May 24, 2015

Shoreline Artist Elizabeth Gillies “Mike” Boyd Holds One-Woman Art Show, Reception at Chester Village West Tonight

Elizabeth Gillies “Mike” Boyd in her in-residence studio at Chester Village West

Elizabeth Gillies “Mike” Boyd in her in-residence studio at Chester Village West

CHESTER — Accomplished artist Elizabeth Gillies “Mike” Boyd will hold a one-woman art show and reception on Friday, May 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Chester Village West, 317 W. Main St., Chester, CT 06412.

Free and open to the public, the art show and sale will include refreshments and live music.

Boyd’s art show will offer a retrospective sampling of her talents, including a mixture of portraiture, landscape, still life, abstract and collage in various media.

Boyd’s artistic training began at an early age. She has worked with American Impressionist painter and teacher Frank Vincent Dumond and abstract artist Theodore Roszak. A member of Connecticut Women Artists, Inc., for the past 35 years, she has been active as an organizer, juror and painter with art associations and centers in Guilford, Madison and Clinton.

She has had her work shown at the Sylvan Gallery in Clinton, Gallery One in in Old Saybrook, the Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme and the Wall Street Gallery in Madison.

For more information on the May 22 art show and reception, call 860.526.6800 or email chestervillagewest@lcsnet.com.

Acclaimed Conductor Launches Book Exploring Music, Leadership Connection Today in Chester

IgnorantMaestro coverCHESTER — It is only fitting that a book that has roots in Chester will be introduced at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) before readers in China, Israel, Great Britain, Germany and other countries see it.

Therefore, on Sunday, May 17, at 3 p.m., Itay Talgam, author of “The Ignorant Maestro: How Great Leaders Inspire Unpredictable Brilliance,” will come to Chester from his home in Tel Aviv to launch an international tour in a free ‘Books & Bagels’ program at CBSRZ.

Talgam is one of Israel’s leading orchestra conductors, having founded the Tel Aviv Symphony and led the Israel Philharmonic, as well as many orchestras in other countries.

Itay Talgam

Itay Talgam

A protégé of the great Leonard Bernstein, Talgam had the idea of writing a book that explores the art of leadership from the podium. This sprung out of his very popular TED Talk on leadership (with more than five million views). His argument is that leaders in all fields can learn new insights about leadership not from music itself but from the people who make music.

Lary Bloom

Lary Bloom

It was more than two years ago that Lary Bloom, a writer and longtime resident of Chester, first talked to him about the idea, and how to write a book that readers with little or no interest in classical music would find interesting and instructive. That’s when they embarked on a collaboration that eventually resulted in “The Ignorant Maestro.”

Its primary argument is that the best orchestra conductors are perfect models for enlightened leadership everywhere because they bring a precise measure of “ignorance” to the task. That is, they are not only open to learning something new, but must, in collaboration with the people he or she rely on, do so in order to complete any new task in the best possible manner.

Talgam’s TED Talk, for example, shows Leonard Bernstein conducting only with his face – expressions, gestures, lifts of the eyebrow, closing of the eyes, etc. – leaving room for plenty of contribution and interpretation from his players.

The book, like the TED Talk, is full of funny lines, which is one of the reasons the video is so popular, and one of the reasons his speeches are in demand all over the world. He has consulted for the United Nations, the Israeli Defense Force, international banks, nonprofits, health care conglomerates, universities, and even spy networks.

The book’s publisher is Portfolio/Penguin, a subsidiary of Random House. From the dust jacket: “Choosing ignorance might seem a terrible quality to exhibit in your workplace—a sure path down the stairs and out the corporate door. But stick with me here and see how it leads you upward. You’ll understand why great leaders embrace ignorance and use it to elevate their people to new heights of achievement.”

As always with the Books & Bagels programs, there will be refreshments and a chance to meet the author. No reservations are needed.

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

See Madhatters “Seussical” in Chester Tonight

Performing in 'Seussical' are Jalen Moody of New London as Horton the Elephant, Hannah Schwartzman of Deep River as JoJo and Erin Lynch of Middletown as the Cat in the Hat.

Performing in ‘Seussical’ are Jalen Moody of New London as Horton the Elephant, Hannah Schwartzman of Deep River as JoJo and Erin Lynch of Middletown as the Cat in the Hat.

CHESTER — Madhatters Theatre Company presents ‘Seussical’ at Chester Meeting House, 4 Liberty St., in Chester Conn,.  Performances are Friday, May 15, at 7 p.m.Saturday, May 16, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 17, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20 adults and $15 children 12 and under.  To reserve tickets please call (860) 395-1861 or e-mail madhattersctc@aol.com.  This production is a fundraiser for ‘Willys friends’.
Further information available at: www.ctkidsonstage.com/madhatterstheatrecompany

Opening Reception for One-Man-Show by Chester’s Leif Nilsson in Colinsville, May 23

The Studio with Poppies, oil, 30" x 40" , Leif Nilsson spring 2002 ©

The Studio with Poppies, oil, 30″ x 40″, Leif Nilsson spring 2002 ©

CHESTER — Gallery 526 at 20 Depot St. in Collinsville, CT is hosting an opening reception for a one-man-show by Leif Nilsson of Chester on Saturday, May 23, from 6 to 9 p.m. The show features 24 garden and Connecticut River paintings.

Leif (pronounced Layf) Nilsson comments, “This exhibition represents an autobiographical pictorial chronology of my process of painting and developing my gardens and understanding the Connecticut River over the past 28 years.”

Inspired by the natural beauty surrounding the Lower Connecticut River Valley, Nilsson paints his plein air impressionistic landscape compositions directly from life. Setting up his easel in and around his hometown of Chester, Nilsson creates engaging garden, Connecticut River and village paintings that invite the viewer to walk right in.

Some of the paintings are completed ala prima, meaning all at once, while others may take several sittings at the same time of day to achieve the correct harmonious atmosphere as he observes it. Generally, heavily textured paintings have more layers applied in an effort to represent the scintillating effects of light in nature over a period of time. Nilsson’s brushwork is a result of his dedication to observing nature.

Nilsson completed a full curriculum of Classical Studies at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Conn. He enhanced that education with several sojourns to Scandinavia, Asia Minor and Europe where he studied the French 19th and early 20th century painters; Bonnard and Monet for color; Pissarro and Vuillard for composition and Van Gogh for energy.

A successful working artist for over 20 years, Nilsson continues to exhibit his paintings in several galleries throughout the United States, while also promoting his work through his website, and at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery, LLC in Chester where collectors visit him regularly to view and purchase his latest works. The studio is open on weekend afternoons from noon to 6 p.m. and other times by chance or appointment. Six times a year he hosts a gallery opening reception for his newest works along with other galleries in Chester. He also teaches painting to children and adults and gives lectures at high schools, universities, art clubs, and museums.

Nilsson has hand-made most of his Florentine style, metal leafed, finished corner frames in his studio. The soft luminous gold tone complements his paintings without overwhelming them. Now he orders them from reputable framemakers and assists collectors with their choices. Click HERE FOR A SAMPLE AND A TESTIMONY!

Limited Edition Fine Art Prints have been made of several of Nilsson’s original oil paintings and these will be available at the gallery.

Nilsson paints outdoors in all types of weather. He will often paint the same place over and over again, trying out different compositions and sizes at various times of day and in all seasons. These paintings often result in a series of works attempting to describe the many moods of nature on a particular subject.

