March 2, 2015

Explore a Sustainability-Palooza! Today at the YMCA

Sustainability-Palooza_image_lgMark your calendars for Sustainability-Palooza!, on Saturday, Feb. 28, at the YMCA, 201 Spencer Plains Road in Westbrook, from 1 to 3 p.m.

This free event will showcase representatives from local companies, farms, groups, clubs and agencies. Attendees will learn about local farming and gardening, transportation choices, energy conservation, raising backyard livestock, reuse and recycling, solar energy, nutrition and cost-effective sustainability practices.

Sponsored by the Shoreline Basic Needs Task Force, this showcase of local resources seeks to help shoreline residents increase self-sufficiency through sustainable efforts.

The Shoreline Basic Needs Task Force is a collaboration of community groups and concerned people, working to affect change that increases self-sufficiency among vulnerable individuals and families in need along the Connecticut Shoreline.

For more information, contact Patty Dowling at pdowling@shorelinesoupkitchens.org or (860) 388-1988

St. Patrick’s Celebration Benefits Ivoryton Playhouse, March 15

Pictured: from the left – Kathleen Mulready, Annie Kerins, Morgan Crowley and Michael McDermott in the 2011 production – The Irish …and How they got that Way. Photo: Anne Hudson

Pictured: from the left – Kathleen Mulready, Annie Kerins, Morgan Crowley and Michael McDermott in the 2011 production – The Irish …and How they got that Way. Photo: Anne Hudson

IVORYTON:  On Sunday, March 15, at 2 p.m., join Playhouse favorite Michael McDermott and his group, Cead Mile Failte, to celebrate Celtic culture and heritage through stories and song. The afternoon will be filled with traditional Irish music including “That’s An Irish Lullaby”, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”, “Star Of The County Down”, “Carrickfergus”, and, of course, “Danny Boy”.

Michael will be joined by Kathleen Mulready, an Ivoryton Playhouse favorite who starred in Finian’s Rainbow and shared the stage with Michael in The Irish… and How They Got That Way Michael has been seen many times at the Playhouse – most recently in The Bells of Dublin: The Carol of the Bells and he will be back in April – though this time it will be Italian arias and not Irish ballads that he will be singing.

He has been performing with Cead Mile Failte for several years and says, “”Cead Mile Failte means A Hundred Thousand Welcomes in Irish Gaelic.  This has always been a saying that has warmed and inspired my heart and is especially meaningful for me here in Ivoryton which is like my second home. For me, the month of March is a time of renewed hope, that feeling of spring just around the corner.  We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and feel the weather change with the old saying, “in like a lion out like a lamb” when strong gusts of wind push out winter and warmer, greener days are joyfully welcomed.”

He adds,  “And boy, do we ever need that now!”

He explains the origins of the group as being a combination of,  “this inspiration from nature, combined with my deep love for Irish music,”  So the group Cead Mile Failte was formed and, “As a group, we strive to create that feeling in our concerts – the feeling that all are welcomed to share in the stories and music that the Irish tell so well.  At our concerts you will find friendly hospitality, good conversation, and great music – a hundred thousand welcomes!”

The St. Patrick’s Celebration to benefit the Ivoryton Playhouse will take place at Centerbrook Meeting House at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 15. Tickets are $30 and include light refreshments after the concert.

For tickets and information, call 860.767.7318.

Seating is limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

 

Essex Winter Series Hosts Male Vocal Ensemble ‘Chanticleer’ Tomorrow

Essex Winter Series hosts the 12-member male vocal group 'Chanticleer' March 1 at Old Saybrook High School.

Essex Winter Series hosts the 12-member male vocal group ‘Chanticleer’ March 1 at Old Saybrook High School.


AREAWIDE –
The Grammy award-winning male vocal ensemble Chanticleer will perform on the Essex Winter Series (EWS) on Sunday, March 1, at 3 p.m. at Old Saybrook High School. Chanticleer has been hailed as “the world’s reigning male chorus” by The New Yorker, and under its newly-appointed music director, William Fred Scott, the 12-voice ensemble will perform a program of music from the sixteenth century to the present titled, “The Gypsy in My Soul.”

The appearance by Chanticleer will mark the first appearance by a professional chorus in the 37-year history of the Essex Winter Series, currently under the artistic direction of Mihae Lee.

Tickets, all general admission are $35, $5 for full-time students, and may be purchased on the EWS website, www.essexwinterseries.com, or by calling 860-272-4572.

Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for their “tonal luxuriance and crisply etched clarity,” San Francisco-based Chanticleer is known around the world as “an orchestra of voices” for the seamless blend of its 12 male voices ranging from soprano to bass and its original interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz and popular genres, as well as contemporary compositions. Chanticleer celebrates its 37th season in 2014-15, performing in 25 of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden.

“The Gypsy in My Soul” follows the journey of the wandering spirit, inspired by the historical travels and trials of the Romani people, the borders they crossed, the music of the peoples they encountered, the beauty of the world they traveled, and the yearning for love, safety, and belonging shared by all people.

The March 1 Chanticleer Concert is sponsored by Essex Savings Bank.

Acton Public Library’s ‘Oscar Movie Series’ Continues with ‘Bonnie & Clyde’, March 16

Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook will be hosting an Oscars “then and now” movie series featuring a tribute to Robin Williams on Feb. 23, and subsequently a variety of other movies with Oscar awards on third Mondays from March through May at 1 p.m.

The program for the series is as follows:

March 16: Bonnie and Clyde

April 20: Good Will Hunting

May 18: The Theory of Everything

For more information, call The Acton Library at 860-395-3184, or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10am – 8:30pm, Friday and Saturday 9am – 5pm, and Oct – May on Sundays 1pm – 5pm or visit on-line at www.actonlibrary.org .

Also, visit www.commonsensemedia.org for movie ratings and recommendations.

Ribbon-Cutting Celebrates Chester Town Hall’s Solar Array Installation

At the ribbon cutting ceremony for Chester Town Hall's new solar array were (from left to right): Michael Benjamin, Raen Corbett, James Tedeschi, First Selectman Ed Meehan, Chris Lenda from Aegis Solar, Leah Bargnesi, Maggie Treichel from CT Solar Challenge, and Pat Woomer from Chester Energy Team.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony for Chester Town Hall’s new solar array were (from left to right): Michael Benjamin, Raen Corbett, James Tedeschi, First Selectman Ed Meehan, Chris Lenda from Aegis Solar, Leah Bargnesi, Maggie Treichel from CT Solar Challenge, and Pat Woomer from Chester Energy Team.

CHESTER – On Feb. 12, the Chester Energy Team hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Chester Town Hall’s solar array. Due to the weather, the ribbon cutting was reenacted indoors by students from the Chester Elementary School’s Energy Team. The town hall’s photovoltaic solar array, which was installed recently, was awarded to the town for operating the CT Solar Challenge, which resulted in 20 new residential photovoltaic and thermal installations.

“The town hall’s new system marks another step on our town’s path to carbon neutrality,” said Pat Woomer, chairman of the Chester Energy Team. “We are proud to be moving forward with these significant investments in clean energy because we believe we have an obligation to be a model for Chester and other communities.”

With the Energy Team’s help, by 2018 Chester hopes to achieve its commitment to the Clean Energy Pledge signed in 2013.

All Performances of ‘Motherhood Out Loud’ at Ivoryton This Weekend Cancelled

Pictured from top left are Beverley Taylor and Michael Cartwright. From bottom left – Atticus Nischan, Jeanie Rapp, Kase Vradenburgh, Vanessa Vradenburgh, Elle Vradenburgh. Photograph by Anne Hudson

Gathered for a photo are some of the Motherhood Out Loud performers and their children. From top left are Beverley Taylor and Michael Cartwright and from bottom left, Atticus Nischan, Jeanie Rapp, Kase Vradenburgh, Vanessa Vradenburgh, Elle Vradenburgh.  Photograph by Anne Hudson

1:30pm Update: Due to the threat of bad weather this weekend, all three performances of Motherhood Out Loud have been cancelled.

CANCELLED:  Friday, February 20 at 7:30pm in partnership with Women and Family Life Center
CANCELLED:  Saturday, February 21 at 7:30pm in partnership with Community Foundation of Middlesex County to support the Sari A. Rosenbaum Fund for Women & Girls
CANCELLED:  Sunday, February 22 at 2:00pm in partnership with Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut

Call the Ivoryton Playhouse at 860.767.7318 for ticket refunds.

ESSEX – “Mom!” “Mommy!!” “Ma!!!” How many times a day does a mother hear these words? Being a mother is one of the most rewarding, hilarious, joy-filled and heartbreaking jobs in the world. Come and celebrate all things Mom during a staged reading of Motherhood Out Loud at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Feb. 20, 21 and 22 to benefit local agencies that promote programs for women and children.

Motherhood Out Loud features a great variety of pieces by women reflecting upon the diversity of the parenting experience in America today, yet at the same time, the universality of it. From the wonder of giving birth to the bittersweet challenges of role reversal and caring for an aging parent, it is all shared with tremendous candor, heart and humor.

