March 20, 2018

Chester Garden Club Hosts Avian Author John Himmelman Tomorrow

CHESTER — On Tuesday, March 20, at 7 p.m., the Chester Garden Club will be hosting a presentation by author, John Himmelman from Killingworth, Conn., on“Birds; Their Side of the Story …” at the United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, CT.

He will share light-hearted stories of birds and bird watching – from cuisine to cartoons; ornaments to icons, murmurs to murders. You’ll be given a whole new look at the avian friends we so admire (and some, not so much…)

Members of the Chester Garden Club and the public are invited to attend.  The cost for guests will be $5.

For additional information, contact Chester Garden Club Co-President Brenda Johnson at (860) 526-2998.


2018 Season at Ivoryton Playhouse Opens Wednesday with ‘The Fantasticks’

Rehearsing for The Fantasticks are, from left to right, Carly Callahan, David Pittsinger* and Patricia Schuman.*

ESSEX — The Ivoryton Playhouse will open its 2018 season with a romantic fable that has enchanted audiences around the world for over 50 years. The Fantasticks by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt is a timeless tale of young love, shattered dreams and universal truths and it opens in Ivoryton on Wednesday, March 21.

The show was first performed Off Broadway in May 1960 and ran for 42 years, making it the world’s longest running musical. It has helped launch the careers of Liza Minnelli, Glenn Close, F. Murray Abraham, Kristin Chenoweth, and even Ricardo Montalbán.

The Fantasticks has been performed in 82 countries, and each year some 250 productions are mounted worldwide. Its themes — the blind passion of youth, the meddling of parents, the deepening of love through pain and struggle — are timeless and continue to captivate audiences everywhere. This intimate show with a bounty of catchy tunes and beautiful melodies, including the classic “Try to remember the kind of September …”, is a quintessential celebration of love in all its gorgeous simplicity and heartbreaking complexities.

In rehearsal for The Fantasticks seen here are, from left to right, Ryan Bloomquist, Cory Candelet and Kimberley Immanuel*.

David Pittsinger*, who has performed in Ivoryton to great critical acclaim as Emile de Becque in South Pacific,  and  Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, will be playing the storyteller – El Gallo.  He will be joined by his wife, Patricia Schuman*, Carly Callahan, R. Bruce Connelly*, William Clark, Kimberley Immanuel*, Ryan Bloomquist and Cory Candelet.

The show is directed and choreographed by Brian Feehan, the set is designed by Martin Marchitto, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Cipollina. Musical direction is by Jill Brunelle.

Don’t miss this opportunity to fall in love again and catch the magic one more time!

The Fantasticks opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse runs through April 8. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. There will be no performance on Easter Sunday, April 1 — the replacement show will be on Saturday, March 31, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults, $45 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting  (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


Pegs from the Past Create Art for the Present; Chester Historical Soc. Hosts Reception for Challenge, April 7

CHESTER — What would you do if you were given three wooden pegs to reimagine?

If you’re one of the area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelers, designers (you get the picture), you’d turn those pegs into something unique and/or useful, decorative and/or functional, whimsical and/or practical.

All for the Creative Challenge hosted annually by the Chester Historical Society.

For this year’s Pegs Challenge on Saturday, April 7, the Chester Historical Society was given a box of wooden pegs, discovered years ago at M.S. Brooks & Sons on Liberty Street.

Over the past years, the Chester Historical Society’s Creative Challenge has invited area artists to use artifacts from Chester’s rich manufacturing history to create items for a silent auction and reception to raise funds for the Historical Society.

There have been challenges based on hooks from the Brooks factory, knitting gauges from the C.J. Bates factory, manicure sticks from the Bishop & Watrous factory, and even rusted pieces “unearthed” from the yard of one of Chester’s earliest houses.

The finished pieces of “pegs” art, jewelry, sculptures, photographs, etc. will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Reception on Saturday, April 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Chester Meeting House.

The reception will feature hearty hors d’oeuvres and desserts from Chester kitchens served with wine and non-alcoholic beverages.

Tickets for the evening are $30. They can be purchased at Maple & Main Gallery and Lark, both in the center of Chester, or by calling Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery, 860-526-9822. They may be available at the door, if they have not sold out.

All the proceeds from the event will benefit the preservation and showcasing of Chester history through the Chester Historical Society and the Chester Museum at The Mill. Information is available on the Society website, or at


Award-Winning Author Rachel Kadish Comes to Books & Bagels at CBSRZ This Morning

It’s not often that Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) gets to welcome a winner of a National Jewish Book Award to Chester.

But that’s exactly what’s going to happen this morning, Sunday, March 18, at 9:30 a.m. when Rachel Kadish will be discussing and reading selections from her third novel, The Weight Of Ink, that won her the prestigious Jewish Book Council’s Book Club Award. This award ‘recognizes an outstanding work of fiction or nonfiction authors that inspires meaningful conversation about Jewish life, identity, practice, or history and is dedicated to promoting Jewish continuity for the next generation.’

“In many ways a book about books, The Weight Of Ink surprises with delights that are gradually revealed. At first it might seem almost necessary to take notes to follow the complex plot, but soon the reader will become absorbed in this rich opus of impressive breadth”, comments Kristin Gibbons in a review published in the Jewish Book Counsel’s website.

Gibbons continues, “The beauty of this story is in the variety of its milieus and sensibilities. As we follow female protagonists of both the seventeenth and twenty-first centuries – Ester Velasquez and Helen Watt, respectively-we also witness to the goings-on of a venerable and drafty house of a rabbi in 1660s London, and glimpse the modern life of a cheeky young American man with heartrending troubles.”

To cap off her triumph, Kadish was just named the inaugural winner of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) Jewish Fiction Award for The Weight Of Ink.

The Weight of Ink defies strict genre classification, combining as it does a gripping tale of contemporary scholars engaged in academic detective work and historical fiction that brings to light the small Jewish world of Restoration England and the practical daily issues along with more complicated religious and philosophical issues.

One moves back and forth from the competitive world of modern scholarship to the very different world revealed in a trove of newly discovered seventeenth century manuscripts; from the personal involvement of one of the book’s two heroines, Helen Watt, who sets out to uncover the secrets behind the mysterious scribe at first identified solely as ‘Alelph’, to its other heroine, Ester Velasquez, the exceptional scribe for a blind rabbi, a woman who would be remarkable in any time and place.

Ester’s story, partially uncovered by Helen and partially revealed as the story unfolds, plunges us into the London of the 1660s and into the small but gradually expanding Jewish community, largely made up of Sephardic /Converso families. And that story reaches out into a much larger world, connecting us with the life and work of Spinoza and even hinting at the identity of Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’.

Book Browse summarizes The Weight of Ink this way:  Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order reconcile the life of the heart and mind.

Among the many admirers of The Weight of Ink can be found Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice, Margot Livesey, author of Mercury, Leah Hager, author of No Book but the World, and Toni Morrison, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner and author of many books including The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Beloved, and, most recently, God Help the Child.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 E. Kings Highway in Chester.

Books & Bagels is free of charge and open to the public. For more information visit                , or call the CBSRZ office at 860-526-8920.


High Hopes Holds Open House for Prospective Volunteers Today

One of the many tasks that volunteers undertake at High Hopes is to side-walk horses while program participants ride.

OLD LYME — There is a place in Old Lyme where people of all ages come together with a very special herd of therapeutic horses to improve the lives of people with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities.

On St. Patrick’s Day – Saturday, March 17 – between 10 a.m. and noon,  the community is invited to join the staff at High Hopes to find out about a wide range of volunteering opportunities this spring and summer.

“Although we hold programs all year round,” says Volunteer Manager, Amy Tripson, “summer is one of our busiest times when we open High Hopes to the wider community through five weeks of all-inclusive horse camp as well as providing our regular programs. We are looking for volunteers of all ages but would like to encourage middle and high school students (aged 14 or older), seasonal residents, and active retirees in particular. Just one hour a week, or one week during summer camp can make all the difference to one of our campers.”

At the Open House, classes will be running, and the volunteer team will be on hand to answer questions, discuss the types of volunteer jobs available, and create a schedule to suit you.

“No experience with horses is needed,” says Marie Manero, “we provide general orientation and side-walker training for all of our volunteers, and those that want to do more work with the horses can take additional training opportunities in horse-handling and barn activities.”

Over the course of a year High Hopes, an internationally recognized therapeutic riding and horsemanship center, relies on the help of over 650 volunteers to supplement its small staff and provide programs for a wide range of individuals and groups, as well as support its fundraising activities.

Participants include children and adults with physical disabilities, veterans living with PTSD, children grieving the loss of a parent, families recovering from domestic violence and individuals and their families supporting a loved one with a life-long cognitive disability. High Hopes serves over 60 towns in Connecticut and beyond, works with 10 different school districts and a variety of different agencies from across the state. In the summer, High Hopes staff also provide an off-site program at Harkness Camp in Waterford.

If your organization supports community activities and you would like to bring a group of volunteers to High Hopes for the day, the High Hopes volunteer team would also like to talk to you.

For more information, to meet a few volunteers, and/or to express interest in this event, visit


See ‘From Field to Frame: The Avian Art of Michael DiGiorgio’ at CT River Museum Through May 3

Inca jay by Michael DiGiorgio 2005

ESSEX – The new Spring Exhibit at Connecticut River Museum is From Field to Frame:  The Avian Art of Michael DiGiorgio.  There is a member preview on Friday, March 16, at 5:30 p.m.  The exhibit opens to the public on Saturday, March 17, and runs through May 3.

Michael DiGiorgio is a nationally recognized artist living in Madison, CT.  His paintings and drawings have appeared in nature books and journals, including Birds of Brazil vol. 1 and 2, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Audubon Field Guide to Birds/Eastern and Western Region, and The Narrow Edge by Deborah Cramer. DiGiorgio recently completely revised the artwork for the new edition of Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds.

DiGiorgio has painted birds since he was five and studied bird painting under the late Don Eckelberry.  Under Eckelberry’s critical eye, DiGiorgio developed his style emphasizing the character of the bird and its relationship to the environment.  Committed to painting from life, DiGiorgio has traveled extensively to create field sketches of birds, plants, and habitat from all over the Americas, West Indies, Trinidad, and the Outer Islands of Britain.

DiGiorgio won the first ever Eckelberry Endowment Award from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for his Bird Illustration work.  His paintings have been exhibited at numerous museums and institutes including the Roger Tory Peterson Institute; The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; and the The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

The Connecticut River Museum is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For questions, call 860-767-8269 or visit


Gray School of Irish Dance Gives Demonstration Today at Acton Public Library

OLD SAYBROOK — Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at the Acton Public Library!

Come for a lively demonstration of Irish Dance on Saturday, March 17, from 3:30 until 4:30 p.m. by the young and talented students of the Gray School of Irish Dance, located in Old Saybrook. This program is sponsored by the Friends of Acton Public Library.

This program is free and open to all; no registration required. All children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult.

For additional information call or 860-395-3184 or visit


Learn the Art of Reiki at Deep River Public Library, April 14

DEEP RIVER — Learn the Art of Reiki at the Deep River Library on Saturday, April 14, at 1 p.m. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healing. This alternative approach has been shown to provide help for stress, headaches, insomnia and boost confidence and self-worth. Learn how to channel energy through touch to help restore physical and emotional well-being.

Under the guidance of Reiki Master Stephanie Rosally-Kaplan, participants will not only learn about the history of Reiki, but they will be trained on essentials such as meditation, treatment, chakras, crystals, essential oils and self-care. Every major fundamental will be covered in this four-hour-class and partakers will earn their Reiki 1 certification.

Registration is required for this program and limited to 10 participants. You must register through our Signup Genius, which can be accessed at this link.

For more information, visit and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pm; Tuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pmThursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.


Essex Library Hosts Author of ‘The Sunken Gold,’ April 4

ESSEX — Author Joseph A. Williams will visit the Essex Library to discuss the true story of the HMS Laurentic, which, laden with 44 tons of gold bullion was sunk by German mines off the coast of Ireland during the Great War. 

Britain desperately needed that sunken treasure, but any salvage had to be secret since the British government did not want to alert the Germans to the presence of the gold.

Lieutenant Commander Guybon Damant was the most qualified officer to head the risky mission. As the war raged on, Damant was called off the salvage to lead a team of covert divers to investigate and search through the contents of recently sunk U-boats for ciphers, minefield schematics, and other secrets. The information they obtained, once in the hands of British intelligence, proved critical toward Allied efforts to defeat the U-boats and win the war.

Williams, a historian, archivist and librarian brings this exciting, true tale of undersea diving and early 20th century naval operations to life on Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m.

Copies of The Sunken Gold will be available for purchase and signing.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is advised. Call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register or for more information.

The Essex Library is located at 33 West Ave. in Essex.


Death of Former Chester Resident William (Bill) Hanford Burr Announced

William Hanford Burr (Bill), age 87, died on February 11, 2018, in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  A memorial service will be held on June 8, 2018 at 2:00PM at the site of interred cremains in Oak Land Cemetery in Fairfield, CT. 

