August 28, 2014

Rep. Phil Miller Named 2014 Champion by CT League of Conservation Voters

Rep. Phil Miller Named 2014 Champion by CT League of Conservation Voters

Rep. Phil Miller Named 2014 Champion by CT League of Conservation Voters

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) has named State Representative Phil Miller (D – Essex, Deep River, Chester, and Haddam) as a 2014 Legislative Champion for his leadership on GMO legislation and the statewide water plan.  Rep. Miller also fought for $2 million in bonding for “The Preserve,” a large, rare coastal forest.

The CTLCV released their 2014 Environmental Scorecard for the Connecticut State Legislature in August. The 15th annual release of such scores was bolstered by nearly 20 environmental bills that passed through the Connecticut General Assembly this year, providing an expanded base for scoring.

“I am honored to be so recognized as a conservationist,” said Rep. Miller. “Clean air, soil, and water are essential to a healthy economy. I feel that our State of Connecticut has a role in assuring this.”

Rep. Miller sits on the Environment Committee in the General Assembly. Rep. Miller was also a sub-committee co-chair of the Water Planning Summit’s subcommittee on Water Infrastructure and works as a naturalist and conservationist.

“Rep. Phil Miller is one of the best informed legislators on environmental issues in the General Assembly and he is always willing to lead the way,” says Lori Brown, Executive Director of CTLCV.  “Aside from the tireless work Rep. Miller has done with The Preserve, he helped guide the direction of the Statewide Water Plan, legislation on chemicals of concern, and so many other issues.”

Rep. Miller has a 96% lifetime score on environmental issues according to the League.

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters is CT’s leading environmental watchdog organization, which works to pass pro-environment laws, elect pro-environment candidates, and hold all elected officials accountable. CTLCV Scorecards dating back to 2000 can be found online at www.ctlcv.org/scorecard.

Chester Synagogue Begins Live Streaming of Religious Services

Cantorial Soloist, Belinda Brennan, and Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg in front of the Ark at CBSRZ

Cantorial Soloist, Belinda Brennan, and Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg in front of the Ark at CBSRZ

Last year, as the Jewish High Holidays approached, a man who was very ill with cancer was unable to gather the strength to attend services at his synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, in Chester.

A very good friend of his, also a member of the congregation, mentioned to Cantor Belinda Brennan that there ought to be some way to meet the spiritual needs of the ill congregant and others with similar issues at the holiest time on the Jewish calendar.

In the following months, the congregation’s Religious Affairs Committee came up with a solution, with the help of technology guru Lon Seidman, that is rare among synagogues and churches in Connecticut: live streaming of services. An investment was made in the camera equipment necessary, and volunteers were recruited to produce the videos.

And so this year, anyone who can’t attend Rosh Hashanah services, or those for Yom Kippur, or anyone else from the community can be “present” simply by calling up YouTube and typing in Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek. (Other services throughout the year, scheduled for Shabbat or other holidays, will also be available.)

Stephen Davis, president of the CBSRZ board of directors, says, “Live streaming can help those at home find inspiration and comfort, but it has also galvanized a new cohort of volunteers to pioneer ways to build community. CBSRZ is described as both ‘ancient and cool.’ Our new video arm will keep that maxim true in ways we can only now imagine.”

The schedule of High Holiday services on YouTube:

Rosh Hashanah: Wednesday, September 24, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, September 25, 9:30 a.m.

Yom Kippur: Friday, October 3, 7:30 p.m. (Kol Nidre), and Saturday, October 4, 9:30 a.m.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  For more information on CBSRZ, please visit their website www.cbsrz.org or call the office 860-526-8920.

Chester Fair Photo winners represent 11 CT towns

The 135th Annual Chester Fair was again a showcase for amateur photographers from both near and far. A total of 73 adult and youth photographers entered a total of 292 prints at this year’s exhibition and competition.

Photo Superintendent Skip Hubbard said, “We annually attract entries from a wide area.  This year’s top winners alone represented 11 towns.”

For those wishing to look ahead, in addition to the standard categories, ‘Architecture’ will be the Special Theme category for 2015.

