July 26, 2014

Ballot News Ranks Connecticut’s 33rd Senate Race One of Most Competitive Statewide

Bjornberg1

Emily Bjornberg, Democratic candidate for the 33rd Senate Seat

Ballotnews.org ranked the most competitive legislative races in Connecticut on their website today, with the 33rd Senate contest ranked as one of the top four.

The ranking comes a day after Emily Bjornberg, the Democratic candidate for the 33rd Senate Seat, was approved by the State Elections Enforcement Commission for a clean elections fund grant ahead of her incumbent opponent Art Linares.

State grants require the candidate to demonstrate significant support behind their campaign, with small contributions required from at least 300 constituents and at least $15,000 raised in the aggregate.

The 33rd Senate contest is one of only four state senate races statewide held by an incumbent to be ranked as competitive on the Ballotnews.org list.   The full list can be found at:  www.ballotnews.org/ state-legislatures/ legislative-lowdown- identifying-competitive- connecticut-elections-in-2014/ 

Connecticut’s 33rd State Senate District includes the communities of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook as well as Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Lyme, Portland and Westbrook.

 

Play Ball! 19th-Century Style – Sep. 21

The historical societies of Chester, Deep River and Essex are teaming up to present a tri-town Vintage Base Ball game on Sunday, Sept. 21 at Devitt Field in Deep River. The 2 p.m. game will be free to the public.

Three teams – one from each town – are being formed. The teams will play by late 19th-century rules (such as no bunting or stealing) and customs to recreate the earliest days of America’s pastime, when courtesy prevailed on and off the playing field. There is no swearing, no spitting and no “ungentlemanly” behavior anywhere during the games.

Ballists (players) will use replica equipment such as authentic reproduction wooden bats and hand-sewn hard balls. No gloves are worn.

The three teams will play two or three-inning games in a round-robin format.

Men and women over age 16 who enjoy playing baseball and have an interest in the game’s history are encouraged to submit their name to chestercthistoricalsociety@gmail.com before July 29 to be considered for a team. Team members will be asked to pay $20 each for a vintage team shirt.

Master Plan Suggests Library Site for Chester’s North Quarter Park

Chester Library Is Considering an Expansion

Chester Library Is Considering an Expansion (photo by Jerome Wilson)

CHESTER— A proposed master plan has identified a potential site for a new library and other possible improvements for the town’s North Quarter Park. The plan recommended by the town’s North Quarter Park committee was presented to about 25 residents at a public information meeting Wednesday.

The plan for the 22-acre park on the eastern end of Main Street was prepared over the past eight weeks by landscape architects Richter & Cegan Inc. of Avon. A key component of the plan suggests locating a two-story, 8,000-square foot library on the front section of the parcel, with the main entrance from a proposed 50 space parking area in back of the building.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the plan would help guide the efforts of a separate library building committee that is currently working to develop preliminary plans for a new library building in time to meet an August 29 deadline for submitting an application for a state library construction grant of up to $1 million. “The committees are working together to do sufficient work to be positioned well for the grant application,” he said. The library building committee has recommended hiring LLB Architects (Lerner, Lads & Bartells) of Pawtucket, R.I. to prepare preliminary design plans for the library building.

Landscape architect Mike Cegan outlined other possible improvements for the park, including a pavilion and lawn area, a multi-purpose improved recreation field and trails that would provide access to the northern section of the park that has views of tidal wetlands and Chester Creek. The existing children’s playground would be relocated, with the site of the former community center building that has frontage on Route 154 recommended as the location for a parks and recreation storage shed. There would be no improvements in wetlands areas.

The proposed master plan drew a generally positive response from residents at the meeting, though two residents continued to question the decision made earlier this year by the board of selectmen and library board of trustees to abandon plans for a renovation and expansion of the existing 1907 library building on West Main Street (Route 148).

Joe Cohen contended there are “too many moving parts” to the library/park project and a separate plan to reconstruct a section of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 to the entrance of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. Cohen also questioned the total cost of the library project and possible park improvements.

