May 6, 2016

Essex First Selectman Needleman Declares as Democratic Candidate in 33rd State Senate District

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman makes a point during his speech announcing his run for the State Senate.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman makes a point during his speech announcing his run for the State Senate.

AREAWIDE — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman Tuesday announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 33rd Senate District, setting up a high profile contest with two-term Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook in the sprawling 10-town district.

Needleman, 65, told a crowd of about 60 friends and supporters gathered at the Gelston House in East Haddam that  he is ready to offer “common sense, sound business judgment, problem-solving skills, and an awareness of how decisions made in Hartford affect our small towns.” Needleman said he would work to build consensus at the Capitol, suggesting the 28-year-old Linares has been “just another partisan voice,” who “retreats to his ideological corners.”

A large crowd of supporters attended the event at the Gelston House in East Haddam.

A large crowd of supporters attended the event at the Gelston House in East Haddam.

A Brooklyn, N.Y. native who moved to Connecticut in the 1980s, Needleman is the founder and owner of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturer of effervescent products with 200 employees and plants in Essex and Clinton. He was elected to the Essex Board of Selectmen in 2003 as the running mate to former Democratic First Selectman Phill Miller, moving up to the town’s top job after Miller was elected state representative in the 36th House District in 2011. Needleman was unopposed for a second term in 2013, and last fall was re-elected to a third term, defeating Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac by an 80-vote margin.

Needleman said he made a final decision to run for the legislative seat on March 29, the day Linares cast one of only a handful of opposing votes against an interim deficit reduction package that was backed by both Democratic and Republican leaders. Needleman said he is planning an active campaign, and hopes to participate in several public debates with Linares.

Needleman_shaking_hands
Several area  Democratic leaders turned out for Needleman’s announcement, including Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, who described Needleman as a “true humanitarian,” who is widely respected by all of the other mayors and first selectmen in the state.”
Also on hand were the current roster of Democratic chief elected officials in the 10-town district, including  seven-term Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, who described Needleman as “a man who understands the needs of Middlesex County,” Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, elected last fall, and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr. who was appointed as interim first selectman earlier his month after the unexpected death of long-time first selectman Richard Smith.

There was also one apparent Republican supporter in attendance, longtime Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno.

The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Lyme, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Linares, a co-founder of the Greenskies solar energy company, was elected in 2012 to a seat that had been held for two decades by the late former Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. Linares won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,672-17,326 vote in a race where Bjornberg also had the Working Families Party ballot line and Linares had a Connecticut Independent Party ballot line.

Needleman is the only candidate for the Democratic nomination that will be formally awarded at a May 23 convention. Republicans are expected to nominate Linares for a third term at a May 11 convention in East Haddam.  There may also be a Green Party candidate in the race. Colin Bennett of Westbrook, running on the Green Party line, garnered 527 votes in 2014.
Share

Is it a Tunnel? An Aerial Structure? Learning the Latest on the Proposed High Speed Railroad Through Old Lyme

A large crowd gathered at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme to hear the latest on the proposed high speed railroad track.

A large crowd gathered at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme to hear the latest on the proposed high speed railroad track.

More than 80 people gathered in Gil Boro’s Studio 80 on Lyme Street in Old Lyme Sunday afternoon to hear a variety of speakers give updates on the latest developments in the saga involving the Federal Rail Authority’s (FRA) NEC Future’s proposals for an upgraded high speed railroad track from Washington DC to Boston. The event had a lighter side with musical performances from Ramblin’ Dan Stevens, Clayton Allen and friends, and the Localmotives with Eleanor Robinson, the Shrivers and friends. But the main thrust of the program was to educate and inform the attendees about the status of FRA’s plans … and what to do about them.

Greg Stroud, who has spearheaded the movement to fight Alternative 1 –- the route that travels through the center of Old Lyme – spoke first explaining that in spring 2012, when the FRA first announced a plan to invest in and modernize high speed rail in the northeast corridor, they began with 98 alternatives. He pointed out that back then, “I don’t think you’ll find a single complaint from Old Lyme, “Because not one of these alternatives included plans for running a railroad through the historical district of Old Lyme.”

Greg Stroud makes a point during his presentation in Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds.

Greg Stroud makes a point during his presentation in Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds.

It was only in November 2015 when the FRA issued their Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that “Old Lyme was mentioned for the first time” in the proposals and by that time, the original 98 alternatives had been narrowed down to just three. Moreover, the route through Old Lyme – the 50-mile bypass running from Old Saybrook to Kenyon, R.I. known as Alternative 1 – featured an “aerial structure’ traversing Lyme Street some 40 ft. above street level. He commented calmly, “This was kind of disturbing.”

The initial comment period for the Tier 1 study closed at the end of January. It was then extended to Feb. 15 and after an extraordinary number of comments from the residents of Old Lyme (1,200 out of a total of 3,000 according to Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder), the FRA introduced the idea of a tunnel going from Old Saybrook and Stroud said, “coming out around Whippoorwill [Rd.]”

Stroud pointed out that although “a tunnel sounds better … we’re a community of marshes .. this Historic District is built on soil and groundwater,” and suggested the audience should Google the word “dewatering.” He said that in order to build a tunnel, “You have to pump the water out of the soil,” noting soil tends to settle, “when you pump out groundwater,” adding, “There really isn’t a nice way to build a tunnel,” and then the comment, “It’s troubling.”

Stressing that he could not say definitively this would happen, Stroud noted that the FRA is unable to do so either. He mentioned that the FRA is “pretty friendly” and in numerous conversations with involved parties in Old Lyme, the FRA has said consistently that it, “will do the studies afterwards.”

Stroud’s point, however, is that the FRA is currently determining its preferred route for the track based on the feedback it has received to date. It will announce that route in September and then undertake the necessary studies. But, Stroud emphasized, “Once that route is drawn on the map, and if that route runs under, over, or through Old Lyme, it’s going to be enormously difficult and expensive, to erase.”

State Senator Paul Formica (R- 20th, center) and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd, right) listen carefully to an attendee's point.

State Senator Paul Formica (R- 20th, center) and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd, right) listen carefully to an attendee’s point.

Stroud continued that it was important to know where town government and state officials stood on the proposal, noting, “I know where our First Selectwoman [Bonnie Reemsnyder] stands on this,” and adding that from the start, State Representative Devin Carney (R), “took me seriously” and State Senator Paul Formica (R), “was very supportive,” drawing laughter when he confessed, “ And I’m a Democrat!”

But Stroud noted despite the fact, “We’ve back-channeled and we’ve front-channeled … it’s been pretty quiet,” and there has been “Little from [Congressman Joe] Courtney,” and with regard to Senator Richard Blumenthal, Stroud stated emphatically, “We don’t know if he’s with us or against us.” He urged the audience to “get our public representatives to take a stand,” by calling and/or writing to Senator Blumenthal’s office asking him to take a stand in order to, “Get this off the table.”

Pre-addressed postcards were available at the event for attendees to write a personal note to Senator Blumenthal, who Stroud noted is “the most active supporter of high-speed rail in Congress” and the ranking member of the Senate committee in charge of the rail planning process. Stroud said Blumenthal could therefore be enormously influential in the final route decision.