The 2014 blue ribbon and special award winners were as follows:

Black & White Photography

People: Lesa Soja (Higganum)

General Interest: Joyce Kjos (Clinton)

Best in Show (B&W): Joyce Kjos

Color Photography

People:  Mary Jane Monahan (Naugatuck)

Animals: Robin Ehle-Meyer ((Centerbrook)

General Interest: William Perrelli (Hamden)

Flowers:  Jonathan Steele (Ivoryton)

Landscapes / Seascapes: Jonathan Steele

Fair:  Diane Lindsay (Chester)

Youth ages 1-12:  Caroline Haskins (Essex)

Youth ages 13-16:  Madeline Gifford (Killingworth)

Theme 1 – Two Colors:  Judy Denberg (Marlborough)

Theme 2 – A Child’s Perspective:  Stuart Johnson (Chester)

Best in Show (Color): Jonathan Steele

Special Awards

Joseph’s Photography Award for Achievement: Dama DeManche (Chester)

Devlin Photography Award: Jonathan Steele

Ken Kells Youth Photo Award: Meaghan Akehurst (Chester)

 

A Taste of Rio Comes to Essex for the Connecticut River Museum’s Fall Ball Gala

Fall Ball emcee Scot Haney, Connecticut River Museum executive director Chris Dobbs and a Brazilian dancer are ready for the festivities at this year’s Fall Ball Rio on the River!

Fall Ball emcee Scot Haney, Connecticut River Museum executive director Chris Dobbs and a Brazilian dancer are ready for the festivities at this year’s Fall Ball Rio on the River!

The Connecticut River Museum will be coming to life with the dazzling colors, irresistible music and traditional dancing of Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, September 20 at the 2014 Fall Ball Rio on the River.  This year’s gala is the going to be the most spectacular museum event in a long time and back by popular demand, our emcee Scot Haney will entertain attendees with his unique song stylings and sense of humor.

The night will kick off with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a fabulous Brazilian feast by Catering by Selene, and a spirited performance by the Ginga Brasileira Dance Company.  Next Scot Haney will auction off an array of enticing items including an 8 day/7 night, American Cruise Lines, Mississippi River Cruise on their new Mississippi River Paddlewheeler.  Tickets for the event are $150 and all proceeds go to the Connecticut River Museum.

In recognition of higher level Patron support, a private cocktail reception will be held at historic Bushnell Farm in Old Saybrook on September 20 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  Guests will step back in time at this shoreline treasure, see a blacksmith demonstration, tour the c. 1678 home or simply enjoy the picturesque surroundings.  Patron tickets, which include admission to both events, are $300 per person.

The Honorary Chairpersons of the gala are Andy and Gail Morris.  Fall Ball 2014 sponsors include Benefactor Sponsor Essex Wellness Center; Sustaining Sponsors Whelen Engineering Co., Reynolds’ Garage & Marine, Connecticut Rental Center; Supporting Sponsors Marcum LLP, Sullivan Lawn Services, Tower Laboratories, and Bogaert Construction Company; and Friend Sponsors AJ Shea Construction, Brewer Yacht Yards, C. Sherman Johnson, Caulfield & Ridgway, Inc., Clark Group, The Cooper Companies, and Essex Savings Bank/Essex Financial Services.  In-kind Sponsors include Apparel + Plus and McChesney Design.

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

Sen. Linares: We Can’t Afford a $150/Year Electricity Rate Hike

Sen. Art Linares has submitted testimony to state officials opposing Connecticut Light and Power’s proposed rate hike:

“CL&P has proposed a rate hike request that would increase an individual customer’s bill by an average of $150 a year,” Sen. Linares said. “This rate hike would hurt Connecticut residents.”

Sen. Linares urged residents to email comments to Pura.Executivesecretary@ct.gov .  The email should include “Docket Number 14-05-06” in the subject line.

Sen. Linares urged those who do not have access to email to contact his office at 800 842 1421 so that he can help pass along their concerns to state officials.