Meehan said securing the state grant that is awarded in November would be a major step in lining up funding for construction of a new library, though a bonding authorization would also be required to pay for construction of the new building. Meehan said the town could pursue completion of other improvements at the park “over time” by setting aside funds in the annual town budget’s capital improvements plan, and seeking other grant funding.

Local Authors Donate to the Chester Chapter American Legion

From left to right; Art Christensen, Bob Sumner, Todd Curry, Christopher Abbott and Jerry LaMark (Photo taken by Bruce Watrous)

From left to right; Art Christensen, Bob Sumner, Todd Curry, Christopher Abbott and Jerry LaMark (Photo taken by Bruce Watrous)

Authors Todd A. Curry and Christopher D. Abbott have donated a portion of their profits from one of their recently released thrillers, to the Chester Chapter American Legion, Post 97. The donation is to offset the cost of flags that Legion members place on the graves of our fallen soldiers.

For more than 200 years, Old Glory has served as a symbol of our Nation’s freedom and as a source of pride for our citizens. On “Flag-day” we recognize our veterans who served to protect the flag. We honor those many soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, in the name of Liberty, Unity, and Justice. The members of the American legion, post 97 in Chester, are just a few of the 800,000 members of the National American Legion, who volunteer millions of hours of their time yearly.

Curry and Abbott wanted to recognize the sacrifices these veterans make, and express their gratitude to the Legion members who volunteer their time. They decided to make the donation to the Legion, in order to help offset the cost of the flags. Curry, a veteran himself, said: “The guys here in Chester are all War heroes who never ask for anything themselves. They simply move forward every day volunteering time to help their brother and sister veterans, and their families.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Chester American Legion can do so by Jerry LaMark or mail a contribution to American Legion, PO Box 54, Chester, Ct 06412

Anyone interested in purchasing “Revolting Tales” can find links to it here: www.cdanabbott.com/ buymybooks.html

Chester Museum at The Mill Tells Chester’s Story – Weekends

The Chester Museum at The Mill has been owned by the Chester Historical Society since 2000. It was first opened as a museum in 2010. Located on a waterfall on the Pattaconk Brook near the center of town, the mill site was once used to produce anchors, wagon springs, and augers. Photo by Katherine Hilliar

The Chester Museum at The Mill has been owned by the Chester Historical Society since 2000. It was first opened as a museum in 2010. Located on a waterfall on the Pattaconk Brook near the center of town, the mill site was once used to produce anchors, wagon springs, and augers. Photo by Katherine Hilliar

The Chester Museum at The Mill opens for its fourth year on Saturday, May 31. Owned and operated by the Chester Historical Society, the museum is located on the historic 1850s Griswold Mill site, overlooking a waterfall and the Pattaconk Brook near the center of town.

On the first floor is the exhibit, “Over the River and Through the Woods – Early Transportation in Chester,” telling the stories of the beginning of the town’s roads and highways, as well as the train, the trolley, the ferry, and the steamboat. The exhibit, which opened in 2013 thanks to partial funding by the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, has been expanded this year to include early bicycles and features a 54-inch Columbia Allbright “ordinary” on loan from the Connecticut Historical Society. New photographs and artifacts of trains, including “Old 97” from the movie, “It Happened to Jane,” have also been included this year.

The Columbia Allbright “ordinary” or high-wheeler bicycle, owned by the CT Historical Society, was made in Hartford in the late 19th century. At 54 inches tall, it sparks one’s imagination about how anyone could get on it to ride through the town. It can be seen at the Chester Museum at The Mill through the summer.

The Columbia Allbright “ordinary” or high-wheeler bicycle, owned by the CT Historical Society, was made in Hartford in the late 19th century. At 54 inches tall, it sparks one’s imagination about how anyone could get on it to ride through the town. It can be seen at the Chester Museum at The Mill through the summer.

On the second floor of the museum (reachable by elevator as well as stairs) is the permanent award-winning exhibit, “Streams of Change: Life & Industry along the Pattaconk.” Together, the two exhibits tell the story of the life, development and growth of Chester.

The Chester Museum at The Mill is open to the public on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through the end of October. It is air-conditioned as well as handicapped accessible. Admission is free. More information at www.ChesterHistoricalSociety.org.