Chester is a favorite subject of Leif Nilsson’s. Its uniqueness and charm have captivated his imagination for years. He has painted many scenes of Chester Center in different times of day, weather conditions and seasons. The vernacular architecture of old crooked buildings lining the curved piazza of Main Street come alive in his colorful paintings of the village in springtime with Rhododendrons in full bloom. Winter is a favorite time of year for him when the town is blanketed with virgin snow, especially at dusk when snowflakes swirl around the glowing lamppost in front of his studio.

The Connecticut River as seen from its banks in Chester to Old Lyme offers a wealth of pictorial opportunities for Nilsson to explore. From the hazy dawn of Eustasia Island in Deep River to the quiet harbors of Old Saybrook’s North Cove and from the golden marshes of Chester to the sweeping meadow of Pettipaug in Essex, there’s plenty of material to keep a landscape painter busy yearlong.

On spring mornings Nilsson is usually busy in his backyard garden tracking the sunlight with a loaded brush or knife revealing the rich colors and textures of the plants and flowers he has cultivated.

Occasionally Nilsson travels abroad to interesting European villages. His little paintings of Prague in the Czech Republic, Casares, Spain and Nova Scotia, Canada from recent trips are also favorites among his collectors. His most recent painting trip was to Cinque Terra in Italy where he produced several gems.

One of his favorite pastimes is to play the banjo. His new band “Arrowhead” will be playing at the opening reception.

For more information, visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com or http://www.gallery526.com or call 860-709-0987. Gallery 526 is open Thursday & Friday 12 – 5pm, Saturday & Sunday 12 – 6 pm, and other times by chance or appointment.

Celebrated Pianist Dalia Lazar Plays Beethoven at CBSRZ, May 31

Pianist Dalia Lazar

Pianist Dalia Lazar will play Beethoven at CBSRZ.

CHESTER — The celebrated classical pianist Dalia Lazar returns to Chester May 31 at 5 p.m. at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ). She will play a variety of Beethoven’s piano works, including the “Moonlight Sonata” and the “Pathetique.”

The first time she played for in Chester several years ago, the audience was wowed by her performance and her charm. The Music & More series didn’t expect to be able to lure her back so soon. But Miriam Gardner-Frum, producer of the program, revealed how this unexpected event came to be, and took form over the last few months.

“Dalia offered us a gift. She explained that she is starting an all-Beethoven program in Europe this fall and would love to perform it before a live audience at CBSRZ before going to Europe.  She noted the beautiful space and acoustics in our building in which she would love to play again. She offered to do this performance as benefit for the synagogue.”

Born in Croatia, Dalia began studying piano at an early age. Her first piano teacher recognized her uncommon talent and pianistic ability, and at the age of 16 she was admitted to Moscow’s P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory.  During her studies in Moscow, Lazar performed throughout Soviet Union. Immediately after her graduation at the Moscow Conservatory, Lazar decided to continue her career in New York and London where she studied with Karl Urlich Schnabel and Maria Curcio.

As a finalist in New York Concert Artist Guild Competition, Lazar made her New York debut at Rubenstein Hall, followed by her Carnegie Recital Hall debut later that year. Since then she has performed a broad repertoire as a soloist in concerts and recitals worldwide, including the United States, Russia, Venezuela, Israel, Switzerland, Croatia, Mexico and Romania.

Her chamber music repertoire includes the works for violin and piano duo and piano trio, which she performed extensively with her late husband, violinist Lucian Lazar.  Her recent CD includes works by Schumann and Chopin.

Dalia’s playing has been well received by critics, who have characterized her performance as “such noble playing,” (Yediot Achronot, Tel Aviv),  “un sentimento profundo” (Panorama, Venezuela), “that rare combination of charisma, personality and terrific pianistic facility” (pianist Tzimon Barto), and “… an inspiring display of musical excellence”  (Daily Republic).

Tickets for the general public are $25 and children under 16 are admitted without charge (this is a great time to introduce children to the work of a world-class musician.) To order advance tickets, call the CBSRZ office at 860.526.8920, or buy tickets at the door.

CBSRZ is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.

Chester Synagogue to Host Rare Discussion of Jewish Organizations Response to Palestinian BDS Movement

CHESTER — Since 2005, Palestinian organizations have increasingly called for worldwide support for a movement to boycott, divest from and sanction (BDS) Israel.  Although this movement has gained some support in the United States, particularly on university campuses, it has also engendered sharp responses from American Jewish organizations – so sharp that they have consistently refused to appear on the same program as Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an organization which supports the BDS movement, to avoid providing any air of legitimacy to JVP and the BDS discussion.

On Saturday, May 30, from 1 to 4 p.m., Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester will host representatives of two American Jewish organizations with opposing views on BDS – J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace.  In a forum titled “Can We Talk – BDS, the Jewish Response and Anti-Semitism,” the role of BDS in the Middle East peace process will be explored.

Speaking in favor of the BDS movement will be Robert Gelbach, co-chair of the New Haven chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, co-convener of the Connecticut BDS coalition, and retired professor of political science from Southern Connecticut State University.  Learn more about JVP at jewishvoiceforpeace.org.

Speaking against the BDS movement will be Shaina Wasserman, New England Regional Director for J Street, a Jewish organization which describes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.”  Learn more about J Street at jstreet.org.

Audience questions will be highlighted, and there will be time for audience opinions as well.

Andy Schatz, chair of the Social Action Committee of CBSRZ, which is sponsoring the forum, stressed the significance of this discussion not only because of what it may clarify about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also for what it says about the Jewish community in the U.S.  “We think it is critical for Jewish communities and organizations to discuss openly these tough and uncomfortable issues to reach better solutions, and we are grateful for J Street for being willing to discuss the issue directly with JVP, which the other organizations we invited continued to refuse.”

He continues, “This discussion is another in the CBSRZ’ series of forums ‘celebrating diversity,’ as we think diversity of opinion within the American Jewish community is critical not only to reach those better solutions but to make clear American Jews are not some monolithic body but millions of people with oft-divergent views on issues large and small.”

Schatz noted that some of the topics likely to be discussed include:

  • Is boycott, divestment or sanction ever appropriate against democratic countries, and is any different standard appropriate as to Israel?
  • Can the BDS movement play a legitimate or positive role in the peace process in the Middle East?
  • Is the BDS movement inconsistent with support for Israel, a Jewish state, or a two-state solution?
  • Are boycotts, divestments or sanctions, which impact people and not just governments, inconsistent with religious values?
  • Is anti-Semitism increased by the BDS movement and/or by the refusal of most Jewish organizations to address it?
  • What should be the role of the American Jewish community and organizations in the debate over Israel’s future?

CBSRZ is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  There is no charge for this event, but to ensure adequate seating, register by sending an email to the CBSRZ office (bethshalom@snet.net) or calling 860-526-8920.   Light refreshments will be provided.

Tonight’s ‘Concert in the Garden’ in Chester Features ‘The Meadows Brothers’

The Meadows brothers will give the next 'Concert in the Garden.'

‘The Meadows Brothers’ will give the next ‘Concert in the Garden.’

CHESTER — Leif Nilsson hosts another ‘Concert in the Garden,’ Thursday, May 14, from 7 to 9 p.m., this time featuring ‘The Meadows Brothers’ at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery. This monthly concert series highlights eclectic international singer/songwriter artists from cool jazz to blue grass.

‘The Meadows Brothers’ will perform originals songs and Homegrown Acoustic Folked-up Countrified American RocknRoll. Visit their website here  or watch their video here

Ian Fitzgerald will open the show for the Meadows Brothers. Though perhaps technically a singer-songwriter, Fitzgerald prefers the term ‘folk singer,’ as it more accurately describes the tradition in which his music is rooted. From early twentieth century field recordings through Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch, and hundreds of artists in between, Fitzgerald has been influenced by one of the sturdiest strains of American music.

