September 28, 2016

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

The following is a press release from Norm Needleman’s campaign office that we received this morning:

ESSEX — Today, 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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Old Lyme Debate Sees Linares, Needleman Disagree Sharply on Some Issues, Agree on Others

Norm Needleman (left) and Art Linares

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman (left) and Sen. Art Linares answered questions on a variety of topics in last night’s debate.

OLD LYME — The candidates vying for the 33rd State Senate District seat met Thursday night in front of a relatively small audience of around 75 in the somewhat rarefied atmosphere of Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS).  Rarefied because not a single resident of Old Lyme can vote for either candidate since Old Lyme is part of the 20th State Senate District currently represented by Republican Paul Formica.

Nevertheless, The Day and the Eastern CT Chamber of Commerce selected LOLHS as the location for the first debate of the season in the high profile 33rd State Senate race.  Two-term incumbent Sen. Art Linares (R) faced off against challenger Norman Needleman (D), who is in his third term as first selectman of Essex, in a gentlemanly debate conducted entirely from seated positions.

Linares was first elected in 2012 to the 33rd State Senate District seat, which was held for two decades by the late former State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,762-17,326 vote. Needleman was first elected as an Essex Selectman in 2003

Linares&Needleman

The Day’s Editorial Page editor Paul Choiniere (center in photo above) moderated the debate assisted by retired Day Deputy Managing  Editor Lisa McGinley and Day Staff Writer Brian Hallenback.

The constant theme of both candidates’ responses was the need for the state to control spending and to increase jobs, but they expressed different routes towards achieving that goal interspersed with regular jabs against their respective opponent.

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Linares, pictured above, opened the latter theme by saying, “Desperate people do desperate things,” when asked about charges from Needleman that he (Linares) had used constituent names and addresses inappropriately.  Linares said, “They [his opponents] want us to focus on desperate things,” rather than the state’s real problems such as, “Every day we have businesses leaving the state,” declaring emphatically, “I am ready to stand up and fight for you.”

A question about whether the candidates supported the Citizen’s Election Program (CEP) drew one of the most heated exchanges with Linares saying candidates should be encouraged to fund their own election campaigns because, “the CEP is running a deficit year after year.”  Needleman responded immediately, “That’s an absurd and ridiculous statement,” adding that the CEP has proved to be a “leveling-field.”

The issue of a third casino in Connecticut also showed a sharp difference in the candidate’s positions with Linares supporting the proposal in order to “intercept tourists on their way to [the new MGM casino in] Massachusetts,” which he predicted would otherwise take potentially up to $100 million out of state.  Needleman said unequivocally, “I would not support the expansion of casinos in Connecticut.”

Responding to a question about Linares’s March 2016 vote against a measure to reduce the state’s budget deficit, Needleman declared, “That vote pushed me over the edge to run,” and that he was “perplexed,” when he had determined that Linares was one of the three senators who had voted against the proposal.  Linares countered that he had, “stood up against that budget because I knew the next day it would be in deficit,” adding, “We didn’t make the kinds of structural change needed,” concluding firmly, “I’m proud that I stood up against Dan Malloy’s budget.”

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Needleman, pictured above, then accused Linares of being something Needleman confessed he had been described as himself when much younger by a teacher, namely, “A master of the obvious.” Needleman agreed, “We all know now we need structural reform,” but argued, “That stand needed to be taken,” long before the actual vote.

The candidates were in relative harmony regarding the recent Connecticut Supreme Court ruling that education funding needs to be more equitable, both agreeing, in Linares’s words, “The legislature must find a fair and concise way to fund education,” and, in Needleman’s, “The judge should not legislate from the bench.”

Similarly, Needleman and Linares found common ground on the subject of how the state should improve its fiscal position with the former saying that the state needed to “control spending and increase jobs,” while the latter added, “… and end wasteful spending.”

Asked which Presidential candidate they were voting for, Needleman mentioned first, “I’ve never seen an election like this one,” then said, “I support Hilary Clinton … albeit at times, reluctantly.” In turn, Linares stated, “I’m voting for Donald Trump,” adding, “I’m voting Republican down the line this year,” commenting, “Our country and our state needs to change direction.”

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The candidates responded to several further questions including ones about the ease with which the state can sell or swap state-owned land, how the state should create jobs and the state’s response to the opioid crisis.

In his closing statement, Linares said his goal was, “to take Connecticut to the top again,” since under six year of Malloy’s leadership, “”I have seen the state move backwards.”  He explained that Connecticut Republicans have a plan to achieve that objective called, “A Confident Future,” and urged the audience to review it.

Taking his turn, Needleman said, “I started as a cab driver in New York – I have paid my dues,” adding, “Relationships mean everything to me. I am always telling the truth and not reverting to scripted talking points.” He concluded, “Glory has no role for me.”

Prior to the debate, Needleman supporters were out in force in front of Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

Prior to the debate, Needleman supporters were out in force in front of Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

Editor’s Note: The 33rd State Senate District consists of the Town of Lyme along with the Towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

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Letter From Paris – No, Now It’s Essex!  A Brave, New Museum Opens in DC on Today

Nicole Prevost Logan

Nicole Prevost Logan

Editor’s Note:  Our popular writer from Paris, Nicole Prevost Logan, is back in Essex, CT, for the winter.  She does not normally write for us from Essex, but this year, she is making an exception and will be continuing to contribute articles to ValleyNewsNow.com and LymeLine.com during the winter months.  Here is her inaugural column from Essex about the opening of  a very special museum in Washington DC.

The Grand Opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will take place in Washington DC this coming Saturday, Sept. 24.  The NMAAHC, the 19th and newest of the Smithsonian museums, was established by a bi-partisan Act of Congress in 2003.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, Nov. 6, 2015. (Photo by Michael Barnes from http://newsdesk.si.edu/photos)

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Nov. 6, 2015. (Photo by Michael Barnes / Smithsonian Institution.)

The massive structure occupies a prime location next to the Washington Monument and contrasts with the 555 ft. slender obelisk.  The dark bronze-colored metal lattice that covers the ‘Corona” also stands out from the white marble classical architecture of most of the other museums standing on the National Mall.

It has been a long struggle for the supporters, such as Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia), to make the project a reality.  They needed to overcome the resistance from several senators who advocated another location. The final approval  was more than a triumph — it might be considered a miracle.  It succeeded in making a strong statement as to the importance of Black history and culture in the American nation.

The lead designer was David Adjaye, son of a Ghanaian diplomat and the lead architect Philip Freehon, who died in 2009.  Founding Director Lonnie B. Bunch III is the visionary and driving force of the project.  During some of the many interviews he gave to the press and to a variety of audiences, including select ones like the Aspen institute, he explains the building process and his objective with a very contagious enthusiasm.

The NMAAHC is not intended to be a Holocaust museum, he explains . Its mission is to show the pain but also the joy and the creativity of African-Americans.  A daunting fund-raising goal of 450,000 million dollars had to be reached.

The three-tier effect of the construction incorporates elements from African culture, such as the Yoruban crowns from Nigeria.  Inside the building, high tech designs and the enormity of the space will make it possible to be versatile in organizing several exhibits simultaneously.

The collections had to be created from zero.  It required a treasure hunt into the attics, trunks and basements of the population.  To date 35,000 artifacts have been collected.  A segregated train from outside Chattanooga (TN) was lowered by crane and the museum built around it.  All traffic stopped on Constitution Ave. when an oversized truck delivered the control tower from a federal prison.

Artifacts showing the terrible fate of the slaves are very moving.  Such is an amulet created by the Lombi tribe in the form of a shackle.  More tragic still were the shackles for children.

But fun and the world of entertainment are also present in the displays , such as Louis Armstrong and his trumpet, Lena Horne or Marianne Andersen . The film archives will be essential to build up history, from Harriet Tubman to the human rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s.

According to Washington insiders , the opening of the new museum is the hottest event in a decade.  More than 150,000 special tickets have been distributed to dignitaries while long lines of visitors gather at the entrances of the building to purchase tickets for general admission after the opening.

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Letter to the Editor: Needleman Unites People With Differing Opinions

To The Editor:

My support for Norm Needleman in his candidacy for the 33rd District State Senate seat is not surprising, since I am a member of the Essex Democratic Town Committee.  But the reasons for my support go deeper than just party affiliation.  Throughout  his decades of involvement in Essex town government, I have seen Norm successfully tackle difficult problems with a unique ability to unite people with differing opinions.  I, and virtually everyone I have talked to in state government, believe that Norm’s deep knowledge of small town  government and his ability to build consensus will immediately make him a leader in the state senate.  That position of leadership will directly benefit our district.  So, my support for Norm is not political.  Rather, it is a decision to restore influential representation for our district in the state senate.

Sincerely,

Claire Tiernan,
Ivoryton.

Editor’s Note: The author is a member of Essex Democratic Town Committee.

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CT River Museum’s Annual Gala Fundraiser, Oct. 8, Celebrates the 1920s

From left to right, Executive Director Chris Dobbs, Museum Chairman Tom Wilcox, Guilford Savings Bank’s Lisa LeMonte and Essex Wellness Center’s Dana Hatch (left to right) peruse the menu and design centerpieces. Photo courtesy of Connecticut River Museum.

From left to right, Executive Director Chris Dobbs, Museum Chairman Tom Wilcox, Guilford Savings Bank’s Lisa LeMonte and Essex Wellness Center’s Dana Hatch (left to right) peruse the menu and design centerpieces. Photo courtesy of Connecticut River Museum.

ESSEX — Come cut the rug with the fly boys and the flappers at the Connecticut River Museum’s 2016 Fall Ball, A Roaring 20’s Good Time presented by the Essex Wellness Center on Saturday, Oct. 8.  The museum will be putting on the Ritz with WSFB’s Scot Haney as host and auctioneer.

Kick the evening off with some bathtub gin, a sidecar or a little hanky-panky followed by a tasty dinner by A Thyme to Cook and a lively performance by the Amherst College Zumbyes.

Next Scot Haney will get the joint a-jumping with a humdinger of a live auction.   Items including an eight-day/seven-night voyage on American Cruise Lines’ Maine Coast and Harbors Cruise, and a five-night get-away to Nantucket Island.

Finally don’t be a flat tire — just dance the night away to the swell tunes of Brad and Brian.

Tickets for the event are $150 and all proceeds benefit the Connecticut River Museum.  Contributions from the Fall Ball provide critical support for the Museum’s at-risk school programs, exhibits, and environmental and cultural programs.

Fall Ball 2016 sponsors include

Presenting Sponsor Essex Wellness Center;

Benefactor Sponsors Guilford Savings Bank, Connecticut Rental Center and the Amherst College Zumbyes; Sustaining Sponsors Brewer Yacht Yards, Reynolds’ Garage & Marine, RBG Cannon, and Siris/Coombs Architects;  

Supporting Sponsors Bogaert Construction Company, J.N. Mehler, CFP, LLC., Sullivan Lawn Services, and Tower Laboratories; Friend Sponsors Brandtech Scientific, Caulfield & Ridgway, Inc., Clark Group, Essex Marine Group, Essex Savings Bank/Essex Financial Services;

In-kind Sponsors include Apparel + Plus, Eco/Blast All Inc., and invitations by Maris Wacs.

To purchase tickets and preview auction items, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or (860)767-8269.

The Connecticut River Museum is dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

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Talking Transportation: Don’t Blame Malloy for the Fare Hikes

metro-north-railroad-620x400Sure, it was sleazy of Governor Malloy and the CDOT to release news of a proposed five percent fare hike on Metro-North on a Friday afternoon in July, hoping nobody would notice.  But the more I dig into the proposal, the more I realize the Governor and CDOT are not to blame.

It’s the Connecticut legislature that’s really responsible for this fare hike.

Lawmakers this session left the Governor with a $192 million budget shortfall and every other branch of government has taken budget cuts and layoffs as a result.  Now it’s transportation’s turn to feel the pinch.

Pol’s on both sides of the aisle tell me Malloy could have saved millions by facing down the state employees’ unions and their rich benefits package.  Could’ve, maybe should’ve … but didn’t.

So now we’re looking at a five percent hike in train fares on Metro-North and Shore Line East and a 16 percent boost in bus fares starting in December.  Plus closing ticket windows, reduced maintenance and fuel savings.  And that’s just on the transit side.

