May 26, 2018

Norm Needleman Wins Democratic Nomination for 33rd District Sate Senate Seat

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman.

AREAWIDE — Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman has been nominated as the Democratic Party State Senate candidate for the 33rd District. 

Delegates from Democratic Town Committees in the 12 towns comprising the 33rd District met on Monday, May 21, at the Gelston House in East Haddam to select a candidate. Needleman was nominated by acclimation on the first ballot. 

Needleman accepted the nomination, and defined his approach to addressing issues facing towns in the district: “We need a state senator who has the temperament, the credibility, and the experience to rise above partisan bickering and generate the ideas that solve problems. Over the years, I have fostered consensus-building that gets things get done in the real world. Job creation, balanced budgets, low taxes, treating people fairly and infrastructure improvements define my accomplishments as an elected official.”

He continued: “I’m not here to advance my political career, or to lay the groundwork for higher office. I can’t be bought by any organization or special interest. I will be a state senator driven by the desire to do the right thing for the people and towns in our district, and I will do the hard work necessary to address the deep and abiding problems in our state.”

In placing Needleman’s name for nomination, Michelle Gilman, a resident of Colchester, said: “I have learned a lot about Norm in the years we have collaborated on the issues facing our towns’ families. I know that he will be the advocate and partner we so badly need in the state senate. I know that he will fight for investments in education and investments in our communities. I know that he will make certain that the towns in our district get their fair share from Hartford. And just as important, I know he will lead across party lines to address the challenges facing our state.”

Needleman’s nomination was seconded by two prominent Democrats from the district: Emily Bjornberg, 2014 nominee for the 33rd State Senate Seat, and Stacia Libby, four-term Selectman in Essex.

commented, “When no one is watching, Norm is a quiet friend to myriad marginalized folks within his community. He quietly provides meals and housing. He quietly provides jobs and friendship. He quietly, yet unapologetically, fights for the humanity of his fellow man. He is a pillar of his community without being a boast and he is a successful driver of the local economy without being a brag.”

Libby, who has worked as an elected official alongside Needleman for eight years, noted, “What I have learned about Norm pales when compared to what I’ve learned from Norm. He taught me through his actions what it means to be a true leader. Norm is compassionate, intelligent and diplomatic. He listens. He considers all sides and viewpoints. Then he seeks solutions that are fair, balanced and in the best interest of our community.”

Needleman has 20 years of public service experience in Essex, including four terms as First Selectman. During his tenure as First Selectman, he led economic development initiatives that made Essex home to over 700 businesses. He balanced budgets and made infrastructure improvements while maintaining one of the lowest property tax rates in the state.

Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing company employing 150 people, located in Essex. His two sons co-manage the company with him.  He lives in Essex with his partner, Jacqueline Hubbard, Executive Director of the Ivoryton Playhouse.

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

For further information, contact Campaign Manager Ed Tedeschi at et@edted.com or (917) 734-9460.

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Leif Nilsson Hosts Eric Fresia in Next ‘Concert in the Garden,’ June 14

Eric Fresia will play the next ‘Concert in the Garden,’ June 14, at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery.

CHESTER — Leif Nilsson hosts a Thursday evening ‘Concert in the Garden,’ Thursday, June 14 , from 7 to 9 p.m.,  featuring Eric Fresia at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery at 1 Spring St, Chester Center. Arrowhead will open the show.

Fresia’s music spans eight albums and at least as many genres. From ballrooms to juke joints, he brings a big voice and a small guitar that are bound to leave you dancing, laughing, ringing and singing. Fresia can silence a room with a slow ballad, rock the house with some heavy blues, then bring it home with some driving world music.

Fresia’s eighth album is an honest, stripped-down portrayal of 30 years as a singer-songwriter. Inspired by a six-month journey in 2015 from London to Morocco, the album draws influence from time spent living in Provence, Barcelona and Andalusia, with echoes of North African blues and Moroccan rhythms.

After evolving from a four-piece roots/rock band, to an eight-piece world music ensemble, to 10 years of touring as a trio with two of his children, it’s time to perform these new songs solo, just as they were written: one mic, one voice, one guitar and a songbook filled with stories from the road.

For more information on Fresia, visit http://ericfresia.com/

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 $20 donation is appreciated. The event is BYOB – pack a picnic and bring your own wine or beer or buy it across the street at the Chester Package Store.

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Author Amy Bloom Discusses Her New Book, ‘White Houses’ at CBSRZ, June 3

CHESTER — Join Books & Bagels on Sunday, June 3, and find out how author Amy Bloom unearthed the story behind First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s relationship with renowned journalist Lorena Hickok.  Her research included reading some three thousand letters between these two remarkable women, letters stowed away in the Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park and the source of inspiration for her intimate portrayal of their story.

Arguably the greatest First Lady ever, Eleanor Roosevelt contrasted in almost every possible way with Lorena Hickok, whose background was so dissimilar as to make any understanding between the two seem unlikely.  Bloom tells the story in Hickok’s inimitable voice and helps us see and understand the developing bond between these two exceptional women and thus we unravel not only their personal tale but also the momentous events of the time.

White Houses has already received critical acclaim.from numerous sources. Paula McLain, author of Circling the Sun, wrote “It seems a minor miracle, what Amy Bloom has done in White Houses. In Lorena Hickok’s unforgettable voice, she brings an untold slice of history so dazzlingly and devastatingly to life, it took my breath away. Easily, the most intimate, crackling and expansive rendering of Eleanor Roosevelt in print, and more than this, a dizzyingly beautiful tale of what it means to be human, and what it is to love. This is a book I won’t forget.”

Joyce Carol Oates describes White Houses as “Irresistibly readable, fascinating material—Amy Bloom has written a remarkably intimate and yet informative novel of the secret, scandalous love of Eleanor Roosevelt and her longtime friend and companion Lorena Hickok, who relates the tale in her own, quite wonderful voice.”

Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue, writes, “Amy Bloom illuminates one of the most intriguing relationships in history with her graceful prose and sensitive portrayals in White Houses.  Her Lorena Hickok is entirely sympathetic and often quite funny, yet ultimately she is a woman who found love with another lost soul, Eleanor Roosevelt.  And love is what this book is all about; it suffuses every page, every scene so that by the time you reach the end, you are simply stunned by the beauty of the world these two carved out for themselves.”

Book & Bagels will be held at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek on Sunday, June 3, at 9:30 a.m. White Houses, along with several of Bloom’s other bookswill be on sale at the event and ready to be signed by the author.

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

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Chester Synagogue Hosts Photo Exhibit by CT Valley Camera Club Through July 27

The CT Valley Camera Club exhibit organizers gather for a photo, from left to right, C. Peter Chow, Mary Fiorelli, and Michael Newborg.

CHESTER — Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester presents a juried selection of photographs by members of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) in the CBSRZ Art Gallery through Friday, July 27. The exhibition highlights the work of many of the Club’s approximately 50 members, whose occupations and ages vary greatly demonstrating the diversity present within the Club.

The CVCC, which was founded in 2002, has a simple mission — to give its members the opportunity to become better photographers. The ways that the Club achieves this objective include offering a variety of presentations and workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills. During these popular events, members explore such areas as photographic techniques, computer processing, artistic interpretation and commercial applications, often under the tutelage of a professional photographer.

The CVCC welcomes new members at any time. Meetings are generally held on the first Monday of the month at the Lymes’ Senior Center in Old Lyme.

For more information about the CVCC, visit the club’s website at ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com . Meeting dates, speakers and their topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CTValleyCamer aClubPage.

