, Kate’s Camp for Kids is a performing arts camp for children in grades K-5 incorporating music, dance, theater, and visual art.

Directed by Martha Herrle, a 16-year member of CMS faculty and certified Kindermusik educator, this year’s camp theme will be “It’s Saturday!”  Join the celebration of a ‘day off’ in the life of a kid with this clever mini-musical.

From watching cartoons to piano lessons, from football practice to chores, you’ll explore all the options for activities … or are they options? Featuring five original songs and easy-to-learn rhyming dialog, the program culminates in a lively performance for friends and family.

Tuition for this camp is $165 and scholarships are available for families with a financial need.

For additional information and to register, visit or call 860-767-0026.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30-year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. The School’s programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

Learn more at or call (860)767-0026.


St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Offers New Wednesday Evening Celtic Prayer Service

EAST HADDAM – St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church is starting a new tradition.

St. Stephen’s is offering a Wednesday evening prayer built upon the Celtic Christian tradition. This quiet and meditative prayer service begins at 7 p.m. and lasts for about half-an-hour.

This time represents an opportunity to find an oasis in the midst of busy lives where you can sit and be still with God. This service is open to any person who hungers for rest in the divine and is seeking a deeper connection with God, regardless of their religious background.

The Celtic Evening Prayer Service places an emphasis on silence, meditation, the mysteries of our faith, and creation. Celtic Spirituality draws its inspiration from the earliest manifestation of Christianity as well as the wisdom of pre-Christian Ireland.

The prayers of the Celtic Saints are filled with the experiences of God’s presence in creation, the simplicity of living in harmony with creation, and the awareness of the sacredness of all things. In the prayers, the passion, and the practice of the faith in the early church on these islands, there is a clarity, simplicity and wisdom that speak to many of today’s concerns.

“The Celtic Evening Prayer service offers an opportunity to come to a quiet place, to be reflective and through prayer to be renewed. We are pleased to offer this unique prayer experience,” comments Thom Hagerth, parishioner of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

“Preparing for this Celtic Evening Prayer Service has been very rewarding and it is my hope that people will find a new way to worship through time honored traditions,” comments Mike Corey, Intern, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

St. Stephen’s is located at 31 Main St., East Haddam, Connecticut, 860-873-9547.

For more information, visit


Letter From Paris: ‘The Donald’ and Europe Grow Further Apart

Nicole Prévost Logan

In February 2017, the European Union (EU) members, gathered at the Malta summit, were flabbergasted by President Donald Trump’s hostile attitude toward the United States’s traditional allies.  One year later the world has adjusted in the opinion of the seasoned diplomat Hubert Vedrine, France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (1997-2002).  The French diplomat commented, “One has to get over our initial disbelief as to the unpredictable and apparently erratic policy of the 45th president of the US.”

The European opinion of Trump is not monolithic.  One has to differentiate between the North and South:  heavily indebted Greece and Germany with a flourishing economy will have opposite opinions.  The same divide exists between East and West: for example, nationalist and authoritarian countries like Poland will view Trump differently from the liberal Netherlands.

The Europeans resent Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement leaving a wide open boulevard for China to become the champion defender of the environment.  Last January, the announcement made by the controversial Ryan Zinke, US Secretary of the Environment, that he would allow oil and gas drilling near almost all US coasts from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico was considered a mistake.  The French oppose the position of Trump’s administration on the use of coal and other fossil fuel as sources of energy.  France has closed all its coal mines and does not even allow fracking for oil or gas exploration in fear of endangering the environment.

President Donald Trump

The recent financial and tax reforms introduced by the US president were characterized as a fiscal war with the rest of the world by economist and professor Philippe Dessertine.   On Jan. 26,  2018 at the Davos World Economic Forum, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), criticized those measures by saying that, subsequent to creating benefits in the short term, they would ultimately impact world  financial vulnerability.  She believes that the increase in both liquidity and the budget deficit, will eventually cause a sudden drop in the stock market.  It is interesting to note that a few days after her speech, the Dow tanked and began a new cycle of high volatility.

French economists commented that lowering corporate taxes to 21 percent in the US – not that far from the 12.5 percent of Irish tax heaven – is placing the competitiveness of countries like France at a disadvantage.  It will take five years of arduous effort by French President Macron to lower French corporate taxes to 25 percent.  The French Minister of Economy and Finances, Bruno Lemaire, criticized these reforms for technical reasons.  He commented that they will penalize European subsidiaries located in the US and also be an incentive for American companies located in France to relocate to the US.

According to French economist Thomas Piketty, 68.1 percent of the US income tax reduction will benefit just 1 percent of the population, thereby increasing the already exisiting inequalities even further.  For Gerard Courteois, editorial writer of the French national newspaper Le Monde, there is an incoherence in the statement,”Make America great again,” particularly in the use of the word “again.”  Does it apply to the boom years after World War II when it actually was a time of high taxes and international trade?

Trump’s foreign policy is scrutinized by French diplomats and geopoliticians.  Vedrine describes the American president’s policy in the Middle East as a disaster.  Trump has created a confrontational axis with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey against Iran and managed to freeze the Israel-Palestine peace process.  Regarding the European Union (EU), Trump’s objective seems to be its deconstruction.  Trump applauded Brexit and asked “Who is next?”  To European satisfaction, Congress has blocked the confirmation of a Europhobe nominee as US Ambassador to the EU.  The post has not been filled to date.

Trump’s diplomacy is not sophisticated.  It is a bully approach, forever brandishing the threat of more and greater sanctions, whether in the Ukraine, Iran or Korea.  Punitive measures are even taken by Trump toward the Palestinians.  He intends to suspend financial aid because they refuse to sit at the negotiating table.

French diplomats prefer pragmatism and negotiations.  Dominique de Villepin, former foreign minister (2002-2004) and prime minister (2005-2007), believes, for instance, that one has to accept the fact that North Korea is a nuclear power and entice that country to join the international community by helping  its economic development .

However, Vedrine says one should not blame Trump for everything.  Being realistic, France and Europe are not at the center of the world today.  If the US is stepping back, it is a chance for Europe to regain its autonomy.  Villepin suggests that Europe needs to break away from US guardianship .

At the annual Munich conference on security, participants showed for the first time their intention to step up the defense of the EU.  Last year Trump had scolded NATO members for not paying their share leading to the irritation of Washington today.  To put a stop to transatlantic polemics, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, wanted to be conciliatory and declared, “The increase in the European defense budget will reinforce the NATO European pillar.”

Judging from this non-exhaustive list of disagreements, relations between Trump and Europe are not particularly warm right now — in fact, one might be tempted to conclude they are well on the way to just plain bad.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

About 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.


‘The Lonely Heartstring Band’ Brings Bluegrass to ‘Music & More’ at CBSRZ, April 15

The Lonely Heartstring Band will perform at CBSRZ, April 15.

CHESTER — Music & More at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) brings nationally known masterful bluegrass band The Lonely Heartstring Band to the stage on April 15, at 4 p.m. Nourished by deep roots in the expansive canon of traditional American music, The Lonely Heartstring Band embodies the modern American condition—an understanding and reverence for the past that informs a push into the future.

This multi-talented group of musicians is a classic Bluegrass quintet—always far greater than the sum of its parts. Combining soulful instrumental virtuosity with soaring three-part harmonies, their growing repertoire of original songs and compositions showcases not only their considerable talents, but a dedication to meaningful roots-conscious music.

Since their beginnings in 2012, The Lonely Heartstring Band has been on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down. With their 2015 IBMA Momentum Award and their 2016 release of their debut full-length album on the legendary Rounder Records label, there is every reason to hope that they are at the front edge of a significant career.

The Lonely Heartstring Band has already generated a devoted following of music-lovers across North America, performing and headlining at major music festivals and historic venues from Western Canada to California, from Kentucky to New Hampshire. Whether it’s a festival stage, theatre, or intimate listening room, The Lonely Heartstring Band always delivers a dynamic, diverse, and heartfelt performance. Over the last three years of touring, the band has crafted shows that generate a genuine connection and bring crowds to their feet.

The Lonely Heartstring Band, named in a tongue-in-cheek, tip-of-the-hat reference to one of their favorite albums, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely-Hearts Club Band, is a genuine musicians’ band, immediately appreciated by fellow-musicians who get their sound. That said, this is not esoteric or effete music intended for a select few, but has listenability that appeals to the bands already devoted following of fans and to music critics alike. Though their music is akin to the Punch Brothers, Alison Krauss, The Infamous String Dusters, or other folk-grass/chamber-grass groups in the Americana world, this band is already well on its way to making a dynamic and distinctive sound all its own.

Though characterized by intricate, precise, even elegant arrangements, The Lonely Heartstring Band’s music still has all the joy and spontaneity of bluegrass or folk grass at its finest, as exemplified in George Clements’s unique and sensitive, yet powerful, lead vocals, and their own extensive repertoire of originals.

The Lonely Heartstring Band is comprised of the aforementioned George Clements on guitar and lead vocals, his identical twin brother Charles on bass and harmony vocals, Gabe Hirshfeld on banjo, Matt Witler on mandolin, and Patrick McGonigle on fiddle, rounding out the harmony vocals as well. Four of the five band members met while students at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Gabe Hirshfeld, George, and Charles are all from New England, while Matt and Patrick are both from the west coast; California and Vancouver.

“Being a huge fan of bluegrass music, I was drawn to The Lonely Heartstring Band because they bring a soulful quality to their music and voices,” comments David Zeleznik, Music & More producer and member of CBSRZ. “I felt that their particular brand of bluegrass will add to this fan base.”

For more information about The Lonely Heartstring Band visit their website at

Advance tickets ($25 general admission) can be purchased at www.cbsrz/org/events or through the Music & More at CBSRZ Facebook page For more information call the CBSRZ office at 860-526-8920 or through email at

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at, 55 E Kings Highway in Chester.


9 Town Transit Faces Drastic Funding Cuts From State, Seeks Help From Readers to Prevent Them

AREAWIDE — For decades, transportation programs in Connecticut have been funded by a tax on gasoline and diesel fuels that goes into the Special Transportation Fund (STF.)  The 25 cent gas tax has not changed since 2000, while vehicles have become more fuel efficient, both of which combined have resulted in a significant decrease in revenues.

Without action from the legislature, the Connecticut Department of Transportation warns that there will not be enough funding coming into the STF to cover the expenses of the state’s transportation system.  As a result, 9 Town Transit would see a 15 percent reduction in funding in 2018 and a 50 percent reduction of funding in 2019.