 

Chester Town Meeting Approves $12.5 Million Town/Schools Budget Plan for 2014-2015

CHESTER— The spring budget season ended quietly Thursday night as voters at the annual budget meeting approved a $12,507,736 budget plan for 2014-2015. About 40 residents turned out for the meeting, with the budget and a related $350,000 transfer of funds for capital projects approved on unanimous voice votes.

The spending package includes a $3,649,681 town government budget, a $342,670 capital expenditure plan, a $4,150,677 appropriation for Chester Elementary School, and the town’s $4,364,508 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 budget was approved by voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 6 referendum.

The spending plan that won quick approval Thursday will require a property tax rate of 24.82 mills, an increase of 2.87 mills from the current tax rate of 21.95 mills. The new rate represents $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. The hike in the mill rate was driven by a 12 percent decrease in the grand list of taxable property that resulted from the townwide property revaluation completed last year.

But the drop in assessed values for residential property that came with the revaluation is also expected to cover or limit any increase in tax bills resulting from the new and higher mill rate. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said 57 percent of all property owners will have a decrease in their tax bill, while some total bills will remain the same or have a small increase.

Meehan said the selectmen and board of finance endorsed two transfers from the town undesignated fund balance to limit the need for additional tax revenue and calculate the tax rate at 24.82 mills. There was a direct transfer of $13,287, and an additional transfer of $350,000 to prefund capital projects for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 budget years
The transfer for capital projects, which was approved on a unanimous voice vote, includes $300,000 for road and sidewalk repairs, $150,000 in 2014-2015 and $150,000 in 2015-2016, and $50,000 for repairs and code compliance improvements at town buildings. The transfer is expected to leave about $1.8 million in the fund balance on June 30, 2015.

Chester Selectmen Stand by Main Street Project with North Side Sidewalk

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Wednesday approved plans for the Main Street East project that include a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road that has drawn objections from some residents in recent weeks.

The board accepted the recommendation of the volunteer Main Street Project Committee to direct project engineers to prepare final design plans that would include the north side sidewalk. The decision was unanimous and bipartisan, with Republican Selectman Tom Englert joining Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan and Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher in the vote.

The Main Street East Project, the first phase of a long-planned reconstruction of Main Street through the downtown village, calls for reconstructing 1,800 linear feet of Main Street from the entrance to the Laurel Hill Cemetery east to the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Route 148). The committee’s recommendation for a continuous north side sidewalk, made in March, drew a mixed response from residents at a well-attended April 22 public information meeting

Project engineers with the Mystic firm Kent & Frost Associates presented alternative plans at the session, with most of the discussion focused on the north side sidewalk option that would require some changes to residential properties at 131 and 137 Main Street. Many of the objections focused on the need to remove three mature maple tree in the vicinity of 131 Main St. and the School Lane intersection. But other residents supported the plan for a continuous north side sidewalk and safer and more convenient for pedestrians, particularly with the possibility the town will pursue construction of a new library on a section of North Quarter Park that is located off the north side of the street.

The property owners at 131 Main St., David and Lisa Meade, have expressed a willingness to accept the sidewalk with tree removal and work with the committee and engineers on landscape improvements and replacement of the trees. The property owners at 137 Main St., Jeff and Comer Gates, continue to oppose the project plans.

Comer Gates and three other residents continued to voice objections to the north side sidewalk before the board’s vote Wednesday. Henry Krempel suggested delaying a decision on the north side sidewalk until after plans and funding for a new library at North Quarter park receive approval from town voters.

But Meehan said the Main Street reconstruction is “long overdue,” with the north side sidewalk a much safer long range improvement for pedestrians. He noted all work for the four-foot wide sidewalk would be in the town’s right of way, with no need for taking of any private property for the project. Meehan said the town remains willing to work with both property owners, and pick up the cost for landscaping improvements on their properties.
Englert, who served briefly as acting first selectman in 2011, said he had initial concerns about the north side sidewalk, but was convinced by comments from residents at the April 22 information meeting that it would be a safer long term improvement for the town by reducing the number of crosswalks between the north and south side of the street.

