March 25, 2017

Greenskies to Build Solar Array on Whelen Rooftop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Old Saybrook Library’s Annual Poetry Contest is Now Open

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

The rules for participants are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Talking Transportation: All Tickets Please!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please!

Republished with permission of Hearst CT Media.

Jim Cameron


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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

John J. Ferrara

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

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Linda Beagle Artwork on View at Marshview Through March

Artist Linda Beagle stands alongside a display of her work.

OLD SAYBROOK — Linda Beagle, a long time resident of Madison, started painting after receiving a paint by number set when she was a child.  When the painting was done, there was paint left over and so started a love affair with drawing and painting.  Eventually she went to Southern Univ. to become an art education major.  Although finances prevented her from finishing college, she continued to pursue her hobby and became an artist member of the Clinton and Madison art societies until going back to work full time.

Now retired, she again has started painting and displaying her work.  She is currently a member of the Clinton, Madison, Lyme and Guilford Art Leagues and enjoys getting together with other seniors who, like her, have time now to express themselves. Beagle currently teaches a class at the Estuary Senior Center on Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. called the Marshview Artists.

Meet Beagle at the Marshview Gallery Artist Reception on Friday, March 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Estuary Council of Seniors, 220 Main St, Old Saybrook.  All are welcome. Light refreshments are served.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to come.

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9 Town Transit Announces Bus Fare Increase From Jan. 2 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about Homeward Bound CT,

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

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

sign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear readers, as always, we welcome your thoughts …

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Essex Garden Club Decorates the Town for the Holidays

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

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

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

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

bellsofdublin2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Literacy Volunteers Announce Graduation of Fall Training Class of Tutuors

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

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

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

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

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

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Estuary Senior Center Seeks Volunteer ‘Meals on Wheels’ Drivers

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

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

Contact Carol Andanti at 860-388-1611 x217.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

Jean Schneider,
Essex.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

Sincerely,

Mel Seifert,
Chester.

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Chris Pagliuco,
Ivoryton.

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Art Linares
Westbrook

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

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

Bob Seagrist (R) . File photo.

Bob Siegrist (R). File photo.

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

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

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

State Rep. Phil Miller. File photo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Community Music School Announces New Faculty Members

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

Andrew Janes – Trombone, Low Brass

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

Matt Massaro – Piano

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

Marty Wirt – Piano, Percussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lyme Republican First Selectman Ralph Eno agreed with Needleman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Essex Garden Club Announces Officers for 2016-2017

FNewly-elected officers of the Essex Garden Club are (from left to right) Pat Mather, Betsy Godsman, Augie Pampel, Barbara Burgess, Barbara Muhlfelder and Judy Greene

Newly-elected officers of the Essex Garden Club are (from left to right) Pat Mather, Betsy Godsman, Augie Pampel, Barbara Burgess, Barbara Muhlfelder and Judy Greene

ESSEX — Officers for the Essex Garden Club for 2016-2017 are Barbara Burgess, President, Augie Pampel, 1st Vice President, Barbara Muhlfelder, 2nd Vice President and Assistant Treasurer,  Betsy Godsman, Recording Secretary, Judy Greene, Corresponding Secretary, and  Patricia Mather, Treasurer.

In Barbara Burgess’s opening remarks,  at the September meeting,  she described the club’s agenda and activities for the upcoming year ahead and introduced the theme for the year “ Partnering for Success”  She shared how The Essex Garden Club has partnered with the Land Trust in sponsoring a conservation program, this year on the topic of Native Pollinators.

In addition the Essex Garden club provides resources to the libraries and schools to partner in educating both adults and children in our community. For many years the Club has  partnered with the Town of Essex to keep our parks and community looking beautiful. These strong partnerships continue to result in both benefiting our organizations and the community.

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The Movie Man: ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is an Unexpected Delight

kubo-main_0Truly, if you enjoy learning about ancient mythology, you will enjoy watching Kubo and the Two Strings, brought to you by Laika, the filmmakers behind Coraline and The Boxtrolls. With an all-star-studded cast that includes Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, and Star Trek actor/turned social media personality George Takei, this stop-motion animation film does not disappoint.