BJ Bernblum reads Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder's statement to the audience.

BJ Bernblum reads Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder’s statement to the audience.

BJ Bernblum then read a statement on behalf of Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who was unable to attend the event. It opened with Reemsnyder thanking all the people who had written to the FRA during the Tier 1 comment period, noting that at a subsequent meeting with the NEC Futures team, “ I believe that our concerns were taken seriously,” adding, “Of those concerns, we were effective in the most important one, and that is the removal of the plan for an aerial structure going through the heart of Old Lyme.”

Reemsnyder noted in her statement, however, “While this is good news, I acknowledge that the idea of a tunnel across the Connecticut River comes with its own set of concerns, which we also addressed in our meeting. The Connecticut River and its estuary are of such vital importance that we must assure that valid research and extreme caution are used in planning this type of work.” She stressed that a team of people from the regional government council (RiverCOG) and some Old Lyme residents “are gathering important data on the Connecticut River to be used if and when the time comes to thoroughly discuss the impact of a tunnel.”

In conclusion, Reemsnyder’s statement said, “We are continuing to keep the communication open with the FRA, our state officials, our Connecticut Delegation and state representatives to advocate for our community and protect our future,” adding, “You can see our summary of our meeting in a letter to the FRA on the town website, along with their response to that summary.”

Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the CT Trust for Historic Preservation, discusses a point after his presentation.

Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the CT Trust for Historic Preservation, discusses a point after his presentation.

The third speaker was Daniel Mackay, Executive Director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. He commented that from both his perspective in his current position and his prior experience as a municipal government member in the Town of New Scotland, N.Y. that Old Lyme’s town government “was doing the right things,” but stressed, “They need you [the audience],” explaining, “Their effectiveness is bolstered by a grassroots movement.”

He described the positive relationship between the Old Lyme town government and the local environmental, cultural and historical organizations as, “a potent mix” that he felt could be effective in conveying the message that “there are other ways to deliver high speed rail … without the wreckage of going through Old Lyme.”

In similar vein to Stroud, he reflected that, “While the process has been silent (while the FRA considers which option to select as its preferred route), I want to encourage you not to be silent,” adding, “You need to keep pressing home the point that this is not the place for high speed rail.”

Greg Stroud addresses the audience from the mezzanine level where the musicians played during Sunday's event.

Greg Stroud addresses the audience from the mezzanine level where the musicians played during Sunday’s event.

He explained that the Trust has “taken on fiscal responsibility” for the project known as ‘SECoast,’ which is described on its Facebook page as, “An independent nonprofit, partnered with the Connecticut Trust and currently focused on the topic of high-speed rail in Southeastern Connecticut,” with a mission of, “Organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley.”

Mackay said the Trust will be “picking up costs” associated with the project and donations to the group can now be accepted. He said information on how to donate to support the project is on the SECoast website and 100 percent of any donation will go to the project and is tax-deductible.

Mackay then cited what he described as a “visionary” Statement of Significance written in 1971 by Margaret Crosby Brown of Old Lyme when the town was applying to establish an historic district. Crosby Brown mentioned, “The town’s long awareness of the necessity for strong stewardship for both the historical and environmental aspects of Old Lyme,” noting at that time, “This is especially so when the destructive forces of accelerated change are all too apparent.”

Concurring with Crosby Brown’s opinion about the “necessity for strong stewardship,” he concluded with the words, “You have something very special here,” adding emphatically, “Let’s press that point.”

Share

May Daze in Chester Brings Art, Music, Food, Dancing, Fun for All Ages, Friday

ircle of Friends Montessori at 25 West Main Street will be hosting an open house during May Daze Night, from 5 to 8 p.m. The "Earth Day, Every Day" evening will include a wildflower planting activity and an opportunity for children to make Mother's Day gifts using recycled materials. Shown here are Jess Stone, from Cold Spring Farm in East Haddam, helping Adam Schmelzer with his plants.

Circle of Friends Montessori at 25 West Main Street will be hosting an open house during Chester’s May Daze Night, from 5 to 8 p.m. The “Earth Day, Every Day” evening will include a wildflower planting activity and an opportunity for children to make Mother’s Day gifts using recycled materials. Shown here are Jess Stone, from Cold Spring Farm in East Haddam, helping Adam Schmelzer with his plants.

CHESTER – May Daze Night. That’s been the name for the first Friday evening of May in Chester Center for several decades, thanks to the Chester Merchants. No one seems to know the reason for the name, but they know one thing – it’s always a great evening for people to convene in Chester Center to meet friends, see new art exhibits, find sales and gift drawings at the shops, hear good music, and enjoy savory treats and wines as they browse.

Chester has inspired artists for many years. Here is “Chester: A Collage” by Kathy DeMeo of Wallingford, an artist at Maple and Main Gallery of Fine Art. The gallery will serve wine and cookies as you enjoy the Spring Exhibit of over 200 new paintings by 46 established artists. In addition, there is a special show in the Stone Gallery of the paintings by the late Don Bement of Haddam Neck.

Chester has inspired artists for many years. Here is “Chester: A Collage” by Kathy DeMeo of Wallingford, an artist at Maple and Main Gallery of Fine Art. The gallery will serve wine and cookies as you enjoy the Spring Exhibit of over 200 new paintings by 46 established artists. In addition, there is a special show in the Stone Gallery of the paintings by the late Don Bement of Haddam Neck.

This year, as the Main Street Bridge reconstruction nears its completion, the Merchants have added another element – a Main Street Swing Dance on May Daze Night, Friday, May 6. May is “Swinging Chester” month, so what could be better than a Swing Dance?

Chester Rotarian and DJ Gary Torello will be playing music in the center of Main Street near the bridge barricades from 8 to 9 p.m., and Suzie Woodward of Lark has lined up swing dancers to show off some of their steps and moves. Come on down and dance in the street with us! (If it’s raining, there will be no dancing.)

May Daze Night – that’s Friday, May 6 – begins at 5 p.m. Parking is available in several public parking lots, on Water Street and on Maple Street.

Share

Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna Chastises Both Parties for Current Budget Mess 

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Photo from LinkedIn.com

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Photo from LinkedIn.com

In an exclusive interview with Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr., on May 2, Fortuna, a Republican, castigated the leadership of both parties for putting the state of Connecticut, “into a budgetary mess.” Fortuna expressed particular alarm that the state’s budgetary shortfall will be over $1.5 billion, “and that’s for this year alone,” he stressed.

“That is $1.5 million,” Fortuna repeated.

Furthermore, Fortuna said that in the next two years, the state’s budgetary shortfall would reach over $4 billion. He commented that a contributing factor to the state budget’s shortfall is, “Retired civil servants are living longer and longer.”

Share

Essex Resident Antonio C. Robaina Honored by Connecticut Bar Association

From left to right: CBA President, William H. Clendenen, Jr.; the Honorable Antonio C. Robaina, recipient of the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award; CBA Vice President, Karen DeMeola; and CBA President-elect, Monte E. Frank.

From left to right: CBA President, William H. Clendenen, Jr.; the Honorable Antonio C. Robaina, recipient of the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award; CBA Vice President, Karen DeMeola; and CBA President-elect, Monte E. Frank.