The CBSRZ Art Gallery can be viewed Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at CBSRZ, 55 E. Kings Highway, Chester, CT. For more information about the Art Gallery and special events visit www.cbsrz.org/engage/events/art-exhibits/ or call the CBSRZ office at 860-526-8920,

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Public Hearing on Chester’s 2018-19 Budget Scheduled for Tonight

CHESTER — The Chester Board of Finance will conduct a public hearing on the proposed FY 2018-2019 Budget on Wednesday, May 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Chester Town Hall, 203 Middlesex Avenue, Community Room, Second Floor.
The Board of Finance will recommend the General Government and Chester Elementary School Budgets at this hearing. This is an opportunity for the public to express its comments on the proposed budgets. Based on the public’s comments the Board of Finance will prepare the budget for vote at the Annual Town Meeting to be held May 30.
To view the Draft FY 2018-2019 General Government Budget Summary and line item detail of proposed of Revenue, Expenditures and Capital Improvement items, visit the Chester website – www.chesterct.org.
To view the Proposed FY 2018-2019 Chester Board of Education Budget and Proposed FY 2018-2019 Regional District 4 Budget visit www.reg4.k12.ct.us, go to District, Budget Information.
Copies of the General Government and Boards of Education proposed budgets are available in the Office of the Town Clerk, 203 Middlesex Avenue, Chester, CT.
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VRHS Students Present a Custom-Made Equipment Box for the Town of Essex Fire Marshal Vehicle

Valley regional High School students who worked on the project are from left to right: Jared Hart, Josh Donahue, Quinn Kobe, Marcus SantaMaria, Andrew Persico, Ben Rosenberg, Chris Donohue, David Uphold, Cayla Sperzel, and Sam Wollschleager.

ESSEX — First Selectman Norm Needleman and Fire Marshal John Planas would like to give special thanks to the Valley Regional High School Students who worked to fabricate a custom-made wooden equipment box for the Fire Marshal vehicle.

On Monday, April 30, the students presented to the Town of Essex the equipment box for the vehicle. The box was designed to contain and organize a wide variety of the necessary tools, protective clothing, and supplies that the Fire Marshal needs to perform tasks such as routine inspections to emergency assistance.

This photo shows the custom-made box in situ in the Fire Marshal’s vehicle.

This project was a collaborative effort of the Town of Essex and Valley Regional High School students and faculty.

Norman gave special thanks to the students, their teacher JL Kopcha, Principal Mike Barile, and Superintendent Dr. Ruth Levy.   He noted that this was an excellent example of the practical benefits of the school’s vocational curriculum and active citizenship to support critical Town functions.

Students in photograph, from left to right, are:  Jared Hart, Josh Donahue, Quinn Kobe, Marcus SantaMaria, Andrew Persico, Ben Rosenberg, Chris Donohue, David Uphold, Cayla Sperzel, and Sam Wollschleager

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‘Taking Great Photos With Your Smartphone’ is Topic at Tomorrow’s CT Valley Camera Club Meeting

This photo of palm trees was taken by Peter Glass on a smart phone. Glass is the speaker Monday evening at the CT Valley Camera Club.

AREAWIDE — The guest speaker at the Monday, May 7, meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be the acclaimed professional photographer Peter Glass, who will give a presentation titled, “Taking Great Photos with Your Smartphone.”  The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd. in Old Lyme. All are welcome. There is no admission charge.

The quality of smartphone cameras has improved substantially over recent years and their capabilities now extend far beyond what many people use them for currently. In many situations, they work well as valuable stand-ins for bigger, more cumbersome traditional cameras. It therefore is no longer necessary to drag around a big camera for fear of missing that great picture opportunity. A good quality smartphone camera can work almost as well.

In this presentation, Glass will give comprehensive guidance on how to set up and use the camera on your smartphone including which photography apps to install, how to use the camera controls, useful accessories to purchase and helpful smartphone photography techniques.

Glass has been a professional photographer for more than 25 years. He specializes in stock, corporate and editorial photography, with his photos appearing regularly in magazines, advertising brochures, and on book covers. He offers photography classes at local colleges, towns, art associations, libraries, and through his MeetUp group, the Connecticut Photography Workshops (www.meetup.com/Connecticut-Photography-Workshops). Glass holds a Master of Arts degree in Film and Television Production from the University of Texas. His current work can be viewed at www.peterglass.comand www.stockpeterglass.com.

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

For more information, visit the club’s website at this link.

CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at this link.

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Letter to the Editor: American Legion Post #97 Appeals for Donations to Repair Chester War Memorial

To the Editor:

Sitting proudly on Rte. 154 entering Chester are Chester’s War Memorials. Dedicated in 1939, the World War I memorial features a granite doughboy figure atop a monument listing local veterans.  In 2004, American Legion Post #97 unveiled an elegant granite monument honoring Chester residents who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and post-Vietnam conflicts.

They shall grow not old, as we are left grow old, age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

You only need to visit other towns in Connecticut to see what a dignified and stately memorial this is for the size of Chester.

Over the years maintenance and minor repairs have been funded by the Town of Chester, volunteers and American Legion Post #97. But 14 years have taken their toll on our Memorial.  Post #97 members have identified some issues that need to be addressed – most importantly is the fence on the front perimeter of the memorial.    The pressure treated wooden fence is rotting away and needs to be replaced.   Plans are to use granite posts and black chain which will be less susceptible to the weather.  

We are asking the help of our residents and friends to donate towards the replacement of the fence and ensure the memorial remain a proud focal point. Any contribution, however small, will be welcome. Donors may request to be added to a donor list that will be published in the local paper at the conclusion of our project.

This memorial at the entrance to Chester holds an honored position and completing these repairs will ensure it remains so for many years.

Our goal is $6,000 for the new fence at the Chester’s War Memorial. If more funds are donated then what covers the price of supplies and installation of the fence, we will use those funds to repair the flagpoles.  Your donations may be made out to American Legion Post #97 and mailed to PO Box 122, Chester, CT 06412.  All donations are tax deductible and very much appreciated.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

American Legion Post #97

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Region 4 Budget Referendum is Today

TRI-TOWN — The Region 4 Budget Referendum on the 2018-2019 Budget is being held today, Wednesday, May 2, from 12 noon until 8 p.m.

Vote at the following locations:

Chester: Chester Town Hall Community Room

Deep River:Community Meeting Room of the Public Library, 150 Main Street

Essex: Essex Town Hall auditorium

 

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Tr-Town Forum Offers Democratic Candidates Opportunity to State Positions, Take Questions

Ned Lamont, a Democratic candidate for Connecticut Governor, addresses the audience at Monday evening’s forum in Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.  All photos by M.J. Nosal.

Around 100 residents of Lyme, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook turned out at the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Monday night for a Democratic Candidate Forum arranged by the Democratic Town Committees of the three area municipalities.  Local residents heard from and were able to ask questions directly of: Ned Lamont, candidate for governor (pictured above);

Old Lyme Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder stands at the podium to introduce Denise Merrill.

Denise Merrill, incumbent candidate for secretary of the state;

Shawn Wooden is one of the candidates running for State Treasurer — State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) is another.

Shawn Wooden, candidate for state treasurer;

Matt Pugliese will challenge State Rep. Devin Carney (R- 23rd) in the November election.

Matthew Pugliese, candidate for state representative in the 23rd District, which includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook;

Martha Marx.

Martha Marx, candidate for state senator in the 20th District, and

Lyme Selectman John Kiker (left) listens to Essex First Selectman and candidate for State Senator (20th District) Norm Needleman speak.

Norm Needleman, candidate for state senator in the 33rd District.

The Tri-Town Democratic Town Committees’ event started at 6:30 p.m. and lasted two and a half hours.

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9 Town Transit Faces Bus Cuts, Fare Increases; Encourages Public to Voice Their Opinions

AREAWIDE — 9 Town Transit (9TT) is preparing for a 15 percent reduction of state funding beginning July 1, 2018 with a proposal of service cuts and fare increases.  The agency says the reductions are due to the failure of revenue into the state’s Special Transportation Fund to keep up with expenses.

Under the proposal, bus fares would rise from $1.75 to $2 on bus routes and to $4 on Dial-A-Ride.  This would be the second fare increase in 18 months.