Born on August 28, 1930 in Westport, CT to parents Morris Lyon Burr and Catherine Aretta Burr, he was married to his surviving spouse Marilyn Jean Weber on August 18, 1962.  He has three surviving children: daughter Catherine Margaret Burr-Utter (married to Steven Utter; children Nathan Michael Utter and Hannah Elizabeth Utter); son William Osborn Burr II (married to Carole Westhfer; children Thaddeus James Burr and Noah Hanford Burr; and daughter Elizabeth Forrest Burr (married to Dale C. Deutscher; children Bremmer William Mock, John Morgan Mock, and Satari Austin Deutscher). 

Dad has three siblings: brother Morris Lyon Burr Jr. (spouse Arlene Davis (deceased)); sister Mary Bolin (deceased) (spouse United States Army Col (retired) James Bolin); and sister Aretta Muir (spouse James Muir).

His education and military experience include a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture from the University of Connecticut and a Masters in Business Administration from Bridgeport University.  He was inducted into the United States Army and served two years in the rank of Specialist as a Medical Corpsman.  His career in business management brought him to Handy & Harmon in Fairfield, CT and later to Lewis Engineering in Naugatuck CT and finally to Bavier, Bulger, and Goodyear Management Consultants in New Haven, CT where he remained until retirement in 1996.

Throughout dad’s life, he lived in Westport, CT from childhood until 1997 when he and Marilyn moved to Chester, CT.  In 2003, they moved to Bozeman, MT and remained there until their move to Port St. Lucie, FL in 2017.

Dad believed in giving back to his community and did so by remaining actively involved in leadership roles at Greens Farms Congregational Church of Westport, CT and the United Church of Christ of Chester, CT.  He regularly volunteered his labor on environmental conservation projects conducted by the Land Trust of Chester, CT.  In Bozeman, MT he maintained a weekly routine of volunteering at the local food bank and tending plants at the Gallatin Gardeners Club.

Dad loved gardening.   He had the soul of a farmer.  He loved all kinds of outdoor work.  He was a driven do-it-yourself handyman, indeed, a frustrated carpenter, woodsman, and homesteader who insisted on doing any size job himself and with antiquated manual tools and equipment leftover from the bygone Burr Farms era of his childhood.  Of his few allowances for modern methods was his 1929 Farmall B-N model tractor that had to be crank started from the front end.  And when he was not growing and putting up vegetable stores (particularly onions) with an intensity that made one believe survival through the winter months hung in the balance, he was sailing on Long Island Sound.  Neither foul weather nor any number of sea-sick crew members hanging over the side was a reason for him to consider a day on the water unpleasant.  A dousing spray of salt water and vomit he considered a reasonable character building experience for all.

Our father was not a verbose man and not one to seek public attention.  He was fond of a saying: “fools names and faces are seen and heard in public places”.  He was not given to overt demonstrations of intense emotion.  Nevertheless, he had a stoic charm that conveyed a genuine strength of character and integrity.  He cherished family gatherings, most especially at Christmas.  He loved us, his children and his wife.  And we love him.  He is remembered with the fondness and respect.  He is missed.


Celtic Concert Tonight Benefits Community Music School

John Birt (pictured above) and Evelyn Cournoyer will play contemporary and traditional music from Ireland and Scotland in a March 16 concert.

CENTERBROOK – Enjoy an evening of contemporary and traditional music from Ireland and Scotland performed by John Birt (guitar, mandolin) and Evelyn Cournoyer (harp) on Friday, March 16, at 7 p.m. The Celtic Harp & Guitar Concert will take place at the Centerbrook Meetinghouse, 51 Main Street, Centerbrook, CT 06409.

This St. Patrick’s Day program will feature a variety of traditional dance tunes including reels, jigs, airs, and marches. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Community Music School. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10 with a reception following the performance.

John Birt is a musician who has proven his versatility on many stages throughout the world. As a classical guitarist, recent solo programs have explored 16th-century lute music, the solo cello and violin music of J.S. Bach, and have included world premieres by American composers David Macbride and Thomas Schuttenhelm. John completed his Master’s degree at The Hartt School, where he studied with internationally recognized pedagogue Richard Provost and partook in masterclasses by Oscar Ghiglia, Andrew York, Odair Assad, and Scott Tennant

Evelyn Cournoyer is a harp player from Preston, Connecticut. Her specialty is in Scottish and Irish traditional music. In 2014 Evelyn won the Young Composer Award presented by the Clarsach Society in Scotland, and she performed her winning composition at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival. Evelyn received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music in 2015, where she studied under Maeve Gilchrist.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 34 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

For additional information, visit or call CMS at 860-767-0026.


Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Continues with ‘Designing for Fun: The State of Play,’ March 23

A free, illustrated talk on Luckey Climbers, an example of which is shown in the photo above,  will be presented by Spencer Luckey at 7 p.m. March 23 in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects. Luckey will focus on where Luckey LLC came from, why they do what they do, and why they push the boundaries of sculpture, play, art and design with each piece.

Luckey LLC is a small design/build firm in New Haven that produces whimsical play structures throughout the world. Part artwork, part playground, Luckey Climbers can be found at children’s museums, science centers, malls and public parks.

On Friday, March 23, at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects, Spencer Luckey will talk about where Luckey LLC came from, why they do what they do, and why they push the boundaries of sculpture, play, art and design with each piece. The lecture will cover built and unbuilt schemes in an attempt to demonstrate the struggles and triumphs of the intrepid playground designer.

Luckey is president and chief architect of Luckey LLC, which creates bespoke children’s climbing sculptures for institutional and commercial clients around the world. Creating soaring, whimsical, gravity-defying play structures for kids, Luckey is helping to reinvent the state of play, inspiring it with the limitlessness of a child’s imagination and the complexities of conceptual art.

After completing his degree at the Yale School of Architecture, Spencer rejoined Luckey Climbers in 2006 after his father, Thomas Walker Luckey, suffered a terrible accident.

Tom, Spencer and the making of the 2007 Luckey Climber at The Boston Children’s Museum were the subjects of the documentary film “Luckey” that depicts the early struggles and triumphs the family had in reconciling life directly following Tom’s accident. The film played at festivals all over the world including SXSW and was aired several times on the Sundance Channel.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. Centerbrook Architects is located at 67 Main St. In Centerbrook.


Essex Land Trust Hosts UConn Professor on Protecting CT’s Groundwater Resources, March 29

Dr. Gary Robbins will speak March 29 on Connecticut’s groundwater resources at Essex Town Hall.

ESSEX — The Essex Land Trust presents a lecture on protecting Connecticut’s groundwater resources on Thursday, March 29, at 7 p.m. at Essex Town Hall, 29 West Ave. The lecture will have a focus on the lower Connecticut River valley.

Gary Robbins, Professor of Geology in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut, Storrs will be stressing groundwater resources—so will start with a Groundwater 101. Then look at the hydrogeology of the lower CT river valley and talk about groundwater conditions and contamination issues now and in the future.

Dr. Robbins specializes in Hydrogeology and has been at UCONN for 31 years. He has published many papers related to Connecticut groundwater resources.

It is important to note that the date for this event has changed from March 26 to March 29.


‘Like It, Paint It’ at Deep River Public Library, March 24

DEEP RIVER — Create your own acrylic masterpiece at the Deep River Library on Saturday, March 24, from 2 TO 4 p.m. Under the guidance of local artist, Carlos Ayala, you will learn to paint a winter wood scene. Ayala will provide all materials and instruction, but participants must pay a materials fee of $20 per person at the door.

Register is required for this program and will be done through Sign-Up Genius, which can be accessed on the library’s website or Facebook Events page. Seating is limited to 20 participants. Children over 12 are welcome.

For more information call the library at 860-526-6039.

Link to sign up:

Like It, Paint It With Carlos Ayala

For more information, visit and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pmTuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pmThursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.


Needleman Calls for Increased Staffing, Improved Response Times from Utility Companies

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman

ESSEX — Today, March 12, in response to unacceptable and inadequate utility response time during power outages, Essex First Selectman and businessman Norm Needleman submitted public testimony in support of new proposed legislation to have utility companies increase staffing and equipment levels.

Senate Bill 329, An Act Concerning Minimum Utility Staffing and Equipment Levels, would require the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to initiate a docket and issue a final order regarding minimum utility staffing and equipment levels. The Authority was originally meant to create these minimum levels following Tropical Storm Irene, but has yet to finish its work.

Needleman, who is in his fourth term as Essex First Selectman, has seen the responses by the local utility company Eversource get slower and less efficient with every storm. His testimony, which was submitted to the Energy and Technology Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly, is detailed in the following paragraphs:

“In recent years, I have witnessed an alarming deterioration in response to power outages by Eversource, causing inordinate delays in power restoration to homes and businesses in Essex. It is my strong belief that this inadequate response to power outages is the result of two factors. First, Eversource has drastically reduced repair personnel and equipment, instead relying on resources from private contractors and service units from outside of their system.

Second, and equally alarming, is the lack of operating management oversight in directing and coordinating whatever resources are available.  Said another way, Eversource does not maintain staffing levels sufficient to provide adequate response to power outages, and they have failed to develop a communications and management system to direct the outside resources that eventually arrive.

This service problem is not confined to Essex. In consulting with officials in surrounding  towns, they have detailed their frustrations with prolonged power outages, inadequate staffing, and incorrect information from Eversource.”

Not only have I experienced these problems as a First Selectman trying to provide basic services to residents but also as a business owner and a household customer myself. My manufacturing plant in Michigan has lost power one time in 14 years and they have pretty drastic weather conditions, especially during the winter. Meanwhile, my manufacturing plant in Centerbrook loses power regularly and sometimes for no reason at all.

Considering we are paying one of the highest prices in the country for electricity we should have a world class system, not a third world system, which is what it feels like we have. The lack of reliable electricity is a serious deterrent for new businesses considering locating in Connecticut.

Repeatedly, Eversource has ignored their responsibilities by failing to implement effective weather-related response and repair. Instead, they have chosen to implement staff and equipment reductions to effect cost economies. As a matter of public safety, Eversource should be required to maintain adequate staffing and equipment levels. S.B. 329 will help remedy this crippling public utility problem.”

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


Carney (R) Seeks Third Term as State Representative, Democrat Pugliese Announces Challenge

State Rep. Devin Carney

UPDATED 3/7 10:09pm: OLD SAYBROOK: Devin Carney, a Republican who ran unopposed for a second term in 2016, has announced his intention to seek a third term as State Representative for the 23rd General AssemblyDistrict, which includes the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and coastal Westbrook. But this November, Carney will be challenged by Old Saybrook resident and Democrat Matt Pugliese.

Pugliese, a non-profit arts executive, notes in a press release that, “The frustration that our community feels is palpable.  The community wants change, wants new voices.  I’m running for state representative to help lead that change.   I’m a listener, and a leader who believes in building consensus, finding compromise and getting things done.”

Carney, who works as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Old Saybrook. explains his decision to seek a third term in a press release in this way, “Over these past two terms, I have always put the people of the 23rd District first.This community is everything to me. I was raised here and I understand the unique values and needs of my constituents. In these difficult and divisive times, it is important that the state has leaders with a proven track record of putting people over politics and who will work together to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order.”

Matt Pugliese.

Pugliese, a resident of Old Saybrook, has spent his career working in the non-profit theatre industry, beginning at the Ivoryton Playhouse.  He served as the Executive Director at Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theatre in Middletown, CT and now is the Executive Producer at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, based on UConn’s Storrs campus. Pugliese holds his BA in Theatre (’04) and his Masters in Public Administration (’17), both from UCONN. Pugliese said, “My work in the arts has been about activism.  It is about bringing together diverse audiences and creating opportunities for dialogue.  That is how we solve problems.  Every day running a theatre is about creative, problem solving and strategic thinking. The intersection of the arts and government – that is community.  That has been my professional career for 15 years.”

A lifelong resident of the district, Carney graduated from Old Saybrook Public Schools and currently lives in Old Lyme. He is the Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee, meaning he is the highest-ranked House Republican on the committee, and he serves on the Environment Committee and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. In addition, Carney chairs the bipartisan Clean Energy Caucus, was the founding House Republican of the bipartisan Young Legislators Caucus, and serves on both the bipartisan Tourism Caucus and bipartisan Intellectual and Developmental Disability Caucus. He has also served as the Connecticut House Republican State Lead for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

Pugliese comments in the release, “Non-profit organizations need to run efficiently and effectively.  We know how to get the most out of every dollar.  My experiences in the non-profit sector in Middlesex County really opened my eyes to the incredible need we have in our community.  We have young people and families facing the most extreme and basic risks.  But we also have incredible resources in our community to draw upon.  That is what makes our district a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.”

Over his first two terms, Rep. Carney says he advocated for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, seniors, tourism, small business, local public education, and improving I-95. In 2015, he voted against the second largest tax increase in Connecticut’s state history. In 2017, he voted against the SEBAC agreement, but supported the bipartisan budget compromise in October.

