December 19, 2014

Chester Library Trustees to Seek Appropriation for Design Work on New Library at North Quarter Park

CHESTER— Wasting no time after receiving a  $1 million state grant with a three-year timeline, members of the library board of trustees advised the board of selectmen Tuesday of plans to seek a town funding appropriation to prepare engineering design plans for a proposed new library at North Quarter Park.

Trustee Terry Schreiber said the group, working with a volunteer building committee, would have a specific total for the funding request at the board’s next meeting on Jan. 6. Any appropriation of town funds, which is expected to be in the range of $100,000, would also require approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting. The appropriation would pay for preparation of a site plan and schematic design plans for a new library building at the park.
Schreiber said the trustees have also met with a professional fundraiser to discuss options for a fundraising campaign for a library building project that could cost as much as $4 to $5 million to complete, with the state grant covering only a portion of the total cost. An authorization of town bonding would also be needed to pay for the project

The building committee was established by the selectmen last summer as part of an effort to complete the state grant application by an end of August deadline. The committee, with support from the selectmen, hired Lerners, Lads, & Bartells Architects, a Pawtucket, R. I. firm that has experience with library construction projects.

As part of information required for the grant application, the architects prepared very preliminary plans for a two-story 5,600-square-foot library building that would be located in the front section of the 22-acre park on the east end of Main Street. The $1 million grant was approved by the State Library Board last month

Schreiber said the trustees and building committee have made no final decisions on the size of a new library, whether it should have one or two floors, or whether a community center component should be included in the project. The trustees are planning a public information meeting on the project for Saturday Jan. 10 at the library.

The trustees had spent nearly two years considering options for a renovation and expansion of the 108 year-old existing library building on West Main Street before deciding earlier this year, with encouragement from the selectmen, to focus on the option of a building a new library at North Quarter Park.

All Five Essex Bonding Authorizations Approved in Low Turnout Referendum

ESSEX— Voters Monday authorized up to 8.085 million in municipal  bonding, approving five separate ballot questions in a low turnout referendum. A total of 257 of the town’s 4,654 registered voters turned out for the 14-hour referendum, along with two property owners who are not registered voters in Essex.

An authorization of $2,845,000 to replace the Walnut and Ivory street bridges in the Ivoryton section had the widest margin of approval, 221-38. A combination of federal and state funds will reimburse 80 percent of the cost of the Walnut Street bridge project, while the much smaller Ivory Street bridge will be paid for entirely by town bond funds.

A $2,815,000 bonding authorization for improvements at Essex Elementary School was approved on a 193-64 vote. The improvements include replacement of the school roof, which will be eligible for partial state funding reimbursement, along with $600,000 for air conditioning at the 61 year-old school.

Improvements to the town  hall, including renovations to the land use offices, at an estimated cost of $1.3 million won approval of a 175-81 vote.  Improvements at the town public works garage, with an estimated cost of $525,000, won approval of a 178-80 vote. Voters authorized bonding of $600,000 to purchase a new fire truck on a 186-71 vote.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said he is pleased the capital projects initiative won voter approval. ” Thanks to everyone that came out and voted and thanks to the committee that did all of the hard work,” he said.
The capital projects plan was developed over the past year by a building committee chaired by Selectman Bruce Glowac. The first bonds are expected to be issued by 2017 for a pay off over 20 years ending in 2037.

Essex Zoning Commission has January Public Hearing on Separate Proposals for Bokum Road Life Care Zone

ESSEX— The zoning commission has scheduled a Jan. 26 public hearings on separate proposals to expand and revise regulations for the residential life care zone on Bokum Road. The zone had been established in the 1980s to accommodate the Essex Meadows life care complex that is now the town’s largest taxpayer.

Resident Marc Bombaci has submitted an application for a zone change from rural residential to residential life care for a 35.8-acre parcel that surrounds his 80 Bokum Road residence. Sections of the property on the  west side of Bokum Road abut land owned by Essex Meadows.

Bombaci, represented by local lawyer Campbell Hudson, has also proposed a zoning text amendment that would apply more recent regulations for active adult communities, or cluster-style housing for persons over age 55, to the residential life care zone that refers to housing and services for persons over age 62 The revised regulation would also allow the commission to waive under certain conditions a requirement that 80 percent of all the units in an active adult community must be owned by persons over age 55

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said if the zone change is approved, Bombaci would have to secure special permit and site plan approval from the commission for any future residential life care or active adult community development on his property.

The commission will also hold a public hearing next month on an application by Essex Glen LLC to revise the residential life care and active adult community regulations for a parcel on the opposite side of Bokum Road that was approved for a 55-unit active adult community development in 2007. The partnership never pursued the development plan that was approved in 2007.

Budrow said the partnership, represented by lawyer Terrance Lomme, is preparing to submit a new application and plan for the property that calls for 22 units in separate buildings. Essex Glen LLC is requesting a revision to regulations for an active adult community that would change the setback requirements that are part of the current regulations.

The change would reduce the front setback requirement from 80-feet to 40-feet, and the side and rear setback rule from 80-feet to 30-feet. Budrow said the change would accommodate a revised development proposal for the property with separate buildings. Lomme, who was re-elected last month as judge of probate for a nine-town region, had represented Essex Glen LLC during the 2007 application process.

The joy of chocolate in Chester – Dec. 21

“Feste di Cioccolata” will be celebrated at Ceramica on Sunday, Dec. 21. The shop’s free weekly drawing prize is this beautiful gift basket full of chocolate plus ceramiche.   Stop in to leave your name and email address in the gift drawing box.

“Feste di Cioccolata” will be celebrated at Ceramica on Sunday, Dec. 21. The shop’s free weekly drawing prize is this beautiful gift basket full of chocolate plus ceramiche. Stop in to leave your name and email address in the gift drawing box.

Who doesn’t love chocolate?!

Chester celebrates the joy of chocolate at its Chocolate Festival in picturesque Chester Center on Sunday, Dec. 21, the last day of the town’s annual Holiday Market.

You can find chocolate to eat, chocolate to drink, even chocolate to paint at the Chocolate Festival. Enjoy tasting the chocolate fondue at Bell’Oliva, Chester’s longest brownie at Lark, homemade chocolate chip cookies at Al Malpa’s Photography Gallery and Cadbury’s Fudge Bars at Annie Glover’s British Foods & Gifts. Grownups, go sample a sip of Meletti Cioccolato (called a “decadent and intensely rich chocolatey spirit”) at Chester Package Store between noon and 2 p.m.

Celebrate Chester’s Chocolate Festival with River Tavern’s famous chocolate soufflé served (not usually served at lunch), along with chocolate martinis and Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout.

Celebrate Chester’s Chocolate Festival with River Tavern’s famous chocolate soufflé served (not usually served at lunch), along with chocolate martinis and Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout.

And when you get chilly, duck inside The Cupcakery for a luscious chocolate cupcake and then warm up with a cup of hot chocolate from The Villager or a chocolate martini or Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout at River Tavern.

Maple and Main Gallery artist Jan Blencowe will lead a free sketching session of the chocolate display at the gallery from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or till the chocolate is gone). Bring drawing materials to draw along with Jan or just come to watch – and consume!

During  Chester’s Holiday Market Chocolate Festival, Lori Warner Gallery hosts Chef Priscilla Martel, renowned for co-owning the famed Restaurant du Village in Chester and  more recently as a food consultant and cookbook writer. Christine Chesanek of Fromage in Old Saybrook will provide chocolate for tasting. (Photo by Priscilla Martel)

During Chester’s Holiday Market Chocolate Festival, Lori Warner Gallery hosts Chef Priscilla Martel, renowned for co-owning the famed Restaurant du Village in Chester and more recently as a food consultant and cookbook writer. Christine Chesanek of Fromage in Old Saybrook will provide chocolate for tasting. (Photo by Priscilla Martel)

The Chester Holiday Market is all about having fun while shopping in a festive setting. Market hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but the shops are open all day. Free parking is available in two public parking lots, an easy walk to town. More info is at http://chestersundaymarket.jimdo.com/, Facebook.com/ChesterHolidayMarket and Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT.

 

 

Chester Town Meeting Approves Accepting State Grant Funds for Main Street Project

CHESTER— Voters at a town meeting Tuesday formally authorized acceptance of two state grants totaling $783,088 that will be directed to the revised Main Street East improvement project. Despite some talk of rejecting the grant funding over opposition to a now deferred element of the project plan, voters authorized accepting the funding on a unanimous voice vote.

About 60 voters turned out for the town meeting, acting on the resolution after about 45 minutes of discussion. The vote comes two weeks after the Main Street Project Committee, and the board of selectmen, decided to scale back the project to eliminate plans for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street that had drawn opposition from some residents and at least one property owner fronting on the proposed sidewalk. There were concerns that opposition to the sidewalk, which would also require removal of two mature trees, would delay the project and lead to a possible loss of the state grant funding.

The town has received two separate Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants, one of $450,000 and the other $333,088. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the grant funds would cover most of the cost of the revised Main Street East Project that is now estimated at about $800,000. The project area is now limited to a 1,000-foot section from the intersection with School Lane west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery.The initial plan, including the north side sidewalks had a cost estimate of about $1.2 million.

Meehan said the revised plan includes five new drainage catch basins in the vicinity of the Chester Post Office, new granite curbing, new sidewalks with a four-foot width that meets Americans With Disabilities Act standards, and additional lighting for the parking area at the entrance to the historic cemetery. Improvements to the street east from School Lane to the intersection with route 154 would be limited to milling and repaving, and possibly some repairs to a decaying state wall along the Chesterfields Health Care Center property on the south side of the street.

Meehan said final details of the revised plan are now under review by the committee and project engineers, with a goal of putting the project out to bid for a start of construction in the spring. Meehan added that further improvements to the eastern section of the street would await future community decisions on whether to building a new library with other improvements to North Quarter Park on the north side of the street. The town was recently awarded a $1 million state grant for construction of a new library at the park, but it would cover only about a quarter of the total cost of a library building project.

Voters also authorized the release of capital improvement funds, including $10,000 for two new police mobile radios and $6,934 for security enhancements at Chester Elementary School. The funds for the elementary school are a town match for a $59,000 state grant awarded to Regional School District 4 for security enhancements at the five district schools. The Chester Elementary School enhancements will include new interior and exterior cameras and a locked gate that would limit access from a wooded area on the west side of the school property.

Essex Tree Committee Awarded America The Beautiful Grant

Essex Tree-ATB grant 2014 (2)In the fall of 2014, the Essex Tree Committee, was awarded an America the Beautiful (ATB)  grant of $1,186 to plant trees in an effort to advance “urban forestry” as outlined by the ATB grant program.  These competitive grants are made available to municipalities and non-profit organizations by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Division of Forestry (DEEP).  The funding comes from the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry Program and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection described the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as “a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont to cap and reduce power sector CO2 emissions.”  Because of these efforts by RGGI, DEEP Forestry expanded the grant criteria to focus also on reduction of energy use.  Additionally, as a result of the recent storms, focus was placed on roadside tree management.  Invasive insects such as the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle were of great concern to the grant program as well.

Of the seven categories outlined by the ATB grants (see DEEP Forestry website: www.ct.gov/deep/forestry for more information), the Essex Tree Committee concentrated on: planting or maintaining legacy trees, planting or managing trees to reduce energy consumption or increase carbon sequestration, and the management of roadside trees for storm resistance.

