January 23, 2017

The Latest on the Train: FRA Hosts Open House & Community Connections Discusses High Speed Rail, Wednesday

Two Important Upcoming Events BOTH on Wednesday, Jan. 25:
Federal Railroad Administration ‘Open House’ in Springfield, Mass., 4-7pm

‘Community Connections’ Luncheon Discusses ‘High Speed Rail in Old Lyme,’ 12-2pm

On a recent snowy day and under an early morning sun, an Amtrak train travels along the Connecticut shoreline through Rocky Neck State Park.

AREAWIDE — We published an editorial on Jan. 6 regarding the high speed train issue in which we asked, “But what has happened here in our own backyard in terms of specific actions to express concern to the FRA regarding the Preferred Route?”  Well, it’s now Jan. 17 and just 11 days later, the answer is clear — a great deal!

First and most importantly, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has announced it will be holding one last public meeting in New England before the Record of Decision.  Billed as the Springfield, Mass., Open House, it will be held Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, 60 Congress St., Springfield, MA.

This, as its name suggests, is an opportunity for the public to ask questions freely — as in any normal public forum — but significantly Old Lyme and, in fact, the whole of Southeast Connecticut have not previously been given that opportunity.

Take your mind back to Aug. 31 when the FRA finally held a “public” meeting in Old Lyme — yes, it was public in that over 500 people attended but was any member of the public allowed to ask a single question?  No.  It is therefore significant that this opportunity is being presented — but in Springfield, Mass.?  The intention is clear — people from this area of Connecticut are not expected to attend.

SECoast.org and the CT Trust are encouraging as many folk as possible to make the trek up to Springfield on the 25th so we can meet the FRA face-to-face, ask our questions, and expect answers.  We heartily support that call and urge as many readers as possible to attend.  We hear there is a possibility a bus may be chartered to go to Springfield — we’ll keep you posted on that.

Jan. 25th is going to be a busy day!

Community Connections, the grass-roots group that provides local organizations a network to explore collaboration opportunities for enhancement of our Lyme-Old Lyme community, is hosting a luncheon at the Old Lyme Country Club at which the topic under discussion will be ‘High Speed Rail in Old Lyme.’  The invitation explains the topic further as , “How the Federal Railroad Administration’s controversial new plan could impact your organization and what you can do to advocate and prepare.” LymeLine.com is a member of Community Connections.

Gregory Stroud, Executive Director of SECoast.org will be the speaker. Stroud will provide background information on the FRA’s rail project, an update on the activities of SECoast, and take questions.  This should be an informative pre-cursor to the Springfield event.  All are welcome at the luncheon — there is no requirement to be a representative of a non-profit group — RSVP to attend ($25 per person) here.

As we’ve stated previously, writing to the FRA is still vitally important — see our previous article on suggested text. The Old Lyme Town Hall also has suggested text at this link and the offer of a pre-addressed postcard if you stop by the Town Hall.

File photo from GoDaddy.com

In other news, Senator Blumenthal raised the bypass as an issue in confirmation hearings for Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao. With thanks to SECoast.org, view video of the confirmation hearing here.

There has been quite a number of recent newspaper articles regarding the high speed train proposal and opposition to it, not only in Southeast Connecticut but also in Rhode Island. Here’s a listing of some of them, including one published as a lead story just yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, which at press time had already drawn 462 comments:

Region officials bring rail bypass concerns to Washington by Kimberly Drelich published Jan. 12 in the New London Day.

In this article, Drelich reported on a trip made Jan. 11 by local officials to Washington DC, saying, “Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments Executive Director Samuel Gold visited the offices of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, and U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., to ask for support in gaining an audience with the incoming transportation secretary or administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.”  It was encouraging to read this news.

Drelich also noted, “Sens. Blumenthal and Murphy and U.S. Reps. John Larson, D-1st District, Courtney, Himes and Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, wrote a letter to the FRA dated Jan. 12 that requests a four-week extension.” Again, very positive news.

Hundreds turn out in opposition of proposed Charlestown railroad bypass by Catherine Hewitt published Jan. 11 in The Westerly Sun.

Outcry over Northeast Corridor line: ‘We’ve been railroaded’ by Donita Naylor published Jan. 11 in the Providence Journal.

Town residents oppose plan to realign Northeast train tracks by Associated Press published Jan. 11 in (the UK!) Daily Mail.

Rail overhaul plan is both a winner and a loser in CT by Ana Radelat published Jan. 9 in The CT Mirror.

Watch an interview titled, ‘Stop the ByPass,’ by the Green Party’s Tim Hanser with Greg Stroud of SECoast and the CT Trust at this link.

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

OLD SAYBROOK — The Wayne Eisenbaum Charitable Foundation (previously called IRMAR) of Old Saybrook, has donated $20,000 to Operation Fuel for its energy programs.

Now in its 40th year, Operation Fuel is a statewide nonprofit program 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, go towww.operationfuel.org

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Winter Lecture Series Offered on ‘CT’s Early Transportation History;’ Next Lecture 1//29

“Pilot Charles Lindbergh lands at Doane’s Airfield, Essex, c. 1930.” Photo courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

ESSEX – Explore Connecticut’s early transportation history in “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” a lecture series presented by Essex Historical Society and Essex Meadows, Sundays, Jan. 15, 22 and 29, at 3 p.m. Each illustrated talk will feature in-depth discussion of our state’s modes, methods and mechanics of travel, often making transportation history on a national scale.  All lectures are held at Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Road, at 3 p.m. on those Sundays.  The programs are free and open to the public.

The series began on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 3 p.m. with “The Age of Rail in Connecticut.”

“Mrs. Ernest Bailey takes the wheel, Essex, c. 1910.” Photo courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

On Sunday, Jan. 22 at 3 p.m., Richard DeLuca will present “From Paved Roads to Public Money: The Rise of the Automobile in Connecticut.” This illustrated lecture premiers material of a book presently in production by Mr. DeLuca, an independent historian with the Association for the Study of Connecticut History.  Exploring the state’s connection to the auto culture picks up where his last popular history, “Post Roads to Iron Horses,” left off.

The series concludes on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m., as Jerry Roberts will address “Connecticut’s Early Aviation History.”  Mr. Roberts’s illustrated talk will feature the state’s early connections to pioneering aircraft, notable aviators and significant aviation production.  While the talk has a statewide focus, it will address local aviation history, such as the production of WWII gliders at the Pratt-Read factory in Ivoryton.  As present Executive Director of the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Mr. Roberts is familiar to many as the former Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum.

Co-sponsored by Essex Historical Society and Essex Meadows, the winter lecture series is playfully titled “Planes, Trains and Automobiles: CT’s Early Transportation History.” All lectures are held in beautiful Hamilton Hall, Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Road, Essex.  Free and open to the public.  Refreshments.

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

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Letter From Paris: A Transition Like No Other … A French Take on Trump

Nicole Prévost Logan

We Americans are always interested in knowing what the world is thinking of us.  From my listening post in Paris, I can say that for months the Europeans have followed the US presidential elections with fascination.

With only a few days left until Jan. 20, everyone here is watching the transition between a cerebral Democrat president and a “sanguine, non- principled” Republican president-elect, to quote professor Jean Louis Bourlanges during the popular Sunday morning radio talk show Esprit Public. The four participants in the discussion – all representative of the French intellectual elite and well-versed in American affairs – describe what is happening as totally unprecedented.

President Obama is cramming his last days in office with long interviews, articles in magazines, laying out policies to regulate the environment, drilling of oil, or family planning.  Furthermore he just made two important foreign policy decisions.

On Dec. 23, the US abstained in the UN Security Council vote on the 2334 resolution instructing Israel to stop any further settlements on the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem.  This represents a striking change from President Obama’s position during his eight-year mandate, especially when, on Sept. 15, he approved the largest ever military assistance package of 38 billion dollars and committed the US for the unusually long period of 10 years.

The reaction here was, why now?  Why so late?  French analysts suggest that Obama wanted to get even with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his repeated snubbing.

For instance, on both official visits of the American president to Israel, “by coincidence,” the Israeli government announced the building of more settlements.  But the real slap in the face took place in March 2015 when the Israeli prime minister gave a speech to the joint session of the US Congress, short-circuiting the White House.  The abstention at the Security Council  might be a way to express remorse for the failure to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an effort to set a garde-fou or safeguard for the future.

On Dec. 30,  President Obama announced the expulsion of 35 Russian “diplomats” for interfering in the US elections by hacking the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.  His outrage at a foreign power for influencing a democratic process was such that he had to resort to a tool reminiscent of the Cold War.

President-Elect Donald Trump.

As to Donald Trump, the French are literally baffled by his behavior.

He is making a point of dissociating himself from Washington while anticipating his role as president in making political and economic decisions by tweets.  “Trump, Tweeter in Chief” writes Sylvie Kauffmann, in Le Monde.  She adds, “When you have room for only 140 characters, you have to be brief and forget nuances.”  Tweeting is apparently catching on as a form of communication.

Thierry Pech, CEO of think-tank Terra Nova, made the Esprit Public live audience laugh when he described former Mexican president Vicente Fox’s reaction to one of Trump’s announcements.  He sent his own tweet saying  “your f—ing wall, we are not going to pay for it.” Former French ambassador to the United States, François Bujon de l’Estang, commented that “carrying out diplomacy by tweets is like an oxymoron.”  He added, “tweets are the degré zéro or lowest level of diplomacy.”

All eyes are turned toward the US right now.  Europe, like the rest of the world, is bracing itself to see how the key players of the planet are going to manage world affairs, since the rules of the game  have changed.  Traditional diplomacy is now replaced by tweets.  Social networks are turning out to be more effective than propaganda in shaping the public opinion and hacking is widely used as a political tool.

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.

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Sen. Reed of R.I. Announces FRA has Extended Deadline for Comments on High Speed Rail Proposal

AREAWIDE — SECoast.org made the following announcement at 6:09 p.m. this evening: Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island has just issued a press release announcing that the Federal Railroad Administration has agreed to an extension of “at least several weeks.”  SECoast.org quotes Sen. Reed directly from his press release as follows,

” I am pleased the FRA is extending the deadline to help ensure that all voices are heard and all options are considered.  This must be an open, transparent process.  This extension will give citizens more time to offer input and it will give the FRA more time to carefully study the data and make informed decisions.  I am glad the FRA is not trying to rush the process, and I hope the incoming Trump Administration will honor that commitment,” said Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing & Urban Development”

More information is available at here, at the Charlestown Citizens Alliance Webpage. 

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Plains Rd. Development of 52 New Homes in Essex Scheduled to Begin … Finally

Building site for 52 new homes on Plains Rd., just out of downtown Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX — It has been a long time coming, but the “green light” is finally turned on for the construction of 52 new housing units known as Essex Station. The units, which comprise a three-building apartment complex with an affordable housing component, will be constructed on a 3.7-acre parcel on Plains Rd. that includes the long-vacant former Iron Chef restaurant property and previously, a movie theater. Heading out of town from the town center of Essex, the new building site is on right hand side of Plains Rd., just past the tracks of the Valley Steam Train.