Deep River Planning and Zoning Approves Used Car Dealership at 444 Main Street

DEEP RIVER— After two years of disputes, the planning and zoning commission Thursday gave a quick and unanimous special permit approval for a used motor vehicle dealership in a portion of a former industrial building at 444 Main St. The approval for local resident George Bartlett Jr. ends a two-year controversy that beginning in 2012 led to two lawsuits and conflict between the commission and the zoning board of appeals.

Bartlett’s new application for a used vehicle dealership in a section of the former industrial building was presented at a brief public hearing where there were no objections to the proposed use. Essex lawyer John Bennet, representing Bartlett, said the applicant had secured two required variances from the zoning board of appeals, along with a permit from the inland-wetlands commission. Bennet said any repairs performed at the site would be for motor vehicles that are in the inventory of the dealership, with no general shop for other vehicle repairs.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Cathy Jefferson said all issues related to the application had been resolved. There will be a paved display area at the front of the property for eight used vehicles. After Jefferson’s comments, the commission approved the special permit on a unanimous vote without discussion.

That was not the case in June 2012, when Bartlett first proposed the used vehicle dealership in the vacant industrial building he had purchased earlier that year. Bartlett was required to apply for variances from the zoning board of appeals because the parcel was about six-feet short of the 150-feet of road frontage that zoning regulations required for uses in the turnpike industrial zone.

The ZBA approved a dimensional variance for the road frontage requirement, but there was dispute with the planning and zoning commission over whether it had also approved a variance for the motor vehicle dealership use. Bartlett filed a lawsuit against the ZBA after the board in September 2012 amended it’s minutes to clarify that it had approved only one variance at the June 19, 2012 meeting.

The case was still pending in Middlesex Superior Court during the spring when the commission amended regulations for the turnpike industrial zone to remove the 150-foot road frontage requirement for all uses. But Bennet continued to object to the decision last May, maintaining that other provisions of the amended regulations would make it “virtually impossible” for Bartlett to pursue his plan for a used vehicle dealership.

Bartlett filed a new lawsuit in May challenging the amended regulations, while also putting the new application for the used vehicle dealership before the commission. The approval of a special permit for the used vehicle dealership is expected to lead to a withdrawal of any pending lawsuits involving the 444 Main St. property.

Obituary: Beulah May Sullivan – 8/14/2014

Beulah May Sullivan. Died August 14, 2014, age 99 years.

Beulah May Sullivan. Died August 14, 2014 at 99 years of Age.

Beulah May Sullivan born Southampton, Ma. February 17, 1915, died Greenfield, Ma. August 14, 2014 at 99 years of age.

Beulah had an open heart, an easy smile and a grace about her that touched everyone in her life.

Beulah married Francis R. Sullivan in 1950 and together they operated the Centerbrook Package Store for 20 years. In their off hours they enjoyed their boat the “Equanil” on trips to the islands.

After her husband’s death Beulah met and spent many years with her wonderful companion John J. Kiely. They toured New England in a little Mercedes and spent time with all their friends at the Gris (Griswold Inn, Essex Ct.)

Beulah will be missed by all, including her family Peter, Kathy and Dan Sullivan and the wonderful staff of Charlene Manor where Beulah spent the last four years of her life.

Services will be private. In lieu of flowers please stop by the Gris and raise your glass to Beulah.

Emily Bjornberg Endorsed by Public School Teachers

On Friday Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg, a mother with two children in the Lyme public schools, proudly announced the endorsement of her campaign by Connecticut’s public school teachers. Both the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) and the Connecticut affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have voted to endorse Bjornberg for the November 4th General Election. The organizations collectively represent all of Connecticut’s public school teachers.

“More than anything else, education is an issue that should bring all of us together, as we work to prepare our children for success in a rapidly changing world,” said Bjornberg. “As a mother of two young children I have a vested interest in a public school system that works for our families, and provides students with the skills they need to get ahead in life.”

“Parents, administrators, teachers and taxpayers must work together to provide better schools and a brighter future for our students. Emily Bjornberg will work hard to help our teachers succeed, and ensure our schools have the resources they need to educate the next generation,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen.