Conforming to the 2014 ATB guidelines, the Tree Committee planted 8 non invasive trees at the following locations:

  1. An English Oak at the corner of Melody and Walnut streets in Ivoryton
  2. A White Oak/Swamp Oak at 44 Walnut St., Ivoryton
  3. A Sunset Maple at 46 Comstock Street, Ivoryton
  4. A Sweet Gum at 6 Donald St., Essex
  5. An English Oak at 46 Dennison St., Essex
  6. An American Hornbeam on the West St. strip, Essex
  7. A Sunset Maple on High St. at the corner of Prospect, Essex
  8. A London Plane (sycamore family) at 168 River Road, Essex.

The grant is a 50-50 grant in which the funding through the state program is matched by an equivalent contribution from the grant recipient.  This matched contribution was made by the Town of Essex in the funding of the purchase and planting of the trees.

The Essex Tree Committee under the leadership of Augie Pampel, completed the above plantings by December 2014.  On December 1, Chris Donnelly, Urban Forestry Coordinator for DEEP Forestry, came to Essex to inspect and approve the plantings in order that the monies from the grant could be awarded to the Essex Tree Committee in accordance with the ATB grant guidelines. One of his tasks was checking the root flares and girdled roots to make sure the trees were not planted too deeply and assure the roots would not strangle the tree in the future. (see below)

Essex Tree-ATB grant 2014

The Essex Tree Committee would like to thank Fred Weber and Associates for their help in planting the trees and all the people who worked with the committee to select the appropriate sites for the trees.

If you would like to make a donation to the Essex Tree Committee or discuss a tree memorial, please contact Augie Pampel at: augiepampel@att.net.

CT State Senator and State Representative Join in 35 Year Celebration in Chester

CT Senator Art Linares (33rd District), and CT Representative Philip Miller (36th District), congratulated and honored Roto Frank of America, Inc. at the celebration of their 35-year presence in North America.

CT Senator Art Linares (33rd District), and CT Representative Philip Miller (36th District), congratulate Roto Frank of America, Inc. at the celebration of their 35-year presence in North America.

On Thursday, December 4th, CT Senator Art Linares (33rd District), and CT Representative Phil Miller (36th District), congratulated and honored Roto Frank of America, Inc. of Chester at the celebration of their 35-year presence in North America. They presented Roto with an Official Citation from the General Assembly during the event. The festivities also included a retrospective of the company’s growth and development by Skip Branciforte, an employee who has been with Roto Frank of America since its beginning, as well as a catered luncheon and gifts for all personnel to commemorate the occasion.

The Chester, Connecticut facility houses Roto’s administration, engineering, manufacturing and distribution departments for their North American and European hardware. Roto Frank of America and Roto Fasco Canada combined form Roto North America, with over 120 employees, and are subsidiaries of the world’s largest manufacturer of OEM window hardware, Roto Frank AG.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this significant milestone in our company’s history, and we realize that this achievement would not have been possible without all of the dedicated Roto employees, customers, partners, and shareholders who have helped us along the way with their loyalty, integrity, and commitment,” says Chris Dimou, Roto North America’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

About Roto Frank of America, Inc.: Founded in 1979, Roto Frank of America, Inc. (www.rotohardware.com) has a long tradition of providing manufacturing solutions to OEMs in the window and door industry. The company specializes in window and door hardware, such as Casement/Awning, Single/Double Hung, Tilt & Turn, Sliding/hinged Patio and Euro.

Chester Rotary Participates In the Liberty Bank “Thanksgiving Dinner Drive”

Rotary 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner Drive Check Presentation

Rotary 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner Drive Check Presentation

On November 24, 2014 Gary Torello, the chairman of Chester Rotary’s Liberty Bank Thanks Giving Dinner Drive, presented a check in the amount of $2,407.51 to Rosie Bininger, Director of Human Services for the town of Chester, CT. Torello along with other Chester Rotarians raised funds throughout the month prior to this year’s Thanksgiving holiday in order to feed a growing number of Chester families on Thanksgiving Day. Funds not used to directly provide Thanksgiving dinners to area residents will be used to help stock the Chester Food Pantry in the coming months.

The Chester Rotary was one of 33 Rotary Clubs participating in the annual Liberty Bank/Rotary Club Thanksgiving Dinner Drive. While Liberty Bank had promised matching funds in the amount of 20% of funds collected by Connecticut Rotary Clubs, a last minute surprise by Liberty Bank President and CEO, Chandler Howard, increased it to 25 cents per dollar at the conclusion of the drive. All total, Connecticut Rotary clubs collected $167,476.11 which together with The Liberty Bank Foundation’s $41,869.03 in matching funds makes for a grand total of $209,489.82.

Essex Resident Claims “Frontier” Has Raised Rates, and the Senator Responds

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

Essex resident Robert Kern has written a letter to State Senator Art Linares, complaining that Essex’s new telephone and Internet carrier, Frontier Communications, has raised rates in Essex, when it promised not to do so, after it had acquired local service from AT&T.

Kern in a letter to the Senator wrote that his, “customer bills have gone up despite the pledge by Frontier to keep them the same.” Kern also sent to the Senator, “my recent bills from AT&T and Frontier as an example.”

Making the Case

Kern continued, “Even though the basic line service charge has remained the same, they eliminate a $6.00 monthly ALL DISTANCE promotional credit and added a bogus ‘Carrier Cost Recovery Surcharge’ of $1.99 per month.” As a result,” Kern wrote, “my bill for the exact same services rose from $30.15 to $39.50, an increase of more than 26%.”

“This is outrageous,” Kern wrote the Senator. “Please check this out, as I’m certain customers within your district and across the state are confronted with these unwanted increases in this most basic of utility services.”

Senator Linares’ Response

Promptly responding to Kern’s complaint, the Senator wrote on December 9, “I am bringing your complaint to the attention of state officials.” Also, the Senator advised Kern that, “A Dec. 22 public meeting has been scheduled with executives of Frontier Communications regarding complaints like yours,” and that the meeting would include a public comment section.

The December 22 public meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m., and it will be held at the offices of the Public Utility Regulatory Authority at 10 Franklin Square in New Britain.

The Senator also wrote, “I have found that many frustrated taxpayers are unaware of how to bring their complaints directly to state officials. If you wish to do so on the Frontier issue email PURA at Pura.Executivesecretary@ct.gov and the Office of Consumer Counsel at occ.info@ct.gov.”

The Senator also wrote to Kern, “To file a complaint about Frontier service with the state Department of Consumer Protection, send an email to dcp.fraud@ct.gov,” that includes your contact information and the particulars of your complaint. .

Letter: Chester – Library, Trees, Roosters and Guns

To the Editor:

I find Chester a very interesting place to live and would live nowhere else. Over the years I have moved away to find myself returning as soon as I can. You are free to raise roosters, shoot a gun and not have your trees cut down (without due course) and if someone tries to change these things there is a huge public outcry.

These things are important to some but what is important to me and should be important to all is that our Library is not able to serve every person. This coming year will be the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Chester has failed to address this issue within our Public Library to conform to this act in the past 25 years! Where is the outcry! We now have the opportunity to address this with the recently acquired grant from the State of the Connecticut that will provide partial funding for a new library.

Fact: The current Chester Library does not address handicap accessibility.

Fact: The Town of Chester does not own the property on which the current library stands, so investing in the current building is not a solution.

Of course there are many other valid reasons why the library needs updating and the need for a community center, but first and foremost the primary issue needs to be addressed. There is no longer the need for any discussion, it’s a simple fact. Unfortunately this means that we as a community must provide the necessary remaining funding either through private donations or tax increases, but not doing anything is no longer an option. It is our social responsibility and the time has come address it once and for all.

Sincerely,

Dean Amato
Chester

Sweet Honey in the Rock to Perform in Chester on MLK Weekend

4SH-5MEMBERsm-Dwight_Carter-1372369283

SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK, photo by Dwight Carter

Luring the Grammy Award nominated and internationally adored African-American singers, SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK, to perform during the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend was a dream of Miriam Gardner-Frum, longtime director of the Chester concert series, Music & More.    The concert will be held on Sunday, January 18 at 3:00 pm at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek.

There are of course many ways to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, but one the most meaningful, Miriam thought, would be through the uplifting harmonies of SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK, or as one music critic wrote, “The GOLD STANDARD… Their voices are all fabulous, and they unite to create a sound so pure and smooth and homogeneous that is does not seem humanly possible.”

Over the years, Miriam has brought many remarkable musicians to Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ), and she saw her opportunity with Sweet Honey when she read that the group had received an award from Common Ground, an organization that recognizes exceptional efforts in humanitarian work.

As a supporter of Common Ground’s work, Miriam saw the stars aligned – potentially. “I thought how amazing it would be to have them here in our beautiful synagogue. They combine two exceptional features – great a capella music that lifts hearts even as it calls attention to great injustices of our world. This seemed a natural fit for us at CBSRZ.  Through our Social Action efforts, we do much work along those lines as well.”

But of course theory and practice are not easy to reconcile. For Miriam, there were logistics to address in scheduling and in daunting terms of the performance contract.

“When I first contacted their agent, it didn’t seem possible that we could do this, but we worked with them, and they were very helpful, and here we are!  I am grateful for their flexibility, and that they are eager to come to a synagogue and help spread the message of love that Dr. King expressed.”

Carol Maillard, one of the founding members of the group and still singing with it, says that Sweet Honey has celebrated Dr. King’s birthday in concert many times but never in a synagogue. She says, “We’re very excited about coming and we hope that folks will come with an open mind and heart. We hope they’ll feel uplifted and won’t be afraid to show they’re having a good time.”

The name of the performance group was indeed derived from a song, based on Psalm 81:16, which tells of a land so rich that when rocks were cracked open, honey flowed from them.

SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK is rooted in African American history and culture. The ensemble educates, entertains and empowers its audience and community through the dynamic vehicles of a cappella singing and American Sign Language interpretation for the Deaf and hearing impaired. Sweet Honey’s audience and community comes from diverse backgrounds and cultures throughout the United States and around the world, and includes people of all ages.

Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, spiritual leader of CBSRZ, says this concert is a perfect way to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy.  “We honor him every year because of the Jewish People’s historical commitment to the struggle for human rights. But more importantly, we recommit ourselves to the ongoing work of demanding justice and equal treatment for all people living in this country.”

Tickets for the general public are $30 and advance ticket purchases are highly recommended.  For more information, please call CBSRZ at 860.526.8920.

Essex Town Meeting on Proposed $8.085 Million Bonding Plan Adjourns to December 15 Referendum Without Discussion

ESSEX— Voters Monday adjourned a town meeting on a proposed $8,085,000 bonding plan without discussion, setting the stage for an all day referendum on Dec. 15 on a plan that is expected to result in an increase in property taxes beginning in 2017.

About 40 residents, nearly half of them volunteer firefighters, turned out for the required town meeting on a plan that was first presented at a public hearing on Nov. 19. But the meeting was quickly adjourned to the referendum without questions or discussion. No one expressed opposition to any of the components of the bonding plan that will be presented for approval as five separate ballot questions in the referendum.

The bonding plan, developed over the past year by a building committee chaired by Selectman Bruce Glowac, was first presented at a Nov. 19 public hearing.. The plan includes two bridge replacement projects in the Ivoryton section and replacement of the roof at Essex Elementary School, which were identified as priorities at the start of the process, along with several other projects. The components, each presented as a separate yes-or-no ballot question, include $2,845,000 for replacement of the Walnut and Ivory street bridges, $2,815,000 for improvements at the elementary school, $1.3 million for improvements at town hall, $535,000 for improvements at the town public works garage, and $600,000 for purchase of a new pumper fire truck.

