February 6, 2016

Essex Grand List Shows Slight Increase

ESSEX — The grand list of taxable property remained flat in 2015, showing only a slight 0.38 percent increase that was nearly identical to a similar tiny rise in 2014. Assessor Jessica Sypher has filed an October 2015 grand list that totals $1,040,877,591, a net increase of $3,950,411, or 0.38 percent, from the 2014 grand list total.

Sypher said a small decrease in the real estate assessment total was offset by modest increases in the assessment totals for personal property and motor vehicles. The $3,950,411 increase would generate about $83,000 in new tax revenue at the current property tax rate of 21.08 mills. The 0.38 percent increase for 2015 was nearly identical to the slight 0.36 percent rise in the 2014 grand list.

The net assessment total for real estate was $942,723,310, representing a decrease of $523,140 from the 2014 real estate assessment total.  Sypher said nearly all of the decrease resulted from a property owner’s decision to combine two building lots in the high value Foxboro Point subdivision on the Connecticut River.

The net assessment total for motor vehicles was $63,713,960, representing an increase of  $832,790 from the 2014 real estate total. The net assessment total for personal property was $34,440,321, representing an increase of $3,640,761 from the 2014 personal property total. Sypher said nearly all of the increase resulted from the new Southern Connecticut Gas Company natural gas line that was installed in sections of town last year.

The town’s top ten taxpayers showed one change from recent years. Solid waste hauler All Waste Inc. edged local businessman Herbert Clark III, who owns various residential, commercial and industrial properties. Following are the top ten taxpayers with current assessment totals:

  1. Essex Meadows Inc. — $22,875,400
  2. Lee Company — $15,633,120
  3. Connecticut Light & Power — $7,185,030
  4. SKR Partners LLC — $4,315,000
  5. All Waste Inc. — $4,147,560
  6. River Properties Inc. — $3,624,190
  7. Griswold Inn LLC — $3,377,680
  8. Stephen R. Cline Successor Trustee — $3,322,800
  9. Essex Savings Bank — $3,305,820
  10. MacBeth Ventures LLC — $2,759,500
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Revaluation Leads to $9 Million Decrease in Deep River Grand List

DEEP RIVER — A townwide property revaluation update completed last year has resulted in a 1.81 percent decrease in the grand list of taxable property.  Assessor Robin O’Loughlin has filed an October 2015 grand list that totals $490,476,253, a decrease of $9,076,156, or 1.81 percent, from the 2014 grand list total.  Small increases in assessment totals for motor vehicles and personal property were offset by an $11.96 million decrease in the real estate assessment total.

The revaluation update, required every five years under state law, was completed last year by O’Loughlin with assistance from Vision Appraisal of Northboro, Mass.  The town had used Vision Appraisal for the full property revaluation, including visual inspections of properties, that was done in 2010.

O’Loughlin said the decrease was less than expected, and smaller than the drop that had occurred with the 2010 revaluation.  The $9 million decrease would represent a loss of about $238,500 in tax revenue at the current property  tax rate of 26.28 mills, or $26.28 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.  The real estate assessment total was $430,864,720, a decrease of $11,960,340, or about 2.6 percent, from the 2014 real estate total.

The assessment total for motor vehicles was $35,876,260, representing an increase of $1,732,036. The personal property assessment total was $423,735,273, representing an increase of $1,152,148.

First Selectman Richard Smith said assessments for commercial and industrial properties in Deep River increased, despite the drop in assessed values for residential properties.  “We knew it was going to come,” Smith said of the grand list decrease, adding that effect on tax bills would vary between properties.  O’Loughlin said the revaluation was a “smooth process” that has generated few objections from property owners.  “It’s a market adjustment over five years,” she said.

The list of the town’s top ten taxpayers was largely unchanged from recent years.  Following are the top ten taxpayers with assessment totals.  The Boyd-Dernocoeur and Matalaniec accounts are for high value residential properties.

  • Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $5,649,517
  • BDRM Inc. — $4,197,840
  • Mislick Family Limited Partnership — $3,300,150
  • Silgan Plastics Corp. — $3,079,637
  • Deep River Associates LLC — $2,695,770
  • Connecticut Water co. — $2,587,473
  • 180 Main St. Partners LLC — $2,314,620
  • Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur — $2,269,930
  • Goodspeed Lasng Co. LLC — $2,218,790
  • Zbigniew Matulaniec — $2,159,290
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New Train Station Parking Lot Opened with Ribbon Cutting

Rep. Devin Carney, Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares (L-R) joined with state transportation officials and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new 200-space parking lot at the Old Saybrook train station.

Rep. Devin Carney, Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares (L-R) joined with state transportation officials and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new 200-space parking lot at the Old Saybrook train station.

OLD SAYBROOK – On Feb. 4, the new 200-space parking lot at the Old Saybrook train station was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, state DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker, and local elected representatives.

According to a release from Nancy Wyman’s office, the ribbon cutting for “the new $2.5 million rail station expansion in Old Saybrook … celebrates the completion of 200 parking spaces, sidewalks, a bus shelter, and other improvements. The Shoreline East carries about 600,000 passengers per year.”

With the 200 new parking spaces, there are now 324 parking spaces at the station available to commuters, free of charge.

The Shoreline East website further notes: “Free parking is also available to commuters along both sides of 3 North Main Street. Please note overnight parking in this area is prohibited. There is a third, privately owned parking lot located East of the Old Saybrook train station, adjacent to the shops, which allows overnight parking for a fee. An envelope will be left on your car window with which to mail in your payment. Shore Line East is not affiliated with this parking area.”

More information at ShorelineEast.com.

 

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Essex Library Offers “Demystifying the Future” Career Series for High Schoolers

Essex Public Library where the Career Series is being held.

Essex Public Library where the Career Series is being held.

ESSEX — As the middle of the winter season drags on and springtime can be just vaguely made out in the distance, many are looking forward to the exciting prospects that the new season will bring. For some, it is merely the release from Connecticut’s raw winter weather and the enticement of warm weather activities; while for a body of young people, the anxious wait for college application decisions has begun.

Selecting a college major, along with a career path, may appear to be a perplexing ordeal to those who have not yet found their niche. As a member of the restless class of teenagers who are anticipating the decision that will become the foundation for their future careers, I empathize with others who are in the same boat as I am and have not yet chosen a designated career path.

logoThankfully, the Essex Library has teamed up with Education Solutions of Essex to lend a helping hand to students who freeze up when that all-too-familiar, “What do you want to major in?” question strikes.

The Essex Library is a professionally-run, free public library that encourages all visitors to explore all that is offered. The youth and teen program, headed by Jessica Branciforte, is especially vibrant.

Branciforte is the smiling face behind the wonderful programs that are offered at the library for adolescents ranging from toddlers to teens. Education Solutions is a consulting firm that helps students and families identify and navigate through the process of selecting a school or career pathway.

Exterior_brick&sign_213KBA career series entitled “Demystifying the Future” has been created for students aged 12 and older who are searching for the career path that will suit them best. During each session, the Essex Library hosts a professional from a wide variety of areas ranging from communications to engineering, robotics, business and beyond. These informational sessions give students the opportunity to learn about classes required, industry trends, job prospects, degree information, salary ranges, and additional principal information regarding the career path.

Branciforte is co-heading the project along with Teal Reamer at Education Solutions, and discusses the motive behind creating the program. Branciforte comments, “Students are entering into a world where the options are overwhelming, and the pressure is on. Seeing a career description on paper is quite different from immersing oneself in the field, so it is both thrilling and reassuring to bring in experts who are willing to share their passion.”

The series runs through May 2016. The third session in this series is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, from 6 to 7 p.m. and will feature keynote speaker Jeff Reamer who will share his experience with business and finance. The program is an opportune time to interact with people who have had first-hand experience in career areas that gives invaluable insight into a career field that may be of interest.  

To register for the session or for more information, contact the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560.

Editor’s Note: Essex Library Association is located at 33 West Avenue, Essex, CT 06426. Opening hours are Monday and Wednesday, 10am – 6pm; Tuesday and Thursday, 10am -7pm; Friday, 10am – 5pm; and Saturday, 10am – 4pm. The library is closed on Sundays. For more information, visit  http://www.youressexlibrary.org or call (860) 767-1560

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Free Tax Preparation Help Available Until April 12

AREAWIDE — Low- and moderate-income families can receive free tax preparation in Middlesex County. Households with income up to $53,000 are eligible for free tax preparation assistance now through April 12 at local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites, and households with income of up to $62,000 can prepare their taxes free online at myfreetaxes.com.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an official IRS program, and all tax preparers are trained and certified to ensure that low- to moderate-income families receive the refunds and credits that they have earned, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

Appointments are required and are being offered during the evenings and on Saturdays in downtown Middletown. To make an appointment, dial 2-1-1 (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or visit 211ct.org.

Individuals should bring a check or bank statement for direct deposit of their refund. Direct deposit is the quickest way to receive the refund, usually within 7 to 14 days.

When attending their pre-scheduled appointment, individuals should bring: valid photo ID for yourself and your spouse; social security cards or ITIN for everyone in the household; birth dates for everyone in the family; documentation for all income; interest and dividend statements; documentation for deductible education expenses and student loan payments; total amount paid for child care as well as day care provider’s tax identification number and address; property taxes paid, including automobile taxes; evidence of health care coverage in 2015; a copy of last year’s federal and state income tax returns, if available; and the current year’s tax package if available.

In 2015 the two VITA sites in Middletown helped more than 570 local households file their taxes for free and returned $773,120 back to taxpayers in the Middletown area. The sites are coordinated by the Middlesex VITA Coalition, a partnership of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team. The coalition receives support from the Connecticut Association of Human Services.

Households with income up to $62,000 last year can prepare their state and federal taxes for free at myfreetaxes.com. MyFreeTaxes tax filing software is provided by H&R Block and is sponsored by United Way, with a grant from the Walmart Foundation.