The agency is also proposing multiple service reductions.  They include:

  • Elimination of the senior fare subsidy, which would result in seniors paying a fare on all services for the first time in 37 years.
  • Reducing service on Rte. 2 Riverside, which provides service between Chester and Old Saybrook, by eight hours per weekday.
  • Elimination of all Saturday service.
  • Reducing service on Rte. 1 Shoreline Shuttle by three hours per day (7:30 a.m. trip leaving Old Saybrook, 9 a.m. leaving Madison).

 

Written statements concerning the proposal may be submitted either at the hearing, by email to info@estuarytransit.org or mail.

9 Town Transit is encouraging transit users and supporters to let their state representative and senator know how important 9 Town Transit, Shoreline East or other public transit services are to them.

More information about the possible service reductions and ways to help prevent the funding cuts can be found at www.9towntransit.com/fundtransit.

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Community Music School Hosts 35th Anniversary Gala Tomorrow

Making plans for this year’s 35th anniversary CMS gala are, from left to right, CMS Music Director Tom Briggs, CMS Trustee and Gala Sponsor Bruce Lawrence of Bogaert Construction, CMS Trustee and Gala Sponsor Jennifer Bauman of The Bauman Family Foundation, and CMS Executive Director Abigail Nickell.

DEEP RIVER – Community Music School’s (CMS) largest annual fundraiser is the CMS Gala and this year the organization is  celebrating its 35th anniversary with For the Love of Music! The event takes place on Friday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m. in Deep River at The Lace Factory and includes fabulous musical entertainment provided by CMS faculty and students. Enjoy cocktail jazz and an exquisite dinner show, as well as gourmet food, dancing, silent auction, fine wines and more.

Featured faculty and student performers include Music Director Tom Briggs, Noelle Avena, John Birt, Amy Buckley, Luana Calisman-Yuri, Audrey Estelle, Joni Gage, Silvia Gopalakrishnan, Martha Herrle, Ling-Fei Kang, Barbara Malinsky, Matt McCauley, Kevin O’Neil, Andy Sherwood, and Marty Wirt.

Support of the Community Music School gala provides the resources necessary to offer scholarships to students with financial need, as well as weekly music education and music therapy services for students with special needs.

For The Love of Music! sponsors include The Bauman Family Foundation, Bob’s Discount Furniture, Bogaert Construction, Clark Group, Essex Savings Bank, Essex Financial Services, Grossman Chevrolet Nissan, Guilford Savings Bank, Jackson Lewis, Kitchings & Potter, Maple Lane Farms, Reynold’s Subaru, Ring’s End, Shore Publishing, Thomas Alexa Wealth Management, Tidal Counseling LLC, and Tower Labs LTD.

Early bird tickets for the evening are $125 per person ($65 is tax deductible) by April 13 and $135 thereafter. Event tickets include hors d’oeuvres, gourmet food stations, wine and beer, live music, and dancing. Tickets may be purchased online at community-music-school.org/gala, at the school located at 90 Main Street in the Centerbrook section of Essex or by calling 860-767-0026.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 35 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. The CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.  To learn more, visit www.community-music-school.org or call (860)-767-0026.

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Cappella Cantorum to Perform Haydn’s ‘Creation’ Today with Pittsinger, Cheney, Callinan as Soloists

Tenor Brian Cheney

Bass David Pittsinger

DEEP RIVER — Celebrate Earth Day and the creation of this beautiful planet by attending Cappella Cantorum Masterworks Chorus’ performance of Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Creation” on Sunday, April 22, 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River.

Simon Holt will lead the chorus, professional soloists and orchestra. Soloists will be internationally known Bass David Pittsinger, Tenor Brian Cheney and Soprano Sarah Callinan.

Haydn’s oratorio depicts the creation of the world from darkness and chaos to the creation of light, order and harmony. It is considered one of Haydn’s finest works.

Tickets are $25 purchased in advance, $30 at the door. For more information or tickets, visit www.CappellaCantorum.org or call 860-526-1038.

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Family Wellness: Does Mindfulness Work for Families?

“Mindfulness” is certainly trending these days.  Books and workshops are in abundance, aimed at children, adults and families.

For some, the concept provokes rolling of the eyes, for others, curiosity, others still, an eagerness to share how helpful the practice has been for them. Perhaps in some it may provoke an urge to purchase new yoga pants and scented candles.

I believe it definitely has practical applications for healthy and happy relationships in families. Think of it as a “health habit.”

Let’s first define the term: 

“The quality of being conscious or aware of something,” and,  “A mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, as a therapeutic technique.”

Generally, I see mindfulness as being able to identify feelings (sometimes uncomfortable ones.)  Being able to hold these feelings helps us to act — or not act — in a healthy way.

Here are some examples of mindful parenting at different developmental stages:

  • CeeCee is  2-months-old and has been fussy since three weeks of age. This makes her parents anxious, maybe even a little angry. CeeCee is thriving and healthy. By practicing mindfulness, her parents are more able to accept their own feelings as “normal” and know that these feelings do not mean that they do not love her. They look forward to CeeCee having her own fussy baby in the decades to come, so that they can reminisce with her.
  • Ben is 3-years-old and cries when he is dropped off at preschool. At family parties, he attaches himself like Velcro to his mother’s leg and will not engage with anyone of any age.  His mother acknowledges and respects her own feelings that go back and forth between embarrassment, irritation, and too- deep sympathy for Ben in this horribly scary world.  Thus her calm, measured responses to him end up making him “braver;” they do not feed into his erroneous belief about the terrible danger at a family party, and do not make him feel like a “bad boy” for being shy.
  • Sara, 10-years-old, did not make the A team in soccer this year. Before she expresses any feelings around this, her parents check in on their own feelings of disappointment and anger at the coach and they restrain themselves from immediately calling the coach. Later over dinner Sara states, “I was not really one of the best players and I like the girls on the B team a lot.”
  • Nick, age 16, is enraged with his parents that he cannot have a house party unsupervised by his parents.  His parents are considering the following responses:   1) “What are you, crazy, you little jerk?” 2) “We are so sorry you are angry with us, so we’ve changed our minds” and/or 3) “It is all our fault we raised you to even consider such a request.”  They realize all these feelings are “OK” and it is also ok for Nick to be mad. It is not their job to make him “OK” with their decision right now. They shrug, acknowledge his disappointment and move on, feeling good about their family and themselves, knowing that Nick is a good kid. Perhaps they will process this at a later time.

Mindfulness has applications across the lifespan.  Young children tend to be “in the moment,” often joyful, which is a tenet of mindfulness, but they may have trouble with handling feelings that might be perceived as less positive.  Young children can learn to “stand next to” feelings of anger, sadness, disappointment and fear, and then move on.  The elderly, sometimes looking at the past, are perhaps a bit frightened about the future.  A practice of mindfulness can be a comfort to them at their stage of growth.

Hanna Rosin, in a humorous piece in Slate, wonders if the concept of mindful parenting just identifies another way for parents to fail (e.g., I forgot to bake for the bake sale AND I forgot to be mindful with the kids yesterday.)  She raises a valid point in a funny and engaging way.  But I believe that, in the long run, a bit of this practice in family life will do the opposite; it will relieve pressure on kids and parents, and perhaps grandparents as well.

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Madison Senior Men’s Tennis Club Welcomes New Members of Any Skill Level From All Along Shoreline

Dan Janiak and Will Tuthill confirm it was a pleasure to play.   All photos by Peter Pearce.

“Sometimes you’re looking to play perfect tennis but it’s not going to happen all the time and you have to accept it.”   Andy Murray, professional tennis champion

AREAWIDE — For the men of the Madison Senior Men’s Tennis Organization, the tennis is far from perfect – but that’s not the point. Oh, they may step onto the court feeling sure that today, for just once, it’s all going to come together. But the reality of slower reflexes and an aging body’s aches and pains quickly snaps them back to reality.  The players all accept their shortcomings and can even joke about them; it’s the camaraderie that matters.