The two bridge projects and the school roof replacement are eligible for state or federal funding reimbursement of $2,055,000, leaving town tax payers to finance bonding of up to $3,030,000. The elementary school project also includes $600,000 for air conditioning at the school.

The town is expected to use bond anticipation notes to fund some of the initial projects, with the full 20-year bonds expected to be issued in late 2016 or early 2017. The highest year for debt service payments is expected to be 2017-2018, when the bonding plan is expected to require a 0.49 mill increase in the property tax rate that is currently set at 21.99 mills.

Town Finance Director Kelly Sterner said at the Nov. 19 hearing the 0.49 mill increase would represent about $147 in additional tax for a residential property assessed at $300,000. Debt service costs would begin to drop in 2021, falling off more steeply beginning in 2027 for a final pay off of the bonds in 2037. Polls will be open Monday at the town hall auditorium from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 

 

Essex Conservation Commission to Hold Off Lethal Trapping of Beavers

The conservation commission agreed Thursday to defer any possible lethal trapping of beavers in the ponds at Viney Hill Brook Park after hearing objections from dozens of residents at the panel’s regular meeting.

More than 80 residents turned out for the meeting of the commission that supervises the town’s open space lands, with most voicing opposition to the decision at a Nov. 6 meeting to pursue the trapping. The commission in recent months has been discussing damage caused by beavers to trees and trails at the 90 acre park. The commission had authorized some lethal trapping of beaver at the park in March 2011, a decision that drew objections from some residents, but not the public outcry sparked by the latest consideration of the trapping option.

About two dozen residents, including some children and teenagers, spoke in opposition to the option of lethal trapping. Many called the trapping, in which beavers are restrained and held underwater until drowning, as cruel and inhumane. Paul Leach said the method of removal “is unkind and therefore unacceptable,” while Scott Konrad maintained it take the animals several minutes to expire during the trapping. Several residents urged the commission to further investigate options for controlling beaver activity that do not include lethal trapping, with some offering to contribute money to pay for any devices or piping that could control the beaver without trapping.

But some residents, including parks and recreation commission members Jim Rawn and Robert Russo, contended too much beaver activity could impact water quality in the larger of the two ponds that is used as a town swimming area. Rawn said the swimming area was closed for a period in 2001 due to contamination of the water from animal feces, while also suggesting that beaver activity could undermine the man-made dams that help contain the two man-made former sand and gravel quarry ponds.

After hearing more than 90- minutes of public comment, commission members, some reluctant, agreed to hold off any lethal trapping this year to investigate other options for controlling and limiting damage caused by beaver activity. State rules limit beaver trapping to the colder weather months.

First Selectman Norman Needleman, who joined commission members at the table as an ex-officio member, urged the commission to spend additional time exploring other options for beaver control. Needleman also offered the services of the town’s consulting engineer, Robert Doane, to help establish whether the beaver activity truly poses any threat to the structure of the two ponds.

Chester Selectmen Vote to Take No Action on Residential Target Shooting Ordinance

The board of selectmen will take no further action on the issue of a residential target shooting ordinance that was requested by a group of Wig Hill Road residents living near an undeveloped property that is used for target shooting.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday on a motion by Selectman Larry Sypher to take no further action on an issue that had drawn dozens of target shooting enthusiasts and gun rights supporters to an Oct. 21 public information meeting. The issue had been discussed further when more than two dozen residents turned out for the board’s Nov. 18 meeting.

The nine-acre Wig Hill Road property that sparked the public debate on the issue is owned by Deep River resident Warren Elliot and has been used as a private target shooting range for several years. A group of residents living near the property, raising concerns about noise and public safety, had submitted a petition last summer urging the selectmen to consider a town ordinance that would prohibit target shooting on properties in a residential zone.. The idea of an ordinance, which would have required approval from voters at a town meeting, was strongly opposed by most of the residents that turned out for the Oct. 21 information meeting.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said he concluded that any town wide ordinance regulating target shooting would be unworkable, and suggested the issue should be handled on a “case by case basis.” Meehan said he believes concerns about activity on the Wig Hill Road property could be resolved with “the cooperation of the property owner and using law enforcement when necessary.”

Op-Ed: Let’s Do Something About Essex’s Tacky “Front Door”

Cause for concern:  the bridge carrying Rte. 9 at exit 3 is Essex's "Front Door"

Cause for concern: the bridge carrying Rte. 9 at exit 3 is Essex’s “Front Door”

Look at the “front door” to Essex, Conn.:  Tacky, patch-painted bridges and untamed brush.  Hardly welcoming enticements for visitors, and in sharp contrast to the beautiful center road “gardens” maintained by our beloved, hard working,  Ancient Order of Weeders.

There are two issues here: (1) refurbishment of the bridges themselves and (2) upkeep of the land around the bridges.

(1)   Expense for upkeep of these bridges and surroundings belongs to the Conn. Dept. of Transportation (DOT).  Conversations with the DOT regarding Essex’s tackiness
result in this:  due to budget constraints, repainting these  bridges (lead paint is huge issue) will only happen when the bridge needs major structural rehab.  However, were there grafitti all over the  bridges, the DOT could indeed get out and cover it.  Which is to say, the DOT could make the bridges look good without the necessity of the total overhaul.  But will not.  The solution is simple!  All I need to do is to get out with long-armed spray paint cans (would you join me?) and spell out something gross.  Just kidding.

Underneath the Rte. 9 bridge -- not a pretty picture.

Underneath the Rte. 9 bridge — not a pretty picture.

I challenge the so-called “budget constraints.”  While the DOT has no funds to fix the ugly Essex bridges, it does indeed have budget to mow down, — remove — all greenery in a large divider section on Rte. 9 at Exit 2.  You’ve surely noticed it.   Inquiries with State Rep. Phil Miller indicate the reason for the mowing was that there were invasive trees in that area.  So when or why does the DOT study and determine the quality of greenery on public lands?  Connecticut has a Forestry Dept. within the Department of Environmental Protection that studies and has funds to control such problems. The DOT has funds for invasive tree eradication, but not for tidying up ugly bridges.

A view of the Old Saybrook exit.

A view of the Old Saybrook exit.

As you can see, there is something awry here.  But, as it appears hopeless that such wasteful duplications in our State Government will be fixed soon, if ever, it seems that the only way Essex can get its ‘Front Door’ at Exit 3 spruced up, is by a special allowance to the DOT from State funds specific for “Bridge Beautification.”  I submit that as there are State Small Town Economic Assistance Program ( STEAP) funds granted for upgrades to replace crosswalks, tennis courts and parking lots, there surely are funds available to relieve Essex of its “Tacky Town” appearance.

I-95's Exit 70 offers a beautiful gateway to Old Lyme.

I-95’s Exit 70 offers a beautiful gateway to Old Lyme.

(2)   In contrast to Essex’s bridges and surrounding areas, look at the expansive, elegant and well-mowed plantings at I-95,  Exit 70, Old Lyme.  I hereby ask of the DOT to give Essex equal treatment.  And I hereby request Essex’s First Selectman Norm Needleman to request a State grant to the DOT to speed along this project.  In addition,  I hereby request our state representatives … Phil Miller and Art Linares … to assist in pushing these projects through.

Essex Elementary School Foundation Hosts Haiti Day

Second grader Lyle Pitman works on his Haitian mask.

Second grader Lyle Pitman works on his Haitian mask.

Second and third grade students at the Essex Elementary School were recently treated to Haiti Day, as part of the Justus W. Paul World Cultures program, funded by the Essex Elementary School Foundation.  They learned about Haitian life and culture by making masks and metal art, as well as listening to music performed by the Carnival Trio.  The children will also study India and China.

In early December, the Essex Elementary School Foundation (EESF) kicked off its annual appeal.  In addition to the World Cultures Program, this not-for-profit, volunteer organization also provides funds for enrichment programs, such as an iPad lab, a talent show and a mathematician-in-residence.

United Church of Christ Seeks Christian Education Director

The United Church of Chester is currently looking for a Christian Education Director.  See the church website at uccchester.org or email unitedchester@sbcglobal.net or call 860-526-2697 for a job description.

The church’s mission states, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here at the United Church of Chester, an Open and Affirming Church, and a member of the United Church of Christ.”  Each member has the undisturbed right to follow the Word of God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience, under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

Visit for Sunday morning worship at 10 a.m. or come by the office Tues-Fri 9 a.m.-1 p.m. to find out more about the church.

The mailing address for the church is United Church of Chester Post Office Box 383 29 West Main Street  Chester, Connecticut 06412

The Bells of Dublin – Part Two: The Carol of the Bells at Ivoryton Playhouse

Jenna Berloni and R. Bruce Connelly*

Jenna Berloni and R. Bruce Connelly*

IVORYTON — It wouldn’t be Christmas without a trip to Dublin to visit Paddy and the gang at Bell’s Pub. But what is going on here? Guinness and Irish Stew are gone and tapas and red wine are on the menu?? Oh Paddy, did the crock of gold you got from the leprechauns go to your head? Don’t miss the hilarious sequel to THE BELLS OF DUBLIN coming to the Playhouse in December.

A very special and original holiday production for the whole family, written and directed by Ivoryton Playhouse Executive Director, Jacqueline Hubbard, THE CAROL OF THE BELLS will premiere at the Ivoryton Playhouse onDecember 11, 2014.

“An Irish pub, great music and Christmas – the winning trifecta for a fun filled, family holiday show. We had such a terrific time with Paddy Bell and his family last Christmas I couldn’t resist bringing him back again this year. So, if you enjoyed THE BELLS OF DUBLIN, come back and see what trouble Paddy gets into this year. And if you missed it last year, no worries; when the curtain goes up and we’re in Paddy’s pub, everyone is family!”

Norm Rutty and Michael McDermott*

Norm Rutty and Michael McDermott*

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*, Ted Philips and Norm Rutty from the local bandSave the Train, Jenna Berloni, Nancy and David Cardone,  Olivia Harry,  Larry Lewis, Maggie McGlone Jennings, Michael Hotkowski, Holly Price and Celeste Cumming. The set for this production is designed by Dan Nischan, costumes by Breeana Korcak and lights by Marcus Abbott.

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

The Bells of Dublin Part Two: The Carol of the Bells opens on Thursday, December 11 and runs thru December 21. Performance times are Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are ThursdayFriday and Saturday at 7:30 pm.There is also a Wednesday matinee on December 17. Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 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.

*member of Actors Equity

Letter: Must Consider the Health Risks the Beavers Present

To the Editor:

It’s distressing to read the several letters about the extermination of the beavers at Vineyard Hill Brook Park. You can be sure the “remedy” chosen to remove the beavers from the park is a last resort, not the first choice, of the park managers. The unfortunate reality is that water in which beaver resides is not healthy, is in fact dangerous, for humans, especially young humans.

Maybe the remedy would be to allow a pond to be developed downstream, somewhere, or some such; there just aren’t a lot of places to which they can be removed any more. The reason Essex has the park is to allow people to swim and play in a potable water body, not just for fun, but also to learn a little about being able to survive in water.

We allow the killing of other animals which are a threat to us, and though it is not my own desire to do this, no one seems to have a better remedy.