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Take Your Child to the Library Day in Chester, Saturday

anne nord reading to kids a

Chester Children’s Librarian Anne Nord (who’s known as Mrs. Applesauce to the kids of Chester) reads her favorite read-aloud book. Photo by Linda Fox

CHESTER — What is the favorite read-aloud book of Chester First Selectman Lauren Gister, Chester Elementary School Principal Joanne Beekley, and Chester Town Clerk Debra Calamari?

Come to Take Your Child to the Library Day at the Chester Public Library on Saturday morning, Feb. 6, and you’ll find out. Between 10 a.m. and noon, these Chester notables, and others, will take turns reading their favorite read-aloud book to visiting children. Children and their parents can also enjoy family crafts and refreshments during the morning.

The library is also taking an informal survey of favorite read-aloud story books. Write the title of your favorite read-aloud book and drop it in the tiny box at the front desk. Anyone can submit a title.

The Chester Library is at 21 West Main St., Chester. More information at 860-526-0018.

Take Your Child to the Library Day (TYCLD) is an international initiative that encourages families everywhere to take their children to their local library. Launched in 2011 right here in Connecticut by librarians Nadine Lipman (Waterford Public Library, retired) and Caitlin Augusta (Stratford Library) with artist Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, TYCLD raises community awareness about the importance of the library in the life of a child, and promotes library services and programs for children and families.

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Musical Masterworks Hosts Beethoven Bonanza Over Two Concerts, Feb. 13 &14

Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park

Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park

AREAWIDE — Musical Masterworks continues its celebration of a quarter century of magnificent chamber music at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 3 p.m.

In a bold break from their traditional programming of repeat concerts, Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park will play two different programs in the Saturday and Sunday concerts, traversing the entire cycle of Ludwig van Beethoven’s works for piano and cello over the two days, providing a fascinating window into the arc of Beethoven’s compositional career.

The two different programs will include three sets of variations and five sonatas as follows:

Saturday, Feb. 13 at 5 p.m.

Sonata No. 1 in F Major, Opus 5, No. 1
Sonata No. 4 in C Major, Opus 102, No. 1
12 Variations in F Major on ‘Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen’, Opus 66
Sonata No. 3 in A Major, Opus 69

Sunday, Feb. 14 at 3 p.m.

12 Variations in G Major on ‘See the conqu’ring hero comes’, WoO 45
Sonata No. 2 in g minor, Opus 5, No. 2
Seven Variations on ‘Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen’, WoO 46
Sonata No. 5 in D Major, Opus 102, No. 2

For those who plan to attend both programs, Musical Masterworks is offering a 50 percent discount on tickets to the additional concert.

For more information, call the office at 860.434.2252 or visit www.musicalmasterworks.org to order your additional tickets.

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Double Reed Ensemble Hosts Free Concert & Masterclass, Saturday

AREAWIDE – Community Music School and the Laurel Double Reed Ensemble will present a concert and master class on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 2 p.m. at the Centerbrook Meetinghouse, 51 Main Street, Centerbrook.

The Laurel Double Reed Ensemble is an eclectic and educational organization comprised of Anne Megan, oboe; Tamar Beach Wells, oboe d’amore; Marilyn Krentzman, English horn; and Rebecca Noreen, bassoon. They perform for schools and communities throughout Connecticut, showcasing the unusual and beautiful sounds of the double reed instruments.

At the Feb. 6 concert, the ensemble will perform a 45-minute “Arts in Education” program geared as an introduction to the double reed instrument family. The diverse musical program ranges from Let it Go from Frozen, to the traditional classical styles of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Franz Joseph Haydn. A master class with student performers will follow the performance.

The concert and master class are free and open to the public of all ages; at-will donations will be graciously accepted.

If you would like to participate in the master class, call Community Music School to reserve a spot, 860-767-0026.

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

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Wesleyan Professor to Discuss Post-World War II Policies at Essex Library, Saturday

Professor Sarah Willarty

Professor Sarah Willarty

Germany and Japan faced immense challenges in 1945 as these countries attempted to recover from World War II while simultaneously pursuing democracy and prosperity. How Germany and Japan met these challenges varied based on their international positions, their geographies and their cultural legacies.

This lecture analyzes similarities and differences in German and Japanese approaches to winning the peace.  The Essex Library is honored to welcome Dr. Sarah Wiliarty who will give a talk on “Winning Peace: Lessons from Post-War Policies, 1945-1950” at the Essex Library on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 2 p.m. This program is part of the Library’s focus on history during the month of February.

Sarah Wiliarty is an Associate Professor of Government at Wesleyan University. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in Physics from Harvard University. Her book, The CDU and the Politics of Gender in Germany: Bringing Women to the Party was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010.

This program is free and open to all. Call the Library to register in advance at (860) 767-1560. The Library is located at 33 West Ave. in Essex.

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Tickets on Sale for Vintage Valentine’s Soiree, Benefits Deep River Rotary

 DEEP RIVER — Charles Shultz once said “all you need is love … but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”Vintage_Valentine

Lots of chocolate will be among the treats at the Vintage Valentine’s soiree on Thursday, Feb. 11, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., hosted by the Deep River Rotary and Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club at the beautiful Deep River Town Hall Auditorium/Theater.

Along with chocolate, you can fill your evening with decadent hors d’oeuvres, chilled champagne (and wine and beer), and sweets as you dance the night away to the tunes of the Shiny Lapel Trio.  Foods are being prepared by local restaurants, including The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook, Alforno, Penny Lane Pub and The Ivory.

The ticket cost is $45 per person and supports the many humanitarian projects of the Deep River Rotary and the Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club.

For tickets visit the Deep River Town Hall at 174 Main St. in Deep River, or Shore Discount Liquors next to the Deep River Post Office, or go online to www.vintagevalentines.eventbrite.com.

Questions? Email: deepriverrotary@gmail.com.

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Want to Paint a Rooster? Watch Cindy Stevens at Maple & Main on Sunday

stevens - roosterCHESTER – Maple and Main Gallery of Fine Arts artist Cindy Stevens will give an informal demonstration of pallette knife painting this Sunday, Feb. 7, from 11:30 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m. at the gallery. Stevens plans to paint a colorful rooster using her well-practiced pallette knife approach. Come watch and learn from her, while helping the gallery celebrate “Always on Sunday” in Chester.

Stevens is a longtime resident of Clinton, where she owns her own gallery at 30 East Main St. She comes from a family of artists. Her mom, Shirley Price, was a pen and ink artist, and her brother and sister both paint professionally.

As well as her East Main Street gallery, Stevens has owned and operated Snow’s Block Frame Gallery in her home for 24 years. She grew up in Connecticut, and has lived in Clinton with her husband Gary for 34 years.  She has two grown children and one granddaughter.

For more information about “Always on Sunday,” visit Facebook.com/AlwaysonSundayinChester.

For more information about Maple and Main Gallery, visit Facebook.com/MapleandMainGallery.

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Community Music School Presents Glee for Grownups in Concert, Sunday

Glee for Grownups CMSCENTERBROOK – Community Music School (CMS) presents an entertaining performance by members of the CMS Glee for Grownups vocal group on Sunday, Feb. 7, at 2 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 109 Main Street, Centerbrook.

Under the direction of Karli Gilbertson, CMS Artist in Residence, and accompanied by Deborah Lyon, the group of nine adult students will perform Scottish music featuring ensemble and solo performances. A selection of some of the titles to be performed include such old favorites as “Loch Lomond,” “Amazing Grace,” “Annie Laurie,” and “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.” There will be at least one singer dressed in a kilt!

The concert is open to the public and free of charge.

More information is available by calling 860-767-0026 or visiting www.community-music-school.org.

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Kristen Graves to Perform at Spring Street Gallery, Feb. 21

kristen grav CHESTER —- Leif Nilsson hosts another Concert in the Garden, Sunday, Feb. 21, from 4 to 6 p.m., this time featuring Kristen Graves at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery at 1 Spring St, Chester Center. This monthly concert series highlights eclectic international singer/songwriter artists from cool jazz to blue grass.

Kristen Graves is a singer/songwriter and humanitarian from Green Bay, living in Fairfield, Conn. She was recently listed as part of the “new generation of folk music” in the New York Times and was mentioned in Rolling Stone for her music’s environmental activism. She has shared the stage with Rusted Root, Dar Williams, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary), and the late Pete Seeger.

With catchy songs, a penchant for storytelling, and inspiring lyrics, Graves performs nearly 200 shows a year through the United States and Europe.

On her first visit to the Concert in the Garden series, she will be performing her own original songs as well as some classic folk sing-alongs. You’ll be invited to sing, laugh, cry, and enjoy each other as Graves shares the stories behind her music – from sharing Lincoln Center stage with Peter Yarrow, to sharing lentil soup with Pete Seeger. This is an evening of stories and songs you won’t want to miss.

Read more about Graves at www.kristengraves.com.

Doors open a half hour before the show – first come, first seated. The concert is held inside the gallery this time of year. Sorry, no pets are allowed.

A $20 donation is appreciated. The event is BYOB. Buy your own wine or beer at the Chester Package Store across the street, which is open until 3 p.m.

For more information, call 860-526-2077 or log on www.nilssonstudio.com.

 

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Chester Land Trust Erects New Signs on Its Properties

Richard Harrall, Chester Land Trust president (left) and Bill Meyers, Trustee, installed new Land Trust signs. Photo by Vivian Beyda

Richard Harrall, Chester Land
Trust president (left) and Bill Meyers, Trustee, installed new Land Trust signs. Photo by Vivian Beyda

CHESTER –  The Chester Land Trust, an all-volunteer non-profit organization in Chester, provides stewardship for 10 preserves and three easements. These properties are protected for open space in perpetuity.