Pugliese’s community involvement includes Old Saybrook’s Economic Development Commission since 2015, of which he was recently elected Chairperson.  He served on the Board of Directors for the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce for two years.  He served as the co-chair of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County Live Local Give Local 365 initiative when it was launched in 2011.  In 2012, Pugliese was named to the Hartford Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” for his professional work and civic involvement.

Carney’s community activities include serving on the Board of Trustees at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and the Board of Directors at Saye Brook Senior Housing. He is a member of both the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce and the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce, a lector at Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, and serves on both the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee as a member and the Old Saybrook Republican Town Committee as an honorary member.

Public education is a key issue for Pugliese. He comments in the release, “When I think of our communities, I think of our strong public education systems. I will fight for the funding we deserve from Hartford necessary to support our schools.  I believe we need to invest in our higher education system. We want to have a vibrant university system to educate our young people, ensure their access to this education, and keep them here as part of our workforce in Connecticut.”

Commenting on his achievements in the past four years, Carney says, “I have pushed back against drastic tax increases to residents, defeated a federal rail proposal that would have devastated the region, supported bipartisan initiatives to combat our opioid crisis, and fought Governor Malloy’s proposal to push teacher pension costs onto local school districts. I have always put the taxpayer first and engaged with the community.”

Pugliese is an advocate for paid family leave, ensuring rights for women and minorities and championing arts, culture and tourism.  He adds, “Part of the identity of our community is the incredible cultural resources we have in the 23rd district. These resources drive tourism, which is critical to the economy of the towns in our region.  We need to ensure the viability of our cultural assets, and the public infrastructure needed to support tourism.”

Carney highlights in his press release, “I have never missed a vote,” adding, “Connecticut is at a crossroads and our residents and businesses cannot afford the same tax-and-spend policies that have put the state into this mess. It is imperative Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook continue to have a strong voice at the table during this tough fiscal reality.”


Musical Masterworks Presents Mozart Piano Quartets, Mozart-Inspired Music in Concerts This Weekend

Violinist Tessa Lark

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks presents two concerts this coming weekend, Saturday, March 11, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 12, at 3 p.m. at The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, an acoustically rich venue.

The concerts will juxtapose both of Mozart’s masterful Piano Quartets with two Mozart-inspired works from the twentieth century.  

The performance will feature violinist, Tessa Lark, who has delighted Musical Masterworks audiences with her virtuosity; pianist Jeewon Park; and Musical Masterworks stalwarts violinist Dimitri Murrath and cellist Edward Arron, who is also the Musical Masterworks Artistic Director.

To purchase tickets ($35 individual; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at or call 860.434.2252.


State Representative Bob Siegrist to Seek Re-Election

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

AREAWIDE — State Representative Bob Siegrist, III (R-36) announced today that he plans to seek re-election for a second term.  Siegrist states, “I am proud to have served the residents of the 36th House District these past two years as their State Representative.  I have listened to the people of the district and voted their concerns, their issues and most importantly, their pocketbook.”

He continues, “I have always considered this seat the people’s seat and I will continue to fight for children, families, senior citizens, and for a better business climate to create and retain jobs. I will fight for common sense budgeting and fiscal responsibility to keep more of your own money, and I will advocate for policies that will make Connecticut more affordable for the residents of the 36th.”

Siegrist concludes, “There is a lot more work that needs to be done and that is why I am announcing my plans to seek re-election as State Representative of the 36th House District seat.  With your help and support we can make Connecticut what it once was; the embodiment of the American Dream. A state with unending opportunities for everyone.”

Siegrist, a Republican, has represented the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam since 2017. He currently serves on the Public Safety and Security, Insurance and Real Estate, and Veterans’ Affairs committees.


Rebooting New England: What Do YOU Think? Op-Ed from SECoast

On Tuesday, Feb. 27 we [SECoast] participated in a round table in New Haven hosted by New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, with 40 or so others to discuss alternatives to NEC Future high-speed rail planning. Attendees included administrators from Yale and Trinity college, Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) head Kristina Newman-Scott, former CTDOT Commissioner Emil Frankel, engineer Foster Nichols, among others. The project is being organized by former RPA head Bob Yaro, and former DECD head Kip Bergstrom. You can download the 50 mb 200+ page document here.

In the most simple terms, the plan resembles NEC Future Alternative 3.2, with high-speed rail service heading north, rather than east from New Haven, and then east from Hartford, through Storrs, to Providence. Yaro and Bergstrom are specifically offering “Rebooting New England,” as they call it, as an opportunity to avoid the impacts (and opposition) through southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island to NEC Future planning. It also includes the audacious idea of a tunnel across the Sound.  Here’s an illustration:

And while NEC Future was tailored for the needs of the largest cities along the Northeast Corridor, Yaro and Bergstrom have rather crafted a plan which also benefits inland and mid-sized cities along the corridor, by drawing from similar efforts in Great Britain to connect Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle, in the north, to London.

You can find an hour-long video presentation of the project from last July to the Lincoln Institute here. Given the current lack of funding, it’s an ambitious plan, but a serious one, worth serious consideration. SECoast’s Gregory Stroud will be meeting with project leaders again on Thursday for further discussions. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to take a look at the project, and tell us what you think.

About those Transit hearings…

With Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund on the verge of insolvency, and the Malloy administration proposing a first wave of drastic cuts, and fare increases, to train and bus service to take effect on July 1, [detailed here], the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) has been holding hearings over the last three weeks across Connecticut, and (more surprisingly) in Massachusetts.

SECoast board and staff members attended a February 28 hearing in New London, where a diverse group of 50 or so members of the public — young and old, poor and well-to-do, African-American, Asian-American, Latino, and White — offered relatively muted criticism of proposed fare increases, together with broad and pointed opposition to proposed service cuts. [Take a look at Kim Drelich’s  coverage for The Day here].

In turn, CTDOT commissioner James Redeker presented a persuasive case for increased revenues and investments, including two-cents yearly increases over seven years to the gasoline tax, and new tolling along the state’s major roadways, to avoid these unsustainable cuts to transportation.

This all made for good theater for the Malloy administration, but also missed an essential purpose of such hearings, which is not just to allow the public the chance to air its grievances, but also to take part meaningfully in the decision-making process. As far as the latter goes, meaningful public participation requires a level of transparency which has been lacking in the materials provided. And we have significant concerns that these proposals have been presented as simply mandated, rather than as the result of limited, but real choices made behind closed doors.

In much this vein, RiverCOG executive director Sam Gold briefly outlined lengthy written comments and opposition to the proposed cuts. Gold questioned the fairness of cuts to towns like Old Saybrook, which played by the rules, embraced CTDOT priorities, and heavily invested in transit-oriented development (TOD). Gold further questioned the priorities and motivation of CTDOT cuts which would spare CTDOT’s own CTTransit, while falling heavily on towns like New London with municipal-supported (and controlled) transit. We agree.

In contrast to an earlier hearing in Stamford, where elected officials have faced criticism for cutting a lengthy line to present comments, few elected officials turned up in New London. State Rep. Devin Carney, ranking member on the Connecticut General Assembly Transportation Committee, was a notable exception.

We strongly encourage you to write to CTDOT by March 16 with your comments. Just click here.

Widening I-95

On Feb. 22, as part of a larger coordinated rollout by the Malloy administration of revenue proposals, announced project cuts, service cuts, and fare increases, CTDOT reintroduced targeted plans to widen I-95 through Fairfield County and southeastern Connecticut. Kim Drelich covers the announcement for The Day, here, you can also find coverage in the Hartford Courant, and in the Yale Daily News here.

While we appreciate the need to improve safety and reduce congestion on I-95, we have several concerns about the announcement. Most importantly, whether you are for or against proposals to widen I-95, by failing to release the actual studies, and by providing the public with only summary findings, CTDOT is depriving the public of a chance to meaningfully participate in a decision on the topic.  In southeastern Connecticut, we are left to wonder whether this latest plan differs materially from earlier planning proposed in 2005, which would require significant takings and environmental impacts. In Fairfield County, we are left to wonder about the impacts to the densely settled corridor.

In the case of the National Historic Landmark Bush-Holley house for example, it appears that while keeping to the existing right of way, and to CTDOT property, such widening could still significantly impact properties alongside the corridor, with enormous potential impacts to the property, and to ongoing projects  by the Greenwich Historical Society.

Take a look at a graphic we produced by cross-referencing the released graph of potential land use, with project parameters, and mileage markers:

We are of course encouraged that the plan keeps as much as possible to the existing right of way, and to CTDOT property, but we’d like to know much more about the actual impacts and plans for construction at the Mianus river crossing in particular. Such plans are simply too important to made behind closed doors, and without timely and sufficient public scrutiny. And they obviously make little or no sense when paired with transit cuts that would send thousands of additional commuters onto I-95.

SECoast has submitted a Freedom of Information Request to obtain planning documents. We [SECoast] will let you know, when we know more about these plans …

Editor’s Note: We also urge readers to write to CTDOT by March 16 with your thoughts on the first wave of drastic cuts, and fare increases, to train and bus service to take effect on July 1.  Just click 


Deep River Historical Society Introduces New Book on Billy Winters’s Journey to Freedom; Author Event, March 11

Rhonda Forristall, curator of the Deep River Historical Society and author of Billy Winters, One Man’s Journey to Freedom.

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Historical Society has announced the publication of a second book called Billy Winters, One Man’s Journey to Freedom, written by Rhonda Forristall, curator of the Society.

Historians often say that “history repeats itself” so is it really a surprise that 117 years after the death of Billy Winters that his story is still current? The news is full of stories of those seeking a new life in Connecticut and sanctuary cities offering help and support.

Billy found both in Deep River.

Born a slave, Billy escaped through the Underground Railroad and sought a safe place to live. He found sanctuary in Deep River and for a time in New Bedford, Mass.

The Boston School of Architecture has just completed a three-month-exhibit about the African-American neighborhood in New Bedford that gave sanctuary to self-emancipated slaves from 1840 to 1863. Frederick Douglass and Billy were only two of the thousands that were sheltered there.

Billy told the story of his eventful life to a reporter for the Deep River New Era shortly before he died in November of 1900. Using this first-hand account Rhonda was able to trace his steps and add some details to Billy’s story. Due to the secrecy needed to protect the operators of the Underground Railroad, and those they were trying to save, there are very few first-hand accounts in existence. 

The Deep River Historical Society is privileged to have this account at the Society and an obligation to preserve his story for future generations. This story has been a significant part of the presentations that the Society provides to the Deep River Elementary School 4th graders when they visit each year.

While not written as a children’s book, it was important to Forristall to write this story in such a way that the students would be able to read and understand it.  Although the story of Billy Winters is known by many, Forristall’s research has turned up a few surprises. 

The Society is hosting an author event on Sunday, March 11, at 4 p.m. in the Carriage House. All are welcome.


CT Valley Camera Club Presents Talk Tonight on How to Photograph National Parks

Photographer Chris Nicholson at Acadia National Park (Photo courtesy of Steven Ryan)

AREAWIDE: The guest speaker at the Monday, Mar. 5 meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be the acclaimed photographer and author Chris Nicholson, who will give a presentation titled “Photographing National Parks.”  The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn. All are welcome.

Chris Nicholson is a photographer and writer based in southern Connecticut and New York City. Formerly a magazine editor for ten years, he has worked on a freelance basis since 2004, with his camerawork focused primarily on the travel and sports genres. His writing and photographs have been published in over 30 magazines and several books.

Nicholson works in a primarily conservative style, believing that ideal composition is simple, strong and powerful. He has covered locations in Australia and throughout the continental United States (especially in New England, which he considers to be one of the most aesthetically unique regions of America).

Throughout his career he has studied the American national parks. Whether for assignments, publishing projects or personal work, Nicholson travels to national parks several times per year for photography. Over the past two decades he has paid particular attention to Acadia, Everglades, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains, Olympic, Shenandoah and Yellowstone, visiting and photographing those seven a combined 26 times.

The CVCC is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers. The group offers a variety of presentations and interactive workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills. Photographers of all levels of experience are welcomed.  The club draws members from up and down the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook; from East Hampton to Old Lyme; and along the shoreline from Guilford to Gales Ferry.

For more information, visit the club’s website at CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at


Essex Winter Series Continues This Afternoon with Program Featuring Acclaimed Baritone David Pittsinger

David Pittsinger

ESSEX — Essex Winter Series’ 2018 season continues on March 4 with bass-baritone David Pittsinger. in a program to include music by Bach, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Handel, and selections from the American Songbook that celebrate the American spirit.

The Quodlibet Ensemble, a New York-based string chamber orchestra of young, dynamic artists presents a range of great music, from the Baroque to the modern day performs April 8. Their program will include Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, as well as music by Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Nathan Schram.