Meehan said there would be no need for a town meeting vote on the project design plans, though a town meeting vote would be required at a future date to transfer any needed town funding for the project. Most of the project would be funded by about $980,000 in state grant funds, though some additional town funding would likely be needed before the project could be put out to bid. Officials hop to being construction of the Main Street East project in the spring of 2015.
In other business Wednesday, selectmen accepted a volunteer committee’s recommendation to hire the Avon firm Richter & Cegan inc. as the consults for drafting a master plan for North Quarter Park that would include a possible library site The other firm interviewed by the committee Wednesday was Kent & Frost.. Officials want the master plan completed by July 15.

Chester Town and Elementary School Budgets Head for May 22 Town Vote After Quiet Public Hearing

CHESTER— A proposed $3.64 million town government budget and a $4.15 appropriation for Chester Elementary School head for a town meeting vote on May 22 after a quiet public hearing Monday.

Barely a dozen residents turned out for the budget hearing, with no calls for changes or reductions to the spending plans. The town government budget is up by $132,627 over the current appropriation, while the requested budget for the elementary school has decreased by $31,696. The total $12,507,736 spending package also includes a $342,870 capital expenditure plan, and the town’s $4,364,508 share of the Region 4 education budget.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan explained that a sharp 12 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property resulting from last year’s townwide property revaluation would require an increase in the tax rate, though decreases in assessed values for nearly all residential properties would mean that nearly all property owners would see either a decrease, or no change, in their current tax bills. The recommended tax rate for 2014-2015 is 24.82 mills, an increase of 3.87 mills from the current rate of 21.95 mills, The proposed rate represents $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Meehan said calculations by the assessor and tax collector indicate 57 percent of all property owners would have a decrease in their tax bill, even with the higher mill rate. This total includes 60 percent of all homeowners, 65 percent of all owners of vacant land, and 17 percent of all owners of commercial property. Meehan said the finance board has decided to use about $350,000 in surplus funds to “prepay” for key items in the capital expenditure plan for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. He said this would help limit tax increases for 2014-2015 and subsequent years.

The plan recommended by the board of selectmen and finance board would also transfer $13,287 from the town’s unexpended fund balance to cover spending in the next fiscal year, while leaving an estimated $1.83 million in the fund balance on June 30, 2015. The spending plan also includes $20,000 to fund  architectural design work for a possible new library building in North Quarter Park.

The annual budget meeting to vote on the town government and elementary school budgets is set for Thursday May 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the second floor meeting room at town hall. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on Tuesday May 6.

A Smooth Transition from Essex to Westbrook for Middlesex Hospital

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

On Monday morning, April 28, Middlesex Hospital quietly closed its doors to medical patients at its long-term Shoreline Medical Center in Essex, and at the same time, opened its doors to new patients at its new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook. The new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center is located at 250 Flat Rock Place, Westbrook, just off of Interstate 95 at Exit 65 and neighbors to the Tanger Outlets.

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

There were a multitude of road signs posted, announcing that the Shoreline Medical Center in Essex was moving to Westbrook. The move was also widely covered in the media. The new facility opened its doors at 7 a.m. with its first Emergency Department patient arriving at 7:01 a.m.

With 44,000 square feet the new Medical Center in Westbrook is double the size of the old medical center in Essex. In contrast to the building of the old Essex center, the new Medical Center in Westbrook has two, distinct entrances. They are: (1) The Whelen Emergency Pavilion ­– 24/7 emergency services with 24 acute care beds and (2) the Outpatient Center ­– two entrances, registration and waiting area.

The Whelen Emergency Pavilion offers patients true emergency care with its separate, covered entrance for up to five ambulatory vehicles, including a helipad to transport patients from the Emergency Department, and an “Express Care” designated to minor injuries or illness but still considered an emergency visit.

As for the Outpatient Center, it offers patients a wide range of medical services. They are: (1) Radiology Department, including the latest generation MRI, CT scanning, X-ray digital fluoroscopy and more, (2) Women’s Imaging Center, including digital mammography, ultrasound and bone densitometry, (3) Laboratory for emergency and routine blood work, and (4) Infusion – a private area for receiving intravenous (IV) fluids.