Highway work will also be cut, hiring postponed and less salt purchased for the winter.  Service areas will be closed overnight and the volunteers who work in the Visitor Centers will be fired. Welcome to Connecticut!

So when you calculate the impact of all these cuts on your commute, by road or rail, call your State Rep and Senator and ask “why”?

Why are they allowing the Special Transportation Fund to run dry due to the dwindling revenues from the gas tax?

Ask Senate Majority leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) and the usually pro-transportation Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) why they have opposed alternative funding mechanisms like the VMT (Vehicle Miles Tax), calling it “dead on arrival” before it was even explained, let alone studied.

Ask your elected officials what their plan is to pay for our existing transportation network, let alone expand it by the $100 billion Malloy has suggested.  They won’t have an answer.

Why?  Because they are running for re-election this November.  And none of them has the guts to tell you the truth:  we will all have to pay more to drive or commute by rail … as you’ll find out after the election when they approve new taxes.

What can we do in the meantime (aside from holding them accountable during the campaign)?  There have been some public hearings in September on the fare hikes with more to come* … and we should all turn out.

It will be political theater, but cathartic.  Commuters will rant and the folks from CDOT will listen and then do what they proposed.  Aside from cutting train service, a fare hike is about the only option.

And, of course as upstate lawmakers constantly remind us, those of us living on the “gold coast” are all millionaires, and we can afford it, right?

*9 Town Transit will hold a public hearing on its proposed price increases Thursday, Sept. 29, in Old Saybrook Town Hall at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Jim Cameron - Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council

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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9 Town Transit Plans Bus Fare Increases; Public Hearing Slated for Sept. 29 in Old Saybrook

AREAWIDE — To help offset a cut in state transit funding, the Estuary Transit District is considering an increase to fare on all 9 Town Transits services.

The proposal would see the cash fare on all routes increase from $1.50 to $1.75. Trips on Dial-A-Ride and off-route would increase from $3 to $3.50.  Multi-ride tickets and monthly passes will increase to $15.75 and $57, respectively.

The fare proposal also includes the agency’s first disabled fare.  It would provide a discounted rate of $0.85 to persons with disabilities.  ETD says this would provide relief to many in the disabled community that heavily rely on public transit.

ETD officials say the increase is necessary due to a prevent service reduction following a statewide cut by the state to transit budgets.

A public hearing on the proposal will be held on Thursday, Sept. 29, from 4 until 6 p.m. at Old Saybrook Town Hall first floor conference room, 302 Main St, Old Saybrook, CT.  Written comments may be submitted until Oct. 14, to Estuary Transit District, 17 Industrial Park Rd, Suite 6, Centerbrook, CT 06409.

For a full listing of the new fare schedule, visit www.9towntransit.com/fares or call 9 Town Transit at 860-510-0429.

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Sen. Linares, Senate GOP Unveil Legislative Agenda: “A Confident Future”

Sen. Art Linares and the Connecticut Senate Republicans on Sep. 15 unveiled their policy agenda “A Confident Future” for the 2017 legislative session. From left to right: Sen. Henri Martin, Sen. Kevin Witkos, Sen. Len Fasano, and Sen. Linares. Details of the plan can be found at www.ctsenaterepublicans.com and www.SenatorLinares.com .

Sen. Art Linares and the Connecticut Senate Republicans on Sep. 15 unveiled their policy agenda “A Confident Future” for the 2017 legislative session. From left to right: Sen. Henri Martin, Sen. Kevin Witkos, Sen. Len Fasano, and Sen. Linares. Details of the plan can be found at www.ctsenaterepublicans.com and www.SenatorLinares.com .

AREAWIDE — On Sept. 15, Sen. Art Linares and the Connecticut Senate Republicans unveiled their policy agenda for the 2017 legislative session.

The plan “A Confident Future” presents multiple policy proposals aimed at moving Connecticut in a new direction to grow jobs, renew business confidence, build opportunity, and restore people’s trust in government.

The plan outlines the Republican priorities the caucus will pursue in the 2017 legislative session which begins in January.

“A Confident Future” identifies three main areas Republicans will focus their efforts:

1)      Creating Financial Stability and Predictability. A reliable state with business confidence is the best environment to grow jobs. By reforming the state’s spending and borrowing, Republicans plan to improve the state’s financial health to support a more predictable business environment so that job creators don’t have to worry about what new tax proposals could be awaiting them in bad budget years.

Republican budget proposals include properly funding transportation needs without tolls or new taxes like the mileage tax, reducing the size of state bureaucracy, and making long term structural changes to government. The Republican priorities also include specific tax relief proposals to reduce the burdens on individuals and job creators, such as property tax relief and phasing out taxation of pension income.

2)      Supporting Families and Growing Opportunity. Connecticut’s future depends on supporting our families and creating opportunities for all to succeed. The Republican plan includes policy proposals to strengthen Connecticut cities and help improve life for families in urban areas. It also includes reforms for the state’s child welfare agency, proposes restoring education funding that was cut in recent budgets, protects seniors and the developmentally disabled, and offers new ideas to improve health care and insurance quality and accessibility.

3)      Restoring Trust in Government. The Republican legislative agenda contains proposals to ensure that government operates efficiently and transparently and uses tax dollars as wisely as possible. Proposals include ideas to reduce DMV wait times, eliminate waste, live within our means, strengthen campaign financing laws, and create a more transparent budget writing process.

Sen. Linares 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 and Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov .

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Letter to the Editor: No Better Choice for State Senator Than Needleman

To the Editor:
I am supporting Norm Needleman for State Senate in the 33rd district because I have seen his character firsthand. Actually, I wouldn’t be where I am today without Norm.
He hired me as a graphic designer for his company while I was attending college, and at a time when I could not afford my tuition, he was generous enough to pay it for me.
After graduating, I continued to work for his company, and the professional growth Norm fostered enabled me to achieve my current role as a design manager for Macy’s.
My experience with Norm is not unique, either. Simply put, Norm cares strongly about the well-being and development of everyone he meets. I cannot imagine a better choice for State Senator
Sincerely,
Christopher Crowl,
Brooklyn, N.Y.
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Tickets on Sale Now for Literacy Volunteers Sept. 29 Charity Event

A wine basket like this one will be part of Saturday's Grand Raffle.

A wine basket like this one will be part of Saturday’s Grand Raffle.

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore’s Annual Wine and Brew Tasting and Auction Event is set for Thursday, Sept. 29, at 5:30 p.m. at the Saybrook Pavilion in Old Saybrook.  Sponsors and exciting auction items have been added to the lineup.

Sponsors for the event include Seaside Wine & Spirits of Old Saybrook with the Clark Group as this year’s presenting sponsor.

Tickets are $30 per person for an evening of great wines, beers and wonderful food.  Buy tickets or obtain more information by calling 860-399-0280 or go online to www.vsliteracy.org.

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Valley Shore YMCA Offers Fitness Program for Those With Parkinson’s Disease, Starts Oct. 25

The Parkinson Disease program at the Valley Shore YMCA is led by Mary Charlton (left) and Ellen Nichele (right).

The Wellness Program for people with Parkinson’s Disease program at the Valley Shore YMCA is led by Mary Charlton (left) and Ellen Nichele (right).

AREAWIDE — The Valley Shore YMCA is now offering a wellness program specifically designed for people with Parkinson’s disease led by OhioHealth Delay the Disease-certified instructors Ellen Nichele and Mary Charlton.

Delay the Disease™ is an evidence-based fitness program designed to empower those living with Parkinson’s disease by optimizing their physical function, helping delay the progression of symptoms and improving their mental and emotional realities.

“We are so excited to be able to expand this exciting program across our community,” said Chris Pallatto, Executive Director. “One of the Y’s commitments to our community is to reduce the impact of chronic disease.  Delay the Disease is designed to provide the hope and inspiration people need so that the disease does not define them.”

Participants observe improvement in posture, balance, handwriting, mobility, speech volume and daily functional challenges.

“Our goal is to make the benefits of OhioHealth Delay the Diseases classes available to as many people with Parkinson’s disease as possible,” said Ellen Nichele. “You may have Parkinson’s disease, but it does not have you.”

Classes will be offered from 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Oct. 25, at the Valley Shore YMCA. Individuals interested in Delay the Disease classes can contact Nichele at 860-399-9622 ext. 121 or enichele@vsymca.org.

For additional information, visit vsymca.org.

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Sullivan Named to 2016 ‘Financial Times’ 401 Top Retirement Plan Advisers

ESSEX — Essex Financial Services has announced that Financial Advisor and Vice President, James M. Sullivan, AIF®, has been named to the 2016 edition of the Financial Times 401 Top Retirement Plan Advisers. The list recognizes the top financial advisers who specialize in serving defined contribution (DC) retirement plans.

This is the second annual FT 401 list, produced independently by the Financial Times in collaboration with Ignites Research, a subsidiary of the FT that provides business intelligence on asset management.

Financial advisers from across the broker-dealer and RIA channels applied for consideration, having met a set minimum of requirements. The applicants were then graded on seven criteria: DC assets under management; DC AUM growth rate; specialization in DC plans; years of experience; DC plan participation rate; advanced industry credentials; and compliance record. There are no fees or other considerations required of advisers who apply for the FT 401.

Once again, the final FT 401 represents a cohort of elite advisers: the “average” adviser in this year’s FT 401 has 18 years of experience advising DC plans and manages $950 million in DC plan assets. The FT 401 advisers hail from 41 states and Washington, D.C., and DC plans on average account for 74 percent of their assets under management.

The FT 401 is one in a series of rankings of top advisers developed by the FT in partnership with Ignites Research, including the FT 300 (independent RIA firms) and the FT 400 (broker-dealer advisers).

The Financial Times 401 Top Retirement Plan Advisors is an independent listing produced by the Financial Times (September 2016). This award does not evaluate the quality of services provided to clients and is not indicative of this advisor’s future performance. Neither the advisors nor their parent firms pay a fee to Financial Times in exchange for inclusion in the FT 401.

Essex Financial Services is one of the leading independent financial advisory firms in the United States. Cited by Barron’s and other leading publications, the firm’s unbiased, independent, client-centric approach has made it a leader in providing exceptional service to clients for over three decades. For more information on Essex Financial Services please go to: http://www.essexfinancialservices.com

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Lyme First Selectman Eno (R) Endorses Needleman (D) for State Senate

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno (left) today endorsed Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman for State Senator.

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno (left) today endorsed Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman for State Senator.

LYME – Today, Lyme Republican First Selectman Ralph Eno endorsed Democratic State Senate Candidate Norm Needleman.

“Although I generally try to avoid all things political, given the state of affairs at the state level, I’ve decided to be more public in terms of of the upcoming state senate race,” said Eno. “Norm has my unequivocal support.”

Eno, a Republican, has served as the first selectman of Lyme since 2007 and, with a brief interlude, for 10 years prior to that.

“Norm has the chief elected official experience at the town level that is crucial to being an effective representative,” Eno continued. “We need more small to mid-level town CEOs in the legislature to stand up to laws in Hartford that have terrible unintended consequences for our towns. His work in the public sector paired with his experience as a tried and true business person gives him a leg up to make sure we have the best possible representation given our state’s budget problems.”

“I am endorsing Norm, who is far and away the most qualified candidate for State Senate,” said Eno. “I know him as a man that is collaborative instead of adversarial. He will not be tethered to his political party. He will work on both sides of the aisle and be a team player. And he will be honest with you even when you disagree.”

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 150 people at facilities in Essex and Clinton.

“Ralph has been a great example for me on how to run a small town,” said Norm Needleman. “He’s hands on, hard-working, honest, and always involved. He knows what it takes to run a municipality. It means a tremendous amount to me to receive this endorsement from a man I have viewed as a mentor in so many ways.”

Needleman is in his third term as first selectman of Essex and was first elected as a Selectman in 2003.

“This district has 12 towns with a lot in common and Ralph and I share a common perspective,” continued Needleman. “We both understand the perspective of small towns, the importance of home rule, and that we need fewer mandates and rules from Hartford.”

Needleman is challenging incumbent State Senator Art Linares, who is running for a third term and like Eno, is a Republican. Linares was first elected in 2012 to the 33rd State Senate District seat, which was held for two decades by the late former State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,762-17,326 vote.