ESSEX – The Honorable Antonio C. Robaina was recently presented with the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award at the Connecticut Bar Association’s annual awards celebration, “Celebrate with the Stars,” in New Britain. Judge Robaina was selected based on nominations submitted to the CBA Awards Committee.

Judge Robaina was appointed to the Superior Court in 1998 and is currently assigned to the Hartford Judicial District as the presiding civil judge. From 2005 to 2010, he was the administrative judge in the Windham Judicial District; previously, Judge Robaina served as the presiding judge for civil matters in the New Haven Judicial District, as well as the assistant administrative judge. In 2002, Judge Robaina was the presiding judge for family matters in the Hartford Judicial District. He is one of the few judges who have served in a presiding role in civil, criminal, and family, and has served in judicial districts throughout the state as a trial judge in those same areas.

From 1979 to 1998, Judge Robaina was engaged in general practice in New Haven, which included plaintiff’s personal injury, insurance defense, criminal defense, immigration law, and family matters. He currently serves as a member of the adjunct faculty at Quinnipiac University.

Judge Robaina was one of the original founders and a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association and has served as the chairman of the Diversity Award Committee for the Lawyer’s Collaborative for Diversity. He has been a member of the Rules Committee of the judges of the superior court, and a number of other committees for the Judicial Branch and various bar organizations.

Judge Robaina has dedicated much of his time as a mediator in a variety of capacities. He has participated in the externship programs at both the University of Connecticut School of Law and Quinnipiac University Law School, has mentored law school students through the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association Mentoring Program, and  has mentored other  judges in  the Judicial Branch mentoring program. Judge Robaina has served as the co-chair of a bench/bar committee with respect to medical malpractice cases as well as the co-chair of the CBA Task Force for the Study of a Mentoring Program, which explored the establishment of a mandatory mentoring program for new lawyers in the state of Connecticut.

“Celebrate with the Stars” is dedicated to recognizing Connecticut’s top judges, lawyers and professionals who make a difference through their work by demonstrating allegiance, dedication, conscientious service, commitment and mentorship.

The recipient of the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award must meet the following criteria: he or she be a member of the Connecticut Judiciary, federal or state court, who has integrity and epitomizes long-term, dedicated, and conscientious service to the community in his or her judicial role; must be a hard-working judge who labors long in his or her duties; and who is selfless in his or her approach to the demands of the judge position.

Henry J. Naruk (1928-1991) of Middletown was the 60th president of the CBA. Under his presidency, the CBA successfully ran a then-record number of continuing legal education seminars that had been attended by approximately 5,300 Connecticut attorneys. Also under his astute leadership, the CBA created the Women and the Law Section in 1983.

 

From left to right: CBA President, William H. Clendenen, Jr.; the Honorable Antonio C. Robaina, recipient of the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award; CBA Vice President, Karen DeMeola; and CBA President-elect, Monte E. Frank.

 

Share

Essex Foundation Underwrites Material Costs for Essex Gateway Bridge Painting

EssexBridgePaintingCloseup_4-20-16

ESSEX – For 46 years, the Essex Foundation has been quietly tending to the unique and special needs of the Essex community, answering calls for assistance when fast action is needed.

Most recently, the nonprofit group lent financial support to the highway bridge painting project at the Route 9, exit 3 section of town. The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s tree and shrub removal along state highway barriers had further exposed the patched-paint and rusted appearance of the bridge and left the landscape bare. Public outcry over the “tacky” condition of what is considered the gateway to Essex was fierce, with local residents asking town officials to find a solution.

That solution came in the form of a collaboration between Essex residents Steve and Susan Bogan, owners of Blast-All Construction, who provided the in-kind donation of project planning, supervision, equipment, and labor services; the Town of Essex who provided police supervision and traffic re-routing services; and the Essex Foundation, the Essex Rotary Club and many individual donors, who together provided a total of $18,000 for the purchase of the paint.

The initiative started in 2015 when the Bogans approached the Essex Foundation with a plan for painting the bridge at no cost to taxpayers. As a contractor for state and federal bridge work, Blast-All worked with the CT D.O.T. and the Union Apprenticeship program to have the Essex gateway bridge serve as a training site. The Bogans also met with town officials to secure local police assistance for traffic re-routing and worker safety, while the Essex Foundation, the Essex Rotary Club and many individual donors provided financial support for the paint and material costs. In less than a year, with an entire community behind the effort, the bridge painting work is complete with the exception of the end panels, which are soon to be repaired by the D.O.T. and then painted by Blast-All.

The Essex Foundation is now in the planning stages of a grounds beautification project that will include plantings for the area around the gateway bridge.

Founded in 1970, the Essex Foundation is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of Essex citizens by providing medical, educational, social, welfare, cultural, recreational and civic support. From the start, the foundation board wanted to make it possible for funds to be made available for special projects that are not typically supported by other non-profits and that required fast local action. In 1982, many local citizens were devastated by heavy flooding that destroyed homes and left people without food, clothing, refrigeration and heat. Because of the structure of the fund, the Essex Foundation was able, on an ad hoc basis, to help many people get back on their feet quickly. Other past projects supported by the Essex Foundation fund, along with individual donations, include the removal of the half-sunken barge in the Middle Cove, pond weed control for the Falls River neighborhood, repair and maintenance of the Town Clock in the tower of the Baptist Church, and the operation and maintenance of the Bumpy Warner Youth House on Bushnell Street used by the Boy Scouts. More information can be found at www.theessexfoundation.org or by emailing contact@theessexfoundation.org.

Share

Trump Carries Three Local Towns in GOP Presidential Primary, Democrats Split

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Hilary Clinton

Hilary Clinton

AREAWIDE — Businessman Donald Trump carried Chester, Deep River and Essex as he rolled to a sweeping victory Tuesday in the state presidential primary, while Hillary Clinton carried Essex and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took Chester and Deep River in the Democratic vote.

Clinton, who won the statewide vote, led Sanders in Essex 513-458, with 13 voting uncommitted. In Deep River, Sanders led 339-242, with 6 uncommitted. In Chester, Sanders led  361-277, with 7 uncommitted.

In  the Republican contest, Trump took Essex with 407 votes, with Ohio Governor John Kasich polling 297 votes. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had 73 votes, with 10 uncommitted. In Deep River, Trump led Kasich 173-94, with  29 votes for Cruz and 4 uncommitted. In Chester, Trump led Kasich 133-103, with 27 votes for Cruz and 3 uncommitted.
Share

Middlesex Community Foundation Honors Ivoryton Playhouse, Broadway Actor

Photo by Donna Bowden

Students “high-five” the cast of “Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical” at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Photo by Donna Bowden

IVORYTON – The Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC) recently presented the Bully-Free Communities Spotlight Award to the Ivoryton Playhouse and to Broadway actor Douglas Lyons for their work in creating and presenting educational productions that foster positive, healthy behaviors and attitudes among young people.