9 Town Transit has asked to let its readers know that a 15 percent reduction of state funding beginning July 1, 2018 would result in changes such as fare increases, elimination or reduction of bus routes and reduced Dial-A-Ride service.  In addition, a 50 percent reduction of state funding beginning July 1, 2019 would result in changes such as additional fare increases, elimination of most bus routes, elimination of Saturday service and elimination of Dial-A-Ride service.

These changes would have a significant impact on the more than 100,000 trips made each year on these services.  Hundreds of area residents would be stranded, and unable to get to work, school and medical appointments.

9 Town Transit is therefore asking our readers who are transit users and/or supporters to let their state representative and senator know how important 9 Town Transit, Shoreline East and/or other public transit services are to them. We urge our readers to support all these transportation programs in those ways and also to share this message with others, who may not read

More information about the possible service reductions and ways to help prevent the funding cuts can be found at


Deep River Resident Joins KBE Building Corporation as Preconstruction Manager

DEEP RIVER – Deep River resident Chris Desrosiers has joined Farmington-based KBE Building Corporation as Preconstruction Manager. KBE has expanded its preconstruction team in response to a steadily growing client base and demand for in-depth preconstruction services.

Mr. Desrosiers has more than 10 years of experience as an architect, and previously worked with JCJ Architecture, Lerner | Ladds + Bartels, and DiLeonardo International. He has worked on projects throughout the U.S., the Middle East, and the Far East. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Roger Williams University.

In addition to hiring Mr. Desrosiers, KBE has promoted two of its current employees in the preconstruction department:

Erica Millard, CPE, LEED AP, was promoted to Manager of Preconstruction Services. As head of KBE’s preconstruction department, she oversees a staff of three preconstruction managers and is responsible for all preconstruction phase services and procurement on select projects. She joined KBE in March of 2012 as a senior project engineer in the field, and has worked as an estimator and preconstruction manager. She previously worked with Balfour Beatty in Washington, DC. Ms. Millard is a Certified Professional Estimator and LEED Accredited Professional, and received her BS in Civil Engineering from University of Virginia.

William Culviner was promoted to Preconstruction Manager. Mr. Culviner worked with KBE as an intern and was hired in 2014 as an Estimator. He received his BS in Construction Management from Central Connecticut State University and is 30-Hour OSHA Certified for Construction Safety. He is currently hospitality chair of the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) – Nutmeg Chapter.

KBE has managed more than $4 billion in construction volume during the past two decades alone and is ranked among Engineering News-Record magazine’s top 400 construction companies nationally.

With offices in Norwalk and Farmington, CT, as well as Columbia, MD, KBE Building Corporation is a full-service, single-source commercial construction company strategically positioned to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. Our New York City clients are serviced through our affiliate, KBENY, LLC. (

Founded in 1959 and incorporated in 1966, KBE bills $300 million annually. The firm provides preconstruction, construction management, design-build, and general contracting services to clients in the retail, educational, senior living, federal, corporate, hospitality, health care, and institutional markets.

KBE’s team of 120+ construction professionals and support staff is deeply committed to the firm’s corporate philanthropy program, 50 Ways to Make a Difference. Established in 2009 to celebrate the firm’s 50 years in business, 50 Ways has helped KBE associates donate more than $2.5 million and 12,000 volunteer hours to charitable causes benefiting children, seniors, and military veterans in Connecticut and Maryland.


Wayne Eisenbaum Charitable Foundation Donates $20,000 to Operation Fuel

OLD SAYBROOK — The Wayne Eisenbaum Charitable Foundation, of Old Saybrook, has donated $20,000 to Operation Fuel for energy assistance.

Operation Fuel is a statewide nonprofit organization that provides emergency energy assistance year-round to lower-income working families and individuals, the elderly, and disabled individuals who are in financial crisis.

Individuals who need energy assistance should call 211.

For more information on Operation Fuel or to make a donation, visit


New Book Club to Start at Deep River Public Library, Welcomes Members

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Public Library is looking for a few good readers!

The Library is forming a new reading group to be facilitated by members, to meet once a month in the reading room. Participants will take turns each month, choosing a book and leading the discussion. This is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with other members of the community and enjoy meaningful chats centered on topical books. The library can request holds for members through its consortium, Bibliomation.

If you are interested in joining, email the library at: and let us know your name, if your prefer Monday or Wednesday evening and the types of books you’re most interested in reading.

For more information, visit and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pmTuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pmThursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.


The End of an Era … but the Journey Continues: Jeff Andersen Retires From the FloGris Museum After 41 Years

Retiring Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeff Andersen stands between State Senator Paul Formica (left) and State Rep. Devin Carney holding the State Citation with which the two legislators had presented him.

OLD LYME — There wasn’t a parking spot to be found Sunday afternoon at the Florence Griswold Museum, nor come to that at the Lyme Art Association. And the reason?  Despite torrential rain, it seemed as if the whole town had come out to say a fond farewell to Jeff Andersen, the much beloved Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, who was retiring after an amazing 41 years in that position.

Jeff Anderson stands with Charter Trustee George Willauer and New York Times best-selling author Luanne Rice alongside the Willard Metcalf painting, “Kalmia,” which the board has now dedicated to Andersen in honor of his 41 years service.

The Museum hosted a wonderful party to celebrate Jeff and his wife, Maureen McCabe, and both Marshfield House and the tent situated in the courtyard outside were packed almost to capacity. Federal, state and local dignitaries were there along with Museum trustees, staff, volunteers, friends and pretty much anyone who had ever had a connection with Jeff, Maureen or the Museum — well over 400 people in total.

The formal segment of the event was emceed by Charter Trustee Jeff Cooley, who opened the proceedings by introducing Senator Richard Blumenthal. Describing the Florence Griswold as “a world-class Museum,” Blumenthal went on to present Andersen with a Certificate of Recognition from the US Senate, which he noted to considerable laughter, “was approved by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote.” He thanked Andersen warmly for, “Your immense public service … and your values.”

State Rep. Devin Carney says, “It all started with just one … and that was, you, Jeff.”

State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) stepped up next the podium and Carney noted poignantly, “It all started with just one … and that was you, Jeff.”  Carney was referring to the fact that 41 years ago, Andersen was the Museum’s first — and only – employee whereas now the Museum has 20 staff, 255 volunteers, 3,000 members and 80,000 visitors annually.

Saying, “I truly want to thank you, Jeff, for doing so much good for the economy as a whole,” Carney pointed out that many of the visitors to the Museum, “come, stay and shop,” in Old Lyme and the surrounding area, adding, “You did a great job at the Museum … but you also stopped a train!”  This latter was a reference to the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposal to route a high speed train through the center of Old Lyme, which Andersen actively worked to defeat.

State Sen. Paul Formica reads the Citation from the state in honor of Jeff Andersen.

Formica then presented Andersen with a Citation from the Connecticut House and Senate, which recognized Andersen for his “passionate dedication directing, restoring and revitalizing the Florence Griswold Museum,” noting, “For 40 years you shared your vision and inspired countless volunteers and workers to help fulfill this vision expanding exhibits, gardens and collections making it into the reputable attraction we know today.” The Citation concluded, “We want to thank you for your tireless leadership and congratulate you on your retirement.”

Following the legislators was Old Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who immediately confessed, “Frankly, I have to say I didn’t think there would ever be a time when Jeff wouldn’t be here.”  She continued, “It’s good for him [Jeff] and all of us to be aware of all you have done.  You’re part of our DNA, you’re the heart of our culture,” and then announced that the Town of Old Lyme was declaring Feb. 11 as “Jeff Andersen Day,”  adding to loud applause and much laughter that it was a unanimous vote.

Andersen mingled freely with the more than 400 guests gathered to say their goodbyes.

She read a Proclamation from the Town which stated, “Since he began working with the Museum in 1976, the Florence Griswold Museum has grown from a small seasonal house museum where he was the only staff member to a nationally recognized center for American art.” The Proclamation also noted that, “Jeff is recognized today as the pre-eminent scholar on the historic Lyme Art Colony … and has helped grow the Museum’s modest collection of works of American Impressionism into a deep and distinguished regional collection of American art.”  Describing Andersen as a “visionary Leader,” with a “thoughtful devotion to excellence,” Reemsnyder concluded, still reading from the Proclamation, that Andersen’s, “tireless advocacy for the Museum and its uniquely Connecticut story has transformed the Florence Griswold Museum into one of the state’s most important and beloved cultural destinations.”

Jeff Cooley (center) emceed thw formal proceedings at the party. His wife Betsy stands to his left.

Charter Trustees George Willauer and Cooley then unveiled the beautiful 1905 painting titled, “Kalmia,” by Willard L. Metcalf to which a plaque had been attached stating that it now honored Andersen’s 41 years of service during which he “transformed” the Museum “through his unswerving devotion to preserving the legacy of the Lyme Art Colony.”

Jeff Andersen addresses the at capacity audience.

A clearly emotional Andersen then addressed the audience, which by now was overflowing the tent, saying simply, “We are feeling the love …”  He gave a long list of thank you’s, noting that he and his wife had, “felt such affection and regard since announcing his retirement.” Andersen then shared his opinion that, “whatever you give to the Museum – whether time, talent or money – it is returned to you many fold.”  He said, “Not many get the opportunity to have a career in one place [in his case, from age 23 to 64] and for that I am deeply grateful and humble.  Stressing, “Be assured the future is bright,” he commented almost wistfully, “What an incredible journey this has been … but the journey continues.”

Jeff Andersen and his wife Maureen McCabe applaud the pianist after he played a tune to which they had danced together at the very end of the party.

And with that, Cooley proposed a toast to Jeff and Maureen, glasses were raised, Prosecco was drunk and then vigorous applause and loud cheers erupted all around.

Florence Griswold Museum docent Linda Ahnert points out a detail from the newspaper cutting to fellow doscents.  The cutting announced Andersen’s arrival as the Museum’s first director — and then only employee — 41 years ago.

We here at can only add our deep and personal thanks to Jeff and Maureen for an extraordinary career in which so much given with such incredible warmth and humility.  Rep. Carney said it best so we’ll end by echoing his words, “The Florence Griswold is truly a treasure, but so are you … Miss Florence would be really proud of you.”


Welcome to Betsy Groth, our new ‘Family Wellness’ Columnist

Betsy Groth

We are delighted to welcome Betsy Groth to our stable of writers today. She is an APRN, PMHS – BC and a pediatric nurse practitioner with advanced certification in pediatric mental health.  She is a counselor, mental health educator and parent coach in Old Lyme and will be writing a monthly column for us on ‘Family Wellness.’  