Recently, new Land Trust signs have been installed on Rte. 154 by the bridge and along  Water Street for the Chester Creek preserve (46 acres in three  parcels). Another sign was placed on the south side of Rte. 148 near Camp Hazen for the Duck Pond Preserve (6.1 acres).

More information about the organization is at chesterlandtrust.org.

 

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Caravan of Thieves to Perform in Chester on Feb. 28; Tickets Available Now

Caravan of Thieves. Photo by Shervin Lainez

Caravan of Thieves. Photo by Shervin Lainez

Question: How does a hot band get recruited to play in a concert series?
Answer: One way is when it sneaks up on and knocks out the series producer.

This is how the booking for Caravan of Thieves, the musical ensemble that has dazzled audiences throughout North America with their creativity and showmanship, came to be. The band will perform at 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester in a concert open to the public.

David Zeleznik, the new director of the synagogue’s Music & More concert series, recalls that he had his first Caravan “experience” unexpectedly several years ago in Norwalk when it was the opening act for Hot Tuna.

“We had never heard of Caravan of Thieves before, but from the first song they immediately hooked us and were the subject of much animated discussion in the car ride home. Their songs are witty, completely original, and speak to the themes of love and life with a big helping of irreverence and fun. When I starting putting together this, my first season as producer of Music & More, I immediately thought of Caravan as my ‘producer’s choice’ selection for the series. My hope is that others catch the energy and get on board the Caravan Freaks bandwagon.”

Caravan of Thieves began as a duo consisting of Fuzz Sangiovanni (of Deep Banana Blackout fame) and his wife Carrie Sangiovanni. The two discovered their voices blended quite well with one another. Fuzz said, “It started as a romantic, bohemian vision of a couple making music, performing on the road, in parks, venues, traveling around and avoiding responsibility as much as possible …The first thing we discovered was we loved singing together, harmonizing our voices. Just seemed to click right away.”

The couple added a violinist and an upright bass player in 2008 and the band released their debut album Bouquet in 2009. Their second album, Mischief Night, was recorded at a sold-out show in Fairfield. Caravan of Thieves released a third album in 2012, and a fourth last year.

Fuzz said about the group’s third album: “We had a concept going in, both from a sound and production standpoint, lyrically and thematically. A lot of crazy stuff happens on the road, and we took our experiences from on and off the stage, and brought them into the studio with us.”

He continued, “Life is ridiculous, all our lives, like an amusement park ride. In this case, we picked a funhouse, since those are ridiculous too. And we wanted to expand the range of what we can do instrumentally but still keep it non electric, so we added a few more gritty and twangy stringed instruments that were fun to spank, like banjos, resonator guitars and ukuleles, as well as an orchestra of kitchen appliances for some additional percussive bang.”

Samples of Caravan of Thieves music can be found on YouTube.

Tickets ($25 general admission; no charge for children under 16) for this concert are on sale now and may be purchased online at cbsrz.org, or by calling the synagogue office at (860) 526-8920.  Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.

 

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“Connecticut History’s Bad Boys” Annual Lecture Series in Essex Begins Feb. 21

ESSEX – Explore the dark side of the state’s past this winter at “Connecticut History’s Bad Boys,” a lecture series presented by Essex Historical Society and Essex Meadows, Sundays, Feb. 21, Feb. 28 and March 6 at 3 p.m. The illustrated talks will be held at Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Rd., and are free and open to the public.

Each program will feature in-depth discussion about our state’s shadowy characters, such as spies, rum-runners and traitors, placing them in historical context with their equally dark and mysterious times along Connecticut’s Shoreline.

The series begins on Sunday, Feb. 21, with “Spies Among Us: Connecticut’s Crucial Role in the Secret War of American Independence” with Rachel L. Smith. In addition to Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold, the state was also home to diplomats, double agents, couriers and innovators who took intelligence-gathering to new heights and altered the course of the Revolutionary War. Discover how Connecticut’s geographic, political, and cultural climate helped it play an outsized role in supplying and sustaining the secret war for independence.

Rachel Smith, a historian of Early America, works for the Office of the Connecticut State Historian at the UConn as a historical consultant and as an administrative editor for Common-place: the Journal of Early American Life.

“Capture of Nathan Hale, Korder,” 1940, courtesy of Rachel L. Smith

“Capture of Nathan Hale, Korder,” 1940, courtesy of Rachel L. Smith

On Sunday, Feb. 28, Robert McKenna will present “Smuggling at Sea During Prohibition: The Real McCoy, The Bootleg Queen, Rum Row, and the Origin of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

McKenna is an author and the expert on rum-running during Prohibition. He has researched, updated, edited and republished six books about liquor smuggling in the 1920s. He was a researcher, subject matter expert and executive producer of the five-time Emmy Award winning documentary film The Real McCoy (2012), and a contributor to Connecticut Public Television’s Emmy-winning documentary Connecticut Goes Dry (2012). As a former Coast Guard officer, he interdicted smugglers and practiced the legal precedents that were established during the Prohibition-era.

“Liquor-Laden Schooner,” courtesy of Robert McKenna

“Liquor-Laden Schooner,” courtesy of Robert McKenna

The series concludes on Sunday, March 6, as Eric D. Lehman, author of Homegrown Terror: Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London,  discusses how Connecticut native Benedict Arnold and 1,600 British soldiers and loyalists captured Fort Griswold and burned down the settlement of New London in 1781, and explores how and why Arnold betrayed his countrymen and killed his neighbors.

Lehman, a professor of creative writing at the University of Bridgeport, has widely published fiction, travel stories, essays and nonfiction.

Cover of “Homegrown Terror,” courtesy of Eric Lehman

Cover of “Homegrown Terror,” courtesy of Eric Lehman

More information can be found at www.essexhistory.org or by calling Essex Historical Society, 860-767-0681.

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Disabled Workers Committee Offers $10K Matthew Shafner Memorial Scholarship

The Disabled Workers Committee, Inc. has announced a $10,000 scholarship in honor of Matthew Shafner.  The Committee is a Connecticut-based, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help impaired workers.  Shafner, a nationally recognized attorney and former Chairman of the Disabled Workers Scholarship Subcommittee, passed away in September 2015.  The scholarship will assist a child of a worker, who lives in Connecticut and has been totally disabled in the workplace, to attend college.

The scholarship has been awarded since 1993. In 2016, it has been renamed the Matthew Shafner Memorial Scholarship for Sons and Daughters of Disabled Workers.  The 2016 scholarship will provide one $10,000 award to be divided evenly over four years of college ($1,250 per semester.)  It will be given to a student demonstrating both academic  excellence and financial need.

Matthew Shafner was recentiy described as “a legal giant and humanitarian who broke new ground with asbestos, maritime injury and workers compensation cases,” by The Day. He was only the ninth person to receive the Connecticut Trial Lawyer Association’s lifetime achievement award since the association formed in 1954.In2015,U.S. News & World Report’s Best Lawyers in America recognized Shafner as a “Lawyer of the Year”.

“The pressures that fall on disabled workers and their families are tremendous,” explained Matthew Shafner in 2010 when he was Chairman of the Committee.”This scholarship fund eases one of the important financial burdens that disabled workers often face.”

Applications are available throughout Connecticut in the offices of high school guidance counselors, labor unions and Workers Compensation Commission offices. They should be received by April 1, 2016 at the Scholarship Fund, Disabled Workers Committee, Inc, c/o Suisman  Shapiro Attomeys-at-Law, 2 Union Plaza, Suite 200, New London, CT 06320. A statewide committee of independent prominent educators will select the successful students.

The Disabled Workers Committee, Inc educates the public about helping impaired workers return to their workplace as soon as possible. The Committee is co-sponsored by the Connecticut State Medical Society and the New London County Medical Association

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Ivoryton Church Offers Super Bowl Sunday Grinders, Chili, Soup; Pick up is Sunday

IVORYTON — The Ivoryton Congregational Church at 57 Main St. in Ivoryton is offering 12 inch grinders, homemade chili and its famous bean soup for sale on Super Bowl Sunday, which this year is Feb. 7.

Prices are $8 for a 12 inch grinder, $4.50 for a pint of chili or bean soup, and $8 for a quart of chili or bean soup.

Orders must be placed by Wednesday, Feb. 3, and pick-up will be available between noon and 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7.

For more information, call Isobel at 860-767-8167  or the church office at 860-767-1004
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Valley Regional Presents “The Addams Family” March 11-13, Tickets Now on Sale

addams family artREGION 4 — Valley Regional Musical Productions will present a new musical comedy, “The Addams Family,” on the weekend of March 11-13 at Valley Regional High School in Deep River.

The musical is based on the characters drawn and made famous by Charles Addams.

Rehearsals have already begun under the direction of Ingrid Walsh. “The Addams Family” features a cast of 73 and a crew of 30 with an additional nine students in the music pit.

Four shows will be presented: Friday, March 11, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 12, at 1 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, March 13, at 1 p.m.

Tickets for all seats are $12 except for the Saturday matinee, which will be $10. Tickets will be available beginning Jan. 31 at the school, Celebrations, Elephant Crossing, Toys Ahoy, and The Wheatmarket.

“The Addams Family” cast members (L-R): front: Miranda Holland, Nathan Russo; second row: Maggie Walsh, Connor Riordan, James D’Amico, Annie Brown, Jonny Leffingwell; back: Dilan Rojas, Jennifer Roberts, and Mitch Conrad

“The Addams Family” cast members (L-R): front: Miranda Holland, Nathan Russo; second row: Maggie Walsh, Connor Riordan, James D’Amico, Annie Brown, Jonny Leffingwell; back: Dilan Rojas, Jennifer Roberts, and Mitch Conrad

The Valley Regional Musical Program (VRMP) has been under the direction of Ingrid Walsh since 1998 and has been recognized by the Connecticut High School Music Theatre Awards multiple times for such awards as Outstanding Hair and Makeup, Outstanding Sound Design, and Outstanding Actress, among others.