Conceived by Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein, Motherhood Out Loud is written by a collection of award-winning American writers including Leslie Ayvazian, Brooke Berman, David Cale, Jessica Goldberg, Beth Henley, Lameece Issaq, Claire LaZebnik, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Marco Pennette, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Annie Weisman and Cheryl L. West.

Henley is a Pulitzer-Prize winner, Rebeck is the creator of the television series SMASH, and Pennette was Executive Producer of Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty and is Executive Producer of Kirstie Alley’s television show. Luanne Rice is the New York Times best-selling author of 33 novels, who has a home in Old Lyme.

Directed by Maggie McGlone Jennings (who has directed several shows at the Playhouse), the play features local actors who are well known in the shoreline community. The cast includes Beverley Taylor (a regular on the Playhouse stage), Jeanie Rapp (known to local audiences as the artistic director of Margreta Stage), Vanessa Daniels and Michael Cartwright.

This special production is a partnership between the Ivoryton Playhouse and several different organizations that promote programs for women and children. Friday, Feb. 20, is in partnership with Women & Family Life Center in Guilford; Saturday, Feb. 21, is in partnership with the Sari A. Rosenbaum Fund for Women & Girls at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; and Sunday, Feb. 22, is in partnership with Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT. The Ivoryton Playhouse is proud to partner with three different organizations to raise funds to help those in need in New Haven, Middlesex and New London Counties.

Performance times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m; Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting the Playhouse’s website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main St. in Ivoryton.

2015 ‘Essex Go Bragh’ Irish Parade & Festival to be Held March 14

St. Paddy Day 9ESSEX – ‘Essex Go Bragh’ translates as ‘Essex Forever’ and is the name of the Irish Parade and Festival that takes place in town this year on Saturday, March 14.  The Parade will step off from the Essex Town Hall at 10:30 a.m., led by 2014 Grand Marshal Mr. Augie Pampel.

Pampel, has been living and contributing to the Essex Community for many years.  He has worked tirelessly as the Town of Essex Tree Warden since 1994.  He is a proud member of the Essex Garden Club and was instrumental in securing Keep America Beautiful Grants, used for Tree Restoration throughout the three villages.

St. Paddy Day 11 (2)Pampel will lead more than 100 marchers through down Main Street Essex in front of hundreds of spectators. The parade will feature nearly 25 units including elected officials, fife & drum corps, floats, Irish step dancers, boy and girl scouts, community organizations, church groups, police, fire, EMS, military, accompanying service and antique vehicles, and more. Members of the Essex Veterans Memorial Hall are the parade honor guard.

The Festival will follow in the Village offering Food, Drink, Horse Drawn Carriage Rides, Live Music by “Rock of Cashel” at the Griswold Inn, and Kids Activities sponsored by the Community Music School.

st. paddy day 11Professional Face Painting by Z Face & Body Art, an Irish Step Dancing demonstration and Guinness Pour at the Gris are some of the festivities planned for after the parade.  The organizers encourage visitors to stay downtown after the parade, enjoy the festival and visit local restaurants and businesses to check out their special St. Patrick Day promotions.

The organizers invite your group or organization to march in the parade.  To confirm your group’s participation or for more information, contact Essex Park and Recreation at 860-767-4340 x110 or recreation@essexct.gov.

Sponsorship opportunities are as follows:

Band Sponsor – $500 

Name Identification on the banner preceding one of the six bands.

An opportunity to participate in the parade ahead of the band

Sponsor volunteers may distribute marketing materials to spectators.

Logo identification on the park and recreation web site

Logo identification on all Flyers distributed

Float Sponsor – $1,000 

Name identification on banners on both sides of Grand Marshal’s Horse Drawn Carriage

Opportunity to participate or march in the parade ahead of the Carriage

Sponsor volunteers may distribute marketing materials to spectators.

Name identification on all flyers distributed

Name identification on Park and Recreation website, www.essexct.gov

Parade Program Advertisers 

Business card size- $150

1/4 page- $250

Half page- $400

‘China Day’ at Essex Elementary Offers Lantern Learning

3rd Grader Raegan Wyrebek-Brasky makes a paper lantern during EESF's China Day.

3rd Grader Raegan Wyrebek-Brasky makes a paper lantern during EESF’s China Day.

ESSEX – Second and third grade students recently practiced martial arts, made paper lanterns and learned new letters during China Day at Essex Elementary School.  The celebration, funded by the Essex Elementary School Foundation’s (EESF) Justus W. Paul World Cultures Program, included activities with Asian Performing Arts of Connecticut and Malee’s School of Tae Chi.
Chinese lanterns made during China Day at Essex Elementary School funded by the EESF.

Chinese lanterns made during China Day funded by EESF at Essex Elementary School. .

The EESF is looking for your support.  The not-for-profit, volunteer organization provides funds for enrichment programs that bring a mathematician and historian-in-residence into the classrooms, as well as an iPad lab and author visits.

For donation information, visit www.essexelementaryschoolfoundation.org.

Essex Garden Club Hosts Successful Terrarium Workshop

EGCterrarium1

Sandy Meister, left, works with a participant at the terrarium workshop.

 

ESSEX – The Essex Garden Club and Essex Library Association co-sponsored a terrarium workshop on Saturday, Feb. 7, at Essex Library.

Workshop participants create their masterpieces.

Workshop participants create their masterpieces.

Twenty participants were given step-by-step instructions by Sandy Meister of the Essex Garden Club.  She also provided information on choosing plants and tips on garden maintenance.

 

A Swashbuckling Party Planned at CT River Museum’s ‘Privateers’ Bash,’ March 14

Join the pirate crew for a night of merriment and mayhem at the Connecticut River Museum on March 14.

Join the pirate crew for a night of merriment and mayhem at the Connecticut River Museum on March 14.

ESSEX –- Ahoy, Matey! Come if ye dare and be part of the swashbuckling crew who are lookin’ for a lively way to let off a bit of winter steam!  Grab your sword and hoist your sails to the Privateers’ Bash on Saturday, March 14 at the Connecticut River Museum, presented by Gosling’s Rum.

All are invited to come in costume and relive Riverfront history at the Ninth Annual Bash, a playful nod to the privateers who made their wealth by relieving foreign ships of their valuable cargo during the War of 1812.  Grog, grub, music and dancing will fill three floors of exhibit galleries from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

The Sun Kings, a Caribbean party band, will help create the tropical mood. Savory bites will be provided in-part by Gourmet Galley, Coffee’s Country Market, Emily’s Catering Group, Coastal Cooking Company, Da Vinci Pizza and David Allen Catering. Treasure can be found with great prizes up for raffle, plus booty awarded for best costumes.

The Sun Kings will bring the Caribbean to Essex

The Sun Kings will bring the Caribbean to Essex

A $50 Privateer ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, grog and one complimentary drink. Or take advantage of a two-ticket purchase deal and buy two Privateer tickets for just $85.  A $75 Commodore ticket also includes hors d’oeuvres and grog plus an open bar.

Net proceeds benefit the Connecticut River Museum.

Support for the Privateers Bash is provided in part by Bogaert Construction; Reynolds’ Garage & Marine, Drs. McAraw, Cantner, Cantner, Foisie & Barasz LLC., All Pro Automotive, Brown & Brown/McCutcheon Burr & Sons, Clark Group, Sound Rigging Services, Daniel’s Oil, Shore Discount Liquor & CCA Services.  In-Kind support provided by McChesney Design, Apparel + Plus and Connecticut Rental Center.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 860-767-8269, online at www.ctrivermuseum.org, or at the door on the evening of the event.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront.  It is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to lead in the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley.

‘Healthy Addiction’ in Old Lyme Offers New Indoor Rowing Classes, All Levels Welcome

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 8.07.37 AM

OLD LYME — Healthy Addiction, located at 5 – 1 Davis Rd. East in Old Lyme, has announced the opening of four, new indoor rowing classes each week. These classes are run by Lizzie Simons, a certified “rowing” and “learn-to-row” instructor, as well as a personal trainer.

Monday and Thursday classes are for advanced rowers, meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m., with “Long and Strong” rowing on Mondays, and “Strength and Speed” on Wednesdays. Tuesday and Thursday classes take place between 5:30 and 7 p.m., with an emphasis on “Heart Health.”

Lizzie Simon in action

Lizzie Simons in action

Rod Clingman, a Tuesday-Thursday rower, comments, “Staying true to my New Year’s resolution of keeping in shape, I was very happy to learn about the offerings of Healthy Addiction … I took advantage of a free learn to row seminar on a Sunday afternoon and was quickly brought up to speed by the instructor, Lizzie Simons. I was now ready to row! He continues, “We run through different drills which include rowing and stretching. Lizzie has a new lesson plan for each session to keep your workout fresh. Healthy Addiction really is a hidden gem.”

For more information, visit HealthyAddiction.net or call 860.237.3707.

Chester Grand List Shows One Percent Increase

CHESTER — The grand list of taxable property is up by one percent after a full townwide property revaluation completed in 2013 led to a 12 percent decrease in the grand list total. Assessor Loretta Zdanys has filed an October 2014 grand list that totals $442,507,270, an increase of $3,546,603, or one percent, from the 2103 total.