The application from Signature Contracting Group LLC was submitted under state statute 8-30g, a law intended to promote additional affordable housing in Connecticut.  It was originally approved by the Essex Zoning Commission on June 20, 2016.

The statute limits the jurisdiction of municipal land use commissions to issues of public health and safety, while requiring that at least 30 percent of the dwelling units in a development be designated affordable housing and reserved for people or families with incomes at or less than 80 percent of the median income for the municipality. At least 16 of the Essex Station units will be designated as moderate income housing with monthly rents expected to be about $1,800.

Weeks after the zoning commission’s approval of the special permit for the Essex Station apartment complex on June 20, the applicant filed a resubmission that asked the commission to revise or rescind three of the 10 conditions that were part of the panel’s 4-1 vote of approval.

One disputed condition related to the requirement for a six-foot security fence around the perimeter of the property. The second related to a requirement for elevators in the three buildings, which was described as, “impractical and unnecessary,” making the floor plans infeasible. The third disputed condition involved the height of the three buildings.

The issues related to all three conditions were resolved at a Sept. 19 Essex Zoning Commission meeting and construction by the Signature Contracting Group LLC  is now scheduled to begin as early as February.

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Linares Chairs CT Higher Education & Employment Advancement Committee

Sen. Heather Somers and Sen. Art Linares at the January meeting.

AREAWIDE — On Jan. 11, Sen. Heather Somers (R-18th) and Sen. Art Linares (R-33rd) attended the first 2017 meeting of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee.  The panel has oversight of all matters relating to the Board of Regents for Higher Education, public and independent institutions of higher education, private occupational schools, post‑secondary education, job training institutions and programs, apprenticeship training programs and adult job training programs offered to the public by any state agency or that receives funding from the state.

Somers, who serves as the committee’s Vice-Chair, represents Griswold, Groton, North Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington, and Voluntown.

Linares, the committee’s Co-Chair, represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Somers (www.SenatorSomers.com) can be reached atHeather.Somers@cga.ct.gov and at 800-842-1421.  Linares (www.SenatorLinares.com) can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov and at 800-842-1421.

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Greenskies to Build Solar Array on Whelen Rooftop

CHESTER –- Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC has signed an agreement to build a 339 kilowatt (DC) solar array on the roof of The Whelen Engineering Co. Inc.’s main facility in Chester, Conn.

The array, which will consist of 1,062 solar photovoltaic panels, will produce 398 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity annually. It is expected to be completed and operational by October.

Greenskies has already begun the design phase of the project. The construction phase is expected to begin this spring.

Under terms of the solar installation agreement between the two companies, Greenskies – one of the nation’s leading solar energy providers in the commercial, industrial and municipal segments of the industry – will design, engineer and construct the array on the roof of the 185,000-square-foot main building on Whelen’s Chester campus and then sell the completed array to the engineering firm.

Whelen Engineering designs and manufactures audio and visual warning equipment for the automotive, aviation, and mass notification industries worldwide. Founded in 1952, Whelen has become a leading provider of sirens, warning lights, white illumination lighting, and controllers. With facilities in Chester and Charlestown, N.H., Whelen products are designed, manufactured, and assembled in the United States.

“We are very excited to be working with Whelen Engineering to help them take a big step towards their energy and sustainability goals,” said Bryan Fitzgerald, a business development associate at
Greenskies.

Greenskies designs, builds and maintains solar photovoltaic systems for commercial and industrial clients, municipalities and government agencies, educational institutions and utilities throughout the United States.  Sen. Art Linares (R- 20th) is owner and co-founder of Greenskies according to the company’s website.

For more information about Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC, visit www.greenskies.com.

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Reserve Now for Essex Land Trust’s Winter Raptors Field Trip, Feb. 4

Eyeing the sky for eagles, hawks and owls on last year’s Essex Land Trust birding trip.

ESSEX — Eagles, hawks and owls: Essex Land Trust is offering an outing to search for birds of prey that winter in our region on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 1 to 5:30 p.m.  The trip will be led by Jim Denham of the Essex Land Trust and Andrew Griswold of the Connecticut Audubon Society.

Meet at the Essex Town Hall Parking Lot. Bring a snack and beverage, binoculars and warm clothes.

Two vans are available to seat the first 15 people who sign up. To reserve, please contact Judy Saunders at: judith.saunders@comcast.net by Jan. 31. Inclement weather cancels.

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Community Civic Group Brings Welcoming Signs to Lower CT River Valley Towns

These welcoming signs are available for purchase from ‘The Valley Stands Up’ local civic organization.

CHESTER — Inspired by a sign created by a Mennonite church in Virginia in the aftermath of the divisive 2016 elections, a local civic group is distributing lawn signs to make it clear that our communities are welcoming and inclusive of all neighbors, regardless of background or origin.

The sign reads, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in English, Spanish, and Arabic.

The Valley Stands Up, a group formed by community members across the lower Connecticut River Valley to “support the dignity and human rights of all,” is bringing this affirming message of community inclusion and cohesion to our neighboring towns.

Members hope the signs will signal ongoing support for all community members (both longstanding residents and new neighbors) and will affirm a sense of place and belonging for those feeling unwelcome, threatened, or marginalized.

Communities across North America, from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, Virginia to Canada, have also adopted the lawn signs.

The signs are available for purchase for $10 each at The Valley Stands Up Dr. Martin Luther King Day Celebration, Sunday, Jan. 15, at 4 p.m. at Deep River Congregational Church.

While supplies last, they will also be sold at the weekly vigil outside of Two Wrasslin’ Cats Café (Saturdays, 10 to 11 a.m.) in East Haddam, or may be ordered by contacting thevalleystandsup@gmail.com.

For more information about The Valley Stands Up, visit the group’s Facebook page or contact thevalleystandsup@gmail.com.

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State Legislators Encourage Constituents to Help Retired H-K Coach Needing Bone Marrow Transplant

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares (R-33), and State Representatives Jesse MacLachlan (R-35) and Robert Siegrist (R-36) have called for eligible residents to visit the Be the Match website to see if they can help a local field hockey coach.

Longtime Haddam-Killingworth field hockey coach Patsy Kamercia was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. She needs a bone marrow transplant to treat her Myelodysplastic/Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Unclassifiable Disorder.

Sen. Linares said, “I’ve been told that Ms. Kamercia has been a selfless volunteer, who started the Haddam-Killingworth High School Field Hockey Team 40 years ago and continues to coach the team in her retirement. When I learned about her illness, I knew we needed to get the word out to encourage as many people as we can to get tested as a possible match for her.”

A bone marrow drive was held for Kamercia at Haddam-Killingworth High School last week, but people can visit Be the Match to get a testing kit sent to their house. All that is required is a cheek swab to test for a DNA match.

Rep. MacLachlan said, “As a teacher and coach, Ms. Kamercia had a tremendous impact on her students and the young women she coached. The website describes the donation process, which generally is uncomfortable and has minor side effects. It’s not as dramatic or traumatic as Hollywood makes it seem.”

Be the Match says most donations are taken from the arm, but some may be taken from a donor’s pelvic bone, which involves giving the donor anesthesia.

Rep. Siegrist said, “For people with Ms. Kamercia’s disease, receiving healthy stem cells from a donor is the only treatment. Even if you are not a genetic match for her, you may be the match that saves someone else’s life. Also, as an alumnus of Haddam-Killingworth High School, I am proud to support Ms. Kamercia and this great organization.”

The legislators said they hope a match for Kamercia can be found soon so she can get on the road to recovery.

Visit Be the Match for more information about marrow donation and other ways to help.

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Old Saybrook Library’s Annual Poetry Contest is Now Open

OLD SAYBROOK — The Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, announces its 23rd Annual Poetry Competition. Submissions will be accepted from Jan. 17 through Feb. 21, 2017 at the Library.

The rules for participants are as follows:

  • Poems must be original and unpublished.
  • One poem per letter size page.
  • No more than 40 lines per poem.
  • All poems must have a title.
  • Author’s name, address, and phone number should appear on the back (not submitted to judges), students please add grade level.
  • Author must be a resident of Connecticut.
  • No more than three entries per person.
  • Open to all ages First Grade through adult.
  • The divisions are: Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, and Adult.

Winning poets will read their poems and receive their awards during the Library’s annual Poetry Night, Wednesday April 26, 2017. The public is invited to attend.

Following Poetry Night, all entries will be on display in the Library through May.

Pick up an entry form at the Library or on our website, www.actonlibrary.org or call for more information.

The Library is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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‘The Chester Show’ at Maple & Main Benefits Town’s Emergency Fuel Fund, on View Through Jan. 22

‘Yellow Chester Barn’ by Rachel Carson of Deep River is one of the signature paintings of ‘The Chester Show.’

CHESTER — ‘The Chester Show,’ an exhibition devoted to paintings of Chester, is currently on view at Maple and Main Gallery through Sunday, Jan. 22. The show, depicting paintings of the downtown as well as creeks, barns, the riverfront and houses, is in the Stone Gallery.

A portion of all the sales will be given to Chester’s Emergency Fuel Fund, which is dependent on donations and which helps cover heating costs for residents who are unable to meet their fuel bills.

 

Maple and Main Gallery, at One Maple Street, is open Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, visit mapleandmaingallery.com; 860-526-6065; visit the gallery on Facebook and Instagram.

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Talking Transportation: All Tickets Please!

Imagine you’re in a store and you see somebody shoplifting.  You’re embarrassed to say anything or to make a scene, but inside you’re pissed-off.  You pay for your merchandise, so why should that guy get it for free?  And if he’s ripping off the store, doesn’t the merchant actually make you pay more to make up for that loss?

It’s morally wrong and it’s just not fair.

Yet this is what happens every single day on Metro-North when conductors don’t collect all riders’ tickets.

Here’s a typical scene:  your train leaves Grand Central and the conductor makes his way through the train collecting tickets.  Sometimes he leaves a colored seat check, punched to show your destination, but not always. Why?

Your train makes some intermediate stop (New Rochelle, Greenwich or Stamford) to discharge some passengers and take on new ones.  You know who the new riders are, but does the conductor?

So when the conductor comes through again saying “All Stamford tickets, please” and you see that new rider not responding, you know the railroad got ripped off and that cheater just got a free ride.

Now, if the conductor had issued a seat check he’d know who got off, who got on and who owes him a new ticket.  Simple enough, but not for Metro-North which for years has not enforced their use.  Conductors who are too busy or too lazy, don’t use seat checks and we all end up paying more.

Metro-North acknowledges this problem and admits it loses millions of dollars a year to uncollected tickets.  But they’ve crunched the numbers and say that staffing trains with more conductors to be sure all tickets are collected would cost even more.

Hey!  Here’s a concept: make the existing conductors do their jobs instead of hiding out in their little compartments.  From Grand Central to Stamford you’ve got 45 minutes without stops to collect everyone’s ticket, give ‘em a seat check, say “thank you” and still have time for a cat-nap.  And there’s still time to ask people to keep their feet off the seats and to stop yapping in the designated Quiet Cars.