The VRMP won awards for Outstanding Production of the Year in 2012 for “Titanic” as well as Outstanding Chorus in 2012 and 2013. Last year VRMP was honored with the inaugural “The Future of Theatre Award,” recognizing its success in producing the new musical show, “Band Geeks.”

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Community Music School Hosts Open House Week, Feb. 1-5

Suzuki Violin StudentCENTERBROOK – Community Music School (CMS), located in the Spencer’s Corner professional complex at 90 Main St. in Centerbrook, invites the general public to visit during Open House Week, Feb. 1 – 5.

Children and adults can tour the school’s studios, meet teachers and staff, enjoy a free preview lesson, and learn about a vast array of programs for all ages, including private and group lessons, clarinet, jazz, and string ensembles, music therapy services,  and Kindermusik.

Community Music School is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. If interested in a 15-minute free preview lesson, call 860-767-0026 for scheduling.

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

For additional information, visit www.community-music-school.org or call 860-767-0026.

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It’s Ecological Sunday! New Water Bottle Initiative Kicks Off Today in Chester

felise water bottleCHESTER — Celebrate Ecological Sunday on Sunday, Jan. 31, in Chester Center to participate in a new initiative, named “Chester Cares,” to reduce the use of plastic water bottles. The initiative, which was started by Chester resident and former science teacher Felise Cressman, includes a launch of Chester’s own aluminum logo water bottle.

On Jan. 31, anytime between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., visit Maple & Main Gallery of Fine Art, at the corner of Maple and Main Streets, to educate yourself about the harmful effects of plastic on our land and waterways.

Also, view the short film celebrating this initiative, which was created by Nick Lepore, a Valley Regional senior interested in film studies.

And see the display of Chester’s “Top 10” items of garbage collected in less than five visits along Chester’s Connecticut River shoreline.

Finally, check out at the sculpture at the Maple & Main Gallery that Cressman and her fellow volunteers created from the collected debris; you can even add to it.

The water bottle is made in America by veterans and previously unemployed Americans from recycled aluminum cans and BPA-free materials. The logo is the newly designed “Chester, Connecticut -We’re a Walking Town” logo by Janet Cummings Good.

The bottle will be available for purchase that Sunday at Maple & Main as well as at Compass Rose and Simon’s Marketplace.  Check out a “boxed water” alternative to plastic at various merchants in town.  Proceeds from sales will be used to purchase more logo bottles and to support protection and cleanup of oceans through the Rozalia Project (www.rozaliaproject.org).

For more information or to become involved in this initiative, email ChesterWaterBottle@gmail.com.

Plastic Facts from Chester Cares
* Americans used approximately 30 billion plastic water bottles in 2015.
* 8 out of 10 plastic water bottles are not recycled.
* The average plastic water bottle breaks down in ocean water into 39,000 1-mm-sized micro plastic bits.
* 44% of all seabirds eat micro plastic by mistake.
* 20% of all plastic in the ocean comes from the sea and 80% comes from land.
* In 10 years there could be 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of finfish in our oceans.

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Chester Historical Society Hosts “It Happened to Jane” Walk & Talk, This Afternoon

Louis Bertelli was one of the builders of “Old 97,” a wooden locomotive that was moved into a newly planted park for the “Jane” movie (where the Chester Package Store parking lot is today). Photo courtesy of Peggy Breslin

Louis Bertelli was one of the builders of “Old 97,” a wooden locomotive that was moved into a newly planted park for the “Jane” movie (where the Chester Package Store parking lot is today). Photo courtesy of Peggy Breslin

CHESTER — “It Happened to Jane” never won an Academy Award or a Golden Globe, but as far as Chester folks are concerned, it’s definitely an award winner.

After all, the movie, which starred Doris Day and Jack Lemmon, was made right in the heart of Chester in the summer of ‘58 – in the Chester Meeting House and the Center and on Jennings Pond and by the railroad – and hundreds of Chester folks were movie extras.  So whether you were there in 1958 or came to town later, the movie has every right to be a local treasure.

On Sunday afternoon, Jan. 31, the Chester Historical Society is offering you two opportunities to immerse yourself in “Jane” memories.

At 2:30 p.m., Chester Historian Rob Miceli and Peg Lieberman will lead a walking tour of Chester Center’s sites of interest from the movie. (It’ll be a very short walk, as Chester Center isn’t very big!)

You’ll hear how Carmine Grote’s Appliance Store (now Compass Rose and Red Pepper) became Aaron Caldwell’s Fine Foods & Notions store for the movie. Bill Breslin’s package store (in The Villager building) was turned into a marine supply store. A wooden locomotive was built and moved into the parking lot now used by Chester Package Store, and parking meters were added to town. Jack Lemmon’s law office was above the old Robbie’s store and the Cape Anne, Maine, Telephone Exchange was above today’s Century 21 real estate office.

Jack Lemmon, one of the Hollywood stars in “It Happened to Jane,” takes a break on Main Street in front of the old Chester Bank building during the movie filming. Photo courtesy of Peggy Breslin

Jack Lemmon, one of the Hollywood stars in “It Happened to Jane,” takes a break on Main Street in front of the old Chester Bank building during the movie filming. Photo courtesy of Peggy Breslin

At 4 p.m., at the Chester Meeting House (used as the Cape Anne Town Hall in the movie), the Chester Historical Society is presenting one of its popular “crackerbarrel discussions,” with folks sharing their “Jane” memories. We’ll also view some of the Chester scenes from the movie.

The walk and the crackerbarrel program are free and open to all.

Walkers should meet at the Century 21 Heritage office before 2:30 p.m. Parking is available at the 20 Water St. public parking lot and the Norma Terris Theatre on North Main St.

Refreshments will be served during the movie.

For more information, call 860-526-2331 or 860-558-4701 or go to Facebook.com/ChesterCTHistoricalSociety.

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Amy Bloom Discusses her Latest Novel at Chester Synagogue Today

Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom

One of the most highly acclaimed authors of our time, Amy Bloom, will come to Chester to read from and discuss her novel “Lucky Us, now out in paperback.

Her appearance, at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31, is free and open to the public, and is part of the Books & Bagels series of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ).

“Lucky Us,” her third novel (she also has three collections of short stories, a children’s book, and a collection of essays), received almost universal praise.

From Janet Maslin of the New York Times:  “These two things about Amy Bloom’s surprise-filled Lucky Us are indisputable: It opens with a terrific hook and closes with an image of exquisite resolution … She writes sharp, sparsely beautiful scenes that excitingly defy expectation, and part of the pleasure of reading her is simply keeping up with her. You won’t know where Lucky Us is headed until, suddenly, it’s there …”

Bloom has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award for Fiction. Her best-selling novel,Away, was an epic story about a Russian immigrant.

Bloom lives in Durham, and taught at Yale University for the last decade. She is now Wesleyan University’s Distinguished University Writer in Residence.

Referring to her upcoming appearance at CBSRZ, she says, “This is the only synagogue I ever joined. It was a shelter, an education and a playground for my kids and, now that I think about it–it was the same for me. Whenever I go back, I’m home.”

Tracy Kleinberg, who is in charge of the synagogue’s program committee, says she is particularly pleased that the author will be returning to CBSRZ where earlier appearances have drawn large and enthusiastic crowds. “She is an entertaining speaker – warm, witty and wise.”

This program is free and open to the public – no advance registration is necessary.  CBSRZ is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.

For more information about this program or CBSRZ, visit www.cbsrz.org or call the office 860-526-8920.

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Old Saybrook Church Hosts a Cappella Sing-off Concert, March 5

The Ruby Fruit a cappella group will participate in the sing-off being held March 5.

‘Ruby Fruit’ a cappella group will participate in the sing-off being held March 5.

OLD SAYBROOK – Two of UCONN’s a cappella groups will perform in a sing-off Saturday, March 5, 7 p.m. at the First Church of Christ in Saybrook, 366 Main St. The Rubyfruits and Extreme Measures will also work with some Old Saybrook High School singers who will also be part of the performance.

Tickets are $15, children eight and under are admitted free. Funds raised will support the church’s 2016 teen mission trip to N.Y.’s Adirondacks. Tickets are available online, www.firstchurchsaybrook.org, in the church office Monday through Friday, or call 860-388-3008.

There is also advertising space available in the program booklet for sponsors, either individuals or businesses. In addition to having a self-designed ad printed in the program, commercial sponsors will be recognized on facebook. Options include a quarter, half or full page space for $50, $125 or $250.

To prepare for the weeklong summer trip, the teens and their families commit to a year-long process which includes group fundraising, socio-economic awareness events, worship service activities and more. While in the Adirondacks, the teens will go out into the community for service work and to immerse themselves in the local culture. Mission trips take place every year with varying destinations, alternating between urban and rural locations. Each teen mission trip is life-changing for the young participants and their chaperones.

Come out to hear some great music performed by young people, and support the work of the teen mission-trippers who seek to make a difference in the lives of those they serve.

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Essex Library’s Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Begins Eighth Year Tonight

The 2016 Centerbrook Lecture Series opens with a talk on the evolution of ocean liners by Chad

The 2016 Centerbrook Lecture Series opens with a talk on the evolution of the modern ocean liner by Chad Floyd.

Chad Floyd

Chad Floyd

The Essex Library invites you to the kick off of the eighth year of its architecture lecture series sponsored by Centerbrook Architects on Friday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall when the program, “SS United States, Hallmark of 20th Century Design” will be presented by architect and raconteur Chad Floyd, FAIA.

Floyd will tell the story of the great ocean liner SS United States, designed by marine architect Francis Gibbs and interior designer Dorothy Marckwald.  He will show how this little-known pair reimagined ocean liners and invented a new mid-century aesthetic that married function with glamour and changed American design forever.