There were relatively small increases in each of the categories of real estate, personal property and motor vehicles. The 2014 increase is expected to generate about $123,500 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 24.82 mills, or $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

The town’s 1,720 real estate accounts have a net assessment total of $398,866,600, up by $2,603,840 from the 2013 real estate total. The town’s 417 personal property accounts have a net assessment total of $14,791,350, up by $425,860 from the 2013 personal property total. The town’s 4,156 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $28,849,320, up by $516,903 from the 2013 motor vehicles total.

Following are the town top ten taxpayers with the current assessment totals:
1)  Chester Woods Inc. (Chester Village West) — $15,263,650
2)  Whelen Engineering Co. — $8,196.720
3)   Connecticut Water Company — $5,049,830
4)   Connecticut Light & Power Company — $4,540,170
5)  The Eastern Company — $4,059,760
6)  Whelen Aviation LLC (Chester Airport) — $3,843,340
7)  Roto Frank of America Inc. — $3,521,530
8)  Margaret & Robert Sbriglio (Aaron Manor Nursing Facility) —  $2,235,180
9)  Chester Point Real Estate LLC — $2,079,830
10) Arthur & Judith Schaller — $2,045,890

Essex Grand List Shows Small 0.33 Percent Increase

ESSEX — The grand list of taxable property has remained nearly flat after a revaluation-driven drop in 2013, with the October 2014 total showing an increase of only $3.72 million or 0.33 percent.

Assessor Jessica Sypher has filed an October 2014 grand list that totals $944,905,200, up by $3,726,569 from the 2013 total. There were small increases in each of the categories of real estate, personal property, and motor vehicles. The increase is expected to generate only about $60,000 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 20.99 mills.

The grand list, which previously had totaled over $1 billion, dropped by 7.72 percent after the full townwide property revaluation that was completed in 2013. The 2012 grand list was also down very slightly, dropping by about six one-hundredths of a percent.

Sypher said a court settlement for two of about a dozen appeals that followed the revaluation had resulted in a loss of about $700,000 in assessed value, or about $21,000 in tax revenue.

Brewer’s Marina appealed the revised assessments for marinas it owns on Ferry Street and Chandler Street. Sypher said attorneys for the town recommended a settlement that would split the difference between the revised assessments and the values claimed by the marina company. The compromise that was approved by a superior court judge last month dropped the assessed value for the two marinas from about $5 million to $4.3 million.

The town’s 3,253 real estate accounts have an assessment total of $943,246,673, up by only $727,030 from the 2013 real estate total.The town’s 722 personal property accounts have an assessment total of  $41,873,673, up by $1,213,929 from the 2013 personal property total.

The town’s 7,697 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $62,881,170, up by $1,785,610 from the 2013 motor vehicles total.

Following are the town’s top 10 taxpayers with current assessment totals

1) Essex Meadows Inc. — $22,875,400
2) Lee Company — $14,820,920
3) Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $6,875,610
4) SLK Partners LLC — $5,708,900
5) River Properties Inc. — $3,597,210
6) Griswold Inn LLC — $3,378,640
7) Essex Savings Bank — $3,355,950
8) Stephen R. Cline Successor Trustee — $3,319,200
9) Herbert T. Clark III — $2,760,140
10) Macbeth Ventures LLC — $2,759,500

Nilsson Offers Five Day Painting Workshop in August

Leif Nillson painting outdoors

Leif Nillson painting outdoors

CHESTER — Acclaimed local artist Leif Nilsson is offering a five day painting workshop from Aug. 3 to 7, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for $500 per student.

This workshop will explore the lower Connecticut River Valley’s landscape, its architecture and the light that reveals it through a combination of one shot “alla prima” paintings and by further developing other canvases over the course of several days, all on location in the open air.

Nilsson’s medium of choice is oil paint but he is familiar with other media such as pencil, pastel, watercolor and acrylics, so participants are asked to bring whatever they are comfortable using.

Subjects during the course may include painting the Village of Chester, Nillson’s studio garden (possibly with a live model) and the Connecticut River.

Throughout each day, he will provide a variety of tips and suggestions from how to set up one’s equipment and choosing a composition to learning how to see more through squinted eyes through formal and spontaneous demonstrations and individual discussions.

Technical assistance with drawing, perspective, proportions, color mixing and application will be offered as students work on their own paintings and as the need arises.

A general materials and suggested equipment list will be provided upon registration.

The daily schedule for the course will be:

9 a.m. to noon: Meet at a predetermined location at 9am and work until noon.

Noon to 1 p.m.: Take an hour break for lunch. Students are responsible for providing their own lunch. Chester has some excellent markets for eating in and take out.

1 to 5 p.m.: Start up again at 1 p.m. at an agreed upon location and work until 5 p.m.

Students are welcome to start earlier and work later if they’d like to without me present.

Nillson and his wife Caryn Davis, who is a professional photographer, will host one or two informal dinner parties at their home and gallery during the week to welcome students, share in lively discussions and view everyone’s work.

A list of local motels, B&Bs and Inns is available at: http://www.visitchester.com/chester/merchants/inns_and%20_B_and_Bs.html

A 50 percent non-refundable deposit of $250 is required by May 15, 2015 to secure a place. If the workshop is cancelled, the deposit will be refunded in full.

For more information, visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com/classes/index.html

Celebrate Winter at Chester’s 25th Annual Winter Carnivale, Sunday  

Street entertainers delight the crowds at the Chester Carnivale. Photo by John Stack.

Street entertainers delight the crowds at the Chester Carnivale. Photo by John Stack.

CHESTER – Winter has been pretty dreary so far, but that’s not keeping the townspeople of Chester from looking forward to their 25th annual winter celebration, Chester Winter Carnivale, on Sunday, Feb. 15.

That’s when the picturesque small town of Chester is filled with people cheering on ice carvers as they create beautiful sculptures from blocks of ice, while laughing at the antics of street performers and applauding a long parade of new and antique tractors being driven down Main Street by their proud owners. All that, and food, music, art, and shopping too!

Richard Daly works on his ice sculpture during the 2014 Winter Carnivale. Daly holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest time to create ice sculptures. Photo by John Stack

Richard Daly works on his ice sculpture during the 2014 Winter Carnivale. Daly holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest time to create ice sculptures. Photo by John Stack

The day begins at 10:30 a.m. when the carvers get started on their ice sculptures. Both professional and student ice carvers will be hard at work, demonstrating their techniques to onlookers while they try to be finished by 1 p.m. for judging.

Meanwhile, the Chester Hose Company is holding its 15th annual “Chilly Chili Cook Off” fundraiser. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., go to the Chester Hose Company Fire House at 6 High Street and pay your $5 admission so you can taste all the different chilis cooked and dished out by restaurants, caterers and fire departments. You can vote for your favorite fire department chili, favorite restaurant chili, most original chili, and best dressed chili serving table.  Beverages will be sold. All proceeds go to the Chester Hose Company.

Still hungry? There’s pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, chowder, soups, and lots more available inside and outside the restaurants in town. Also, hot chocolate, popcorn, kettle corn, and cupcakes – everything to satisfy every taste.

Tractors and more tractors descend on Chester on Carnivale day for the 14th Annual Tractor Parade. Photo by John Stack

Tractors and more tractors descend on Chester on Carnivale day for the 14th Annual Tractor Parade. Photo by John Stack

Just be sure to be back out on Main Street by 2 p.m. for the 14th Annual Chester Tractor Parade. Colorful and rusty, big and small, antique and new, decorated and plain – tractors are driven through the town center in an incredibly long parade. You never knew there were so many tractors in the Connecticut River Valley!

There is no shortage of free activities to keep the whole family entertained for the day. Colorful beads and balloons will be handed out throughout town all day and face painting is available at Century 21 Heritage.

The Chester Museum at The Mill will be open at no charge, offering a place to explore Chester history.

A photo booth will be at Maple and Main Gallery of Fine Art, where there will also be a free workshop for kids between 6 and 11 years, led by artist Carol Young from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. Each child will get a workbook handmade by Carol with art projects centered on bees, and they will make the three-dimensional bee depicted in the book.

Other galleries and shops will be open, many with special events. The Spring Street String Band, Arrowhead, will be playing from noon to 2 p.m. at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery. Winter sales – including a complete storewide sale at ELLE Design – will be going on at a number of stores.

Chester Winter Carnivale is held rain or snow or shine.  Main Street will be closed to traffic. Free parking is available in the commuter lot on Rte. 148 at the foot of Rte. 9 and in the Roto-Frank parking lot on Inspiration Lane (exit 6) and at Greenwald Industries on Rte. 154 (212 Middlesex Avenue). (Follow the signs.) All lots will be served by courtesy shuttle buses to the town center.