For men 60 years or older, the Madison Senior Men’s Tennis group is a great retirement activity and a perfect way to spend two to three mornings a week.  You’ll get exercise, competition, laughter, friendship, caring, and more.

Dave Cassano puts away a volley.

But you don’t have to be retired …

Some players adjust their work schedules to fit in tennis. Along the way, you just may be stimulated by seeing guys in their 80s who can still get around the court and hit winners. As player Greg Fahey said, “I happen to be one of the younger members of the group … all of the members are an inspiration in both physical and mental condition … in the spirit they demonstrate and the example they provide.”

The league is now recruiting new players for both the upcoming summer season as well as next winter’s. There’s no need to worry about your skill level. As octogenarian Tom Dolan told one player who was feeling dejected by his poor play, “Don’t worry about it. Think about the alternative; you could be horizontal.”

Art Paquette hits a forehand while his partner John Kraska watches the play closely.

Players range from beginners to seasoned veterans and span in age from 60 to 88. The league’s steering committee divides them into three groups based on ability, the goal being to slot players into the level in which they are likely to find comfortable, enjoyable play. A wide geographic area is represented, stretching from Hamden and New Haven up to Cromwell and down to Old Lyme.

Matches are all doubles, with partners being agreed upon by the foursome at the start of the match. You will be in a different foursome every match. With the emphasis on recreation and friendship, no standings are kept.

Matches are scheduled year-round, with the summer season running from May through early October and the winter season from October through April. Summer season is outdoors at public and private courts in the Madison/Guilford area; winter season is played indoors at the Madison Racquet and Swim Club. You may choose to play one, two or three days a week.

Article author Tom Soboleski runs down a forehand.

Madison Seniors Tennis is now in its 21st year. It began when a small group of friends, led by John Sadek and Joe Pegnataro of Madison, began playing at Pegnataro’s home court. It now includes more than 70 men and all scheduling is administered through a web-based program.

Whether you’re a high-skilled player or just a beginner, Madison Senior Mens Tennis will happily and comfortably welcome you. “Best thing I’ve ever done,” said Peter Lemley. “I find more often than not, when a player scores a great point, not only his partner, but his opponents will cheer.”  Besides the aforementioned benefits, your ego may get a boost as well. As tennis great John McEnroe has said, “The older I get, the better I used to be.”

If interested in joining, or if you have any questions, the organization can be contacted:

  • By text message or call to: Chris Hill at 203.641.7100, or John Sadek at 203.245.1261

More information is also available on the league’s website at https://sites.google.com/site/mseniortennis/home

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‘The Lonely Heartstring Band’ Brings Bluegrass to ‘Music & More’ at CBSRZ, Tomorrow

The Lonely Heartstring Band will perform at CBSRZ, April 15.

CHESTER — Music & More at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) brings nationally known masterful bluegrass band The Lonely Heartstring Band to the stage on Sunday, April 15, at 4 p.m. Nourished by deep roots in the expansive canon of traditional American music, The Lonely Heartstring Band embodies the modern American condition—an understanding and reverence for the past that informs a push into the future.

This multi-talented group of musicians is a classic Bluegrass quintet—always far greater than the sum of its parts. Combining soulful instrumental virtuosity with soaring three-part harmonies, their growing repertoire of original songs and compositions showcases not only their considerable talents, but a dedication to meaningful roots-conscious music.

Since their beginnings in 2012, The Lonely Heartstring Band has been on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down. With their 2015 IBMA Momentum Award and their 2016 release of their debut full-length album on the legendary Rounder Records label, there is every reason to hope that they are at the front edge of a significant career.

The Lonely Heartstring Band has already generated a devoted following of music-lovers across North America, performing and headlining at major music festivals and historic venues from Western Canada to California, from Kentucky to New Hampshire. Whether it’s a festival stage, theatre, or intimate listening room, The Lonely Heartstring Band always delivers a dynamic, diverse, and heartfelt performance. Over the last three years of touring, the band has crafted shows that generate a genuine connection and bring crowds to their feet.

The Lonely Heartstring Band, named in a tongue-in-cheek, tip-of-the-hat reference to one of their favorite albums, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely-Hearts Club Band, is a genuine musicians’ band, immediately appreciated by fellow-musicians who get their sound. That said, this is not esoteric or effete music intended for a select few, but has listenability that appeals to the bands already devoted following of fans and to music critics alike. Though their music is akin to the Punch Brothers, Alison Krauss, The Infamous String Dusters, or other folk-grass/chamber-grass groups in the Americana world, this band is already well on its way to making a dynamic and distinctive sound all its own.

Though characterized by intricate, precise, even elegant arrangements, The Lonely Heartstring Band’s music still has all the joy and spontaneity of bluegrass or folk grass at its finest, as exemplified in George Clements’s unique and sensitive, yet powerful, lead vocals, and their own extensive repertoire of originals.

The Lonely Heartstring Band is comprised of the aforementioned George Clements on guitar and lead vocals, his identical twin brother Charles on bass and harmony vocals, Gabe Hirshfeld on banjo, Matt Witler on mandolin, and Patrick McGonigle on fiddle, rounding out the harmony vocals as well. Four of the five band members met while students at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Gabe Hirshfeld, George, and Charles are all from New England, while Matt and Patrick are both from the west coast; California and Vancouver.

“Being a huge fan of bluegrass music, I was drawn to The Lonely Heartstring Band because they bring a soulful quality to their music and voices,” comments David Zeleznik, Music & More producer and member of CBSRZ. “I felt that their particular brand of bluegrass will add to this fan base.”

For more information about The Lonely Heartstring Band visit their website at http://www.lonelyheartstringband.com.

Advance tickets ($25 general admission) can be purchased at www.cbsrz/org/events or through the Music & More at CBSRZ Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/music.more.cbsrz. For more information call the CBSRZ office at 860-526-8920 or through email at office@cbsrz.org.

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

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Needleman Announces Support For Initiatives To Promote Tourism

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, who is also a candidate for the 33rd District State Senate seat.

ESSEX — Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman and candidate for the State Senate for the 33rd District, today announced 3his support for new initiatives to promote tourism in Connecticut.

Needleman said: “The most recent data shows that tourism delivers $14.7 billion in annual revenue to the state, and supports 120,000 sector jobs. Every dollar invested in promoting tourism returns three dollars in revenue.

“That’s why I support the initiatives developed by The Connecticut Tourism Coalition. The proposed initiatives are common sense ideas that will enhance our tourism presence, which is key to building revenue:

  1. Create of a 15 member volunteer Tourism Advisory Committee, whose role will be to recommend strategies to the Office of Tourism for maximizing use of tourism funds.
  2. Appoint a Director of Tourism, a new position reporting directly to the governor
  3. Commit 3 percent of all taxable lodging revenue as a sustainable source of tourism funding
  4. Reopen visitor centers, using public or private funds

Needleman continued: “Connecticut is blessed with a wealth of historical, entertainment, lodging and recreation options. It makes sense for us to revitalize and sustain support for tourism. That investment will yield significant financial returns, and make our state more competitive with states that border us.”

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

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Traditional Pulled Pork Dinner Benefits American Cancer Society, May 12

HIGGANUM — The 9th Annual Traditional Pulled Pork Dinner to benefit the American Cancer Society will be held Saturday, May 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the St.James Parish Hall, 501 Killingworth Rd,(Rte. 81), Higganum.  Dinner includes pulled pork with barbecue sauces on the side, roll, coleslaw, pasta salad, baked beans, dessert, coffee, lemonade or iced tea.  Everything made fresh on site.

Adults $15, Seniors $12, Children $6, Children ages 2 and under are free.

Don’t have time to eat? Get it on to go!  Takeout available. Don’t eat Pork?  A limited amount of Beef Brisket will also be available.

This event is presented by St.James Episcopal Church Relay for Life Team with a helping hand from Hartford Area Roller Derby.  All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.