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

Click here for audio of the event: http://norm.vote/eno.mp3.

Click here for photos of the event: http://bit.ly/2bZWKDT.

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Sen. Linares Presented With a 2016 “Children’s Champion” Award

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Executive Director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance Executive Director Merrill Gay.

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Executive Director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance Executive Director Merrill Gay.

AREAWIDE — In a Sept. 8 ceremony at the start of a Middlesex Coalition for Children meeting at deKoven House in Middletown, Sen. Art Linares was presented with a 2016 “Children’s Champion” award by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance for his leadership on issues related to Connecticut’s young children.

The other local legislators honored at the same ceremony were Sen. Len Fasano, Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Rep. Matthew Lesser and Rep. Noreen Kokoruda. A total of 29 legislators were recognized in ceremonies statewide.

Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance (www.earlychildhoodalliance.com) is a statewide organization committed to improving outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety, and economic security for children ages birth to age eight. Every year, the Alliance recognizes legislators for their leadership on issues that impact the well-being of Connecticut’s young children in the areas of health development, early care and education, nutrition, and safety.

An Assistant Minority Leader, Sen. Linares, 28, is the lead Republican senator on the state legislature’s Planning and Development Committee. He also serves on the Education Committee, the Internship Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Linares has previously served on the Children’s Committee, the Commerce Committee and the Banks Committee.

Sen. Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.  On the web: www.SenatorLinares.com.

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Literacy Volunteer Ann Lander Wins Shore Publishing Beacon Award

AREAWIDE — Ann Lander has been named a winner of a Shore Publishing 2016 Beacon Award for her work with Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS).

Lander is being recognized for her dedication to LVVS as a Workshop Leader, Conversation Social facilitator, Tutor, Student Services Coordinator and volunteer at the organization’s fundraisers. Her selflessness and commitment to helping tutors and students improve lives in the shoreline communities for over 20 years makes her more than deserving of this recognition.

The Beacon Awards recognize a few outstanding individuals who selflessly step up to help fulfill the Shoreline community’s promise as a place of opportunity, well-being, and safety for all.

Lander will be officially recognized at the annual Beacon Awards Dinner to be held at Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook on Sept. 28 at 6 p.m.

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Essex Savings Bank Donates to Non-Profits

Essex Savings Bank President & CEO Gregory R. Shook

Essex Savings Bank President & CEO Gregory R. Shook

ESSEX — Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank announced the completion of the distribution from the Board of Directors’ portion of the Community Investment Fund. Total distributions for the year will amount to $110,000. The program, which has run annually since its inception in 1996, distributes up to 10 percent of after tax net income to local non-profit organizations.

Donations for this year’s portion have been allocated to the following non-profit organizations:

Angel Charities, Inc. * Camp Hazen YMCA * The Chester Historical Society, Inc. * Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, Inc. * Community Foundation of Middlesex County * Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock * Friends of the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association, Inc. * Ivoryton Village Alliance * Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center & Theatre * Lawrence & Memorial Hospital * Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts * Lyme Land Conservation Trust * Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau * MacCurdy Salisbury Educational Foundation, Inc. * Madison Land Conservation Trust * Rotary Club of Essex Foundation * Tri-Town Youth Service Bureau, Inc. * Valley Shore YMCA * Vista Life Innovations.

essex savings bankEssex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department.

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Death of Marianne Sullivan Announced; Long-Term ‘Valley Courier’ Reporter for Essex, Deep River & Chester

Marianne Sullivan (1946- 2016)

After a prolonged and courageous struggle with cancer, Marianne Sullivan passed away peacefully on Saturday, September 3rd at home, surrounded by family and loved ones. Marianne was born in New Haven, Connecticut on December 14th, 1946, daughter of the late William and Virginia Montgomery.

Marianne was a long time resident of Guilford, Connecticut where she spent the majority of her career as a reporter and editor for several local newspapers including the New Haven Register, and the Shore Publishing Group’s local news publications. She was an avid reader and possessed masterful writing skills honed over her 40-year career. She enjoyed covering politics and once served as a Selectman for the town of Guilford.

She is survived by her sister Donna Lee and her four sons Brian, Barry, Sean and Kenneth Sullivan, two nieces Michelle Richards and Melissa Hernandez, and three grandchildren Courtney, Conner and Riley Sullivan. She was a devoted mother and friend, a stoic person with the enviable ability to take on life’s many challenges courageously and without complaint. To those who knew her well, she was selfless and incredibly inspirational. She saw life clearly and brought a quick and ready wit to bear on daily happenings. To say she will be sorely missed would be an understatement. 

A memorial service will held at St. George’s Church on 33 Whitfield St, Guilford, Connecticut on Friday, September 9th at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Marianne’s memory be made to The American Cancer Society.

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Hundreds Join Elected Officials to Oppose Possible Amtrak Railroad Bypass

More than 500 people packed the auditorium at the Lyme-Old Lyme High School for the FRA public session on Wednesday. Daniel Mackay photo

More than 500 people packed the auditorium at the Lyme-Old Lyme High School for the FRA public session on Wednesday. Daniel Mackay photo

AREAWIDE — A crowd of more than 500 area residents turned out Wednesday to join elected officials in opposing a possible Amtrak railroad bypass project that would run from Old Saybrook through southeastern Connecticut to Kenyon, R.I.

The auditorium at Lyme-Old Lyme High School was packed to capacity for a public session with representatives of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Also on hand were elected officials, including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Joe Courtney, state legislators, and chief elected officials for seven area cities and towns.

The concern is focused on an option that has emerged as part of a long-range plan to improve and expand passenger rail service along the Northeast Corridor from Washington D.C. to Boston, Mass. The option, called the Old Saybrook-Kenyon, R.I. Bypass, would require construction of a second rail line that would cross the Connecticut River and run north of the existing rail line and Interstate-95 through historic and environmentally sensitive areas of Old Lyme and other towns.

In the session that was held in response to pressure from elected representatives and the public after months of local controversy over the bypass option, two representatives of the FRA, Rebecca Reyes-Alecea and Anishi Castelli, explained the preliminary plans and review process before responding to questions and comments from the elected officials. The “roundtable” did not include questions or comments from the large audience.

Reyes-Alecea said the Northeast Corridor improvements would be completed over the coming decades, and would require congressional approval of funding and probably a state funding contributions.

Though the FRA is expected to make some decisions on future project options by the end of the year, Reyes-Alecea said the review process is still in an “early stage.” She added the turnout for Wednesday’s session was the largest officials have seen for any of the public meetings held at locations throughout the 457-mile Washington-Boston corridor.

But the comments from federal, state, and local officials made it clear any decision to pursue the bypass plan, estimated to cost at least $68 billion, would face determined bipartisan resistance every step of the way.

State elected officials plus representatives from seven area towns were on hand for the meeting. Daniel Mackay photo

State elected officials plus representatives from seven area towns were on hand for the meeting. Daniel Mackay photo

Blumenthal said the bypass plan is “unfeasible, unworkable, and unnecessary,” adding, “I will fight as long and as hard as possible to block any route with an adverse impact on historic, cultural, and environmental values.” Courtney said the bypass plan seemed like something “from an alternate universe” and suggested there is a “long to-do list,” including bridge and grade crossing replacements, that must be completed before any consideration of a second rail line through the region.

State and local officials were equally firm in their opposition to the bypass plan. New London Mayor Michael Passero said previous railroad and urban renewal projects have hurt his city by claiming taxable property and isolating neighborhoods. Passero said there is no way to construct a second rail line through or around New London “without destroying our little city.”

State Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Saybrook, described the plan as “a dark cloud hovering over these towns.” Stonington First Selectman Rob Simmons, a former second district congressman, and Waterford First Selectman David Stewart urged the federal agency to focus first on improvements to the existing rail line. “Why can’t we fix what we have,” Simmons said. Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna said all seven municipalities along the possible bypass route would “stand with Old Lyme” in resisting the plan.

Reyes-Alecea said any recommendation filed later this year would set the stage for a Tier 2” analysis process and report that would include more specific plans and cost estimates for improvement projects. She said it could take years before any construction begins, even on the specific improvement to the existing line that are encouraged by the local elected leaders.

Asked after the meeting for his reaction, Gregory Stroud, Executive Director of SECoast – the non-profit constructively opposing the proposed bpass – said, “There is no doubt, that every member of the press, Senator Blumenthal and Representative Courtney came away impressed. A huge crowd. A great coming together of all the towns in southeastern Connecticut. A bipartisan, unified delegation, with one curious exception. Where is Governor Malloy?”

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Holiday Crafters Wanted for Estuary’s Holiday Fair

AREAWIDE — The Estuary Senior Center is looking for crafters for its annual Holiday Craft Fair on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Senior Center located at 220 Main St, Old Saybrook.

Space is available to local crafters, with hand crafted items for a $20 donation. Space is limited and filling quickly.

Call Mike or Judy at 860.388.1611 x203 to reserve your space.

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Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 Announces Five New Eagle Scouts

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 presents five new Eagle Scouts: from left to right are Andrew Myslik, Jacob Beauliu, Adam Dalterio, Benjamin Toles and  Alexander Maxwell VI.  Photo by Alexander Toles.

Gathered for a photo are Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13’s five newest Eagle Scouts. From left to right are Andrew Myslik, Jacob Beauliu, Adam Dalterio, Benjamin Toles and Alexander Maxwell VI. Photo by Alexander Toles.

CHESTER/DEEP RIVER — Troop 13 – Boy Scouts of America would like to congratulate five Chester residents on earning the rank of Eagle Scout. These five young men have been in scouting together since elementary school as Cub Scouts in Pack 13.

The Eagle Scouts completed projects at Camp Hazen YMCA, recreation and historic locations in the town of Chester.  All the work completed benefits the visitors, school groups and residents of Chester as they enjoy these areas around town.

To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must earned 21 merit badges and advance through the seven scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community.

One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the Scout’s community, school, or religious institution; all of this work must be completed prior to the young man’s eighteenth birthday.

Benjamin James Toles’ Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan to demo eleven sets of non-complaint aged wooden stairways and replace with new treated wood, code compliant steps, platform and railings on cabins in and around the Sachem Village portion on the grounds of Camp Hazen YMCA. The completed project improved the safety of the venue while maintaining its rustic appearance. Ben was awarded the rank at this Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on March 20, 2016.  Ben will attend University of Rhode Island this fall.

Andrew James Myslik’s Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan to improve the deteriorating border of the Chester Burial Grounds fronting on North Main Street. Specifically, the project involved the removal of an old wire fence, stumps and debris and replaced it with one hundred and eighty feet of painted picket fence and posts and included the installation of a recycled historic iron gate. The completed project presents the site in a more historically correct, respectful appearance.

Andrew was awarded the rank at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on June 5.  Andrew will attend George Washington University in Washington, DC this fall.

Adam Gerard Dalterio’s Eagle Scout Service Project was to replace three aging benches with two new hand built oversized Adirondack benches and a hand build eight-foot tall giant chair embossed with Camp Hazen signage complete with newly restored landscaping features on the grounds of Camp Hazen YMCA.

Adam was awarded the rank at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on Aug. 14.  Adam will attend Vermont Technical College this fall.

Jacob Louis Beaulieu’s Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan which included the construction of a new tether ball court, the installation of two reinforced poured concrete access ramps serving site sheds, the stripping and resurfacing of stationary pedestal cooking grills and edging and grading of various sections of the site that make up the Robert H. Pelletier Park on the shores of Cedar Lake.

Jacob was awarded the rank at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on Aug. 14.  Jacob will attend Middlesex Community College this fall.

Alexander Maxwell, VI‘s Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a restoration plan to remove all the decking, railing, seating and a gateway to be replaced with new treated lumber complimented with decorative end post caps on the Chester Creek Scenic Overlook near its confluence with the Connecticut River. The completed project improved the safety and usability of the overlook while maintaining its rustic appearance.

Alex was awarded the rank at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on August 14.  Alex will attend University of Rhode Island this fall.

We at ValleyNewsNow.com send hearty congratulations to these five, fine young men on this great achievement!

Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead.

The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun.