Over the previous seven years, the lecture series has enjoyed presentations by architects and landscape architects from across the United States and Canada. The series was also honored to welcome Nobel Prize winner James Watson, who participated in a discussion on designing science laboratories at Cold Spring Harbor.

Upcoming Centerbrook series lectures this spring will include talks on barns in Connecticut; the architecture of Hugh Ferriss and Lee Lawrie; and a premiere of the film Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion by Matthew Silva.

This program is free and open to all.

For more information or to register, call the Library at (860) 767-1560.  The Essex Town Hall is located at 29 West Ave. in Essex.

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The Insane Insidewalk Sale Continues Tomorrow in Saybrook

There will be bargains galore at this year’s Insane Insidewalk Sale in Old Saybrook.

There will be bargains galore at this year’s Insane Insidewalk Sale in Old Saybrook.

OLD SAYBROOK — The-e-list.com presents the Seventh Annual Insane Insidewalk Sale Friday, Jan. 29, and Saturday, Jan. 30, at 105 Elm St., in the Old Saybrook Shopping Center, just a few doors down from the Stop & Shop grocery store. The Sale will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $5, which covers entry for both days and the first 25 people to enter the Sale on Friday will have their admission fee waived.

This Sale enables people to shop the best stores and designers on the shoreline in one location at up to 75 percent off — it’s a pop-up specialty mall, featuring over 20 of the best local boutiques and designers offering deals on women’s clothing, accessories, shoes, jewelry, gifts, home decor, and kid’s clothing for two days only.

Ann Lightfoot will be selling her beautiful jewelry at the Insane Insidewalk Sale.Ann Lightfoot will be selling her beautiful jewelry at the Insane Insidewalk Sale.

Exhibitors include Ann Lightfoot Jewelry, Just Hatched, Mix Design Store, Grace, Ciao Bella, Ella Where She Shops, Lulu’s, Southern Exposure, J. McLaughlin and many more. For a full list of participating vendors, visit http://theeli.st/1MOsmSy

The Insane Insidewalk Sale was conceived in 2008 to help local retailers who were stuck with excess inventory after the financial crash and a dismal holiday season. The-e-list rented a vacant storefront and invited 20 boutiques to sell their wares at deep discounts. It was a huge success for both vendors and attendees and now it’s become a well-established tradition that Shoreline shoppers eagerly anticipate.

Last January, more than 1,500 enthusiastic shoppers turned out for the Insane Insidewalk Sale. Bargains were snatched up from the likes of Southern Exposure, Silkworm, Stonewear and many more. Erica Tannen, creator and publisher of The-e-List commented, “It was a delight to meet and gab with e-list readers face-to-face,” adding, “I snagged a few steals myself: perfect wineglasses at Mix, de rigeur stretchy fleece leggings from Grace, and a hilarious but too-cozy-for-words hat/scarf/mitten combo (with ears) from Ciao Bella!”

Tannen continued, “It [the 2015 Sale] was the best one yet, and I’ll chalk it up to the enthusiastic crowds and happy vibe. It was a joyful place: vendors were thrilled to clean out their excess stock, shoppers were excited to score extreme bargains.” She noted, “The real fun was in the communal dressing room. Women of all ages, shapes and sizes stripped down to their skivvies and swapped clothes, opinions and advice. Unlike most solitary dressing room experiences (Oh, no! Whose thighs are those?), if you needed a boost to your self esteem, you got it there.”

She concluded, “[The 2015 Sale] left me nostalgic for the days when we shopped en masse versus all alone with a computer screen. Online shopping is handy but will never deliver instant gratification and community like the Insane Insidewalk Sale [does].”

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Two New Shows on View at Maple & Main

 "Essences of Dreaming" by Rachel Carlson of Deep River


“Essences of Dreaming” by Rachel Carlson of Deep River

CHESTER – The Winter Exhibit and the first Annual Juried Show at Maple and Main Gallery in Chester open Wednesday, Jan. 27, with a gala reception Saturday, Jan. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Winter Exhibit, featuring newly created works from 40 Connecticut artists, fills the first floor of the gallery, while paintings by artists chosen for the juried show are displayed in the Joslow and Stone galleries on the lower level of Maple and Main.

The juror was noted artist Robert Noreika, who chose 85 works from hundreds of paintings that artists from Connecticut and surrounding states submitted for the new show. Visitors will be able to view a versatile selection of landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, abstracts and highly original work in both shows.

Alan James will provide live music during the opening party on Jan. 30, and wine, appetizers and desserts will be served. Many of the artists represented in the juried and winter shows will be at the event.

Maple and Main’s two shows run through March 13 and the gallery, at One Maple Street in Chester, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Maple and Main artists are also showing 31 selected works at the Valentine H. Zahn Community Gallery at Middlesex Hospital’s Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook through March 18. That gallery is open during business hours every day.

More information about Maple and Main Gallery is on its website at mapleandmaingallery.com.

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Chester Business Raises Funds for Shoreline Soup Kitchens

Shoreline Soup Kitchens logoAREAWIDE – On Friday, Feb. 5, Roto Frank of America, Inc. will present a check for $2,867 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries. The presentation will be made by Chris Dimou, President and CEO of Roto Frank of America, Inc., and Sue LeMire, HR/General Accounting Manager. The donation will enable the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries to provide enough food for more than 7,350 meals.

The funds were raised during an employee campaign that ran from February to December 2015. After identifying five local charities, employees voted to select the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries as the recipient of their campaign efforts in 2015.

Employees voluntarily elected to make donations via payroll deduction as well as supporting a variety of fundraising events such as bake sales, pancake breakfasts and raffles. In addition to the money raised by Roto Frank employees, the organization also collected and donated more than 300 pounds of canned goods and pasta.

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries provides food for families in need through its pantries located in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Old Lyme and East Lyme and meal sites in Centerbrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton and Old Lyme.

Founded in 1979, Roto Frank of America, Inc. is a Chester-based manufacturer of window and door hardware. For more information, visit www.rotohardware.com.

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Learning Engineering Concepts Through Legos at Essex Elementary

Fourth graders - Devon Welch, Noah Santangelo and Ben Rector - work with Luke DeFrino of Chester, a junior at Valley Regional High School, during a new LEGO robotics program at EES.

Fourth graders – Devon Welch, Noah Santangelo and Ben Rector – work with Luke DeFrino of Chester, a junior at Valley Regional High School, during a new Lego robotics program at EES.

ESSEX — A special after-school program recently began at Essex Elementary School (EES).  Boys and girls, in grades 4 through 6, are learning about engineering concepts by building Lego Mindstorms robots.

Jimmy Christensen, a science teacher from Bushy Hill Outdoor Education and Leadership Center, is working with students each week, alongside a team of high school mentors.

This program is sponsored by the Essex Elementary School Foundation, a not-for-profit, volunteer organization that provides funds for enrichment opportunities, such as author visits and an iPad lab.

For donation information, head to www.essexelementaryschoolfoundation.org.

 

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Coldwell Banker’s Essex Office Donates to Shoreline Soup Kitchen, Essex Housing Authority

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office recently presented an $800 donation to the Essex Housing Authority. Pictured from left are affiliated sales associates Dee Hasuly, Roy Monte, Laurel Peters, Tammy Mesite of the Essex Housing Authority, Peter Bonanno, and Jeanne Rutigliano, manager of the Coldwell Banker Essex office.

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office recently presented an $800 donation to the Essex Housing Authority. Pictured from left are affiliated sales associates Dee Hasuly, Roy Monte, Laurel Peters, Tammy Mesite of the Essex Housing Authority, Peter Bonanno, and Jeanne Rutigliano, manager of the Coldwell Banker Essex office.

ESSEX – The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office in Essex recently donated a total of $1,800 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Pantries and the Essex Housing Authority. The donations were made through the company’s charitable foundation, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation.

A $1,000 donation was presented to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Pantries, an interfaith service that provides food and fellowship to those in need and also educates the community about hunger and poverty. Additionally, an $800 donation was made to the Essex Housing Authority.

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office presented $1,000 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Pantries. Pictured from left are affiliated sales associates Rick Greene, Laurel Peters, Executive Director Patricia Dowling, and Roy Monte.

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office presented $1,000 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Pantries. Pictured from left are affiliated sales associates Rick Greene, Laurel Peters, Executive Director Patricia Dowling, and Roy Monte.

“We are committed to giving back to the community and are especially proud to support these worthy organizations which provide vital services to local residents. The resources and assistance they offer is essential for the health, well-being, security and stability of our neighbors,” said Jeanne Rutigliano, sales manager of the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office in Essex.

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation is supported by the affiliated sales associates and staff of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Through regular donations, fundraising events and volunteer support, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s affiliated sales associates and staff demonstrate their commitment to unity, hope and vision in the communities of Connecticut and Westchester County.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation is a chapter of Realogy Charitable Foundation, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in Delaware, tax ID 20-0755090. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation’s primary purpose is to raise funds to provide financial assistance to housing-related causes in the communities where we have a presence.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, a leading residential real estate brokerage company in Connecticut and Westchester County, N.Y., operates approximately 51 offices with more than 2,200 affiliated sales associates serving the communities of Connecticut and Westchester County, N.Y. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is part of NRT LLC, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company.

For more information, visit ColdwellBankerHomes.com.

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Take a Winter Raptors Field Trip, Feb. 13; Only 14 Spots Available

Winter Raptors trip 2015 aAREAWIDE – The Essex Land Trust and the Connecticut Audubon Society are planning a half-day field trip on Saturday, Feb. 13, to look for winter birds of prey such as eagles, hawks and owls.

Connecticut Audubon Society EcoTravel Director Andy Griswold and Land Trust Board member Jim Denham are leading the trip, which will cover the lower Connecticut River Valley region from Deep River and Essex to Old Lyme.

Novice and advanced birdwatchers are welcome. Bring a bag lunch, binoculars and warm clothes. Two vans are available to seat the first 14 people who sign up.