For further information, contact Jere Adametz at 860-685-0688 or Elaine Jackson at 860-345-7755.

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Bill to Study State Employee Compensation Moves to Senate

State Senator Art Linares

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares announced that the legislature’s Appropriations Committee has approved a bill he requested to study the long-term financial impact of state employees’ and elected officials’ pay and benefit compensation on the state. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

“Connecticut has been in a state of fiscal crisis for the last several years with budget deficit after budget deficit. This is despite the two largest tax increases in the state’s history,” Sen. Linares said. “We have to look at the state’s fixed costs and why they have gotten so far out of control.”

Sen. Linares said a review of state employee and elected officials compensation could examine ways to save money when the current state employee contract ends in 2027.

“I believe one area that should be considered is capping pension payout at $100,000 a year. The number of retirees receiving pension payments in excess of $100,000 has been growing at an unsustainable rate,” he said. “What do we tell the rank-and-file employees receiving smaller pensions when the pension fund is drained by retirees receiving six-figure payments? We have to make sure the pension plan stays solvent for all retirees.”

Currently, more than 1,400 retirees collect annual pensions in excess of $100,000, Sen. Linares said. The highest paid retiree received more than $300,000 a year.

“Retirement payouts like this were unheard of in the private sector even before most businesses moved away from pensions. Now employees and employers contribute to 401K-type plans,” he said. “We also have to remember that pensions are not the only form of retirement income state retirees receive. They contributed to and can collect Social Security.”

Sen. Linares said he also believes the lowering the expected return on investment in the fund from 8percent to 6 percent should be considered. The 10-year return for the 41 largest state pension funds was 6.59 percent.

“State employees, like their private sector counterparts, work hard to earn the paychecks they receive. We need to ensure that each of them receives the retirement funding they earn, by making sure the pension fund does not run dry due to the excessive pensions of a few,” he said. “I believe a comprehensive review of benefits that includes a $100,000 cap on pensions after 2027 will do that.”

Sen. Linares represents the communities of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

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Chester Girl Scout Honored With President’s Volunteer Service Award, Certificate of Excellence

Chester resident Juliette Linares has been honored for exemplary service in her community 

CHESTER – Juliette Linares of Chester, a local Girl Scout, has been honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a Certificate of Excellence from The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, and with a President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Presented annually by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honors young people across America for outstanding volunteer service. Certificates of excellence are granted to the top 10 percent of all Prudential Spirit of Community Award applicants in each state and the District of Columbia.

President’s Volunteer Service Awards recognize Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country.

Juliette, from Chester, Connecticut, has been in Girl Scouting for 13 years and has spent her career as a Girl Scout giving back to her community. She was chosen to represent local Girl Scouts on the Girl Scouts of Connecticut Board of Directors as Girl Board Member, where she speaks on issues affecting Girl Scouts throughout the state.

Since she was young, Juliette has used funds generated from selling Girl Scout Cookies for community service projects, including volunteering with a local inner-city elementary school. She began conducting book drives and shared 100 stories with 100 kindergarten students and gifted each child the shared book.

Juliette’s community service experience paved the path towards earning her Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Nationally, only 6 percent of Girl Scouts earn this prestigious honor. Girls must complete 80-100 hours of community service to earn this award. Juliette’s Gold Award Project, Dinner & A Book was a literary celebration addressing the importance of literacy among young children.

Juliette started in 2014, writing a proposal, composing a budget, and fundraising, and 148 hours of planning time later, Juliette hosted an evening where she advocated for literacy. Her program will continue to run after she graduates high school.

“We are extremely proud of Juliette for receiving these incredible honors and for all that she has accomplished in Girl Scouting,” said CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut Mary Barneby. “I look forward to following her future endeavors and witnessing her continue to make our world a better place.”

Girl Scouts of Connecticut are more than 41,000 members strong – over 27,500 girls and nearly 14,000 adults – who believe that every girl can change the world.

They are part of a sisterhood of 2.6 million strong around the globe—1.8 million girls and 800,000 adults who believe in the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ to change the world. Their journey began more than 100 years ago with the original G.I.R.L., Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low. On March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia, she organized the very first Girl Scout troop, and every year since, her vision and legacy are honored, building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

Girl Scouts of America are the preeminent leadership development organization for girls … and with programs from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success.

To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit gsofct.org.

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Gilead Hosts Road Race Today to Raise Awareness About Mental Health

Celebrating last year’s run …

AREAWIDE — Gilead’s 3rd annual road race will be held this Sunday, April 8, at the Middletown Legends 3.5 mile road race to raise awareness about mental illness.

Last year, 360 runners, walkers, volunteers, and cheerers made it to the finish line. It wasn’t just the weather that made the day so beautiful, it was enthusiasm, commitment and generosity that really made this day such a success. Together, $33,000 was raised for individuals receiving Gilead services.

Gilead’s 2018 goals are:

  • To raise awareness about mental illness and how many people are impacted.
  • To support a wellness initiative that brings clients, staff and community together.
  • To grow our team to 500 people in celebration of Gilead’s 50th Anniversary.
  • To raise funds to continue providing quality mental health services to over 600 individuals living throughout Middlesex County.

Check out Race for Every 1 FAQ’s for additional information.

Walk/Run the Race

REGISTER HERE and you’ll be directed the Hartford Marathon Foundation website, where you can also find more details on the race. To check out the race route, click here.

Join the Fundraising Efforts

TEAM GILEAD has set up a fundraising page to make it easier for you. Access it by clicking on this link to Crowdrise. Join a team and then ask your friends, family and co-workers to support you. They can donate to you online or write you a check, use a credit card or donate cash. Click here for a sample note/email you can use to ask your friends and family for support.

If you don’t want to join crowdrise, but would like to donate to a Team Member, just click the Team tab and then on their name/picture.

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Seeking Golfers, Sponsors for Ädelbrook Golf for Kids Tournament

AREAWIDE — Spring is here and Ädelbrook’s Golf for Kids Tournament is right around the corner. This year’s tournament will be held on Thursday, May 31, at the Robert Trent Jones Course at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, CT.

Don’t miss the opportunity to get involved with Golf for Kids to support the children and families served by Ädelbrook. Download the golf brochure at https://adelbrook.org/learn-more/events/golf-for-kids

This is a great sponsorship opportunity as golfers from all over the state with varying business needs attend, providing a diverse audience to showcase your business. As this tournament is in its 23rd year, it has a history of success and our golfers know that they get what they pay for.

The day includes 18 holes of golf, continental breakfast and afternoon buffet, contests for long drive and closest to the pin, free neck and shoulder massages, silent auction and a prize drawing, and a golf cannon. Yes, you read that correctly, a golf cannon.

Golf for Kids offers a wide variety of sponsorship levels from $150 up to $3,500. Being a sponsor allows you to get your company name out, while also benefitting the many children and young adults who are served by Ädelbrook. Being a golfer at this event promises a really great day with good food, fun activities all for a great cause.

Ädelbrook is a multi-service agency specializing in behavioral and developmental services. We are dedicated to meeting the unique needs of families and individuals, of all ages, as they relate to intellectual/developmental disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The organization provides short-term, long-term and respite residential programming for children and young adults. In-home and community-based services are customized from, as little as two hours a week, to round the clock staffing.  Additionally, an educational continuum for students aged 3 – 21 is provided.

For further information, call 860-635-6010 x327 or email Sharon Graves at sgraves@adelbrook.org

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Pegs from the Past Create Art for the Present; Chester Historical Soc. Hosts Reception for Challenge This Evening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Spring Exhibit on View at Maple & Main

‘My Cousin’s Chickens’ by Claudia van Nes is one of the signature works in the Maple & Main Spring Exhibit.

CHESTER — The Spring Exhibit at Maple and Main Gallery features selected works by more than 60 artists in a wide range of styles, sizes, mediums and price points.