Back in the good ol’ days before the TVM’s (Ticket Vending Machines) came along, conductors collected cash fares to the tune of $50 million a year.  They had a money room at Grand Central that looked like a casino.  Now most fares are bought from the machines or on your smart-phone.  That means conductors should have a lot more time to make sure all tickets are collected.

Conductors on Metro-North make good money.  And they do a very important job keeping passengers safe, operating the doors, answering questions.  They’re the face of the railroad and most passengers give them high marks.

So what can you do if you see someone getting a free ride due to uncollected tickets?  Try this, which always work for me.

When I see a conductor miss a passenger’s ticket, I’ll wait until the conductor comes back and say something like “Excuse me, conductor.  I think you missed collecting that gentleman’s ticket,” and then smile innocently at the conductor and the chagrined would-be thief.

If I see the same conductor always missing ticket collections, day after day, I report it on the Metro-North website complaints page, detailing the incident by name, date, train number, etc.  That allows the railroad to “re-train” the offending staffer.

So if you’re tired of all these fare increases, let’s stop the shoplifters.  Make sure everybody pays for their ride by having conductors collect all tickets.

Please!

Republished with permission of Hearst CT Media.

Jim Cameron


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

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

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Letter to the Editor: Thanks to Many From Literacy Volunteers & Retiring LVVS Executive Director

To the Editor:

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) celebrates a successful year with its Holiday Social each year. During the course of the festivities the organization recognizes one volunteer who, through their efforts embodies the values of the agency and who has made an impact on the success of the organization each year. This year LVVS recognized Barbara Erni of Deep River as its “Unsung Hero.”

We are especially grateful to Alex Foulkes and Wilson Castaneda of the Penny Lane Pub for hosting the event, their generosity in providing the facilities, food and servers and for making our guests feel at home for the holidays.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Steffen who again provided a bounty of delicious desserts along with her helper Paula Ferrara. Special gratitude to Joanne Argersinger, the LVVS Board of Directors, our tutors and all those who made the evening special and who helped celebrate my upcoming retirement. I am so grateful and feel privileged to have been the recipient of their guidance, help and good wishes over the years. I am also humbled by their heartfelt gift and recognition.   

Finally, thanks to State Representative Devin Carney, and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna for taking their time out to share the evening with us. And special thanks to State Senators Art Linares and Paul Formica and to the Connecticut Legislature for their recognition and steadfast support for the cause of literacy.   

John J. Ferrara

Editor’s Note: The author is the Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc.

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Letter From Paris: Like UK’s Cameron, Italian PM Matteo Renzi Gambles His Future on a Referendum … and Loses

Nicole Prévost Logan

On Dec. 4, 2016, 60 percent of Italians responded “No” to the referendum question on constitutional reforms posed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. His aim was to modify the electoral laws, thus reducing the role of both the Senate and regions, and thereby enhancing his own power. This was a dangerous attempt at undoing the safeguards built into the 1948 constitution and intended to erase all traces of Mussolini’s fascist regime.

To better understand Renzi’s action, one should remember the omnipresent Italian dislike for a strong, centralized government. It was only in 1871 that the Risorgimento (meaning ‘rising again’) led to the unification of the country with Rome as its capital.

Beppe Grillo – the comedian turned populist – was quick to seize the opportunity and had his “Five Stars” party join the coalition opposing the referendum .

After the long “reign” of Silvio Berlusconi, who stepped down as prime minister in his 80s and the two-year-government of Mario Prodi, aged 70 and a long-time European Union (EU) economic commissioner, the Italian population must have found the arrival of 41-year-old former mayor of Florence as quite refreshing. Pleasant, laughing a lot and described as, “a young man in a hurry,” by a French diplomat, Renzi got along well with all the world leaders (too much so for my taste as he became close to President Erdogan of Turkey and supported that country’s accession into Europe.)

Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.  (Photo from Press-TV.)

Renzi’s resignation may trigger political instability given the state of financial crisis in the country. Italy is one of EU’s founding members and its third largest economy, but the Italian economy is lethargic and in a state of stagnation. The public debt is 120 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, well above the level of 60 percent allowed by Brussels. In fact, Italy is called the mauvais elève (flunking student) of Europe.

After the Greek debt crisis, a number of financial mechanisms have been put in place in Brussels under the respective leaderships of Germany and France. They include a Banking Union to assure the safety of the private sector and more stringent requirements imposed on the banks under the “single rule” book.

Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank (ECB), supervises the 6,000 main European banks. In order to boost the growth of Europe, the ECB has been pouring 80 billion Euros per month into the monetary market, buying back poor quality obligations. Renzi has often been in disagreement with these new rules and refused to be tied by institutional constraints, particularly when they come from Brussels.

The specific problem with Italy is that its banks are undercapitalized and hold about 360 billion of “toxic” loans comparable to the US sub-primes in 2007-08. Several of the largest banks are on the verge of collapse. The Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS) – the oldest bank in the world, founded before Christopher Columbus – is in the worst shape and on Dec. 9, the ECB forbade Renzi to ask his government for a 20-day-prolongation of a four billion Euro financial assistance package.

Renzi’s relations with Brussels have been tense and he frequently refused to go along with its policies, blocking negotiations. For instance on Nov. 11, he did not agree with the decision made by the other EU members to protect themselves from cheap imports from China.

He also deemed insufficient the funds granted Italy to cope with the flow of refugees. (that request was justified though, since 500,000 refugees have entered the country in the past two years, and 171,000 since the beginning of 2016.) He was criticized by the other EU members for “sabotaging” the Brastislava talks last September about the European response to Brexit.

Referenda can be dangerous, particularly when the initiator bets his or her future on them.  In the case of Italy, however, it might have been a good thing. The departure of Renzi will likely bring more cohesion in the EU to face the many problems ahead.

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.

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SECoast, CT Trust for Historic Preservation Request 60-Day Extension to NRA Waiting Period

We have just received the text of a letter sent by SECoast and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation to the Federal Railroad Administration requesting an extension of the 30-day waiting period to 60 days. It reads as follows::

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and SECoast, our regional partner on high-speed rail planning issues, are writing to ask for your assistance to extend the current 30-day waiting period for the NEC Future Final Environmental Impact Statement by 60 days. Given the enormous size of the planning document, its release just one week before end-of-year holidays and the extreme concern for the preferred alternative route now expressed in communities throughout Connecticut (and additionally Rhode Island) we believe there is a strong argument that such an extension is in the public interest.

The current deadline of January 31, 2016 marks the end of the Tier 1 planning process for the Northeast Corridor (NEC), an early but critical step in the overall implementation of a master plan for the corridor. Finalization of this document will commit the plan to a single corridor through Connecticut rather than from the three corridors under study in the DEIS. Finalization of this document will replace the corridor’s current master plan, dating to 1978,  for rail travel and investment along the Northeast Corridor with a new Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (P-EIS) with a 25-year horizon of 2040.

To be clear, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this right. Both the public and the NEC Future plan deserve the benefit of a thorough final public review and opportunity to comment. We believe an extended comment period would also offer the best opportunity to avoid unnecessary legal action by providing the Federal Railroad Administration an opportunity to correct evident errors in the planning process and resulting NEC Future plan.

Such an extension is both a commonsense and commonplace. Indeed, a similar extension was granted to review much less extensive plans for the “All Aboard Florida” high speed rail planning initiative in Florida. The Federal Railroad Administration has enjoyed flexible deadlines throughout the planning process, most recently missing an intended late summer/early fall release date of the Preferred Alternative and FEIS documentation. Surely, the people of Connecticut deserve an equivalent opportunity to provide informed and meaningful comment before this critical document is finalized.

We appreciate, in advance, your continuing efforts to advocate for communities in the state of Connecticut and for our joint efforts to develop rail-travel along the Northeast Corridor in a way that recognizes and respects the unique historical, cultural and environmental attributes of Connecticut communities.

More to come.

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9 Town Transit Announces Bus Fare Increase From Jan. 2 

AREAWIDE — 9 Town Transit will increase its fares on all services beginning January 2, 2017.  The increase will up the regular cash fare to $1.75 on bus routes and $3.50 on the Dial-A-Ride services and off-route trips.

9 Town Transit officials say the increase is necessary to help offset a decrease in funding from the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  The fares were last increased in 2012.

The increase will be offset by the introduction of a senior and disabled fare.  It will allow seniors 65 or over and people with disabilities to ride any bus route for $.85, or $31 for unlimited trips with a monthly pass.  To qualify, a Medicare card or a Connecticut reduced fare I.D. must be shown on boarding.  I.D.’s can be obtained by visiting www.9towntransit.com.  Seniors 60 and over residing in the region will still be able to obtain and utilize 9 Town Transit Senior Fare Cards.

For a full listing of the new fare schedule or to purchase passes and tickets, visit www.9towntransit.com.

For more information, call 9 Town Transit at 860-510-0429.

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Save the Date: Celebrate Winter at Chester’s 26th Annual Winter Carnivale, Feb. 19

Bill Bernhart stands proudly beside his Ice carving at the Chester Carnivale in this 2012 file photo.

CHESTER — The townspeople of Chester are looking forward to their 26th annual winter celebration, Chester Winter Carnivale, on Sunday, Feb. 19.

That’s when the picturesque small town of Chester is filled with people cheering on ice carvers as they create beautiful sculptures from blocks of ice, while laughing at the antics of street performers and applauding a long parade of new and antique tractors being driven down Main Street by their proud owners. All that, and food, music, art, and shopping too!

The day begins at 10:30 a.m. when the carvers get started on their ice sculptures. Both professional and student ice carvers will be hard at work, demonstrating their techniques to onlookers while they try to be finished by 1 p.m. for judging.

Meanwhile, the Chester Hose Company, Inc. is holding its annual “Chilly Chili Cook Off” fundraiser. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., go to the Chester Hose Company Fire House at 6 High Street and pay your $5 admission so you can taste all the different chilis cooked and dished out by restaurants, caterers and fire departments. You can vote for your favorite fire department chili, favorite restaurant chili, most original chili, and best dressed chili serving table.  Beverages will be sold. All proceeds go to the Chester Hose Company.

Still hungry? Pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, soups, and lots more will all be available inside and outside the restaurants in town. Also, popcorn and kettle corn.

Just be sure to be back out on Main Street by 2 p.m. for the 15th Annual Chester Tractor Parade. Colorful and rusty, big and small, antique and new, decorated and plain – tractors are driven through the town center in an incredibly long parade. You never knew there were so many tractors in the Connecticut River Valley!

Free activities will keep the whole family entertained for the day. Colorful beads and balloons will be handed out throughout town all day and face painting is available. The Chester Museum at The Mill will be open at no charge, offering a place to explore Chester history. Galleries and shops will be open, many with special events.