To learn more information about joining Troop 13, contact Scoutmaster, Steven Merola at 860-526-9262

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CT Port Authority Chair Tells Lower CT River Local Officials, “We’re All on One Team”

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River but still deep in discussion are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) Board Member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River, but still finding time for discussions, are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) board member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

There was an overarching message both throughout the Connecticut Port Authority’s (CPA) meeting in Old Lyme’s Town Hall Thursday afternoon and during a subsequent boat ride on the MV ‘Victoria’ for members and local officials on the Connecticut River.  It was, in the words of CPA Chairman Scott Bates, that, “We’re absolutely committed to river communities.”

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town's needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town’s needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

In addition, while sailing from Essex down to Old Saybrook and then back up to Hamburg Cove on a perfect afternoon, Bates stressed, “Part of our mission is protecting these beautiful waters … and the quality of life we have here while preserving access to the river.”

View of the Connecticut River from the "Victoria."

View of the Connecticut River from the “Victoria.”

Bates noted that to have “five local officials (Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, all of whom were on board, and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, who was unable to join the trip) “involved” was a really positive sign in terms of  “building a coalition.”  This, Bates explained, was key to the development of a strategic plan for the CPA—something the Authority has been charged with preparing with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2017.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The  CPA is a relatively new quasi-public agency created in 2014 with board appointments made in 2016.  Bates said the agency was responsible for 35 coastal communities and with this trip, he would now personally have visited 28 of them. Since the CPA has not created a strategic plan previously, Bates said he is determined, “to include everyone,” in the process, adding that he regards part of the Authority’s mission to be “getting small town and big cities together.” and, in turn, “to make great things happen for our state.”

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the 'Victoria.'

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the ‘Victoria.’

Apart from Bates and the four local First Selectmen and Selectwomen, also on board were Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG) Executive Director Sam Gold, River COG Deputy Director and Principal Planner J.H. Torrance Downes, CPA Board of Directors member John Johnson and Joe Salvatore from the CPA.  Reemsnyder is also a board member of the CPA.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder and Johnson.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder, Bates and Johnson.

At the earlier meeting in Old Lyme, Downes had given a presentation to CPA members to introduce them to the Lower Connecticut River during which he had described the geography of the estuary, noting it had, “very little industry and very little commercial development.”  He described it as a “really prime area for bird migration” and highlighted numerous points of scenic beauty.

J.H. Torrance Downe, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

J.H. Torrance Downes, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

Bates noted one of the CPA’s responsibilities is to pursue state and federal funds for dredging and, while sailing under the Baldwin Bridge towards the Connecticut River’s mouth where several tributaries join the main river, Reemsnyder commented that Old Lyme had been a beneficiary of a $1.6 million state grant for dredging two of those tributaries — the Black Hall and Four Mile Rivers.  She noted that it had been a successful exercise thanks in part to Salvatore, who had, “held our hand through the whole project.”

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the 'Victoria.'

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the ‘Victoria.’ Joe Salvatore stands at rear.

Johnson, whose life and business career according to the CPA website, have “a common underlying element: the coastal waters,” also confirmed the benefits of a dredging program, saying, “There is a need for depth of water — both elements, marine and maritime, need depth of water.”  Still on the dredging issue, Bates said he had met separately with Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna and told him that he could have “whatever he needs to keep the mouth of the Connecticut River open.”

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

Reemsnyder took a minute to commend Bates for his leadership of the CPA, saying, “Scott has given focus to coastal communities,”  while Johnson added, “We are blessed with our new chairman.”

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

Glancing around at the numerous boats docked both in marinas and on the river itself,  Reemsnyder remarked, “Add up the money in these boats … [they represent] lots of economic drivers.”  On the same theme, Bates noted that the state is marketing its ports for the first time using “national expertise” in some cases with the aim of moving “more people and goods in and out of Connecticut.”  He added, “We have some great assets [in terms of ports in the state] but we could do more.”

Eyes on the Cove -- guests on the 'Victoria' gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

Eyes on the Cove — guests on the ‘Victoria’ gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

As the “Victoria’ pulled gently back into dock at Essex Yacht Club, Bates summarized the benefits of the boat trip saying that by spending time with these local leaders, he had been able to “see their waterfronts, assess their needs,“ and gain an “appreciation of the vitality of the Lower Connecticut River basin,” emphasizing one more time, “This is really about pulling together as a state … we’re all on one team.”

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Explore Artisan, Vintage Vendors Galore at ‘Repurpose Happiness’ Event in Chester, Saturday

Bird_logoCHESTER — Chalk Mercantile and the Trove are excited to bring together the most creative artisans and vintage/antique merchants from all over Connecticut. More than 40 vendors are ready to greet folks on Sept. 3, at the Chester Fairgrounds, located at 11 Kirkland Terrace, Chester CT.

Repurpose Happiness is for anyone who wants to see firsthand Connecticut’s vibrant arts and antique culture, looking for rare or limited runs items, or just wanting to have a good time this September in the Historic Town of Chester.

The event showcases an eclectic mix of handmade, vintage, repurposed and antique goods and is sure to have something for every style, taste and age. Along with a myriad of vendors, makers, merchants and artisans, there will also be food trucks and music for all to enjoy.

Repurpose Happiness opens its doors at 10 a.m. (9 a.m. early buyers) and runs until 4 p.m., rain or shine. Admission $2 adults, children under 12 free, $10 early buyers (9am). Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Valley Regional Girls Soccer Booster Club.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/RepurposeHappiness/ or Repurposehappinees.com

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Essex Park & Rec. Announces Exciting Range of Fall Programs

ESSEX — Essex Park and Recreation (P & R) Department has announced that registration is now open for all Fall 2016 programming.

A small sample of the extensive and varied range of programs includes track, tennis, archery, cooking, floor hockey, Kids on the Move, Pre-Season Basketball and Outdoor Nature Exploration

Registration for the Winter Youth Basketball Program is also open at this time.

Essex P & R is also offering a bus trip to see the Patriots play the Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Finally, don’t forget to Save the Date for the Ivoryton Village Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 22!

Click on this link to view the color guide to Essex P & R Fall Programs aptly sub-titled, “The Benefits are Endless”.

For further information or to register for programs, call 860.767.4340 x 110 or email recreation@ essexct.gov. The P & R office is located inside the Essex Town Hall at 29 West Ave., Essex.

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Join Fun Fridays for Pre-Schoolers at Deep River Library, Wide Range of Children’s Programs Also Offered

DEEP RIVER — Every Friday is Fun Friday at the Deep River Public Library!  The following story times and programs are offered for the month of September:

Sept. 1 — This Fun Friday Story time is a Preschool Power Hour with stories and songs in an interactive setting, followed by Open Play. Starts at 10:30 am, open to all ages.

Sept. 9 – This Fun Friday Story time is a Preschool Power Hour with stories and songs in an interactive setting, followed by Open Play. Starts at 10:30 am, open to all ages.

Sept. 16 — This Fun Friday Story time is a Preschool Power Hour with stories and songs in an interactive setting, followed by Open Play. Starts at 10:30 am, open to all ages.

Sept. 23 – This Fun Friday Story time is a Preschool Power Hour with stories and songs in an interactive setting, followed by Open Play. Starts at 10:30 am, open to all ages.

Sept. 30 — Today there will be a Fun Friday Guest — ABC Amigos returns. Starts at 10:30 a.m., open to all ages. Preschool Power Hour with stories and songs in an interactive setting. Starts at 10:30 am, open to all ages.

Additional Children’s Programs:

Sept. 8 & Sept. 22: Brick Bunch meets from 3:45 – 4:45 pm for open Lego construction. This is a drop-in program. We now have large blocks for the younger kids!!

Sept. 21: Cooking Club starts at 6:00 pm. Whip up a tasty treat with friends! Registration is required for this program and limited to 10 children. Call 860-526-6039 or email drplchildrensdept@gmail.com to sign up!

Sept. 17: All new Baby Bounce with Miss Elaine. This is a one-a-month story time exclusively for non-walking babies and their caregivers. Older siblings may attend, but the program will be geared toward the littlest library users. No registration required. Starts at 10:30 am.

For more information on any of these programs, call 860-526-6039 or email at drplchildrensdept@gmail.com

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Catamount Medical Education to Hold Marrow Registration Drive, Sept. 13

September_ad
CHESTER — Catamount Medical Education is asking local residents to help save a life. On Tuesday, Sept. 13, the organization will be hosting a marrow donor registry drive to raise awareness about the need for marrow donors.

Potential donors can take the first step to save a life between 3 and 7 p.m. Registration requires paperwork and a cheek swab sample taken from the inside of the mouth. And that’s it! Most donations, if you later match a patient, are done through an automated blood donation.

Every year more than 14,000 patients suffer from a variety of bone marrow functioning diseases and a transplant is their only hope for survival. Seventy percent (70%) of patients have no matching donors in their family and turn to the Be The Match registry for someone willing to give them a second chance at life.

To register you must be between the ages of 18-44, in generally good health and willing to donate to any patient in need. Donors are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnicity and doctors request donors in the 18-44 age group more than 90 percent of the time.

“Giving back to the community is very important to Catamount and with our company’s focus on medical education, it’s even more special that we can help contribute to helping save the lives of patients with cancer,” said Jennifer Green, Chief Learning Officer at Catamount.

Costs for this drive will be covered by health insurance and Michael’s Fund of Fall River, Mass. There will be no out-of-pocket expense for anyone wishing to the join the registry.

The marrow registration drive will take place at Catamount’s office located at 189 Middlesex Turnpike, Suite 210, Chester, CT 06412.

Catamount’s mission is to create learning experiences that maximize the impact on patient care. Education is delivered through live programs, including satellite symposia, local and regional meetings, and online events, as well as through self-directed, enduring formats such as podcasts, videos, Webinars, monographs, newsfeeds, and other enduring formats.

Catamount seeks to add value to its education and ensuring a direct impact on patient care by incorporating practical tools for the clinician (e.g., exam room posters, pocket cards, patient education materials) into every educational experience.  Learn more at www.catmeded.com.

The Rhode Island Blood Center’s Marrow Donor Program is working with Catamount Medical Education to host this event. The Rhode Island Blood Center is a donor center for Be The Match, involved in recruiting marrow donors and facilitating donations throughout New England. Be The Match is a movement that engages a growing community of people inspired to help patients who need a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor.

The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), a leader in the field of marrow and cord blood transplantation, created Be The Match to provide opportunities for the public to become involved in saving the lives of people with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases.

For more information, visit www.bethematch.org or call 800-283-8385 ext.720.

Michael’s Fund is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help adults & children survive cancer through marrow transplants. The organization was founded by family members of Michael Wrobel who in 1996, at the age of 11, lost his battle with lymphoma when a matching donor could not be found.

The organization provides funds that enable the RI Blood Center to add more marrow donors to the Be The Match Registry thus increasing the number of donors available to patients.

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Yoga & Pilates Practice Opens in Essex Catering to Individuals with Physical, Mobility Challenges

Karen DiRenzio works with a client in her new facility in Essex.

Karen DiRenzio works with a client in her new facility in Essex.

ESSEX — Karen DiRenzo has announced the opening of Yoga & Pilates for Health and Well-Being, a private practice located at 3 New City Road, Essex, CT.  The practice focuses on working one-on-one with individuals who have physical limitations and mobility challenges and is fully equipped with Pilates apparatus on premises.  In addition to being a Certified Pilates Instructor, she is specially trained in Adapting Yoga for Disabilities, Chair Yoga, Cardiac Yoga and Silver Sneakers.

DiRenzo, a retired Navy Nurse for over 30 years chooses to work with individuals looking to improve their health who have sustained injuries, illness and limitations.

She explains, “I’ve taken the fear out of fitness classes and large studio environments for individuals looking to improve their health.  By establishing a Pilates and Yoga in-home practice, clients feel at ease to work at a pace that suits them.  My focus is on outcome, and I am dedicated to working with those who feel uncomfortable with larger studios environments.  I can modify any movements to make them accessible for all.”

With over 30 years of experience as a Registered Nurse, DiRenzo has the skills and understanding to work with all clients, especially those with physical problems, older individuals and post-rehabilitation to bridge the gap after physical therapy completion.   Pilates and Yoga provides a variety of movements to improve balance and strength, increase bone density and improve mobility.

DiRenzo has worked with clients recovering from bilateral mastectomy reconstructions, strokes, arthritis, fibromyalgia and more.  In addition to her Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree, she holds a Master of Science Degree in Community Health Administration and Wellness Promotion.