Sincerely,

Jonathan James
Essex

Chester Committee Drops Plan for Main Street North Side Sidewalk as Town is Awarded $1 Million Grant for Library Project

CHESTER— In an abrupt change of plans, the Main Street Project Committee voted Tuesday to drop plans for a continuous north side sidewalk as part of the Main Street East reconstruction project. The decision came as town officials learned Monday that Chester has been awarded a $1 million state grant for construction of a new library at North Quarter Park, the 22-acre town park that would have been served by the proposed north side sidewalk.

The Main Street Project Committee, working with engineers Kent & Frost Associates of Mystic, last March recommended the continuous north side sidewalk as part of the Main Street East plan to reconstruct 1,800 feet of Main Street from the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Route 154) west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. The plan drew a mixed response at an April 22 public information meeting, with some residents objecting to removal of two mature maple trees along the section of street, while others agreed a sidewalk was necessary, particularly if the town pursues construction of a new library at North Quarter Park.

The plan also drew strong objections from Jeff and Comer Gates, property owners at 137 Main Street, who contended the sidewalk would be too close to the front of their house. The board of selectmen later endorsed the plan with the north side sidewalk, and directed engineers to prepare design plans that included it. Officials were hoping to put the project out to bid this winter.

But earlier this fall, selectmen learned the total cost of the project would be about $1.3 million, exceeding the approximately $1,154,000 in available funding that included  $780,000 in state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants, and $374,000 in set aside town capital funds. Engineers were reviewing the plans for possible cost savings as the board of selectmen last week scheduled a Dec. 9 town meeting to vote on authorizing a release of the $374,000 in set aside town funds for the project. The Gates’s continued to oppose the plan, posting a large sign on the front of their property calling for removal of the continuous north side sidewalk to save money.The board of finance at a Nov. 20 meeting expressed concerns about the approximate $150,000 funding gap, and tabled a any decision on authorizing release of the town funds.

As the Main Street Project Committee convened Tuesday evening, Chairman Michael Joplin announced that he would recommend scaling back the project to include only the area from the intersection with School Lane west to the parking area at the entrance to Laurel Hill Cemetery, deferring any work east of School Lane including a continuous north side sidewalk. Joplin said the reluctance of the finance board top approve release of the town funding indicated the plan could face opposition, and possible rejection, by voters at the Dec. 9 town meeting. He said a town meeting defeat could jeopardize the state grant funding that is needed for the project.

Other committee members, and First Selectman Edmund Meehan, reluctantly agreed. Meehan said the plans for a continuous north side sidewalk could be “pulled off the shelf,” and revisited when the town is closer to completing final plans for a new library at North Quarter Park. The committee later voted to direct project engineers to revise the plans to focus on the segment west of School Lane, along with some limited, and possibly temporary, improvements to roadway from School Lane east to Route 154.

Meehan said Wednesday the board of selectmen would discuss the Main Street East Project, and the proposed new library, further at its Dec. 2 meeting. The selectmen over the summer appointed a library building committee that has hired a Pawtucket, R.I. firm, Lerner, Lads & Bartells, to prepare preliminary plans for a new 5,600-square-foot library on the front section of North Quarter Park.

Meehan said the terms of the $1 million grant require the town to approve full funding for a library project within three years. He said the grant is only expected to cover about a quarter of the total cost for a new library, with an authorization of town bonding funds and private fundraising expected to be needed for the plan for a new library to move forward.

Chester Main Street Bridge Reconstruction Expected to Begin 2016

CHESTER— State Department of Transportation officials reported Monday that a $3 million reconstruction of the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook is expected to begin in early 2016, with the bridge in the downtown village expected to be closed to vehicular traffic from mid-January to mid-May 2016. About 30 residents turned out at the Chester Meeting House Monday for a public information meeting on a project that is entirely funded by the state.

Project managers Andrew Fesenmeyer and David Stahnke presented the latest plans for replacement of the 1921 bridge that carries up to 3,600 vehicles per day. Town officials and residents were supportive of the project, which is expected to set the stage for completion of the final phase of a town sponsored Main Street improvement project that would begin after the new bridge is completed.

But DOT officials cautioned that any delays in securing permits for the project could delay a start of construction to 2017. Fesenmeyer said the project requires permits from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said the permits must be approved by May to allow the project to be put out to bid for a start of construction late next year that would precede the five month bridge closing in 2016. First Selectman Edmund Meehan, along with several residents, said they want to be notified as soon as possible if the bridge closing is to be delayed until January 2017.

DOT has already accepted a construction schedule requested by the town that would limit any closing of the road and bridge to the winter and spring months to reduce disruption for Main Street businesses and annual events. Under the planned schedule, the bridge and road would reopen no later than May 22, 2016. The plan calls for work to be done between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m,. six days per week, with no night work.

The new bridge would be slightly longer and wider than the existing bridge, with a concrete deck and a roadway width of 37-feet. Plans call for preserving the existing stone abutments while reinforcing the abutments with concrete. There would also be improvements to a small section of Main Street and West Main Street (Route 148) in the vicinity of the bridge, including new sidewalk, granite curbing, a new crosswalk, added street trees, and an improved and wider turning radius from Route 148 on to Main Street.

Glastonbury Firm Buys Assets of Chester Insurance Business

Smith Brothers Insurance, in Glastonbury, announced this week it has bought the assets of Archambault Insurance, Inc. and its related parties, of Chester, Connecticut. Archambault is a multi-generational insurance agency that has insured Connecticut families and businesses for over 100 years. Archambault Insurance will remain in Chester with its current staff.

“Ray and Tom Archambault have a terrific reputation for building long-term relationships with businesses and families in the Chester area, and going the extra mile to provide excellent service for their clients; which matches our way of doing business at Smith Brothers. Chester is a great community and there is a lot we can offer their clients”, stated Joe B. Smith, President & CEO of Smith Brothers.

Ray and Tom Archambault will continue to manage the Chester office and will work with Smith Brothers to expand their service offerings to their clients. “We have already began introducing the additional value that Smith Brothers can bring to our clients. We are excited to continue our tradition in Chester and look forward to working with the people at Smith Brothers” stated Ray Archambault. Tom Archambault added, “the culture at Smith Brothers fits our culture very well, and that was very important to Ray and I as well as our team”.

About Smith Brothers Insurance, LLC

Smith Brothers is one of the largest independently operated insurance and financial service organizations in New England.

For over 40 years their core values remain consistent: develop, nurture and maintain trust and respect with all stakeholders: clients, suppliers, employees, shareholders, and community. Smith Brothers’ guiding principles are to build strong relationships with   well-regarded carriers and provide clients with a level of service higher than industry standards, so clients know that they have an advocate, and their assets are protected.

Smith Brothers provides insurance, surety, risk management, employee benefits, and financial services to individuals and businesses. Smith Brothers is a member of Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, one of the most respected independent agency affiliations.

Friends of the Essex Library Donate $10,000 to the Library for New Front Doors

Friends Essex Library October 2014

Linda Levene, President of the Friends of the Essex Library presented Richard Conroy, Director of the Essex Library with a check for $10,000 at the Annual Meeting of the Library on Wednesday evening October 15.  The donation will be used to install new, easy to operate front doors on the Library’s Grove Street entrance.  Richard Conroy thanked the Friends for their gift, saying it would be “…appreciated by everyone each time they visit the Library.”

The Friends donation is the result of two very successful fundraising events this Fall:  “Our Library Rocks” in September and the annual Fall Book Sale in October.

Gun Rights Supporters Voice Opposition to Requested Chester Shooting Ordinance

CHESTER— Gun enthusiasts packed the Chester Meeting House Tuesday to express opposition to a requested municipal ordinance that would prohibit target shooting and discharge of a firearm in residential neighborhoods.

But a smaller group of residents expressed support for an ordinance, or some other restrictions, that would regulate the shooting that is frequently occurring on a nine-acre Wig Hill Road parcel that is owned by a Deep River resident. More than 150 residents, including some non-residents, turned out for a public information meeting that was called by the board of selectmen in response to a petition submitted in August by more than a dozen residents living near the Wig Hill Road property. The board of selectmen has taken no position on the requested ordinance.

The undeveloped parcel, owned by Deep River resident Warren Elliot, contains a fixed trap target shoot area that neighbors contend is a heavily used rifle range. John Ratchford, whose 85 Wig Hill Road property abuts the Elliot parcel, said an ordinance would enhance public safety by clarifying what type of shooting is allowed in a residential neighborhood. His wife, Sally, said the frequent sound of gunfire from large rifles has driven her indoors on sunny days.  Marzena Adams said she is concerned for the safety of visitors and children in the neighborhood, noting “it only takes one bullet.” Cynthia Monahan said she is “all for guns but I’m not for shooting in may back yard.”

Other residents, including many gun owners and some who shoot on the Elliott property, said any town ordinance would be unnecessary and could not be tailored to the topographical conditions of Chester. Some said target shooting should be expected in a rural town like Chester, and one resident compared the request for a shooting ordinance to a  controversial 2012 request from one resident for a zoning regulation to prohibit hens and roosters in residential areas.

Jason LaMark, of 62-1 Wig Hill Road, said a small hill separates the shooting area from any nearby homes that he contends are nearly 500 feet away. LaMark said existing state laws already prohibit reckless discharge of a firearms, and noted conditions on the Eilliot property have been monitored by police. He added that no rural towns in Connecticut have a local shooting ordinance.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan, who has also inspected the Elliot property, said  he believes the shooting “is being conducted in a safe way,”  based on differences in elevation and distance to nearby homes. Meehan said the board would discuss the shooting issue further at a future meeting, while also noting that any possible ordinance would require approval from voters at a town meeting.

Based on the volume of applause for speakers on both side of the issue at Tuesday’s meeting, a shooting ordinance would be unlikely to win voter approval at a town meeting. But resident Joe Cohen, speaking at a selectmen’s meeting that followed the public information meeting, said the shooting activity on Wig Hill Road is a land use issue. Cohen said selectmen should have investigated regulating the activity through that avenue before calling an information meeting on an ordinance.

Oct. 21 Information Meeting on Shooting Ordinance to be Held at Chester Meeting House

CHESTER— The Oct. 21 public information meeting on a possible municipal ordinance regulating target shooting in residential neighborhoods will be held at the Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. The location of the meeting is a change because most town meetings over the 18 months have been held in a second floor meeting room that was constructed after interior renovations to the town hall on Route 154.

The board of selectmen scheduled the session in response to a petition submitted in August signed by about 30 residents requesting consideration of a town ordinance that would limit and regulate target shooting and discharge of a firearm in Chester. Most of the petitioners were from the Wig Hill Road-Baker Road neighborhood, with many objecting to shooting that is occurring at one residential property in the area. First Selectman Edmund Meehan will present information at the meeting on shooting ordinances that are in place at other cities and towns in Connecticut.

Essex Selectmen Schedule Nov. 5 Public Information Meeting on Ivoryton Main Street Project

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has scheduled a Nov. 5 public information meeting on a grant-funded improvement project for a section of Main Street in the Ivoryton village. The session will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.
The project, which includes four new raised crosswalks, new curbing and sidewalks and some new lighting, is to be funded by a $435,000 grant awarded last year from the state’s Main Streets Investment Fund program. The town has hiredAnchor Engineering Services of Glastonbury to prepare design plans for the improvements.