In this introductory column, she explains the background to her column and some of the subjects she will be covering. 

For more information about Betsy and her work, visit Betsy’s website at

Family is defined by Merriam Webster as, “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also: any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family.” But we all know in today’s society, family is defined more broadly both theoretically and practically speaking.

Wright and Bell (2009) define family as a group of individuals bound by strong emotional ties, a sense of belonging and a passion for being involved in one another’s lives. There is usually a generational aspect to our definition of family and a sense of development over time. We think of families that are couples, families with young children, families with older children, families that have launched the younger generation, and families caring for aged members.

There is no universally accepted definition of wellness. It has been described as “… a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” This state of being is a lofty goal for any individual or family!  But it can be a sought after goal, the “ball” on which we all keep our eye.

Development as an individual and as a family has some built-in challenges to wellness, in addition to the joys to be found at each stage. There are also some often unexpected challenges and struggles, such as illness in a family member, academic struggles, financial difficulties, strained relations within the family.

This monthly column will explore factors in family and individual wellness, and approaches to maintain the goal of optimal wellness. Topics will include stress and anxiety in children and adolescents (next month), caring for aging parents, coping with chronic illness, raising children in a competitive society, and adjusting to first time parenthood.

And of course, I am always listening to families and the areas that they would like addressed in these columns, so please drop me a line at if there’s anything in particular you would like me to discuss.


Republican Ziobron Joins Race for 33rd State Senate Seat

State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) who has announced her candidacy for the State Senate 33rd District seat.

Republican State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) has announced her candidacy for the 33rd State Senate District a day after Democratic Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman (D) had announced his campaign for the same district. which includes the Town of Lyme.  This is Ziobron’s first run for a State Senate seat while Needleman ran unsuccessfully in 2016 for the 33rd District seat against then incumbent State Senator Republican Art Linares.

Linares is not seeking re-election in 2018 and has announced his candidacy for State Treasurer.

Ziobron is in her third term as State Representative for the 34th District comprising East Hampton, East Haddam and part of Colchester. Needleman is in his fourth as Essex First Selectman.

Ziobron explains in a letter to her supporters that her decision to run for the Senate seat represents, “a change in course,” so that she can rise to , “the greater challenge of serving as State Senator in the 33rdDistrict.” She notes, “This larger, 12-town district includes three towns I’ve been honored to represent — East Hampton, East Haddam and Colchester – and nine more in the Connecticut River Valley that I will be spending many hours meeting new friends and voters this spring.”

Ziobron says in her letter that the reason why she is running is simply, “Because I love the 34th State House District, and the CT River Valley Towns of the 33rd State Senate District, and our entire state – I want to see all of our friends and neighbors prosper.”  She mentions the challenges of the current budget situation and states, “It’s no secret we urgently need to address the state’s chronic over-spending!”

Laying out what she sees as the requirements of the incoming 33rd District State Senator, Ziobron writes, “We need a strong voice in the State Senate who: 1) is a proven fighter and has a reputation for putting their constituents first, fighting full-time for their small town communities, and 2) can immediately and effectively navigate the difficult legislative landscape, with the proven and dedicated commitment needed to focus on the budget, and 3) fights for fiscally conservative policies and has a record of implementing them, with bipartisan support, at the Capitol.”

Ziobron comments that she has, “thought a lot about one question,” which is, “How can I best help my state first survive over the near term, and then thrive over the long term?” She responds to her own question, “No matter which legislative chamber I serve, I will work to protect my district and offer the same high level of constituent service, and active community involvement – along with a laser-like focus on reducing wasteful and unneeded state spending,” concluding, “The bottom line: I can help more people in our state in service as your State Senator.”

Noting how well she knows the 33rd State Senate District, Ziobron describes it as, “an amazing treasure,” saying, “I’ve never imagined myself living anywhere else,” adding, “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to expand my many years of dedicated public service to this beautiful part of the state, I love.”

For more information on Ziobron, visit


Norm Needleman Announces Campaign for State Senate, First Selectman and Business Leader to Run for 33rd State Senate District

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman who yesterday announced a second run for the 33rd State Senate District.

ESSEX, CT — Today, Essex First Selectman and successful businessman Norm Needleman announced his campaign as a Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, promising to use his business and small town leadership experience to bring people together to get Connecticut back on track.

The seat will be vacant due to the incumbent Senator Art Linares (R) moving out of the District and announcing his candidacy for State Treasurer.

“Leading a small town and building a business taught me that the best way to get things done is to put people and their needs ahead of party politics,” said Needleman. “I respect taxpayers’ dollars because I know how hard you’ve worked to earn them.”

He continued, “That’s why as First Selectman, I brought Democrats and Republicans together, found consensus, solved problems, and kept property taxes among the lowest in the state without cutting services. If elected State Senator for the 33rd District, I will make a clean break from the decades of bickering and harmful policies that have come from Hartford, and I will get Connecticut working for the towns in our district.”

“As an elected town official, I’ve seen the work Norm does as the First Selectman of Essex,” said Colchester Selectman Rosemary Coyle. “Norm governs in a fiscally responsible manner, making sound decisions. His hands-on, small town government experience in the legislature will benefit our communities and help us build a brighter future for our children and families.”

Needleman, who campaigned for the seat in 2016, is currently in his fourth term as Essex First Selectman. He has over 20 years of experience advocating for his small town, having previously served as an Essex Selectman, a member of the Essex Zoning Board of Appeals, and a member of the Essex Economic Development Commission.

Needleman is also a member of the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, helping the 17 member towns coordinate various government functions. He is also a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications, a center formed by local pubic safety professionals to handle emergency call processing and dispatching needs for communities throughout the region.

“Building a company from the ground up has given me invaluable experience on how to grow jobs and create a region where businesses want to start and thrive,” said Needleman. “I will be a State Senator who will create good-paying jobs in our towns and throughout Connecticut.”

Needleman founded Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company, 38 years ago. The company has grown to become a leader in its field, employing over 250 people. As a leading CEO in the region, he serves as a board member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. He is also a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications, a center formed by local pubic safety professionals to handle emergency call processing and dispatching needs for communities throughout the region.

“Norm asks the right questions, and is willing to listen to all options,” said Centerbrook businessman and Clinton resident Gary Stevens. “I believe that with Norm’s insight into the way that a successful business (his) is run and considering the wasteful and unnecessary spending habits of the State, he could go a long way to make the government a more responsible entity.” Stevens, an unaffiliated voter who has known Needleman since the 1980s, owns Stevens Excavating, Inc. and has worked with Needleman on numerous projects.

The 33rd State Senate District consists of the Towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and a portion of Old Saybrook.

Needleman lives in Essex with Jacqueline Hubbard, the Executive Director of the Ivoryton Playhouse. His two sons and their families also live in Essex.


Red Sox Invite VRHS Students to Submit Applications for 2018 Service Scholarship

AREAWIDE – For the 8th consecutive year, the Boston Red Sox Foundation is seeking submissions from inspiring senior students, who are dedicated to making a positive impact in their communities, for the New England Red Sox Service Scholarship. The annual scholarship honors academically-inclined high school seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to community service. Those selected will receive a $1,000 college scholarship and recognition during a special pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park.

“We are continually inspired by high school students’ charitable endeavors and seek to recognize and reward their ongoing dedication to promoting social good,” said Linda Henry, Red Sox Foundation Board Member. “We are very pleased with the growth of the Service Scholarship program and we are eager to hear about this year’s seniors who are going above and beyond in their communities.”

The Red Sox Service Scholarship, presented by Jenzabar and sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund, was first introduced in New Hampshire in 2010 and has since expanded to honor students in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont as well. This year, the Scholarship Program will be available to students in more than 200 schools throughout New England.

Submissions for Connecticut seniors are due Feb.16, 2018.

For more details and to apply visit,


Friends of Deep River Public Library Seek Reader’s Votes at Essex Savings Bank

The handsome Deep River Library building stands at 150 Main Street, Deep River

DEEP RIVER — The Friends of the Deep River Public Library are asking for your vote!

Throughout the month of February, Essex Savings Bank is giving thousands of dollars to help aid projects that improve our communities. Customers of Essex Savings Bank can vote for their three favorite non-profit organizations. Help support the Friends of the Deep River Library by voting. Paper ballots are available at any of the Bank’s six branches or an electronic ballot may be submitted by logging into your Essex Savings Bank online account.

The Friends of the Deep River Public Library help raise funds for programs that provide education and enrichment for children, families and adults. Visit your local Essex Savings Bank or log into your online account today to help us continue supporting these important community programs!

For more information, visit and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pmTuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pmThursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; andSaturday 10 am – 5 pm.


See ‘Mighty Minis’ at Melanie Carr Gallery Through April 8

This work titled ‘Juncture’ by Susan Breen is one of the signature paintings in ‘Mighty Minis’ at the Melanie Carr Gallery.

ESSEX — Melanie Carr Gallery has announced the upcoming exhibit Mighty Minis, curated by Suzan Shutan on view at 1 North Main Street (across from the Essex Art Association) from Jan. 27 to April 8.  There will be an opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 3, from 2 to 4 p.m., to which all are welcome.

In the art world where ‘bigness’ reigns, 30 contemporary artists from United States and abroad have come together to reflect and respond to working small. For centuries, artists have utilized pint-size scales to depict and explore cherished, esteemed, and intimate subjects. The contemporary miniature can be seen as an approach to art making that marries craft and concept with gemlike details of tiny treasures.

Despite our fast-paced world, small works require giving time for reflection and thought. The reward may be the element of surprise. There are many reasons for an artist to favor working small. There can be practical limitations regarding space, time or resources, but in the case of the works presented here, working small is the objective.

There is also the reality that few collectors can accommodate only large-sized work. The focus of this exhibit is on the process of abstract painting, the exploration of work in two and three dimensions, on traditional and modern approaches, the space between craft and concept, and content and form.

The artists exhibiting include: Nancy Baker, NY Caroline Blum, NY Susan Breen, CT Andy Cunningham, CA Kevin Daly, CT Ellen Hackl Fagan, CT Judith Farr, SPAIN Kathy Goodell, NY Elizabeth Gourlay, CT Bob Gregson, CT Richard Griggs, CT Julie Gross, NY Debbie Hesse, CT Jeffrey Cortland Jones, OH Zachary Keating, CT Susan Knight, NE Bonny Leibowitz, TX Barbara Marks, CT ML McCorkle, GA Irene Miller, CT Juan Alberto Negroni, TX Paula Overbay, NY Heidi Pollard, NM Karen Schifano, NY Susan Scott, CT Belle Shafir,ISRAEL Dee Shapiro, NY Suzan Shutan, CT Andrew Small, PA Jill Vasileff, CA

Suzan Shutan graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting/Drawing from California Institute of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Installation from Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts. Shutan has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, Quinnipiac University, CT, University of Omaha, NE and currently teaches Sculpture at Housatonic Community College.