The recipients were recognized at the April 11 world premiere of “Polkadots:The Cool Kids Musical,” which was co-conceived and written by Lyons and performed at the Playhouse for over 1400 elementary school students from Clinton, Chester, Deep River, Essex, Middletown and Portland, in addition to the general public. The CFMC Council of Business Partners Fund, a donor advised fund started in 2009 by a group of local business owners in support of school-based anti-bullying initiatives, in partnership with other organizations, provided financial support for the production and, when necessary, bus transportation for the school systems.

Two years ago, CFMC and its Council of Business Partners launched the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities, calling upon students, educators, civic leaders, businesses, community organizations, neighbors and friends to stand together for change and to make all of Middlesex County a bully-free zone. The Ivoryton Playhouse responded with enthusiasm and energy, first staging the premiere of the Off Broadway musical “The Bully” in April 2015, and then making the decision to bring the Douglas Lyons’ original work and universal message of respect and acceptance to elementary school children this year.

“Polkadots” tells the story of Lily Polkadot and her journey to acceptance with the help of her new friend Sky Square in the “Squares Only” town of Rockaway. At the opening night pre-show reception, which took place at Six Summit Gallery in Ivoryton, Mr. Lyons and his creative team spoke about how the events of the Little Rock Nine in 1957 served as the inspiration for the show. Prior to the school performances, a curriculum guide, developed by Rushford, a Hartford HealthCare Partner, was provided for teachers to talk about topics in the musical before the students saw it. Additional financial support for the production was provided by Marc Blakeman, The Bauman Family Foundation, The Essex Community Fund, and The Thomas J. Atkins Memorial Trust Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee.

“The Ivoryton Playhouse’s commitment to educational, children’s productions that celebrate our differences and promote positive behavior is spotlight worthy. They truly understand the power of partnership and giving voice to valuable life lessons,” said CFMC CEO and President Cynthia Clegg. “We are thrilled that they opened the door for ‘Polkadots’ to have its world premiere here in Middlesex County, and for introducing all of us to the vision and great talent of Doug Lyons and his creative team.”

The Ivoryton Playhouse  and Doug Lyons were awarded the Spotlight Award specifically for taking to heart the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities initiative of encouraging everyone to be an UPstander, not a bystander; and for their demonstrated commitment to being “Agents of Change” and ensuring that community youth have the support they need to grow and develop in a healthy and safe environment. For more information on the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities, go to bullyfreemiddlesexcountycf.org or call 860-347-0025.

 

Share

Letter From Paris: Madrid and the Incredible Wealth of its Museums

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

The silent crowd stands with emotion as it would in a cathedral, keeping respectfully a few feet away from “Guernica” – the huge (11 by 27 ft. ) scene painted by Pablo Picasso in 1937 after the bombings by the Nationalist forces led by General Franco of the Basque village of Guernica.

A weekend spent stomping the art collections of Madrid is mind-boggling. Spend six hours a day and you will only have a glimpse at the Thyssen museum, the Prado, the house studio of Sorolla and the Reina Sofia modern art museum.

Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen- Bornemisza and his son Heinrich had an unusual flair when they selected outstanding works of art in the 1920s and 1930s to create one of the world’s richest private collections.

Some of the early masterpieces at the Thyssen include, “The portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni,” (1480), which is a beautiful example of Florence Quattrocento, showing the idealized profile of a woman. “A young man in a landscape” was painted by Vittore Carpaccio, probably from the Venetian school. Nature is codified, each animal has a symbolic meaning related to good and evil.

In his “Jesus among the doctors” (1506), Durer – the most important representative of German Renaissance – the 12-year-old Jesus is surrounded by a group of old men. Some of them have been touched by grace, some have sin written all over their ugly faces, hands like claws threatening the child. In The “Portrait of a lady” (1530?) painted by Hans Baldung Grien – the remarkable disciple of Durer – the influence of Cranach the Elder is noticeable in the rendering of the decorative elements of the dress, necklaces and large hat with feathers of a supremely elegant model.

Flanders – or modern Belgium and Netherlands – was part of Spain in medieval times and the Prado has many Flemish paintings, which reflect the highly sophisticated culture of the trading towns like Ghent or Bruges. Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Gerard David or Hans Memling are the best representatives the 15th century “Northern Renaissance.”

Contacts were frequent between artists who traveled from the “Low Countries” of Northern Europe to Italy. Unlike the Italians who painted with tempura and an egg base applied over a thin layer of wet plaster,”gesso,” Flemish painters used oil directly on panels of wood without knots, such as mahogany or oak.

The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

The “Garden of Delights” by Hieronymous Bosch is one of the highlights of the Prado — it is a display of amusing, bawdy or frightening details intended to give a didactic message to the population of his time. The Flemish landscape painter Joachim Patinir (1480-525) offered panoramic views, with details at times naturalistic, at times fantastic. Instead of using linear perspective, which Florence artists had mastered at that time, his way of showing distance was by drowning the landscape in bluish colors.

One room of the Prado is turned into a gallery of family portraits of the Spanish dynasty of the Hapsburgs. An equestrian painting of Charles V (1500-1558) at the battle of Mulhberg, by Titian, shows the most powerful sovereign in the world. His kingdom went from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. Velasquez painted many of his descendants: Philip II, Philip III, Philip IV and his son, the young prince Balthazar Carlos, riding a frisky horse. His death, at age 17 from small fop was a tragedy. And there is poor Charles II, the end of the Hapsburg dynasty, a total mental and physical disaster because of repeated consanguine marriages.

“Las Meninas” (ladies in waiting), also by Velasquez, is one the most famous paintings ever. It is a complex composition, which has puzzled art historians through the centuries. At the center stands the five-year-old infanta Margareta Teresa, Philip IV’s daughter. Velasquez is looking at us and working on a huge painting, which he never painted. The infanta’s parents are not far away and we see their reflection in a mirror. There are two sources of light, which is quite unusual. In 1957, inspired by the masters of the past, Picasso tackled the deconstruction of “Las Meninas,” particularly of the dog.

Velasquez (1599-1660) was the leading painter of the Spanish “Golden Age,” during the Baroque age which lasted until 1690. As a court painter, he had an immense influence living and working in the el-Escorial palace and was not only honored as an artist but also as the curator of the Kings’ art collections.

The love for animals is strong in Spanish painting. Just two examples: “Agnus Dei”, by Zurbaran (1640) showing a lamb with its four legs garroted is probably the most heartbreaking sight in the Prado, with the animal accepting his fate. The other one is a dog by Goya. In an undefined brownish background of sand and sky, a dog is looking in panic at his master as he is being pulled down by quicksand.

It was not until 1840 that Spanish art began to be known in France. The Pyrenees constituted an insurmountable barrier separating Spain from the rest of Europe. In 1835, French King Louis Philippe sent Baron Isidore Taylor to Spain to acquire some Spanish paintings intended for the future Galerie Espagnole or Spanish Gallery at the Louvre. After his visit to Spain in 1865, Manet said, “the scales fell off my eyes.” The Spanish influence on Manet and Courbet is clear, especially their use of black.

Beside the works of the well-known artists like Miro, Dali or Juan Gris, the presence of Ignacio Zuloaga (1870-1945), Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923), Santiago Rossignol (1861-1931), and Ramon Casas (1866-1933) at the Reina Sofia museum attests to the importance of Spanish contemporary art.