Yoga and Pilates for Health and Well-Being offers Private One Hour Sessions,  In-home Sessions, Group Pilates mat or Yoga for Schools, Businesses, Churches and Chair Yoga at Assisted Living Facilities.

For more information, visit www.yogaandpilatesforhealth.com

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Nibbles: Celebrating Celery … or How to Stiffen Soggy Celery!

How celery should look!

How celery should look!

On a recent Sunday afternoon, when the temperature was a humid 100 degrees outside but at just 70 degrees and dry in my condo, I decided to make corn chowder and double the recipe. I grabbed the ingredient from my refrigerator and noted that the celery was limp and sad.

Rather than go out to the market, where my hair and clothes would look the same way, I cut six of the celery stalks and put them in a tall glass of cold water.

Two hours later, the celery looked like it had two weeks ago in the produce aisle. I used three stalks for the soup and other more for a tuna salad the next day.

What a magic trick!

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All Welcome to Visit Community Music School During Open House Week, Sept. 12-16;

Community Music School Hosts a Beginning Group Piano class.

Community Music School Hosts a Beginning Group Piano class.

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School, located in the Spencer’s Corner professional complex at 90 Main Street in Centerbrook, welcomes the general public to visit during Open House Week Sept. 12 through 16.

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, clarinet, 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. CMS 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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Adam’s Hometown Markets, Local Law Enforcement Team Up to Raise $29,000 For Special Olympics Connecticut

special olympicsDEEP RIVER — Adam’s Hometown Markets and local law enforcement officers teamed up to raise $29,000 for Special Olympics Connecticut through a campaign at 14 Adams Markets across the state throughout May and June. For each donation, a “paper torch” with the donor’s name (if desired) was displayed in the store for the duration of the campaign.

The money raised will go to support Special Olympics Connecticut’s year-round sports, health and fitness programs for athletes of all abilities.

The Paper torch campaign is a Law Enforcement Torch Run event to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut.  For more information about Special Olympics Connecticut, visit www.soct.org.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Connecticut is one of the movement’s largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicles. This year-round program involves law enforcement officers from across the state who volunteer their time to raise awareness and funds through events including Tip-a-Cops, Cop-on-Tops, and Jail N’ Bail fundraisers.

In addition, each year in June, over 1,500 officers and athletes carry the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope” through hundreds of cities and towns across the state, covering over 530 miles over three days.  The runners run the “Final Leg” and light the ceremonial cauldron during Opening Ceremonies for the Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games.

Special Olympics Connecticut provides year-round sports training and competitions for over 13,000 athletes of all ages with intellectual disabilities and Unified Sports® partners – their teammates without disabilities.

Through the joy of sport, the Special Olympics movement transforms lives and communities throughout the state and in 170 countries around the world by promoting good health and fitness and inspiring inclusion and respect for all people, on and off the playing field.(www.soct.org)

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The Country School Partners with Level Up Village for Pioneering Global Steam Enrichment

These photos show campers with flashlights, which they created in a Global Inventors camp. During the camp, students in Madison were partnered with students in Kenya, communicating about their inventions through video exchanges.

These photos show campers with flashlights, which they created in a Global Inventors camp. During the camp, students in Madison were partnered with students in Kenya, communicating about their inventions through video exchanges.

This summer, The Country School teamed up with Level Up Village to offer pioneering global STEAM (STEM + Arts) courses as part of the school’s Summer Fun and Learning program. In addition to engaging in STEAM programs, participants collaborated one-on-one with partner students from one of Level Up Village’s Global Partner organizations in a developing country via video message exchanges.

Camps offered through the Level Up Village-Country School partnership included Global Inventors and Global Video Game Designers. At the Global Inventors camp, participants used 3D printers to create solar flashlights – and they did so while collaborating with friends in Kenya. For Global Video Game Designers, participants explored Scratch and used video camera sensors and drawings to build and hack video games, collaborating through videos with friends in Palestine.

“Joining forces with Level Up Village is a natural extension of what we do throughout the year at The Country School, developing 21st Century skills and incorporating STEAM into our PreSchool through 8th Grade programs,” said John Fixx, Head of School. “In addition, the global collaboration ties in seamlessly with our curricula that stir appreciation for various cultures and traditions, important for the fulfillment of our school’s mission as we prepare our students to enter an global and interconnected world.”

Level Up Village empowers children to make a difference in the world with courses that promote design thinking and one-to-one collaboration on real-world problems between K-9 students in the U.S. and Global Partner students in 20+ countries. U.S. school partners directly sponsor Global STEAM education in developing countries through Level Up Village’s “take a class, give a class” model: a portion of the tuition is used to deliver the same class to students at one of Level Up Village’s Global Partners, many of whom are living on less than $2 a day. More information is available at www.levelupvillage.com.

Level Up Village - Global Inventors (2)

“We connect students from around the world for shared STEAM learning experiences that are both impactful and relevant so they can develop the skills and mindset they need to become compassionate global citizens,” said Amy McCooe, CEO of Level Up Village. “Our cutting-edge global STEAM courses include fully developed curricula, comprehensive teaching training and experienced management of the global collaboration process.”

The Country School looks forward to continuing its partnership with Level Up Village – and with its partner schools – during the coming school year. What did campers think of the program this summer?

From Gabriel, a rising Country School 3rd Grader, who collaborated with a Palestinian student for the Global Video Designers camp:

It was really cool making my own video game! My friend from Palestine was like me. He had the same things. He liked to play outside, has an Xbox, and made video games too. He also had a brother!

From Nadia, a rising Country School 4th Grader:

It was neat to use the computer to make my own video game and then play it and share it, which is really awesome. It was awesome to have a friend from somewhere else in the world. Abdul loved burgers just like me. I didn’t know they have burgers in Palestine.

Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent day school serving 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. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org.

For more about Level Up Village, contact Andrea Sherman, PR & Communications at Level Up Village at andrea@levelupvillage.com

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Paolucci, Gingras Appointed to Essex Financial Services Board of Directors

Essex Financial Services, Inc. (EFS) has announced that Robert Paolucci and Patrick Gingras, two of the firm’s Financial Advisors, have been appointed to serve on the company’s Board of Directors. In addition, both have been promoted to Senior Vice President.

In a statement announcing the appointment, EFS President and Chief Executive Officer Charles R. Cumello, Jr. said, “We are delighted to add two of our most senior advisors to our board. We look forward to their ongoing contributions to the growth and oversight of the firm.”

Paolucci has been in the financial services industry for nearly 20 years and joined EFS in 2009. He has earned the Certified Financial Planner®. Paolucci and his family reside in Killingworth.

Gingras joined EFS in 2006 after numerous years serving as an institutional advisor. He and his family live in Old Lyme.

Essex Financial Services is one of the leading independent financial advisory firms in the United States. Cited by Barron’s and other leading publications, the firm’s unbiased, independent, client-centric approach has made it a leader in providing exceptional service to clients for over three decades.

For more information on Essex Financial Services, visit essexfinancialservices.com

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High Praise Indeed: New York Times Gives “Marley’s Cafe” in Essex a Favorable Review

Editor’s Note: The article discussed in this piece is titled, ‘Review: Marley’s Cafe Is a Sweet Spot With a Reggae Soundtrack’ and was written by Sarah Gold.  It was published in the New York Times on Sunday, Aug. 7, and also on nytimes.com on Friday, Aug. 5.  The article can be found at this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/nyregion/review-marleys-cafe-is-a-sweet-spot-with-a-reggae-soundtrack.html?_r=0

The New York Times customarily focuses its restaurant reviews on high end, Manhattan restaurants, featuring meals that can cost $100 or more.  However, in Sunday’s print edition on Aug. 7 and also published on www.nytimes.com on Aug. 5 at this link , Times food critic Sarah Gold took a look at “Marley’s Café,” a tiny, outdoor restaurant on a man-made island just off the coast of Essex.

Under the headline, “A Sweet Spot With a Reggae Soundtrack,” Gold devoted a full half page of the Sunday New York Times newspaper to the 12-year-old, “Marley’s Café.”  The article was illustrated with three photographs, featuring the front view of the restaurant, and two photos of favorite dishes.

In her review, Gold speaks of, “an indelible impression of the experience: the company I kept, the environment we shared,” noting further that, “For 12 years, Marley’s Café, in Essex, has been delivering just this sort of meal to locals and summer visitors.”

Gold sums up the café in the words,”Fine dining it ain’t, but the restaurant … is … a uniquely wonderful place to [in the words of Bob Marley after whom the restaurant is named] “get together and feel all right.””

Jeff’ Odekerken and his wife, Claudia, share much of the management of the restaurant.

The Times article gave the restaurant a “Good” rating, and the reviewer especially liked the Jamaican burger, and the evening appetizer of steamed, Prince Edward Island mussels. At lunch and dinner, sandwiches, soups and salads cost $7 to $16. Entrees in the evening run from $20 to $30.

In this author’s opinion, Marley’s is the best outdoor dining experience that the historic town of Essex has to offer. Also, the combination of good food and island isolation can equal — or even surpass — the squeeze that customers often feel in big city restaurant.

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Essex Winter Series Awards Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship to Austin Rannestad of Chester

Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship winner Austin Rannestad stands with his parents John and Jennifer Rannestad John Rannestad,

Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship winner Austin Rannestad stands with his parents John and Jennifer Rannestad.

ESSEX — The Board of Trustees of Essex Winter Series has announced that Austin Rannestad of Chester is the recipient of the 2016 Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship. A 2016 graduate of Valley Regional High School (VRHS), Austin is the son of John and Jennifer Rannestad. The scholarship was awarded by Essex Winter Series trustee Louisa Ketron at the VRHS senior awards night in June.

Named for a founding member of Essex Winter Series, the Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating senior of VRHS who will be studying music in college. The generous scholarship provides $1,000 for each year of study, for a total of $4,000. The Scholarship was established in 1995 after the passing of EWS board president Francis Bealey to honor his commitment to music and arts education.

Austin plays trumpet and, during his high school career, was a member of the concert and jazz bands as well as a musician in the pit orchestra for school and community musicals. He was a member of the Greater Hartford Youth Wind Ensemble, played varsity tennis and was a member of the ski club. This summer, Austin was employed as a sailing instructor at Pettipaug Sailing Academy and, with his family, hosted a Spanish exchange student for several weeks. He plans to attend Ithaca College to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music.

Bringing world-class classical and jazz music to the shoreline area was the dream of the founders of the Essex Winter Series, established in 1979.  The late Fenton Brown became involved early on and devoted many years to expanding the series, and ultimately recruited pianist Mihae Lee to become Artistic Director.  The “Fenton Brown Emerging Artists Concert” series was begun to honor Brown’s commitment to promoting the careers of young artists.

Each year, the Essex Winter Series presents a series of concert performances by top-rated musicians from around the world with each season including a mix of such performances as chamber music, instrumental soloists, opera singers, symphony and chamber orchestras, and jazz bands.

For additional information, visit www.essexwinterseries.com.

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Old Saybrook Schools, Saint John School Announce Free, Reduced Price Meal Policy

school_lunchThe Old Saybrook Public Schools and Saint John School have announced their policy for determining eligibility of children may receive free or reduced-price meals served under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP),  served under the Special Milk Program (SMP).

Local school officials have adopted the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Income Eligibility Guidelines (IEGs) for family size and income criteria for determining eligibility.

The income guidelines at this link will be used in Connecticut from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 for determining eligibility of participants for free and reduced-price meals and free milk in the Child Nutrition Programs.

The above income calculations are made based on the following formulas: Monthly income is calculated by dividing the annual income by 12; twice monthly income is computed by dividing annual income by 24; income received every two weeks is calculated by dividing annual income by 26; and weekly income is computed by dividing annual income by 52.  All numbers are rounded upward to the next whole dollar.

Children from families whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.  Application forms are available through online registration, on the district website www.oldsaybrookschools.org and are being sent to all homes with a letter to parents.  To apply for free or reduced-price meals , households should fill out the application and return it to the school. Additional copies are available at the principal’s office at each school.]

Only one application is required per household and an application for free or reduced- price benefits cannot be approved unless it contains complete eligibility information as indicated on the application and instructions.  The information provided on the application is confidential and will be used only for the purposes of determining eligibility and for administration and enforcement of the lunch, breakfast and milk programs.