Gates open half hour before the show — first come first seated. Seating is Bistro Style in the amphitheater. The concert will be moved indoors in the event of inclement weather.

A $10 donation is appreciated. The event is BYOB – pack a picnic and buy your own wine or beer at the Chester Package Store across the street.

Chiara String Quartet Perform in Chester Tomorrow

Chiara 2. Photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco.

Chiara String Quartet. Photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco.

CHESTER — The Robbie Collomore Concert Series brings the award-winning Chiara String Quartet to the Chester Meeting House on Sunday, May 10, at 5 p.m. This will be the last concert of the Collomore Series’ 41st season.

The Chiara Quartet (Rebecca Fischer and Hyeyung Julie Yoon, violins; Jonah Sirota, viola; Gregory Beaver, cello) has established itself as among America’s most respected ensembles, lauded for its “highly virtuosic, edge-of-the-seat playing” (The Boston Globe). They are currently Hixson-Lied Artists-in-Residence at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and were the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University in 2008-2014.

Now in its 15th season, the Chiara Quartet is moving forward by taking a cue from the past. Harkening back to a tradition that is centuries-old and still common among soloists, the Chiara Quartet has adopted a new way of performing: from memory, without printed sheet music. After spending countless hours working towards playing their repertoire from memory, they now feel that sheet music is a distraction to the performance, instead of an aid.

Their Chester concert will feature string quartets by Mozart, Bela Bartok and Brahms.
Tickets are $24 for adults, $5 for students, and can be purchased by calling 526-5162 or go to collomoreconcerts.org. A reception follows the concert. Refreshments will be provided by Gabrielle’s. The concert sponsor is Ryders Health Management.

 

Celebrating Chester Poets with Poetry Reading, Tonight

hester poets Suzanne Levine, Tim Napier and Ravi Shankar will be the featured readers at the Chester Library’s fifth annual poetry reading on May 4 at the Chester Meeting House.

hester poets Suzanne Levine, Tim Napier and Ravi Shankar will be the featured readers at the Chester Library’s fifth annual poetry reading on May 4 at the Chester Meeting House.

CHESTER — In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Chester Library Board of Trustees is sponsoring its fifth annual poetry reading by Chester poets. The free program will be held Monday, May 4 at 7 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House. Refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the program.

Three published poets, all Chester residents, will read some of their work. They are Suzanne Levine, Tim Napier, and Ravi Shankar. In addition, winners of the library’s poetry contest will also read their winning poems.

Suzanne Levine’s poems have appeared in Drunken Boat, Bellingham Review, Stand Magazine (UK), Permafrost, Quiddity International Literary Journal, New Delta Review, Front Range and many other publications. Haberdasher’s Daughter, her first poetry collection published in 2010 by Antrim Press, was a finalist for an Eric Hoffer Award. Grand Canyon May Be Older Than Thought is the title of her second ms. Suzanne holds an MFA from Vermont College and is co-founder of Writing at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.

Tim Napier is retired and likes to write, so he has the time and opportunity to foist himself upon an unsuspecting public from time to time. He generally has a good time at it, but he says he has never done anything so hard: finding the right word arranged in the right order, with the right look and sound as well. Tim began writing poems, critically, in college under the tutelage of Lauren Stevens and Richard Glassman, then in graduate school he had the good luck of getting into a poetry class taught by William Meredith (Pulitzer 1989), which started an association that lasted until Meredith’s death in 2007. Tim has been published in the Aurorean poetry journal, edited by Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, and its sister journal the Unrorean, edited by Devin McGuire. Tim has also been published in Sailing the Mist of Time, a collection of prize-winning poems sponsored by WinningWriters.com.

Ravi Shankar is the author of several books of poetry, including “What Else Could it Be” (2015), the National Poetry Review Prize winning “Deepening Groove” (2011), and the Finalist for the Connecticut Book Awards “Instrumentality” (2004). He co-edited W.W. Norton & Co.’s “Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond,” called a “beautiful achievement for world literature” by Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer, and founded Drunken Boat, one of the world’s oldest electronic journal for the arts. He’s a Professor of English at CCSU and in the international MFA Program at City University of Hong Kong.

The program is free and open to all ages. For more information, contact the Chester Library at 860-526-0018.

Free Weekend of “Soul Strengthening” at CBSRZ, May 1-3

Alan Morinis

Alan Morinis

CHESTER — The public is invited on the weekend of May 1 to 3 to learn what may seem like (and is) an obscure Jewish teaching – called Mussar – but requires no knowledge of Judaism, only a desire to strengthen one’s soul.

Alan Morinis is the director and founder of the Mussar Institute, dedicated to the idea of “improving or remedying the traits of the soul, to bring the soul to wholeness and holiness.” He explains this in a free program over a three-day span as the Sheldon Kutnick Scholar in Residence at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester.

As the cover of one of his books says, “Jewish by birth, though from a secular family, Alan Morinis, explored Hinduism and Buddhim as a young man. But in the face of a personal crisis he turned to his Jewish heritage and happened upon a spiritual tradition called Mussar. He soon realized that it is an insightful discipline for self-development, complete with contemplative and transformative practices designed to penetrate the deepest roots of the inner life…. He decided to seek out a Mussar teacher. This was not an easy task, since almost the entire world of Mussar had been swept away in the Holocaust.”

Specifically, Morinis addresses 18 soul traits: humility, patience, gratitude, compassion, order, equanimity, honor, simplicity, enthusiasm, silence, generosity, truth, moderation, loving kindness, responsibility, trust, faith and yirah (a combination of fear and awe, without a true English counterpart).

Of his most recent book, “Everyday Holiness,” the author Daniel Goleman sais, “Morinis chronicles the archetypal odyssey of the spiritual pilgrim in a warm, witty and insightful manner,” and the book has received rave reviews from Publishers Weekly and other commentaries.

Bruce Josephy, a former congregational president who arranged for Morinis’s visit, says, “At our core we are spiritual beings on a material journey, not material beings on a spiritual journey. As physical exercise strengthens one’s body, Mussar practice strengthens one’s soul.”

According to CBSRZ’s rabbi, Rachel Goldenberg, “The Mussar tradition is a beautiful example of how spiritual work can and must transform our most mundane, everyday interactions and experiences.

There is no requirement to sign up for the program. Schedule is as follows:

Friday, May 1, 6 p.m., A Dairy/Vegetarian Shabbat potluck dinner, followed at 7 p.m. by a Shabbat Evening service with an introductory sermon by Morinis, “What is Mussar and Why Should I Care?”

Saturday, May 2, 10 a.m. Shabbat morning service with a sermon by Morinis, “Torah Through a Mussar Lens., followed by a dairy potluck luncheon and, at 1 p.m., a text study entitled, “Why You Are, How You Are and What’s Your Potential?

Sunday, May 3, 11:10 a.m., Experiential workshop for parents and interested adults.

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

Eight Fire Departments Raise 5,200 Pounds of Food for Shoreline Soup Kitchens

Members of the Westbrook Fire Department help collect food for the needy.

Members of the Westbrook Fire Department help collect food for the needy.

AREAWIDE — The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries’ 4th Annual Firehouse Food Drive was a great success, raising 5,200 pounds of food for local residents in need.  Held on April 11, firefighters and community volunteers worked together to collect food from generous donors throughout the area. The eight fire stations taking part this year included Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Essex, Chester, Deep River, Killingworth, Clinton and Niantic.

Spring can be a challenging time for many food pantries, as there are traditionally fewer food drives. This collection of over 5,000 pounds of food will help to fill the shelves out SSKP’s 5 area food pantries.