For more information, go to facebook.com/chesterctwintercarnivale or https://finditinchesterct.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

Caption: Street performers, balloons, beads and face painting add free fun for all ages to Winter Carnivale. Photo by John Stack

 

Caption: Richard Daly works on his ice sculpture during the 2014 Winter Carnivale. Daly holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest time to create ice sculptures. Photo by John Stack

 

Caption: Tractors and more tractors descend on Chester on Carnivale day for the 14th Annual Tractor Parade. Photo by John Stack

Oh, What a Winter … and More on the Way!

Old Saybrook Town beach

Old Saybrook Town Beach.  All photos by Adina Ripkin.

After a snowless first half of winter, the weather finally seemed to catch up with itself as recent snow storms have swept through the northeast.

Piles of cleared snow at the junction of Main Street and Pennywise Lane in Old Saybrook

Piles of cleared snow at the junction of Main Street and Pennywise Lane in Old Saybrook

Storms on Jan. 26 and 27 and then again during the first weekend in February have left snow accumulated throughout Connecticut, especially along the shoreline.

A snowy scene in Saybrook

A snowy scene in Saybrook

Although we dodged the most recent storm, which hit much harder in inland Connecticut and neighboring Massachusetts, bitterly cold weather is just around the corner according to the weather forecasters.

Footsteps_to_the_church_OSIt may seem to have been an endless winter, but no records have been broken here to date — unlike in Boston, Mass., where snowfall accumulation totaled well over 70 inches in January alone!

With more snow and freezing temperatures expected over the next couple of weeks, Shoreline residents are bracing themselves once again for more shoveling, hot chocolate, and picturesque drives!

Stay safe … and warm … and enjoy!

$499.5 Million Deep River Grand List up by $9.14 Million From 2013 Total, Largest Increase in Years

DEEP RIVER — The 2014 grand list of taxable property is up by $9.14 million, a larger than expected increase that will generate about $236,000 in new tax revenue. Assessor Robin O’Loughlin has filed an October 2014 grant list that totals $499,552,409, an increase of $9,145,804, or 1.86 percent, over the 2013 total.

O’Loughlin said the increase, by far the largest since the last property revaluation in 2010, would generate $236,700 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 25.88 mills. Last year, the 2013 grand list was up by only 0.47 percent after a 2012 grand list jump of only 1.2 percent.

There were increases in each of the three categories, real estate, personal property and motor vehicles, with the largest increase coming in the personal property total. The town’s 658 personal property accounts totaled $22,583,125, an increase of $6,677,804 from the 2013 personal property total.O’Loughlin said a 2014 sale and relocation of Tri-Town Precision Plastics to Massachusetts-based Smith and Wesson Co., and a new local subsidiary, Deep River Plastics, had resulted in 224 new personal property accounts for machinery and equipment. But the assessor cautioned that many of these accounts would be eligible for tax deferrals under the state’s Manufacturing Machinery Program, which could lead to some reductions in the higher personal property totals in 2015.

The town’s 2,186 real estate accounts have an assessment total of $442,825,060, an increase of $2,1778,120 from the 2013 real estate total. O’Loughlin said there were four new homes completed in 2014, along with several renovations and expansions of existing dwellings. The town’s 4,800 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $34,144,224, an increased of $289,394 from the 2013 total.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the increase was higher than he anticipated, and good news for the town. “It’s the best increase we’ve had in several years,” he said, adding, “it’s going to help an awful lot with the budgets this year.” The town is conducting a statistical revaluation update of all real estate properties this year, with any changes to be reflected on the October 2015 grand list.

Following are the town’s top 10 taxpayers, along with the assessment totals. The Boyd-Dernocoeur, Olson, and Cribiore accounts are for high value residential properties.

1) Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $5,576,999
2) BDRM Inc. — $4,171,277
3) Mislick Family Limited partnership — $3,173,870
4) Silgan Plastics Corp. — $2,917,775
5) Deep River Associates LLC — $2,917,600
6) Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur — $2,430,610
7) 180 Main Street Partners LLC — $2,277,450
8) Goodspeed Leasing Co. LLC — $2,145,010
9) John & Jane Olson — $2,075,080
10) Alberto Cribiore — $1,934,590

Ivoryton Announces Spectacular Season for 2015, Features ‘Memphis’, ‘Calendar Girls’

ESSEX: Ivoryton Playhouse has announced details of its upcoming 2015 season as follows:

Stand by Your Man
March 18 – April 5, 2015
By Mark St. Germain

Relive the journey of country music legend, Tammy Wynette, from the cotton fields of Itawamba, Mississippi, to international superstardom, including the five husbands she stood by. Among the 26 songs are “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “Til I Can Make It On My Own” and “Golden Ring.”

The Last Romance
April 22 – May 10, 2015
By Joe DiPietro

A crush can make anyone feel young again – even an 80 year old widower. This heartwarming comedy about the transformative power of love mixes heartbreak with humor and opera with laughter.

Calendar Girls
June 3rd – June 21st, 2015
By Tim Firth

One of the best-selling plays in British theatre history is making its US premier. This dazzlingly funny and shamelessly sentimental story of the ladies of the Women’s Institute who pose au natural for a fundraising calendar is guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and walk out singing Jerusalem!  Sponsored by Webster Bank, PCI Medical

South Pacific
July 1 – July 26, 2015
By Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan

Who doesn’t love this extraordinary show that includes “Some Enchanted Evening”, “Younger Than Springtime”, “Bali Ha’i”, “There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame”, and “A Wonderful Guy”? But South Pacific is also a deeply felt drama. Its portrayal of Americans stationed in an alien culture in wartime is as relevant today as when it first thrilled audiences back in 1949.

Memphis
Aug. 5 – Aug. 30, 2015
By Joe DiPietro and David Bryan

Memphis is set in the places where rock and roll was born in the 1950s: the seedy nightclubs, radio stations and recording studios of Memphis, TN. With an original score, it tells the fictional story of DJ Huey Calhoun, a good ole’ local boy with a passion for R&B music and Felicia Farrell, an up-and-coming black singer that he meets one fateful night on Beale Street. From the first notes of its electrifying opening number, right up to a rousing finale , Memphis delivers one energetic song after another. A rollicking new musical.

Little Shop of Horrors
Sept. 23 – Oct. 11, 2015
By Howard Ashman and Alan Menken

The charming, tongue in cheek musical comedy of Seymour who stumbles across a new breed of plant he names “Audrey II” – after his coworker crush, has been devouring audiences for over 30 years. A deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi smash musical.

Liberace!
Oct. 28 – Nov. 15, 2015
By Brent Hazelton

Liberace! is a moving and highly entertaining tribute to the performer and musician famous for his charm, glitz, and glamour. Liberace relives the highs (and lows) of his prolific life, with a rollicking piano score spanning classical and popular music from Chopin to “Chopsticks,” and Rachmaninoff to Ragtime.

Subscriptions for 3-play, 5-play or 7-play packages are available now by calling Beverley Taylor at 860.767.9520

Single tickets go on sale Feb. 17 — call 860.767.7318.

For more information, visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Letter to the Editor: Proposed Chester Library Will Strengthen Community

To the Editor:

There has been much discussion about the future of the Chester Library. Since I have traveled to over 50 CT libraries presenting children’s programs over the years, I have a unique perspective on just what today’s libraries represent. These are not our grandmother’s libraries anymore.

Even in small towns, today’s library has become the hub of the community. Strong children’s programs grow and support families, whose children grow up to be life long readers and supporters of the library. Senior citizens are able to visit and learn how to operate computers, tablets, and e-books. They also have free access to large print & audio books, which also help our disabled citizens. During the recession, especially, families who could not afford Netflix or cable TV, accessed services like Hoopla for the ability to stream movies, shows, concerts, and news programming- for free.

Sadly, Chester not only has no space for special programs, but has also shut out our aging and disabled population by not being handicap accessible. We have been out of compliance with the ADA for 25 years. Our top-notch librarians do the best they can, but with no decent space, bathrooms, and elevator, their hands are tied.

I have heard people question the size of the proposed library, which is modest and in line with similar towns. The proposed community room will fit 70 people. It only proposes 6 computers. The concern about additional staff was addressed in other area libraries (Haddam, Killingworth, Clinton) by utilizing volunteers-mostly seniors, who look forward to spending one day a week in the library.

These other towns took a similar leap of faith years ago and have never regretted it! A vibrant library, which serves ALL our community, will only strengthen the community.

Sincerely,

Marjorie Warner,
Chester.
Editor’s Note: The author is a former preschool teacher and para-professional for the State of CT Preschool Services for the Blind. Since 1996, she has been a professional storyteller, songwriter, recording artist, and Early Childhood Developmental Music Consultant. She is a member of both ASCAP and the Connecticut Storytelling Center.

Groundhog Day Parade Shorter than Usual But Still Wonderful

Republican State Senator Art Linares (left in photo) leads the marchers up Main Street in Essex.

Republican State Senator Art Linares (left in photo) leads the marchers up Main Street in Essex.

ESSEX – The spirit was all there for the 38th annual Groundhog Day parade in Essex on Feb. 1. “Essex Ed,” the star of the parade, who every year shows up with a new costume, was very much on display.