The show opens Wednesday, April 4, and the opening reception will be Sunday, April 8, from 3 to 5 p.m. when there will be a wine tasting by Sunset Hills Vineyard in Old Lyme, live music by Alan James and refreshments.

Guests will be able to meet and talk with many of the artists.

In the Stone Gallery during April, students from Haddam Killingworth High School’s art program will exhibit their newest works.

The opening for this annual show is Friday, April 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. and includes small bites and beverages created by the school’s culinary art students and live music performed by students in the music program.

To see images from both exhibits, visit the gallery website at MapleandMainGallery.com. Also, visit the gallery on Facebook and Instagram.

Maple and Main Gallery at One Maple Street is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 860-526-6065.

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Together We Rise CT Holds a ‘March For Our Lives’ in East Haddam, Saturday

AREAWIDE — In support of students across the country, a March For Our Lives event will be held at Two Wrasslin’ Cats, 374 Town Street, East Haddam, on Saturday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Hosted by Together We Rise CT – Building Bridges for Justice, the event will be one of more than nearly 700 world-wide.

March For Our Lives was created, inspired, and led by students who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of school shootings. March For Our Lives believes the time to take action is now.

Students across the country are leading the way, and Together We Rise CT is proud to follow their lead. All are welcome to join them for a peaceful vigil of commemoration, featuring youth speakers and music, as everyone stands together in non-violent witness. Participants are requested to bring peaceful signs or banners only — and no pets.

RSVP at http://act.everytown.org/event/march-our-lives-events_attend/8903. If you wish to volunteer or have questions, e-mail togetherwerisect@gmail.com.

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Chester Garden Club Hosts Avian Author John Himmelman Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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State Representative Bob Siegrist to Seek Re-Election

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About those Transit hearings…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Widening I-95

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit the club’s website at https://ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com/. CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.ststeves.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information about the possible service reductions and ways to help prevent the funding cuts can be found at www.9towntransit.com/fundtransit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proposed Bus Fare Increases (pdf)

Proposed Rail Fare Increases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2018

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2020

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2021

Proposed Rail Service Reductions

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

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

   Shore Line East Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

Proposed Ferry Fare Increase (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Republican Ziobron Joins Race for 33rd State Senate Seat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Ziobron, visit www.melissaziobron.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more details and to apply visit, redsoxfoundation.org/service-scholarships.

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Community Music School Hosts Free Preview Week Through Friday

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

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

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

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

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

For additional information, visit www.community-music-school.org/programs, call 860-767-0026, or email info@community-music-school.org.

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

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CT River Museum Offers Range of Winter Wildlife Programs, Activities

Eagles on Ice: White-headed adult eagles can be seen in numbers along the lower Connecticut River. Photo by Mark Yuknat.

ESSEX — Winter along the Connecticut River brings many things – including cold winds and grey skies.  But the change in seasons also signals a shift in the ecology of New England’s Great River.  The osprey, the swallows and the egrets may be gone, but in their place now are mergansers, goldeneyes, and the highlight – bald eagles.  These once rare, majestic birds can be seen fishing along the unfrozen lower Connecticut River, a testament to one of the greatest environmental recoveries of the last half century.  To highlight these winter wonders, Connecticut River Museum (CRM) has planned a range of programs and activities.

Connecticut River Museum is happy to again partner with Connecticut River Expeditions to offer Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruises in February and March.  These popular trips offer visitors a chance to get out on the River in winter to see eagles, as well as other winter species that visit the estuary such as harbor seals.

This seal is relaxing on the Connecticut River ice. Photo by Bill Yule.

Cruises aboard the environmentally friendly R/V RiverQuest provide passengers with a comfortable, heated cabin supplied with hot coffee and tea, as well as binoculars to aid in spotting and narration from a staff naturalist.  These cruises depart Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at various times in the morning and early afternoon, and are $42 per passenger.  Museum members get 10 percent off and group rates are available.

In addition, the Museum will offer its annual Eagles of Essex exhibit, which offers a wealth of information about bald eagles and their return to the lower Connecticut River.  Patrons can try their hand at building an eagle nest, and marvel at life size silhouettes of Eagles and other large raptors, a map showing good shore viewing locations, and other displays.

On the opening day of the season, Saturday, Feb. 3, the exhibit will host Family Activities related to the return of the Eagles from 1 to 4 p.m., free with Museum admission.

On Saturday, Feb. 17 and March 17, award-winning photographer Stanley Kolber returns to CRM to offer his annual Bird Photography Workshop.  Kolber has been photographing birds for years, and takes great pleasure in sharing his experience with aspiring photographers of all levels, through anecdotes, slides, and question and answer.  In addition to helping skills development, his greatest pleasure in giving workshops is the opportunity to kindle and encourage his audience’s interest in the natural world.  He hopes that young people as well as adults will attend the workshops, so that he can impart some of his own enthusiasm to the next generation.  These popular programs are also free with Museum admission.

Species other than Eagles visit our River during the winter months. Photo by Joan Meek.

A Live Birds of Prey Show will be offered on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m.  CRM will partner with Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation Organization for this annual show, which features a bald eagle and several other species of raptors.  Visitors will be able to get an up close look at the birds while learning more about the lifecycle and ecology of these magnificent animals.  This event will be held at the Centerbrook Meeting House and is free to the public.

For a full listing of event details, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Connecticut River Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River.

For more information, call CRM at 860.767.8269 or RiverQuest at 860.662.0577.

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State Holds Flu Vaccination Day on Saturday; Local Clinics in Saybrook, New London

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

AREAWIDE — In effort to protect the public’s health and reduce the spread of the influenza (flu) virus, which has heavily affected the state, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is teaming up with local health departments to provide free or low cost influenza vaccine at several locations across the state on Saturday, Jan. 27. DPH strongly encourages all Connecticut residents over the age of 6 months to get a flu shot, and is working with local health departments and districts to make it easy to get one.

The full list of clinics and their locations is at this link.

The two clinics in or local to our coverage area, which are open on Saturday, are:

Old Saybrook
CT River Area Health District Office, 455 Boston Post Rd, Old Saybrook (Saybrook Junction)
10am-1pm
860-661-3300 (M-F)

New London
Ledge Light Health District:
216 Broad St. New London
11am-1pm
860-448-4882 (M-F)

You may attend any of the clinics listed regardless of the town you live in. If you have an insurance card bring one with you. Your insurance will be billed a small administration fee, but you will not be charged anything out of pocket. The vaccine is free.

In addition to the schedule below, many local health departments around the state are conducting on-going flu clinics. If you cannot attend one listed, check with your local health department for upcoming flu clinics.  Click here to find your local health department.

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A Rally to Remember — Women (Mostly) Gather to Call Attention to Power of Peaceful Protest

Three generations fighting for freedom: from left to right, Dale Griffith of Ivoryton takes time out from the rally for a photo with her five-year-old granddaughter, Eva Levonick, and her daughter (Eva’s mom) Becky Petersen, both of Old Lyme.

EAST HADDAM — More than 400 warmly dressed people gathered Saturday morning under clear skies on the forecourt of the Two Wrasslin’ Cats cafe in East Haddam to stand in solidarity with all the other Sister Marches taking place all over the country … and beyond.  The event was organized by Together We Rise CT (TWRCT) and facilitated by Theresa Govert, founder and chair of TWRCT.

Govert, pictured above, spoke passionately to the assembled crowd, which spanned both age and gender, reminding members that it was precisely one year since President Trump took office and to look back on all the things his presidency had changed and to be cognizant of all the things that are in line for change.  She emphasized the need at all times for peaceful protest and was emphatic about never responding to violence.

Govert is a recently returned United States Peace Corps Volunteer. She served for three years in Botswana, where she worked with her community to organize thousands for a national campaign to end gender-based violence, started a small business as an alternative economic employment opportunity for female sex workers and presented to participants of the White House Mapathon on the importance of free, accessible data.