All performances take place on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. with the Feb. 18 and April 8 concerts at Valley Regional High School, Deep River; and the March 4 concert at John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River. Seating is general admission and tickets may be purchased by visiting or calling 860-272-4572.

The 2018 Essex Winter Series season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Guilford Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Tower Laboratories, and BrandTech Scientific. Media sponsor is WSHU Public Radio and outreach activities are supported by the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and donors to the Fenton Brown Circle.


Dazzling Red Carpet Oscar Event Tonight Raises Funds for ‘The Kate’

 — The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (the Kate) will hold an Oscar Party benefit on Sunday, March 4beginning at 7 pm at the center located at 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook. This annual red-carpet event honors the Kate’s 12-time Oscar Nominated, 4-time-winning namesake and makes for an entertaining evening.  Proceeds support quality performing arts and cultural presentations at the Kate throughout the year.

“This event has always been volunteer-driven and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past eight years to support the Kate,” said Diane Hessinger, Oscar Party chair. “Not only is it a very fun evening, but it’s a perfect way to pay homage to our namesake, Katharine Hepburn and raise funds to expand the arts on the Connecticut shoreline.”

Delicious hearty hors d’oeuvres and desserts are provided by Fresh Salt and a cash bar is available while the 90th Academy Awards ceremony airs live on the Kate’s big screen. Guests will walk the red carpet, pose for photos, and have the chance to hold a real Oscar, thanks to Devin Carney, state representative and grandson of the late award-winning actor Art Carney. Carney is an honorary chair of the event along with Ann Nyberg of WTNH, both members of the Kate’s board.

A silent auction and raffle add to the fun of the evening and, new this year, is the Becker’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook “Mystery Red Box” activity. Fifty jewelry boxes wrapped in a vibrant red paper are available for purchase with each box containing a Becker’s gift certificate and one grand prize box holding a beautiful 14k gold bracelet with forty-nine diamonds.

For tickets, visit or call 877-503-1286.

The 2018 Oscar Party is held in memory of Beverly Whalen, a long-time volunteer at the Kate who gave generously of her time and helped launch this event. The evening is sponsored by Becker’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook, Secor Volvo, Comcast, Gulick & Co., Pough Interiors, and Saybrook Point Inn Marina & Spa.

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (the Kate) is a non-profit performing arts organization located in the former theatre and town hall, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, on Main Street in Old Saybrook. The Kate includes a 250-seat theatre and a small museum honoring Katharine Hepburn. From live music concerts, to children’s arts camp, to films of fine art, and the MET Opera and Bolshoi Ballet simulcasts, events presented at the Kate help to shape the community, making it brighter and more imaginative.


CT River Museum Hosts Tavern Night, March 23

The Connecticut River Museum’s 1814 Tavern Night features an evening of food, drink, music and games in the Museum’s historic Samuel Lay House. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum’s (CRM) second Tavern Night of 2018 will take place on March 23. Join Museum staff and supporters for a lively 19th-century evening as the historic Samuel Lay House is transformed into a seaside tavern.

Folklorist Stephen Gencarella and CRM Director Chris Dobbs will host the tasting table featuring a variety of heritage wines and ports. Gencarella and Dobbs will share the background of the wines, and the intrigue and nuances of the world of port. Catering by Selene is creating a sampling of appetizers/light dinner featuring early 19th-century food. These are based on chef Selene Sweck’s extensive research and collection of early American cookbooks.

This evening features music by Joseph Morneault, a member of the Jovial Crew, which performs at the Griswold Inn. He is a performer of early American music, traditional Irish and sea music. As part of the evening, participants will also have an opportunity to try their hand at historic games such as Skittles (played with a top that goes through a maze knocking down pins) and Captain’s Mistress, a game with a scandalous sounding name.

Space is extremely limited with programs offered at 6 and 8 p.m. The $24 CRM museum member and $29 general public tickets include the beer tasting, appetizers, and entertainment. Additional drinks will be available for purchase.

Call 860-767- 8269 or visit to buy your tickets. Reservations are required and you must be 21 or older to participate.  Special thanks to our sponsors: Catering by Selene, Connecticut Rental Center and Bob’s Centerbrook Package Store.

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the waterfront in Essex, CT. The Museum offers exhibits and programs exploring the history and environment of the Connecticut River and its valley. It is open Tuesday to Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter season. 

For more information, visit


The Kate, Community Music School Team Up to Offer Kid’s Camp Starting March 21

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Community Music School (CMS) are partnering again under the umbrella of their performing arts summer camp, “Kate’s Camp for Kids,” to present a spring program and show entitled “It’s Saturday!”

This exciting program takes place at The Kate, 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook, and runs for seven weekly sessions on Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 5 p.m. beginning March 21.  Launched in 2013, Kate’s Camp for Kids is a performing arts camp for children in grades K-5 incorporating music, dance, theater, and visual art.

Directed by Martha Herrle, a 16-year member of CMS faculty and certified Kindermusik educator, this year’s camp theme will be “It’s Saturday!”  Join the celebration of a ‘day off’ in the life of a kid with this clever mini-musical.

From watching cartoons to piano lessons, from football practice to chores, you’ll explore all the options for activities … or are they options? Featuring five original songs and easy-to-learn rhyming dialog, the program culminates in a lively performance for friends and family.

Tuition for this camp is $165 and scholarships are available for families with a financial need.

For additional information and to register, visit or call 860-767-0026.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30-year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. The School’s programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

Learn more at or call (860)767-0026.


Tavern Night Returns to CT River Museum, March 23

ESSEX — On Friday, Jan. 26, the Connecticut River Museum brings back its popular 1814 Tavern Night.  This lively 19th century evening will take place at the museum’s historic Samuel Lay House overlooking scenic Essex harbor.  The house will be transformed into a candlelit riverside tavern from the War of 1812. 

The evening includes a bourbon whiskey tasting hosted by Highland Imports, songs by noted musician Don Sineti, tavern games, and a food pairing of early American cuisine provided by Catering by Selene.  Additional wine and beer will be available at the cash bar.

Folk singer Don Sineti will play and sing some rousing tunes at Tavern Night.

Sineti is a folksinger, songwriter, part-time sea chantey man (with one of the most powerful voices on the Eastern Seaboard!), and long-neck, 5-string banjo picker.  For over 20 years, he has entertained with his boundless energy, to deliver rousing renditions of songs from the days of wooden ships and iron men.  With a booming voice and a hearty laugh, he shares his music with audiences of all ages.

There are three candle lit evenings planned.  Two additional Tavern Nights will be held; 

  • March 23 – Heritage Wines and Port Tastings with folklorist Stephen Gencarella & historian Chris Dobbs; Music by Joseph Mornealt
  • April 27  – Olde Burnside Brewing Company beer tastings; music by Rick Spencer, Dawn Indermuehle & Chris Dobbs. 

Save $10 when you buy all three evenings!

Tastings take place at 6 and 8 p.m.  Space is limited and reservations are required.  Call to reserve tickets at 860-767-8269 or visit  Tickets are $24 for museum members or $29 for the general public (must be 21 or older and show valid ID).  Includes bourbon whiskey tasting, light bites, and entertainment.  The evening is sponsored in part by Catering by Selene, Connecticut Rental Center and Bob’s Centerbrook Package Store.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 AM – 5 PM and closed on Mondays until Memorial Day. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $7 for students, $6 for children age 6-12, free for children under 6.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to


St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Offers New Wednesday Evening Celtic Prayer Service

EAST HADDAM – St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church is starting a new tradition.

St. Stephen’s is offering a Wednesday evening prayer built upon the Celtic Christian tradition. This quiet and meditative prayer service begins at 7 p.m. and lasts for about half-an-hour.

This time represents an opportunity to find an oasis in the midst of busy lives where you can sit and be still with God. This service is open to any person who hungers for rest in the divine and is seeking a deeper connection with God, regardless of their religious background.

The Celtic Evening Prayer Service places an emphasis on silence, meditation, the mysteries of our faith, and creation. Celtic Spirituality draws its inspiration from the earliest manifestation of Christianity as well as the wisdom of pre-Christian Ireland.

The prayers of the Celtic Saints are filled with the experiences of God’s presence in creation, the simplicity of living in harmony with creation, and the awareness of the sacredness of all things. In the prayers, the passion, and the practice of the faith in the early church on these islands, there is a clarity, simplicity and wisdom that speak to many of today’s concerns.

“The Celtic Evening Prayer service offers an opportunity to come to a quiet place, to be reflective and through prayer to be renewed. We are pleased to offer this unique prayer experience,” comments Thom Hagerth, parishioner of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

“Preparing for this Celtic Evening Prayer Service has been very rewarding and it is my hope that people will find a new way to worship through time honored traditions,” comments Mike Corey, Intern, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

St. Stephen’s is located at 31 Main St., East Haddam, Connecticut, 860-873-9547.

For more information, visit


Letter From Paris: ‘The Donald’ and Europe Grow Further Apart

Nicole Prévost Logan

In February 2017, the European Union (EU) members, gathered at the Malta summit, were flabbergasted by President Donald Trump’s hostile attitude toward the United States’s traditional allies.  One year later the world has adjusted in the opinion of the seasoned diplomat Hubert Vedrine, France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (1997-2002).  The French diplomat commented, “One has to get over our initial disbelief as to the unpredictable and apparently erratic policy of the 45th president of the US.”

The European opinion of Trump is not monolithic.  One has to differentiate between the North and South:  heavily indebted Greece and Germany with a flourishing economy will have opposite opinions.  The same divide exists between East and West: for example, nationalist and authoritarian countries like Poland will view Trump differently from the liberal Netherlands.

The Europeans resent Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement leaving a wide open boulevard for China to become the champion defender of the environment.  Last January, the announcement made by the controversial Ryan Zinke, US Secretary of the Environment, that he would allow oil and gas drilling near almost all US coasts from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico was considered a mistake.  The French oppose the position of Trump’s administration on the use of coal and other fossil fuel as sources of energy.  France has closed all its coal mines and does not even allow fracking for oil or gas exploration in fear of endangering the environment.

President Donald Trump

The recent financial and tax reforms introduced by the US president were characterized as a fiscal war with the rest of the world by economist and professor Philippe Dessertine.   On Jan. 26,  2018 at the Davos World Economic Forum, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), criticized those measures by saying that, subsequent to creating benefits in the short term, they would ultimately impact world  financial vulnerability.  She believes that the increase in both liquidity and the budget deficit, will eventually cause a sudden drop in the stock market.  It is interesting to note that a few days after her speech, the Dow tanked and began a new cycle of high volatility.

French economists commented that lowering corporate taxes to 21 percent in the US – not that far from the 12.5 percent of Irish tax heaven – is placing the competitiveness of countries like France at a disadvantage.  It will take five years of arduous effort by French President Macron to lower French corporate taxes to 25 percent.  The French Minister of Economy and Finances, Bruno Lemaire, criticized these reforms for technical reasons.  He commented that they will penalize European subsidiaries located in the US and also be an incentive for American companies located in France to relocate to the US.

According to French economist Thomas Piketty, 68.1 percent of the US income tax reduction will benefit just 1 percent of the population, thereby increasing the already exisiting inequalities even further.  For Gerard Courteois, editorial writer of the French national newspaper Le Monde, there is an incoherence in the statement,”Make America great again,” particularly in the use of the word “again.”  Does it apply to the boom years after World War II when it actually was a time of high taxes and international trade?

Trump’s foreign policy is scrutinized by French diplomats and geopoliticians.  Vedrine describes the American president’s policy in the Middle East as a disaster.  Trump has created a confrontational axis with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey against Iran and managed to freeze the Israel-Palestine peace process.  Regarding the European Union (EU), Trump’s objective seems to be its deconstruction.  Trump applauded Brexit and asked “Who is next?”  To European satisfaction, Congress has blocked the confirmation of a Europhobe nominee as US Ambassador to the EU.  The post has not been filled to date.

Trump’s diplomacy is not sophisticated.  It is a bully approach, forever brandishing the threat of more and greater sanctions, whether in the Ukraine, Iran or Korea.  Punitive measures are even taken by Trump toward the Palestinians.  He intends to suspend financial aid because they refuse to sit at the negotiating table.

French diplomats prefer pragmatism and negotiations.  Dominique de Villepin, former foreign minister (2002-2004) and prime minister (2005-2007), believes, for instance, that one has to accept the fact that North Korea is a nuclear power and entice that country to join the international community by helping  its economic development .

However, Vedrine says one should not blame Trump for everything.  Being realistic, France and Europe are not at the center of the world today.  If the US is stepping back, it is a chance for Europe to regain its autonomy.  Villepin suggests that Europe needs to break away from US guardianship .

At the annual Munich conference on security, participants showed for the first time their intention to step up the defense of the EU.  Last year Trump had scolded NATO members for not paying their share leading to the irritation of Washington today.  To put a stop to transatlantic polemics, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, wanted to be conciliatory and declared, “The increase in the European defense budget will reinforce the NATO European pillar.”