Chester Winter Carnivale is held rain or snow or shine.  Main Street will be closed to traffic. Free parking is available in the commuter lot on Rte. 148 at the foot of Rte. 9 and in the Roto-Frank parking lot on Inspiration Lane (exit 6) and at Greenwald Industries on Rte. 154 (212 Middlesex Avenue). (Follow the signs.) All lots will be served by courtesy shuttle buses to the town center.

For more information, visit facebook.com/chesterctwintercarnivale or https://finditinchesterct.wordpress.com/

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FRA Endorses High Speed Rail Route Through Old Lyme, But With a Tunnel; Courtney, Malloy, Blumenthal, Murphy Express Strong Opposition to Plan

AREAWIDE — The Federal Rail Authority (FRA) today released the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Final EIS) for NEC FUTURE and it is now available for download at www.necfuture.com.

The preferred route includes the controversial Old Saybrook to Kenyon, R.I., by-pass which runs through Old Lyme, and a tunnel in the same area.

Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released the following statement after the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released their Tier 1 final environmental impact statement for the Northeast Corridors FUTURE plan:

“The FRA’s report released today continues to ignore strong and consistent concerns expressed by the State of Connecticut and local citizens about the eastern shoreline realignment plans. We specifically asked FRA to limit the NEC Future Tier 1 EIS to identify a service and investment strategy to achieve state-of- good repair and maximize the capacity, frequency and speed of existing rail lines.

By continuing to include plans to bypass the current route, the FRA has enflamed impacted communities stretching from Fairfield County to Stonington where the proposed alignment will eviscerate neighborhoods, historic landmarks, and real estate values.

As the FRA itself has confirmed, this new proposed alignment cannot ultimately receive the permits, rights of way and other critical elements without the support and approval of the State of Connecticut.

To this end, we will continue to do all we can to remove this bypass from the final FRA plan in order to provide our communities with the certainty they deserve. Should the FRA continue in its pursuit of its proposed alignment, we will work to ensure that Connecticut exercises every tool at its disposal at the state and federal levels to stop any effort to move forward with this misguided plan.”

A press conference will be held at 2 p.m. this afternoon at which Rep. Joe Courtney, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker, and Old Lyme First Seletwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder will discuss the announcement by the FRA.

Greg Stroud, Executive Director of SECoast.org, has released the following statement:

“We have been working full-time on this issue since January, and we have yet to find a single resident, local, state or federal representative, or group, actively supporting the idea of a tunnel under the Connecticut river and Old Lyme.

Why? Even if a tunnel could better preserve the immediate historic downtown of Old Lyme,  it would no doubt be much worse for the environment, and would simply shift the historic and economic impacts onto the communities to the east, whether East Lyme, New London, Mystic, Stonington or Westerly. We find that unacceptable.

A tunnel does nothing to remedy the impacts to the broader region. And as was obvious at the August 31 meeting in Old Lyme, the entire region really is adamantly opposed to the Kenyon to Old Saybrook bypass. Every single town official from Old Saybrook to Westerly, Rhode Island is on record opposing the plan. That doesn’t happen very often.

At some point, you would hope that the federal government would realize this isn’t NIMBY, this is roughly 1/4 of a state, for good reason, refusing to bear the burdens of plan, without the benefits (if there are any to speak of). In the case of Old Lyme, this is a question of survival, and I believe that Mayor Passero in New London, feels almost as strongly.

On an environmental level, a tunnel would very likely require extensive “dewatering” given the routing, the extensive marshes, the lack of bedrock, and a local geology characterized by glacial drift.  In a community of wells, surrounded by marshes, at the mouth of the Connecticut river — one of the only major rivers in the hemisphere lacking an industrialized mouth and port — we believe a tunnel is a nonstarter.

And frankly, given past history, and private discussions with transportation officials, I’d go further and question the seriousness of the offer. When pressed in public and by the press, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has repeatedly refused to rule out a return to a much-less-expensive bridge option through Old Lyme.

If you recall, the FRA was forced to issue three or so clarifications and retractions when questioned by the press on this issue just after the meeting on August 31 —
ctmirror.org/2016/08/31/federal-rail-official-no-elevated-track-in-old-lyme-spokesman-backpedals/

The FRA still hasn’t responded to straightforward Freedom of Information requests filed on April 4, 2016. The FRA claims that these requests are filled on a “first come first served” basis, and refuses to explain the delay. That’s no way to win support in the region for a tunnel, or any other plan.”

Don Stacom of The Hartford Courant published a piece titled, “Railroad Officials Full Speed Ahead on Controversial New Amtrak Northeast Corridor Bypass“a short time ago, in which he states, “Old Lyme is the center of opposition: Critics fear hulking, industrial-looking elevated tracks ruining the New England charm of their village. Museums, schools, environmentalists and historic preservationists all denounced the idea this summer.”

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Reynolds Subaru Presents NADA ‘Ambassadors Grant’ to Estuary’s MOW Program in Memory of Gary Reynolds

Kathryn Wayland, Owner Reynolds Subaru, is pictured presenting Paul Doyle, Estuary Council Executive Director, with a check for $1,000. Standing to the left is G. Hayden Reynolds, Owner Reynolds Subaru.

Kathryn Wayland, Reynolds Subaru owner, is pictured presenting Paul Doyle, Estuary Council Executive Director, with a check for $1,000. Standing to the left is G. Hayden Reynolds, Reynolds Subaru owner.

AREAWIDE — The Estuary Council of Seniors recently received, through Reynolds Subaru, the Ambassadors Grant from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) in memory of Gary Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Garage & Marine Inc. in Lyme, CT.  Gary Reynolds was well known for his distinguished career in the automotive retail industry and his generosity in our local communities.  He served on the board of directors of the NADA, representing franchised new car and truck dealers in Connecticut until his passing in 2013.

The Reynolds family designated the Estuary Council of Seniors to be the recipient of the Ambassadors Grant in memory of Gary and in addition to the award of $500, the Reynolds family matched the grant with an additional $500.

The Estuary is pleased to accept this wonderful grant from the NADA and gift from the Reynolds family in memory of Gary Reynolds in continuing support of the Estuary’s Meals on Wheels program.  This past fiscal year the Estuary delivered over 70,000 meals to Meals on Wheels recipients in the nine town Estuary region including Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook & Westbrook.

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Dogs on the Docks Proceeds Benefit Local Rescue, Homeward Bound CT

Pictured in the photo are, left to right: Joan Meek, CRM business manager and her dog Lyddie, Sue Hotkowski of Homeward Bound CT, Connie Connors, Essex Board of Trade, Jennifer White-Dobbs, CRM Education Director, Chris Dobbs, CRM Executive Director and Toby.  Both dogs are Homeward Bound CT rescues.

Pictured in the photo are, left to right: Joan Meek, CRM business manager and her dog Lyddie, Sue Hotkowski of Homeward Bound CT, Connie Connors, Essex Board of Trade, Jennifer White-Dobbs, CRM Education Director, Chris Dobbs, CRM Executive Director and Toby.  Both dogs are Homeward Bound CT rescues.

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum and Essex Board of Trade are pleased to award Homeward Bound CT $100. The money was raised from the proceeds of the 2016 Dogs on the Dock event.  Each year the proceeds from the event are donated to a local shelter or rescue organization.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 860.767.8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

For more information about Homeward Bound CT,

visit www.homewardboundct.org. The Essex Board of Trade supports area businesses and events at http://essexct.com.

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Essex, Old Lyme Churches State Clearly That All Parishioners are Welcome

sign

 ESSEX and OLD LYME — A new sign (see above) in front of the First Congregational Church of Essex, a member church of the United Church of Christ, includes the usual notation for the church with its name, year of formation — in this case — 1852, and then these words, “An Open and Affirming Church.”

The final words on the church’s new sign indicate that the church welcomes all parishioners, regardless of their age, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme goes a little further in its signage, as can be seen in the photo below right.affirming_sign

Our unscientific poll suggests there have been a few objections in both churches to the signs, but most parishioners seem comfortable with them.

It is interesting that both churches have chosen to present their respective new signs at a similar time.

We can only speculate on the catalyst for the timing since we have not investigated it.

Whether or not these “open and affirming” statements made by two Congregational churches in relatively close proximity with one another will now be adopted by other Congregational churches across the country remains to seen.

Dear readers, as always, we welcome your thoughts …

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Essex Garden Club Decorates the Town for the Holidays

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ESSEX — In preparation for the holidays, the Essex Garden club members decorated merchant window boxes, the “silent Policeman” and  tubs of the villages of Essex .  Using a variety of evergreen cuttings from members and other generous donors from the community, the Garden Club helped the town put on a festive face for the “Trees in the Rigging” held Nov. 27,  and the Holiday Stroll, Dec. 9 and  10.

Thanks to both Liz Fowler and Suzanne Tweed for their efforts in coordinating the day of decorating.

Finally, The Essex Garden Club would like to thank the Essex community for its continued support, especially during our spring May Market and extends best wishes to all the resident of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton for a Healthy and Happy New Year.

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See ‘The Bells of Dublin Part III’ at Ivoryton Through Dec. 18

bellsofdublin2016

Michael Hotkowski and Maggie McGlone Jennings in “The Bells of Dublin Part III” Photo by Anne Hudson.

If you have loved following the escapades and adventures of Paddy Bell and his family in The Bells of Dublin at the Ivoryton Playhouse, then you won’t want to miss the third play in the trilogy. And even if you are new to the story, you will enjoy their exploits as Paddy brings the whole family to New York for Christmas. Carols and Irish songs and even a little vaudeville to warm your heart and get you in the spirit of the season.

It’s Christmas Eve in O’Lunney’s Pub in New York. Maggie, the bag lady who roams the neighborhood around 50th and Broadway, settles into O’Lunney’s doorway to weave a story with a cast of characters from here and across the ocean. The Bells of Dublin has become an Ivoryton tradition and has garnered rave reviews from our patrons. Here is one of the many comments received –

“The Bells of Dublin – Part II is truly one of Ivoryton’s most entertaining, fun, and meaningful Christmas play we’ve seen in a long time!  It had every facet and emotions of Life and Family!  Laughter galore, yet moving and truthful. I can’t wait for Part III!”

The Bells of Dublin, Parts I, II & III  were conceived and directed by Playhouse Executive/Artistic Director, Jacqueline Hubbard. “For 345 days a year, we work around the clock here – maintaining this beautiful building and producing 7 amazing professional shows. The holiday show is our chance to have some fun! I wanted to put together a show with some great music – traditional Irish and American – a little bit of magic and a lot of laughs. So – here ‘tis!”

This funny and fantastic tale is filled with songs you know and songs you wish you did – with a wonderful band of local musicians beautifully directed by Melanie Guerin, who also arranged much of the music. Cast includes many Playhouse favorites – R. Bruce Connelly*, Michael McDermott*, Maggie McGlone Jennings, Vanessa Vradenburgh, Ted Philips and Norm Rutty from the local band Save the Train, Jenna Berloni, Nancy and David Cardone, Emma Hunt, Olivia Harry, Alec Bandzes, Vickie Blake, Larry Lewis, Michael Hotkowski, Dylan Vallier and Celeste Cumming. The set for this production is designed by Dan Nischan, costumes by Elizabeth Cipollina and lights by Marcus Abbott.