 Middlesex Hospital President and CEO On Hand

On hand for the first day of operation of the new Shoreline Medical Center was Middlesex Hospital’s President and CEO, Vincent Capece. Regarding the move from Essex to the new facility, Capece said, “The transition to our new facility has been smooth, and there were no major glitches. This was the result of all the efforts of many employees in planning this transition.”

Opening day -  (left to right) Pat Cozza, volunteer; Vincent Capece, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital; and Beth Saity, Telecommunications.

Opening day – (left to right) Pat Cozza, volunteer; Vincent Capece, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital; and Beth Saity, Telecommunications.

Chester Town Government and Elementary School Budgets go to Public Hearing

CHESTER— A proposed $3.64 million town government budget and a proposed $4.15 million appropriation for Chester Elementary School will be presented at the annual budget hearing Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room at town hall.

The $3,649,681 town government budget, which includes a 2.75percent wage/salary increase for town employees and elected officials, is up by $133,626 from the current appropriation. The $4,150,677 budget for Chester Elementary School is down by $31,696 from the current appropriation.

The total $12,507,736 spending package for 2014-2015 also includes a $342,870 capital expenditure plan, and the town’s $4,364,508 share of the Region 4 education budget. The capital plan is down by $30,750. After a sharp drop in the town’s share of the region 4 budget last year because of fewer students from Chester attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, the Chester share of the proposed Region 4 budget is up by $106,915.

Calculations for the property tax rate have been shaped by the ten-year townwide property revaluation that was completed last year. The revaluation resulted in a, 12 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property, reflecting the decline in property values that followed the Great Recession that began in 2008. More than 90 percent of the town’s residential properties had a decrease in assessed values.

The board of selectmen and finance board, in preparing the spending plan over the past two months, had set a goal of avoiding any actual increase in tax bills for homeowners. While the tax rate is recommended to increase by 3.87 mills, to 24.82 mills from the current rate of 21.95 mills, decreases in assessed values are expected to cover the increase and forestall higher tax bills.

The new rate would represent $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. With help from a lower share of the Region 4 budget, the tax rate was dropped by one-half mill last year.to fund current spending.

The town and elementary school budgets go to voters for approval at the annual budget meeting on May 22. The Region 4 budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

Main Street East Reconstruction Project Draws Mixed Response at Chester Meeting, Location of New Sidewalks an Issue

CHESTER— The Main Street East reconstruction project drew a mixed reaction from residents an a public information meeting Tuesday, with some residents objecting to plans for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road.

About 70- residents turned out for the session held by the town’s volunteer Main Street Project Committee, with residents hearing a presentation by project engineer Kent Frost on two options for a segment of the project that has generated some debate in recent weeks. The project is the first phase of a long-planned project that will later include reconstruction of Main Street in the downtown commercial area. It calls for a reconstruction of 1,800-feet of Main Street from the entrance to the Laurel Hill Cemetery east to the intersection with  Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The committee last month gave a preliminary endorsement to constructing a four-foot wide sidewalk from the entrance to the cemetery east to Route 154, while also retaining and improving sidewalk that runs along portions of the south side of the street, including the area in the vicinity of the Chesterfields Health Care Center. The committee decided a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street would enhance pedestrian safety by reducing the need for crossing the street to use sidewalk, though existing crosswalks at the intersection with School Lane and in front of Chesterfields would be retained and improved. Another factor in the panel’s recommendation is the possibility the town would built a new library at North Quarter Park on the north side of the street, bringing increased pedestrian traffic to this section of Main Street.

But some residents have objected to a proposed removal of three mature Maple trees in the vicinity of School Lane and the residential property at 131 Main St., and plans for sidewalk in front of a residential property at 137 Main St., where the existing house is closer to the roadway. A second option presented Tuesday would include improvements to the sidewalk on the south side of the street, but no continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road.

Frost said the property owners at 131 Main Street where the three trees are located, David and Lisa Meade, have offered qualified support for the plan, and a willingness to work with the committee on replacing the trees with newer trees and possible fencing. He said the property owners at 137 Main Street, Jeffrey and Mary Gates, have objected to the plans because of the proximity of the sidewalk to their house, and the need to remove a privacy hedge in front of a portion of their property.