Judging from this non-exhaustive list of disagreements, relations between Trump and Europe are not particularly warm right now — in fact, one might be tempted to conclude they are well on the way to just plain bad.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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


9 Town Transit Faces Drastic Funding Cuts From State, Seeks Help From Readers to Prevent Them

AREAWIDE — For decades, transportation programs in Connecticut have been funded by a tax on gasoline and diesel fuels that goes into the Special Transportation Fund (STF.)  The 25 cent gas tax has not changed since 2000, while vehicles have become more fuel efficient, both of which combined have resulted in a significant decrease in revenues.

Without action from the legislature, the Connecticut Department of Transportation warns that there will not be enough funding coming into the STF to cover the expenses of the state’s transportation system.  As a result, 9 Town Transit would see a 15 percent reduction in funding in 2018 and a 50 percent reduction of funding in 2019.

9 Town Transit has asked to let its readers know that a 15 percent reduction of state funding beginning July 1, 2018 would result in changes such as fare increases, elimination or reduction of bus routes and reduced Dial-A-Ride service.  In addition, a 50 percent reduction of state funding beginning July 1, 2019 would result in changes such as additional fare increases, elimination of most bus routes, elimination of Saturday service and elimination of Dial-A-Ride service.

These changes would have a significant impact on the more than 100,000 trips made each year on these services.  Hundreds of area residents would be stranded, and unable to get to work, school and medical appointments.

9 Town Transit is therefore asking our readers who are transit users and/or supporters to let their state representative and senator know how important 9 Town Transit, Shoreline East and/or other public transit services are to them. We urge our readers to support all these transportation programs in those ways and also to share this message with others, who may not read

More information about the possible service reductions and ways to help prevent the funding cuts can be found at


CT DOT Schedules Public Hearings Tomorrow in Chester & New London on Proposed Rate Hikes, Service Reductions for Local Bus, Rail, Ferry Services

AREAWIDE — The Connecticut Department of Transportation will conduct public hearings on proposed public transit fare increases for bus, rail and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit services; and proposed service reductions to the New Haven Line, New Canaan Line, Danbury Line, Waterbury Line and Shore Line East rail services.
The nearest hearing to the coverage area on these proposed changes will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the New London City Hall Council Chambers, 181 State St.  The snow date is Wednesday, March 7, at the same time and location.  There are also hearings scheduled at New Haven (2/20) and Hartford (2/22.)

Additionally, information meetings will be held on proposed Connecticut River ferry fare increases.  The hearing for those will also be on Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Chester Town Hall Conference Room, 203 Middlesex Ave., Chester. The snow date is Tuesday, March 6, at the same time and location.

No bus or ADA paratransit services reductions are proposed at this time.

If approved, a rail fare increase would take effect in three phases:

  • 10 percent on July 1, 2018
  • 5 percent on July 1, 2020
  • 5 percent on July 1, 2021, for a cumulative total of 21.28 percent.

A 14.3 percent, or 25-cent, bus fare increase would take effect on July 1, 2018.

Rail service reductions would also take effect on or about July 1, 2018; no bus service changes are proposed at this time.

A $1 increase in the car fare for the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury and Chester-Hadlyme ferries is also proposed.

The rail service proposals include significant reductions to off-peak and weekend rail services on the New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury branch rail lines, and elimination of off-peak and weekend service as well as significant reductions in peak period service on Shore Line East.

Proposed Bus Fare Increases (pdf)

Proposed Rail Fare Increases

   New Haven Line Proposed Fares to/from Grand Central Terminal – July 2018 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Fares to/from Grand Central Terminal – July 2020 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Fares to/from Grand Central Terminal – July 2021 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Intermediate Station Fares – July 2018 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Intermediate Station Fares – July 2020 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Intermediate Station Fares – July 2021 (pdf)

   New Haven Line UniTicket Proposed Fares 2018-2021 (pdf)

   Shore Line East and UniRail Proposed Fares – July 2018 (pdf)

   Shore Line East and UniRail Proposed Fares – July 2020 (pdf)

   Shore Line East and UniRail Proposed Fares – July 2021 (pdf)

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2018

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2020

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2021

Proposed Rail Service Reductions

   New Haven Line and Branch Line Weekday Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

   New Haven Line and Branch Line Weekend Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

   Shore Line East Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

Proposed Ferry Fare Increase (pdf)

Service and Fare Equity (SAFE) Analysis (pdf) (available 2/20/18)

Public hearings on the proposed bus and rail fare increases and rail service reductions, and informational meetings on ferry fare increases, will be held as follows:

In case of inclement weather, public hearings or informational meetings that need to be re-scheduled will be announced through local media and on the CTDOT website at

At these hearings, CTDOT will provide information and accept public comments about the fare and service proposals and the Service and Fare Equity (SAFE) Analysis.  The SAFE Analysis evaluates the proposed changes to determine if they will cause a disparate impact to minority populations or have a disproportionate burden on low income populations.

The proposed fare increases and service reductions may be viewed on the Department’s website at The Service and Fare Equity (SAFE) Analysis is available for public review as of Friday, Feb. 16. Note the SAFE will not be available until Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Written comments on the proposed fare changes must be received by March 9, 2018 at COMMENT ON PROPOSED FARE AND SERVICE CHANGES, Bureau of Public Transportation, P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546 or via e-mail to

The meeting facilities are ADA accessible. Language assistance may be requested by contacting the Department’s Office of Rail at (203) 497-3374 at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting. Persons with a hearing and/or speech disability may dial 711 for Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). Language assistance is provided at no cost to the public, and efforts will be made to respond to timely requests for assistance. 


Deep River Resident Joins KBE Building Corporation as Preconstruction Manager

DEEP RIVER – Deep River resident Chris Desrosiers has joined Farmington-based KBE Building Corporation as Preconstruction Manager. KBE has expanded its preconstruction team in response to a steadily growing client base and demand for in-depth preconstruction services.

Mr. Desrosiers has more than 10 years of experience as an architect, and previously worked with JCJ Architecture, Lerner | Ladds + Bartels, and DiLeonardo International. He has worked on projects throughout the U.S., the Middle East, and the Far East. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Roger Williams University.

In addition to hiring Mr. Desrosiers, KBE has promoted two of its current employees in the preconstruction department:

Erica Millard, CPE, LEED AP, was promoted to Manager of Preconstruction Services. As head of KBE’s preconstruction department, she oversees a staff of three preconstruction managers and is responsible for all preconstruction phase services and procurement on select projects. She joined KBE in March of 2012 as a senior project engineer in the field, and has worked as an estimator and preconstruction manager. She previously worked with Balfour Beatty in Washington, DC. Ms. Millard is a Certified Professional Estimator and LEED Accredited Professional, and received her BS in Civil Engineering from University of Virginia.

William Culviner was promoted to Preconstruction Manager. Mr. Culviner worked with KBE as an intern and was hired in 2014 as an Estimator. He received his BS in Construction Management from Central Connecticut State University and is 30-Hour OSHA Certified for Construction Safety. He is currently hospitality chair of the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) – Nutmeg Chapter.

KBE has managed more than $4 billion in construction volume during the past two decades alone and is ranked among Engineering News-Record magazine’s top 400 construction companies nationally.

With offices in Norwalk and Farmington, CT, as well as Columbia, MD, KBE Building Corporation is a full-service, single-source commercial construction company strategically positioned to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. Our New York City clients are serviced through our affiliate, KBENY, LLC. (

Founded in 1959 and incorporated in 1966, KBE bills $300 million annually. The firm provides preconstruction, construction management, design-build, and general contracting services to clients in the retail, educational, senior living, federal, corporate, hospitality, health care, and institutional markets.

KBE’s team of 120+ construction professionals and support staff is deeply committed to the firm’s corporate philanthropy program, 50 Ways to Make a Difference. Established in 2009 to celebrate the firm’s 50 years in business, 50 Ways has helped KBE associates donate more than $2.5 million and 12,000 volunteer hours to charitable causes benefiting children, seniors, and military veterans in Connecticut and Maryland.


Susan Strecker Presents Eight Tips & Tricks for Writing a Novel at Deep River Library, Wednesday

DEEP RIVER — Calling all budding writers! Join Deep River Public Library on Feb. 21, from 6 to 7:45 p.m. for a special novel-writing boot camp given by Susan Strecker, an award-winning novelist, writing coach and editor.

Strecker will share her eight tips and tricks for writing a novel. Participants will have a chance to share their work or just discuss ideas and concepts. All novels in various stages of completion are welcome. Whether you have a finished first draft, notes for a plot or have already been through several rounds of editing and revising, this class will help you find a way to make your book even stronger.

Although every novel is unique, each follows a trajectory and arc leading to its conclusion. By incorporating these eight basic elements, your novel will be more enjoyable for your readers and you will have all the tools you need to produce your best work.

Space is limited. Call the Deep River Public Library at 860-526-6039 to reserve your spot for the workshop.

For more information, visit and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pm; Tuesday 10 am – 6 pm; Wednesday 12:30 – 8 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.


New Book Club to Start at Deep River Public Library, Welcomes Members

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Public Library is looking for a few good readers!

The Library is forming a new reading group to be facilitated by members, to meet once a month in the reading room. Participants will take turns each month, choosing a book and leading the discussion. This is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with other members of the community and enjoy meaningful chats centered on topical books. The library can request holds for members through its consortium, Bibliomation.

If you are interested in joining, email the library at: and let us know your name, if your prefer Monday or Wednesday evening and the types of books you’re most interested in reading.

For more information, visit and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pmTuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pmThursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.


The End of an Era … but the Journey Continues: Jeff Andersen Retires From the FloGris Museum After 41 Years

Retiring Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeff Andersen stands between State Senator Paul Formica (left) and State Rep. Devin Carney holding the State Citation with which the two legislators had presented him.

OLD LYME — There wasn’t a parking spot to be found Sunday afternoon at the Florence Griswold Museum, nor come to that at the Lyme Art Association. And the reason?  Despite torrential rain, it seemed as if the whole town had come out to say a fond farewell to Jeff Andersen, the much beloved Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, who was retiring after an amazing 41 years in that position.

Jeff Anderson stands with Charter Trustee George Willauer and New York Times best-selling author Luanne Rice alongside the Willard Metcalf painting, “Kalmia,” which the board has now dedicated to Andersen in honor of his 41 years service.

The Museum hosted a wonderful party to celebrate Jeff and his wife, Maureen McCabe, and both Marshfield House and the tent situated in the courtyard outside were packed almost to capacity. Federal, state and local dignitaries were there along with Museum trustees, staff, volunteers, friends and pretty much anyone who had ever had a connection with Jeff, Maureen or the Museum — well over 400 people in total.

The formal segment of the event was emceed by Charter Trustee Jeff Cooley, who opened the proceedings by introducing Senator Richard Blumenthal. Describing the Florence Griswold as “a world-class Museum,” Blumenthal went on to present Andersen with a Certificate of Recognition from the US Senate, which he noted to considerable laughter, “was approved by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote.” He thanked Andersen warmly for, “Your immense public service … and your values.”

State Rep. Devin Carney says, “It all started with just one … and that was, you, Jeff.”

State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) stepped up next the podium and Carney noted poignantly, “It all started with just one … and that was you, Jeff.”  Carney was referring to the fact that 41 years ago, Andersen was the Museum’s first — and only – employee whereas now the Museum has 20 staff, 255 volunteers, 3,000 members and 80,000 visitors annually.

Saying, “I truly want to thank you, Jeff, for doing so much good for the economy as a whole,” Carney pointed out that many of the visitors to the Museum, “come, stay and shop,” in Old Lyme and the surrounding area, adding, “You did a great job at the Museum … but you also stopped a train!”  This latter was a reference to the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposal to route a high speed train through the center of Old Lyme, which Andersen actively worked to defeat.

State Sen. Paul Formica reads the Citation from the state in honor of Jeff Andersen.

Formica then presented Andersen with a Citation from the Connecticut House and Senate, which recognized Andersen for his “passionate dedication directing, restoring and revitalizing the Florence Griswold Museum,” noting, “For 40 years you shared your vision and inspired countless volunteers and workers to help fulfill this vision expanding exhibits, gardens and collections making it into the reputable attraction we know today.” The Citation concluded, “We want to thank you for your tireless leadership and congratulate you on your retirement.”

Following the legislators was Old Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who immediately confessed, “Frankly, I have to say I didn’t think there would ever be a time when Jeff wouldn’t be here.”  She continued, “It’s good for him [Jeff] and all of us to be aware of all you have done.  You’re part of our DNA, you’re the heart of our culture,” and then announced that the Town of Old Lyme was declaring Feb. 11 as “Jeff Andersen Day,”  adding to loud applause and much laughter that it was a unanimous vote.

Andersen mingled freely with the more than 400 guests gathered to say their goodbyes.