She has attended artist residencies, has been awarded grants that include CEC Artslink, Art Matters, Berkshire Taconic Foundation’s A.R.T, and recently a Fellowship in Sculpture from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism funding all work created in 2012-13. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally including Bank of America Headquarters in N. Carolina and internationally in Germany, France, Sweden, Poland, Argentina, Russia, Canada and Columbia.

She has been reviewed by the NY Times, High Performance Magazine, and has work in private and public collections such as the Villa Taverna Foundation and UCLA.

Melanie Carr Gallery is an artist-run project space dedicated to the practice, exhibition, and sale of contemporary art and design. The goal of Melanie Carr Gallery is to promote the importance of contemporary art and examine its impact on society while providing its artists greater exposure to new audiences.

Melanie Carr, Owner and Director, is a Connecticut-based artist, who received her MFA from the College of Art and Design at Lesley University in 2011. She began her studies in visual art after serving in the United States Navy as an Operations Specialist onboard the USS Willamette (AO180) in Pearl Harbor, HI.

Carr spent over10 years at the New Britain Museum of American Art, her most recent role as Curator of New Media. She is now Adjunct Professor at Central Connecticut State University, where she teaches drawing, and joined the staff at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, University of New Haven. Other teaching venues include Spectrum Art Gallery, Centerbrook, Pathways Senderos, New Britain, CT, Green Street Arts Center, Middletown, CT, and the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT.

Carr’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Soapbox Gallery, NY, Stockman Gallery, New Britain, CT, City Arts on Pearl, Hartford, CT, Westport Arts Center, Westport, CT, and Pegasus Gallery, Middletown, CT. In addition, her work was included in numerous exhibits that include The Point, United Kingdom, Gibney Dance, NYC, Gallery Aferro, New Jersey, The Delaware Center for the Cotemporary Arts in Wilmington, Mattatuck Museum, CT, Hans Weiss Newspace Gallery, CT, and Herter Gallery, MA.

Carr has work in the collections at the New Britain Museum of American Art, The Loomis Chaffee School, and the Boston Public Library, as well as many private collections

For more information, email or call 860.830.6949


CT River Museum Offers Range of Winter Wildlife Programs, Activities

Eagles on Ice: White-headed adult eagles can be seen in numbers along the lower Connecticut River. Photo by Mark Yuknat.

ESSEX — Winter along the Connecticut River brings many things – including cold winds and grey skies.  But the change in seasons also signals a shift in the ecology of New England’s Great River.  The osprey, the swallows and the egrets may be gone, but in their place now are mergansers, goldeneyes, and the highlight – bald eagles.  These once rare, majestic birds can be seen fishing along the unfrozen lower Connecticut River, a testament to one of the greatest environmental recoveries of the last half century.  To highlight these winter wonders, Connecticut River Museum (CRM) has planned a range of programs and activities.

Connecticut River Museum is happy to again partner with Connecticut River Expeditions to offer Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruises in February and March.  These popular trips offer visitors a chance to get out on the River in winter to see eagles, as well as other winter species that visit the estuary such as harbor seals.

This seal is relaxing on the Connecticut River ice. Photo by Bill Yule.

Cruises aboard the environmentally friendly R/V RiverQuest provide passengers with a comfortable, heated cabin supplied with hot coffee and tea, as well as binoculars to aid in spotting and narration from a staff naturalist.  These cruises depart Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at various times in the morning and early afternoon, and are $42 per passenger.  Museum members get 10 percent off and group rates are available.

In addition, the Museum will offer its annual Eagles of Essex exhibit, which offers a wealth of information about bald eagles and their return to the lower Connecticut River.  Patrons can try their hand at building an eagle nest, and marvel at life size silhouettes of Eagles and other large raptors, a map showing good shore viewing locations, and other displays.

On the opening day of the season, Saturday, Feb. 3, the exhibit will host Family Activities related to the return of the Eagles from 1 to 4 p.m., free with Museum admission.

On Saturday, Feb. 17 and March 17, award-winning photographer Stanley Kolber returns to CRM to offer his annual Bird Photography Workshop.  Kolber has been photographing birds for years, and takes great pleasure in sharing his experience with aspiring photographers of all levels, through anecdotes, slides, and question and answer.  In addition to helping skills development, his greatest pleasure in giving workshops is the opportunity to kindle and encourage his audience’s interest in the natural world.  He hopes that young people as well as adults will attend the workshops, so that he can impart some of his own enthusiasm to the next generation.  These popular programs are also free with Museum admission.

Species other than Eagles visit our River during the winter months. Photo by Joan Meek.

A Live Birds of Prey Show will be offered on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m.  CRM will partner with Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation Organization for this annual show, which features a bald eagle and several other species of raptors.  Visitors will be able to get an up close look at the birds while learning more about the lifecycle and ecology of these magnificent animals.  This event will be held at the Centerbrook Meeting House and is free to the public.

For a full listing of event details, visit or call 860-767-8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Connecticut River Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River.

For more information, call CRM at 860.767.8269 or RiverQuest at 860.662.0577.


A Rally to Remember — Women (Mostly) Gather to Call Attention to Power of Peaceful Protest

Three generations fighting for freedom: from left to right, Dale Griffith of Ivoryton takes time out from the rally for a photo with her five-year-old granddaughter, Eva Levonick, and her daughter (Eva’s mom) Becky Petersen, both of Old Lyme.

EAST HADDAM — More than 400 warmly dressed people gathered Saturday morning under clear skies on the forecourt of the Two Wrasslin’ Cats cafe in East Haddam to stand in solidarity with all the other Sister Marches taking place all over the country … and beyond.  The event was organized by Together We Rise CT (TWRCT) and facilitated by Theresa Govert, founder and chair of TWRCT.

Govert, pictured above, spoke passionately to the assembled crowd, which spanned both age and gender, reminding members that it was precisely one year since President Trump took office and to look back on all the things his presidency had changed and to be cognizant of all the things that are in line for change.  She emphasized the need at all times for peaceful protest and was emphatic about never responding to violence.

Govert is a recently returned United States Peace Corps Volunteer. She served for three years in Botswana, where she worked with her community to organize thousands for a national campaign to end gender-based violence, started a small business as an alternative economic employment opportunity for female sex workers and presented to participants of the White House Mapathon on the importance of free, accessible data.

In 2016, she was selected to receive the prestigious John F. Kennedy Service Award, awarded every five years to six individuals.

Christine Palm of Chester gave an impassioned speech to the attentive crowd.

The keynote speaker was Chester resident Christine Palm, who is Women’s Policy Analyst for the General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors and also principal of Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC.

Palm opened by reminding those gathered that, “One year ago, many people predicted the Women’s March would fizzle out — that we couldn’t sustain the momentum,” but then pointed out that, in fact, the opposite has happened, and, “In this past year, it’s only grown broader and deeper and more ferocious and more inclusive, and now nothing coming out of Washington escapes our notice, or our resistance.”

Noting, “It has not escaped our notice that this administration is defunding programs for veterans, kicking brave transgendered soldiers out of the military, and attacking women’s reproductive rights  that have been in place for decades,” Palm added, “We have paid attention to the fracking, back-stabbing … money-grubbing and gerrymandering,” before declaring, “The Women’s March has grown to encompass it all.”

Recalling the words of the renowned African-American civil rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley, who lived locally in Chester, Palm said, “There appears to be no limit as to how far the women’s revolution will take us,” pointing out, “That’s why we’re all still here, a year later.”

After thanking all those attending for “paying attention to what’s going on in our fractured, frightened world,” and acknowledging the work of all “the new, well organized progressive groups,” Palm expressed her gratitude to, “the hard-core folks who have kept vigil at this enlightened business, Two Wrasslin’ Cats, through rain and sweltering heat, every Saturday, for a year.”

Palm urged everyone not to give up, commenting on the fact that for the older people present, “it seems, we’ve been boycotting, and protesting, and working to right what is wrong,” for a very long time, but she noted, “We are buoyed not only by one another, but in remarkable new ways, by a smart, hardworking and committed group of young people.”  She thanked the Millennials for their “passion and energy,” which she determined, “cannot be overestimated.”

Palm gave a list of practical steps out of which she proposed everyone present could find at least one to follow.  Her suggestions included, “If you’re old enough to vote, do it. Don’t forget the municipal elections, which  have been lost and won by a handful of votes. If you are unaffiliated, please consider registering with a party so you can vote in the primary,” and “If you have a driver’s license and a car, offer to drive an elderly voter to the polls in November.”

She continued, “If you have any disposable income, support candidates you believe in. If you can walk, knock on doors. If you can hear, make telephone calls. If you like to cook, make food for a house party. If you speak a language other than English, offer to translate for an immigrants’ rights group. If you can write, pen an op-ed or a letter to the editor. If you teach, welcome difficult conversations in the classroom.”

Finally, she offered the idea, “If you can speak into a mic, testify at the Capitol,” before closing with the rousing call to all to, “Stay vigilant.  But stay hopeful, too,” and …

Pink “pussy” hats were much in evidence at the rally.


Op-Ed: In Light of Current Events, Head of The Country School Confirms, Defends School’s Mission

By John D. Fixx, Head of School at The Country School

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a moment in which people in the United States and throughout the world celebrate a gentleman who gave his life striving for equality and the principle that all people are created equal.

Our country has stood for generations as an example of hope for people throughout the world. Many relatives of our families and teachers arrived here recently or generations ago. Some arrived as slaves. Some arrived voluntarily to seek a better life of freedom, opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness.

I am concerned that students have recently been hearing from the White House, the entertainment world, and the sports world that not all people are created equal. I send this letter, therefore, to make it clear how language and actions in the news today are counter to our mission at The Country School — to make it clear that as educators we will honor forthright questions from inquisitive students while striving to respect parental prerogative and disparate political viewpoints. It should not be controversial to deplore language and actions that undermine the bedrock on which the United States has been built and has prospered.

Our students might be reading on their phones and hearing stories about the mistreatment of women in Hollywood, on Olympic teams, and by influential men in broadcasting and elsewhere, while also hearing reports of hateful, racist, dangerous words from Washington that are inappropriate to use anywhere on our campus or use, many would argue, anywhere in a polite, civil society.