“It’s so heartwarming to know that these firefighters, who work so hard year-round to protect us, are willing to come together on a sunny Saturday to answer the call of our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Patty Dowling, SSKP Executive Director. “We saw hundreds of residents – students, families, seniors – some with one bag and others with carloads, coming down to their local fire houses to make sure our shelves would be full. We are so grateful to those who donated and especially to all the fire houses that made this year’s drive a success.”

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving 11 shoreline towns. Founded 26 years ago, they accomplish their mission with the help of over 900 dedicated volunteers. Last year SSKP distributed over one million pounds of food to over 8,300 local residents in need.

Lori Warner Gallery Hosts Terrarium Workshop with Famed Horticulturalist Tomorrow

Tovah.IMG_0929
CHESTER — Margaret Atwood said, ‘In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” This is one of the Lori Warner Gallery’s favorite quotes and it will ring true on Sunday, May 3, when the Gallery welcomes back Tovah Martin, famed horticulturalist, lecturer and author of The New Terrarium, to share her gardening expertise and guide attendees as they create their own “small worlds” under glass.

Avid gardeners and novices alike will enjoy this creative, fun and foolproof method of bringing nature indoors.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to share the day with your mother, daughter or to simply create a lovely gift? Terrarium making is “the gardening world’s most rewarding make-and-take, everyone succeeds at a terrarium workshop”, says Martin.

Martin isn’t your average gardener.  You’ll be learning from the best; she literally wrote the book on terrariums and is the author of numerous gardening books including The Unexpected Houseplant, Tasha Tudor’s Garden, A Time to Blossom, and Tasha Tudor’s Heirloom Crafts.  She has appeared on the Martha Stewart Show, The CBS “Early Show” and the PBS gardening series “Cultivating Life” where she served as editorial producer.  Her articles have been published in Garden Design, Horticulture, Coastal Living, This Old House Magazine, House Beautiful and Country Living among many others.

One of the most moving moments in her life occurred when Martin was awarded an Honorary Membership in The Garden Club of America (GCA) and the Litchfield Garden Club in May 2010 and when she became the recipient of the GCA’s medal for outstanding literary achievement. In 2013, she received the Gustav Mehlquist Award—the highest honor bestowed by the Connecticut Horticultural Society.

Lori Warner Studio / Gallery opened in the center of Chester, CT in June of 2009 and has developed a reputation as a unique source for creativity through their offerings of workshops, lectures, demonstrations and exhibitions. Her fine collection of artwork and objects truly “make an impression”.

The two-hour workshop and book-signing, will be held Sunday May 3, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Lori Warner Gallery in Chester. A workshop fee of $65 per participant will be charaged, plus your choice of vessel (from $8-$40, depending on size).  Appropriate for ages 8 and up.

‘The New Terrarium’ book will be available for sale — Martin will personalize copies at the end of the workshop. Space is very limited.

Contact the gallery to reserve your space — a deposit of $30 will be taken at sign up.

Last Chance to See ‘Five Women Wearing the Same Dress’ Tonight

CHESTER — The Meeting House Players Present Five Women Wearing The Same Dress, a comedy written by Alan Ball (American Beauty, HBO’s True Blood).    The production opened on Friday, April 24.

The play will be performed twice more on May 1 and 2, at the Meeting House located on 4 Liberty St. in Chester, Conn.  The curtain rises each evening at 8 p.m. and at 2 p.m. for a matinee performance on Saturday, May 2.

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress is set in 1992 during an ostentatious wedding reception at a Knoxville, Tenn., estate. During the reception, five reluctant, identically-clad bridesmaids take refuge in an upstairs bedroom, each with her own reason to avoid the proceedings below. As the afternoon – and alcohol – wears on, these very different women discover a common bond in this wickedly funny and touching celebration of female friendship.

The play’s six member ensemble spotlights a gifted troupe of area actors that features Beth Nischan, Abby Roccapriore, Jessica Davis, Vanessa Vradenburgh, Kristine Donahue and Daniel Nischan.  The play is being directed by Missy Burmeister.

Tickets for Five Women Wearing The Same Dress are on sale now.  Tickets prices are $20 for Preferred Seating tickets and $15 for Open Seating tickets.  Reservation requests for both Preferred and Open seating are available by calling 860-526-3684 or by e-mail at TheMeetingHousePlayers@gmail.com.  Unreserved tickets will be available at the door.

Payment is accepted by cash or check only — no credit cards.  Please note that this play contains adult language and themes and may not be suitable for all audiences.

For additional information please contact Debbie Alldredge at 860-526-3684. The Meeting House Players is a not-for-profit community theatre organization.  We pursue the theatre arts with the talents and interests of people throughout Connecticut.

Celebrate May Day in Chester at the ‘May Daze Flower Party,’ Tonight

Luminous glass artist Mundy Hepburn will have his unique neon flower sculptures at Chester Gallery and several other galleries.

Luminous glass artist Mundy Hepburn will have his unique neon flower sculptures at Chester Gallery and several other galleries.

CHESTER — The beginning of May is always celebrated in Chester Village with the “May Daze Night,” hosted by the Chester Merchants.

This year, May Daze Night happens to fall on May Day – Friday, May 1, the centuries-old festival celebrating flowers and Spring – so the town is celebrating with a flower party. Blooms, petals and buds will take center stage at the shops, restaurants and galleries from 5 to 9 p.m.

Visit the Spring Show at Maple & Main Gallery of Art during May Daze Night on May 1, have a sip of May Wine made with sweet woodruff flowers, and enter to win this painting, “Shower Flowers,” by Chester artist Claudia Van Nes.

Visit the Spring Show at Maple & Main Gallery of Art during May Daze Night on May 1, have a sip of May Wine made with sweet woodruff flowers, and enter to win this painting, “Shower Flowers,” by Chester artist Claudia Van Nes.

After the long and brutal winter we’ve just had, we all deserve a flower-filled Spring celebration!

Take advantage of special sales during the evening at the shops and galleries. Connecticut River Artisans will have a drawing for its handmade butterfly wreath and handmade butterflies will be given to all visitors at Bell’Oliva.

Floral accessories, such as hair ties, leather key rings and magnets, will be given away with purchases at several shops.

Enjoy the tasting of Rosé wines at Chester Package Store during the evening, a cup of May Day Flower Punch at Brown Eyed Girl Salon, and a Spring Fling Mini Cocktail at ELLE Design Studio.

Lark is celebrating flower power on May 1 during the Flower Party stroll until 9 p.m. Giant paper flowers and butterflies have landed! There will be a special sale on these blossom blouses.  Just $38!

Lark is celebrating flower power on May 1 during the Flower Party stroll until 9 p.m. Giant paper flowers and butterflies have landed! There will be a special sale on these blossom blouses. Just $38!

Meanwhile, the Dizzy River Band will be playing your classic favorites on the patio at the Pattaconk from 6 to 9 p.m. And for kids of all ages, join the Chester Land Trust at Carini Preserve (on Water Street) starting at 5 p.m. to build a “raft “out of recyclable materials (on your own or as a team).  Materials will be provided by the Chester Land Trust. Huck will perhaps be there! Come dressed as Tom, Jim, Becky, Aunt Polly or Mark Twain himself. Rafts will be launched at the “new” bridge at 6 p.m. There will be gifts for all launchers.

More details are at Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT and FindItInChesterCT/wordpress.com.

Maple & Main Offers Free Draw for Painting and More During May Daze

'Happy' by Pam Carlson of Essex

‘Happy’ by Pam Carlson of Essex

CHESTER –- Maple and Main Gallery is offering $100 unframed, original paintings of flowers and a free drawing for a flower painting during the town-wide May Daze celebration May 1 through May 3.