The star of the show -- "Essex Ed"

The star of the show — “Essex Ed” in his Warrior football uniform

 

This year he was dressed as a ‘Warrior’ football player from the Valley/Old Lyme high school co-op football team. The theme of this year’s parade was a salute to the team, who won the 2014 Class S-Large state championship for the first time in their history.

A marching band was stationed just behind the dignitaries in the parade.

A marching band was stationed just behind the dignitaries in the parade.

Missing from this year’s parade, however, were the many antique automobiles that usually make an appearance. Their owners kept them in their garages because of  fear of bad weather.

Immersed in the spirit of the parade, this marcher posed with her personal grounhog

Immersed in the spirit of the parade, this marcher posed with her very own groundhog

Still, hundreds of enthusiastic spectators crowded the sidewalks along the entire length of Essex’s Main Street from the river to the “roundabout,” as natives like to call traffic circle at the top of  Main Street.

Fur hats -- for good reason -- were much in vogue among many marchers

Fur hats — for good reason — were much in vogue among the marchers

 

Town of Essex, Fire Company Call for Help to Clear Snow from Hydrants

2)A snow-covered fire hydrant on Dennison Rd. in Essex, waiting to be cleared by residents.

A snow-covered fire hydrant on Dennison Rd. in Essex, waiting to be cleared by residents.

ESSEX – The Town of Essex and the firefighters of the Essex Fire Engine Company #1 have put out an urgent call to Essex residents to personally help clean the snow away from the town’s 136 fire hydrants. “Many are now covered with snow and hidden from Essex Firefighters needing them in an emergency,” the Town of Essex said in a statement.

“The snow won’t start melting anytime soon and more snow is on the way. Please take a few minutes to clear the snow from the fire hydrants next to where you live and work,” the Town and Fire Company urge.

A fire hydrant already cleared on North Main St. in Essex.

A fire hydrant already cleared on North Main St. in Essex.

This simple act will, “Help protect your family, property, and livelihood,” the Fire Company, located at 11 Saybrook Rd., explains.

 

Celebrate Groundhog Day Today at Essex Parade

Groundhog fun at last year's parade.

Joining in the groundhog fun at last year’s parade.

The annual Essex Groundhog Day Parade in Essex Village will take place on Sunday, Feb. 1. The parade forms at 1:30 p.m. and steps off at 2 p.m.

Essex Ed will make his annual trip from Essex Boat Works to the top of Main Street. He will lead a raucous parade of antique cars, fire trucks, residents, and visitors.

Everyone is invited to don their groundhog gear and join in the fun. Children are encouraged to bring noisemakers – pots and pans, anything – to help awaken Ed from his long winters nap.

Part of the excitement annually is to find out how Ed is dressed. Each year, Essex Ed is costumed in unique attire to acknowledge a special occasion, person or organization. Past years have seen Ed dressed as historical figures, athletes, thespians, and musical performers. As always, this year’s costume is a secret but organizers guarantee that it will be a “huge hit” when Ed makes his appearance.

The parade is organized by the Essex Board of Trade.

For more information, visit www.essexct.com.

“House of Cards” Director Speaks at CBSRZ Today

John David Coles

John David Coles

Connecticut fans of Netflix’s addictive phenomenon ‘House of Cards,’ will soon get a rare inside look into how this series on the struggle for power in Washington is made.

Executive producer/director John David Coles will speak at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 1, just weeks before the long-awaited Feb. 27 release of season 3. No tickets are required and the event is free of charge as part of the synagogue’s 100thanniversary cultural arts programming.

‘House of Cards’ stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Spacey, playing a sinister Frank Underwood, aims to beat back enough enemies to rise to the White House. A Washington Post reviewer noted that the “back stabbing, bed hopping, betraying, compromising and scandal mongering” captures ageless, Shakespearean themes. Coles and the creative team based the story on a 1990 BBC television miniseries and earlier book by Michael Dobbs, but let the actors and story craft fresh approaches to the ethics and psychology of power.

Coles is an award-winning director and producer known for evocative material with compelling performances from some of today’s most respected actors.  He has enjoyed success in features, television and theater while his production company, Talking Wall Pictures, has focused on the development of cutting edge feature and television projects.

Coles shot his first full length 16mm film at age 17 – a wry update of “Casablanca” re-imagined in a high school. While at Amherst College he directed a documentary about the school that was aired on PBS, and soon after was making short films for Saturday Night Live.

He then went on to become an editor on Francis Coppola’s “Rumble Fish” and “The Cotton Club.” His feature directorial debut, “Signs of Life,” starred Beau Bridges, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Mary Louise Parker. The film won the International Critics Prize at Deauville and launched a prolific and versatile directing career.

In television, Coles is one of the few directors who is equally adept at both drama and comedy.  He has directed numerous Emmy Award-winning series ranging from “Sex and the City” to “The West Wing,” and many other notable shows such as “Justified,” “Damages,” and “Bates Motel.”  Coles recently directed A&E’s “Those Who Kill” with Chloë Sevigny, and the new Starz original series Power.

His success as an episodic director allowed Coles to begin a producing career and one of his first projects, “Thief,” led to Andre Braughers’ Emmy award for Best Actor.  Other executive producer credits include hit drama “Elementary,” “Unforgettable,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” with Jeff Goldblum, “3LBS” with Stanley Tucci, “New Amsterdam,” and the drama “Wonderland,” a critically acclaimed series that addressed the frail boundaries of insanity within a New York City hospital’s psychiatric ward.

Coles continues to write and create original dramas through Talking Wall Pictures, which produced the CBS drama “Songs in Ordinary Time” (based on the Oprah Book Club pick) starring Sissy Spacek and Beau Bridges and co-created and executive produced the series “Crash and Burn.”  Talking Wall has developed numerous projects with HBO, CBS, New Line, IFC, Bravo and worked with numerous distinguished writers, including Academy Award nominated Mike Weller (“Hair”), Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright (“Quills”), Kate Robin (“Six Feet Under”) and Ann Peacock (“Nights in Rodanthe”).

In the theater world, Coles was a member of the Circle Rep Lab and an alumnus of Wynn Handman at the American Place Theater. His Off-Broadway credits include directing the critically acclaimed play “The Impostor” starring Austin Pendleton and Calista Flockhart, as well as “Johnny Suede,” starring Tom DiCillo.

Coles lives in New York with his wife Laura and his children, ­­­­­Sam and Jessica.  He is a Sundance Director’s Lab Alumni, and teaches at the Columbia University Graduate Film Program.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  Founded 100 years ago, CBSRZ translates as House of Peace Seeking Justice. Pegged as a “cultural center and architectural landmark” by the Jewish Ledger, CBSRZ goes by the moniker “ancient and cool” because of its pioneering fusion of renewed tradition with spiritual learning, cultural expression, and prayer labs. Located on the Connecticut River, it is the only public building ever designed by the internationally renowned artist Sol LeWitt. Find more information, 860-526-8920 or www.cbsrz.org or www.ancientandcool.com.

‘Average Joe Photo Show’ on View at Lori Warner Gallery, Benefits Water.org

View of a Child by Maddy Richardson,  taken June 26, 2014, at Cuttyhunk, Mass.

‘View of a Child’ by Maddy Richardson, taken June 26, 2014, at Cuttyhunk, Mass.

The Average Joe Photo Show’s second exhibition is on view at the Lori Warner Gallery in Chester. A selection of photos selected for the show are pictured in this article.

The concept behind the exhibition was developed by two local women and a group of shoreline volunteers to celebrate the everyday perspective of the average person through a common medium: the camera app on a mobile phone.

'Glacier Water in July' by Peter B. Alosky, taken July 10, 2014, at April Bowl, Hatcher’s Pass, Alaska.

‘Glacier Water in July’ by Peter B. Alosky, taken July 10, 2014, at April Bowl, Hatcher’s Pass, Alaska

With a grass roots effort from January through December 2014 via word of mouth, social media and local papers, any “average joe” was invited to submit their cell phone photos while following a few simple rules, namely,that each image had to include some element of water as well as a component of the human figure.

'Red Parapluie… Paris' by Leighton Gleicher, taken Jan. 3, 2014, in Paris (France)

‘Red Parapluie … Paris’ by Leighton Gleicher, taken Jan. 3, 2014, in Paris (France)

Over 350 people submitted images that will be on display at the Lori Warner Gallery through Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22.

In the same way that most everyone throughout the world now sees the mobile phone as necessary to “survive” socially or professionally, everyone must have water to survive physically. With this in mind, the steering committee of the Average Joe Photo Show selected water.org as its 2014 philanthropic focus.

In 2015, Average Joe Photo Show will shift their philanthropic focus to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders to raise awareness and funds for their extraordinary humanitarian work and their efforts to give voice to communities disconnected from the world health system.

'Nectarine' by Sarah Rand, taken July 10, 2014, at Brookside Pool

‘Nectarine’ by Sarah Rand, taken July 10, 2014, at Brookside Pool

Each accepted photograph is printed in two limited editions and available for purchase, with 2 percent of photo sales donated to water.org or MSF/Doctors Without Borders and 40 percent going to the “Average Joe” Photographer.