The Country School’s mission reads, “We nurture every student’s unique role in the community,” and that means that we value their differences. We live our mission daily by “encouraging students to embrace differences, explore new perspectives, and find common ground in a multicultural world.” We honor this ethos especially through our IDEA (Interpreting Diversity Education through Action) Day and Theme Day workshops, but also every day when we teach empathy and kindness.

I am tremendously proud of The Country School’s increasing diversity, as measured in terms of race, culture, family structures, religion, nationality, socio-economic status, and so forth. Our students’ families come from at least 27 different countries and their parents and grandparents speak some 17 languages at home. Our community spans the world, from Poland to Portugal and from China to Cambodia, from India to Israel to Italy to Ireland to Iceland, from Taiwan to Texas, from Lima to London, from Hungary to Sudan, and from California to Colombia. As educators, we cannot defend the idea that some families’ countries are worse or better than other countries.

Our core values state that our students “practice empathy by considering different perspectives and making all members of the community feel welcomed, included, and respected.” The Country School’s Mission Statement speaks to character and leadership development. As we teach our students in the Elmore Leadership Program, there are many ways to lead, and the best leaders bring disparate groups together to accomplish more than any individual could achieve on her or his own. And as part of the Elmore Leadership Program, we also teach students that leaders should use elegant, elevated language, and they should avoid profanity, misogyny, and similar “locker room” language.

We routinely answer questions as candidly and cleanly as we can, keeping our politics as adults as neutral as possible. I write this not to address specific tax policies or the Russian investigation, or a Mexican border wall, or trade agreements, or North Korean missiles, and so forth.

Rather, I want to make clear that it is part of our leadership mission at The Country School to ensure that our students understand that people can disagree agreeably, can use civil and respectful language, and — whether in Connecticut, Washington D.C., New York, or Hollywood — can always follow our primary school rule:

        1. Be kind.

Editor’s Note: Founded in 1955, The Country School serves 215 students in PreSchool to Grade 8 on its 23-acre campus in Madison. See our community in action during our Open House on January 28 from 1-3:30 p.m. Learn more at


Volunteers Needed to Help Valley Shore Residents With Literacy Challenges

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization.  Its mission is to train tutors to help residents of the Valley Shore area who wish to improve their reading, writing or speaking English to improve their life and work skills.  This one-to-one instruction is held confidential and is completely without charge to the student.

Tutor training is a 14-hour program conducted over seven sessions held each spring and again in the fall of every year.  The next training session begins March 22 and runs through May 15. Workshop Leaders have developed a comprehensive program that provides prospective tutors the skills and resources to help them succeed.

A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to helping a student improve their skill in basic literacy or English as a Second Language over the period of one year after the completion of training.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor, contact the Literacy Volunteers office in the lower level of the Westbrook Public Library by phone at (860) 399-0280 or by e-mail at .  Registration for the spring session is open now.


Masonicare Acquires Chester Village West, Community to now be called “Masonicare at Chester Village”

Masonicare, the state’s largest not-for-profit provider of senior healthcare and retirement living, has acquired Chester Village West, pictured above, from Iowa-based Life Care Services (LCS), an acquisition which fits seamlessly into Masonicare’s plan for sustained, smart growth and future success in Connecticut.

A Life Plan/Continuing Care Retirement Community set on 55 acres in the Connecticut River town of Chester, the community consists of 105 cottages and apartments.  “The addition of Chester Village to our organization is a win-win for all,” said Jon-Paul Venoit, President/CEO of Masonicare.  “We have extensive experience in the retirement living arena and our cultures are very similar.  We are retaining nearly all of their employees, and we expect to invest in some capital improvements on the campus as well.”

Hilde Sager, Vice President for Residential Services at Masonicare, added, “We’re delighted to welcome Chester Village West residents and staff into our Masonicare family.  We love the Chester area and look forward to Masonicare at Chester Village now being an integral part of the full continuum of senior care we are able to offer statewide.”   

Venoit noted that through its extensive continuum of care, Masonicare will be able to bring Assisted Living services to Chester Village residents as well as offer in-home care through its home care agencies. 

Masonicare’s continuum includes the 360-unit Ashlar Village in Wallingford, which is also a Life Plan/Continuing Care Retirement Community.  In April, Masonicare celebrated the grand opening of Masonicare at Mystic, a rental model with 179 Independent and Assisted Living apartments.

Editor’s Note: Masonicare affiliates include Masonicare Home Health & Hospice, Masonicare at Ashlar Village, Masonicare at Home, Masonicare at Mystic, Masonicare at Newtown, Masonicare Health Center and The Masonic Charity Foundation of Connecticut.


Reading Uncertainly? ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ by Amor Towles

“By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration – and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.” This is the theme of a compelling, engrossing, and forever cheerful story of an Russian aristocrat condemned to lifetime “house arrest” in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel in 1921.

Through the eyes and experiences of Count Alexander Rostov, in five segments (1921-22; 1923-46; 1950; 1950-53; and 1954), we are treated to a history of Russia, the Soviet Union, European literature, art, music, medicine and architecture. And dining: the Count becomes the Head Waiter at the hotel’s superlative dining room. An entire chapter is devoted to the creation of a sumptuous bouillabaisse – a foodie’s delight!

Consider this analysis: “Surely, the span of time between the placing of an order and the arrival of appetizers is one of the most perilous in all human interaction. What young lovers have not found themselves bat this juncture in a silence so sudden, so seemingly insurmountable that it threatens to cast doubt upon their chemistry as a couple? What husband and wife have not found themselves suddenly unnerved by the fear that they might not ever have something urgent, impassioned, or surprising to say to each other again?”

The good Count is forever curious, of people, events, and changing circumstances. On reading: “After all, isn’t that why the pages of a book are numbered? To facilitate the finding of one’s place after a reasonable interruption?” On how he spends his time: “dining, discussing, reading, reflection.” On history: “the business of identifying momentous events from the comfort of a high-backed chair.” On life itself: “ … life does not proceed by leaps and bounds. It unfolds. At any given moment, it is the manifestation of a thousand transitions.” And, given his confinement, also exercising: squats and push-ups every morning, plus climbing stairs to his attic rooms.

Towles names the Count’s barber at the hotel, Yaroslav Yaroslavl, provoking my own recollections of travel in Russia, first to St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) at its Hermitage in 1984 and later to Moscow and Yaroslavl in 1992. And the Count also states emphatically that, “all poets must eventually bow before the haiku,” a statement which — as a modest haiku composer myself — I endorse with pleasure!

So the Metropol becomes hardly a “prison” for Count Alexander, but rather it is his own wide, wide world.

One unusual note: all chapters have titles beginning in the letter A. And the end of the story has an unnamed lady waiting for the Count. But we know her name both begins and ends with an A …

The keynote of the eminently readable novel is “Montaigne’s maxim, that the surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness.”

Editor’s Note: ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ by Amor Towles is published by Viking, New York 2016.

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction that explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farms Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His wife, Ann, is also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a bubbling village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visit every summer.


Rebekah Beaulieu Appointed Director of the Florence Griswold Museum

Becky Beaulieu is the new Executive Director of the Florence Griswold Museum.

OLD LYME — The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Conn., has announced the appointment of Rebekah (Becky) Beaulieu as Director of the Museum. With a distinguished career that traverses both art museum and historic site administration, Beaulieu has most recently been the Associate Director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine. She begins her new role on Feb. 19, 2018.

Beaulieu was selected from a highly qualified pool of candidates after a rigorous national search led by a committee of trustees. She follows Jeffrey Andersen, who has served as the Museum’s Director for the past 41 years. Beaulieu and Andersen will briefly work together in February to effect a smooth management transition.

“It was important for us to get this right,” states Ted Hamilton, President of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “We’ve not had to look for a director in over 40 years and we were very fortunate to find a wonderful candidate that is such a good fit for the institution. Not only is Becky’s academic record outstanding, but she comes with the highest of recommendations as well. We’re all looking forward to welcoming her aboard.”

“I am thrilled to lead the Florence Griswold Museum into its next chapter,” notes Beaulieu. “The Museum has experienced tremendous growth during Jeff Andersen’s remarkable tenure, and I look forward to working with board, staff, and volunteers to continue its upward trajectory. It is my honor to join the Florence Griswold Museum family.”

As the Associate Director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Beaulieu managed all administrative activities including staffing, finances, communications, visitor experience, and operations. Besides being well versed in the administration of an art museum, Beaulieu has experience managing historic sites. As the first Executive Director of the Winchester Historical Society (MA), Beaulieu managed operations for the Society and its cultural site, the Sanborn House Historical and Cultural Center. This breadth of experience makes her an exceptional fit for the Florence Griswold Museum.

The Museum has grown from an historic house museum to a place-based art museum featuring a modern gallery for temporary exhibitions of American art; education and landscape centers; and the National Historic Landmark Florence Griswold House (1817), interpreted today as the boarding house of the Lyme Art Colony. The Museum is located on thirteen acres along the Lieutenant River in Old Lyme.

“Becky is a consummate museum professional who understands well the value of cultural institutions in our communities,” states Anne Collins Goodyear and Frank H. Goodyear, Co-Directors of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. “As the Associate Director at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, she has played an important role in expanding the number of exhibitions and programs we offer and has worked closely with her colleagues to broaden access to the Museum and its collections. She will be greatly missed at Bowdoin. We wish her every success in this new chapter in her professional life and congratulate the Florence Griswold Museum on selecting a great new leader.”

Beaulieu brings an outstanding educational background to her new post.  She holds a B.A. in American Studies from George Washington University. She earned two Masters degrees, one in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and another in Arts Administration from Columbia University, before completing her Ph.D. in American and New England Studies at Boston University.

Beaulieu is committed to local community service. She serves as Trustee for the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick, Maine and was appointed to the Public Arts Commission and Historical Commission Review Board there. Dedicated to the museum field as a whole, she is involved in numerous professional organizations. She serves as a board member of the New England Museum Association, a faculty member of the American Association for State and Local History’s Seminar for Historical Administration, and a Peer Reviewer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

In addition, she has been an Accreditation/MAP Peer Reviewer
for the American Alliance of Museums, where she is also a board member for the Historic Houses and Sites Network. “When I first met Becky, my impression was ‘this woman is one to watch,’” remembers Dawn Salerno, Deputy Director for Public Engagement & Operations at the Mystic Museum of Art. “The next year, I was recruiting her for the board of the New England Museum Association, where I’m thrilled to have her as a colleague. And now I couldn’t be happier to have her as a colleague in Connecticut.” Beaulieu and Salerno are working with Mark S. Gold as editors of The State of Museums: Voices from the Field, to be published in the fall of 2018 for the hundredth anniversary of the New England Museum Association.