This year the shops, restaurants and galleries will be throwing a flower party with floral themed events and offerings, which start with the May Daze stroll Friday, May 1, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Maple and Main will be serving May wine, appetizers and chocolates.

'Lily and Eucalyptus' by Gray Jacobik of Deep River

‘Lily and Eucalyptus’ by Gray Jacobik of Deep River

The gallery will have a display of  small floral paintings – all for sale for $100 -through the weekend. Also, through the weekend, the gallery will offer a free drawing for “Shower Flowers”, a small, framed floral painting by Chester artist Claudia Van Nes.

The Spring Exhibit of paintings and sculptures by 37 Connecticut artists is on display and on the lower level in the Stone Gallery, a special, month-long show by the Shoreline Artists Workshops opens Friday, May 1.

In addition, artist Mundy Hepburn will have a neon flower sculpture in the window.

Maple and Main Gallery, at One Maple Street, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit thegallery online at mapleandmaingallery.com or email mapleandmaingallery@att.net or call 860-526-6065.

Spring Street Studio, Gallery Hosts Opening Reception During May Daze Art Stroll Tonight

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Leif Nilsson’s Spring Street Studio and Gallery hosts an Opening Reception during the May Daze Art Stroll this evening for an exhibit of paintings of the New Eyebrow Dormer Garden from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Spring Street Gallery is located at One Spring Street, Chester, CT 06412
For further information, call (860) 526-2077 or visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com

Ivory & Gold (and Maybe the Frogs of Israel!) at CBSRZ Today

Jeff and Ann Barnhart

Jeff and Ann Barnhart

CHESTER — Playing the Popcorn Room at the Griswold Inn is thousands of miles away in geography and meaning from performing before 2,500 people at an outdoor concert in Israel.  But that’s the musical leap that Jeff and Anne Barnhart have made over the years in their concerts of jazz, blues and the American songbook.

The Tel Aviv show sticks out in their as one of the greatest moments in the storied career of Ivory & Gold, as the duo is known, during which they’ve played in dozens of states and many countries, and produced several recordings – Jeff on piano and vocals, and Anne on flute.

Jeff recalls, “I don’t know how you can beat that Tel Aviv concert. There were all those Israelis sitting in lawn chairs and looking out over the Mediterranean waters.  There was a moat near the stage, and when Anne and I started playing Gershwin’s ‘Summertime,’ the frogs started croaking along with us.”

And now you, too, can croak along with Ivory & Gold as Jeff and Anne return to their home base (they live in Mystic but are on the road 40 weeks a year), and perform in a Music & More concert at the Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) on Sunday, April, 19, at 5 p.m.

All this croaking, by the way, doesn’t have to be done by adults. Jeff and Anne delight in introducing the American Songbook to kids, and have many stories about how music previously unknown to them has resonated.

Not long ago, at a concert in New London, a boy in the first row listened as Jeff demonstrated how to scat, a technique used so beautifully by Ella Fitzgerald among others, and the boy, a first grader, volunteered to try it out. He wowed the crowd.

Indeed, Jeff and Anne always have fun with kids and they encourage our synagogue community to bring children even if they’ve never heard the name Cole Porter or Irving Berlin.

The kids will be humming along and stomping their feet, and agreeing with the many music critics who consider this duo to be at the top of their game. Max Morath, a legendary ragtime player, calls them “musically flawless,” and Stuart Dryden, a music writer in the UK, says, ”Enjoy the warmth and talent of this unique duo – you won’t regret it.”

Tickets are $25 and children under 16 are free. To reserve tickets, which will also be available at the door, call the CBSRZ office, 860.526.8920.

Music & More, in its 7th season, regularly brings outstanding entertainers to Chester. For a complete listing of upcoming events at the synagogue, see www.cbsrz.org.  CBSRZ is located at 55 East Kings Highway.

Celebrate the End of Winter Today at Chester’s Spring Carnivale

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

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

CHESTER — What a winter we had! Chester’s 25th Annual Winter Carnivale had to be cancelled because of the weather on Feb. 15, but now it’s back, reborn as Spring Carnivale.

On Sunday, April 12, the picturesque small town of Chester will be filled with people cheering on ice carvers as they create beautiful sculptures from blocks of ice, while laughing at the antics of street performers and applauding a long parade of new and antique tractors being driven down Main Street by their proud owners. All that, and food, music, art, and shopping too!

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

Richard Daly works on his ice sculpture during the 2014 Winter Carnivale. Daly holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest time to create ice sculptures. Professional ice carver Rich Daly has been a regular at Chester Carnivale through the years. He recently won the National Ice Carving Championship. Come watch his prizewinning talent in action! Photo by John Stack

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no shortage of free activities to keep the whole family entertained for the day. Colorful beads and balloons will be handed out throughout town all day and face painting is available at Century 21 Heritage. The Chester Museum at The Mill will be open at no charge, offering a place to explore Chester history. A photo booth will be at Maple and Main Gallery of Fine Art.

Celebrate spring at Spring Carnivale by making an origami butterfly at Connecticut River Artisans on 4 Water Street during Carnivale.

Celebrate spring at Spring Carnivale by making an origami butterfly at Connecticut River Artisans on 4 Water Street during Carnivale.

Other galleries and shops will be open, many with special events from prize drawings to origami. The Spring Street String Band, Arrowhead, will be playing from noon to 4 p.m. at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery.

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

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

‘Concert in the Garden’ Today Features Singer/Songwriter Robert Nasta

Robert Nasta

Robert Nasta

Leif Nilsson hosts another Concert in the Garden, Sunday, April 12, from 4 to 6 p.m. in a Concert for World Peace featuring singer/songwriter Robert Nasta aka Chester “Big Boy” Coda and Special Guests. This monthly concert series highlights eclectic international singer/songwriter artists from cool jazz to blue grass.

Gates open half hour before the show — first come first seated.  Seating is Bistro Style in the amphitheater.  The concert will be moved indoors in the event of inclement weather.

A $10 donation is appreciated.  The event is BYOB – buy your own wine or beer at the Chester Package Store across the street.

Nasta is a composer, performer, multi-instrumentalist and educator. He studied music at The Berklee College of Music, The State University of New York ( B. A., Music), Wesleyan University (M.A., Ethnomusicology, Experimental Music), and The Hartt School of Music (D.M.A., Composition, Music Theory). Like many composers of his generation he has composed and performed in a wide variety of musical settings, and his work has been influenced by the whole of European/American concert music, as well as blues, jazz, and various musical traditions from around the world.

In addition to composing for “traditional” instrumentation, Dr. Nasta has developed a repertory of work based on his exploration of the sonic properties of various found objects. He has performed his compositions at numerous venues throughout the United States and has received grants from Meet the Composer, The New York Foundation for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts, and Arts In Education.

His music is recorded on The Sonic Utensil label, with additional recordings on Heffley Records, Didjeridu Planet, and World In One labels. He has received commissions from the town of Otego, NY, and The Foreman Gallery, Hartwick College.