'Guernica' by Pablo Picasso is one of the most famous paintings in the world.

‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso is one of the most famous paintings in the world. It hangs today in the Reine Sofia Museum in Madrid.

In the attic of the old convent of Grands Augustins, near the Seine, Picasso completed “Guernica” – probably the most important artistic statement of the 20th century against war. The Spanish civil war from 1936 to 1939 left 500,000 dead. Dora Maar, his companion, photographed each stage of the work , leaving a unique document on the creative process of the artist.

The composition is a frieze, powerful, fluid, easy to read and devoid of any narrative. The horse and the bull – the main actors of the bullfight about which he was so passionate – are treated like human characters. The horse underwent many changes from deep suffering to the defiance he shows in raising his head. The bull is aloof and protective of the population. The dead warrior lying on the ground has the profile of Marie Therese Walter, his previous companion. To balance the duo of bull and horse, Picasso created a screaming mother, head thrown back, with a tongue like a dagger, her dead child hanging limp from her arm.

Painted in May and June of 1937, “Guernica” traveled the world, stayed several years at MOMA at the request of Picasso, then returned to Spain in 1981 and hangs today in the Reina Sofia museum of Madrid, never to be moved again.

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

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

Share

Talking Transportation: The Quiet Car Conundrum

quiet-car-newerSixteen years ago a group of regular commuters on Amtrak’s early morning train to DC had a great idea. Why not designate one car on the train as a “Quiet Car,” free from cellphone chatter and loud conversations. The railroad agreed and the experiment proved a great success.

But as early as 2006, when the same idea was suggested to Metro-North, it was rejected outright. Then serving on the Commuter Council, I persisted and finally, in 2011, the railroad agreed to a trial with one car on each rush hour train dedicated to what it called a “Quiet CALMmute.”

Almost immediately the plan ran into trouble. Not because it wasn’t wanted but because it wasn’t enforced.

There were no signs in the cars and only occasional PA announcements before departure reminding folks of the quiet, library-like environment that was expected in the car. Most of all, conductors wouldn’t enforce the new rules.  But why?

Conductors seem to have no trouble reminding passengers to keep their feet off the seats or put luggage in the overhead racks. But all that the railroad expected them to do to enforce the Quiet Car rules was to pass out bilingual “Shhh cards” to gabby violators. It seemed left to passengers to remind fellow riders what a Quiet Car was for, and confrontations resulted.

Then this spring the railroad surprised even me by announcing an expansion of the program: every weekday train, peak and off-peak, would now have two Quiet Cars!  Sounds great, but without signage or education, the battles continued.

One commuter from Fairfield recently e-mailed me with a typical tale: Riding in a Quiet Car he became annoyed when a fellow passenger was yakking on her cellphone.  He tapped her on the shoulder and told her, “We’re in a Quiet Car” and she freaked, telling him to “keep your @&%! hands off of me” and continuing her chatter by telling her caller that “some guy” just tried to tell her to get off her phone and what a fool he was to think this was some kind of quiet car.

Of course there was no conductor around (all tickets having been collected) and lacking any signage in the car to point to, the offended passenger was made to feel like some sort of jerk.

On Amtrak trains, those violating Quiet Car rules have been thrown off the train and arrested. Even Chris Christie had to move his seat on an Acela once for jabbering with his staff in the wrong car.

Nobody wants these kinds of altercations on Metro-North. But why initiate and then expand such a passenger amenity as “Quiet CALMmute” without proper education and enforcement? A few signs and friendly reminders from conductors should make passengers aware that “train time may be your own time” (as the railroad’s marketing slogan says), but it’s also shared time. And I, for one, want a quiet commute.

Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron

Editor’s Note: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. 

You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com  

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

 

Share

Ancient Order of Essex Weeders Honors Sam Rogers

WeedersParty3411

ESSEX – The Ancient Order of Essex Weeders is a group of men who maintain the landscaping in Essex on Rte. 154 at the intersection of Rte. 153. It was founded in 1981 by Bob Swain, who became “Lead Weed,” and was succeeded by Erl Nord.

The group is also a social organization that gets together for coffee weekly and includes a book club that meets monthly.

The group recently had a retirement party for Sam Rogers. In the photo above, party attendees are shown with new “Lead Weed” Ray Coyle presenting Sam his retirement gift.

More information at http://essexweeders.weebly.com/.

Share

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13’s Newest Eagle Scout

Ben Toles Eagle336

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 newest Eagle Scout Benjamin James Toles with one of the staircases built at Sachem Village Camp Hazen YMCA. Photo by Lianne Rutty

CHESTER – Troop 13 – Boy Scouts of America congratulates Benjamin James Toles of Chester for earning the rank of Eagle Scout. An Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held for Toles on Sunday, March 20, at the Chester Meeting House.

To become an Eagle Scout, Toles earned 38 merit badges and advanced through the seven scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to Troop 13 and service to his community.

One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the boy’s community, school or religious institution.  Toles used leadership skills he learned by attending summer camp with Troop 13, participating in the Troop 13 Philmont Trek in 2014 , attending the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree and successfully completing the Boy Scouts National Youth Leadership Training.

Toles’s Eagle Scout Service project involved developing and implementing a plan to demo eleven sets of non-compliant aged wooden stairways on cabins in and around the Sachem Village portion on the grounds of Camp Hazen YMCA and replace them with new treated wood, code-compliant steps, platform and railings.

Completing this project entailed working with various private groups, securing donations for supplies, and designing and overseeing volunteers through the demolition, construction and installation period. The completed project improved the safety of the venue while maintaining its rustic appearance. This project is a benefit to all the visitors, schools and youth groups that utilize the facilities of Camp Hazen in Chester.

Toles is a senior at Valley Regional High School and a member of the men’s cross country and the men’s track and field team. He plans to attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall.

About Troop 13 – BSA: Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun. To learn more information about joining Troop 13, contact Scoutmaster Steven Merola at 860-526-9262.

Share

A la Carte: Roasted Chicken Thighs

I am basically a homebody. I build my own nest and I like being there. I sit on the couch, put a cushion on my lap and ask Elderlee, one of my two cats, to sit with me, although she  doesn’t need convincing; when I say I have to get up, she stretches, hopefully without her nails deep into my legs (hence the cushion).

A couple of weeks ago I spent almost eight days away. During those nights and days, I was on four different planes, or in my brother’s car (in Pittsburgh) or my own (Newbury, Massachusetts, or Portland and Kennebunkport, Maine). I got home on Easter. The following day there were meetings. I stayed up late to see the UConn women beat Texas. I am tired.

But, as Evita sang, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.” While away, I had dinner at Lidia’s in Pittsburgh, Lidia Bastianich’s first outside-of-New-York-City restaurant (the food was delicious) and had poutine at Duck Fat in Portland (Belgian-cooked french fries drenched in duck gravy and topped with fresh cheese curds and chives—not for everyone but I just love it). Also in Portland, dinner at Fore Street (an amazing restaurant), bought two different kinds of boules and baguettes at Standard Bakery and finally, the last night, at a restaurant at Outlier (maybe better than Fore Street).