Beaulieu has written, edited, or contributed to books and scholarly journals in her field. Besides her former position as the Managing Editor for Modern Intellectual History, an academic journal published by Cambridge University Press, Beaulieu has written Financial Fundamentals for Historic House Museums (2017), which outlines the basic tenets of organization and financial management for small museums. Stephanie Meeks, President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has hailed this book as a “superb” contribution to the field.

“Becky values the identity of the Florence Griswold Museum as a place where art, nature, and history intersect,” remarks John E. Noyes, Chair of the Search Committee. “She also understands how important it is to grow, to reach new audiences, and to develop new initiatives.”

Looked to as a leader in the art and history communities, Beaulieu has spoken at local, regional, and national events, conferences, and symposia, including annual conferences of the New England Museum Association, the College Art Association, and the National Council for Public History.

Beaulieu will relocate to the area with her husband Patrick Ford.

A trustee-led search committee composed of eight members with diverse backgrounds in business, academia, and the arts led the process. The committee’s members were John E. Noyes (Chair), Andy Baxter, Jeffrey W. Cooley, David W. Dangremond, Frank W. (Ted) Hamilton, Andrea Griffis Inglis, Lee Pritchard, and Carolyn Wakeman. The search process was coordinated by Naree Viner, Principal, Nonprofit Practice, New York for the executive search firm Korn Ferry.

The Florence Griswold Museum has been called a “Giverny in Connecticut” by the Wall Street Journal, and a “must-see” by the Boston Globe. In addition to the restored Florence Griswold House, with its unique collection of painted doors and walls left by the members of the Lyme Art Colony, the Museum has renowned collections of American art, including the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection presenting three centuries of art associated with Connecticut. The Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Connecticut. Visit for more information.

About the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
The collections of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art are among the most comprehensive of any college museum in the United States. The Museum is housed in the landmark Walker Art Building designed in 1894 by Charles Follen McKim, and features murals by John La Farge, Kenyon Cox, Elihu Vedder, and Abbott Thayer. The Museum is the centerpiece of Bowdoin’s vibrant arts and culture community and offers a wealth of academic and educational programs. Visit for more information.


Letter From Paris: Deaths of Two Icons Leave a Nation in Mourning

Nicole Prévost Logan

From Les Invalides to the Champs Elysees, intense emotion grips France at the passing of two iconic personalities.

Within 24 hours France lost two familiar figures: Jean d’Ormesson, 92, man of letters, and Johnny Hallyday, 74, the popular singer who, for almost 60 years, enthralled millions of fans. The intensity of the emotions was incredible. For a week, politics, wars, economic crises, were suspended and replaced by an immense sadness, which united the nation. No matter how different the two men were, they shared a great simplicity and the gift of connecting with the people.

It is not unusual for the French to express their collective grief in the public place. In 1885, two million people attended the national funerals of Victor Hugo. Simone Weil, the courageous woman who showed exceptional fortitude in her public life by being a pioneer of the right to abortion, received the highest honors by being laid to rest in the Pantheon. In 1963, a human tide surged toward the Pere Lachaise cemetery to say goodbye to Edith Piaf.

Count Jean d’Ormesson

Count Jean d’Ormesson, at age 48, was the youngest “immortal” to enter the Academie Française – a literary institution created by Louis XIII to uphold the French language. He died as the dean of that 40-members council. Son of a French ambassador, d’Ormesson was part of the French aristocracy, with degrees in history and philosophy. He directed the conservative daily Le Figaro, became a prolific writer, publishing a book per year, with the last one completed three days before his death. His smiling face and piercing blue eyes were a familiar sight for the viewers of countless televised literary shows, such Bouillon de Culture, Apostrophe or La Grande Librairie.

An elegant conversationalist, he spoke with wit, lightness, and optimism. His remarks, studded with literary quotes, included gems of uplifting philosophy, such as,”Life is beautiful because we are lucky to die”, and “In the New Testament, the myth of the Wandering Jew is condemned to immortality by Jesus.”

During the strikingly sober ceremony, in the courtyard of the Invalides, a small group of guests, representing the world of politics and culture, stood stoically, whipped by a glacial wind. The eulogy given by French president Emmanuel Macron, matched the literary sophistication of the deceased academician.

Johnny Hallyday was a monument in France with an amazing longevity. From the first time he appeared on the stage at age 17, this blond, tall young man became an adulated performer and he remained a star for almost 60 years. For millions of fans, his disappearance meant the loss of a chunk of their own life. Fighting lung cancer for several years, in spite of the terrible pain, he continued performing until the very end. People thought he was indestructible, hence the extreme shock people felt when they learned about his death on Dec. 6th.

Abandoned by his father at the age of eight months, Hallyday did not grow up in the security of a proper family but bounced around from one relative to another. A cousin gave him his stage name.

Facts about his career are staggering: more than 28 million spectators attended the 3,300 concerts he gave in 40 countries; he sold 110 million records. He had a real talent in choosing the best composers and song writers, which allowed him to produce 1,000 songs, many of them in Gold albums.

Johnny Hallyday

Hallyday went through all the styles of music from rock n’roll, pop, blues, soul, country, and hard rock. Among the best known hits is, “Ah Marie, si tu savais, tout le mal que l’on m’a fait” (Ah, Marie, if you only knew how much they hurt me) about a young man, fighting in the WWI trenches and writing to his fiancee.

It is a paradox that, in spite of his love for the US, that country barely knew him. Driving full speed on his Harley Davidson with his buddies from the Midwest to California was one of his greatest pleasures. He sang with Sammy Davis Junior. Michel Berger wrote for him a song called “On a tous quelque chose de Tennessee” (We all have something of Tennesse.) The lyrics recall lines from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

He spent the last 10 years of his life in Los Angeles, Calif., with Tom Hanks and Ben Affleck as neighbors and only returned to France to perform in concerts. Some of his concerts became giant productions of a size never seen before. The absolute zenith of his career was right after France won the soccer World Cup in 1998 when Hallyday flew over the Stade de France by helicopter and was lowered into the hysterical crowd.

The public funeral of Hallyday was an incredible spectacle offered to millions of fans. The cortege moved slowly down the Champs Elysees, led by a white coffin. This was followed by a caravan of black limousines filled with family, close friends and dignitaries and then – even for people who do not particularly like motorcycles – the incredible sight of 700 bikers, who had come from all over France.

On the steps of the Madeleine church, President Emmanuel Macron, paid his respects to the rock star and invited the crowd to bid farewell to “Mr. Johhny Hallyday.”

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

About 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.


Old Saybrook BOE Receives Distinction Award at Major Education Convention

Gathered together to celebrate after receiving the CABE Level Two Leadership Award of Distinction are from left to right, Kelly Kennedy, Old Saybrook Board of Education Chair), Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook Superintendent of Schools), and board member Eileen Baker. Photo by Lifetouch National School Studios

OLD SAYBROOK — The Old Saybrook Board of Education was presented with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Level Two Leadership Award during the annual CABE / CAPSS (Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents) Convention held at the Mystic Marriott on Friday, November 17 – Saturday, November 18.

CABE believes that Boards of Education and Superintendents which exhibit the most effective leadership are characterized by their ability to work together as “teams.” The CABE Board Recognition Awards are designed to recognize Boards which work effectively in this manner. In order to appropriately recognize those Boards which are truly exemplary, CABE has now established a second level of awards, the Board of Distinction Award. Only Boards which have achieved Level One distinction at least twice in the prior four years are eligible to receive the Board of Distinction Award. Boards must achieve at least two Level Two items in each Level Two category to receive this award.

The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) serves local and regional school districts in Connecticut and is dedicated to improving the quality of education throughout the state and the nation. CABE’s membership includes 154 school districts. CABE is a leading advocate for public education at the State Capitol and in Washington D. C., and offers many types of support services to local boards of education including the Board Member Academy, a continuing education program for local board of education members.


Death of Barbara (Seim) Hill Announced

Barbara (Seim) Hill, Sept. 7, 1925 – Dec. 1, 2017

Barbara (Siem) Hill

Barbara (Seim) Hill, 92, passed away peacefully at home, Bay Village, Sarasota, Florida on December 1, 2017. She was born in Bridgeport, CT September 7, 1925, daughter of Harry E. and Vera (Bertilson) Seim. She obtained her nursing degree from Simmons College. Her beloved husband of 64 years, Nicholas S. Hill IV, predeceased her in 2012.  She retired from a nursing career which culminated in 16 years as Supervisor of the Visiting Nurses Association in Old Saybrook. She resided in Old Lyme for 34 years, where she raised her six children, then Old Saybrook for 31 years, before moving to Sarasota, Florida.

Barbara will be remembered for her sweet kindness, her brightness of spirit and her determination to make the world around her a better place, which she passed on to her children and everyone she met. She saw the positive in every situation. “She was the best mother and grandmother in the world” and she will be dearly missed.

She is survived by her children: Pamela Vernon of Quechee, Vermont; Nicholas S. Hill V (Sophia) of Sherborn, MA; Penny Hill (Larry Wild) of Sarasota, FL; Wendolyn Hill (Richard Sutton) of Lyme, CT; Melinda Hill (Mark Yuknat) of Haddam, CT; and Jeffrey Hill (Sherry) of Old Saybrook, CT.  She is also survived by 9 grandchildren: Kayt and Colin Vernon, Kyra and Alyssa Hill, Hester and Isabel Sutton, Alex Yuknat, Bethany Benak and Samantha Hill; and four great-grandchildren; and her best friend, Ann Daum.

There will be a private service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to Visiting Nurses Southeastern CT: VNASC, 403 N Frontage Road, Waterford, CT 06385or Planned Parenthood of Southwest Florida, 736 Central Avenue, Sarasota, Fl 34236.

Online Guest book located at


Community Renewal Team Accepting Submissions for 2018 National Arts Program Through Jan. 11

AREAWIDE — For 27 years, Community Renewal Team (CRT) has served as the sole host in the state of Connecticut for the annual National Arts Program® (NAP), providing an opportunity for local artists to showcase their art within the community.

Professional artists, along with youth, teens, amateurs and intermediate artists from Middlesex and Hartford counties are invited to submit their work now for the 2018 art show, which will be on display at Capital Community College (950 Main Street in Hartford, CT) from Jan. 19 – Feb. 7, 2018.

All forms of visual arts are accepted for this show; from paintings and photographs to sculptures, crafts and textiles.