In 2016, she was selected to receive the prestigious John F. Kennedy Service Award, awarded every five years to six individuals.

Christine Palm of Chester gave an impassioned speech to the attentive crowd.

The keynote speaker was Chester resident Christine Palm, who is Women’s Policy Analyst for the General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors and also principal of Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC.

Palm opened by reminding those gathered that, “One year ago, many people predicted the Women’s March would fizzle out — that we couldn’t sustain the momentum,” but then pointed out that, in fact, the opposite has happened, and, “In this past year, it’s only grown broader and deeper and more ferocious and more inclusive, and now nothing coming out of Washington escapes our notice, or our resistance.”

Noting, “It has not escaped our notice that this administration is defunding programs for veterans, kicking brave transgendered soldiers out of the military, and attacking women’s reproductive rights  that have been in place for decades,” Palm added, “We have paid attention to the fracking, back-stabbing … money-grubbing and gerrymandering,” before declaring, “The Women’s March has grown to encompass it all.”

Recalling the words of the renowned African-American civil rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley, who lived locally in Chester, Palm said, “There appears to be no limit as to how far the women’s revolution will take us,” pointing out, “That’s why we’re all still here, a year later.”

After thanking all those attending for “paying attention to what’s going on in our fractured, frightened world,” and acknowledging the work of all “the new, well organized progressive groups,” Palm expressed her gratitude to, “the hard-core folks who have kept vigil at this enlightened business, Two Wrasslin’ Cats, through rain and sweltering heat, every Saturday, for a year.”

Palm urged everyone not to give up, commenting on the fact that for the older people present, “it seems, we’ve been boycotting, and protesting, and working to right what is wrong,” for a very long time, but she noted, “We are buoyed not only by one another, but in remarkable new ways, by a smart, hardworking and committed group of young people.”  She thanked the Millennials for their “passion and energy,” which she determined, “cannot be overestimated.”

Palm gave a list of practical steps out of which she proposed everyone present could find at least one to follow.  Her suggestions included, “If you’re old enough to vote, do it. Don’t forget the municipal elections, which  have been lost and won by a handful of votes. If you are unaffiliated, please consider registering with a party so you can vote in the primary,” and “If you have a driver’s license and a car, offer to drive an elderly voter to the polls in November.”

She continued, “If you have any disposable income, support candidates you believe in. If you can walk, knock on doors. If you can hear, make telephone calls. If you like to cook, make food for a house party. If you speak a language other than English, offer to translate for an immigrants’ rights group. If you can write, pen an op-ed or a letter to the editor. If you teach, welcome difficult conversations in the classroom.”

Finally, she offered the idea, “If you can speak into a mic, testify at the Capitol,” before closing with the rousing call to all to, “Stay vigilant.  But stay hopeful, too,” and …

Pink “pussy” hats were much in evidence at the rally.

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Cappella Hosts Late Registration/Rehearsal for Haydn’s ‘Creation’

AREAWIDE — Cappella Cantorum Masterworks Chorus late registration and second rehearsal for its spring concert will take place Monday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River. Use the rear entrance.

Auditions are not required.

The concert will feature Haydn’s masterpiece, “The Creation,” that includes the well-known “The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God.” It will be performed Sunday, April 22, with professional soloists and orchestra with Simon Holt of the Salt Marsh Opera directing.

Registration is $40; music is $13.

For more information visit www.CappellaCantorum.org or call 860-526-1038.

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Op-Ed: In Light of Current Events, Head of The Country School Confirms, Defends School’s Mission

By John D. Fixx, Head of School at The Country School

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a moment in which people in the United States and throughout the world celebrate a gentleman who gave his life striving for equality and the principle that all people are created equal.

Our country has stood for generations as an example of hope for people throughout the world. Many relatives of our families and teachers arrived here recently or generations ago. Some arrived as slaves. Some arrived voluntarily to seek a better life of freedom, opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness.

I am concerned that students have recently been hearing from the White House, the entertainment world, and the sports world that not all people are created equal. I send this letter, therefore, to make it clear how language and actions in the news today are counter to our mission at The Country School — to make it clear that as educators we will honor forthright questions from inquisitive students while striving to respect parental prerogative and disparate political viewpoints. It should not be controversial to deplore language and actions that undermine the bedrock on which the United States has been built and has prospered.

Our students might be reading on their phones and hearing stories about the mistreatment of women in Hollywood, on Olympic teams, and by influential men in broadcasting and elsewhere, while also hearing reports of hateful, racist, dangerous words from Washington that are inappropriate to use anywhere on our campus or use, many would argue, anywhere in a polite, civil society.

The Country School’s mission reads, “We nurture every student’s unique role in the community,” and that means that we value their differences. We live our mission daily by “encouraging students to embrace differences, explore new perspectives, and find common ground in a multicultural world.” We honor this ethos especially through our IDEA (Interpreting Diversity Education through Action) Day and Theme Day workshops, but also every day when we teach empathy and kindness.

I am tremendously proud of The Country School’s increasing diversity, as measured in terms of race, culture, family structures, religion, nationality, socio-economic status, and so forth. Our students’ families come from at least 27 different countries and their parents and grandparents speak some 17 languages at home. Our community spans the world, from Poland to Portugal and from China to Cambodia, from India to Israel to Italy to Ireland to Iceland, from Taiwan to Texas, from Lima to London, from Hungary to Sudan, and from California to Colombia. As educators, we cannot defend the idea that some families’ countries are worse or better than other countries.

Our core values state that our students “practice empathy by considering different perspectives and making all members of the community feel welcomed, included, and respected.” The Country School’s Mission Statement speaks to character and leadership development. As we teach our students in the Elmore Leadership Program, there are many ways to lead, and the best leaders bring disparate groups together to accomplish more than any individual could achieve on her or his own. And as part of the Elmore Leadership Program, we also teach students that leaders should use elegant, elevated language, and they should avoid profanity, misogyny, and similar “locker room” language.

We routinely answer questions as candidly and cleanly as we can, keeping our politics as adults as neutral as possible. I write this not to address specific tax policies or the Russian investigation, or a Mexican border wall, or trade agreements, or North Korean missiles, and so forth.

Rather, I want to make clear that it is part of our leadership mission at The Country School to ensure that our students understand that people can disagree agreeably, can use civil and respectful language, and — whether in Connecticut, Washington D.C., New York, or Hollywood — can always follow our primary school rule:

        1. Be kind.

Editor’s Note: Founded in 1955, The Country School serves 215 students in PreSchool to Grade 8 on its 23-acre campus in Madison. See our community in action during our Open House on January 28 from 1-3:30 p.m. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org.

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Women’s Vigil to be Held Today in East Haddam; Goodspeed Bridge Closed to Traffic During Day


Update 1/20 in italics: EAST HADDAM —A sister vigil will be held today, Saturday, Jan. 20, from 10 to 11 a.m. at Two Wrasslin’ Cats (374 Town Street, East Haddam, CT).

You may need to take a different route to the event, if you were planning to cross the East Haddam bridge across the Connecticut River.

The following notice was posted by the CT DOT Friday afternoon:

Weekend Traffic Notice Regarding The Closing of Route 82 in East Haddam at the East Haddam at the East Haddam Swing Bridge Because of Ice Dam at the Bridge.

The CT DOT announced that the Coast Guard will have the bridge open for several hours sometime tomorrow. The major problem is the Coast Guard will only give an hour’s notice about the opening.

Here’s how to cross the river if you are north of the bridge at Exit 7 on Route 9, or if you’re to the south of the bridge on Route 9.

If you are south of Exit 7 on Route 9, head south on 9 and go East on I-95. You will be getting off at the first exit across the river for Old Lyme, Route 156 and take 156 north to route 82 and follow it to East Haddam.

If you are north of Exit 7 on Route 9, go north and get off at the exit for Portland and follow route 66 East to Cobalt where you will go south on 151 to East Haddam.