If you missed submitting your photos for this year’s exhibition, you have until Jan. 1, 2015 to enter your photos taken during 2015.

Visit averagejoephotoshow.com for more information.

Essex Garden Club Offers Scholarships To Environmental Studies Students

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club is offering a scholarship of up to $5,000 for the school year 2015-16.

To be considered for this scholarship, applicants must be:

  • A resident of Essex, Centerbrook, or Ivoryton, Conn.
  • A high school senior or undergraduate/graduate college student
  • Have a ‘B’ or better GPA
  • Be planning to pursue studies related to the environment in an accredited two- or four-year institution of higher learning. Fields of study may include:
    >Biology, Ecology, Horticulture, Forestry, Land Conservation, Environmental Science;
    >Closely related subjects may also apply: Landscape Design, Nursery Management

Application forms are available from Guidance Counselors.  The deadline for receipt of applications is April 27, 2015.

Letter From Paris: Marcel Duchamp at the Pompidou Center

Marcel Duchamp i(1887-1965) is well known in America.  Most people have heard of his readymades like the famous (or infamous) Fontaine, which is, in fact, a public urinal.  Stiglitz immortilized the original in a 1917 photograph before it disappeared for ever.  The bicycle wheel set on a kitchen stool is a familiar sight for MOMA vistors.

Nude descending a staircase No. 2

Nude going down a staircase No. 2

Since his first trip to the US in 1915, the artist made multiple visits to that country, avoiding the two World Wars.  He acquired American nationality in 1955.  It was at the 1913 Armory Show that his cubist painting  ‘Nu Descendant un escalier No. 2′ (Nude going down a staircase No. 2) became a huge success.

Some critics have labelled Marcel Duchamp as the creator of modern art while others say he destroyed it when he advocated “non-retinal” painting.  Volumes have been written about him.  In an amazingly short time – since he abandoned art for chess at age 36 – he was able not only to produce art, but also to integrate into it the latest discoveries  of science and modern technology.

The Marcel Duchamp exhibit at the Pompidou Center just closed its doors after several successful months.  It was a monographic approach consisting of about 100 paintings  and drawings little known in France (most of them are part of the Louise and Walter Arensberg collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art) covering the 1912 to 1923 period and leading to his main creation, ‘Le Grand Verre.’

Born in Normandy, Duchamp belonged to a talented family of six children.  The mother was a distant figure, which may explain his alienation from women.  ‘Sonate,’ 1911, represents the three sisters playing musical instruments.  The mother stands stern and erect . Strangely enough she seems to be enjoying the concert, although she is deaf.

He had a deadpan sort of humor and provocation was his tool.  He enjoyed playing  tricks on the Regardeurs  (viewers), giving wrong titles to his works.  He relished plays on words, for example, he called himself Rose Selavy (Eros – that’s life) in the photograph Man Ray took of him.  To put a moustache and a goatie on Mona Lisa was a virtual iconoclastic gesture and he made it even more outrageous by giving it the title of LHOOQ (if  the letters are pronounced in French the meaning is shockingly vulgar) .

Duchamp joined his two brothers Jacques Villon and Raymond-Duchamp in the Puteaux group of Cubists.  ‘Dulcinea’ and the ‘Joueurs d’échecs’ are among his superb cubist paintings.  Borrowing the technique of chronophotography and cinema, he introduced time and movement in ‘Jeune Homme Triste dans Un Train 1911-12,’  where the real accomplishment was to show a person in a train in motion while also suggesting his sad mood.

La Mariée mise a nu par ses célibataires,’ meme (also called Le Grand Verre) was his major work.  It consists of two free-standing glass panels.  In the lower register, nine Moules Maliques*  (an officer, a gendarme, a priest, etc) stand beside a chocolate-crushing machine, which rotates non-stop.  By means of sexually-related devices, gas travels up toward the mariée, who is hanging limply at the top, having gone from the virgin to the bride stage.  The work alludes to the universal themes of erotic love and the inaccessible woman.

* I am not even attempting to translate these nonsensical words!

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.

‘EagleWatch’ Opens at CT River Museum with Exhibit, Boat Tours, Programs

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator, Bill Yule, leads the boat tours and helps participants spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and water fowl and other wildlife from the deck of Enviro-Lab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator, Bill Yule, leads the boat tours and helps participants spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and water fowl and other wildlife from the deck of Enviro-Lab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

ESSEX – Winter has arrived and the ice is starting to freeze across the Connecticut River. Bald Eagles and other winter birds are moving to the southern reaches of the river in search of open water and food. The eagles are primarily fish eaters and, as the lakes and rivers freeze to the north, the big birds begin to drift south looking for open water where they can catch fish and survive winter.

One of the best places to survive the hardships of a New England winter is Essex and the lower 12 miles of the Connecticut River. The combination of river-flow, tides and proximity to the coast creates a micro-climate that keeps the lower river from freezing solid and is perfect for winter fishing.

The arrival of the eagles signals the beginning of another season of the return of the majestic Bald Eagle to the lower Connecticut River and the Museum’s annual EagleWatch programs.

EagleWatch & Winter Wildlife Cruises include more than just big birds! Passengers often site beautiful winter ducks and even harbor seals. Photo by: Bill Yule.

EagleWatch & Winter Wildlife Cruises include more than just big birds! Passengers often site beautiful winter ducks and even harbor seals. Photo by: Bill Yule.

EagleWatch officially begins Jan. 30 this year and will run through March 15. As a part of this winter celebration of wildlife along the River, the Connecticut River Museum will offer an exhibit, boat tours, public programs and workshops.

Opening on Jan. 31, and running through March 15, the ‘Eagles of Essex’ exhibit tells the story of Bald Eagles along the Connecticut River, why they winter here and how they came back from near-extinction to becoming one of the greatest environmental come-back stories in history. In addition to an interactive eagle nest, the exhibit illustrates how to identify birds of prey and where the best land-viewing spots are located. An eagle sighting scoreboard and a digital photography display is also featured. Along with the exhibit, an Eagle Driving Tour is available in print and as an app to help birdwatchers discover key viewing sites along the lower River Valley.

A Community Photography section is also part of the exhibit. Amateur photographers who capture a great image of an eagle or other wintering bird along the Connecticut River are invited to submit their digital entry to curator Amy Trout. Your image will be on view in the exhibit as a part of the digital display. For more information or submit an image, contact Amy at atrout@ctrivermuseum.org

The Bald Eagles are here along the lower Connecticut River and boat tours in February and March can help you get a great look at them! Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

The Bald Eagles are here along the lower Connecticut River and boat tours in February and March can help you get a great look at them! Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

Boat Tours

Through a partnership with Project Oceanology, a Groton-based marine science and environmental education organization, the Connecticut River Museum will once again provide a dynamic, on-water, eagle-viewing experience.

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting on Jan. 30 and running through March 15, Project Oceanology’s Enviro-lab III, a 65-foot modern research vessel, will depart from the Museum’s docks for an up-close view of winter wildlife, Bald Eagles, and other big birds of prey.

Educators from the Museum and Project Oceanology will provide narration while passengers can enjoy viewing from the heated cabin or outside deck area. Boat tours are $40 per person and include free admission to the Museum. Advance boat tour reservations are strongly suggested.

Public Programs

Throughout the season, the Connecticut River Museum offers a variety of public programs.
Feb. 14 and March 7 at 1:15 p.m.: noted photographer Stanley Kolber will be at the museum for his popular Nature Photography Workshops.
Feb. 15 at 3:30p.m.: ‘A Place Called Hope’ will present their Live Birds of Prey program at Essex Town Hall.
Feb. 19 at 5:30 p.m.: Author Richard King will talk about his book, ‘Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History.’
Feb. 22: Wood carver Al Moncovich will demonstrate eagle carving in the Eagles of Essex exhibit.

For more information or to make reservations, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator, Bill Yule, leads the boat tours and helps participants spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and water fowl and other wildlife from the deck of Enviro-Lab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

EagleWatch & Winter Wildlife Cruises include more than just big birds! Passengers often site beautiful winter ducks and even harbor seals. Photo by: Bill Yule.

Carney Proposes Ban on Electronic Cigarette Use in Schools, on School Grounds

State Representative Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney

OLD SAYBROOK/WESTBROOK: State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) hopes to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds in his bill H.B. 5219. Current regulation is limited to the use of electronic cigarettes by anyone under the age of 18; this legislation, however, would seek to expand upon the current bans to include prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds entirely. Schools already ban tobacco-based products, so this would add e-cigarettes to that ban.

“It’s critical that our schools be free from negative influences. Countless studies show that electronic cigarette use among high school and even middle school aged kids is rapidly rising. Not to mention that many kids who would have never tried a traditional cigarette are experimenting with e-cigarettes – especially flavored ones,” Carney said. “The bad habits brought on by them lead to the increased potential for addiction to nicotine-based products in the future.”

A recent Yale study notes that one in four Connecticut high school students have tried an e-cigarette. In addition, 26 percent of students who had reported to have never tried one were interested in trying one in the future.