When I dropped my daughter-in-law and two of my granddaughters at their home, I perused the Boston Globe. I asked my daughter-in-law if I could cut out a recipe for chicken thighs from the magazine section. When I finally drove my car into the garage at home, I took a package of chicken thighs out of the freezer. Yesterday I made the following recipe. It is simply delicious. I think it will be even better tonight.

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Cinnamon, Cumin and Garlic
From Weekend Roasted Chicken by Adam Ried (Boston Globe magazine, Sunday, March 27, 2016

Serves 4 (2 thighs apiece)

1 1/2 teaspoons minced or grated garlic (about 6 cloves)
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
A couple of teaspoons of fresh lemon juice (optional)

In a small bowl, mix garlic, cinnamon, cumin, parsley, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and oil into a uniform paste (you should have about 1/2 cup). Rinse and dry chicken pieces. Rub the chicken pieces with mixture, carefully loosening the skin to work some paste over it, and then replace the skin. With a sharp paring knife, cut a 1-inch slash into the skin on each. Refrigerate (or not) for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. With the rack on the center position, set the baking sheet on the rack and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the chicken pieces skin down on the hot baking sheet and roast until skin has begun to render and brown, about 15 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over (taking care not to rip the skin) and continue roasting until the skin is somewhat dark brown, the meat begins to pull away from the bone and the chicken registers 180 to 185 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Switch the oven setting to broil and broil the chicken until skin is deep browned and very crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, to a platter and rest 5 minutes. Squeeze a little lemon juice over them, if desired, and serve.


Nibbles: NV Bakery & Market

A few mornings ago, with errands to run from New London to East Lyme, I stopped at NV Bakery & Market for a quick breakfast.

It is really something else. There are crepes and breakfast items and sandwiches and more crepes (really, can there possibly be too many crepes ever?) and salads and coffee and pastries. And there are shelves and shelves of gourmet products (Italian, French, Greek and a few boxes of matzo and jars of gefilte fish). I ordered an egg and bacon sandwich and a cup of coffee while I read The Day (I had my own, but there are lots of newspapers available to read for free). The sandwich was just delicious. By the way, the ladies who own the restaurant NV across the street own this place, too. It, too, feels like you are in their kitchen.

NV Bakery & Market
40 Boston Post Road (in Benny’s parking lot)
Waterford
860-574-9038

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

Share

Ivoryton Library Plans Programs, Exhibit & Plant Sale Over Next two Weekends

The outside sign of the Ivoryton Library

IVORYTON – The Ivoryton Library has a very busy schedule for the next few weeks.

This weekend, on Sunday, May 1, the library will present “The Ivoryton Home Front during WWII” at 3 p.m. View the library’s newest exhibit in the “Intimate History of Ivoryton” series showcasing the patriotic spirit of the Ivoryton village and town during World War II. Do you have memorabilia to add to the exhibit? If so, contact Elizabeth Alvord at 860-767-1252.

The Ivoryton Library is partnering with Essex Lions Club and Tri-Town Youth Services to present an Eye-Popping Story and Craft time at the library on Wednesday, May 4. Drop in between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. to hear stories and make fun crafts. All children will be invited to receive a free, fast, non-invasive eye screening to test for seven vision issues. Results will be presented immediately for parents to take to their pediatrician or ophthalmologist. For information on this eye test, visit www.clerf.org

Finally, the library’s annual Mother’s Day Sale will be held Saturday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Look for gently used books (none over $2), plants from local gardens and baked goods from local kitchens. Prices will be slashed at 1 p.m. Also, at 11 a.m., children are invited to decorate a pot and plant a flower for Mom, as supplies last.

For more information about any of these programs, call 860-767-1252 or visit www.ivoryton.com. The Ivoryton Library is located at 106 Main St. in Ivoryton.

Share

Democrat Angus McDonald Jr. Takes Office as Interim First Selectman for Deep River

A new Interim First Selectman for Deep River was sworn in April 21.

A new Interim First Selectman for Deep River was sworn in April 21.

DEEP RIVER — Democrat Angus McDonald Jr. was sworn into office as interim first selectman Thursday after he and Republican Selectman David Olveria voted for his appointment to serve the remainder of the unexpired term of the late Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith.

McDonald, 58, becomes the town’s first new first selectman since November 1989, when Smith was first elected for what would become more than 13 two-year terms in the top job.  McDonald will serve the remainder of the unexpired term ending on Nov. 22, 2017.
The two remaining selectmen had 30 days from Smith’s unexpected death on March 25 to appoint a successor, a period that was expected to expire Monday.  McDonald and Oliveria had discussed the appointment in two closed session special meetings held on April 7 and April 18.

Oliveria, in making a motion to appoint McDonald, said, “We have considered all options in front of us and feel that this is the right choice for Deep River at this time.”  McDonald said he looks forward to working in the best interests of the town over the next 20 months.  “It’s an honor to be in this position and to be asked to do it,” he said, adding that he and Oliveria’s agreement on the appointment is, “A good example of how a small town can pull together.”

The co-owner of an Old Saybrook-based engineering firm, McDonald moved to Deep River in 2005 after living previously in Old Saybrook and Westbrook.  He was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for first selectman of Westbrook in 1999, and served on the Westbrook Board of Selectmen.  McDonald was first elected to the Deep River Board of Selectmen as Smith’s running-mate in 2011.  He is married to Andrea Isaacs, and the couple own the Lace Factory building near the town’s riverfront landing.

Minutes after the appointment vote, McDonald received the oath of office from Town Clerk Amy Winchell.  McDonald’s appointment creates a new vacancy ion the board of selectmen, an opening that McDonald and Oliveria now have 30 days, or until about May 20, to fill by appointment.

McDonald said any resident interested in serving as selectman through November 2017 should send a letter of intent and qualifications to his office as soon as possible. McDonald said the interim selectman does not have to be a Democrat, with Oliveria saying qualifications and “a cooperative board” would be factors in the appointment decision.

The interim appointments could be forced to special elections with petitions signed by five percent of the town’s total voter registration, or about 158 signatures.  Petitions must be filed within 15 days of an appointment.
Share

Op-Ed: Proposing a Memorial to Dick Smith

Like so many of our Deep Riverites, I am saddened beyond words by the sudden and truly tragic death of our dear First Selectman Dick Smith.

Few among us are not aware of how he labored continuously for years and years for the physical improvement of our town in so many ways as well as the enhancement of life for all of us who call this home.

The question now is,  what would be a meaningful and enduring memorial to remind us and those who will follow us of his great efforts?

Suggestions will come up, I’m sure.  And the more, the better.

I would like to propose one right now.  Simple.  I suggest re-naming our Plattwood Park “The First Selectman Dick Smith Memorial Park.”

After all, I for one have no idea why it was ever called Plattwood.  That has no emotional or historic pizzazz for me.  If it does for you, please let me know.  But I would find calling it the Dick Smith Park very powerful.

As we know so well, it was Dick who spear-headed the transformation of Plattwood from a weedy, don’t-bother-to-look-at-it-twice waterhole to the great and beautiful recreational complex that it is today—and with the ambitious work still going on.  A park that is the envy of many other small towns, which have become aware of it!