Applications are being accepted until Jan. 11, 2018, and it is free to submit work for the show.

The NAP provides materials and funding for this visual art exhibit, including cash awards totaling $3,450.

More information about how to get involved in the 2018 National Arts Program is available on the CRT website at


Deep River Re-Names Town Hall After Beloved First Selectman Dick ‘Smitty’ Smith

The plaque that dedicates the Deep River Town Hall to Richard H. Smith, known to all as ‘Smitty.’ The popular Deep River First Selectman, who had served in that role for 27 years, passed away unexpectedly in 2016.

DEEP RIVER — State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) and State Representative Robert Siegrist (R-36th) attended the Deep River Town Hall renaming ceremony that took place on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Deep River’s Town Hall is now named the Richard H. Smith Town Hall after Richard H. Smith, also known as ‘Smitty,’ who dedicated 27 years of service to the people of Deep River as First Selectman. Over 100 individuals attended the renaming ceremony and the Secretary of State Denise Merrill spoke about Smith’s service to the town of Deep River and State of Connecticut.

“Words cannot express how great of a man Mr. Smith was. He left a lasting mark on the town of Deep River that will live on for years to come,” said State Representative Robert Siegrist. “It was great to see so many people in attendance to support such an amazing guy. Elected officials, community activists and residents from all over came to honor Mr. Smith – and rightfully so. He left Deep River a better place, his ‘second home’ was the Town Hall and it’s only right to dedicate it to him.”

Sen. Linares (center) talks to Jim Olson (right) and another ceremony attendee.

“Dick Smith gave so much of himself to Deep River and its residents,” Sen. Linares said. “Naming the town hall after him is a perfect way to memorialize the impact he has had on the community.”

Richard H. Smith Town Hall, Democratic First Selectman of Deep River for 27 years passed away unexpectedly in 2016.

Sen. Linares represents the 33rd District communities of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. State Rep. Siegrist represents the 36th District communities of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.


Letter From Paris: André Derain: Major Artist, “Fauvism” Champion Featured in Parisian Retrospective

Nicole Prévost Logan

André Derain usually evokes cheerful scenes of sailboats bobbing up and down in the bright colors of a Mediterranean fishing port.

Actually, Derain (1880-1954) is a complex artist, who had a strong influence on the evolving avant-garde movements at the start of the 20th century.  The Pompidou Center is currently holding a retrospective titled, “Derain – 1904-1914. The radical decade.”

The curator of the Pompidou exhibit, Cecile Debray, comments, “Derain is the founder with Matisse of Fauvism and an actor of Cezanne’s Cubism with Picasso.” Never before had the artist been attributed such a crucial role. Derain was not only the link between the masters — Gauguin and Van Gogh — and the next generation of artists, but also an explorer of new sources of inspiration, including primitive Italians, along with African and Oceanic art. 

To quote Gertrude Stein (the writer and art collector famous on the cultural Parisian scene in the 1920s and 1930s), “Derain was the Christopher Columbus of modern art, but it is the others who took advantage of the new continents”

Not interested in the career of engineer planned for him by his father, the young Derain preferred to spend all his time at The Louvre, copying  the classics. He shared a studio with his friend Vlaminck on the Chatou island northwest of Paris where he was born. His first paintings had as subjects the Seine river, its banks and bridges, and the activities of workers. He displayed a distinctive technique of fast brush touches, (slightly different from “pointillism“), innovative plunging views and cropping, which give  his works the spontaneity of photographic snapshots.

“Collioure, the drying of the sails'” by André Derain.

In the summer of 1905, he spent the summer in Collioure with Matisse and was dazzled by the Mediterranean light. Derain defined light as the negation of shadow.  He writes, “Colors become cartridges of dynamite casting off light.”  The room VII of the 1905 Salon d’Automne, called “la cage aux fauves,” caused a scandal, (fauves mean wild animals.)  In 1907, the Russian art collector Ivan Morozov acquired Derain’s paintings from the merchant Ambroise Vollard for the sum of 600 francs.

The following summer,  Derain continued to work with Matisse at l’Estaque, near Marseille. His compositions became more structured, with strong lines, volumes, perspectives and plans.  He still used arbitrary colors.   

‘London’ by Andre Derain.

During two visits to London, he became fascinated by the bustling traffic of barges and tugboats on the Thames. He used the puffs of smoke mixed with the mist to decline all shades of whites. He found a new inspiration in the representation of water and sky. The apotheosis is an almost abstract sunset with the sun breaking through the dark clouds as if putting the sky on fire.

In 1910, Derain is part of the Cubist movement as shown in his representation of the village of Cagnes – an assemblage of cubes with red roofs scattered on a hilly landscape made of geometric lines and volumes of dense vegetation.

The versatility of Derain seems to be boundless. He played the piano, was  a professional photographer, and enjoyed fast cars (he owned 11 Bugattis.)  Using his virtuosity as a draughtsman, he created illustrations for humor publications along with stage and costume designs (for Diaghilev and the Russian ballets.)

The dance” by André Derain.

Before leaving the exhibit, the visitor will be stunned by The Dance, 1906 – a large (185 x 228 cm) decorative composition of three women undulating in a luxuriant forest.  The work is rarely seen, since it belongs to a private collection.  Derain was inspired by a poem by Apollinaire and called it L’Enchanteur pourrissant (the rotting magician) about three fairies looking for Merlin’s tomb. The gestures of the dancers are reminiscent of Egyptian and Indian art, and could have inspired Nijinsky’s choreography. The mysterious vegetation and the hidden meaning of a snake and a multicolored parrot infuse the ritual scene with symbolism.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

About 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.


Reading Uncertainly? ‘Lab Girl’ by Hope Jahren

This month, let’s try an intensely introspective autobiography of a botanical scientist, wrapped in a biography of trees, flowers, and plants.

Hope Jahren, a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, writes the clear, coherent, and engaging story of her upbringing in Minnesota, her education, travel and work in California, Georgia, Maryland, and Hawaii, intermixed with her study and analysis of the history and lives of plants and trees. And she apparently has a photographic memory as she recalls detailed conversations with her teachers, students, science mates and husband.

But, early on in my reading, I had a nagging question: does this intense self-analysis and self-reflection indicate something else?

Jahren finally acknowledges being a “manic-depressive woman” four-fifths of the way through her writing. She is consumed with her love of and study of plants: it dominates her life.

Fellow human beings? She acknowledges an early debt to her science-minded father, but never mentions him again after her first pages. Her scientific partner, Bill, is never granted a last name, nor is her husband, Clint. And none of those three is mentioned in her credits. She devotes one of the longest chapters to the birth of her son, but he remains nameless (mentioned only as “my toddler” and “my son.” Note he is not “our” son.)

But her often lyrical phrases continue to delight you as a reader, “a leaf is a platter of pigment strung with vascular lace,” and “vines are hopelessly ambitious,” and “being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.” Hers is a two-part, parallel story of intense curiosity – her science and her life.

Her self-analysis close to the end reads as follows:

“I’m good at science because I’m not good at listening. I have been told that I’m intelligent, and I have been told that I am simple-minded. I have been told that I am trying to do to much, and I have been told that what I have done amounts to very little. I have been told that I can’t do what I want to do because I am a woman, and I have been told that I have only been allowed to do what I have done because I am a woman. I have been told that I can have eternal life, and I have been told that I will burn myself out into an early death. I have been admonished for being too feminine and I have been distrusted for being too masculine. I have been warned that I am far too sensitive and I have been accused of being heartlessly callous.

But I was told all these things by people who can’t understand the present or see the future any better than I can. Such recurrent pronouncements have forced me to accept that because I am a female scientist, nobody knows what the hell I am, and it has given me the delicious freedom to make it up as I go along. I don’t take advice from my colleagues, and I try not to give it. When I am pressed, I resort to these two sentences: You shouldn’t take this job too seriously. Except for when you should.”

If that doesn’t arouse your curiosity to read this book, I don’t know what will!

Jahren’s conclusion, “Our world is falling apart quietly.” And her more optimistic recommendation: go plant a tree once a year! Which is exactly what my wife and I have done in our 24 years in Lyme, Conn. We’ve planted 13 Evergreens, four Red Maples, three Acacia, two Apples, one Japanese Maple, and one Witch Hazel. Yes, we’ve cut down an apple savaged by a hurricane, plus two small apples, but the latter were promptly replaced with two pears!

Do read Hope Jahren … and plant a tree.

Editor’s Note: ‘Lab Girl’ by Hope Jahren is published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2016

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction that explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farms Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His wife, Ann, is also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a bubbling village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visit every summer.


Garden Club Decorates Essex for the Holidays

Hard at work on decorations for the Town of Essex are, from left to right, Diane Sexton, Pat Mather and Renate Houchin.

ESSEX — In preparation for the holidays, members  of the Essex Garden Club decorated merchant window boxes,  and tubs of the villages of Essex using a variety of evergreen cuttings from members and other generous donors from the community.

Decorating the “Silent Policeman” are, from left to right, Gay Thorn, DeeDee Charnok and Sandy Meister.

The “Silent Policeman” has been decorated with layers of evergreens, berries and lights. The gazebo also has been decorated with garlands and lights.

The Essex Garden Club has helped the town put on a festive face for Trees in the Rigging on Nov. 26, and the Holiday Stroll on Dec. 1.


Sen. Formica Welcomes Old Saybrook North Cove Dredging Project

From left to right, State Rep. Devin Carney, CT Ports Authority Chair Scott Bates, State Senator Paul Formica, Evan Matthews, and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

OLD SAYBROOK – State Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme) joined the Connecticut Port Authority alongside state and local officials on Nov. 14 to announce the start of the North Cove dredging project in Old Saybrook.

At a press conference at the Vicky Duffy Pavilion at Saybrook Point, officials detailed the project, overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, intended to boost maritime activity and business in the Old Saybrook area. 

“Growing our maritime industry is an economic catalyst to development in our cities, towns and communities throughout the state,” said Sen. Formica. “This is an investment that will lead to new opportunities for business development and job growth. I thank all those who have worked hard to launch this project, including all the efforts by the Connecticut Port Authority, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact of a strengthened port system throughout Connecticut.”

The North Cove Federal Navigation Dredging Project will remove 290,000 cubic yards of fine grain sediments to restore the width and depth authorized throughout the cove and its entrance channel.

The Connecticut Port Authority will invest $4.3 million in this project to make all moorings available for use and increase vessel safety and access to the cove at all tide levels.