The event takes place from 12 to 4 p.m. Meet at Essex Town Hall parking lot. To reserve, call Judy Saunders at 860-581-8108, or email her at judith.saunders@comcast.net by Feb. 10.  Inclement weather cancels.

 

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State Legislators Came to Old Saybrook to Listen and Share

legislatorsAREAWIDE – Three state legislators, Rep. Devin Carney, Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares (shown above, left to right), held open office hours on Jan. 25 at the Saybrook Point Pavilion.

The state legislators updated taxpayers on the key issues that will be debated in the 2016 legislative session at the State Capitol. Several area residents turned out for the public meeting to get their questions answered.

Those who could not attend may contact Carney at 800-842-1423 and Formica and Linares at 800-842-1421.

The legislative session runs through May.

 

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Essex Wellness Center Offers Free ‘Live Well’ Lecture Series, Third Presentation Tomorrow

Essex Wellness Center at Novelty Ln. in Essex.

Essex Wellness Center at Novelty Ln. in Essex.

Essex Wellness Center presents a “Live Well 2016!” lecture series throughout the winter and spring of 2016.  The series features free 90-minute (60-minute lecture plus 30-minute Q & A) educational lectures presented by various Essex Wellness Center holistic professionals.  All lectures will be held at the Essex Wellness Center Group Space upstairs at 8 Novelty Lane in Essex Village — parking is in the lot and on Main Street.  Pre-registration* is required because space is limited.

Three “Live Well 2016″ lectures are scheduled during January as follows:

Not Your Typical Weight Loss Talk
Saturday, Jan. 16, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Dr. Dana Krete

Dr. Dana Krete

Dr. Dana Krete, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and acupunturist, will discuss the topic of weight loss from a very different perspective.  She won’t talk about … restricting calories and exercising ’til you drop but she will talk about …

  • Her #1 nutritional recommendation for weight loss and radiant health… and it’s not just eating less calories.
  • Why most commercial weight loss programs set you up to lose weight initially, only to put it back on later
  • What your microbiome is and why it’s instrumental in your ability to lose weight and curb cravings
  • The cortisol connection: how exercising more, and at a higher intensity may actually be hindering your ability to lose weight and making you feel more tired
  • How certain key mineral deficiencies can cause insulin resistance and put your body into fat storing mode

Dr. Krete earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and Master of Acupuncture at National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. In addition to her in-depth knowledge of Naturopathic and Chinese medicine, she also has a background in health and fitness as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, triathlete and Division I college scholarship athlete.

Dr. Krete uses a multidisciplinary approach to treatment including acupuncture, Chinese and Western herbs, homeopathy, nutritional supplements, and especially enjoys providing nutritional counseling.

Staying true to the roots of both Chinese and Naturopathic medicine, every patient is treated as a whole person and as an individual. She enjoys treating patients of all ages and, as a mother of two, she is very happy to see children in her practice. She has experience treating a vast array of medical conditions from colicky infants and children with ear infections to autoimmune conditions, diabetes and mood issues such as anxiety and depression.

She has a particular interest in treating hormonal imbalances including PMS and menopause, digestive disorders, fatigue, anxiety, depression and insomnia, and also musculoskeletal pain including sciatica, low back and neck pain. With her extensive interest and knowledge in nutrition and fitness, she also works with patients whose primary goal is weight loss or optimizing wellness.

Celebrating Your Child’s Strengths in our Culture of Competition and Comparison
Saturday, Jan. 23, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Peggy Chappell

Peggy Chappell

This presentation will explore the challenge and the power in recognizing and celebrating each child as a unique individual with temperamental and strength preferences. Peggy Chappell, LCSW, therapist, coach and educator, will include discussion of latest research in the area of character strengths.

Chappell is a licensed clinical social worker, educator, coach, and consultant. She has over 30 years of experience working with children and families as a child and family therapist at YNHH and the Yale Child Study Center and as an administrator at The Country School.

In her current work, she integrates this wealth of experience, her passionate interest in the well-being of children and parents with her recent training and teaching in the fields of positive psychology and resilience.

Healthy Body – Healthy Weight: The secrets to improving your body composition permanently
Saturday, Jan. 30, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Dr. Derrick Schull

Dr. Derrick Schull

Dr. Derrick Schull, naturopathic physician, explains that weight loss is both extremely simple and extraordinarily complex.  If one knows why it has been difficult to maintain a healthy body weight, one can begin to understand the most effective and long-lasting methods to take you where you want to be. This approach will help someone look at every aspect of their life from metabolic irregularities to emotional obstacles.

He maintains that the most important thing to remember about weight loss is that it is about more than just losing some extra pounds.  It is about creating a healthy life and body, whereby the pounds happen to vanish on their own.  It is not about being deprived but rather putting yourself first and making health a priority.

Dr. Schull, ND, holds a bachelor of science in psychology from UMass-Amherst, as well as a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. He holds certification in Craniosacral Therapy and Low Energy Neurofeedback Systems.

He specializes in homeopathy and Naturopathic Manipulative Therapy, a form of physical medicine that is a hybrid of chiropractic, physical therapy, and osteopathic techniques. This is hands-on medicine utilized to correct any abnormalities in structure that are affecting how the body functions.

As a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Schull has in-depth experience of treating more than simply diseases.  With the whole person approach, he is able to treat all aspects of a person’s suffering.

*Pre-registration is required to reserve your seat in these limited-space lectures.   To register online, visit this link, click on ‘Workshops,’  find the lecture for which you wish to register and click ‘Sign Up.’  To register by email or phone, contact info@essexwellnessctr.com or 860-767-7770.

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Essex Library Hosts Wnek’s ‘Soul of the Landscape’ Photo Exhibit During February

'Whispers of Past' by Peter Wnek illustrate's the photographer's captivating style.

‘Whispers of Past’ by Peter Wnek beautifully illustrate’s the photographer’s captivating style.

ESSEX — Award-winning photographer Peter Wnek explores the ‘Soul of the Landscape’ in his exhibition and sale of fine art photography at the Essex Library, which runs through Feb. 2 – 28, with an opening reception on Sunday, June 7, from 4 to 7 p.m.

‘Soul of the Landscape’ celebrates the beauty and spirit of our woodlands and waterways, as seen in Whispers of the Past and its breathtaking view along the Connecticut River. Wnek’s work captures the light and details one might expect from a painting—which is no accident. He has long been inspired by the purity and innocence of the American landscape as portrayed by the 19th century Hudson River painters. “I strive for that same warm light, the luminous or stormy skies, to invoke a charm or a mood,” he explains.

Wnek’s photographs often reveal the story of the landscape—its whisper of bygone days, the intrinsic cycles of nature. With a focus on local scenes, this exhibit speaks to the beauty that surrounds us, the coastal vistas and woodland spaces that are unique to our state. In a familiar kaleidoscope of colors, see the rising and setting sun, the harmony of sky and land, the collusion of rock and sea.

As Wnek explains, “I am intrigued by the soothing compositions and repetitive patterns that collectively reveal the Divine at work.”

Featured in this exhibit is Silver Glade, an image of trees on a ridge near Meriden. It recently won the Salmagundi Club of NYC’s 2015 “Henry O’Connor Award” for excellence, portraying the gentler, quieter landscape of New England.

It is that voice of New England which Wnek most hopes to capture in his photographs, “those intimate moments of our own landscapes” waiting to be revealed.

The exhibit is free and open to the public during the Library’s regular hours. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Ave. in Essex. Call (860) 767-1560 for more information.

 

For more information about photographer Peter Wnek, visit www.PeterWnekPhoto.com.

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Essex Historical Society Presents Program on E.E. Dickinson’s Witch Hazel Brand, Today

Printing area, ground floor of new office 1929

This 1929 photo shows the printing area and ground floor of the then new E.E. Dickinson office. Image courtesy of the Essex Historical Society.

ESSEX — The 20th century was a time of great change and growth in the manufacturing and marketing of American products. The E.E. Dickinson Company, an Essex-based producer of Witch Hazel, was one of the most successful in dominating the national market and becoming a household name. The fascinating story of the birth of the Dickinson brand will be presented by the Essex Historical Society on Sunday, Jan. 24, at 3 p.m. in the original 1924 corporate office building — now Wells Fargo Advisors — at 31 North Main St. in Essex.

Image courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

Image courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

Local historian Brenda Milkofsky will address the complex, well-timed marketing efforts of the E.E. Dickinson Company, providing historical perspective on the local and national impact of the company’s growth.

A variety of Dickinson advertising and marketing artwork will be highlighted along with images that illustrate the company office environment and processes. Tours of the building’s public areas, including the gracious 1920s lobby, will be given following the program.

This lecture is part of a series of special events celebrating the Essex Historical Society’s 60th anniversary and the E.E. Dickinson Company legacy. The program is free and open to the public.

More information can be found at www.essexhistory.org or by calling 860-767-0681.

 

 

 

 

 

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Region 4’s $53,350 Year-End Surplus to be Returned to Member Towns, Applied to R4 Sinking Funds

REGION 4 — On Jan. 7, 2016, the Region 4 Board of Education received the final audit of the 2014-15 school year that reflects a surplus of $53,350 at the close of the school year.

“The results of this year’s audit are great news, given the significant financial challenges the board and administration faced last year,” said Chris Riley, chairman of the Region 4 Board of Education. “Dr. Levy and her team are to be commended for their continued commitment to both our students and our taxpayers.”

Under a policy adopted last year, the Region 4 Board voted to return 50 percent of the surplus to the member towns and apply the other 50 percent toward capital sinking funds.

Funds will be returned to member towns based on the student population in John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School as follows:

  • Town of Chester: $6,439
  • Town of Deep River: $8,267
  • Town of Essex: $11,969
    TOTAL $26,675
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Essex First Selectman Lauds Area Firefighters for Quelling 24-Hour Blaze at Calamari Recycling

A view of the Calamari Recycling facility after the flames had subsided.