She read a Proclamation from the Town which stated, “Since he began working with the Museum in 1976, the Florence Griswold Museum has grown from a small seasonal house museum where he was the only staff member to a nationally recognized center for American art.” The Proclamation also noted that, “Jeff is recognized today as the pre-eminent scholar on the historic Lyme Art Colony … and has helped grow the Museum’s modest collection of works of American Impressionism into a deep and distinguished regional collection of American art.”  Describing Andersen as a “visionary Leader,” with a “thoughtful devotion to excellence,” Reemsnyder concluded, still reading from the Proclamation, that Andersen’s, “tireless advocacy for the Museum and its uniquely Connecticut story has transformed the Florence Griswold Museum into one of the state’s most important and beloved cultural destinations.”

Jeff Cooley (center) emceed thw formal proceedings at the party. His wife Betsy stands to his left.

Charter Trustees George Willauer and Cooley then unveiled the beautiful 1905 painting titled, “Kalmia,” by Willard L. Metcalf to which a plaque had been attached stating that it now honored Andersen’s 41 years of service during which he “transformed” the Museum “through his unswerving devotion to preserving the legacy of the Lyme Art Colony.”

Jeff Andersen addresses the at capacity audience.

A clearly emotional Andersen then addressed the audience, which by now was overflowing the tent, saying simply, “We are feeling the love …”  He gave a long list of thank you’s, noting that he and his wife had, “felt such affection and regard since announcing his retirement.” Andersen then shared his opinion that, “whatever you give to the Museum – whether time, talent or money – it is returned to you many fold.”  He said, “Not many get the opportunity to have a career in one place [in his case, from age 23 to 64] and for that I am deeply grateful and humble.  Stressing, “Be assured the future is bright,” he commented almost wistfully, “What an incredible journey this has been … but the journey continues.”

Jeff Andersen and his wife Maureen McCabe applaud the pianist after he played a tune to which they had danced together at the very end of the party.

And with that, Cooley proposed a toast to Jeff and Maureen, glasses were raised, Prosecco was drunk and then vigorous applause and loud cheers erupted all around.

Florence Griswold Museum docent Linda Ahnert points out a detail from the newspaper cutting to fellow doscents.  The cutting announced Andersen’s arrival as the Museum’s first director — and then only employee — 41 years ago.

We here at can only add our deep and personal thanks to Jeff and Maureen for an extraordinary career in which so much given with such incredible warmth and humility.  Rep. Carney said it best so we’ll end by echoing his words, “The Florence Griswold is truly a treasure, but so are you … Miss Florence would be really proud of you.”


Welcome to Betsy Groth, our new ‘Family Wellness’ Columnist

Betsy Groth

We are delighted to welcome Betsy Groth to our stable of writers today. She is an APRN, PMHS – BC and a pediatric nurse practitioner with advanced certification in pediatric mental health.  She is a counselor, mental health educator and parent coach in Old Lyme and will be writing a monthly column for us on ‘Family Wellness.’  

In this introductory column, she explains the background to her column and some of the subjects she will be covering. 

For more information about Betsy and her work, visit Betsy’s website at

Family is defined by Merriam Webster as, “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also: any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family.” But we all know in today’s society, family is defined more broadly both theoretically and practically speaking.

Wright and Bell (2009) define family as a group of individuals bound by strong emotional ties, a sense of belonging and a passion for being involved in one another’s lives. There is usually a generational aspect to our definition of family and a sense of development over time. We think of families that are couples, families with young children, families with older children, families that have launched the younger generation, and families caring for aged members.

There is no universally accepted definition of wellness. It has been described as “… a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” This state of being is a lofty goal for any individual or family!  But it can be a sought after goal, the “ball” on which we all keep our eye.

Development as an individual and as a family has some built-in challenges to wellness, in addition to the joys to be found at each stage. There are also some often unexpected challenges and struggles, such as illness in a family member, academic struggles, financial difficulties, strained relations within the family.

This monthly column will explore factors in family and individual wellness, and approaches to maintain the goal of optimal wellness. Topics will include stress and anxiety in children and adolescents (next month), caring for aging parents, coping with chronic illness, raising children in a competitive society, and adjusting to first time parenthood.

And of course, I am always listening to families and the areas that they would like addressed in these columns, so please drop me a line at if there’s anything in particular you would like me to discuss.


Republican Ziobron Joins Race for 33rd State Senate Seat

State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) who has announced her candidacy for the State Senate 33rd District seat.

Republican State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) has announced her candidacy for the 33rd State Senate District a day after Democratic Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman (D) had announced his campaign for the same district. which includes the Town of Lyme.  This is Ziobron’s first run for a State Senate seat while Needleman ran unsuccessfully in 2016 for the 33rd District seat against then incumbent State Senator Republican Art Linares.

Linares is not seeking re-election in 2018 and has announced his candidacy for State Treasurer.

Ziobron is in her third term as State Representative for the 34th District comprising East Hampton, East Haddam and part of Colchester. Needleman is in his fourth as Essex First Selectman.

Ziobron explains in a letter to her supporters that her decision to run for the Senate seat represents, “a change in course,” so that she can rise to , “the greater challenge of serving as State Senator in the 33rdDistrict.” She notes, “This larger, 12-town district includes three towns I’ve been honored to represent — East Hampton, East Haddam and Colchester – and nine more in the Connecticut River Valley that I will be spending many hours meeting new friends and voters this spring.”

Ziobron says in her letter that the reason why she is running is simply, “Because I love the 34th State House District, and the CT River Valley Towns of the 33rd State Senate District, and our entire state – I want to see all of our friends and neighbors prosper.”  She mentions the challenges of the current budget situation and states, “It’s no secret we urgently need to address the state’s chronic over-spending!”

Laying out what she sees as the requirements of the incoming 33rd District State Senator, Ziobron writes, “We need a strong voice in the State Senate who: 1) is a proven fighter and has a reputation for putting their constituents first, fighting full-time for their small town communities, and 2) can immediately and effectively navigate the difficult legislative landscape, with the proven and dedicated commitment needed to focus on the budget, and 3) fights for fiscally conservative policies and has a record of implementing them, with bipartisan support, at the Capitol.”

Ziobron comments that she has, “thought a lot about one question,” which is, “How can I best help my state first survive over the near term, and then thrive over the long term?” She responds to her own question, “No matter which legislative chamber I serve, I will work to protect my district and offer the same high level of constituent service, and active community involvement – along with a laser-like focus on reducing wasteful and unneeded state spending,” concluding, “The bottom line: I can help more people in our state in service as your State Senator.”

Noting how well she knows the 33rd State Senate District, Ziobron describes it as, “an amazing treasure,” saying, “I’ve never imagined myself living anywhere else,” adding, “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to expand my many years of dedicated public service to this beautiful part of the state, I love.”

For more information on Ziobron, visit


Letter From Paris: Book That Wins France’s Top Literary Prize Raises Chilling Questions About WWII History

Nicole Prévost Logan

Coincidence or not ?

The prestigious French literary Prix Goncourt came out came just a few weeks before the election of 31-year-old Sebastian Kurtz as chancellor of Austria.  Many would say that election marked another step by the European Union along the road toward nationalism.

The topic of the novel is the Anschluss.  With devastating sarcasm the author, Eric Vuillard, puts the magnates of German industry on trial for profiting from the Nazi regime and the Austrian people for welcoming the invading German army on March 12  1938. The title itself is ironic since L’Ordre du Jour – which translates as ‘the order of the day’ or ‘the agenda’ – refers to a democratic assembly, which in the book will soon be abolished by Hitler.

It is a very short book (only 150 pages) printed in an unusual miniature format.  But it is a striking story, beautifully written, leading the reader through shocking scenes in which cruel humor is mixed with great despair.  Vuillard, is also a film maker, which explains the way he stages the story as seen through a camera, with colorful images, a sound track, leading actors and supporting crowds.

The action starts on February 20th, 1933, in Potsdam.  Twenty-four managers of the German industry – Gustav Krupp, Wilhem von Opel, Günther Quandt, Kurt Schmitt and others – are waiting in the ante-chamber of the Reichstag at the pleasure of its president, Hermann Goering.  The 24 grey-haired gentlemen, dressed in formal black or brown coats, with stiff shirt collars and striped pants, resemble the bare trees lining the Spree river in the winter.

Goering is late but the visitors wait patiently.

When he finally shows up, the guests raise like lizards on their hind legs.  Hitler – appointed chancellor just one month before – makes his entry and greets his guests.  At the end of the meeting, as expected from them, the managers obsequiously make their meager contribution of several millions Deutschmarks to help the Nazi war effort.

Vuillard turns the Anschluss into a farce. Using threats, lies, and brutal intimidation, Hitler manipulates the Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, making him totally helpless, bulldozed by the Nazi timetable.

February 12, 1938, is the second decisive date in Vuillard’s story.  Hitler has invited Schuschnigg for a secret lunch at Berchtesgaden, his mountain retreat in the Bavarian Alps.  It is an ominous sequence.  When the doors close behind the guest, the reader feels a sense of foreboding.

Overwhelmed by the hypnotic personality of Hitler, Schuschnigg caves in and has to agree to all his  demands: appointment of the Nazi Seyss-Inquart to the post of minister of the Interior;  amnesty of those condemned for the assassination of the Austrian chancellor Dollfuss in 1934; rehabilitation of all national socialist officials.  Having said that, Hitler reaffirms the independence of Austria.  Wasn’t that the ultimate?  asks Vuillard.

On the eve of the planned invasion, Mr and Mrs Ribbentrop (he is the German foreign minister) are invited to dinner at Downing Street.  The author describes in detail the menu of French cuisine and the wine list.  The conversation is light and animated.  All seem interested in tennis and the performance of Bill Tilden, who won the Davis cup seven times.

Toward the end of the dinner, a staff member brings a note to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who becomes preoccupied.  Vuillard writes: “Winston Churchill opens his big cocker spaniel eyes.”  The Chamberlains are getting impatient but, out of sheer British politeness, do not show it.  Guests start leaving but the Ribbentrops linger on, saying endless goodbyes.

The camera jumps to the car where the German couple is now on its way home.  They burst out laughing.  They knew all along what was in the note … German troops have just crossed the Austrian border.

The story reaches its climax when the German forces are ready to pounce on Vienna on March 12, 1938.  The sky is a bright blue but it is freezing cold.  The Panzers are massed by the border but a problem arises — they run out of gas and a monumental traffic jam occurs.  It is hard to pull out a tool kit by the side of the road in sub-zero temperatures.

Hitler, who at first was elated by the prospect of entering Vienna with cheering crowds waving small flags and  blond-braided, young girls throwing flowers at the German soldiers, is now stuck on the road along with hundreds of armored cars.  When an army experiences a breakdown en route, ridicule is guaranteed.

Hitler cannot contain his anger and keeps shouting. By dusk, his Mercedes reaches Linz, the town where he spent his youth.  On March 15, the poor Austrian population, abused, but finally submissive, stands in front of Sisi’s palace to hear Hitler’s hoarse voice vociferate insults.  In a referendum, Austrians voted 99.7 percent in favor of the annexation by the Reich.

What happened to the 24 captains of industry we met in 1933?

During the war years, they made an incredible amount of money by employing cheap labor from Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, Buchenwald or Dachau.  They may have died of old age, but their empires live on, stronger than ever … BMW, BASf, Bayer, IG Farbem, Siemens, Tellefunken, Opel, and Thyssen-Krupp.

Exaggerated or not, the fact is that such a novel gives the reader a major jolt.  It is a literary feat, which revives dark moments of history that one should never forget.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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


Chester Celebrates “Hygge” in February with ‘Beat the Winter Blues,’ Sunday

CHESTER –Denmark is considered the happiest country in the world, marked by its devotion to “Hygge,” a state of being that conjures up peace, coziness and warmth.

Chester, which considers itself a particularly happy and cozy town, not to mention fun, is doing its own version of Hygge during February starting with First Friday and continuing through Feb, 18.

Special promotions and sales, warm drinks, Italian soup, silent auction, cookies, wine, beer, music, candles and warm pretzels will be featured on Friday, Feb. 2.

Soup will be offered on “Souper Bowl Sunday”, Feb. 4, by restaurants, shops and galleries and on “Chocolate Sunday”, Feb. 11, all the downtown will be offering everything chocolate.

“Beat the Winter Blues” on Sunday, Feb. 18, means pancake breakfast, pink flamingos, root beer floats, chili, soup, beer, tractors and much more.

 On First Friday, French Hen will host a wine and cheese party and offer 20 percent off on candles and Lori Warner and Swoon will serve Bellocq teas and cookies and have a 50 percent sale.

Maple and Main Gallery will have a wine tasting by Sunset Hill Vineyard in Lyme, cookies, its newly installed Annual Juried show and the kick-off for a silent auction of two Hygge-inspired paintings.

At Arso Grano, cups of broddo, a special Italian soup, will be offered to guests and the bar will create a special warm drink while Perfect Pear will kick off Hygge with warm soft pretzels and beer samples along with discounts on cold-weather kitchen gear.

Lark will have nibbles and drinks plus a sale: buy one item, 10 percent off on the next item while Dina Varano will be serving wine and feature new, one-of-a-kind jewelry designed by Dina.