Come and experience the true magic of the season Ivoryton style with this original Christmas musical – for two weeks only.

The Bells of Dublin Part III: A New York Fairytale runs through Dec. 18, for two weeks. Performance times are Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. There is also a Wednesday matinee on Dec. 14.

Tickets are $35 for adults, $32 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

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CT Camera Club Next Meeting Features Presentation by William Canosa, Feb. 6

A striking photo of an osprey by William Canosa.

AREAWIDE — Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will host its next monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. at Lymes’ Senior Center, Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme.  All are welcome to attend the meeting regardless of whether or not you are member of CVCC.

The meeting will feature a presentation by local photographer, William Canosa.  He will present and discuss how he captured his landscapes, plants and animals, insects, birds, and macro photography photos. Canosa will also discuss how to print what you see on your screen.

‘Turret Arch’ by William Canosa.

More examples of his photography can be viewed on his website at www.canosaphotography.net.

In addition to his presentation, Canosa will display some print photos from an upcoming show in Milford where there will be a reception May 2, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Cafe Atlantique in Milford CT.

The Camera Club’s meeting dates, speakers / topics and other notices are published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage/.

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Essex Rotary Club Donates $5,000 to Meals on Wheels

From left to right, Essex Rotary President, Jordan Welles, presents a check to Estuary Council Executive Director, Paul Doyle.

Essex Rotary President, Jordan Welles (left), presents a check to Estuary Council Executive Director, Paul Doyle.

The Essex Rotary Club generously donated $5,000 to the Estuary Council of Seniors Meals on Wheels program at their Oct. 4 Rotary dinner meeting in Essex. The $5,000 donation will help to ensure that Meals on Wheels will continue without any interruption of service to those in need along the shoreline. The Estuary Council, like many providers in the country, has had cuts to their funding.

While other providers have created waiting lists for seniors requesting meals, the Estuary has remained committed to getting meals to anyone from their service area who calls. The Estuary Council of Seniors serves both Meals on Wheels and congregate meals in the nine-town Estuary Region. During the fiscal year October 2015 – September 2016, the Estuary will have served approximately 80,000 home delivered and congregate meals to area seniors in the nine towns that they serve, including Essex.

The Estuary Council expresses their sincerest thanks to the Essex Rotary for their support.

For more information about the many services provided by the Estuary Council of Seniors, please call 860-388-1611.

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Literacy Volunteers Announce Graduation of Fall Training Class of Tutuors

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore is pleased to announce the graduation of the Fall training class of tutors.  Tutors are trained through comprehensive nationally accredited workshop sessions held by Literacy Volunteers. On completion of workshop sessions, trainees receive certification as a tutor and are assigned a mentor for support and guidance.

Trained volunteer tutors are matched with students in English as a Second Language or Basic Reading. Tutors carry out our mission of providing one-on-one tutoring to anyone seeking to improve their English skills.

Through our services, students become acclimated to our culture and language resulting in becoming productive, happy, members of our community. There is no cost to the student.

The 2016 Fall class of tutors consisted of Joseph Hines of Branford, Sara Davis and Peg Reyer of Chester, Muriel Moore and Dr. Susan Seider of Clinton, Chip Lowery, Michele Millham and Ron Repetti of Guilford, Susan Hosack of Essex, Sheila Meyers of Ivoryton, Jeanette Kehoe Allen, Beth Baird, Paul Diwik, Dan Mulvey and Susan Graves of Madison, Kathy Lee of Old Saybrook and Brian Clampet of Westbrook.

Tutor training is underwritten by grants from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and the Westbrook Foundation.

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Community Music School Hosts Open House, Jan. 30 – Feb. 3; All Welcome

Community Music School’s Jazz Ensemble is a popular band at the school.

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School (CMS), located in the Spencer’s Corner professional complex at 90 Main St. in Centerbrook, welcomes the general public to visit during Open House Week Jan. 30 to Feb. 3. Children and adults can tour the School’s studios, meet teachers and staff, enjoy a free preview lesson, and learn about a vast array of programs for all ages including private and group lessons, guitar, jazz and string ensembles, music therapy services, Kindermusik, and more.

Community Music School is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Those interested in a 15-minute preview lesson are requested to call 860-767-0026 for scheduling.

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 that they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

For additional information, visit www.community-music-school.org or call 860-767-0026.

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Estuary Senior Center Seeks Volunteer ‘Meals on Wheels’ Drivers

AREAWIDE — The Estuary Council of Seniors Regional Senior Center provides Meals on Wheels to seniors living along the shoreline.  The Estuary delivers meals to Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.

The Estuary Senior Center is looking for volunteer drivers to help deliver meals to homebound seniors. Set schedules can be arranged. Training will be provided. A valid driver’s license and reliable car is required.

Contact Carol Andanti at 860-388-1611 x217.

The Estuary thanks you for making a difference in your community.

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11th Annual Land Trusts’ Photo Contest Deadline is Jan. 31, 2017

Bopha Smith was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Landscape category of the 2016 Contest.

Bopha Smith was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Landscape category of the 2016 Contest.

AREAWIDE — Five local land trusts invite amateur photographers of all ages to enter their favorite photographs of scenes in the towns of Essex, East Haddam, Salem, Lyme and Old Lyme in the Land Trusts Photo Contest. Children are especially encouraged to submit photos. Participants need not live in the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Essex, Salem, and East Haddam, but photos must be of scenes in one of these five towns. Land Trusts in these towns sponsor this photo contest.

Submissions will be accepted from the Jan. 1, 2017 to Jan. 31, 2017. Contest rules are available online at lymelandtrust.org. The link is http://www.lymelandtrust.org/news/photo-contest/.  Entry forms for the contest are available at photocontest2017@lymelandtrust.org.

Contest awards are being funded with the generous support of our commercial sponsors: RiverQuest /Connecticut River Expeditions, Ballek’s Garden Center in East Haddam, Essex Savings Bank, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Lorensen Auto Group, the Oakley Wing Group at Morgan Stanley, and Alison Mitchell in memory of her husband John G. Mitchell. John G. Mitchell was a life-long environmentalist and former photo contest judge.

A three-judge panel will select the winning photos. New as a contest judge this year is Joe Standart, an award-winning photographer, director and internationally known artist who loves photographing the natural world. Returning judges include Amy Kurtz Lansing, an accomplished art historian and curator at the Florence Griswold Museum; and Skip Broom, a respected award-winning local photographer and antique house restoration housewright.

$100, $75, $50 and $25 cash prizes will be awarded in each of five categories. The categories are Landscape/Waterscape, Plants, Wildlife, and Cultural/Historic (human interaction with nature, including domestic animals and buildings), for participants 15 years of age or older. Photographers 14 years old or younger may enter photos on any of these subjects in the Youth Category.

All entered photographs will be displayed and winners will be announced at a public reception Friday, March 10, 2017.

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Deep River Public Library Hosts Calligraphy Class, Jan. 25

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Public Library will be hosting a calligraphy class on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 6:30 pm.

Calligraphy is the art of writing beautifully. Come learn how to draw letters and transform your writing into a work of art. Calligraphy is a great way to add flair to cards, personal correspondence and special notes.  The way you hold your pen and touch it to paper makes each alphabet uniquely your own.

In this fun class you will learn the technique for one of the calligraphic alphabets and become familiar with the instruments of calligraphy including felt-tip calligraphy pens, template sheets and calligraphy paper.  You will leave knowing the fundamentals of calligraphy and you will have a beautiful interpretation of your name by your own hand.

Ned Farrell will be instructing the course.  He is the co-owner of the Bee Company of Clinton, Conn. Ned has been doing calligraphy for years.  There is a $5 fee for supplies, including a pen, template and calligraphy paper, which will be yours to keep.

To register, call the library at 860-526-6039.

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SECWAC Presents Talk by Former Defense Department Official on ‘Start, End & Aftermath of Cold War,’ Jan. 24

Former US Department of Defense official Dick Shriver will speak at the next SECWAC meeting, scheduled for Jan. 24 at the Old Lyme Country Club.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) has announced that resident local author and former U.S. Department of Defense official Dick Shriver will deliver remarks based on his upcoming book, “Glimpses of an Uncharted Life,” at Old Lyme Country Club on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Shriver’s address will provide a compelling review of the Cold War – highlighting its start, end, aftermath and relevance to today.  His presentation is expected to be particularly timely, given the resurgence of Russian nationalism under Vladimir Putin and other recent international developments.

SECWAC meetings are free to members.  Tickets are $20 for the general public and free for area college and high school students; and can be obtained at info@secwac.org. (The ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership.)

The event will take place at 6 p.m. at Old Lyme Country Club in Old Lyme.  It will be preceded by a 5:30 pm reception.  Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC attendees with reservations (made at least 24 hours in advance) will reconvene for dinner ($35) at the country club.

Shriver is a former director of Telecommunications and Command & Control Systems for the Office of the Secretary of the Defense; he is also a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  After the collapse of the U.S.S.R., he began a career in economic and legal development in the newly freed republics of the former Soviet Union, as well as in other countries in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan. He lived in the Soviet Union and Ukraine for eight years.

Shriver has received the U.S. Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s highest award, the Alexander Hamilton Medal.  He is also provost emeritus of Bard College Berlin, a university in Germany.

The presentation is a part of the SECWAC Speaker Series.  SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America.  Its mission is to foster an understanding of issues related to foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate and educational programming.

Through its annual Speaker Series, SECWAC arranges up to 10 presentations a year that provide a public forum for dialogue between its members and experts on foreign relations.  Membership information is available at www.secwac.org.

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Acton Library Hosts Exhibition by Daniel Dahlstrom with Artist Reception, Jan. 21

Dan Dahlstrom demonstrates his painting techniques at the library.

The Acton Public Library at 60 Old Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, presents an exhibit of oil paintings by Daniel Dahlstrom of Chester. Dahlstrom brings his works to the library gallery and the second floor Grady Thomas room through Wednesday, Jan. 25.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, at 11 a.m., Dahlstrom will host a meet and greet featuring a demonstration of his painting.

For further information, call 860-395-3184 or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10 – 8, Friday and Saturday 10 – 5.

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VRHS’s Ginny King Honored as Connecticut’s “PE Teacher of the Year”

On Nov. 17, Ginny King of Valley Regional High School was honored with the CTAHPERD High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award.

On Nov. 17, Ginny King of Valley Regional High School was honored with the CTAHPERD High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award.

REGION 4 — The Connecticut Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CTAHPERD) held the Annual Fall Conference on Nov. 17 and 18 and Awards Banquet on Nov. 17, at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, Conn.

Among the honorees was Virginia King, Physical Education teacher at Valley Regional High School (VRHS) in Deep River, who received the CTAHPERD High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award.

A graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University with a B.S. degree in Physical Education with a Health minor, King continued her Education at the University of Connecticut with a M.S. degree in Sport Management and Leisure Studies. She has 24 years of teaching experience at VRHS in Deep River. In addition to her teaching duties, King is the Regional School District #4 Health and Physical Education Department Coordinator for Grades 7-12.

King has deep content knowledge, a fine repertoire of pedagogical skills, and contagious enthusiasm for teaching and learning. She has spearheaded a transformation in curriculum and course offerings that has created a more personalized approach for high school students.

The primary focus of the curriculum is lifelong fitness through lessons that embrace standards in an atmosphere that is fun, engaging and supportive. PE Fit is an elective course characterized by goal setting by students, exposure to a variety of fitness activities, guest instructors, and field trips to local fitness centers. A Recreation and Leisure unit was developed to include lifelong leisure activities that promote 21st century learning skills to help the students better meet academic, social and civic expectations within physical education.

Students are encouraged to participate in and then teach these activities to friends and family outside of school hours to promote a better sense of community. Seniors may take an additional physical education course as a Physical Education Assistant/Student Leader. These students assist with such teaching duties as taking attendance, setting up and distributing equipment, officiate, disseminate handouts and reading materials, run round robin tournaments, and work one on one with students that need help with game skills or weight room techniques. This modern curriculum has fostered a transformation in student attitude.

Since becoming a certified Zumba Fitness and Zumba Toning instructor, King introduced the group exercise program into the Wednesday Cardio Workout Sessions for every block of the day at VRHS. Students are enthusiastically engaged through her excellent presentation skills, sense of humor and abundant energy. She has expanded the Zumba instruction into a cross curricular unit with the Spanish class and held Zumba sessions during halftime at home football games.

King has contributed to the school community in many ways: she was a BEST Portfolio scorer; Assistant Girls’ Basketball Coach; Head Volleyball Coach; Athletic Director; is a TEAM mentor teacher, cooperating teacher; intramural Spring sports director; intramural weight room director; member of NEASC sub-committee; Team Handball Tournament Director for VRHS Heart of a PE Warrior Scholarship.

Her service to the greater community includes: free Zumba session for Camp Hazen’s YMCA Women’s Wellness Weekend Retreat; guest lecturer at CCSU; charity Zumba session Chester Fire Hose Company for a VRHS scholarship fundraiser; Zumbathon for Chester Elementary School PTO; Zumbathon for breast cancer at Ifoundfitness; and community projects with the Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau.

Committed to excellence and developing herself as a professional, she is fully committed to providing students with a rigorous and relevant learning experience. CTAHPERD is highly honored to recognize Virginia “Ginny” Mislick King as High School Teacher of the Year for 2016.

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Letter to the Editor: Many Thanks in This Season of Giving

To the Editor:

The Essex Community Fund recently joined together with the Essex Police Department for our annual Stuff-a-Cruiser event to benefit the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Colonial Market shoppers were asked for their help to Stuff-a-Cruiser by purchasing a few extra items with their regular groceries. As always, people in our community were extremely generous with almost 1,700 pounds of food collected. Special thanks to the Essex Boy Scouts and Shoreline Soup Kitchen volunteers who helped with the off-loading and sorting of it all at the Congregational Church in Old Saybrook site that evening.

Thank you to everyone for their generosity in this season of giving. If you didn’t get a chance to participate or if you’d like to give again, join us at our next Stuff-a-Cruiser event – Friday, December 16, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Colonial Market. The John Winthrop Middle School Choir will be singing carols as we aim to collect 2,000 pounds of food!

Jean Schneider,
Essex.

Editor’s Note:
The writer is President of the Essex Community Fund.

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Women Playwright’s Initiative Taking Shape at Ivoryton Playhouse, Director Submissions Now Sought

IVORYTON:  In February 2016, Laura Copland, Director of Play Development, and Jacqui Hubbard, Executive/Artistic Director of The Ivoryton Playhouse, began talks about creating a safe environment for women playwrights to workshop their plays with professional actors and directors. The Ivoryton Playhouse is excited to announce the 2017 inaugural festival of the Women Playwright’s Initiative. The workshopping festival runs from Feb. 26 to March 4, 2017. Staged readings of the winning scripts will take place on Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4, 2017 at The Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT, followed by discussions with playwrights, actors and directors.

A call for one act plays went out on the League of Professional Theatre Women’s website and was picked up across the country. By the submission deadline of Sept. 15, the Initiative received 183 scripts. The scripts hailed from all over the United States and Canada, even Israel.

For Ms. Copland, who read all of the plays, this experience has been humbling and inspiring. “All these women!  All these women expressing in dialogue and conflict, their passion, intelligence, yearning, anger, hurt, love, and humor. Women are a force! It has been my honor to read their work.”

The time constraints of one week rehearsal and two nights of staged readings permitted no more than two hour-long plays, and two shorter plays. After wrenching deliberation, thirteen plays were under consideration. Many fascinating plays with potential had to be eliminated. The small committee included Ms. Copland, Ms. Hubbard, Susan McCann, Box Office Manager at The Ivoryton Playhouse, Margaret McGlone Jennings, director, teacher and actor and Brooks Appelbaum, director and theatre critic.

Four terrific plays were selected. The committee is proud of the choices and looks forward to working with the playwrights, cast, and directors in what we hope will be a successful inaugural season of the Ivoryton Playhouse’s Women Playwright’s Initiative.

The Playhouse is now seeking submissions from local directors. The deadline for resume submissions is Nov. 30, 2016. Submit to Laura Copland at laurac@ivorytonplayhouse.org. (Calls for local actors will be in January, 2017.)

For more information about the Women’s Playwright Initiative, contact Jacqueline Hubbard, Executive Director, The Ivoryton Playhouse, at 860-767-9502 or jhubbard@ivorytonplayhouse.org

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Letter to the Editor: Thoughts on the Day After Election Day

To the Editor:

I did not vote for Sec. Clinton or now President Elect Trump. Neither made me feel hopeful. I voted Libertarian; not because I fully believe in their platform, but because if enough people voted for them, their candidate for President in 2020 would get a podium in the National Debates. Didn’t happen. Oh well. I got up Wednesday morning, looked outside and hoped for a little rain. Turned on the local news. Scott Haney still makes me laugh. Took my shoes to my repair shop, but they can’t be fixed. They had a little life left, so I asked if there was charity that might take them. He said homeless men hang around and he would give my shoes to one of them. I felt good. The young women at Dunkin called me young man as she gave me the senior discount. Yes, I gave her a tip. I went to the office where half the workers are women with many in upper management and we’re all on the same pay scale. I saw my co-worker with incomplete quadriplegia in his motorized wheel chair approaching and we had a chance to chat. We don’t see each other since he changed departments. This is what the morning after a change in power in America looks like. And thank God for that.

Sincerely,

Mel Seifert,
Chester.

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Letter to the Editor: Ivoryton Library Board of Trustees Thanks Community for Tremendous Support of Pumpkin Chase

To the Editor:

The Ivoryton Library Board of Trustees would like to sincerely thank the so many people of the Valley/Shore community who attended the Ivoryton Pumpkin Chase this past weekend. Even the rainy Saturday morning could not dull the fun spirit of our athletes or the beauty of Ivoryton in autumn.

Our library is equally grateful for the generosity of so many of our community groups who helped make this important fundraiser possible including Phil Shaller of Signs and Digital Graphics of Deep River for our new logo and signage, Box Bistro for our apple pie awards, as well as Norm Needleman and Jacqui Hubbard for their steadfast financial
support. There were also numerous local businesses we would like to acknowledge including Kohls, SNAP Fitness, the Clark Group, Guilford Savings Bank, the Ivoryton Playhouse, Essex Savings Bank, the Law Office of Christopher Morano, Essex Hardware, and Polito and Associates.

Collaboration between the Essex Parks and Recreation, the Essex Land Trust, the Ivoryton Alliance, Officer Tretter and the Essex Police Department and the Valley Shore YMCA all helped to make the lovely fall weekend a model for community at its best.

Our Library Board and volunteers worked tirelessly to efficiently and warmly host our patrons from near and far. Please be on the lookout for news of exciting changes and enhancements to our race next year!

Sincerely,

Chris Pagliuco,
Ivoryton.

Editor’s Note: The author served as Race Director of the Ivoryton Pumpkin Chase.

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Letter to the Editor: Sen. Art Linares Thanks Area Voters

To the Editor:

Representing the people of the 33rd State Senate District at the State Capitol is an incredible honor.

I consider myself so fortunate to be a voice at the State Capitol for the people of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

I will work with anyone from any political party to restore business confidence and hope, to revive Connecticut’s economy, and to make Connecticut the place where families and seniors and retirees want to invest their futures.

I love this state, and I know you do too.  That’s why I am so energized to improve our state’s policies.

Thank you for your continued support, and I encourage you to never hesitate to contact me with your ideas, comments and concerns at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at 800 842-1421.

Sincerely,

Art Linares
Westbrook

Editor’s Note: The author was reelected for a third term to the position of State Senator for the 33rd District on Tuesday.

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Republican Challenger Bob Seagrist Defeats Democrat Phil Miller in 36th House District

Bob Seagrist (R) . File photo.

Bob Siegrist (R). File photo.

AREAWIDE — Republican Bob Siegrist of Haddam Tuesday defeated incumbent Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex in the 36th House district. The four-town vote was 6,962 for Siegrist to 6,653 for Miller, a margin of 309 votes.

Miller carried the towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex, but the margins were too small to overcome a big 2,943-1,883 win for Siegrist in Haddam. Miller carried his hometown of Essex on a 2,259-1,787 vote, and Chester on a 1,206-1,008 vote. The result was closer in Deep River, which Miller also carried on a 1,305-1,224 vote.

The race was a rematch from 2014, when Miller defeated Siegrist, a former bartender, on a 5,522-4,701 vote.
StateRep. Phil Miller. File photo.

State Rep. Phil Miller. File photo.

The result reflects an end to Miller’s current political career that began in 1999 with an unsuccessful challenge to former Republican First Selectman Peter Webster in Essex. Miller lost a much closer race with Webster in 2001, but was elected  Essex First Selectman in 2003 after Webster resigned to take a town manager job in Vermont.

Miller served as first selectman from 2003-2011, when he was elected state representative in a February 2011 special election. Miller won a full term in 2012, and was elected over Siegrist in 2014.

Miller’s plans after relinquishing his House seat are unknown at this point.

Siegrist becomes the first Republican to represent the three towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex since 1994, when the district included Lyme and Old Saybrook, but not Haddam.
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Republican Sen. Art Linares Wins Third Term in 33rd District

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) File photo.

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) File photo.

AREAWIDE — Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook was re-elected for a third term Tuesday , defeating his Democratic challenger, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, by a decisive margin in the 12- town 33rd District.

Linares, 28, carried at least six district towns, including Clinton, East Haddam, East Hampton, Portland, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.