In addition to his own work, he has featured the music of John Cage, Alvin Lucier, Morton Feldman, Earl Brown, Iannis Xenakis and James Tenney. He has taught at the high school and middle school levels, The State University of New York, The Hartwick College Music Camp, privately, and was a teaching fellow at the Hartt School of Music. He has been a Lecturer in Music at Middlesex Community College, Middletown, CT since 1999. – See more at:http://robertnasta.com/bio/#sthash.Q1OreFha.dpuf

Cynthia E. Rockwell, Associate editor,Wesleyan Magazine says, “Chester “Big Boy” Coda was so good—clever and true-hearted lyrics, with foot-tapping rhythms, gravely-voiced melody, and quick-picking notes for his stories of ghosts, love, politics, religion, aging, near-death experiences—all with wry sweet humor.”  See more at:http://robertnasta.com/chester_big_boy_coda/#sthash.BjjGZlY2.dpuf

‘Chester Creative Challenge’ Variations to be Unveiled This Evening

David Rau’s "Bull Market" for this year's Hooked Again! Creative Challenge to support the Chester Historical Society was inspired by two hooks, commissioned by the New York Stock Exchange in the 1970s and made in Chester by M.S. Brooks & Sons.

David Rau’s “Bull Market” for this year’s Hooked Again! Creative Challenge to support the Chester Historical Society was inspired by two hooks, commissioned by the New York Stock Exchange in the 1970s and made in Chester by M.S. Brooks & Sons.

CHESTER — This spring the Chester Historical Society is hosting its fifth annual Creative Challenge, dipping back into Chester’s roots as a manufacturing town. For five years, area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelers, and all others with a creative mind have accepted the challenge to use artifacts from Chester’s rich manufacturing history to create items for a silent auction and reception to raise funds for the Chester Historical Society.

This is just another great example of making history current, the ‘then and now’ that is often part of the Society’s exhibits at Chester Museum at The Mill.

Those accepting the 2015 Hooked Again! Challenge issued by the Historical Society are working with assorted sample hooks, handles and hardware, which were still enclosed in small sealed manila envelopes, from Chester’s former M.S. Brooks & Sons factory.

“Hooked on Mandalas” by Bill Vollers is a framed, signed, archival digital image.

“Hooked on Mandalas” by Bill Vollers is a framed, signed, archival digital image.

The finished pieces of art, jewelry, sculptures, photographs, etc. will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Reception on Saturday, April 11, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Chester Meeting House.

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

Tickets for the evening are $30 and will be limited. They can be purchased at Chester Gallery and Ceramica, both in the center of Chester, or by calling Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery, 860-526-9822.

All the proceeds from the event will benefit the Chester Historical Society and its programs, including Chester Museum at The Mill. Information is available on the Society website, www.chesterhistoricalsociety.org or at Facebook.com/chestercthistoricalsociety.

Caption:

Caption:

Caption: To create “Hooked on Amazonite,” Donna Carlson used Amazonite stone and the special order hooks created for The Tigers Den by M. S. Brooks.

‘Closer Look at Birds’ on Show at Maple and Main Through April 30

'Spring Please' by Claudia van Nes

‘Spring Please’ by Claudia van Nes

CHESTER — Natural Influences: A Closer Look at Birds is on show in the Stone Galleryin the Stone Gallery at Maple and Main, One Maple Street. through April 30.  Bird, nest, feather and birdhouse paintings and sculptures by the gallery artists will be on display.

The show offers the opportunity to experience the natural world and the deep transformative experiences that humans can have in nature expressed in the drawings, paintings and sculptures of the gallery artists.

The Spring Exhibition of all new paintings by 37 artists is also on display in the Main, Joslow and Small Works Galleries.

The galleries are open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Visit www.mapleandmain gallery.com, call 860-526-6065 or email mapleandmain@att.net. for more information and to purchase art not in the gallery.

Calling all Chester Poets, Submit up to Three Poems for ‘Chester Voices’ by April 23

CHESTER — For five years, the Chester Public Library has presented a reading by Chester poets in celebration of National Poetry Month. This year, “Chester Voices” will be on Monday evening, May 4, at the Chester Meeting House.

The featured poets each year have been published Chester poets as well as a few Chester Elementary sixth graders who worked with Chester poet Pamela Nomura.

This year, the library is taking a slightly new direction. Besides several published Chester poets who will read their work on May 4, everyone from Chester of any age is asked to submit a poem to the library’s contest by April 23. The submissions will be read by several judges, who will then select several to be read at the May 4 “Chester Voices” evening.

The guidelines for writing the poems are:

In keeping with the “Chester Voices” theme, all poets must be Chester residents

Poets of all ages are encouraged to submit no more than three poems each

All poems must be original to the poet

All poets must be willing to read their poem aloud to the audience at the “Chester Voices” evening, May 4

All submissions should not contain language unsuited to an audience that will include children

All submissions must be labeled with the name of the poet and age group into which the poet falls:  up to 12 years old, 13-18, or 19 +.  Unlabeled submissions will not be accepted

Decisions of the judges are final

The poems must be emailed to Library@chesterct.org or delivered to the Chester Public Library by Thursday, April 23, at 6 p.m. The library phone number is 526-0018 if you have questions.

Chester Historical Society Hosts Baseball ‘Crackerbarrel’ Program Today

Before Valley Regional, Chester and Deep River High Schools played well over 50 times and, truth be known, Chester was usually the loser. If “he who laughs last laughs best has merit,” we can take solace in Chester winning the last of those games in the spring of 1951 in Chester (Ridge Road). It  was the only loss Deep  River suffered that year. Sliding into Base and Down the Hills: Stories of Chester’s Games and Recreation Anecdotes and memories of sports and recreation in Chester, in both winter and summer, will be shared in a Chester Historical Society "crackerbarrel" program on Sunday, March 29, at 4 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House. Named “Sliding into Base and Sledding Down the Hills,” the program will be led by several great storytellers who grew up in Chester – Fran Malcarne, Dave Sepowski, Dual Bibbiani and Peter Zanardi – who promise lots of laughs, whether it’s about town team baseball and high school games or winter sledding and ice skating.  As with all the Historical Society’s “crackerbarrel” programs, we’re hoping you’ll bring your own Chester sports and recreation stories and memories to share.  The program is free and open to all ages. If more information is needed, check the website, chesterhistoricalsociety.org or Facebook.com/chestercthistoricalsociety.  Photo:  Baseball has a long history in Chester, and it’ll be a feature of the Chester Historical Society’s program on Sunday, March 29 at the Chester Meeting House. This photo from the Chester Historical Society archives shows the 1946 town team, taken at the Middlesex Garage (later known as Meyer's Garage) on Middlesex Ave. Front: Bill Gorman, Bibb Deuse, Babe Zanardi, Trent Bibbiani, Fran Grote, Vern Westmore, Bud Zanardi, Frank Monte (manager). Back: Frank Cart, Carl Johnson, Rich Capellini, Jim Grote, Dual Bibbiani, Len Jamison, George Watrous, Al Martorell. Bat boy: Roycroft Monte.

Baseball has a long history in Chester, and it’ll be a feature of the Chester Historical Society’s program on Sunday, March 29 at the Chester Meeting House. This photo from the Chester Historical Society archives shows the 1946 town team, taken at the Middlesex Garage (later known as Meyer’s Garage) on Middlesex Ave. Front: Bill Gorman, Bibb Deuse, Babe Zanardi, Trent Bibbiani, Fran Grote, Vern Westmore, Bud Zanardi, Frank Monte (manager). Back: Frank Cart, Carl Johnson, Rich Capellini, Jim Grote, Dual Bibbiani, Len Jamison, George Watrous, Al Martorell. Bat boy: Roycroft Monte.

CHESTER — Before Valley Regional High School existed, Chester and Deep River High Schools played well over 50 times and, truth be known, Chester was usually the loser. If “he who laughs last laughs best has merit,” one can take solace in Chester winning the last of those games in the spring of 1951 in Chester (Ridge Road). It  was the only loss Deep  River suffered that year.