Note that the district MAY share your eligibility information with education, health, and nutrition programs to help them evaluate, fund, or determine benefits for their programs, auditors for program reviews, and law enforcement officials to help them look into violations of program rules.  This information may also be verified at any time during the school year by school or other program officials.  Applications may be submitted at any time during the year.

For up to 30 operating days into the new school year, eligibility from the previous year will continue within the same local educational agency (LEA).  When the carry-over period ends, unless the household is notified that their children are directly certified or the household submits an application that is approved, the children must pay full price for school meals and the school will not send a reminder or a notice of expired eligibility.

No application is required if the district directly certifies a child based on a household member receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) program.  All children in these households are eligible for free meal benefits.  Households receiving assistance under the SNAP/TFA programs will be notified of their eligibility and their children will be provided free benefits unless the household notifies the determining official that it chooses to decline benefits.

If any children were not listed on the eligibility notice, the household should contact the district or school to have free meal benefits extended to those children.  Households receiving SNAP or TFA benefits for their children should only submit an application if they are not notified of their eligibility by August 31, 2016.

If a child is not directly certified, the household should complete a free and reduced-price meal application form.  The application for the SNAP or TFA households require the SNAP or TFA case number.  The signature of an adult household member is also required.

Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals.  Please send in an application or contact the determining official for more information.

When known to the district/school, households will be notified of any child’s eligibility for free meals if the individual child is Other Source Categorically Eligible because the child is categorized as either:  Homeless; runaway as defined by law and determined by the district’s or school’s homeless liaison; or enrolled in an eligible Head Start or pre-kindergarten class as defined by law.  Households with children who are categorically eligible under Other Source Categorically Eligible Programs should complete an application and check-off the relevant box.

Questions should be directed to the determining official.  For any child not listed on the eligibility notice, the households should contact the school or determining official about any child also eligible under one of these programs or should submit an income application for the other children.

Households notified of their children’s eligibility must contact the determining official or school if it chooses to decline the free meal benefits.  If households/children are not notified by the district/school of their free meal benefits and they receive benefits under Assistance Programs or under Other Source Categorically Eligible Programs, the parent/guardian should contact the determining official or their school.

Foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court, are categorically eligible for free meals.  A foster parent does not have to complete a free/reduced meal application if they can submit a copy of the legal document or legal court order showing that the child is a foster child.  Additionally, a foster child may be included as a member of the foster family if the foster family chooses to also apply for benefits.  If the foster family is not eligible for free or reduced-price meal benefits, it does not prevent a foster child from receiving free meal benefits.  Note however, that a foster child’s free eligibility does not automatically extend to all students in the household.

Application forms for all other households require a statement of total household income, household size and names of all household members.  The last four digits of the social security number of an adult household member must be included or a statement that the household member does not have one.  The adult household member must also sign the application certifying that the information provided is correct.

Under the provisions of the policy for determining eligibility for free and reduced-price meals, the determining official,  Julie Pendleton, Director of Operations, Facilities and Finance jpendleton@oldsdaybrookschools.org (860) 395-3158 x1013 will review applications and determine eligibility.  If a parent is dissatisfied with the ruling of the determining official, he/she may wish to discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis. If he/she wishes to make a formal appeal, a request either orally or in writing, may be made to Jan G. Perruccio, Superintendent of Schools, 50 Sheffield Street, Old Saybrook, CT 06475 jperruccio@oldsaybrookschools.org (860)395-3157 for a hearing to appeal the decision.

The policy contains an outline of the hearing procedure.  Each school and the central office of the school district has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by an interested party.

If a household member becomes unemployed or if household size changes at any time, the family should contact the school to file a new application.  Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for reduced-price meals, free meals, , if the family income falls at or below the levels shown in the Income Guidelines.

Questions regarding the application process may be directed to the determining official at (860)395-3158.

This is the Public Release we will send on August 3, 2016 to the following news media outlets, the local unemployment office, major employers contemplating layoffs, etc.

1. The Hartford Courant 3. New Haven Register
2. The Day 4. CT Department of Labor

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)  mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)  fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)  email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

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Valley Shore YMCA’s 25th Annual Golf Classic Raises Funds for Annual Campaign

A smiling group of YMCA golf tournament winners.

A smiling group of YMCA golf tournament winners.

The Valley Shore YMCA’s 25th Annual Golf Classic drew a crowd of nearly 100 golfers Monday, July 18th to the Clinton Country Club for a day of “Golfing for a Cause”. The event raised over $45,000 for the Valley Shore YMCA’s Annual Campaign, which funds scholarships for local families and community health initiatives.

The majority raised came from sponsorships, including the Tournament sponsorships of Brown and Knapp Group Benefits; Mr. & Mrs. Leighton Lee IV; Art Linares and Family; Guilford Savings Bank; L.H. Brenner, Inc./Thompson & Peck Insurance; Pat Munger Construction; Wacker Wealth Management; and Whelen Engineering. Supporting sponsors included East Commerce Solutions and Kyocera.

The day of the tournament was a beautiful summer day, sunny with slight breezes in support of the golfers. Additional fun games were held throughout the course to enhance the fun factor, including Longest Drive, Closet to the Pin, Putting and Hole in One contests. Former Y Board President David Brown and Y Board Member Leighton Lee IV co-chaired the event and rallied sponsors, volunteers and prizes.

Committee members and volunteers included Marc Brodeur, Hal Dolan, Lisa LeMonte, Elizabeth McCall, Susan Norton, Melissa Ozols, Matt Sullivan, Tony Sharillo, Marcus Wacker and Jacquelyn Waddock.

No golfer made a hole-in-one for the prized Subaru generously provided by Reynolds’ Garage and Marine.

First Net Score winners were Jeff Knapp, Steph Brodeur, Justin Urbano and Scott Wiley; second place went to Casey Quinn, Paddy Quinn, Chick Quinn and Ryan Quinn.

First Gross winners were the team of David Brown, Jeff Dow, Mike Satti and Shane O’Brien; second place  went to Bob Brady, Geoff Gregory, John Brady and Bobby Edgil.

Chris Pallatto, YMCA CEO, thanked all the golfers and local organizations who came together to make this event possible. “Once again, we had another successful event, made possible by all of our supporters here today.  They all make it possible for the Y to continue to make an impact in our community.”

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Florence Dutka Interviewed by Mary Ann Pleva on ‘Looking Back’ TV Show

Looking_Back_Crew
The technical crew of the Looking Back series posed for a photo after a recent show.

The  taping occurred at Valley Shore Community Television in their Westbrook studio.

Pictured in the photo above are Chris Morgan, Bill Cook, Bill Bevan, Terry Garrity, and Tim Butterworth
Seated are Florence Dutka who was interviewed by host, Mary Ann Pleva.  This is the fifth in a series that features community members, who have led extraordinary lives.
The programs air regularly on Channel 19, public access television.  Scheduling information is available weekly  in the Valley Courier.
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Essex Zoning Commission Asked to Reconsider Three Conditions for Approval of Plains Rd. Apartment Complex

The Plains Road property where the Iron Chef restaurant has been long empty has been approved for apartments.

The Plains Road property where the Iron Chef restaurant has been vacant for many years has been approved for the Essex Station apartments. Now the applicant has filed a resubmission to revise or rescind three conditions.

ESSEX — Weeks after the zoning commission’s approval of a special permit for the three-building 52-unit Essex Station apartment complex on Plains Road, the applicant has filed  a resubmission that asks the commission to revise or rescind three of the 10 conditions that were part of the panel’s 4-1 vote of approval on June 20.

The commission has scheduled an Aug. 15 public hearing on the resubmission from Signature Contracting Group LLC for a review of the three conditions. The project, approved after a series of public hearings that began in February, calls for 52 units in three separate buildings on a 3.7-acre parcel at 21,27 and 29 Plains Road. The parcel includes the long vacant site of the former Iron Chef restaurant. and two abutting residential parcels.

The project includes an affordable housing component, and was submitted under state statute 8-30g, which is intended to promote additional affordable housing in Connecticut. The statute, in place for more than a decade, limits the jurisdiction of local zoning authorities to issues of public health and safety, and provides for waiver of some local zoning regulations. At least 16 units in the Essex Station complex would be designated as affordable moderate income housing, with a monthly rent of about $1,000.

In a July 6 letter to the commission, Timothy Hollister, lawyer for the applicants, contended three of the conditions ” materially impact the viability of the development plan, are infeasible, legally impermissible, or are unnecessary.”

One disputed condition is the requirement for a six-foot security fence around the perimeter of the property. Hollister contended in the letter a six-foot fence would have to be a chain-link fence, which he maintained would be unsightly and unnecessary. He suggested a nearby property owner, Essex Savings Bank, was uncomfortable with the idea of six-foot fencing on the southwest corner of the property. As an alternative, Hollister suggested a four-foot picket fence around most or the property boundary, including the street frontage.

Hollister also contended a requirement for elevators in the three buildings was “impractical and unnecessary” and would make the current floor plans infeasible. He noted the project is not age-restricted housing, adding that elevators have not been a requirement for many similar projects in Connecticut, including an apartment complex with affordable housing now under construction in Old Saybrook.

The third disputed condition involves the height of the three buildings. The commission had imposed a height limit of 35 feet for all three buildings, a condition that Hollister maintained would require an unattractive, institutional-style flat roof. He suggested a maximum height limit of 42-feet for the three buildings.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said this week the resubmission requires a new public hearing, but also allows for some negotiation between the commission and the applicant on the disputed conditions. The review must be concluded within 65 days, including a public hearing and decision, with no provision for any extensions.

The panel has also scheduled an Aug. 15 public hearing on a new and separate special permit application for an eight-unit condominium-style active adult community development on a 10-acre parcel on Bokum Road. The proposed Cobblestone Court development would be comprised of four duplex buildings The applicant is local resident and property owner Mark Bombaci under the name Bokum One LLC. The property abuts a little used section of the Valley Railroad line.
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Connecticut River Artisans Now Open in Essex

Connecticut River Artisans new home will be at 55 Main St. in Essex.

Connecticut River Artisans new home will be at 55 Main St. in Essex.

ESSEX — Connecticut River Artisans are moving from Chester to Essex.

They have closed their Chester shop and now reopened at their new location at 55 Main St., Essex.

Summer hours are Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Call for seasonal hours.

For more information, visit ctriverartisans.org or call 860.767.5457.

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​Community Foundation of Middlesex County Honors Local Volunteers

'Local leaders' gather July 27 at Wadsworth Mansion. Front Row: Sarah Cody (Fox61), Rosario “Riz” Rizzo, Liz Shulman, Gail Morris, Cindy McNeil-Sola, Lynda Hunnicutt, Bernadette Jones, Laura Pedersen, Linda Bradshaw, Sharon Griffin, Deb Moore. Second Row: George “Sonny” Whelen, Dave Shulman, Bob Shulman, Andy Morris, David Director, Marc Levin, John Biddiscombe, John Bradshaw, Biff Shaw.

‘Local leaders’ gather July 27 at Wadsworth Mansion. Front Row: Sarah Cody (Fox61), Rosario “Riz” Rizzo, Liz Shulman, Gail Morris, Cindy McNeil-Sola, Lynda Hunnicutt, Bernadette Jones, Laura Pedersen, Linda Bradshaw, Sharon Griffin, Deb Moore. Second Row: George “Sonny” Whelen, Dave Shulman, Bob Shulman, Andy Morris, David Director, Marc Levin, John Biddiscombe, John Bradshaw, Biff Shaw.

They are everywhere – in the house next door, behind the counter at the business down the street, at the board of directors table of your favorite nonprofit – volunteers and leaders who give their time and talents to our community. The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is fortunate to be surrounded by “Good People Doing Great Things”.  Every day the Community Foundation is reminded that everyone in the region truly cares about their friends and neighbors and where they live, work and play.

Late last year the Community Foundation inaugurated its first Local Leaders, Local Legends recognition program, awarding the Sherry and Herb Clark Beacon of Philanthropy Award to two individuals, Arthur Director and the late Willard McRae. Both men have been exceptional legendary leaders in the community, supporting the county’s local nonprofits and CFMC itself in a myriad of ways to make Middlesex County a better place for all.