According to the Connecticut Port Authority, river flows and natural tidal actions have deposited significant shoals in both the cove and the channels, in some areas reducing depth to as little as 4 feet. The entrance channel is authorized to 11 feet and the anchorage area is authorized to both 11 feet and 6 feet at different locations. All three areas will be restored to their authorized levels. The dredged material has been analyzed and determined suitable for deposit in the Central Long Island Sound Disposal Site.

The Connecticut Port Authority was created in 2014 that is responsible for marketing and coordinating the development of the state’s ports and maritime economy.


Letter to the Editor: Time for Democracy, Support the National Popular Vote

To the Editor:

This past Election Day, we took for granted that our votes would matter and the local candidates receiving the most votes would be the winner. That’s the way it works for every election in the U.S., except for president.

With winner-take-all Electoral College voting, a dozen battleground states with only 33% of the population decide who becomes president. Twice in the last 17 years, the loser of the popular vote became the winner. That doesn’t make sense.

Fortunately, there is a solution. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a nonpartisan plan to make everyone’s vote for president matter equally—regardless of whether they’re in a blue, red or battleground state—and to make the winner the candidate with the most votes.

The NPV Compact is an agreement among states to award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. It kicks in as soon as states with a combined 270 electoral votes sign on, ensuring the popular vote will always pick the president. Eleven states with a combined 165 electoral votes have already signed on.

Our state legislature has considered joining the Compact five times since 2009. Last session, there were 68 co-sponsors of the NPV bill, more than ever before. It will be introduced again in 2018. If you agree that the candidate with the most votes nationwide should become the president, contact your state legislators and ask them to support it.

This isn’t a partisan issue. A switch of 60,000 Ohio voters in 2014 would have put Kerry in the White House, despite three million more votes cast for Bush. The NPV is not a Democratic plan: in 2014 Newt Gingrich strongly endorsed it. With a national popular vote, every vote would matter, not just those in twelve states. It’s time for a change, time for democracy.


Marta Daniels,


Essex Elementary School Foundation Kicks Off Annual Appeal

The Essex Elementary School Foundation (EESF) is kicking off its annual appeal and needs your help.  This not-for-profit, volunteer organization provides funds for enrichment programs and tools at EES.  Examples include a 3D printer, an iPad lab, the Justus W. Paul World Cultures Days and an Engineering with Legos program.

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, members met in the school’s media center to stuff envelopes, all part of the foundation’s annual direct mail campaign to Essex area residents and businesses.  In the photo above, board members Chet Kitchings, Marta Collins, Sarah Whitney, Linda Reamer and Bill Jacaruso are seen stuff envelopes.

Send donations to Essex Elementary School Foundation, P.O. Box 882, Essex, CT 06426.


Photographer Carin Roaldset’s Work on View at Essex Library Through November

‘Falling Cloud’ is one of Carin Roaldset’s featured photographs at Essex Library’s exhibition of her work.

ESSEX — Carin Roaldset grew up on a farm in Sweden and spent years in Germany and Norway before settling in Connecticut.  Her images have been featured on note cards, magazines and in Chamber of Commerce booklets and ad pieces.  She is also the chosen artist for Essex Savings Bank’s 2018 calendar and has illustrated the books A Measure of Joy – Opening to the Energy of Reiki by Gary Stinnet; Here After, Poetry by Mary Volk and Letters from Cornfield Point by Sally Ann D’Aquila.

Nature plays a major role in Roaldset’s life, and she eventually turned to photography to illustrate and share that joy.  “My photographs are mostly close-ups, representing positive emotions” she explains.  “I like to combine common objects and nature.  Texture, lines and simplicity are all important to me.  Clean images, often with an element of surprise, are what I strive to achieve in many of my photographs.”

Roaldset’s photographs and paintings have been displayed at juried shows at the Essex Art Association, Valentine H. Zahn Community Gallery, West Hartford Art League, and the Slater Memorial Museum’s Artists’ Exhibition.   She has also had several solo shows on the shoreline.

Her work can be viewed at the Essex Library throughout the month of November during its regular hours.

Roaldset will be on hand for a reception that will be held at the Library on Saturday, Nov. 11, from 12 until 2 p.m. 


Country School Runners Enjoy Record-Breaking Season

From left to right are Kayla Uzwiak, 8th Grader from Killingworth; Ryan Wei, 8th Grader from East Lyme; and Conor Selfor, 8th Grader from Old Saybrook.

MADISON — While local public high school cross country teams have been building toward their championship races, The Country School’s cross country team has been quietly compiling a season record for the girls of 33 wins and only one loss and 35 wins and four losses for the boys. This is the best record for cross country at the PreSchool-8th Grade Madison independent school since it began offering the sport 20 years ago.

The team competes this Saturday in the Connecticut Middle School State Championships at Wickham Park in East Hartford. Many student-athletes are also looking forward to the Junior Olympics cross country state championship, set to take place on November 12. In years past, dozens of Country School athletes have gone on to qualify for Regional Junior Olympics Championships, with several going on to Nationals, including one, Robbie Cozean of Madison, now a sophomore at Xavier High School, who earned All America status three times and finished 2nd in the United States.

The Country School serves 214 students between the ages of 3 and 14, and with only eight boys and seven girls running cross country, its Middle School teams are typically the smallest teams competing in any race. Head of School John Fixx attributes the success of their athletes to many factors, among them, dedication. The team holds optional practices two or more times a week throughout the year during the off-season, including the summer, while practicing five and even six days a week during the fall cross country season. Inevitably, the entire team shows up, with younger running enthusiasts, and even some parents, opting to join in.

Seen here in action are, from left to right, Christopher Yuh, Madison; Gabriel Goodwin, Old Lyme; Liam Boone, Clinton, and Sam Duffy, Madison.

Another factor is school culture. At The Country School, running is regarded as an activity that is fun, inclusive, and open to all ages. The program begins as early as Kindergarten, when interested runners join a group known as the Flying Owlets, a nod to the school’s mascot, an owl. More than 35 students participate in Flying Owlets, with practices taking place a few times a week. They also have opportunities to compete in road races, Junior Olympics, and other venues. As older students and younger students train alongside each other, more seasoned runners are able to model teamwork and persistence for younger runners. It is not unusual to have a 6-year-old 1st Grader running alongside and listening to a 13-year-old 8th Grader talk about the effort it takes to run repeat 200s or a “ladder” workout on the track.

With a history of strong cross country and excellent academics, the school also has the advantage of attracting strong students who are also strong runners. This year, for example, Conor and Margaux Selfors joined the school, entering 8th and 7th Grades respectively. The siblings, from Old Saybrook, have placed at or near the top in multiple races this fall, adding depth and leadership to the team.

The talent on the team is also homegrown. Eighth Grade co-captain Ryan Wei from East Lyme, a top place finisher in several races this year, has attended The Country School for several years, rising up through the running ladder, and Robbie Cozean, the school’s most successful runner ever, began in PreKindergarten. In addition to his successes at The Country School and at Junior Olympics National, Robbie was named All-Courant Cross Country Runner of the Year as a freshman at Xavier.

In addition to Robbie at Xavier, several Country School runners have gone on to compete at the high school level, making their mark at Choate Rosemary Hall, Pomfret, Westminster, Guilford High School, Daniel Hand, Hamden Hall, St. Paul’s, Cheshire Academy, and Avon Old Farms.

Training so many runners, and working with such a wide age span of athletes, requires many coaches, and The Country School is fortunate to have a team of experienced runners and educators leading the effort. In addition to Head of School Fixx, a former cross country and track captain of Greenwich High School and Wesleyan University who founded the Country School cross country team with Jordan Katz, a former student, 20 years ago, the team benefits from the likes of Laura Morrison. A recent and very fast graduate of SUNY Fredonia who now runs for Southern Connecticut State University, where she is attending graduate school during the evenings, Laura oversees The Country School’s after-school program and also coordinating TEDxTheCountrySchool. Spanish teacher Blair Balchunas, a frequent road racer and half marathoner, is another inspiring member of the coaching staff. Organizational genius and great rapport with runners all ages comes from Beth Coyne, Country School Dean of Student Life and Secondary School Counselor.

Founded in 1955, The Country School is an independent, coeducational day school serving students from across the Shoreline. In addition to a rigorous academic program that seeks to educate the whole child through active, hands-on learning, The Country School is committed to vital offerings in the arts and athletics. Athletic contests are played on the school’s new, state-of-the-art outdoor complex, featuring two full-sized athletic fields, four tennis courts, a basketball court, and the cross country course through the woods that flank the 23-acre campus. The campus is a frequent host for athletic events, including a recent nine-school cross country meet. Although the student body is small in number, The Country School has a long tradition of athletic and academic excellence. This year alone, more than 20 Country School alumni are competing on teams at colleges across the country, including Amherst, Bates, Bryant, College of Charleston, Columbia, Dickinson, Fairfield, Hamilton, Harvard, Kenyon, Middlebury, Northeastern, Northwestern, Princeton, St. Lawrence, Union, the University of Rhode Island, and Villanova. Learn more at


Maple and Main Hosts ‘Art of the Sea’ Solo Show by Peter Barrett During November

‘Convergence’ by Peter Barrett is featured in ‘Art of the Sea’ at Maple & Main Gallery.

CHESTER — Maple and Main artist Peter Barrett’s solo show during November in the Stone Gallery, “Art of the Sea,” could not be more aptly titled.

A graduate of the US Coast Guard Academy and an avid boater, for a quarter of a century, Barrett has been recording with his paint brushes the waves crashing against Maine rocks, boats bobbing at rest in quiet Connecticut coves and herons and terns at the water’s edge of New England beaches.

He is mainly self-taught but has been mentored and guided by well-known artists over the years including Elizabeth Sennett of East Hampton and good friends and internationally known artists Mary Erickson and Donald Demers.  His oil paintings are done both on location and in the studio. 

Barrett’s daughter-in-law, Lindsay Barrett recently died of cancer and the show is dedicated to her memory. Fifteen percent of all sales will be donated to Yale New Haven Hospital Closer to Free Hematology Fund in Lindsay’s name.

A recently retired businessman, Barrett is a founding member of Maple and Main, developing its financial model and serving as CEO for the majority of its eight years in business.

In addition to Maple and Main, Barrett is an Associate Artist at Lyme Art Association and has been in juried shows there, at Hartford Fine Art and the Mystic Outdoor Arts Festival.

The show opens Wednesday, Nov. 1, and a reception with wine, appetizers and desserts will be held Friday, Nov. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. during First Friday in Chester. 

Maple and Main, at One Maple St., is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See the werbsite for more images and information:; 860-526-6065. Visit on Facebook and Instagram.