Whatever you use to plan your route, if you are on the WEST side of the Connecticut River, you must cross on I-95 or at Middletown to get to the rally.

For those interested in attending, RSVP’s are requested at this link.One year after the historic Women’s March on Washington, when millions marched across the world and 500 showed up in East Haddam, this event will be focused on bringing our communities together and moving onto the next stage of the movement. In 2018, the intent is to channel energy and activism into tangible strategies and concrete wins to create transformative social and political change.

There will be a standing vigil (with limited seats available for those who are not able to stand for the duration of an hour) not a march (in order to increase accessibility for people with disabilities and/or small children).

The vigil will be near a sign that says, “Dear Muslims, Immigrants, Women, Disabled, LGBTQ+ folks and People of Color. We love you- boldly & proudly. We will endure. -Shaun King”. Attendees are welcome to bring your own signs and banners.

Theresa Govert, founder and chair of Together We Rise CT (TWRCT), will be facilitating and speaking at the event. She is a recently returned United States Peace Corps Volunteer. She served for three years in Botswana, where she worked with her community to organize thousands for a national campaign to end gender-based violence, started a small business as an alternative economic employment opportunity for female sex workers and presented to participants of the White House Mapathon on the importance of free, accessible data.

In 2016, she was selected to receive the prestigious John F. Kennedy Service Award, awarded every five years to six individuals.

In 2017, she was one of six women under the age of 40 who received Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) and Young Women Rising‘s The Future is Now Award.

All participants should park at the Rotary Skating Pond or the Upper Parking lot of Town Tavern & Restaurant and walk (approx 30 seconds to the site of the vigil). For those with limited mobility, there will be parking reserved in the parking lot of Two Wrasslin’ Cats (the site of the vigil). Car-pooling is strongly recommended.

The vigil will be held in the parking lot of the Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee shop, so people with children, senior citizens, etc will be able to go inside and warm up during the event.

If you have any questions/concerns/suggestions, email togetherwerisect@gmail.com

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Chester Garden Club Hosts Avian Author John Himmelman, March 20

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

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

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

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

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‘What Is It?’ on View at Maple & Main Through Jan. 21

‘Siena Sky’ is one of the signature paintings in “What Is It?” at Maple & Main Gallery.

CHESTER — The opening party for “What is it?” a show of abstract art by Maple and Main artists will be Friday, Jan. 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. during the First Friday celebration in town.

Visitors to Maple and Main sometimes puzzle in front of an abstract painting guessing what the artist was after or seeing their own vision, “It looks like a storm in the mountains,” “I see birds,” or most gratifyingly, of course, “I love this.”

Abstract art is open to interpretation; it covers a wide range of art that, in general, it is not a depiction of visual reality. But, it can be argued that all art is an abstraction of a kind – if you saw the underpinnings of most art, it would seem abstract to you – mainly, lines, tones, shapes.

Maple and Main is featuring the new abstract work of our artists, including some by artists who generally do quite representational work, in this special show in the Stone Gallery. It opens Thursday, Jan. 4, and only runs through Sunday, Jan. 21.

Maple and Main, at One Maple Street, is open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  To see some of the art in this show, visit mapleandmaingallery.com, email mapleandmain@att.net or call 860-526-6065.

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Volunteers Needed to Help Valley Shore Residents With Literacy Challenges

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization.  Its mission is to train tutors to help residents of the Valley Shore area who wish to improve their reading, writing or speaking English to improve their life and work skills.  This one-to-one instruction is held confidential and is completely without charge to the student.

Tutor training is a 14-hour program conducted over seven sessions held each spring and again in the fall of every year.  The next training session begins March 22 and runs through May 15. Workshop Leaders have developed a comprehensive program that provides prospective tutors the skills and resources to help them succeed.

A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to helping a student improve their skill in basic literacy or English as a Second Language over the period of one year after the completion of training.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor, contact the Literacy Volunteers office in the lower level of the Westbrook Public Library by phone at (860) 399-0280 or by e-mail at jargersinger@lvvs.org .  Registration for the spring session is open now.

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Acclaimed Photographer Charles Mazel Discusses Fluorescence Photography at CVCC Meeting, Monday

Desert Pincushion by Charles Mazel.

AREAWIDE — The guest speaker at the Monday, Jan. 15 meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be the acclaimed photographer Charles Mazel, who will give a presentation titled “Fluorescence Photography.”  The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn. All are welcome.

For Charles Mazel, photography was initially a tool to document his exploration of underwater fluorescence. SCUBA diving at night with an ultraviolet light and customized camera gear, he photographed fluorescing marine organisms, especially corals in the Caribbean.

His discoveries and images led him into a scientific career researching fluorescence underwater and developing equipment to observe, document, and measure it, with photography as a key tool for communication.

Mazel’s underlying fascination with fluorescence has broadened into an exploration of the phenomenon wherever it may occur in the world around us. His involvement with the Bedford Center for the Arts Photography Group provided feedback from colleagues and professionals that has led to a new focus on the artistic aspects of fluorescence.

Mazel’s underwater fluorescence images were featured in a solo show in MIT’s Strobe Alley and in a two-person show at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. He has had individual images, from both below and above water, in a curated show at the Joyce Goldstein gallery in SoHo and in juried exhibitions at the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Bedford Public Library, and the Providence Center for Photographic Arts.

The CVCC is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers. The group offers a variety of presentations and interactive workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills. Photographers of all levels of experience are welcomed.

The club draws members from up and down the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook; from East Hampton to Old Lyme; and along the shoreline from Guilford to Gales Ferry.

For more information, visit the club’s website at https://ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com/. CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage/

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Deals Galore Tomorrow as Chester Hosts ‘First Friday’ of 2018

‘Love Wisdom and Knowledge’ is one of the signature paintings at Maple & Main’s new ‘What Is It?” show.

CHESTER – Expect deep savings everywhere, food, wine, music, art openings and more during “Once in a Blue Moon” First Friday, Jan. 5 when all the businesses in the downtown are open until at least 8 p.m.

The January first Friday is being called, “Once in a Blue Moon,” because town-wide sales are rare in Chester.

The Perfect Pear, will be having its first major sale, including 40 percent off  all holiday goods, a 50 percent off hodgepodge sale and homemade cookies

Blackkat Leather is moving to more spacious quarters in town in the new year so is having a 25 percent sale on all leather products while Dina Varano will have a sale on winter merchandise and knits, and serve refreshments, as will all businesses this special night.

Grano will take half off the price of the first drink at a meal and at Harvest Moon, there will be deep discounts plus the Grays musical group will play from 8 to 10 p.m.

First Friday is the opening party for “What Is It?” a show in Maple and Main’s Stone Gallery of abstract art by the gallery artists. There will also be a selection of unframed abstract work at very reasonable prices.

There will be three large tables piled with deals at 40 to 50 percent off at Lori Warner while there will be 20 percent off everything at Lark that night, as well as a 20 percent across-the-board sale at the French Hen,.

C&G’s Star Sale begins the first week of January with a 20 to 80 percent off on many items with an extra 10 percent off on Frist Friday.

Stop at Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio to view new art and listen to Arrowhead play.

And, sadly, First Friday will be the last night for Ruba Ruba in town, but the pop-up shop is going out in style with a closing night bash, champagne and specials.

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Madhatters Hosts Auditions for ‘Annie,’ Saturday

AREAWIDE — Madhatters Theatre Company is currently accepting appointments for auditions for their spring production of ‘Annie’.  Auditions will be held at Lyme’s Youth Service Bureau 59 Lyme Street in Old Lyme on Saturday Jan. 6, 2018 by appointment only.  This production is open to ages 6-18 years of age.

Rehearsals will be held in Old Lyme on Saturdays with show week the week of May 15, 2018 at Chester Meeting House.

To schedule an appointment or if you have any further questions, e-mail madhattersctc@aol.com or call (860) 395-1861.

For more information, visit www.ctkidsonstage.com/madhatterstheatrecompany

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