This spring the Community Foundation rolled out the full Local Leaders, Local Legends program:  to highlight individuals and organizations who make a difference every day. The Community Foundation enlisted the help of the community, putting a call out for nominations of those individuals, organizations, or businesses who should be recognized and thanked.  The Community Foundation asked members of the community to think about those they believe go above what would be expected – our community’s Local Leaders, Local Legends.

On Wednesday, July 27, the Community Foundation joined friends and honorees at the Wadsworth Mansion to honor some very special neighbors. Special guest Sarah Cody of Fox61 hosted the evening’s event. The Community Foundation is proud to announce the following honorees:

The Unsung Heroes award recognizes individuals whose role has been “behind the scenes” and not the face of the organization, but their contribution has made the local nonprofits or CFMC stronger by their support. This award was given to the following individuals:

Linda and John Bradshaw, Moodus

Sharon Griffin, Durham

Bernadette Jones, Westbrook

Gail and Andy Morris, Old Saybrook

Ralph “Biff” Shaw, Essex

George “Sonny” Whelen, IV, Lyme                                                                     

The Outstanding Volunteer award recognizes excellence in volunteer service, leading to significant improvements in the quality of life in our community. This award given to the following individuals:

Lynda Hunnicutt, Westbrook

Cindy McNeil-Sola, Higganum

Deborah Moore, Killingworth

The Leadership award recognizes exceptional leadership in recruiting, motivating and coordinating volunteers, and providing clear direction by example. Two individuals were recognized with this award.

John Biddiscombe, Durham

David Director, Cromwell

The Corporate Supporter award recognizes outstanding, sustained commitment to building a culture of civic and charitable engagement through financial and in-kind support, as well as creating a corporate culture that encourages employees to take leadership roles in philanthropy and community service. This award was presented to the Council of Business Partners and its members.

Council of Business Partners:        A & A Office Systems, A.R. Mazzotta Employment Specialists, Brown & Brown of CT, Inc.,  Belltown Motors,  BEST Cleaners, Connecticut Lighting Centers, Direct Energy, Essex Printing/Events Magazines, Interfaith Golf Open Tournament, LiveKind, M & J Bus Company, Mahoney Sabol & Co., Malloves Jewelers,  Paulson Training Programs, Nancy Raczka, Attorney,  Elizabeth Schulman, LMFT,  Suburban Stationers,  The Black Seal, The Rossi Group

Community Foundation of Middlesex County congratulates the Local Leaders, Local Legend Honorees and extends a heartfelt “Thank You” to everyone who submitted a nomination for their special Local Leader, Local Legend. Middlesex County is fortunate to have so many great people working together to make our community the best place to live, work and play.

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The Blue Oar: Enjoy a Tropical Feel at River Eatery in Haddam

Looking across the vibrant patio of 'The Blue Oar' towards the Connecticut River.

Looking across the vibrant patio of ‘The Blue Oar’ towards the Connecticut River.

The soft sunlight of a warm summer evening glistens off the gently flowing river as you sip wine at a pastel-colored picnic table while awaiting your Cajun catfish dinner. No, you’re not in Louisiana; you’re alongside the Connecticut River at the Blue Oar Restaurant in Haddam.

Now enjoying its 20th summer, the Blue Oar resembles more of a summer camp than a restaurant. Built on stilts to protect the kitchen from river floods, the yellow and white wooden structure resembles a children’s treetop playhouse. A trademark of the expansive dining grounds is the colored chairs and tables – pastels of lime green, melon, sky blue, tangerine and creamy yellow.  “It reminds people of the Caribbean or Florida,” says co-owner Jody Reilly. “There’s a relaxed vibe.” 

You can bring your own wine or beer, have a cheeseburger or hot dog with kraut, but your options go far beyond that.  The most popular sandwich is “the chicken, roasted pepper and cheddar,” says Reilly. “They seem to fly out of here. And also the ribs, chowder, and lobster rolls.”

A staple of fixed offerings is supplemented by a number of daily specials. Dinner entrees range from grilled salmon to Jamaican jerk BBQ pork loin. A recent Saturday night featured grilled Cajun catfish with black bean salsa and strips of grilled summer squash. The large fillet was just spicy enough and sat on a generous bed of cool black bean salsa that blended perfectly on the palate. A chilled Italian pinot grigio was the perfect accompaniment.

Appetizers are plentiful and varied. Sautéed mussels, seared scallops and fresh guacamole with house-made tortilla chips are just a few examples. If you’re looking for fried seafood, this isn’t your spot.

A view of 'The Blue Oar' from the Connecticut River.

A view of ‘The Blue Oar’ from the Connecticut River.

With docks along the river, arriving by boat is an option. “We’re a destination,” says Reilly. “A lot of people on boat trips for the day pull in from Sag Harbor or Greenport.”

On a bright, sunny evening, the Blue Oar has a distinct tropical feel. A good weather weekend can bring in up to 600 diners a day, says Reilly. There may be a line, but it moves along and provides conversation and entertainment. As waiters exit the tight kitchen, it resembles a bumper car arcade as they bob and weave through the order line that meanders out the door.

The Blue Oar is open seven days a week from Mother’s Day weekend through September, serving lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Water and soda is available but all alcohol is BYOB.

Note: it is cash only. Credit and debit cards are not accepted. The Blue Oar is located off Rte. 154 about a mile-and-a-half north of exit 7 off Rte. 9. Look for the turn sign.

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River Valley Dance Project Creates Dance Movie in One Day, Sept. 24

On Sept.24, the River Valley Dance Project will be at Comstock Park in Ivoryton, Conn., starting at 1 p.m. and going into the evening. Project members plan to create, rehearse and film a dance in one day.

The theme of this piece is diversity. The hope is that many people join the event to learn some very simple movements. Choreographer and Director, Linalynn Schmelzer will support and shape everyone to perform movements with which they are comfortable. The word ‘dance’ in this vision means choreographed movement not ballet.

The organizers seek diversity so all races, ages, genders are very welcome to participate. Bring your family and friends.

RSVP to linalynn2@gmail.com. It is important for the organizers to know how many people will be participating.

‘Like’ the River Valley Dance Project on Facebook to stay connected.

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Newly Designed Marine Room Opens at Stone House Museum in Deep River

Curator Rhonda Forristall (left) and Kathy Schultz (right) stand in the Deep River Historical Society's Marine Room. All photos by Sue Wisner.

Curator Rhonda Forristall (left) and Kathy Schultz (right) stand in the Deep River Historical Society’s new Marine Room. All photos by Sue Wisner.

DEEP RIVER — It is always a challenge for the curators and trustees to come up with new exhibits to attract return and first time visitors to the Stone House Museum in Deep River and the Deep River Historical Society (DRHS).

There are tours, either a self-guided tour or with a greeter if available, of the house itself and all the history that goes with it and the many exhibits already designed.

View_of_Marine_Room

This summer the DRHS Museum is excited about their newly designed Marine Room, which demonstrates the importance of ship building and the masters of their boats pertaining specifically to Deep River’s rich history in both of these topics during the mid 1800’s.

This exhibit is a culmination of three years of preparation and planning as many items had to be cataloged and stored away. Then the actually physical restoration of the room with painting, carpentry work, artifacts displayed, paintings framed and all items labeled, completed the project for the recent Open House.

Along_DR_Waterfront

The Stone House Museum also highlights collections of the town’s industries and products. Included in this is an extensive collection of Niland cut glass, ivory products of Pratt & Read Co., WWII glider models, WWI exhibit, auger bits from Jennings Co., a display on the Lace Factory Manufacturing in Deep River and much more.

Stone_House_Museum

William A. Vail schooner

The William A. Vail schooner, which was one of the last ships to be built at the Deep River shipyard.

The Stone House, pictured above, was built of local granite in 1840 and the property and house was left to the Society by Ada Southworth Munson in 1946. The rooms reflect the period of time that the family presided there including the Parlor, Living Room, and bedrooms. As one walks through the house, it is a venture back into another era and the furniture and collections are carefully preserved.

Visits to the Stone House are encouraged to view the new exhibit and also the many other interesting items on display.  The photo to the right is of the schooner William A. Vail and symbolizes the shipbuilding heritage in Deep River. The schooner was built right at the shipyards on the Connecticut River near the landing and was probably one of the last ships built before steam ships took over. Exhibits at the Stone House have several photos of the Denison shipyard with boats in various stages of production. The William A. Vail is, in fact, the model for the ship depicted in the official seal of Deep River.

Summer weekend hours are Saturday and Sunday in July, August and into mid-September from 2-4 p.m.

The Stone House Museum is located at 245 Main Street, Deep River.

Check out the Museum on Facebook, Deep River Diaries, or the DRHS website that is presently under new construction at: http://www.deepriverhistoricalsociety.org

For further information, call 860-526-1449.

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Volunteer to Help Those Who Cannot Read

If you have some time to volunteer to build a stronger community and help a local non-profit in tutoring area residents to read, write and speak English, you can start helping almost immediately! Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore is looking for Board Members, a Treasurer for the organization, Tutor Trainees and volunteers at our offices at 61 Goodspeed Drive, Westbrook.

Please contact us at info@vsliteracy.org or call 860-399-0280 for more details and thank you in advance for helping.

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America’s Roots and Diversity Shine at Deep River Muster

Pipers_in_step

What more striking example of the American melting pot and immigrants longing for liberty than to watch African-Americans, Asian-Americans, descendants of India, along with Americans of many generations, marching in uniforms and playing music that inspired the country during its struggle for independence in 1776?

This was the scene for two hours on Saturday as a parade of fife and drum corps stepped smartly down Main Street in a blazing mid-day sun in Deep River.

Drummer_from_LAThe roots of this tradition go back 137 years, to 1879. Officially known as the Deep River Ancient Muster, it features fife and drum corps from throughout our local region and some much farther afield. This year, one came from sea to shining sea.

The whole town, it seems, grinds to a halt for the muster. It actually began the night before with a camp-out and warm-ups at Devitt Field. Hundreds lined the streets on Saturday morning, bringing folding chairs, canopies and coolers to sustain two-plus hours in the sun. Many had a birds-eye vantage point from property or apartments high above street level.

Some were picnicking while revolutionary-era re-enacters, many in full wool uniforms, entertained them. The contrast could not have been more striking. But their resounding applause, given to every passing unit, showed appreciation and understanding.

Three_drummers_big_drums

Others walked alongside or behind the real participants, but the true stars of the show provided perhaps the finest example of America and who we truly are.  People of all generations, genders, ethnicities and sizes, marching together and clearly dedicated to ensuring the root values of America, as exemplified in these musical rituals, are carried forward.

Drummers

With more than 50 marching units participating, it’s clear that many people feel inspired to join groups whose purpose is to honor and celebrate our forebearers. Marching in 90-degree heat in full dress uniforms is one small reminder of the sacrifices required of the colonists who rebelled against their domineering mother country.

Pipers

If that isn’t moving enough, imagine the determination of a young man rolling along in his wheelchair while playing the fife. It was clear that his was not a temporary injury. What an inspiring sight he was!

There is something about the rolls and rhythms of drums and the pitch of fifes that touches a chord in the soul. Perhaps that’s the seat of man’s yearning for liberty, a most basic desire to be left alone to pursue one’s hopes and dreams in any way, so long as they do not infringe upon the rights and property of others.

Young_pipers&drummers

If the Deep River Ancient Muster is any indication, our youngest generation is full of people who will ensure that all the struggles and sacrifices of our American forefathers will continue to be honored. May their efforts strike the chords in the souls of generations yet to come and instill appreciation of those struggles.

Editor’s Note: Many participants and onlookers wore pink at the parade in honor of the late long-time First Selectman of Deep River, Dick Smith.

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In US Senate, Blumenthal Presses Amtrak VP to Ditch Any Plans to Build High Speed Train Route Through SE CT, Mentioning Specifically Old Lyme

Senator Richard Blumenthal (File photo)

Senator Richard Blumenthal (File photo)

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) pressed Amtrak Vice President Stephen Gardner to ditch any plans to build a route through Southeastern Connecticut, such as Old Lyme, at a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing yesterday afternoon.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has started a massive, multi-million dollar undertaking called “NEC FUTURE” to develop a vision that will meet the passenger rail needs of the Northeast in 2040. Some of the ideas included in the plan include rerouting Amtrak straight through Old Lyme.