Selectwoman Stacia Libby, who been coordinating the project said at Wednesday’s board meeting that project engineers would be at the Nov. 5 meeting to review the plans with residents and answer questions. Libby said the plans have been reviewed by the parks and recreation and planning commissions, and had received a favorable response at a recent meeting with members of the Ivoryton Alliance, a group comprised of business and property owners in Ivoryton Village. The preliminary design plans will also be on display at the Ivoryton Library before the Nov. 5 meeting

The plans also include removal of a paved island at the intersection of Main and Summit streets that was constructed in the early 1970s. The removal would create a wider T-shaped intersection that would be safer and more convenient for winter snow plows and fire trucks from the Ivoryton Firehouse on Summit Street. Selectmen are hoping to put the project out to bid by May 2015 for construction next year.

Essex Garden Club Installs “Francesca”

Franchescagardenclub

Essex Garden Club has created “Francesca” to compete in this year’s Scarecrow Competition sponsored by the Essex Board of Trade. Pictured left to right are Eve Potts, Mylan Sarner and Sandy French.  “Francesca” sits at the entrance to Town Park on Main Street where the Garden Club members recently completed their fall cleanup.

Old Saybrook Land Trust Contributes $30,000 Toward Preserve Purchase

 (l-r) Old Saybrook Land Trust President Joe Nochera and Treasurer Mike Urban present Alicia Sullivan and Lori Fernand (l-r) of The Trust for Public Land with a check for $30,000 toward The Preserve purchase. Photo by Bob Lorenz, taken at The Preserve trailhead on Ingham Hill Rd., Old Saybrook.

(l-r) Old Saybrook Land Trust President Joe Nochera and Treasurer Mike Urban present Alicia Sullivan and Lori Fernand (l-r) of The Trust for Public Land with a check for $30,000 toward The Preserve purchase. Photo by Bob Lorenz, taken at The Preserve trailhead on Ingham Hill Rd., Old Saybrook.

OLD SAYBROOK – Old Saybrook Land Trust (OSLT) President Joe Nochera, and Treasurer Mike Urban recently presented Alicia Sullivan and Lori Fernand of the Trust for Public Land (TPL) with a $30,000 donation toward the purchase and preservation of the 1,000 acre Preserve.

For more than a year The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and their partners including the OSLT, have worked to secure state, town and private funds toward the purchase of this large tract of coastal forest.

Public financial commitments have added up to significant funds toward the $10 million goal. The state committed to $3.3 million, Old Saybrook voters approved $3 million, Essex is working to raise funds for the 70 acres in Essex through a town fund and a state grant sought by the Essex Land Trust. TPL has also received large private donations.

Despite this success, State Director for the TPL Sullivan says $1.13 million is still needed by the December 2014 closing date.

According to Urban, “In addition to those from of our regular members and donors, we received funds from a number of people who indicated the funds should be used toward The Preserve purchase. We matched those funds with $15,000 that we have received over time through our Annual Fund and Membership drives. The purchase speaks to our cause, it’s the biggest land acquisition that will come up in our lifetime.”

“We’re working to purchase the property, and working to make sure we can fulfill the dream people have had to make it publically accessible. That includes things such as trailheads, parking, restroom facilities and trail work,” Fernand, TPL’s Associate Director of Philanthropy, said.

If you would like to donate online visit oslt.org, or http://www.razoo.com/story/Preserve-The-1-000-Acre-Forest-1. Mail checks to The Trust for Public Land, 101 Whitney Avenue, 2nd Floor, New Haven, CT 06510. Call 203-777-7367, ext. 6, for more information. Donations are tax deductible.

“This is our opportunity to preserve, for all and forever, the huge coastal forest in our very midst. This chance may never come again.  Let this be our legacy to generations yet unborn.” Bill Childress, Campaign Committee Chair.

November Town Meeting Expected for Funding Votes on Chester Main Street Project

CHESTER— The board of selectmen is expected to schedule a November town meeting for votes on funding components for the Main Street East Project, including votes on accepting state grants for the project and authorizing the use of set aside town capital funds for the project that includes reconstruction of an 1,800-foot section of Main Street east of the downtown village.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan told the board of selectmen Tuesday that project engineers with Kent & Frost Associates of Mystic are expected to have nearly complete design plans for the project ready later this month. The project is scheduled for an advisory review by the planning and zoning commission at aNov. 13 meeting.

The estimated $1 million project calls for reconstructing an 1,800-foot section of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. The project drew some opposition at an April public information meeting held by the Main Street Project committee, which is coordinating the project along with plans for additional reconstruction and improvements to Main Street in the coming years. Some residents, including one property owner, had objected to plans for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street that would require removal of some mature trees.

Meehan said project engineers are working with all property owners on the street to reach agreement on final design plans. Officials hope to put the project out to bid during the winter for a start of construction in spring 2015.

Meehan said town meeting approval is required to formally accept two state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants awarded for the project, including a $450,000 grant awarded last April and a $333,000 grant that was redirected from funds left over from a previous grant that paid for construction of a new public water main on a northerly section of Route 154. He said a second vote is required to authorize release and use of $375,000 in town capital improvements funding that had been set aside for the project over several fiscal years.

The board Tuesday deferred setting a specific date for the town meeting, preferring to wait until after the board of finance considers the various funding components at an Oct. 16 meeting. Meehan said he wants to hold the town meeting after the Nov. 13 planning and zoning session, but before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Essex Selectmen Endorse Possible $8 Million Bonding for Capital Projects

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday gave a preliminary endorsement to a possible $8 million bond issue for capital projects, adding $600,000 for a new fire truck to a list of projects that had been recommended by an advisory capital projects committee.

The board discussed the capital projects report that was submitted last month for nearly an hour, along with a separate 10-year capital expenditures plan that was submitted by the Essex Volunteer Fire Department. The selectmen crafted a motion to approve a capital projects plan, but deferred a final vote on an exact recommended projects and bonding total to its Oct. 15 meeting.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the board of finance would begin discussing the capital projects plan at it’s Oct. 16 meeting, with the next step a public hearing on the projects and proposed bonding that would be held in mid-November. He said a referendum vote on a possible bonding authorization for capital projects could be held before the end of the year.

The volunteer fire department last month submitted a 10-year capital expenditures plan that would include possible renovation and expansion of the Ivoryton Firehouse in 2024. The most immediate item on the list is the $600,000 purchase of a new pumper fire truck by 2017 that would replace a 1994 model truck.

Selectmen agreed to add the new fire truck to the capital projects list recommended by the committee, concluding that bond funds should be available to purchase the truck by 2017. The capital projects plan recommended by the committee would require about $6 million in bonding, though the town would be eligible for $2 million in state or federal funding reimbursement for a bridge replacement project and improvements at Essex Elementary School.

The work at the elementary school, including roof replacement and other improvements, would cost about $2.52 million. The two Ivoryton section bridge projects, replacement of the 30 year-old Walnut Street bridge and a much smaller bridge on Ivory Street, are estimated to cost $2.1 million. The plan also includes $1.65 million for renovations and improvements at town hall, and $470,000 for improvements at the town public works garage.

There was no discussion Wednesday on removing any projects from the list recommended by the committee. But Needleman said the list of projects and proposed bonding total would be subject to possible change based on the review by the finance board and input received at the public hearing.

Mystic Company Picked for $4 Million Deep River Sewer Expansion Project

DEEP RIVER— The town has hired  B&W Paving and Landscaping of Mystic for the sewer expansion project in several neighborhoods in the Kirtland Street-River Lane area on the east side of Main Street. The board of selectmen voted unanimously to hire the firm at a Sept. 24 joint meeting with the town’s water pollution control authority.

B&W Paving and Landscaping, with a base bid of $3,609,985, had submitted the lowest of four bids for the project that were opened last month. The project was put out to bid a second time over the summer after all of the bids opened in June came in over the $4 million in available funding . Voters at a May 2013 town meeting had approved the $4 million project, which is funded by a combination of federal/state grants and a low interest 30-year loan. The project was intended to extend municipal sewer service to about 120 properties in the Kirtland Street-River Lane area.

But First Selectman Richard Smith said this week  several properties that are located on small streets that were listed as alternates in the bid documents would not receive service in the initial construction because of the limited funding. Alternates that have been deferred include providing service to four properties on River Street, and a new pumping station that would be located to the south on Essex Street. Smith said the town could work on the new pumping station separately, possibly using the pubic works department and subcontractors.

Smith said the work included in the base bid from B&W Paving and Landscaping would extend service to about 95 residential properties, along with bringing sewer service to the town landing on the riverfront  at the end of Kirtland Street.
Smith said the town has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for an increase in the grant and loan funding and is expecting to receive a reply to the request by the end of this month. He said selectmen decided to award the base bid now to advance the project because any additional grant and loan funding would require a separate approval from voters at a town meeting. Smith said preliminary work for the expansion project is expected to begin before the end of the year, with most of the construction of the new sewer line to be completed in the spring of 2015.

Essex Meadows Receives LEED Gold Certification

ESSEX — Imagine what a group of residents and staff who cares about its environment can do for a 26-year-old retirement community with 318,936 sq. ft. of space. With lighting upgrades, solar power, geothermal heating, low-flow plumbing and an ozone injection system, among other investments, the result is a resourceful use of water, chemicals and electricity in daily life. Essex Meadows, a lifecare retirement community located at 30 Bokum Road in Essex, Conn., has implemented these green principles, and is proud to announce that the U.S. Green Building Council has recognized the community’s efforts and has given it one of the organization’s highest honors: LEED Gold certification. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an initiative promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council to recognize organizations across the country and their efforts to reduce global footprints.

“We’re honored to receive this certification,” said Jennifer Rannestad, Executive Director of Essex Meadows. “We find it very important to make a difference, and now our efforts to do our part have been recognized.”

Senior living communities across the country are making renovations to improve environmental sustainability as a new wave of older adults, with progressive priorities in addition to a desire for the traditional necessities of retirement living, are searching for active, engaged communities to call home. Essex Meadows took the necessary steps to meet changing expectations, which include: installation of a solar power system; geothermal heating and cooling used in new construction; lighting upgrades; extensive HVAC balance testing; non-potable water used in irrigation; new low-flow plumbing fixtures; an ozone injection system added to laundry; a full recycling and green cleaning program; and naturalized meadows for wildlife and reduced mowing. Essex Meadows also purchases locally grown food when feasible, and provides real-time monitoring of the community’s solar power system on its website to show the positive impact the installation is having.

“Our green initiatives are important aspects of what makes Essex Meadows what it is,” Rannestad said. “And these initial principles we’ve implemented are a step in the right direction for us to continue making a difference.”

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program takes into account many factors while considering whether a structure is certified “green.” Categories judged and scored for each building include: Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, and Innovation in Operations.

 

New Pastor at First Baptist Church in Essex

On September 28th, First Baptist Church in Essex officially installed their new pastor, Rev. Joy Perkett.  Participants in the service included Rev. Joe Delahunt, a representative of the American Baptist Churches of Connecticut, Rev. Amy Hollis, a local Baptist pastor and former member of First Baptist Church in Essex and Philip Miller, the state representative for the 36th Assembly District.

Joy Perkett was called by the congregation in early May and her first Sunday was July 13th.    She is an ordained minister in the American Baptist tradition and holds a Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work from Boston University.  Rev. Perkett is also a Licensed Master Social Worker.  Prior to her appointment at First Baptist Church in Essex, she worked as a campaign coordinator around issues of economic justice and as a case manager with people recovering from addiction and mental illness.   Rev. Perkett’s vision for ministry is one in which we experience God’s love and peace in our own lives and then go forth and share it with the world.  She is passionate about spiritual growth and development as well as meaningful work in the community.   She was drawn to First Baptist Church in Essex by the deep, abiding love they share with one another and with the world.