There will be music by The Grays and Indigo Soul at Harvest Moon and more music by Arrowhead at Leif Nilsson’s Gallery on First Friday and each Sunday afternoon.

Free soup tastings will be offered  Souper Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4, at the Pattaconk, River Tavern, Simons and the Villager as well as at Perfect Pear, Lark, French Hen and Maple and Main.

Chocolate Sunday, Feb. 11, will be celebrated at Lark with Chester’s largest brownie, and there will be Valentine giveaways with each purchase while

Lori Warner will host a visit from Priscilla Martel, who will serve and share recipes for her favorite chocolate recipes;

French Hen and Lori Warner will give away a chocolate with every purchase and Maple and Main will serve chocolates.

The Pattaconk is offering several chocolate stouts at a $1 off each glass and also serving hot chocolate and coffee drinks at half price all month.

The Perfect Pear is introducing John & Kira’s Chocolates with a limited selection of this new husband-and-wife chocolatier gift-packaged offerings

On Beat the Winter Blues Sunday, Feb. 18, the Pattaconk will have special beers on tap, a bloody Mary bar, pancake breakfast, free cotton candy, face painting, food and drink specials, chili and soup bar, open juke box, tractors out front and more.

Lark is having a pink flamingo party and a giveaway of Mardi Gras beads; Perfect Pear will serve Bundt cake samples, French Hen will serve tropical refreshments and music and Maple and Main will offer root beer floats and feature “summer” and tropical” themed paintings.


Norm Needleman Announces Campaign for State Senate, First Selectman and Business Leader to Run for 33rd State Senate District

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman who yesterday announced a second run for the 33rd State Senate District.

ESSEX, CT — Today, Essex First Selectman and successful businessman Norm Needleman announced his campaign as a Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, promising to use his business and small town leadership experience to bring people together to get Connecticut back on track.

The seat will be vacant due to the incumbent Senator Art Linares (R) moving out of the District and announcing his candidacy for State Treasurer.

“Leading a small town and building a business taught me that the best way to get things done is to put people and their needs ahead of party politics,” said Needleman. “I respect taxpayers’ dollars because I know how hard you’ve worked to earn them.”

He continued, “That’s why as First Selectman, I brought Democrats and Republicans together, found consensus, solved problems, and kept property taxes among the lowest in the state without cutting services. If elected State Senator for the 33rd District, I will make a clean break from the decades of bickering and harmful policies that have come from Hartford, and I will get Connecticut working for the towns in our district.”

“As an elected town official, I’ve seen the work Norm does as the First Selectman of Essex,” said Colchester Selectman Rosemary Coyle. “Norm governs in a fiscally responsible manner, making sound decisions. His hands-on, small town government experience in the legislature will benefit our communities and help us build a brighter future for our children and families.”

Needleman, who campaigned for the seat in 2016, is currently in his fourth term as Essex First Selectman. He has over 20 years of experience advocating for his small town, having previously served as an Essex Selectman, a member of the Essex Zoning Board of Appeals, and a member of the Essex Economic Development Commission.

Needleman is also a member of the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, helping the 17 member towns coordinate various government functions. He is also a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications, a center formed by local pubic safety professionals to handle emergency call processing and dispatching needs for communities throughout the region.

“Building a company from the ground up has given me invaluable experience on how to grow jobs and create a region where businesses want to start and thrive,” said Needleman. “I will be a State Senator who will create good-paying jobs in our towns and throughout Connecticut.”

Needleman founded Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company, 38 years ago. The company has grown to become a leader in its field, employing over 250 people. As a leading CEO in the region, he serves as a board member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. He is also a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications, a center formed by local pubic safety professionals to handle emergency call processing and dispatching needs for communities throughout the region.

“Norm asks the right questions, and is willing to listen to all options,” said Centerbrook businessman and Clinton resident Gary Stevens. “I believe that with Norm’s insight into the way that a successful business (his) is run and considering the wasteful and unnecessary spending habits of the State, he could go a long way to make the government a more responsible entity.” Stevens, an unaffiliated voter who has known Needleman since the 1980s, owns Stevens Excavating, Inc. and has worked with Needleman on numerous projects.

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

Needleman lives in Essex with Jacqueline Hubbard, the Executive Director of the Ivoryton Playhouse. His two sons and their families also live in Essex.


Musical Masterworks Hosts Japanese Pianist Rieko Aizawa in Old Lyme Concerts This Weekend

Japanese pianist Rieko Aizawa

AREAWIDE — This month, Musical Masterworks welcomes back three-time Grammy nominee and Musical Masterworks veteran, Todd Palmer on clarinet.  Joining Palmer and Musical Masterworks Artistic Director, Edward Arron on cello, will be Japanese pianist Rieko Aizawa, who has been praised by the New York Times for an “impressive musicality, a crisp touch and expressive phrasing.”

The concerts will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 11, at 3 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme and will feature music by Beethoven and Chopin.  Concertgoers will also hear from an international cast of composers including Poulenc (France), Svante Henryson (Sweden), Glinka (Russia), and Piazzolla (Argentina).

Musical Masterworks’ 27th season continues through April 2018.  To purchase a mini-subscription for any three concerts ($100 each) or individual tickets ($40 individual; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at or call 860.434.2252.


Letter From Paris: The Seine is Flooding … Again

Nicole Prévost Logan

The Paris floods crested Friday, Jan. 26, at almost six meters, therefore slightly lower than in June 2016 . They did not even make the ‘Top 10’ among the most destructive floods of the past 100 years. The monster flood of 1910 saw the river’s level rise eight meters and 60 centimeters.  However, the inhabitants in the communities upstream from the city, who have been underwater for days and have now been flooded twice in 18 months, were certainly entitled to call it a natural disaster brought on by the global warming.

The submerged tree and lamp post in the foreground show the depth of the flooding on the Seine.  The Hotel de Ville stands at right in the background while the Ile de la Cité is at right. Photo by Stylvia Logan.

Monumental work has been done in the past century to protect the capital and the resultant price is paid by the surrounding areas.   Paris is such a strategic place that it has to be protected by a system of locks and reservoirs, both up and down stream. Besides, France is endowed with numerous waterways and this is particularly true in the Paris basin.  The Seine’s tributaries — Marne, Yonne, Aube and Loing — flow toward Paris.  In the case of extreme precipitation, these small rivers easily overflow and submerge their unprotected banks.  The small towns of Champagne, Moret or Thomery, only 30 minutes by train south of Paris, had disappeared underwater by midweek.

The banks of the Seine are submerged while the Cathedral of Notre Dame still stands proudly in the background. Photo by Sylvia Logan.

In prehistoric times, the Seine was a shallow stream, indolent and undisciplined, moving its bed all over the place.  The most northern of its secondary beds followed what is today the ring of Grands Boulevards and flowed from the Bastille, along the hills of Buttes Chaumont and Montmartre, and back down to the main channel below the hill of Chaillot.   On the Left Bank, the Seine also had a secondary bed, which used to flow under the modern Boulevard Saint Germain. 

The restaurant ”Calife,” which is moored in the middle of the river near the Pont des Arts, is flooded.  Photo by Sylvia Logan.

Between 1991 and 1993, excavations prior to the building of the new Bercy district, brought to light spectacular remains of human settlements on the banks of the wandering Seine river.  Neolithic pirogues dating back to more than 3,000 years BC are exposed today in the Orangerie of the Carnavalet museum. They are the oldest found in Europe.

The construction of massive stone quays in Paris started in  the 14th century.  In 1991, they became part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

By midweek , as the peak of the floods approached, there was no panic among the city officials, engineers and technicians, but a feverish activity to prevent disaster.  By way of precaution, the RERC running along the river, was closed until the end of the month.  Already the treasures exposed on the lower levels of the Louvre and Orsay museums had been moved to safe locations.  The great danger was that the dense network of cables, pipes and wiring, providing gas, electricity and internet, and lying eight floor deep underground would be reached  by the water.

Crowds gather above the famous Zouave statue on the Pont de l’Alma. Photo by Karen Logan

Curious onlookers have been following the progress of water on the statue of the Zouave at the Pont de l’Alma.  The statue was placed below the bridge in 1836 to mark one of the battles at Alma, near Sebastopol, during the Crimean war (1853-56.) 

The Zouave at the Pont de l’Alma has been a point of reference for the severity of Seine floods for centuries.. Photo by Karen Logan

The  coalition of France, England and the Ottoman Empire wanted to put a stop to the expansionist policy of the Russian Tsar Alexander II (1856-1881.) The Zouaves were part of the Algerian light brigade in the days of French Algeria — their bright red baggy pants were famous. 

Down he goes!  As the waters rise, the Zouave at the Pont de l’Alma disappears deeper into the River Seine. Photo by Karen Logan

Although not very reliable – since the statue was raised by 40-80 centimeters  in 1970 – the Zouave remains the most popular indicator of the severity of the floods in Paris.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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


Red Sox Invite VRHS Students to Submit Applications for 2018 Service Scholarship

AREAWIDE – For the 8th consecutive year, the Boston Red Sox Foundation is seeking submissions from inspiring senior students, who are dedicated to making a positive impact in their communities, for the New England Red Sox Service Scholarship. The annual scholarship honors academically-inclined high school seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to community service. Those selected will receive a $1,000 college scholarship and recognition during a special pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park.

“We are continually inspired by high school students’ charitable endeavors and seek to recognize and reward their ongoing dedication to promoting social good,” said Linda Henry, Red Sox Foundation Board Member. “We are very pleased with the growth of the Service Scholarship program and we are eager to hear about this year’s seniors who are going above and beyond in their communities.”

The Red Sox Service Scholarship, presented by Jenzabar and sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund, was first introduced in New Hampshire in 2010 and has since expanded to honor students in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont as well. This year, the Scholarship Program will be available to students in more than 200 schools throughout New England.

Submissions for Connecticut seniors are due Feb.16, 2018.

For more details and to apply visit,


Friends of Deep River Public Library Seek Reader’s Votes at Essex Savings Bank

The handsome Deep River Library building stands at 150 Main Street, Deep River

DEEP RIVER — The Friends of the Deep River Public Library are asking for your vote!

Throughout the month of February, Essex Savings Bank is giving thousands of dollars to help aid projects that improve our communities. Customers of Essex Savings Bank can vote for their three favorite non-profit organizations. Help support the Friends of the Deep River Library by voting. Paper ballots are available at any of the Bank’s six branches or an electronic ballot may be submitted by logging into your Essex Savings Bank online account.

The Friends of the Deep River Public Library help raise funds for programs that provide education and enrichment for children, families and adults. Visit your local Essex Savings Bank or log into your online account today to help us continue supporting these important community programs!

For more information, visit and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pmTuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pmThursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; andSaturday 10 am – 5 pm.


Community Leaders Hope to Help Parents Improve Communication With Teens; Forum in OS Tonight

OLD SAYBROOK — Compassion Counts invites shoreline community members to join an upcoming community conversation, ‘Weathering the Adolescent Storm in a Pressure-Filled World,’ on Wednesday, Jan. 31, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the Old Saybrook High School Auditorium.   This free event will be a dynamic evening for teens, parents and teachers to learn how to nurture positive communication and foster resilience.

Attendees will watch a series of skits simulating common family conflicts in today’s pressure filled world to demonstrate both negative and positive communication styles.  A panel of Shoreline area teens will share their reflections on the skits.  The evening will conclude with an important talk on failure, resilience and success along with an opportunity for audience members to ask questions.

Dan Osborne, CEO of Gilead Community Services will be the moderator. Facilitators include Tom Allen, Ph.D., founder Pathways Center for Learning and Behavioral Health; Andy Buccarro, LSW, LADC, founder Project Courage Substance Abuse Treatment Center; and Alicia Farrell, Ph.D., Cognitive Psychologist and founder Clearview Consulting.

“We are responding to the requests of many parents in our community to learn how to better communicate with their teens,” says Dr. Alicia Farrell.   “This forum is the perfect opportunity for families to recognize that they are not alone in their daily challenges.  Parents, teens and teachers, will leave uplifted with new tools to keep communications with their teens positive, help them to foster grit and resilience while harnessing the hidden power of imperfection.”

To attend this free event, register online at https:/  Light refreshments will be served from 6 to 6:30 p.m.  A snow date is scheduled for Tuesday, March 20.

For more information contact Lucy McMillan at 860.343.5300 or

Compassion Counts is an ongoing series of community conversations held in the upper and lower Middlesex County. The purpose of these events is to educate and support the public around challenging life issues. Previous events have addressed topics like mental health, addiction, and suicide.  The Compassion Counts events are made possible by the generous support from various nonprofits throughout Middlesex County.


Letter From Paris: Emmanuel Macron Goes to China

Nicole Prévost Logan

At first sight, the January visit of Emmanuel Macron to meet Xi Jinping might have appeared like the futile encounter between David and  Goliath.  But, in fact, it was a well thought-out strategic move and an illustration of Macron’s personal style of diplomacy.