“We need someone in the State Senate who will work with her colleagues on issues important to working families. Whether it’s reclaiming the promise of education, expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare, or preserving vital public services, Emily will help clarify the conversation, not muddy the political waters,” said Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut, which also represents public schools’ support staff, nurses and healthcare workers, higher education faculty, and state and municipal employees.

“We need to have a more candid conversation about education in our small towns,” said Bjornberg. “Our local schools consistently perform at a high level, yet they are subject to increasing mandates from the state that increase our expenses—and our property taxes—without improving school performance. If a school district does very well year after year, we should lighten the burden of these requirements as an added incentive. Education reform efforts must focus on where performance is low, and not burden our most successful schools.”

“It is critically important that we stand up and fight for additional state education aid for our small towns. Too many of our school districts have not gotten their fair share of education funding, and that has put upward pressure on property tax rates. Our children deserve better, and our seniors and others on limited fixed incomes need a break,” added Bjornberg.

More than 2,100 CEA and AFT Connecticut members live in the towns of the 33rd State Senate District, which includes the communities of: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Linares wins Independent Line Endorsement

On Thursday August 21, 2014 Senator Linares received the endorsement from the Independent Party.  Linares’ name will now appear twice on the ballot, as both the chosen candidate for the Republican Party and the Independent Party.

Senator Linares attended the Independent Party convention in Danbury, CT on Thursday night to speak directly to the delegates.  Linares said of his endorsement, “I am honored to be representing the Independent Party, as well as the Republican Party.  All people want the same thing - stabilization of taxes, more accountability in spending, conservation of certain lands, more job creating businesses and more educational opportunities.”

“That is exactly what we are working towards in Hartford for all Connecticut residents and I will continue to do so if I’m given the opportunity to represent the district again in November.”

Senator Linares, who has been working non- stop on his re-election campaign, has already visited residents in all 12 towns in his district.  He plans to continue his door to door campaign up until Election Day.

Senator Linares has been very visible throughout the district and his campaign staff has also attended numerous fairs with the Senator. In addition to the many fairs and festivals, Senator Linares also has attended numerous parades in the district.

Senator Linares represents the towns of Clinton, Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Colchester, Portland, East Hampton, Essex, Deep River, Haddam, East Haddam, Chester, Lyme.

33 Plains Road Cease and Desist Order Rescinded with “Path to Zoning Compliance”

ESSEX— A town cease and desist order issued earlier this year to resident  John Finkeldey for alleged zoning violations with a structure at his 33 Plains Road property has been rescinded after Finkeldey agreed to file applications with the zoning commission to resolve the zoning issues.
The action by Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow came Tuesday, the day the zoning board of appeals was scheduled to reopen a public hearing on the order that began in June. After months of discussion with Finkeldey that followed a complaint, Budrow last winter issued an order charging that Finkeldey had built a structure on the property without permits from the town, and that the structure was improperly being used as a residential dwelling in the town’s limited industrial zone.
During a two-part hearing before the ZBA where he was represented by local attorney Terrance Lomme, Finkeldey maintained the structure had been in place for more than three years without enforcement action from the town, a lapse that would make it a legal, non-conforming structure. The issue of residential use in the limited industrial zone remained unresolved when the last public hearing recessed on July 15. Lomme also serves as the elected judge of probate for the nine town region.
Michael Wells, lawyer for the ZBA, distributed a report from Budrow that was received Tuesday advising the board the cease and desist order had been rescinded. Budrow reported that a recent meeting between he and zoning commission attorney Peter Sipples with Finkeldey and Lomme had established a “path to zoning compliance” that would end the alleged zoning violations. Budrow advised that the zoning commission had concurred with the decision to rescind the cease and desist order.
Under the agreement, Finkeldey would be required to apply with the commission for a zone change from limited industrial to residential for a section of his property, and to apply for a resubdivision that would separate the disputed structure from the rest of the parcel. If the zone change and resubdivision was approved by the commission, the zoning issues on the property would be resolved. Budrow could not be reached later this week for further comment on the resolution of the case.