First Baptist Church in Essex was founded in 1811 and built in its current location in 1846.  The church’s slogan is “Planting the Seeds of God’s Love since 1811”.  One of the notable ways the church planted seeds of God’s love is by envisioning and starting the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries in 1989.  Since then, the non-profit has grown to include eight soup kitchens and four food pantries in an eleven town area.  First Baptist Church remains active in the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and continues to envision new ways to serve including donating meat for the local food programs and collecting food donations at local grocery stores.  The church also fosters relationships and spiritual growth through its book and Bible studies.  They meet for worship on Sundays at 10 a.m.  For more information, visit the church website at www.fbcinessex.org or call the office at 860-767-8623.

Essex Historical Society Receives $12,500 Grant from 1772 Foundation

The Pratt House

The Pratt House

ESSEX — The Essex Historical Society (EHS) has been awarded a $12,500 grant from the 1772 Foundation, in partnership with CT Trust for Historic Preservation, to support restoration work on the Pratt House Museum. The award is part of the 1772 Foundation’s highly competitive matching grant program for historic preservation projects.

The funding will support repair on the Pratt House that was recommended by Building Conservation Associates, Inc. of Dedham, Mass., in its 2012 Architectural Conservation Assessment. These recommendations include: repair of the Pratt House’s exterior foundation, painting the exterior and glazing its windows, repairing gutter work, cleaning the interior of the chimney and replacing a missing door in the cellar.

“We are grateful to the 1772 Foundation for their support,” said Sherry Clark, president of the Essex Historical Society. “With the grant and the matched funding by the Essex Historical Society, nearly all of the necessary repairs and maintenance recommended in the Architectural Conservation Assessment of the Pratt House will be completed.”

The restoration work is scheduled to begin October 2014 and to be complete by May 2015.

The historic Pratt House was built in 1701 and was home to the descendants of Lt. William Pratt, one of the three first settlers of Essex for two centuries. Its barn, traditional herb garden and meadow complete the pastoral setting of a New England farmhouse. The house remained in the Pratt family ownership until 1952, when it was deeded to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now known as Historic New England). In 1985 Historic New England transferred the property and much of its contents to EHS, and EHS has been caring for the property ever since. Visitors are invited to tour the home Fridays through Sundays, from June through September.

About the 1772 Foundation —The 1772 Foundation was named in honor of its first restoration project, Liberty Hall in Union, NJ, which was built in 1772 and is the ancestral home of the Livingston and Kean families. The late Stewart B. Kean was the original benefactor of the 1772 Foundation. The Foundation seeks to continue his legacy throughout the country by helping preserve architectural and cultural history and agricultural landscapes for generations to come. For more information, visithttp://www.1772foundation.org/.

About the Essex Historical Society — The Essex Historical Society seeks to promote awareness and understanding of the people, places and events that have shaped the history of Essex, Connecticut. The Society collects and interprets artifacts and archival material, and provides educational programs and exhibits to bring those interpretations to the community. To house this collection and to provide a window into earlier Essex life, the Society maintains two historic structures: Pratt House (1701) and Hills Academy (1832). Recognizing the importance of the past to our understanding of the present and our planning for the future, the Essex Historical Society advocates the preservation of significant structures and sites that reveal the history of Essex. To learn more, visit the EHS website and follow EHS on Facebook.

Three 33rd District Candidates Hold Lively Debate at High School in Deep River

Democratic candidate Emily Bjornberg, Republican candidate Senator Art Linares and Independent Candidate Colin Bennett (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Democratic candidate Emily Bjornberg, Republican candidate Senator Art Linares and Green Party Candidate Colin Bennett (photo by Jerome Wilson)

DEEP RIVER— The three candidates in the 12-town 33rd State Senate District, one-term incumbent Republican Sen. Art Linares, Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg, and Green Party candidate Colin Bennett, held a lively debate Tuesday that covered the economy and taxes, along with social issues such as reproductive rights and possible right-to-die legislation.

A crowd of more than 100 voters filled the auditorium at Valley Regional High School, with sign waving supporters of the two major party candidates gathering outside the school before the start of the debate. The 90-minute session was moderated by Essex  Library Director Richard Conroy, who posed questions that had been submitted in writing before the debate from district voters.

Linares, describing his record as “pro-growth and pro jobs,” attempted to tie Bjornberg to tax increases imposed during the administration of Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Democrat-controlled legislature. Bjornberg noted that she was not in the legislature when most of the higher taxes were approved, and pledged to be “very wary” of increases in “regressive taxes,” such as the sales and gasoline taxes, in any future budget decisions.

Objections from Linares to the Malloy Administration First Five program of grants and loans for business expansion prompted one of the sharpest exchanges of the session, with Bjornberg noting that Linares had accepted a $350,000 state low interest loan for his Middletown-based Green Skies solar power company while later voting against funding for the program.  She also contended Green Skies resells cheaper solar panels from China at the expense of producers in Connecticut and the United States. Linares replied that Bjornberg’s comments show “my opponent is ready to attack a good thing,”  describing the business he co-founded as a clean energy company that is providing jobs.

The candidates differed on possible right-to-die legislation for the terminally ill, with Bjornberg pledging support for what she called the “compassionate choices” bill that failed to win approval in this year’s legislative session. Linares said he is “concerned about human error,” under the proposed legislation. Bennett also expressed support for the bill that is expected to be considered again next year.

A question on reproductive rights and insurance coverage for birth control brought passionate remarks from Bjornberg, declaring that she is concerned about her young daughter losing rights that women have fought for and secured over the past 40 years. Linares said he was “born a Catholic” and is “not running for the U.S. Supreme Court,” before changing the topic to his support for new legislation to protect women from domestic violence.

Marijuana and the minimum wage brought the most passionate remarks from Bennett, who has run as the Green Party candidate in three previous elections in the 33rd District. Bennett said  “ending the prohibition” on marijuana would help the state’s economy and finances. Linares dismissed the idea of legalizing marijuana, while Bjornberg said she would not support legalization at the present time but favors a “careful and measured” review of the option and possible further reductions in penalties for possession of marijuana.

Bennett said the minimum wage, set to increase to $10.10 per hour in the coming years, should be even higher and suggested there should be a “maximum wage” for the highest paid earners. Linares said he opposed the minimum wage hike adopted earlier this year because Democrats had blocked all amendments to establish a lower starting wage for workers under age 21. Bjornberg said Linares and state Republicans were “fear mongering” on the minimum wage issue and quoted Eleanor Roosevelt’s Depression era comment that “we all do well when we all do well.”

In her closing remarks, Bjornberg called on Linares to agree to hold another campaign debate in one of the northern towns of the sprawling district. Other sessions set for early October are more limited forums that include candidates for state House seats. The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep  River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and sections of Old Saybrook.

Talking Trash – Essex Land Trust Coordinates Shoreline Cleanup

In general, Essex is not one of those communities where trash in public places is a problem. Along the length of our Connecticut River shoreline, however, it is another matter. The amount of debris that accumulates along our shores is nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately, there seems to be a never-ending supply of debris along the riverbanks.

The Connecticut River’s steady flow towards its mouth brings with it logs, branches and other organic material that are swept into the river by storms, high tides and occasional flooding. It also brings with it an incredible array of items that have clearly been carelessly allowed to be swept away or dumped outright into the river.

For the past two years the Essex Land Trust has tried to do its part by focusing on cleaning up Essex’s Great Meadow. This past Fall, on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, 65 volunteers dedicated three hours to gathering all kinds of trash including, significant quantities of Styrofoam, bottles, cans, car tires and more.

This effort is part of an annual program sponsored by the Connecticut River Watershed Council Participating. Called the Source to Sea Cleanup, each September communities along the 410-mile length of the Connecticut River dedicate themselves to cleaning up their shoreline. This past year, 2,227 volunteers collected a total haul of 45 tons, which included electrical appliances, furniture, automotive parts, and mattresses, among many other items.

The list of debris collected on the Essex Great Meadow is shown below:

  1. Glass bottles (5 five gallon buckets)
  2. Plastic bottles (27 thirty gallon bags)
  3. Plastic items (3 five gallon buckets)
  4. Styrofoam (35 thirty gallon bags)
  5. Tires (19)
  6. Wood (19 lbs)
  7. Metal items (10)
  8. Other items (6′ x 3′ plastic tub, 50 gallon plastic and metal drums, 30 gallon plastic drum, 2′ x 4′ plastic float, fiberglass kayak, hunting tent, large float/raft, LP gas container, plastic sled)

Besides being unsightly, trash in our water bodies has a damaging effect on the environment particularly impacting wildlife and vegetation. One measure of this impact is the decomposition rate of common debris. The following chart illustrate how long items last in our environment, i.e., 200 years for aluminum cans and 450 years for plastic bottles.

Untitled

 

The Connecticut River has come a long way from the 1950s when it was called the “best landscaped sewer in the country.” The passage of the Clean Water Act and the ban on DDT in 1972 have done much to help the river recover to a Class B status, meaning that it is safe for all purposes excluding drinking. Turning to the future, our challenge is to build on the progress achieved by ensuring a cleaner and healthier river, one that would harken back to the days when the Algonquians gave it its name, the “quinetucket,” the place of the long tidal river.

The Land Trust intends to repeat the Great Meadow clean up this coming September. The date has already been set: Saturday, September 27 at 9 am. So, mark your calendars!

 

Essex Wellness Center – New Essex Business Unlike Any Other

ESSEX — The Essex Wellness Center has opened its doors at 28 Main Street in the colonial village of Essex, Connecticut.

The first of its kind in or near this idyllic riverfront community, Essex Wellness Center offers a strategically developed range of holistic services in one location. Medical specialties and complementary therapies include naturopathic and Chinese medicine, acupuncture, anti-aging techniques, nutrition for health and weight loss, hypnosis, life coaching, therapy for body image and eating disorders, massage, integrative nurse coaching, mindful meditation, life and business/executive leadership coaching, and counseling for substance abuse and addictions.

Having a team of holistic minded health professionals under one roof is beyond convenient; it allows for assessments and a comprehensive wellness plan for a client who may be experiencing complicated symptoms triggered by anxiety, allergies, burnout, sports injury, or for someone who wants to strengthen their immune system or overcome a struggle with weight, smoking, insomnia, phobias, substance abuse or addiction.

Services and classes at Essex Wellness Center’s waterside locations on nearby Novelty Lane include Tai Chi and Qigong with Master Teacher David Chandler, Pilates, yoga, mindfulness meditation, Reiki, Barre, Zumba and personal and private fitness training.Essex Wellness Center founder and director Heidi Kunzli, MS, LADC, created this consortium of highly experienced holistic providers following the same high standards by which she grew her internationally acclaimed Privé-Swiss mental health retreat program in Laguna Beach, California. Founded 14 years ago, Privé-Swiss maintains a world-renowned reputation for offering clinical excellence through practitioners who deliver exceptional quality in care.

“Bringing the Essex Wellness Center to this enchanting village of Essex is a thrill,” said Kunzli, a Connecticut native and Essex resident. “The charm of this town and natural beauty of the river seem like a perfect fit for our natural approach to healing and maintaining optimum physical and mental health for a long, fulfilling life.”

Program updates, class schedules, new services and news about health and wellness will be posted through  facebook.com/ essexwellnesscenter , on Twitter @essexwellnessct and at www.essexwellnessctr.com. Call 860.767.7770 with questions or to make an appointment.