Anecdotes and memories of sports and recreation in Chester, in both winter and summer, will be shared in a Chester Historical Society “crackerbarrel” program on Sunday, March 29, at 4 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

Named “Sliding into Base and Sledding Down the Hills,” the program will be led by several great storytellers who grew up in Chester – Fran Malcarne, Dave Sepowski, Dual Bibbiani and Peter Zanardi – who promise lots of laughs, whether it’s about town team baseball and high school games or winter sledding and ice skating.

As with all the Historical Society’s “crackerbarrel” programs, the organizers are hoping you’ll bring your own Chester sports and recreation stories and memories to share.

The program is free and open to all ages. If more information is needed, check the website, chesterhistoricalsociety.org or Facebook.com/chestercthistoricalsociety.

Photo:  Baseball has a long history in Chester, and it’ll be a feature of the Chester Historical Society’s program on Sunday, March 29 at the Chester Meeting House. This photo from the Chester Historical Society archives shows the 1946 town team, taken at the Middlesex Garage (later known as Meyer’s Garage) on Middlesex Ave. Front: Bill Gorman, Bibb Deuse, Babe Zanardi, Trent Bibbiani, Fran Grote, Vern Westmore, Bud Zanardi, Frank Monte (manager). Back: Frank Cart, Carl Johnson, Rich Capellini, Jim Grote, Dual Bibbiani, Len Jamison, George Watrous, Al Martorell. Bat boy: Roycroft Monte.

VRHS Seeking Hall of Fame Nominations, Deadline is April 30

AREAWIDE — Nominations and applications are being accepted for the 32nd annual Valley Regional High School (VRHS) Hall of Fame Award. Anyone may nominate a VRHS graduate who has gone on to excel in a particular profession, avocation, business, hobby, sport, etc., and who was graduated from Valley at least five years prior to nomination.

Call the VRHS office  at 860-526-5328 for an application, or write to the principal, Mrs. Kristina Martineau, 256 Kelsey Hill Rd., Deep River, CT 06417, listing the name of the candidate, address, telephone number, year of graduation and his/her outstanding accomplishments. Deadline for submitting applications is April 30, 2015.

The winner of the Hall of Fame Award will be honored at the graduation ceremony at VRHS on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Spring Exhibit on View at Maple and Main

'You Can't Keep a Good Turnip Down' by Gray Jacobik of Deep River.

‘You Can’t Keep a Good Turnip Down’ by Gray Jacobik of Deep River.

CHESTER – The opening reception for Maple and Main Gallery’s fifth annual Spring Exhibition is Saturday, March 28, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The show will feature all new art by 37 artists, three of whose work is featured in this article, from traditional landscape paintings of the Connecticut countryside and waterways to contemporary abstracts.

'Daybreak' by Pam Carlson of Essex.

‘Daybreak’ by Pam Carlson of Essex.

'Lobster Pots' by Claudia van Nes of Chester.

‘Lobster Pots’ by Claudia van Nes of Chester.

Appetizers, the gallery’s signature selection of chocolates and wine will be served throughout the evening and from 6 to 7 p.m., the Chester Package Store will offer a spring wine tasting.

A special show of nature paintings will be on view in the Stone Gallery downstairs and there will be a number of smaller works offered in our Small Works Gallery on the main floor.

The show opens Wednesday, March 25 and runs through Sunday, May 24.

Maple and Main Gallery, at One Maple Street, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Visit the gallery on Facebook and at mapleandmaingallery.com where there is information about events and classes and where art may be purchased online.  For more information, call 860-526-6065 or email mapleandmain@att.net.

CBSRZ Hosts Youth Program Open House

CHESTER — Congregation  Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) is hosting an Open House for its Youth Programs For Families with children from birth through age 15  on Sunday, April 19, starting at 10 a.m.

At CBSRZ, they weave Jewish traditions, history, celebrations, and values into the everyday fabric of life’s modern day challenges. By helping young people uncover the riches of their traditions, they seek to empower and nourish their inner lives, and help them to discover the possibilities within themselves and in the world.

Visitors will have the opportunity to tour the building and meet the staff, youth and parents of our diverse community consisting of many interfaith families.

If you would like more information prior to the Open House, contact the CBSRZ office at 860-526-8920 or bethshalom@snet.net.

For further information about CBSRZ Youth Programs, contact Belinda Brennan, Cantor/Educator at 860-526-8920 or by e-mail at edcant@cbsrz.org.

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

CBSRZ Hosts Immigration Forum & Program Today

Hear their stories . . .

UntitledCHESTER — Jose was nine years old when his parents brought him to the U.S. from Mexico, not by plane or bus, as Jose thought, but across the desert on foot, through thirst and contact with “coyote’s.”

Amparo and her husband brought their two sons to the U.S. legally on a tourist visa 12 years ago but stayed.  Her sons are protected against deportation and now consider themselves “Americans,” however, the parents are now deportable.  Both Amparo and her husband would like to return to Ecuador, but because their tourist visa expired, they would then have to wait 10 years before returning.

Patricia came to the U.S. from Mexico 20 years ago with her four children.  She worked as a home care worker, which she enjoyed, but when she asked to work less than 60 hours a week, they cut her to 4-6 hours a week, which forced her to find other work.  Paty’s son was also picked up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), held and then deported back to Mexico, even though he knew no one in Mexico, because he came to the U.S. when he was one-year-old.

Mariano came to the U.S. from Mexico at an early age and remembers little or nothing about his home country.  Educated in the New Britain school system, while attending Capital Community College, Mariano was put in a detention center when he was unable to produce documents to local police investigating an unrelated crime suspect.  Mariano was on the verge of being deported when Sen. Richard Blumenthal stepped in and persuaded immigration officials to grant a rare stay of deportation.

On March 22 at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) starting at 1 p.m., you will hear these and other immigrants.

Part of this program will include attendees participating in an exercise where you will “walk in the shoes” of a new immigrant, Pablo, taking you through challenging problems facing today’s immigrants – before and after they get to America.

And come tell your story . . .

The synagogue hopes you will share your family’s story of coming to America – however many generations ago. We all know part of this story. The hope of freedom and a better life has always been the driving force for immigrants entering the United States – for all our families as well.

A discussion on immigration reform will follow.

There is no cost for this program, but CBSRZ requests an RSVP to 860-526-8920. Refreshments will be served.

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

 

Jim Kweskin & Geoff Muldaur Perform at Chester Meeting House, April 12

What better venue could there be for an “American roots music” concert than the historic (1795) Chester Meeting House?

Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur have been playing American roots music for nearly 50 years. They will be performing at the Chester Meeting House on Sunday, April 12, at 5 p.m.

Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur have been playing American roots music for nearly 50 years. They will be performing at the Chester Meeting House on Sunday, April 12, at 5 p.m.

On Sunday, April 12, the Collomore Concert Series presents Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur. Often referred to as “two of the most influential Americana musicians around,” Kweskin and Muldaur play jug band favorites, old-time jazz tunes, and classic country blues. They pick guitar and sing, and have also been known to perform on comb, kazoo, washboard, and jug.

Geoff Muldaur and Jim Kweskin first came together in Kweskin’s famed Jug Band. The original “Americana” band, playing everything from classic blues to hillbilly country, ragtime, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll, perfectly captured the legendary 1960s mix of exuberant anarchy and heartfelt sincerity.

Their imitators were legion, including a San Francisco jug band that became the Grateful Dead and a New York jug band that became the Lovin’ Spoonful, but no other group attained their unique blend of youthful energy and antiquarian expertise, tight musicianship, loose camaraderie, and infectious swing. The rock critic Ed Ward once listed the most important bands of the early 1960s as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Byrds, and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band.

In time, Kweskin and Muldaur went their separate ways, and Muldaur became recognized as one of the great white blues singers and guitarists. In the last few years, they have been performing together once again.