A view of the Calamari Recycling facility after the flames had subsided.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman in an official statement on Jan. 16 praised area firefighters for quelling on Jan. 6, “one of the worst and longest burning fires in Essex in decades,” which occurred at the Calamari Recycling Co. Inc. at 20, Dump Rd., in Essex. In an article by Karena Garrity published Jan. 12 in the weekly Valley Courier newspaper and on Zip06.com, it was reported that to tame the blaze, “it was estimated that more than 150 firefighters from more than 15 different fire departments,” were on the scene.

In his statement published on the Town of Essex’s website, Needleman praised, “The rapid and well organized response from Essex Firefighters, Police and Public Works, as well as mutual aid efforts of firefighters from other towns. These highly trained individuals worked together like a well-oiled machine throughout, even when exhaustion set in.” Needleman added, “Services from in and out of our Town came to our rescue and helped to minimize the impact of this fire. The Town of Essex can’t thank you all enough.”

Over a dozen fire departments from the surrounding area played a role in extinguishing the fire at the Calamari scrap metal recycling facility, and it took over 24 hours for the firefighting units ultimately to quell the blaze.

Although there were no reports of injuries as a result of the fire, the Valley Courier newspaper article reported that flames at the facility, “created thick billows of clouds of smoke for several days, causing town and school officials in the area to take precautions in regard to air quality conditions.” The Valley Courier also reported, “Student at Essex Elementary School were held inside for recess on Jan. 7 and 8 to ensure safety, and the Department of Environment and Energy Protection visited the area to conduct air quality testing, ”which turned out to be in the safe quality range.”

According to the Valley Courier’s report, “The fire started in the construction and demolition debris building, one of the four buildings on the Calamari Recycling property,” and that, “the cause of the fire was thought to be a spark from a cardboard bailer.” Also reported in the article was that, “Essex firefighters as well as members of  the Essex Public Works Department stayed on the scene for 28 straight hours.”

In addition, the Essex Public Works Department set up a warming center for firefighters and supplied more than 500 gallons of diesel fuel to tanks for the engines that were on the scene.

The fire on Jan. 6 at the recycling facility was the “the worst fires in 60 years,” according to a Calamari Recycling staff member, who declined to give her name in an interview on Jan. 19.  As for the status of the investigation of the fire, “the insurance people were looking at it,” she said, declining to give further details.

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LVVS Hosts Important Presentation Tonight on Refugee Crisis, Pathways to Citizenship,

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) will host a presentation on refugees and the paths to citizenship on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of Westbrook’s Public Library. The presentation will feature Claudia Connor CEO of the International Institute of Connecticut and Alicia Kinsman, who is the Director and Managing Attorney of the organization’s Immigration Legal Services Program.

The International Institute of Connecticut, based in Bridgeport, CT (IICONN) is the state’s leading nonprofit provider of integrated legal and social services to new immigrants and refugees.  Kinsman will address immigration issues and explain the various immigration processes that would be relevant to LVVS clients and Connor will explain the refugee admissions process, the security screening process and the refugee resettlement program.

Refreshments will be served.

The event is free but readers are encouraged to reserve as seating is limited. Contact the office by phone at 860-399-0280 or email at info@vsliteracy.org 

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CT River Museum Begins EagleWatch, Winter Wildlife Boat Tours

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

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator Bill Yule helps visitors spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and waterfowl and other wildlife from the deck of EnviroLab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum

AREAWIDE – The Connecticut River Museum, in partnership with Project Oceanology, will begin its annual EagleWatch and Winter Wildlife boat tours aboard the EnviroLab III on Friday, Jan. 29.

Winter is the best time for seeing Bald Eagles in Connecticut, and the best place to see them is from a boat on the Connecticut River. Connecticut has more than 80 year-round resident breeding eagles, but in winter the number can swell to 150 as rivers and lakes freeze farther north.

Eagles are not the only attraction for winter wildlife viewing, as other raptors like marsh hawks, Peregrine falcons and snowy owls can be spotted from the river. Ducks, loons, harbor seals and other wildlife all become more visible in the austere beauty of the winter riverfront landscape.

From Jan. 29 through March 13, boat tours will be offered on Fridays at 1 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Each tour on the EnviroLab III is 90 minutes long. You can stand out on the deck looking for wildlife or relax in the heated cabin with complimentary coffee and watch the river through the windows. Naturalists will narrate the trip and help you spot the eagles and other wildlife.

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 through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Though Losing a Leader, Pettipaug Yacht Club Will Keep Teaching the Young to Sail   

Pettipaug Sailing Academy sailors putting their boats in the water in a recent sailing season

Pettipaug Sailing Academy sailors putting their boats in the water in a recent sailing season.

ESSEX — With the death last November of Paul Risseeuw, who for over 50 years led the sailing programs at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, some asked will this mean the end of an immensely popular program for teaching young people to sail.

However, according to the club’s Vice Commodore Kathryn Ryan, this is not going to be the case. “In response to this loss,” Ryan said in a statement, “the Pettipaug Board of Governors has increased our effort to provide the best sailing program in the area. Many talented officers of our club have come forward to step up their involvement to guarantee a smooth transition to 2016. Our top priorities are safety, learning, providing talented instructors, as well as equipment and facilities, and, of course, fun on the water.”

Ryan continued, “I have been elected to the role of Vice Commodore, which includes the duty of Chairman of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy.” Also, she noted, “I have been involved with the Pettipaug Sailing Academy for the last eight years, as my own children have come through the program.”

Ryan Introduces Ann Courcy, Club Sailing Director for 2016

In introducing Ann Courcy, the club’s new sailing director, Ryan noted, “Ann is a Deep River resident who had firsthand knowledge of our program, not only though her work with us, but also as a parent of two former and two current students. We are fortunate to have someone with Ann’s working knowledge of our program and our club on board for the coming year.”

Ryan went on to note that the club is presently accepting registrations for the summer of 2016, and that the application form can be found on the club’s web site. She added, “We will also be looking for help from parent volunteers through the season, so please consider sharing your talents, when we send out our request for help. Together we can continue to offer a high quality program for our junior sailors.”

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Essex Saving Bank’s Honan Receives ‘New Leaders in Banking’ Award

Shawn P. Honan, CPA.

Shawn P. Honan, CPA

Shawn P. Honan, CPA, has been named one of 13 ‘New Leaders in Banking’ for 2015 by the Connecticut Bankers Association. Honan is entering his 25th year at Essex Savings Bank — starting as an Accounting/Operations manager, Honan has worked his way up through the management ladder of Essex Savings Bank to the point where he is now Senior Vice President, Treasurer, and Chief Financial Officer, and is an essential part of the four-person senior management team.

He enjoys serving the community including spending 10 years coaching Little League baseball and softball while also serving as the Treasurer of the organization for most of those years and is also active both in his local church parish, including serving on the Vestry as Treasurer for four years, as well as serving the broader church throughout the state.

“I am proud to say Shawn has been an integral part of the success of our Bank. He is a thoughtful colleague who has helped shape our balance sheet and assisted in building a business that is sustainable. I enjoy strategizing with him and have appreciated his counsel and friendship,” stated Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank.

“I am honored and truly flattered to have been nominated for and chosen to receive this award. My sincere thanks to President Shook and the Board of Directors for their support and confidence in me. I consider it a privilege to serve this great institution and the financial needs of the people and businesses in our communities,” said Honan.

The awards are presented by the Connecticut Bankers Association and Connecticut Banking magazine and the ‘New Leaders In Banking’ honorees were chosen by an independent panel. To be eligible, an individual must work in a Connecticut bank, be an outstanding employee, manager, or business leader and make a notable impact within their bank or community.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.

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Enjoy ‘Always on Sunday in Chester’ on Sundays Through Spring

Geoffrey Vollers, brother of Bill Vollers of Chester, will exhibit his handmade wooden castle sculptures at Gallery 31-47 in Chester Center during January.

Geoffrey Vollers, brother of Bill Vollers of Chester, will exhibit his handmade wooden castle sculptures at Gallery 31-47 in Chester Center during January.

CHESTER — Does January already have you feeling down? Come to Chester Center where the businesses are celebrating “Always on Sunday in Chester!” all winter and spring.

On Sunday, Jan. 17, there will be a watercolor demonstration at Maple and Main Gallery, an exhibit of miniature handmade wooden castle sculptures at Gallery 31-47, the annual winter sale at C&G Unparalleled Apparel, a concert at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery, the 20-foot-long Bloody Mary Bar at the Pattaconk, and more fun throughout the Chester Center businesses. And to warm you up in this cold weather, stop in at Ceramica for a cup of hot cider, Dina Varano for a cup of tea and Lark for hot chocolate on a stick!

Bivenne will give a gallery talk and demonstration in watercolor at Maple and Main Gallery beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17.

Bivenne will give a gallery talk and demonstration in watercolor at Maple and Main Gallery beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17.

At Maple and Main Gallery, at noon, artist Bivenne will give an informal demonstration in watercolor focusing on enhancing the element of light in a painting. Bivenne will also point out this effect in a few of the works in the gallery in a short stroll and chat preceding her demonstration at 11:30 a.m. A noted artist and popular local watercolor instructor, Bivenne has won multiple prestigious awards. Her work is widely collected and her demonstrations always informed and illuminating. Enjoy three kinds of tea and cookies at the gallery while enjoying the gallery talk and demonstration.

Bill Vollers, owner of Gallery 31-47 in Chester, will exhibit the work of his brother, Geoffrey Vollers, who owns a studio in Rockland, Maine. Geoffrey’s miniature castles have been displayed in the windows of Tiffany & Co in New York. His work, which also includes painting and stained glass windows, has been shown in numerous galleries and in private collections.