Essex Selectmen Review Plan for Ivoryton Main Street Improvements

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday reviewed a conceptual plan for state grant-funded  improvements to Main Street in the Ivoryton section that could be put out to bid in the spring of 2015.

The town last year was awarded a $435,000 state Main Street Investment Fund grant for several improvements that would  slow traffic through Ivoryton village and create an improved pedestrian environment with four new or improved raised crosswalks. Based on a recommendation from an advisory committee chaired by Selectwoman Stacia Libby, the town earlier this year hired Anchor Engineering Services of Glastonbury to prepare preliminary plans for the project.
One key component of the plan is the removal of a raised island at the intersection of Summit Street and Main Street  that was constructed in the early 1970s with little input from the public.  The removal would create a wider T intersection for the two streets.

The plan also calls for new curbing and sidewalk, along with the new crosswalks. There would also be several new lantern pole-style streetlights installed on the easternmost end of Main Street, extending lighting that was first installed with state grant funding in 2005.  A reconfiguration of the parking area for the Ivorvton Park on the north side of Main Street would add a handful of additional public parking spaces for the village.

Libby said some of the improvements depicted in the plan would require approval from owners of private property on the street. Libby said the conceptual plan is now being reviewed by several town commissions, with a goal of putting the project out to bid by May 2015.

Contracts to be Signed for Deep River Industrial development

DEEP RIVER– The board of selectmen this week approved contracts with three local firms for development on a town-owned parcel at the Plattwood Park Industrial Area. The board endorsed the contracts at a meeting Tuesday after selecting the three firms earlier this summer following a request for proposals.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the three firms, Top Notch Electrical Services LLC, Winthrop Tool LLC, and Moyers Landscaping Services LLC, will be required to begin construction of an industrial building on their assigned parcel by April 2015. The industrial building lots are being divided from a four-acre parcel on the northwest corner of the town industrial area that the town purchased last year for $270,000 from local resident Gary Mislick.

The plans, which have received approval from town land use commissions, call for three lots fronting on a new road that would end in a cul-de-sac. The agreement calls for the town to construct the access road for the parcels.
Under the contracts, the three businesses would be required to pay municipal property tax on the property, including tax on all buildings and equipment. Under the terms of a 40-year lease, the businesses would pay a nominal rent on the land of only $1 per year for the first ten years, with annual rent increasing to $3,600 per year in October 2024. The lease also includes an option to buy the parcels, with the annual rent on the parcels rising every ten years through 2054.

In a separate development Smith reported that a large manufacturing company that had expressed interest in a 59-acre industrial parcel on the east side of Route 154 has now stepped back from a possible purchase of the land from the Mislick family. Smith had announced a possible sale of the parcel, which was rezoned industrial in 2006, at the Aug. 12 board of selectmen meeting.

Smith said the costs of constructing an access road in to the parcel, which would have to extend more than 1,000 feet after a crossing of the Valley Railroad tracks, were too much for the unidentified prospective buyer. Smith said the land remains on the market for sale and development.

Republican Senator Art Linares and Democratic Challenger Emily Bjornberg Schedule Debate for 33rd District Contest

AREAWIDE— Republic State Senators Art Linares and Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg have agreed to at least three public debates for their election contest in the 12-town 33rd Senate district, though Bjornberg is calling for at least one more face-off to be held in one of the northern towns of the district.

In a separate campaign development, Colin Bennett of Westbrook has been endorsed the receive the Green Party line on the Nov. 4 ballot. Bennett has run for the seat several times as the Green Party nominee in past elections where former Democratic State Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook faced Republican challengers.

The Green Party has secured a ballot line in the district with past campaigns by Bennett, and particularly with the 2012 contest after Daily’s retirement where Melissa Schlag of Haddam won nearly ten percent of the vote as the Green Party candidate in the contest with Linares and Democratic nominee Jim Crawford of Westbrook. Schlag was elected last year as the Democratic first selectwoman of Haddam, and is supporting Bjornberg in this year’s election.

Bennett is not believed to be waging an active campaign for the Nov. 4 vote, but he has been included in at least one of the Linares-Bjornberg debates. Bennett has been invited to participate in a Sept. 23 debate at Valley Regional High School in Deep River that is sponsored by the Essex Library. The debate begins at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium, with written questions from the audience that will be screened by the debate moderator, Essex Librarian Richard Conroy.

The first campaign face off between the one-term Republican incumbent and Bjornberg, of Lyme, will be held Tuesday Sept. 16 at the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School in Old Lyme. The session, sponsored by the New London Day, begins at 8 p.m.
Old Lyme is part of the 20th Senate District, but Lyme, its northern neighbor, is in the 33rd District. The district also includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and parts of Old Saybrook.

The candidates will also appear at a debate sponsored by the Westbrook Council of Beaches in early October, and at a forum, not a debate, sponsored by the Chester-Deep River-Essex chapter of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce on the morning of Oct. 3 at the Chester Meeting House.

Bjornberg this week urged Linares to agree to hold one additional public debate in one of the five northern towns of the district, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, or Portland. Bjornberg said she would keep her schedule open for a northern town debate.

Essex Officials Cut Ribbon on Town Hall Civic Campus Project

Cutting the ribbon: (l to r) First Selectman Norman Needleman, Ryce Libby, Maizy Libby, Selectman Stacy Libby, Selectman Bruce Glowar (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Cutting the ribbon: (l to r) First Selectman Norman Needleman, Ryce Libby, Maizy Libby, Selectman Stacy Libby, Selectman Bruce Glowar (photo by Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— A crowd of more than 70 residents was on hand late Wednesday afternoon as the board of selectmen held a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting for the Town Hall Civic Campus project.

The project, which includes a an expanded and improved parking area for town hall, new tennis courts, and a new handicapped accessible children’s playscape, was funded through a combination of state grand funds with some town funding. Completion of the tennis courts earlier this year marked the final phase for a project hat began last fall with work on the town hall parking lot. Most of the heaviest construction work was done by Xenelis Construction Inc. of Middlefield, with some work completed by town public works employees and sub-contractors.

The town was awarded a $471,500 Small  Town Economic Assistance Program, (STEAP) grant for the project in the fall of 2012. Town Finance Director Kelly Sterner said this week the total cost of the project was about $620,000, with the largest components covered by the grant funding, Town funds were used for improvements to the front entrance to town hall on West Avenue, and new crosswalks and sidewalks on Grove Street  at the other side of the building. A $10,000 donation from the Bauman Family Foundation paid for lighting for the tennis courts.

Sterner was one of several town employees praised for their efforts on the project by First Selectman Norman Needleman at the ceremony Wednesday. Needleman, who described the project as a “perfect example of state and local partnership,” said Sterner had helped prepare the grant application while also guiding the different sources of funding for the project. He also praised Parks and Recreation Director Rick Audett for his efforts during construction of the tennis courts and playscape at the Grove Street Park that abuts the town hall property.

Essex First Selectman  Norman Needleman makes opening remarks prior to ribbon cutting (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman makes opening remarks prior to ribbon cutting (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Also participating at the ceremony Wednesday were two incumbent legislators from different political parties who are seeking new terms in the Nov. 4 election, 36th District Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex, and 33rd District Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook.

Comedy is Hard Opening at The Ivoryton Playhouse

Micky Dolenz* and Joyce DeWitt* (photo courtesy of Anne Hudson).

Micky Dolenz* and Joyce DeWitt*  (photo courtesy of Anne Hudson).

IVORYTON – The world premiere of a brand new play by acclaimed writer of The Simpsons, Mike Reiss, will take place at the historic Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT. Previews begin September 24th – the play opens on September 26th and runs through October 12th. Micky Dolenz (of The Monkees) will star alongside Joyce Dewitt,  veteran actress and star of the ABC television hit series Three’s Company.

Dolenz has delighted audiences with his performances on stage in the Elton John/Tim Rice production of Aida;Grease; Pippin’; A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum; and, most recently Hairspray in the West End playing Wilbur Turnblad.

Said Dolenz, “The opportunity to originate this role in Mike’s new play is terrific. I am ready to un-leash my inner-comedian.”

Joyce DeWitt is no stranger to the hilarious writing of Mike Reiss as she starred in the world premiere of his play I’m Connecticut in 2012 at CT Repertory Theatre. DeWitt, who has performed in almost every theatrical genre from Medea to South Pacific, jumped at the chance to perform in another Mike Reiss play. “The idea of figuring out how to play this woman who goes through a deep, heart-place transformation/evolution–in the middle of a wonderfully written comedy!  With Micky Dolenz? At the beautiful, historic Ivoryton Playhouse? “Yes” was a no-brainer.”

Comedy is Hard is a story of friendship and friction between an aging comedian and a veteran dramatic actress in a home for retired performers.  It’s about life, love, show business, and the importance of growing old disgracefully.

Reiss, who is writer and producer for the long running TV show, The Simpsons, also created the animated series The Critic; the webtoon Queer Duck and worked on the screenplays for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs; Horton Hears a Who!; The Simpsons: The Movies; and, My Life In Ruins. Ivoryton audiences turned out in droves in the June 2013 for his hilarious play, I’m Connecticut, which was a huge popular and critical success.

Comedy is Hard! opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on September 24 and runs through October 12, 2014. Directed by Playhouse Artistic Director, Jacqueline Hubbard, the cast includes Michael McDermott*, Dan Coyle, Dorian Mendez and Michael Hotkowski. The set design is by Dan Nischan, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Lenore Grunko. Executive Producer is Michael A. Dattilo.

Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm.

There will be talkbacks with the writer – check our website for details. Tickets are $42 for adults, $37 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.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

Generously sponsored by Hamilton Connections and Middle Oak.

 

Essex Garden Club Announces Officers for 2014

Officers2014 (2)

New Officers of the Essex Garden Club. From L to R: Carol Denham, Barbara Burgess, Linda Newberg, Patricia Mather, Dianne Sexton, Barbara Marden and Barbara Hall

Essex Garden Club has announced its new officers.  Officers for the for 2014-15 are Linda Newberg, president; Barbara Burgess, first vice president; Dianne Sexton, second vice president; Barbara Hall, recording secretary, Barbara Marden, corresponding secretary; Patricia Mather, treasurer; and Carol Denham, assistant treasurer.

In her opening remarks at the September meeting, Newberg described the club’s agenda and activities for the coming year, and introduced the theme for this year, “A Tribute to You”.  She went on to say that the success of the club’s projects is directly dependent on the tireless work of the many club volunteers.  These projects include civic beautification, scholarships, and educational and conservation initiatives.

Essex Transfer Station and Recycling Center Procedures Starting October

Pitching in the garbage with feeling

Pitching in the garbage with feeling

The Town of Essex’s Transfer Station and Recycling Center, which is located a 5 Dump Road in Essex, will adopt new use procedures, effective October 1, 2014. From that date forward, users of the transfer station must either have: 1) a valid official sticker affixed to the windshield of their vehicle, or 2) a pre-paid punch card in hand, before disposing of household garbage and trash at the Essex town transfer station.

Use of the transfer station is limited, exclusively, to the residents of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton. The transfer station is located in Essex at 5 Dump Road off Route 154. It is also just off Exit 4 of Route 9. The hours of operation at the facility are Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Windshield stickers permitting a year’s unlimited access to the transfer station can only be purchased at the Town Clerk’s office at the Town Hall in downtown Essex. The cost of a one year permit is $125, and $75 for seniors. They can be paid for by cash or check, but not by credit card. The Town Clerk will also sell 10 bag punch cards for $25 a card.