Their April 12 Chester concert begins at 5 p.m. Tickets are $24; students from elementary through graduate school pay just $5. Tickets should be purchased in advance. A reception is held after the concert to meet the performers. More information is at collomoreconcerts.org or call 860-526-5162. The Chester Meeting House is at 4 Liberty St.in Chester (exit 6 off Rte. 9).

Caption: Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur have been playing American roots music for nearly 50 years. They will be performing at the Chester Meeting House on Sunday, April 12, at 5 p.m.

Chester Village West to host AARP Driver Safety Class, April 7

CHESTER –- Has it been awhile since you’ve brushed up on your driving knowledge and skills? Want the latest information to help you stay safe on the road? Mark your calendar for April 7 at Chester Village West, 317 West Main Street, Chester CT 06412. The independent seniors community will host an AARP SmartDriver™ Course that day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Cost for the course, payable by checks only, is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members. Call Chester Village West by April 2 at 860.536.6800 to reserve attendance for yourself and/or a loved one.

The April 7 SmartDriver™ course at Chester Village West, to be taught by AARP driver safety instructor Clifford McGuire, will help attendees re-familiarize themselves with the current rules of the road, defensive driving techniques and how to operate their vehicle more safely in today’s challenging driving environment.

Participants will learn how to manage and accommodate common age-related changes in vision, hearing and reaction time. They will also learn:
• How to minimize the effects of dangerous blind spots
• How to maintain the proper following distance behind another car
• The safest ways to change lanes and make turns at busy intersections
• Proper use of safety belts, air bags, antilock brakes and new technology found in cars today
• Ways to monitor your own and others’ driving skills and capabilities
• The effects of medications on driving
• The importance of eliminating distractions, such as eating, smoking and using a cellphone

After completing the course, participants will have a greater appreciation of driving challenges and a better understanding of how to avoid potential collisions and injuring themselves or others.

Connecticut is one of 35 states that offer price reductions or discounts on auto insurance to motorists who complete the AARP Smart Driver™ Course. Upon completion of the course, participants should contact their auto insurance agent to determine if they are eligible to receive an auto insurance discount.

Contact Marcy Conway (conwaymarcy@lcsnet.com) or Sara Philpott (philpottsara@lcsnet.com) at Chester Village West 0n 860.526.6800

Chester Town Meeting Approves Funding For Library Design, Main St. Reconstruction

CHESTER — Voters at a town meeting Thursday approved funding for two major town projects, including $100,000 for architectural schematic design plans for a new library at North Quarter Park, and $100,000 as the final town funding component for reconstruction of a section of Main Street east of the downtown village.

About 60 residents braved lingering snow and slick roads tor turn out for the votes at the Chester Meetings House, approving both appropriations on voice votes after about an hour of discussion. The additional funding for the Main Street Project was approved on a unanimous vote, while the appropriation for library design fees was approved on a voice vote with a handful of opposing votes.

The town will use $100,000 from the undesignated fund balance to pay for architectural schematic design fees for a new library at North Quarter Park, a 22-acre town-owned parcel on the east end of Main Street. Library supporters and the board of selectmen decided last year to pursue construction of a new library at the park, rather than pursued a potentially costly and complicated renovation and expansion of the 109-year-old existing library building on West Main Street, though some residents continued to question the plan for a new library at the park during meetings last fall.

In November, the town was awarded a $1 million state grant toward the estimated $4 million cost of a new library, funds that must be used for a building project within the next three years. A library building committee, with support from the board of selectmen, last summer hired the Pawtucket, R.I. firm of Lads & Bartells to prepare very preliminary plans for a new library at the park as part of the grant application, though there has been no decision on hiring a firm for the actual building project.

The $100,000 for the Main Street East Project is the final town funding component for an estimated $800,000 project that is mostly paid for by state grant funds. The project, which has been under discussion for years, was scaled back last November to focus on reconstruction of a 1,000-foot section of Main Street from the intersection with School Lane west to the entrance to the Laurel Hill Cemetery.

A more costly plan for reconstruction of a larger section of Main Street east to the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Rte. 154) that included a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street had drawn opposition from some residents. The project is expected to be put out to bid soon for a start of construction this spring.

TTYSB Encourages Residents to Get Involved in the ‘Year of the Story’

TTYS placemat
Have you noticed the “2015: Year of the Story” placemats at some of your favorite restaurants in the tri-town area, including Moravella’s, Pattaconk, The Villager and Wheat Market in Chester;  DaVinci Pizza, The Ivory, and the Whistle Stop in Deep River; and Centerbrook Pizza in Essex?

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau (TTYSB) is grateful for the support of these businesses in getting out the word about this year’s Community Story project. Individual adults and youth are also stepping up to participate in this story-making process. Each person, whatever their involvement, does make a difference.

Do you want to pass on your knowledge, experience, sense of resilience and possibility? What has it meant for you to be part of the Tri-Town community?

TTYSB encourages everyone to beciome involved in this project to celebrate our community through stories

How?

First, consider the most challenging thing you had to face while growing up; how did you manage to overcome it? Then tell your story to a trained story-gatherer—many of these volunteers are your friends and neighbors and they will be collecting stories through April, 2015. After that a professional playwright will be turning our community members’ stories into a one-act play. T

Then during the summer of 2015, volunteer to become a member of the cast, crew or audience for the community performance to be held on Oct. 2, 3 and 4th. Three performances, two evening shows and a matinee, will ensure that every community member will get a chance to attend.

Finally, explore additional ways to build assets, community connections and supportive relationships for the benefit of individuals, families and the community throughout 2015 and beyond.

Letter to the Editor: Save Our Historic Chester Library

To the Editor:

Regarding the proposed new Chester Library, I think abandoning our exquisite building for a new library/community center is a mistake. It will never come close to what we already have. Amenities or not, I would be saddened to see a likely generic visitor-center type structure as a replacement. The Library Board is ignoring their own surveys from the community, where the preference was “resoundingly to stay in the current location.”

The present library building still could be adapted to accommodate the needs of this small but unique town. A community center could be developed in the underutilized town hall, or a more modest new one built at North Quarter Park. We already have the Meeting House, Town Hall, and Elementary School for meetings and events.

The Chester Library is a well-loved, beautiful, historic building in a perfect spot. The funds requested may be better spent in possibly purchasing the land the building is on, and applying for historic preservation grants. We should work with what we have, and not abandon this 1907 building which was generously given by S. Mills Ely to be Chester’s library, as a memorial to his parents. It is an icon of this town.

The Board and some people want a new building and feel this is the best solution, it may be, (if the community wants it), but this move also comes with great aesthetic loss and financial cost, an additional burden on Chester taxpayers, not to be taken lightly.

Sincerely,

Karin Badger,
Chester.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chester Grand List Shows One Percent Increase

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

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

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

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

Nilsson Offers Five Day Painting Workshop in August

Leif Nillson painting outdoors

Leif Nillson painting outdoors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The daily schedule for the course will be:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Letter to the Editor: Proposed Chester Library Will Strengthen Community

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

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

“House of Cards” Director Speaks at CBSRZ Today

John David Coles

John David Coles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit averagejoephotoshow.com for more information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Winter Storm Juno Begins, Closings Announced

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

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

Essex Town Hall will also be closed tomorrow,

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

book sale 028

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Lisa Tollefson,
Chester.

Proposed Library at North Quarter Park: Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rotary 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner Drive Check Presentation

Rotary 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner Drive Check Presentation

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

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

Letter: Chester – Library, Trees, Roosters and Guns

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Dean Amato
Chester

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

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

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

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

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