Carney adds, “The availability of electronic cigarettes and ease at which they can be purchased by minors is a bit unsettling to me. We are fortunate to live in an area where many schools have already taken this initiative – a statewide ban on them on school property will strengthen those initiatives while also ensuring other schools, who may not have banned them yet, will have a ban in place.”

Carney has also proposed other bills including several proposals to lower taxes and increase the overall quality of life for the residents of the 23rd District.

Ribbon-cutting Ceremony at Chester Town Hall Today for New Solar Array Cancelled

The 24-panel 6kw solar array on Chester Town Hall was awarded to the town for operating the CT Solar Challenge. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Jan. 29 at 9 a.m.

The 24-panel 6kw solar array on Chester Town Hall was awarded to the town for operating the CT Solar Challenge.        A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Jan. 29 at 9 a.m.

01/28 Update: This event has now been cancelled and will be rescheduled to a date in February.

The Chester Energy Team will host a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Chester Town Hall at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29, for the town hall’s 6-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array.  Chester community members and public officials are invited to attend. CT Solar Challenge and Aegis, along with energy efficiency professionals from the state’s Home Energy Solutions program, will be there to answer questions about residential solar.

The town hall’s photovoltaic solar array, which was installed recently, was awarded to the town for operating the CT Solar Challenge, which resulted in 20 new residential photovoltaic and thermal installations.

“The town hall’s new system marks another step on our town’s path to carbon neutrality,” said Pat Woomer, chairman of the Chester Energy Team. “We are proud to be moving forward with these significant investments in clean energy because we believe we have an obligation to be a model for Chester and other communities.”

With the Energy Team’s help, by 2018 Chester hopes to achieve its commitment to the Clean Energy Pledge signed in 2013.

More information about the Chester Energy Team is available from the First Selectman’s office (860-526-0018) or at www.ChesterCT.org.

HOPE of OS, OL Affordable Housing Merge; Host ‘Friendraiser’ at Cooley, Tonight

hope-partnership-logoHOPE Partnership of Old Saybrook is consolidating with Old Lyme Affordable Housing and, to celebrate, they are planning a “Friendraiser” on Thursday, Jan. 29, from 5:30-7 p.m. at The Cooley Gallery, 25 Lyme St., in Old Lyme.

This free event is an opportunity to enjoy fine art, food, wine and fellowship, while viewing a video about the HOPE Partnership and listening to a brief presentation. All are welcome, but an RSVP to 860.388.9513 or ltmccluskey@msn.com would be appreciated to facilitate planning.

The mission of the HOPE Partnership is to develop, educate and advocate for affordable housing options in Southern Middlesex County and surrounding shoreline towns.

As Winter Storm Juno Begins, Closings Announced

Chester Library will close at 4 p.m. today due to the inclement weather.

Chester Town Hall Offices and the Chester Library will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 27.

Essex Town Hall will also be closed tomorrow,

Chester Library’s Winter Book Sale Continues for Next Two Weeks

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CHESTER – The Friends of Chester Library opeed the doors on the Winter Book Sale today, Friday, Jan. 23.
  Be sure you have a stockpile of reading for the long winter months ahead!  Drop in for a great selection of hardcover and paperback books and movies for children and adults at rock-bottom prices.
All proceeds from the sale help the Friends fund children’s programs and adult discussion groups, and purchase movies and museum passes for the library. The Book Sale is open for two weeks during regular library hours.

For more information, call 860-526-0018 or visit www.chesterct.org.

Anne Penniman LLC of Essex Receives 2015 CT Landscape Architects Professional Award

The Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (CTASLA) announced the winners of its annual Connecticut Professional Awards competition at the chapter’s annual meeting in December.

Anne Penniman Associates, LLC  of Essex won two awards.  The first was in the  Landscape Architectural Design – Residential category and was an Honor Award for Blast Site Restoration (Private Residence, Essex).  The second was in the Landscape Planning & Analysis category and was a Merit Award for Vegetation/Habitat Mapping and Management Plan for Haversham Property (Private Residence, Westerly, RI)

CTASLA conducts the awards competition each year to recognize excellence in landscape architectural design, planning and analysis, communication, and research. To be eligible, an applicant must be a landscape architect or designer in the state of Connecticut, and the entrant or project location must be based in Connecticut.

“These award-winning projects exemplify Connecticut landscape architects’ skills in designing beautiful spaces that add value to the land, encouraging people to get outside and explore their surroundings while protecting habitat and natural resources,” said Barbara Yaeger, president of CTASLA and principal of B.Yaeger, LLC, of Madison, Conn.

Essex Winter Series Presents Four Concerts in 2015

Essex Winter Series (EWS) will present four diverse and exciting concerts in 2015, including two programs of classical chamber music, a concert of jazz from the early part of the twentieth century, and — for the first time — a world-renowned chamber chorus. Programmed by EWS artistic director Mihae Lee and newly-appointed Jazz Impresario Jeff Barnhart, these concerts offer world-class performing artists and an impressive array of styles and genres.

Three concerts, all Sundays at 3 p.m., follow the season opener on Jan. 11. The Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert on Feb. 8 at Valley Regional High School will feature Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.  On March 1,  Chanticleer, “ An Orchestra of Voices” will perform a program entitled “The Gypsy in My Soul” at Old Saybrook High School. The final concert, on March 29 at Valley Regional High School, will be an exciting program of piano trios, with Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee, violinist Chee-Yun and cellist Julie Albers.

StringFest2 is co-sponsored by Guilford Savings Bank and Essex Meadows.

All tickets to EWS concerts are general admission. Individual tickets are $35; four-concert subscriptions are $120, which represents a $20 saving over the single-ticket price for four concerts. Tickets may be purchased on the EWS website,www.essexwinterseries.com, or by calling 860-272-4572.

 

 

Playhouse’s Hubbard Joins WWI Xmas Eve Truce Centennial Celebration in Europe

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World War I soldiers transport an injured comrade.

World War I nurses prepare to tend the injured.

World War I nurses prepare to tend the injured.

ESSEX – Ivoryton Playhouse Executive Director Jacqueline Hubbard and her daughters recently took a memorable trip to Europe.

The three of them spent Christmas in Belgium visiting the battlefields of Ypres where they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the extraordinary Christmas Eve Truce, which was observed during World War I in 1914.

As happened in 1914 and 100 years later memorialized in a  2014 Christmas advertisement made by the British grocery chain of J.Sainsbury, a soccer game was played in Ypres in costumes from the war period.

Hubbard notes, “It was an incredibly moving experience.”

She also shared with ValleyNewNow a link to a story that was written by a journalist for an Aberdeen newspaper that accompanied Hubbard and her daughters on the tour. https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/uk/440689/video-watch-re-enactment
-christmas-day-truce-football-match/

View the J. Sainsbury advertisement below:

Letter: Building Chester Library at North Quarter Park is an Inspired Idea

To the Editor:

I think it’s a great idea to build at North Quarter Park. Much as I love the current library – and I do love it; it’s been home to me since I was a child – it truly is too small for our town’s current needs, let alone our future needs, and there are just too many issues with renovating the building, even if the church gave the go ahead. I won’t deny that it will be sad to move from this beautiful historic building, but a move to North Quarter Park will allow us to design something that not only gives access to and better fulfills the needs of all our residents, but puts us in the center of more activities. We need to let go of what we have always had and think of the needs of the town first. If those needs cannot be met in the current building, and I believe they cannot, then it’s time to build a new library that will meet them.

I admit, it was initially a shocking idea, moving out of our gorgeous stone building. Now that I’ve thought about it, however, and having closely followed the evolving proposals for possible redesigns of our current building, I’m excited about it. I love the idea of having the park around us. I think that more residents will use both park and library: borrow a book and go for a stroll. Let the kids burn off some energy and then enjoy a quiet hour at the library. It just feels like such a perfect place for a library.

The most exciting thing about moving to North Quarter Park is that we would have the space to offer so many more programs to area residents, and they can all be held at the library, instead of scrounging around for large enough space elsewhere in town. We can offer regular children’s programs, perhaps even partner with Parks & Rec. With the park right there, we can even do outdoor programs. The library will be what libraries should be – a central gathering place for the town.

Sincerely,

Lisa Tollefson,
Chester.

Essex Teen Receives Award for Fundraising Efforts to Support Shelter Dogs

Jenny Merrick receives her award

Jenny Merrick receives her award

Jenny Merrick, 14, of Essex received an award in December for her fundraising efforts to help save shelter dogs. For the fourth year in a row, Jenny has given up birthday gifts, asking instead for donations for the ‘Red Dog Project,’ a program of ‘Dog Days Adoption Events’ of Old Saybrook.

Jenny is not only an active volunteer, but her donations have helped transport and
provide veterinary care for many dogs from high kill shelters so that they
could find loving and responsible homes.

Dog Days has programs for kids of all ages, for more information or if you would like to volunteer contact info@godogdays.org.

Proposed Library at North Quarter Park: Update

CHESTER — With the New Year comes a new burst of activity regarding Chester’s proposed new library at North Quarter Park. On Tuesday, Jan. 6, the Library Trustees will request funds from the Board of Selectmen to complete necessary site evaluation work and underwrite the costs of developing schematic plans for a new library building. With the Selectmen’s approval, this request will move to the Board of Finance in mid-January and then to the public for approval. This funding would come from the current year’s budget. The goal is to have this work completed this spring.