In the addition, the transfer station at 5 Dump Road will sell 10 bag punch cards. which can be paid for by check, credit or debit card, but not by cash.

Supplemental Disposal Fees

Effective October 1, there will also be additional Supplemental Disposal Fees for users of the transfer station. The supplemental fees, which will be collected at the transfer station, will range in price from $5 for the disposal of an old tire, to $20 for the disposal of sleeping furniture. However, there will be no extra Supplemental Disposal Fees for many items, such as antifreeze, computers, leaves or paint.

Payment of Annual Stickers and Punch Cards Online

Essex residents can download the Transfer Station’s Resident Pass Application form by going to the Essex town website at www.essexct,gov. The form on the website is listed under “News & Announcements.” Also available on the Town of Essex Transfer Station & Recycling Center website is a complete roster of Supplemental Waste Disposal fees, effective October 1.

A benefit when purchasing an annual user sticker before October 1, 2014 is that purchasers can begin using the annual stickers immediately, thus giving them some days free of fees before the October 1, 2014, the effective date of the new windshield stickers and punch cards.

In announcing its new waste disposal rules Essex residents were reminded that the annual stickers and punch cards only allow the disposal of household garbage and trash. Information regarding other accepted disposal items can be found in the transfer station’s brochure, which is available at the transfer station, and on its website.

The Betty Pierson Recycling Building

Another service at the Essex transfer station is a recycling center that offers reusable items that Essex residents are offering without charge to their neighbors. Items such as wooden furniture, household items and bicycles in good condition may be left for the use of fellow Essex residents at the center. The items are for personal use only.

The recycling center

The Betty Pierson Recycling Building

Essex residents who wish to pick up these items are restricted to one trip a week to the Betty Pierson Recycling shed. No loitering at the building is permitted, and the staff at the transfer station will enforce these policies.

Lawsuit Involving Essex Veterans Memorial Hall is Withdrawn

ESSEX— A lawsuit against the Essex Veterans Memorial Hall Inc. that was filed last December has been withdrawn after a Middlesex Superior Court judge held settlement conferences with the parties. The lawsuit filed by local lawyer Michael Peck included the town because the town remains a fall back owner of the Essex Veterans Memorial Hall property located in the Centerbrook section.

Peck, a veteran and Chester resident, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Michael Bergeron, a town resident who is a Gulf War veteran. Peck claimed in the suit that Begeron had been improperly banned from the property, including a club area where alcoholic beverages are sold, and from local veterans activities. The lawsuit also claimed Essex Veterans Memorial Hall Inc. had lost, and never regained, its status as a non-profit tax exempt organization, and that a majority of the EVM club members are no longer U.S. military veterans.

The town-owned property was donated to returning World War II veterans in 1946 for use as a meeting hall for local veterans organizations. The building has served as a meeting hall for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and occasionally other veterans organizations for more than 60 years. The separate club has been in operation during this time for sale of alcoholic beverages to members and their guests.

Peck said this week he withdrew the lawsuit at the end of July after three settlement conferences directed by Middlesex Superior Court Judge Edward Domnarski, who is an Essex resident. Also participating in the sessions was Richard Palladino, an Old Saybrook lawyer retained by EVM Inc. in response to the lawsuit. Peck said town attorney David Royston declined to participate in the sessions.

Peck said the settlement did not result in reinstatement of Bergeron as a club member, but did clarify the legal status of the property and various procedures that are required of EVM Inc.. as a tax exempt not-profit veterans organization. He said EVM Inc. has regained its 501C18 status as a tax exempt organization, and has also  pledged to strive to ensure that at least 75 percent of club members are veterans.

After a review by the state Liquor Control Commission, the EVM club retains its liquor license. The club is planning its annual Pig Roast, which is open to the public, for Saturday Sept. 13.

Essex Capital Projects Submitted to Selectmen, Bonding Could Exceed $6 Million

 

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday received a long-awaited report on municipal capital building projects. The selectmen deferred discussion to a Sept. 17 meeting on a list of projects that could require more than $6 million in bonding if all of the projects were included in a bonding authorization resolution.

The 22-page report was prepared by a Capital Projects Building Committee that was established the fall of 2013 to carry forward the efforts of a capital projects study committee that was formed in 2012. The committee was chaired by Selectman Bruce Glowac, with members that included Finance Director Kelly Sterner and Leigh Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer who also serves on the Region 4 Board of Education. The committee worked with the engineering firm CME Associates Inc. of Woodstock to develop preliminary cost estimates for each project.

Glowac said the report lists projects in priority order, and includes projects the committee believes should be addressed by the town looking forward for the next ten years. The top priorities are replacement of the Walnut Street and Ivory Street bridges in the Ivoryton section, along with five improvements at Essex Elementary School, the most important being replacement of most of the school roof.

Cost estimates for the bridge projects are $2.1 million for the Walnut Street bridge, and $450,000 for the Ivory Street bridge. The elementary school projects total $2.52 million, including  $1.4 million for the roof replacement, $600,000 for air conditioning at the school, $225,000 for paving work around the front entrance, and $185,000 for improvements to the school media center, including removal of asbestos located under the floor tiles. The town has already expended $110,000 to convert the school to newly available natural gas heating.

The report estimates the Walnut Street bridge replacement and the school roof replacement would be eligible for $2,055,000 in grant funding reimbursement that would reduce the actual expense for town taxpayers.

The report lists six improvements at town hall with a total estimated cost of $1,165,000. Projects include roof replacement-$200,000, 47 new energy efficient windows-$115,000, reconfiguring land use offices-$500,000, air quality improvements-$200,000, bathroom improvements $120,000, and a new fire alarm system that would include a fire suppression system for the town records vault-$30,000.

The report lists three improvements for the town public works garage with a total estimated cost of $470,000. The projects include replacing the roof of the garage that is  more than 30 years old-$109,000, a new heating system for the facility-$97,000, and a new two bay garage with a covered storage area for road salt and sand-$264,000.

The selectmen are expected to review the report with the board of finance later this month, and hold one or more public information sessions during the fall before final decisions are made on a bonding authorization resolution that would be presented to town voters for approval in a referendum.

Region 4 Schools Open Thursday for 2014-2015 Academic Year

REGION 4— Region 4 schools open Thursday for the 2014-2015 academic year with two new administrators and 16 new teachers, along with a new system that provides a faster assessment of student performance in the classroom.
Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said administrators and staff are excited about opening day. “The schools are ready and waiting to open the doors tomorrow,” Levy said Wednesday. Levy said student enrollment is down from the totals in the 2013-2014 school year, with no late surge in student registrations over the summer,

The new student assessment system to be implemented at all five districts schools is from a national firm, Northwest Educational Association. It will provide teachers with a quicker assessment of student performance, allowing for a more timely information to guide instructional plans. A school breakfast program that began last spring at two elementary schools will be expanded to all five schools. A new system will also enable parents to pay for school breakfast and lunches on line.
The new administrators are Christian Strickland, the new principal at Deep River Elementary School, and Sarah Smalley, new director pupil services. Strickland, a Middletown resident, worked previously as an assistant principal at an elementary school in Berlin. Smalley, an Old Lyme resident, is the former director of pupil services for Region 17 (Haddam-Killingworth) schools. Smalley worked previously in Region 4 as a special education teacher at Valley Regional High School. She is an elected member of the Region 18( Lyme-Old Lyme) Board of Education.

The highest number of new teachers is at the high school, where several long-time educators retired in June. They include Mary O’Reilly-Spanish, Rachael Cassella-Spanish, Jill Esernia-English, Evan Soderholm- social studies, Augusta Ferretti-mathematics, John Kopcha- technology education, and Michael Naylor as a long-term substitute for physical education.

The elementary schools for Deep River and Essex each have three new teachers. At Deep River Elementary School, there is third grade teacher Allyson Pitney, along with remedial reading and language arts teachers Andrea Ricci and Nicole Flynn. At Essex Elementary Schools, there is sixth grade teacher Erica Fleischman, kindergarten teacher Cynthis Breitenbach, and library/media specialist Renee Mitchill.

Along with Smalley, there are three new teachers funded through the supervision district, technology integration specialist Kirsten Reynolds, and two special education teachers, Emily Dreher at Essex Elementary School, and Elise Johnson at Chester Elementary School Bethany Peters is a new para-educator at Chester Elementary School, and Mary Jane Maltezos is the new secretary to the principal at John Winthrop Middle School.

Chester Fair Photo Winners Represent 11 Connecticut Towns

Winner of the 2014 Special Theme - A Child’s Perspective.  The photo is titled ‘Bumper Crop’ and was taken by Stuart Johnson of Chester

Winner of the 2014 Special Theme – A Child’s Perspective. The photo is titled ‘Bumper Crop’ and was taken by Stuart Johnson of Chester

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

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

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

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

Black & White Photography

People: Lesa Soja (Higganum)

General Interest: Joyce Kjos (Clinton)

Best in Show (B&W): Joyce Kjos

Color Photography

People:  Mary Jane Monahan (Naugatuck)

Animals: Robin Ehle-Meyer ((Centerbrook)

General Interest: William Perrelli (Hamden)

Flowers:  Jonathan Steele (Ivoryton)

Landscapes / Seascapes: Jonathan Steele

Fair:  Diane Lindsay (Chester)

Youth ages 1-12:  Caroline Haskins (Essex)

Youth ages 13-16:  Madeline Gifford (Killingworth)

Theme 1 – Two Colors:  Judy Denberg (Marlborough)

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

Best in Show (Color): Jonathan Steele

Special Awards

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

Devlin Photography Award: Jonathan Steele

Ken Kells Youth Photo Award: Meaghan Akehurst (Chester)

 

Arnold to Lead Commercial Lending at Essex Savings Bank

Diane H  Arnold

Diane H Arnold

ESSEX — Gregory R. Shook, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank is pleased to announce the promotion of Diane H. Arnold to the position of Vice President/Senior Commercial Loan Officer.  Mrs. Arnold is responsible for business development and portfolio management, as well as assisting in the growth of the commercial loan department by utilizing her thirty one years of broad banking experience.  Mrs. Arnold previously served as the Vice President of Southington Savings Bank from 1993 until 2001 where she managed the credit department.  From 1988 to 1993, Arnold served as the Assistant Treasurer and Commercial Loan Officer at Branford Savings Bank.  Mrs. Arnold earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Quinnipiac College.  She is also a 1990 graduate of the Connecticut School of Finance and Management.  Mrs. Arnold is a resident of Ivoryton.

Essex 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.  Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.  Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value and are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

Chester Fair Scholarship Winners

Bailey Baisel receives her scholarship from the Chester Fair.

Bailey Baisel receives her scholarship from the Chester Fair.

The Chester Agricultural and Mechanical Society (Chester Fair) Board of Directors is pleased to announce its 2014 Scholarship winners.  This year there are three recipients, each receiving a $500 scholarship for the 2014-15 academic year.

Bailey Basiel of Durham, participated in the Chester Fair for several years entering her dairy cows.  She will be attending University of New Hampshire in the fall.   Aliza Dube of Deep River is currently enrolled at the University of Maine in Farmington and has completed her freshman year.  She is majoring in elementary education.   The third recipient, Stephanie Groves of Wallingford, is attending Springfield College and studying to be a Physical Therapist.

A portion of the proceeds of the Chester Wine and Beer Tasting Event held in June is applied toward this scholarship fund.  Scholarship applications are accepted though May 15th annually.

Application forms and instructions can be found under ‘About Us’ (Forms and Instructions) at the fair’s website: www.chesterfair.org.