We are told the story of Kubo, a young one-eyed boy, who cares for his ill mother by transforming paper into origami masterpieces through his shamisen (a string instrument indigenous to Japan). After staying out past dark (as he was warned against many times), his mother’s sisters destroy his village and attempt to take his remaining eye.

Upon escaping the terror of his aunts, Kubo comes across the incarnate version of his wooden monkey (voiced by Ms. Theron) brought to life by his own mother’s magic, and eventually Beetle (Mr. McConaughey), who join him on a quest to retrieve the armor worn by his father, a Samurai warrior.

The film often invoked reminders of ancient mythology, in which the character is forced to embark on a quest, accompanied people who are both reasonable and unreasonable, in which the protagonist must locate something precious in regards to the parent he never knew, who was a great warrior and up to whose image he seeks to live. This ranges from classical mythology to modern entertainment (think of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, prior to learning his father was the enemy he was fighting all along [not spoiling anything about this film, disclaimer] or even Telemachus, son of Odysseus in The Odysessy.)

Perhaps what is most rivaled by its story and performances is its original score, which I have no doubt will at least be nominated by many award shows this upcoming season.

It was released in 3D, a trend in movies that I do not understand. Despite being a family-friendly film, I would caution those who have very young children from seeing this. One of the main themes revolves around the title character missing an eye and his grandfather and aunts seeking retribution on his life or his remaining eye, as well as there being some frightening images and scary scenes.

But anybody above the PG-warned audience will find this movie to be an ultimate delight.

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

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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.

1609_untitled_018

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.”

1609_untitled_020

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.”

1609_untitled_007

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

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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Op-Ed: Lifelong Conservative Democrat Says if you Want to Vote for a Brighter Future, Vote Republican

Unfortunately some political parties, to boost their standings in the political arena around election time, take to sticking positive labels on themselves and negative labels on their opponents, in hopes of changing people’s minds and winning the election based on untruths and lies. Now while most people hate history, a better understanding of what our future holds for us might be had by looking back at the  performance of the current politicians who hold office.

For the past 30 years the Democratic Party has held a super majority of votes in the Connecticut Legislature. Simply put what that means is that regardless of what party the Governor was from, the legislature has had the votes necessary to override any vetoes he/she might impose on bills/budgets that the legislature wanted passed. That said, we have a Governor with the lowest approval rating of any Governor in the U.S. and a list of Democratic Legislatures that rubber- stamped anything and everything that he wanted passed.

Let us place the blame of a faltering economy, loss of business that moved out of state, loss of jobs, high taxes and lost employment opportunities squarely on the shoulders of those responsible. Let us realize that we don’t have to wait two more years to replace a Governor to effect change in our lives, we have that opportunity this Nov. 8. It’s time to replace the supermajority that represents a party mentality and not the people that voted them into office.

Because of the lack of responsible spending/taxation, by our current Democratic Governor/Legislature, our State is on the verge of bankruptcy, our bond rating in the financial market is continually downgraded and the Democratic Party has the audacity to label the Republican Party the party of doom and gloom. They say that the Republicans don’t have any answers to our budgetary problems, yet when it comes time to work on the budget the Democrats lock the Republicans out of the Budget talks.

A majority of the people in this state wants our politicians to work together on their behalf but the Democrats won’t allow that to take place. The realistic approach to budgetary problems is to identify, analyze, and find solutions to the problems in a fair, even-handed, professional manner and the only party currently not responsible for this mess is the Republican Party.

We already know what a disaster the Democratic Party has imposed on us through overspending, and we can only expect more of the same from them by reelecting them to office. It’s time to take a different path, time to write tomorrow’s history, time to think ahead to our future and the future of our children, time to vote Republican.

There’s nothing progressive about:

  • High Taxes
  • High cost of living
  • High unemployment
  • Businesses moving out of State
  • Lost jobs
  • Lack of jobs for new college graduates

And there’s nothing progressive about Progressive Democrats.

It’s time to make a quality of life change for the better, time to put the doom and gloom behind us.

It’s time to vote out all those Progressive Democrats that are responsible for this financial mess.
We just can’t afford them anymore.

Please join me, a lifelong Conservative Democrat and now a proud Republican, in voting for the Republican candidates this November.

Editor’s Note: The author is a former Democratic Selectman for the Town of Haddam.

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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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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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