“Unfortunately, some of the ideas the FRA has proposed are frankly half-baked, hare-brained notions that will never come to fruition – including rerouting Amtrak straight through the community of Old Lyme, Connecticut and other shoreline communities where there is strong, understandable, and well merited opposition, ” Blumenthal said.

He continued, “The FRA’s time and money in my view would be better spent improving rail rather than on plans that have no realistic notion. I hope you will agree with me that the tracks of Amtrak would never go through Old Lyme, Connecticut.”

The proposed rail line realignment outlined in Alternative 1 of the NEC FUTURE Plan would shift the main rail line northward ahead of the Old Saybrook Station and run through several Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline communities before reconnecting to the existing segment in Kenyon, RI. Blumenthal has been a vocal advocate against this idea.

He sent a letter with Senator Murphy and Representative Courtney in February calling on the FRA to meet with Connecticut citizens along the shoreline to hear local concerns about how this proposal would impact their communities.

A clip of the Senator’s remarks are available here, and broadcast-quality video of his remarks can be downloaded here.

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Closed-Door Meeting on High Speed Rail Proposal Held July 7 in Old Lyme; Update From SECoast

The following was posted July 10 on the SECoast (the non-profit fighting the high-speed rail proposal that impacts Old Lyme) Facebook page:

Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker

Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker (Photo from ConnDOT)

“Thursday, July 7th, from 1:30 to 4:00 pm, Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker held a closed-door meeting at the Old Lyme Town Hall. The invitation list included: First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, State Rep. Devin Carney, State Sen. Paul Formica, Rod Haramut for RiverCOG, Gregory Stroud for SECoast, James Redeker, Pam Sucato, Legislative Director at the Connecticut DOT; Tom Allen, for Sen. Blumenthal’s office; Emily Boushee for Senator Murphy; John Forbis and BJ Bernblum. Despite requests by SECoast, statewide partner Daniel Mackay of Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation was not invited to attend. Officials from the Federal Railroad Administration, and project consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff did not attend.

Prior to the meeting, Stroud circulated a series of questions for Commissioner Redeker and a request for a public meeting to be held in Old Lyme. These questions are included below.

In over two hours of talks, Commissioner Redeker claimed little knowledge of current FRA planning. Redeker declined to explain mid-February internal emails between Redeker and aides, uncovered through Freedom of Information laws, indicating knowledge of such plans in mid-February. Redeker also declined to host or request a public meeting in New London County, and referred such requests to the FRA.

Asked by SECoast if he would agree to provide responses or follow-up answers to the submitted questions, Redeker replied, “Nope.” Asked whether this refusal was a matter of willingness or a matter of ability, Redeker suggested both. Asked whether he could answer any of the questions, Redeker responded yes to only Question 9.

During discussion, Redeker did indicate a slightly more accelerated decision-making process at FRA. He suggested a mid-August announcement of FRA plans, and a Record of Decision that would formalize plans by the end of 2016. Redeker also emphasized the importance of FRA plans, including the coastal bypass, to insure funding and to maximize future flexibility for state and federal officials. Redeker held out the possibility of significantly expanded commuter rail service, but when given the opportunity, made no assurances that an aerial structure through the historic district in Old Lyme was off the table.

Tom Allen, representing Senator Blumenthal’s office, gave a formal statement. Allen explained that the evidence uncovered in mid-February email came as “a surprise,” and promised to “push” for a public meeting by the end of the month, and if not, by the end of the year.

Earlier in the day, Redeker attended a large gathering of state and local officials in New London in recognition of the newly-created Connecticut Port Authority. This gathering carried over into the smaller closed-door meeting in Old Lyme, referenced above.

Questions:

1. In response to the release of internal Conn DOT emails, Spokesman Judd Everhart stated that “the DOT still is awaiting a decision from the FRA on a ‘preferred alternative’ for an upgrade of the corridor.” Should we conclude from this statement that the SECoast press release is incorrect? To your knowledge, has Parsons Brinckerhoff or the FRA either formally or informally “selected a vision, or even potential routes, for the Northeast Corridor”? And if so, when?

2. What is the current time frame for selecting a preferred alternative, preparing the Tier 1 Final EIS, the formal announcement and securing a ROD? And where are we, as of 7/7, on this time line?

3. If a Kenyon to Saybrook bypass is selected as part of the preferred alternative, and subsequent study concludes that a tunnel is infeasible, will the FRA and Conn DOT rule out any possible reversion to a bridge or aerial structure at or near Old Lyme?

4. Given that the Kenyon to Old Saybrook bypass is usually understood as the defining feature of Alternative 1, what is the significance of placing this bypass instead into an Alternative 2 framework? To your knowledge, has Parsons Brinckerhoff or the FRA, either formally or informally, selected Alternative 2 with modifications as the preferred alternative?

5. To your knowledge, does Parsons Brinckerhoff, the FRA or Conn DOT have more detailed maps of the proposed Kenyon to Saybrook bypass? And are you willing to provide them to us?

6. In your discussion of “4 track capacity to Boston,” should we understand this to mean a 2 track bypass in addition to the 2 lines existing along the shoreline?

7. Given that the Kenyon to Saybrook bypass was a relatively late addition to the NEC Planning process, do you feel comfortable that the bypass has received sufficient public and professional scrutiny to be included as part of a preferred alternative? Can you explain the genesis and inclusion of the bypass after the original 98 plans had been pared down to 3 action alternatives?

8. Conn DOT email released as part of a FOI request suggests a lack of formal and informal outreach to Old Lyme and RiverCog prior to the close of the initial comment deadline, when compared to formal and informal outreach statewide to nonprofits, mayors and Cogs. Please clarify the timing and extent of outreach to the region impacted by the proposed bypass, and to Old Lyme in particular.

9. What can we do to help you in the ongoing NEC Future process in southeastern Connecticut and to prevent these sorts of difficulties from cropping up in the future?”

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Music, Dancing and All That Jazz! See “Chicago” at Ivoryton Playhouse

Lyn Philistine (Ivoryton Playhouse photo)

Lyn Philistine (Ivoryton Playhouse photo)

IVORYTON – Tickets are going fast for the steamy and sexy musical, “Chicago,” opening at the Ivoryton Playhouse tonight and running through July 24.  Winner of six 1997 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, “Chicago” has everything that makes theater great:  a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz;  one show-stopping song after another; and the most energetic dancing you’ve ever seen!

Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical (book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb) is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins based on actual criminals and crimes. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal” – as timely today as it was when it first opened on Broadway in 1975.

“Chicago” was revived on Broadway in 1996 and holds the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, and is the second longest-running show in Broadway history, behind “The Phantom of the Opera.” The London revival ran for nearly 15 years, becoming the longest-running American musical in West End history.

Christopher Sutton* returns to Ivoryton in the role of Billy Flynn and will be accompanied by his wife, Lynn Philistine* in the role of Roxie Hart. CCC award-winning actress Sheniqua Trotman* also returns to Ivoryton, this time in the role of Mama Morton. She was last seen in Ivoryton as Effie in “Dreamgirls.” Stacey Harris* will be playing Velma Kelly, Z. Spiegel is Mary Sunshine and Ian Shain is Amos Hart.

Christopher Sutton (Ivoryton Playhouse photo)

Christopher Sutton (Ivoryton Playhouse photo)

The production is directed and choreographed by Todd Underwood and musical directed by Paul Feyer, with set design by Martin Marchitto, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Elizabeth Cipollina. Executive producers are Michael A. Dattilo and Frank Perrotti.

Whether you’ve seen it before and want to recapture the magic or you’ve been thrilled by the Academy Award-winning film, “Chicago” always delivers.  Don’t miss the experience of this show live on stage at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

“Chicago” runs through July 24. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults, $45 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children. They are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Group rates are available by calling the box office for information. The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.
*denotes member of Actors Equity

 

 

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Essex Zoning Commission Approves New Restaurant in Centerbrook Section of Town

30 Main Street, Centerbrook

30 Main Street, Centerbrook

ESSEX — The zoning commission Monday approved a special permit for a new restaurant to be located on the first floor of a partially vacant commercial building at 30 Main St. in the Centerbrook section.

The application of ECC Realty and Colt Taylor was unanimously approved after a brief public hearing where several residents spoke in support of the plans. Taylor told the panel he was raised in Essex,  has been involved with restaurants in both New York and California,and wants to return to open a restaurant in his hometown.

The three-story building at 30 Main St. once housed a restaurant for a few years in the late 1980s, but has housed mostly office uses in recent years. The plans call for a 130-seat restaurant and bar.
In approving the permit, the commission specified that use of the second floor would be limited to a small office for the business and storage. Taylor said he hopes to open the restaurant, which would offer “progressive New England comfort food,” before the end of the year.
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Essex Zoning Commission Approves 52-Unit Apartment Complex on Plains Rd.

The Plains Road property where the Iron Chef restaurant has been long empty has been approved for apartments.

The Plains Road property where the Iron Chef restaurant has been vacant for many years has been approved for the Essex Station apartments.

 

ESSEX — The zoning commission Monday approved plans for a three-building 52-unit apartment complex with an affordable housing component at a 3.7-acre parcel on Plains Road that includes the long-vacant former Iron Chef restaurant property.

The special permit for the Essex Station apartments at 21, 27 and 29 Plains Road was approved o a 4-1 vote, with commission Chairman Larry Shipman and members Alvin Wolfgram, Jim Hill and Susan Uihlein  voting to approve the permit and member William Reichenbach opposed. The application from Signature Contracting Group LLC was submitted under state statute 8-30g, a law intended to promote additional affordable housing in Connecticut.

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 would be designated as moderate income housing with monthly rents expected to be about $1,800.

The plans were presented at a series of public hearings that began in February, and appeared to generate increasing objections from some residents as the review process continued. Many of the objections focused on the proximity of the site to the Valley Railroad tourist excursion line.

In more than 90 minutes of discussion Monday, the panel considered two draft motions prepared by longtime commission counsel Peter Sipples, one to approve the permit with conditions, and another to deny the application. In the end, the motion of approval included several conditions, most of which had been accepted by the applicant during the public hearing process.

The major conditions include a strict prohibition on any expansion or condominium conversion of the units, construction of a six-foot high security fence around the perimeter of the property,  installing sound barriers if needed between the residential units and the railroad, and construction of a walking-bicycle path on Plains Rd. that would extend east to connect with existing sidewalks on Rte. 154. There would also be a requirement for elevators in the buildings, particularly the single three-story building, and a provision in future leases that would note the proximity to other uses, including the tourist railroad and a nearby wood-processing facility. The development site is located in a business and industrial zone.

During the discussion, Shipman noted the apartments would be a better residential use near the railroad than owned condominiums, and suggested the requirements of the affordable housing statute limited the panel’s ability to control some aspects of the project, including density and building height. The sewage disposal system for the three building complex must be approved by the state Department of Public Health.
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Essex Savings Bank Offers Financial Tips for Senior Citizens

ESSEX – Every year, millions of seniors fall victim to financial fraud. Studies show elder financial abuse costs seniors approximately $2.9 billion each year. In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, Essex Savings Bank is urging older customers and their trusted caregivers to safeguard all personal information and stay alert to the common signs of financial abuse.

“Fraudsters often prey on seniors experiencing cognitive decline, limited mobility and other disabilities that require them to rely more heavily on others for help,” said Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO. “Appointing someone you know and trust to handle your financial matters aids tremendously in the fight against these crimes.”

Essex Savings Bank is offering the following tips:

Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed. Talk to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or financial advisor about the best options for you.

Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters.

Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.

Never give personal information, including Social Security Number, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.

Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”

Never rush into a financial decision. Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion.

Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.

Get to know your banker and build a relationship with the people who handle your finances. They can look out for any suspicious activity related to your account.

Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Don’t allow workers to have access to information about your finances.

Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail.

You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If you think someone close to you is trying to take control of your finances, call your local Adult Protective Services or tell someone at your bank.

If you believe you are a victim of financial abuse, be sure to:

Talk to a trusted family member who has your best interests at heart, or to your clergy.

Talk to your attorney, doctor or an officer at your bank.

Contact Adult Protective Services in your state or your local police for help.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.
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