I further propose that a big, handsome boulder chosen with care from the quarry next door be set at the very entrance to the Dick Smith Park.  With a bronze plaque set into its face that would have both a smiling profile of Dick, yes, in genuine  bronze, plus our words of praise and pride and thanks.  He’s earned them.

Thus would his love of Deep River and his long and record-setting career of service for our town (and us) be proclaimed to all who enter the park.  He deserves no less.

One more thought: we might organize a tribute-writing contest for the plaque.  We have a lot of talent in town … 

A maximum number of abc’s (words and spaces) would be allowed for the plaque.

The especially appointed plaque committee would reserve the right to select the best submission in whole.  Or, if it chooses, just thoughts and phrases from the top three submissions, say.  With these best thoughts and phrases to be assembled into a final, terrific composite.  Of course, prizes would be awarded.

After all, those are the words that would be read by all entering our wonderful Dick Smith Park for decades and decades to come.

I suspect Dick is in a place where he’d be aware of this going on and would break out into an even bigger smile.

P.S. A very fine chairman for this committee would be Rev. Tim Haut.  A very fine member would be Jonathan Kastner.  I would ask for recommendations for another three, say.  Making sure there would be at least two women.  One of these would be our fine local professional writer and editor Christine Woodside.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of John Guy LaPlante.

Share

Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries Begins Spring Appeal

Volunteers at SSKP Old Saybrook Pantry.

Volunteers at SSKP Old Saybrook Pantry

AREAWIDE – “The food pantry changed my life. It made me believe again that God exists.” These words were recently written by a local resident, according to Patty Dowling, executive director of Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

“In January one of our guests wrote this very heartfelt message. We asked her if we could share it with the community, so they could understand how much the pantry means to her and her family, and she said yes.”

For 27 years the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) has been providing groceries through five weekly pantry distributions and offering daily hot meals at eight local meal sites, providing help to over 8,000 residents last year. The towns served by SSKP are Old Saybrook, Essex, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Lyme, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River.

One out of ten coming to an SSKP pantry are seniors, many on a fixed income; others are disabled or suffering from physical or mental illness. Many are employed, but with wages too low to be self-sufficient. Over half of the pantry registrants last year were families of four or more, and 35 percent were children or teens.

According to Dowling, the number of those coming for help has risen steadily over the years. “Last year, for the first time, we distributed food for over 1 million meals,” she explained. “Recent data indicates a complicated economic and demographic future for many living on the shoreline.

“But despite these increases,” she added, “our shoreline community responds to the need. When we reach out for support to provide food and fellowship, so many have answered abundantly. To respond best to the current needs, and to prepare for what may be greater need, we are launching a new annual Spring Appeal.  We’re also contacting private foundations and corporate supporters.”

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries receives no direct state or federal funding, and operates with the support of 900 volunteers in partnership with local faith communities.

“We will continue to provide all who register at an SSKP pantry free groceries every week for everyone in their household, and a daily hot meal to those who attend our meal sites,” said Dowling. “Thank you for caring, and know your support gives your neighbors hope. They believe that someone has their back on their most difficult days, and they can see the presence of God in their lives.”

The SSKP Spring Appeal will be held through May 31. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 804, Essex, CT 06426 or online at www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org.

Share

Chester Resident Adams Signs to Play Baseball at Mitchell College in Fall

Buzz Adams signs his Letter of Intent to play baseball at Mitchell College

Buzz Adams signs his Letter of Intent to play baseball at Mitchell College

CHESTER — Buzz Adams, a senior at Plainville High School, whose family recently moved to Chester, has signed a Letter of Intent to play baseball at Mitchell College in the fall.

Congratulations, Buzz!

Share

Deep River Housing Authority Breaks Ground for Addition to Kirtland Commons Affordable Housing

Participating in the ground-breaking ceremony at Kirtland Commons last Friday were (from left to right) Karl Kilduff, Executive Director, CHFA (CT Housing Finance Authority), Helen Muniz, Community Development Specialist, State of Connecticut Department of Housing, Joann Hourigan, Executive Director, Deep River Housing Authority, Jim LaRosa , Chief Operating Officer, LaRosa Building Group, Chris Widmer, Architect, Mazie Dennison, Tenant Commissioner, DRHA, and Dave Oliveria, Selectman, Town of Deep River.

Participating in the ground-breaking ceremony at Kirtland Commons last Friday were (from left to right) Karl Kilduff, Executive Director, CHFA (CT Housing Finance Authority), Helen Muniz, Community Development Specialist, State of Connecticut Department of Housing, Joann Hourigan, Executive Director, Deep River Housing Authority, Jim LaRosa , Chief Operating Officer, LaRosa Building Group, Chris Widmer, Architect, Mazie Dennison, Tenant Commissioner, DRHA, and Dave Oliveria, Selectman, Town of Deep River.

Deep River Housing Authority breaks ground for an 18 unit addition to Kirtland Commons, its Elderly/Disabled affordable housing facility. The project also includes rehab to the existing 26 units.

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Housing Authority (DRHA) hosted a ground-breaking ceremony Friday at its elderly/disabled income-based housing facility, Kirtland Commons, located at 60 Main St. in Deep River.  The current facility has been providing housing for the past 23 years and currently has 26 one-bedroom apartment units that are available to seniors aged 62 and over, as well as disabled individuals.

The new addition will provide an additional 18 one-bedroom units.  The project is made possible through a $3.2 million dollar grant and $1 million dollar recoverable grant from the State of Connecticut, Department of Housing (DOH.)  In addition to the new units, the existing units will be rehabbed including new doors, windows and heating conversion to natural gas. 

Joann Hourigan, Executive Director of DRHA, will oversee the project with the assistance of Dale Kroop, Consultant and the DRHA Board of Directors.  La Rosa Building Group LLC, headquartered in Meriden, is the general contractor and Chris Widmer of Guilford, Conn., is the Principal Architect.  The project is scheduled for completion in the early spring of 2017.

“Until there is a need, people generally don’t understand that the availability of affordable housing is limited.  I receive calls every week for people who can no longer afford to maintain their homes on their limited income.  They are surprised to learn that submitting an application places them on a waiting list with recent wait times of two years or longer,” said Hourigan. 

She continued, “The new units will increase our ability to provide much needed housing as well as help the DRHA spread its operating expenses over a broader base.  Without this expansion, we were not on a sustainable course.  The process to obtain funding has been long and difficult.  We have been seeking funding for about five years and the Champ V grant was awarded in 2014.  We are so excited to finally break ground.”

Helen Muniz, DOH, stated that the grants represent the State of Connecticut’s commitment to expand the availability of affordable housing.  In a press release in January of this year, Governor Malloy stated, “Housing is key to economic growth, and that’s why we’re taking steps like never before.  We’ve done more on housing in the past few years than we’ve done in the past few decades, and in 2015, we continued to make significant stridesEvery resident of Connecticut should have access to quality, safe, and affordable housing,”

While the grants provide the majority of funding for this project, there are additional projects and funding needs.  Last December, DRHA kicked off a “Buy a Brick” fundraising campaign.  Commemorative bricks are available for $50 and $100 and will be placed in an outdoor sitting area in front of the building.  Forms for buying bricks will be made available at several events throughout the year, and can also be obtained by contacting Hourigan directly at (860) 526-5119.