Neeedleman, 65, carried Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Lyme. The margin in Deep River was a close 12 votes 1,268 for Needleman to 1,256 for Linares,. Results were still outstanding as of 10 p.m. from Haddam and Colchester. Excluding those two towns, the total vote was 22,950 for Linares to 17,643 for Needleman.

Linares, was first elected in 2012, taking the seat that had been held for the previous two decades by the late former State Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,673-17,326 vote.  Needleman is serving his third term as first selectman of Essex.

Linares claimed victory around 9:30 p.m., entering the ballroom at Water Edge Resort in Westbrook to cheers from about 100 supporters. “Not bad for a close race in the 33rd, I mean how big do we have to win by,” he quipped. Linares offered special thanks to his younger brother, Ryan, who has managed his three winning election campaigns .
Needleman greeted supporters at the Ivoryton Tavern in Essex.
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State Rep. Miller, Challenger Siegrist Face Off in 36th District Debate

AREAWIDE — Experience and a call for a fresh voice were the themes Thursday (Oct. 13) as incumbent  Democratic State Rep. Phill Miller of Essex and Republican challenger Robert Siegrist of Haddam faced off in the 36th House District debate.

Miller and Siegrist responded to nearly a dozen questions before a crowd of about 80 district voters in the session held in the auditorium at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River. The hour long  debate was moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conroy, with questions submitted to Conroy in advance by voters.

The Nov. 8 contest is a rematch from 2014, when Miller defeated newcomer Siegrist on a 5,522-4,701 vote, carrying the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex, while Siegrist won his hometown of Haddam. Miller was first elected to the seat in a February 2011 special election after serving as first selectman of Essex from 2003-2011.

The rivals differed sharply on several state issues, from the state budget and finances to gun controls, tolls, and the possibility of marijuana legalization. But whatever the issue, an overriding theme was Miller’s claim of public service experience that benefits district residents against Siegrist’s call form a “fresh voice for the 36th District.”

“You won’t be well served by a poser who has no public sector experience,” Miller said, later describing the campaign as a contest of “experience and know how versus inexperience and want to.” Siegrist, a former bartender, who currently works with a landscaping business, contended Miller has been too loyal to the six-year administration of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy. “We need to change direction and stop electing career politicians whose focus is no longer clear,” he said.

The candidates agreed the state will likely face another budget shortfall in 2017, with Miller predicting a need for further spending reductions. He said legislators need more time to review budget plans before final votes on a spending package. Siegrist called for “structural changes,” including pension adjustments for unionized state workers and caps on bonding. He pledged to oppose any new or increased taxes.

A question on possible increases in the gasoline tax to fund road improvement projects brought the issue of tolls to the discussion. Miller said the gasoline tax in Connecticut is already higher than it is in neighboring states and suggested, “We need to have a conversation about tolls.” Siegrist said he would oppose any plan that includes highway tolls, which he described as “just another word for a new tax.”

There was also disagreement on gun controls, particularly legislation approved earlier this year that allows guns to be taken from residents who are subject to a court-restraining order over concerns about possible domestic violence. Miller supported the temporary restraining order gun law, declaring that “domestic violence is a major problem and the modern Republican Party believes gun rights are God-given.” Siegrist said the new state law was a “gun grabbing” measure that “takes away rights to due process.”

Miller said he is “very open” to possible legalization of marijuana, noting that it has been approved in several states and could provide a new source of tax revenue. Siegrist, while noting he supports medical marijuana, maintained the issue of full legalization of the drug needs further study.

The heated presidential contest between Democrat Hilary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump also came up during the debate. Miller said Trump is the worst presidential nominee of his lifetime, while describing Clinton as an “accomplished person,” who has been “unfairly maligned for many years.” Siegrist said his campaign is focused on state and local issues, and that he differs with some of Trump’s positions. “This about the State of Connecticut, and Phil Miller and Bob Siegrist,” he said. In a reply, Miller noted that Siegrist did not state who he would be voting for in the presidential race.

In one area of agreement, both candidates said the opiate addiction crisis in Connecticut is serious and needs to be addressed in a bipartisan manner. Siegrist said, “We need to talk about this as a community.”

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Republican State Sen. Linares, Democratic Challenger Needleman Spar in 33rd Senate District Debate

A view of the debate stage from the rear of the Valley Regional High School auditorium

A view of the debate stage from the rear of the Valley Regional High School auditorium

AREAWIDE — Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook and his Democratic challenger, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, sparred Monday in a public debate for the 33rd Senate District contest.

More than 150 voters from the 12 district towns turned out for the 90-minute debate held in the auditorium at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, with the question of which candidate represents the “political class” in Connecticut overshadowing the specific issues where the candidates differed, or nearly as often, concurred.

The session was moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conroy, who selected questions that had been submitted in advance by district voters.

The debate began with a walk-out by Green Party candidate Colin Bennett of Westbrook. Bennett, who has run previously for the seat and participated in all debates during the 2014 campaign, began with an opening statement where he said his goals are to end hunger, provide access to health care, protect the environment and affirm that black lives matter.

Bennett then claimed that Conroy had attempted to exclude him from the debate based on comments at an Oct. 5 debate in Westbrook where he criticized Needleman and urged people not supporting him to vote for Linares. “I don’t want to be where I am not wanted,” Bennett said before walking off the stage. Linares said later he had told Conroy he would not participate in the debate if Bennett was arbitrarily excluded from the outset.

The term political class entered the discussion soon after the opening statement from Needleman, where the three-term first selectman said he had been urged to run the seat this year by the Senate Democratic leadership because they wanted a candidate with experience in business and municipal government. Needleman said he told party leaders he would not be a rubber stamp, and could become their “worst nightmare,” if elected.

Linares, who was first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014, scoffed at the claim, questioning why the Senate leadership would provide Needleman with a full-time campaign manager on leave from the caucus staff if they believed his election would be a nightmare. Linares contended Needleman has been a loyal supporter of Democratic “Governor Dan Malloy and the political class,” contributing funds to Malloy’s two gubernatorial campaigns in 2010 and 2014.

Needleman said Linares is the “career politician,” running for the senate seat at age 23 and laying the groundwork for a future campaign for the 2nd District congressional seat or statewide office.

But despite the sharp exchange, the two rivals agreed on several issues, including support for recently approved incentive package for Sikorsky in Stratford, providing some degree of contract preferences for in-state companies, and reducing, or for Linares eliminating, the estate or inheritance tax. The candidates agreed state employee unions would have to make contract concessions on both wages and pensions if the state faces another large budget deficit in 2017.

From left to right, Norman Needleman (D), incumbent Sen. Art Linares (R) and Colin Bennett (Green Party) make their opening statements at Monday night's debate.

From left to right, Norman Needleman (D), incumbent Sen. Art Linares (R) and Colin Bennett (Green Party) make their opening statements at Monday night’s debate.

Needleman said his experience negotiating contracts with public employee unions in Essex would be helpful in any discussions with state employee unions, though he questioned whether unions could be forced into concession talks. Linares called for mandatory legislative votes on all union contracts, and suggested a need for “additional leverage” to bring unions to the table. “The unions have not come to the table, we’ve tried that, everyone has tried that,” he said.

The candidates differed somewhat on the question of welcoming refugees from war-torn Syria to Connecticut. Needleman said while “vetting is critical,” an arbitrary exclusion based on a refugee’s country of origin or religion is “un-American.” Linares, whose family fled Cuba in the early 1960s, said he would insist on “clearance from the FBI,” because the United States does not have intelligence capabilities in Syria to screen refugees, including those who reach Europe before possible entry in to the United States.

The candidates also differed on possible increases to the state minimum wage, and gun control measures. Needleman said he supports measured increases in the minimum wage, but believes a hike to $15 per hour, as advocated by some Democrats, “is a very bad idea.’ Linares said he favors a national standard for the minimum wage, suggesting that further increases at the state level would hurt small businesses and cost the state jobs. He said the earned income tax credit is a better way to provide assistance to low income workers.

On gun control, Needleman said he is a “2nd Amendment Democrat,” but favors some additional gun control measures. He criticized Linares for opposing legislation approved earlier this year that allows guns to be seized from persons who are subject to a court restraining order where domestic violence is a factor.

Linares said Needleman is “trying to take both sides of the issue,” by referring to gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment. Linares said he opposed the temporary restraining order gun bill because it was an “overreach” that takes away due process for gun owners, and discretion for judges.

The 33rd Senate District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.
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Country School Begins Year on High Note with Jump in Enrollment, New Facilities

A new academic year all-school photo  of The Country School taken on the school's new athletic fields.  Photo by Joseph's Photography, Inc.

A new academic year all-school photo of The Country School taken on the school’s new athletic fields. Photo by Joseph’s Photography, Inc.

AREAWIDE – The Country School kicked off the new school year having reached two major milestones before even opening its doors. This summer, the coeducational, independent day school celebrated the opening of its new, state-of-the-art recreational facility and broke ground on the second phase of Shaping the Future, the school’s 60th anniversary campus transformation plan. At the same time, The Country School opened with the highest new student enrollment increase in more than a decade, the 50 new students marking a 66 percent increase over last year’s number.

The school’s 60th anniversary, celebrated during the 2015-2016 school year, was a banner year at The Country School. More than 300 members of the school community came together to donate nearly $2 million to support the school’s campus transformation project and other 60th Anniversary initiatives, including increased scholarship support and programmatic enhancements. This marked the largest one-year gift total in the school’s 60-year history.

The campus improvements completed this summer include two full-sized, side-by-side athletic fields, a baseball and softball diamond, the four-court Rothberg Tennis Center, a full-sized outdoor basketball court, new playgrounds, a reconfigured ropes course, an enhanced cross country course, and more. With these new and expanded facilities, the school was able to welcome more than 200 students to campus this summer for its Summer Fun and Learning camp programs and also to coordinate with Madison Racquet & Swim Club for USTA tennis matches. This fall, the town of Madison is using the school’s baseball diamond and RUSH soccer its soccer fields.

Phase 2 of the Shaping the Future project, begun in July, moved vehicular traffic to the periphery of campus, creating a pedestrian village for learning at the center. The plan, designed by Centerbrook Architects and Planners, enhances academic and collaborative opportunities for students and teachers and makes the traffic pattern simpler and safer for all.

Founded in 1955, The Country School serves 200 students in PreSchool-Grade 8 on its 23-acre campus in Madison. The Country School is committed to active, hands-on learning and a vigorous curriculum that engages the whole child. Signature programs such as Elmore Leadership, Public Speaking, STEAM, and Outdoor Education help prepare students for success in high school and beyond. See our community in action during our Fall Open House on Nov. 6, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org.

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Walmart Foundation Grant Funds Purchase of New Industrial-Size Dishwasher at ‘The Estuary’

dishwasherOLD SAYBROOK — Through a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation of $25,000, the Estuary Council of Seniors in Old Saybrook has been able to replace its aging dishwasher with a state of the art replacement.  The 15-year old machine had been doing its best, but it was becoming an increasing challenge to find replacement parts for the aging machine and also simply to repair it.