Got questions? Denny Tovey, Chair of the Library Building Committee, will host a Question and Answer session at the library on Saturday, Jan. 10 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Drop in for a cup of coffee and share your concerns.

The Library Building Committee welcomes community input and encourages your attendance at its monthly meetings that will take place at Chester Town Hall at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month throughout 2015.

Send a message to the library at Library@chesterct.org to be put on the list for building project updates via email.

Old Lyme Church Celebrates 350 Year Heritage with Organ Concert, Feb. 8

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Illustration by Arthur L.Keller taken from a 1906 edition of the Ladies’ Home Journal

 

Throughout 2015, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme will celebrate 350 years of history. A series of concerts and a talk on the historic landscape of Lyme Street will commemorate the rich legacy of the past and ongoing connections that link the church and the larger community.

Two events are planned to kick off the year-long celebration, one in January and the second in February, as follows:

The American Organ Society’s Children’s Choir Festival
Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 at 4 p.m.

Simon Holt: An Organ Recital
“Spanning 350 Years of Organ Music”

Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015 at 4 p.m.

Public worship began on the east side of the Connecticut River in 1664 when the Court acknowledged that there were “thymes and seasons” when inhabitants could not attend Sabbath meetings in Saybrook and ordered them to agree on a house where they would gather on the Lord’s Day. A year later, Articles of Agreement defined a “loving parting” that created a separate “plantation” on the river’s east side, which would soon be named Lyme.

The first minister, Moses Noyes, a Harvard graduate from the Boston area, settled in the growing community in 1666. Rev. Noyes helped to found the Collegiate School in Saybrook that later became Yale and was elected the twelfth Trustee of the college. Most famous among Lyme’s ministers was Rev. Stephen Johnson, who used a pen name to publish fiery letters in a New London newspaper urging colonists to resist British authority and fight for liberty. He later served as chaplain in the regiment led by Col. Samuel H. Parsons from Lyme and reached Roxbury at the end of the fight for Bunker Hill.

In colonial times, the meetinghouse was not only a place for public worship but also for town meetings and, after stocks were erected in 1685, for public punishments. Over the centuries, community disputes, family quarrels and local scandals played out within its walls. Beginning in 1719 with the creation of a separate Congregational parish in North Lyme, other churches, first Baptist and Methodist followed by Episcopal and Roman Catholic, met the religious needs of the community.

The first three meetinghouses stood on a hill overlooking Long Island Sound. After a lightning strike destroyed the third of those structures in 1815, the church was relocated to its present site closer to the village. Master builder Samuel Belcher from Ellington was hired to design a fourth meetinghouse beside the town green and the cornerstone was laid on June 10, 1816.

That stately white church with its graceful steeple and columned façade, painted repeatedly by the country’s most prominent landscape artists, burned to the ground on July 5, 1907, in what was almost certainly an act of arson. Rebuilt to replicate Belcher’s design after a community-wide, fund-raising campaign, the fifth meetinghouse, dedicated in 1910, remains today as both a vibrant center of faith and fellowship and the town’s most important historic landmark.

For more information, visit www.fccol.org or call the church office at (860)-434-8686.

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme is located at the intersection of Ferry Road and Lyme Street in Old Lyme, CT.

Three Region 4 Administrators to Swap Positions in Next School Year

REGION 4— Region 4 school boards this week unanimously approved a reassignment of three administrators that was recommended by superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy after a retirement decision by one administrator. The changes that are effective in July 2015 will  put different people in the positions of assistant superintendent and principals at Valley Regional High School and Chester Elementary School.
Levy said Friday the moves were prompted by the decision of Assistant Superintendent Joanne Beekley to retire in June after a 38-year career in  public education. Beekley, a Haddam resident, assumed the assistant superintendent position in 2012 after six years as principal at Essex Elementary School, the largest of the three district elementary schools.
Levy said after Beekley confirmed her plans at the beginning of the month, she began considering options that would allow the district to retain experienced administrators while also promoting from within the ranks of the current team. Levy said she met with the Region 4 Administrators Association, the bargaining unit for district administrators, and found support for her plan.
Under the plan, Beekley will retire on June 30, but continue working for two years as principal at Chester Elementary School, the smallest of the three elementary schools. Kristina Martineau, principal at Valley Regional High School since 2010, will assume the position of assistant superintendent. Michael Barile, a Haddam resident who has served as principal at Chester Elementary School since 2008, will become principal at Valley Regional High School.
The reassignments prompted a series of special school board meetings this week, where the boards conducted closed door interviews before voting to approve the changes recommended by the superintendent. Levy advised district staff and the first selectmen of Chester, Deep River, and Essex of the changes on Tuesday.
Levy said the reassignments will maintain continuity, while also allowing the district to move forward and give experienced administrators an opportunity to advance. She noted that each administrator will remain with the district and available to assist and mentor their successor.  “This will provide a whole circle of support for one another,” Levy said. The Chester Board of Education will begin the process of hiring a successor for Beekley in 2017.

Essex Garden Club Donates to Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

Xmas_2014_donation

Pictured packing the food for delivery to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries are Dianne Sexton and Carol Denham.

Essex Garden Club members collected non perishable food items for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) at the club’s annual festivities at Essex Meadows.  Individual members and the club also donated $1,510 to the SSKP, which will be matched by the Gowrie Challenge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Five Essex Bonding Authorizations Approved in Low Turnout Referendum

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

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

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

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

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

‘Simply Sharing’ Eases Transition from Shelter with Furniture, Household Donations

(l-r): Simply Sharing President and Founder Alison Brinkmann shares a special moment with a client from Gilead Community services after helping her move into her new home.

(l-r): Simply Sharing President and Founder Alison Brinkmann shares a special moment with a client from Gilead Community services after helping her move into her new home.

ESSEX – When Simply Sharing President and Founder Alison Brinkmann decided to dedicate her time to a good cause and create an organization that would have a meaningful and lasting impact, she had no idea where that decision would take her.  She did know that she wanted to create a collaborative effort, one with a simple, single mission.

Through her involvement with the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Brinkmann saw the potential to help homeless individuals and families in local communities by building a network of shared services and resources.  After numerous discussions with leaders from area organizations and agencies, it was evident that there was a great need to secure furnishings and household items for those transitioning from shelters to sustainable and supportive housing.

So with a leg up from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, who provided fiscal oversight and funding, the Essex resident launched ‘Simply Sharing’ in April 2012 and has been on the move ever since.

“When someone first moves out of a shelter, the money they’re earning usually doesn’t go very far, and many can’t afford furnishings,” explained Brinkmann, “ A kitchen table and chairs, beds and sheets, pots, pans and dishes – these are basic household goods many of us take for granted. Yet for individuals and families who have been homeless, these basic necessities are, indeed, luxuries.”

While the concept of collecting donated items for redistribution is not a new one, ‘Simply Sharing’ takes a more collaborative, personal partner approach on both ends of the process. The all-volunteer, non-profit organization welcomes material and financial donations from individuals and businesses and then works solely through other qualified non-profit agencies and organizations to identify clients that are in the most need of those donations.

In addition to the furnishings and funds given by residents throughout Middlesex County, ongoing relationships with Bob’s Discount Furniture, Essex Meadows, Gather, and Realty 3 CT have built a solid foundation of additional resources.  Working with Columbus House, Gilead Community Services, The Connection, Inc, Middlesex Hospital and Central Connecticut State University, Simply Sharing has helped well over 50 families get a fresh start in a new home.

That help comes in the well-orchestrated form of Brinkmann and other ‘Simply Sharing’ volunteers making house calls to pick up donations or receiving them at their warehouse space in Essex, cleaning, selecting and organizing goods for the specific needs of identified families, and then delivering and “setting up” the items in the new living space. “It’s the most gratifying part of our work,” added Brinkmann, “ To be able to meet the people you are helping and see their reaction and appreciation for all the good that’s being given to them – it’s hard to keep a dry eye.”

For more information on ‘Simply Sharing,’ visit simplysharing.org, email info@simplysharing.org or call 860-388-7390.

Champions! Valley/Old Lyme Football Defy Odds to Win State Class S-Large

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!  Photo by W. Visgilio.

Congratulations to coach Tim King and his Warriors on an incredible win!

New Britain – Quarterback Chris Jean-Pierre’s four-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining rallied top-seeded Valley Regional/Old Lyme to a 21-20 victory over No. 2 Ansonia in their Class S-Large state championship football game at Willow Brook Park on Saturday morning. Click here to read the remainder of this full initial report of the game by Ned Griffin, which was published in The Day yesterday

And here’s another link to great article about the game.

And, finally, here’s Tim Devlin’s video of all Saturday’s state game highlights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essex Tree Committee Awarded America The Beautiful Grant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essex Tree-ATB grant 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rotary 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner Drive Check Presentation

Rotary 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner Drive Check Presentation

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

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