Kirtland Commons is owned and operated by the DRHA and reports to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA).  DRHA consists of the Executive Director; a four member volunteer board appointed by the Deep River First Selectman; and a Resident Commissioner (who resides at Kirtland Commons and acts as a resident representative).  The board is committed to providing high quality, well maintained affordable housing and promoting a welcoming, family atmosphere.

Share

Chester Walking Song Video Wins Gold Hermes Award

Peter Good and Janet Cummings created a Walking Town decal and pewter ornament.

Peter Good and Janet Cummings created a Walking Town decal and pewter ornament.

CHESTER – For years, the town of Chester knew the state was requiring that the Main Street Bridge be rebuilt, and this caused a lot of angst among merchants, selectmen, and residents. How would we cope with keeping the town center viable and reachable? Would the shops, restaurants and galleries continue to attract customers? Where would people park?

The selectmen required that the state do the reconstruction from the beginning of January 2016 until Memorial Day, to get it over with before summertime shopping and the Chester Sunday Market began. The town’s Economic Development Commission created a “Survival Guide” and held several planning meetings in an effort to minimize the impact on the business district.

Then, last fall the Chester merchants decided to meet the challenge head on. With a small group of creative merchants, Leslie Strauss wrote and recorded “The Chester Walking Song,” saying, “We are all so busy getting in shape on treadmills that we forget how much more enjoyable it is to get out there and ‘walk about.’ Chester Village shops, galleries and restaurants are, and will continue to be, more easily accessed than the average mall store. With parking lots within 70 steps, you can ‘walk right in and come hang out.’”

Annalisa Russell-Smith, of Chester-based Local Plant Productions, then volunteered to create a video of Chester Center with the song in the background.

As Leslie says, “Annalisa’s enchanting minute-long video reinforces the vibrancy of the village, and how accessible everything is to anyone willing to ‘walk right in, come hang out.’ The shops, galleries, restaurants and street scenes entice visitors of all ages to be sure to make Chester one of their New England favorites.”

This month, Annalisa’s video was selected for a Gold Award by the Hermes Creative Awards, an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional materials and programs, and emerging technologies. Hermes Creative Awards is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

Watch the video about Chester here:  https://vimeo.com/157448900. For more information about Annalisa Russell-Smith, go to http://www.localplanetproductions.com.  More information about the Hermes Creative Awards here: www.hermesawards.com.

Annalisa Russell-Smith shooting the Chester video in Chester Center. Photo by Al Malpa

Annalisa Russell-Smith shooting the Chester video in Chester Center. Photo by Al Malpa

Share

Registration for ‘Tour de Lyme’ Open; Event Benefits Lyme Land Trust, Bikes For Kids

Tour de Lyme riders cycle  past Grassy Hill Church

Tour de Lyme riders cycle past Grassy Hill Church

The Lyme Land Conservation Trust announced it is pleased to again host used bike drop offs along with Reynolds Subaru for Bikes for Kids, Old Saybrook, CT. Any sized donated bike is welcome.

Reynolds Subaru, 286 Hamburg Road (Rte. 156), Lyme, Conn., is accepting used bike donations from May 9 to May 21, 2016.

Registered riders for the Tour de Lyme can drop off used bikes for donation on May 15, 2016 on arrival at Ashlawn Farm’s parking lot prior to signing in for their cycling event.

Bikes for Kids is a charity organization that collects, refurbishes and distributes bikes primarily to kids, teenagers and some adults to CT families in need. All refurbished bikes are distributed with new cycling helmets.

Bikes for Kids since its founding in 1989 has collected, refurbished and distributed 18,000 bikes to families primarily in the inner cities of New Haven, New London, Middletown and Hartford. Bikes for Kids efforts extend beyond CT and include deliveries to Bell Harbor, New York, Haiti and 30 mountain bikes to Tanzania.

John Pritchard, President of the Lyme Land Trust the organizer of the Tour de Lyme, said “Bikes for Kids is one of our area’s outstanding outreach organizations. We’re delighted again to serve as a host site along with Reynolds Subaru for used bike donations.”

David Fowler, President of Bikes for Kids, and a former science teacher in Lyme Old Lyme’s Middle School, indicated we put people on wheels who would either be walking or not really going anywhere at all. “Last year we delivered almost 1,400 bikes and with the help of the Tour de Lyme collected 150 bikes in the last two years. We hope to deliver and collect more this year.”

The motivating factor of Bikes for Kids’ Founder was “every kid needs a bike”.

For Early Bird home pick-up contact: Dave Fowler, 860-388-2453 or davefowler05@gmail.com

Or drop offs can be made from May 9 to May 21, at Reynolds Subaru, 286 Hamburg Road ( Rte 156), Lyme, CT 06371.

For additional information on the Tour de Lyme go to www.tourdelyme.org; for Bikes for Kids, www.bikesforkidsct.org

Join the fun of the Tour de Lyme!

Join the fun of the Tour de Lyme!

The Lyme Land Trust inaugurated Tour de Lyme in 2013 as an annual bike ride to raise funds to support its mission of preserving and protecting environmentally important land in Lyme. More than 725 riders participated last year.

The Tour de Lyme is intended for all to enjoy. It is not competitive (there are no “races” or timed finishes), but rather is designed as a way to showcase and celebrate the preservation of Lyme’s spectacular natural beauty. While some of the courses will be challenging, there are others intended for casual cyclists, and there is even a family ride.

Departure times are designed so that all riders will return to Ashlawn Farm for lunch at about the same time.

Details of the ride options are as follows:

The Challenge– 60 miles – The name says it all. Changes we have made are sure to please returning riders. A few more beautiful miles, a hill or two eliminated but still a challenge. Detailed cue sheet here and a map of the Challenge Ride 2016. Ride departs at 8:00am. Follow red arrows.

The Valley35 – 35 miles –The popular Valley rides are less hilly than the Classic. The Valley35 is a longer version of the original with the northern loop of 9 added miles along beautiful roads. Detailed cue sheet here and a map of the Valley 26&35 Rides. Ride departs at 9:00am. Follow green arrows.

The Valley26 – 26 miles – A scenic fun ride. Detailed cue sheet here and a map of the Valley 26&35 Rides. Ride departs at 9:30am. Follow green arrows.

The Classic – 25 miles – Shorter than The Challenge but still challenging. Ride departs at 9:30am. Detailed cue sheet here and a map of the Classic Ride 2016. Follow blue arrows.

The Family – 8 miles – ideal for families riding with children. For returning riders, please note we have reversed the route direction to avoid confusion at some turns. Ride departs at 10:15am. The Family Ride cue sheet here and a map of the Family Ride. Follow purple arrows.

The Church Goers Ride – 7.6 to 8.8 miles – After services, approximately 11:45am riders leave Old Lyme Congregational and Christ the King and meet up with other riders at Saint Ann’s and then ride to Ashlawn Farm. Follow purple arrows. Detailed cue sheet and map coming soon.

To register for any of the rides listed above, visit http://www.tourdelyme.org/register/

For additional information about the Tour de Lyme, visit http://www.tourdelyme.org/

Share