Also in Chester on Jan. 17, from 4 to 6 p.m., bluesman Ramblin’ Dan Stevens and Clayton Allen will play at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery. In a melding of diverse blues styles, Stevens and Allen have forged a unique sound, representing a wide variety of traditionally based fingerpicking with a tinge of primitive blues and early blues rock and roll. A $20 donation is requested at the door. BYOB. More info at nilssonstudio.com/events.

Free parking is available on Sundays at First Niagara Bank and the town lot on Water Street; at Norma Terris Theatre on North Main Street; and the Maple Street and Laurel Hill Cemetery parking lots.

Stay informed about Always on Sunday happenings through Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT; Facebook.com/AlwaysonSunday; or FindItInChesterCT.wordpress.com.

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Afro-Semitic Experience to Perform in Chester Today at 5 p.m.

Afro Semitic Experience by Fletcher Oakes April 2014

Photo courtesy of Fletcher Oakes (April 2014)

CHESTER — For 18 years, the Afro-American Experience has delighted audiences throughout the U.S. with their unique blend that prominent critic, Ramos, calls as “a whoopin’, hollerin’, testifyin’ celebration of multicultural soul music.” Their music reflects peace and joyous diversity. It is the same music that the great jazz critic Nat Hentoff referred to thus, “Never before have I heard this lyrically powerful fusion of Jewish and jazz souls on fire.” This music is coming to Chester during the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. birthday weekend.

The group opens the eighth — and most ambitious season yet — of Music & More at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) on Sunday, Jan. 17, at 5 p.m.  The season also features, among other groups, the internationally renowned Paul Winter Consort.

David Zeleznik, the new producer of the series, wanted to build on the synagogue’s record of creating special concerts that showcase diversity during the congregation’s annual commemoration of Dr. King’s birth.

As he explains it, “Last season, we had enormous success with Sweet Honey in the Rock. Their powerful soaring voices raised the roof and transported the river valley and shoreline community to their transcendent vision of a brighter future. For this season we wanted to recreate that sense of healing, grace, and inclusiveness within our sacred space through the power of musical performance.

“When we started planning this season back in June 2015, little did we know of the divisive tone that would now pervade our social and political discourse. Afro-Semitic Experience, which has recorded popular eight albums that speak to diversity, provides an antidote by showing how folk music of disparate cultures can meld and blend to joyous effect.

“That this is the group’s 18th year of existence is also meaningful at such a time.  The number 18, or ‘chai’ (in Hebrew) has special significance meaning ‘life’ in Judaic tradition. So, this is Afro-Semitic Experience’s ‘chai year’ and they are back to the beginning, celebrating the life of Martin Luther King with us.”

Zeleznik has also engaged the group to participate in the “More” part of Music & More. Prior to their performance they will be engaging with the community’s youth in a series of musical and performance workshops.

As customary at Music & More events, a reception follows, which is included in the ticket price.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  To reserve tickets ($25 for adults, and no charge for children under 16) or a spot in the workshop, or for more information about the upcoming season (which also includes Caravan of Thieves, The Paul Winter Consort, and The String of Pearls Big Band), contact the CBSRZ office at 860-526-8920 or bethshalom@snet.net or visit our website at cbsrz.org.

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Community Music School Jazz Ensemble Presents Concert This Evening

CMS Jazz Ensemble members Nolan Serbent of Killingworth (l) and Arthur Masiukiewicz of Essex (r); photo courtesy of Joan Levy Hepburn)

CMS Jazz Ensemble members Nolan Serbent of Killingworth (l) and Arthur Masiukiewicz of Essex (r). Photo courtesy of Joan Levy Hepburn.

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School (CMS) presents a concert by the CMS Jazz Ensemble on Saturday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Centerbrook Meetinghouse, 51 Main St., Centerbrook. The ensemble, comprised of students ages 13 to 17, will perform a mixed repertoire of blues, jazz standards, traditional swing, and Latin jazz. Directed by Tom Briggs, the CMS Jazz Ensemble is now in its 19th year.

Briggs is a retired member of the US Coast Guard Band and former musical director of the Coast Guard Masters of Swing. He is a well-known percussionist, pianist, and composer and has been on the CMS faculty since 1985. The concert is free and open to the public.

Call 860-767-0026for additional information.

Editor’s Note: Community Music School is a not-for-profit arts organization offering innovative programming for infants through adults, building on a 30 year tradition of providing quality arts programs for residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so that they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives. Additional information can be found at or www.community-music-school.org .

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Bear-y Interesting: Learn About Black Bears in CT at Essex Library Talk, Jan. 26

blackbearBlack bear sightings are increasing every year, even in Connecticut’s shoreline towns, as their preferred habitat expands as farmlands revert to forest.

Master Wildlife Conservationist (MWC) Paul Colburn will present an illustrated talk on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Essex Library. This presentation will focus on the natural history of black bears in CT, an overview of black bear habitat, diet, behavior, and current research efforts.  Colburn will also provide recommendations for optimum coexistence with our black bear population especially as the recent warm weather has delayed hibernation.   

Colburn is a graduate of Master Wildlife Conservationist Program which is a Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) adult education program that trains participants in the fields of wildlife management, natural history and interpretation. The purpose of the program is to develop a volunteer corps capable of providing education, outreach, and service for state agencies, environmental organizations, libraries, schools, and the general public. Paul recently retired from a long and successful career in technology. 

In addition to his work as a MWC he volunteers for the Red Cross, Wesleyan University Admissions, AARP, The Connecticut Sports Foundation, and A Place Called Hope (raptor recovery and rehab).  Colburn holds a BA from Wesleyan University and served honorably in the United States Army. 

This talk is free and open to the public. Advance registration is recommended; call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560. The Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Wesleyan Univ. President to Address Impact of ‘Black Lives Matter’ Movement Tonight

CHESTER — This year we have heard university campuses across the country echoing with the voices of protestors calling for a stronger response to racism in the university community.  Meanwhile, tensions on campus have sparked an important conversation about the role of free speech, freedom of expression and political correctness. 

Yale University faculty member Erika Christakis resigned after igniting protests when she said that students should be free to push boundaries with Halloween costumes, even to the point of offense. And at Wesleyan University, student leaders voted to cut funding to a campus newspaper after it published an Op-Ed criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement.

Are we watching the next stage of the Civil Rights movement unfolding on our college campuses?  Have we arrived at a place as Americans where we can finally talk about race and racism in a way that may lead to a deep transformation of our culture?  Or has it gone too far?  What is the role of open dialogue and free speech, especially in an academic environment?

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester will mark the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Friday evening, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. when Wesleyan University President and CBSRZ congregant, Dr. Michael Roth will address these questions. Roth will speak during the annual Erev Shabbat service honoring Dr. King.  This service will also include Civil Rights songs led by the CBSRZ choir, under the direction of Meg Gister.  

Refreshments will follow.  All are welcome.

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

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Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Hosts Meeting, Jan. 20

TRI-TOWN — The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will hold its next meeting at Tri-Town Youth Services at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20. The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a grassroots organization whose membership is open to all who live or work in the tri-town area who are concerned about substance abuse and committed to its prevention.

Many “sectors” of the community are represented on this council: schools, youth serving organizations, law enforcement, government, civic groups, parents, students, the faith community and health care to name a few.

At the January meeting, Deep River Resident Trooper Dawn Taylor will present on current drug trends in our area. Future meeting dates for this year are March, 9, and May 18.

For further information, please call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.

Editor’s Note: Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. We coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

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Medical Marijuana Production, Sale Public Hearing at Chester’s P & Z Meeting Tonight

CHESTER — The public hearing held by the Town of Chester’s Planning and Zoning Commission at their December meeting to discuss an Amendment to Zoning Regulations in reference to adding new Section 117 Medical Marijuana Dispensary and Production was continued to the Commission’s next meeting on Thursday, Jan. 14, at Chester Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.

There was no discussion during the public hearing on Dec. 10 for this petition as a quorum of Commission members, who were present at the start of the public hearing the previous month, was not present.

During the public hearing on Jan. 14, residents will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed amendment to zoning regulations detailed above regarding the production and sale of medical marijuana in Chester.

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Meeting House Players to Hold Final Round of Open Auditions Tonight

CHESTER — The Meeting House Players will host the second evening of open auditions for Tracy Letts’ 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play “August: Osage County”.  Auditions will be held at 7 p.m. tonight in the Meeting House located at 4 Liberty St. in Chester, Conn.

The play’s 13-member ensemble includes a range of ages and ethnicities including six woman playing characters aging in range between mid-20’s and late 60’s and six men playing characters aging in range between mid-30’s and mid 70’s as well as one young women able to play a 14-year-old.

Note that this play contains mature themes and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script.

Directed by Lenore Grunko, the production opens at the Meeting House in Chester on Friday, April 29, and continue on April 30 and May 6 & 7.  Week-night rehearsals will begin the week of March 7.

For additional information, contact Lenore Grunko at lenoregrunko@yahoo.com.

Editor’s Note; The Meeting House Players is a not-for-profit, all volunteer community theatre organization pursuing the theatre arts with the talents and interests of individuals throughout Connecticut.

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AAUW Presents Awards to Three Students

AREAWIDE — The Lower Connecticut Valley Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) recently presented spring semester educational grants to three local students who are pursuing higher education. Each student received the second $1000 of their total $2000 grant covering the full academic year 2015-2016.

The recipients are Megan Davis, a sophomore from Lyme who is majoring in English Education at the University of Connecticut at Storrs; Alexis Henry, a senior from Old Saybrook who is a biomedical engineering major at the University of Connecticut at Storrs; and Amanda Matulis, a sophomore from East Haddam who is majoring in radiological technology at Middlesex Community College in Middletown and is a second year recipient of this award. This is the sixth consecutive year that the Lower Connecticut Valley Branch has granted educational awards.

The AAUW is a national organization that advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Since 1881, AAUW has been one of the nation’s leading voices promoting education.

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