Never before had any French president gone to China so early in his mandate. He timed his visit to seize the opportunity of a world stage left vacant by most of the players.

He came as an European leader, not as a French one. He stepped into the role Angela Merkel  –– still embroiled in internal political negotiations to create a coalition government — had played for many years.

The trip was put under the symbols of history and culture shared by France and China.  Instead of Pekin, it started in Xi-an, Shaansi province, where the discovery of an imperial tomb made world headlines in 1974.  The tomb contained 8,000 terracotta warriors, horses, and chariots, dating back from the golden age of the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD.)

During her several visits to Asia, German chancellor Merkel had openly blamed the Chinese government for its violation of human rights.  Unfortunately, this method did not bring any positive results. 

French President Emmanuel Macron

Macron chose a more pragmatic approach, limiting his criticisms to subliminal  remarks.  According to analysts, his diplomacy can be described as “Gaullienne.”  At a press conference in 1964, General de Gaulle abandoned his aloof and philosophical tone and declared that, to talk with leaders having opposing views, did not mean having to agree with or condone them.

Linguistics can create difficulties since the key words used be the two sides may have different meanings.  Take for instance the definition of “terrorism.”  For Xi Jinping, it mostly refers to the activity of the autonomists Ouïgours whereas for  Macron it means the bomb attacks inflicted on the French population by radical followers of Daesch.

To conduct diplomacy with China is to enter a minefield.  Two examples.  One does not attack China frontally for its action in the South China seas because the Chinese government considers this region as its private turf.  Macron would like China to help with the efforts of the G5 to fight terrorism in the Sahel but it might become a two-sided sword because interference by China in the region is not really wanted.

On the crucial topic of the nuclear threat coming from North Korea, the French president could only reinforce the European Union (EU) position.  He complimented Xi Jinping for becoming the world leader in the fight against global warming, and for being a staunch defender of the Paris Accord.

Fifty CEOs of leading French companies were part of the trip, which was marked by the signing of enormous contracts.  The Chinese government ordered 134 A320 Airbus commercial  planes.  AREVA, the French multinational specialized in nuclear power and renewable energy, signed an agreement China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to build facilities for the reprocessing of nuclear waste.  The largest existing plant in the world is located in La Hague, near Le Havre.  Cooperation in the agro-business will be developed.  The Chinese enjoy French beef but since 2011 an embargo had been imposed on the imports following the “mad cow” disease.

The surplus of the Franco-Chinese trade balance amounts to $30 billion in favor of China.  Macron wants too re-equilibrate those figures.  His objective is to widen the types of exports beside foodstuff or cosmetics and include digital technology, artificial intelligence and other sectors.

The silk road sounds like a romantic concept, which makes one dream. but in reality it is pharaonic project where the Chinese plan to invest around $1,000 billions to build a network of rail, maritime, land, or air routes to export its products.  Almost needless to say, this project is worrying many … starting with Macron, who declares that the silk road should be a two-way road.  Historically the silk road was developed in the Han dynasty and its starting point was the town of Xi-an (cf. above.)

During the official visit to Pekin of the French presidential couple, it was impossible not to notice the spectacular redcoat (red is a symbolic color in Chinese, meaning happiness) worn by Brigitte Macron.

Translated into Chinese phonetics, the name Macron means “the horse that dominates the dragon.”  Is that perhaps a good omen for Emmanuel Macron?

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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


Understanding Your Best Friend: Phil Klein, Certified Dog Listener Speaks at Essex Library, Feb 10

ESSEX — Phil Klein will present a kind and lasting methodology for gaining your dog’s cooperation based on its instincts. Learn how canines see the world and the underlying reasons for unwanted behaviors like hyperactivity, destructive chewing, incessant barking, toileting in the house, jumping on guests, and aggression.

Learn the four main areas of canine communications, including the leadership signals that will eliminate or minimize these behaviors and turn your dog into a relaxed, joyful companion. Bring your questions, but not your dog for an informative, fun event at the Essex Library on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.

Klein’s path to becoming a Dog Listener started when his family rescued a special dog named Abby from Labs4Rescue.  At the time, he had no idea about the journey he would be privileged to take with Abby.  Abby’s behavioral challenges were the motivation for Klein to learn a lot more about dogs and find a way to help Abby overcome her fears. 

In the process,Klein discovered Jan Fennell, The Dog Listener who had developed a revolutionary method for training dogs based on their instincts.  In April 2009,Klein attended Jan Fennell’s Foundation and Advanced Canine Communications courses, thereby becoming a Certified Dog Listener. 

Through in-home consultations, volunteer work with Labs4Rescue and other rescue organizations, and public talks,Klein has been honored to help hundreds of dog owners and their dogs.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information and to register, call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.


See ‘Mighty Minis’ at Melanie Carr Gallery Through April 8

This work titled ‘Juncture’ by Susan Breen is one of the signature paintings in ‘Mighty Minis’ at the Melanie Carr Gallery.

ESSEX — Melanie Carr Gallery has announced the upcoming exhibit Mighty Minis, curated by Suzan Shutan on view at 1 North Main Street (across from the Essex Art Association) from Jan. 27 to April 8.  There will be an opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 3, from 2 to 4 p.m., to which all are welcome.

In the art world where ‘bigness’ reigns, 30 contemporary artists from United States and abroad have come together to reflect and respond to working small. For centuries, artists have utilized pint-size scales to depict and explore cherished, esteemed, and intimate subjects. The contemporary miniature can be seen as an approach to art making that marries craft and concept with gemlike details of tiny treasures.

Despite our fast-paced world, small works require giving time for reflection and thought. The reward may be the element of surprise. There are many reasons for an artist to favor working small. There can be practical limitations regarding space, time or resources, but in the case of the works presented here, working small is the objective.

There is also the reality that few collectors can accommodate only large-sized work. The focus of this exhibit is on the process of abstract painting, the exploration of work in two and three dimensions, on traditional and modern approaches, the space between craft and concept, and content and form.

The artists exhibiting include: Nancy Baker, NY Caroline Blum, NY Susan Breen, CT Andy Cunningham, CA Kevin Daly, CT Ellen Hackl Fagan, CT Judith Farr, SPAIN Kathy Goodell, NY Elizabeth Gourlay, CT Bob Gregson, CT Richard Griggs, CT Julie Gross, NY Debbie Hesse, CT Jeffrey Cortland Jones, OH Zachary Keating, CT Susan Knight, NE Bonny Leibowitz, TX Barbara Marks, CT ML McCorkle, GA Irene Miller, CT Juan Alberto Negroni, TX Paula Overbay, NY Heidi Pollard, NM Karen Schifano, NY Susan Scott, CT Belle Shafir,ISRAEL Dee Shapiro, NY Suzan Shutan, CT Andrew Small, PA Jill Vasileff, CA

Suzan Shutan graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting/Drawing from California Institute of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Installation from Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts. Shutan has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, Quinnipiac University, CT, University of Omaha, NE and currently teaches Sculpture at Housatonic Community College.

She has attended artist residencies, has been awarded grants that include CEC Artslink, Art Matters, Berkshire Taconic Foundation’s A.R.T, and recently a Fellowship in Sculpture from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism funding all work created in 2012-13. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally including Bank of America Headquarters in N. Carolina and internationally in Germany, France, Sweden, Poland, Argentina, Russia, Canada and Columbia.

She has been reviewed by the NY Times, High Performance Magazine, and has work in private and public collections such as the Villa Taverna Foundation and UCLA.

Melanie Carr Gallery is an artist-run project space dedicated to the practice, exhibition, and sale of contemporary art and design. The goal of Melanie Carr Gallery is to promote the importance of contemporary art and examine its impact on society while providing its artists greater exposure to new audiences.

Melanie Carr, Owner and Director, is a Connecticut-based artist, who received her MFA from the College of Art and Design at Lesley University in 2011. She began her studies in visual art after serving in the United States Navy as an Operations Specialist onboard the USS Willamette (AO180) in Pearl Harbor, HI.

Carr spent over10 years at the New Britain Museum of American Art, her most recent role as Curator of New Media. She is now Adjunct Professor at Central Connecticut State University, where she teaches drawing, and joined the staff at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, University of New Haven. Other teaching venues include Spectrum Art Gallery, Centerbrook, Pathways Senderos, New Britain, CT, Green Street Arts Center, Middletown, CT, and the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT.

Carr’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Soapbox Gallery, NY, Stockman Gallery, New Britain, CT, City Arts on Pearl, Hartford, CT, Westport Arts Center, Westport, CT, and Pegasus Gallery, Middletown, CT. In addition, her work was included in numerous exhibits that include The Point, United Kingdom, Gibney Dance, NYC, Gallery Aferro, New Jersey, The Delaware Center for the Cotemporary Arts in Wilmington, Mattatuck Museum, CT, Hans Weiss Newspace Gallery, CT, and Herter Gallery, MA.

Carr has work in the collections at the New Britain Museum of American Art, The Loomis Chaffee School, and the Boston Public Library, as well as many private collections

For more information, email or call 860.830.6949


Community Music School Hosts Free Preview Week Through Friday

Community Music School, located at 90 Main Street in Centerbrook and 179 Flanders Road in East Lyme, welcomes the general public to enjoy a variety of music programming during Free Preview Week scheduled for Jan. 29 through Feb. 2, 2018.

Children and adults are invited to schedule a free 30-minute preview lesson, and sample a vast array of programs for all ages including private and group lessons, Suzuki violin, adult cabaret, senior band, string ensembles, music therapy, Kindermusik, and more.

The public is welcome to observe any group class or ensemble during Free Preview Week.

Community Music School is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.mMonday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Those interested in a 30-minute preview lesson can schedule it by calling 860-767-0026 or emailing

Musical instruction is available for all ages, all abilities, and all genres.

For additional information, visit, call 860-767-0026, or email

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 34 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.  Learn more at or call (860)767-0026.


See a Live Raptor Presentation by ‘A Place Called Hope’ at Essex Meadows, Saturday

A member of A Place Called Hope holds a Snowy Owl during a recent demonstration.

ESSEX — Want to get a close up look at live birds of prey?

The Essex Land Trust hosts A Place Called Hope, Inc., a raptor rehabilitation and education center specializing in the rescue and care of Connecticut’s wild injured, orphaned or ill birds of prey, Saturday, Feb. 3, at 2 p.m. at Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Rd., Essex.

The goal of this volunteer-based organization is to preserve wildlife for the future by protecting wild raptor species and promoting an understanding of how we as humans can lessen conflicts with wildlife in our very own backyards. Handlers share resident raptor species with the public for a unique up close experience as each bird shares its own personal story of survival.

All ages welcome.


Pfeiffer Presents Final Lecture in Winter Series on Natural, Industrial and Maritime History This Afternoon

Falls River Cove during the spring floods.  Courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

Essex Historical Society, Essex Meadows and Essex Land Trust co-sponsor, “Follow the Falls River: Natural, Industrial and Maritime History,” this year’s Annual Winter Lecture Series.

ESSEX – Explore Essex’s rich history along the Falls River in the popular Winter Lecture Series presented by Essex Historical Society (EHS), Essex Meadows and Essex Land Trust (ELT), Sundays, Jan. 14, 21 and 28, at 3 p.m. Each illustrated talk will feature in-depth discussion of the resources – natural, human or industrial — along the waterway that ties together the town’s three villages. 

Titled, “Follow the Falls,” the series is part of a year-long collaborative program between EHS and ELT.  All lectures are held at Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Road, at 3 p.m. on those Sundays.  The programs are free and open to the public. 

The series begins on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m. with “Falls River Cove Estuary,” led by naturalist Phil Miller of Bushy Hill Nature Center.  Mr. Miller will describe the flora, fauna and ecology of the Falls River Estuary and will elaborate on the area’s natural resources that were ideal for settlement by both Native and European populations. 

On Sunday, Jan. 21, at 3 p.m., Brenda Milkofsky will present “Enterprise and  Industry Along the Falls River,” an examination of the mills, forges, cottage industries and larger manufacturies all powered by this dammable waterway with its natural falls.  Ms. Milkofsky, the Founding Director of the CT River Museum, elaborates on the work of Bill Grover, a partner in Centerbrook Architects, a firm located on the site of various industries.  She will explain how the development of all three of Essex’s villages depended upon harnessing the Falls River’s waterpower.  

The series concludes on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 3 p.m., as Dr. John Pfeiffer, Professor Emeritus, Archaeology, Wesleyan University, will address the historic Williams Shipyard at Falls River Cove and Osage Trails Preserve. Dr. Pfeiffer will explain how the shipbuilding complex’s foundations still lie beneath the river’s silt.  Examining the site in detail paints a vivid picture of early interdependent maritime trades, all operated by one family from 1790-1845 – a thriving, pre-industrial complex paralleling the village’s growth as a seaport community. 

All lectures are held in beautiful Hamilton Hall, Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Road, Essex.  Free and open to the public.  More information can be found at or by calling Essex Historical Society, 860-767-0681.