The Estuary applied for a grant through the Walmart Foundation State Giving Program and was awarded the money to cover purchase of the new machine and its installation, including the necessary updates to plumbing and electrical, and reworking the stainless table surround to accommodate the new machine.  (See photo at left.)

The new machine is a much higher efficiency model and uses about one third of the water compared to the old machine and is Energy Star-rated for increased utility efficiency.  It also has a higher per load speed and capacity so more dishes can be done in less time.  In addition, it is a high temperature sanitizing machine, which eliminates the need for costly chemicals also.

The Estuary is the regional senior center serving the towns of Clinton, Chester, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.  The Estuary served over 55,000 meals in its Meals on Wheels Program last year and served over an additional 20,000 meals at its three congregate meal sites in the nine-town region.  The center also hosts a full range of services, instructional classes, exercise and fitness programs, and opportunities for socialization to local seniors.

The Estuary Council of Seniors extend special thanks to the Walmart Foundation for making possible the purchase and installation of this new piece of equipment — and all the resultant clean dishes for years to come!  The Estuary believes that Walmart is a great community partner in the mission to help those locally in need. 

To find out more about the Estuary Council of Seniors, visit the center at 220 Main Street, Old Saybrook, or www.ecsenior.org or call (860) 388-1611.

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Sen. Linares, Rep. Carney Say DOT Fare Hikes Symbolize CT’s “Unsustainable Path”

Sen. Art Linares (at podium) on Sept. 1 joined with Rep. Devin Carney (seated in second row) and area commuters attended a public hearing at Old Saybrook Town Hall to testify against the State Department of Transportation’s proposed fare hikes on Connecticut rail commuters. 

Sen. Art Linares (at podium) on Sept. 1 joined with Rep. Devin Carney (seated in second row) and area commuters attended a public hearing at Old Saybrook Town Hall to testify against the State Department of Transportation’s proposed fare hikes on Connecticut rail commuters.

AREAWIDE — Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Devin Carney issued the following statements regarding the state’s decision to hike rail and bus fares Dec. 1 despite vocal opposition from lawmakers and angry commuters:

“Rep. Carney, area commuters and I attended the Sept. 1 fare hike public hearing at Old Saybrook Town Hall to send a clear message,” Sen. Linares said.  “That message was that the overall cost of living in Connecticut continues to grow and grow.  From state tax hikes to health care expenses, costs keep going up year after year.  I hear this every day from people in the communities I represent.

He continued, “That’s why I asked the DOT to not increase fares.  That request fell upon deaf ears, and it really shows how the voices of working families and people on fixed incomes are not being heard by our state government.  Tax hike after tax hike.  Rate hike after rate hike. Fare hike after fare hike.  We need to change course.  We need to get off this unsustainable path.  Rep. Carney and I will continue to be voices for taxpayers and commuters until our message is heard in Hartford.”

Rep. Carney commented, “My concern with the fare hike is twofold. First off, I believe the process was flawed.  The DOT held several public hearings and the point was to hear how this proposal would impact the people. Across the state there was overwhelming opposition to this plan, yet it seems those views fell on very deaf ears and it appears the DOT was just paying lip service. Second, as I stated in my comments, I understand fare hikes will occur from time to time, but rail fares have risen drastically since 2012 due to similar hikes over the past four years.”

He added, “These perpetual increases are unfair to commuters – especially the working class. Utilizing Shoreline East and Metro-North, as opposed to further clogging I-95, is something that the state should promote and encourage – yet I worry that some people may soon be priced out of using these trains as an option.”

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

Rep. Carney (Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov) represents Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.  He can be reached at 800 842 1423 or on the web at www.RepCarney.com.

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Community Music School Announces New Faculty Members

CENTERBROOK & EAST LYME – Community Music School (CMS) Community Music School welcomes three area musicians to its faculty: Andrew Janes, who will be teaching trombone and low brass in our Centerbrook location; Matt Massaro, who will be teaching piano in the CMS Centerbrook location; and Marty Wirt, who will be teaching piano and percussion in the CMS East Lyme location.

Andrew Janes – Trombone, Low Brass

Janes is in his second year of study towards a Masters in Instrumental Conducting at UConn, having received a Masters degree in Trombone Performance from UConn in May of 2015. As a graduate teaching assistant, he works with UConn’s athletic bands, the university’s conducting labs, as well as conducting the Symphonic and Concert Bands. Janes received his B.M. from Middle Tennessee State University, where he participated in several summer music festivals, including the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific, (Powell River, British Columbia, CA), the Eastern Music Festival (Greensboro, NC), and the Collegium Musicum Program (Pommersfelden, Germany). As a music educator, he has worked as a jazz assistant at the Blue Lake International Fine Arts Camp, held in Muskegon, Michigan, and taught at the Community School for the Arts, in Mansfield, Connecticut.

Matt Massaro – Piano

Massaro has been playing piano for over 20 years. In high school, he was the accompanist for three years for the Pentagle Players choir and he also performed solos in school concerts. He has a B.A. degree in music performance at Central Connecticut State University. At CCSU he studied piano with Dr. Linda Laurent, who received a Masters degree from the Julliard School. He enjoys taking on challenging pieces and has performed in many recitals and concerts at CCSU and for other occasions. Upon completing his degree, Massaro was required to play a solo recital, which was well received by faculty and audience. His most recent achievement was the role of piano soloist for the CCSU sinfonietta in performing the Mozart Piano Concerto in A Major No. 23.

Marty Wirt – Piano, Percussion

Marty is an active and versatile performer and educator.  He began studying piano at age seven, and has since developed a passion for all styles of classical and popular music.  In addition to teaching at Community Music School, Marty is on the music faculty at Mercy High School in Middletown, CT, where he instructs a string orchestra, wind ensemble, and coaches jazz band.  As a performer, he has played for productions at Goodspeed Musicals, the Ivoryton Playhouse, and numerous local venues.  He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and a proud alumnus of CMS.

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

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Essex First Selectman Opposes State Takeover of Local Health Departments, Denounces New Cost to Small Towns

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman.

ESSEX — Earlier this week, State Senate candidate and local businessman Norm Needleman spoke out against the yet-to-be-announced state takeover of local health departments. Needleman opposes the top-down, behind-the-scenes process which includes the elimination of local health departments, the loss of local control, and increased cost to towns in what amounts to a regional property tax.

The draft changes in Connecticut state statutes were distributed to town Health Directors as “draft Local Health Consolidation Statutes” by the Commissioner of Connecticut Department of Public Health Raul Pino.

“This secret state takeover plan is yet another example of the state barreling down the wrong path without input from towns,” said Needleman. “Forced regionalization is terrible policy and causes more unnecessary over-regulation of towns without any proven cost savings. This is a canary in the coal mine for more state and county control.”

Lyme Republican First Selectman Ralph Eno agreed with Needleman.

“I appreciate Norm’s attention to this key issue,” said Eno. “I agree with his position that this is an administrative overreach without any kind of formal hearing process. This is part of what is wrong with state government.”

The changes propose eliminating local health departments and consolidating them under one board and director for each county.

“In Essex we have an efficient and effective Health Department,” said Needleman. “In what world does it make any sense to turn a well managed town office over to the mess in Hartford?”

In addition, the changes propose that each town pay 1.5% of their budget to the new county health department. The draft legislation states: “towns, cities and boroughs of such district appropriate for the maintenance of the health district not less than one and one half percent of their previous fiscal year’s annual operating budgets.”

“As First Selectman of Essex I have kept our Health Department well under 1.5% of our annual town budget with a professionally managed team,” said Needleman. “This proposal will cost more for towns all across the region and amounts to a county tax. If elected State Senator I will fight foolish state overreach like this takeover.”

“The cost is a percentage of the town budget,” said Eno. “So this is a regional property tax to feed the state bureaucracy. Thanks to Norm for being out ahead on this issue and looking forward to his leadership in the State Senate.”

Norm Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business over the past 37 years to become a leader in its segment, employing over 225 people. Needleman is in his 3rd term as First Selectman of Essex and was first elected as a Selectman in 2003.

“Norm understands the importance of local control as an experienced town leader,” said Campaign Manager Kevin Coughlin. “That is why he has been endorsed by both Republican and Democratic First Selectmen right here in the 33rd district.”

Needleman is the Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District which consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

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Lori Warner Gallery Hosts ‘ART-ISTRY’ Featuring Work of Rau, Steiner

Detail from a featured work by David Rau in the ART-ISTRY exhibition opening Oct. 1 at the Lori Warner Gallery.

Detail from a featured work, ‘Untitled,’ by David Rau in the ART-ISTRY exhibition opening Oct. 1 at the Lori Warner Gallery.

CHESTER — ART-ISTRY, featuring new work by David D. J. Rau and Christopher B. Steiner, opens Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Lori Warner Gallery in Chester with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. to which all are welcome.  On view will be three-dimensional assemblage pieces by Rau, and limited edition prints and original photomontage works by Steiner.

This exhibition will be a very special one since the Lori Warner Gallery invites artists to exhibit their work once per year and the selection process is highly competitive.

David D.J. Rau’s Vintage Hardware Drawer series, was inspired by 14 antique drawers that originally held screws, bolts, and plugs (according to the various labels). Rau transforms them into miniature surreal stage sets using vintage and antique pieces collected over the years. Inspired by the past, his aesthetic combines vintage photography, tattered paper, intriguing ephemera, and antiques into humorous, ironic, and most importantly, beautiful scenes. 

Rau is the Director of Education & Outreach at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Conn. Responsible for the public programs and making connections between the art and history and the Museum’s visitors. Rau holds a masters degree in Art History and a certificate of Museum Studies from the University of Michigan. Rau has worked at Cranbrook Art Museum; the Henry Ford Museum and The Currier Gallery of Art. Rau also teaches Museum Studies at Connecticut College.

Detail from "The Fall of Suburban Man" by Christopher Steiner.

Detail from “The Fall of Suburban Man” (2016) by Christopher Steiner.

Christopher B. Steiner has always been partial to artists with “a deep sense of wit and (twisted) humor.” His work has been described as “irreverent parody with a twist of dark absurdity.” Steiner deconstructs iconic or cliché images and well-rehearsed art-historical traditions in order to invite alternative readings. These interventions are meant to surprise, delight, destabilize, and sometimes even shock. His intent is to “reinvigorate familiar images by bringing to them new perspectives and insights through unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur visual tropes”.

Steiner holds an undergraduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University. He is the Lucy C. McDannel ’22 Professor of Art History and Anthropology at Connecticut College, where he also serves as Founding Director of the Museum Studies Program.

Steiner is also a member of the board of trustees of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, where he was also Interim Director in 2003-04. In addition, he serves on the Advisory Boards of both the Florence Griswold Museum and the Bellarmine Museum at Fairfield University.

The exhibition will be on view through Dec. 1, and is free and open to the public. The Lori Warner Gallery is located at 21 Main St. in Chester, Conn.

For further information, call 860-322-4265, email gallery@loriwarner.com and visit www.loriwarner.com or www.facebook.com/loriwarnergallery/

 

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