Several residents at the meeting, and five who submitted written statements, expressed support for the continuous sidewalk ion the north side of the street. Most of the objections expressed at the meeting focused on the removal of the three trees, which are within the town’s road right-of-way.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the hedge in front of 137 Main St. is also located within the town right-of-way, and is a liability for the town because it blocks sight line views in the area of the crosswalk from a staff parking lot to the Chesterfields facility. He said the hedge must be removed even if there is no Main Street East reconstruction project.

Meehan said Wednesday the committee, in discussion after the public comment portion of the meeting, expressed a consensus to stand by the original recommendation for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street. Meehan said the board of selectmen would discuss the committee’s recommendation further at a meeting next month.
But Meehan also confirmed the debate over sidewalks has delayed an initial goal of putting the project out to bid and beginning construction by this fall. He said construction is now expected to begin in the spring of 2015. The estimated $1 million project is funded by a combination of state grants and some town funding.

Chester Selectmen Appoint Committee to Prepare Plans for a New Library for North Quarter State Park

CHESTER— The board of selectmen has appointed a second volunteer committee to prepare preliminary design plans for a new library at North Quarter Park. The board established the committee at its meeting Tuesday, two weeks after appointing a separate volunteer committee to develop a master plan for use of the 22-acre park located off the north side of Main Street.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said Wednesday the committee, which could have up to nine members, would assist in hiring an architectural firm to prepare preliminary design plans for a building that would house the library, and possibly some other secondary municipal use. Meehan said funding for architectural services would be included in the next town budget that takes effect July 1.

Unlike the North Quarter Park Master Plan Study Committee, which included representatives of the board of finance, planning and zoning commission, and Main Street Project Committee, the second committee is comprised mostly of residents involved with the Chester Public Library. Along with Librarian Linda Fox and library board of trustees chairwoman Terry Schreiber, the committee includes Jean Davies, Richard Harrall, Denny Tovie, Lois Nadel, and Patricia Halloway. Davies, Tovie and Nadel are library trustees or were involved with earlier study committees for a library expansion, while Halloway works as a professional librarian in West Hartford.

After two years of considering options for a renovation and expansion of the historic 1907 library building on West Main Street (Route 148), library supporters agreed over the winter to refocus on the option of building a new library at North Quarter Park. Meehan acknowledged the latest committee could evolve in to a building committee if voters approve plans and funding for a new library building.

The North Quarter Park Master Plan Study Committee is expected to hire a consultant by mid-May to complete a master plan for uses of the park by mid-July, while the second committee should be able to hire an architectural firm by July. Library supporters are hoping the town can make a final decision on a library project before a September deadline to apply for available state grant funding for library building projects.

Meehan said meeting the September deadline for making a town decision on a library project “is going to be tough,” while adding that with the two volunteer committees working with the board of selectmen “we’re going to try” to meet the grant application deadline.

Chester Elementary School Budget Proposed at $4.12 Million, a Decrease from Current Amount

CHESTER— The local board of education has approved a proposed $4,122,077 budget for Chester Elementary School for 2014-2015, a total that is $67,021 less than the current budget appropriation for the school.

Declining enrollment at the kindergarten through sixth grade school is the major reason for the reduced spending. A current enrollment of 214 students is projected to fall to 200 students by the start of the 2-14-2015 school year. The budget includes savings of $60,430 from staffing changes and $11,693 from a reduction in hours for a physical education teacher position.

But the spending plan include $1,635 for a new part-time extra curricular programs mentor position. There is also $18,000 to replace the sidewalk around the back of the school, and $7,647 for new furnishings, including classroom furniture, library tables, and gymnasium mats. The budget funds 33 full and part- time positions; along with three para-educator positions that are funded by grants.

The budget plan for the elementary school has been reviewed by the board of finance, and will be presented with the proposed town government budget at the annual budget hearing later this month. The elementary school and town government budgets for 2014-2015 will be presented for voter approval at the annual budget meeting in May.

April 22 Public Hearing Meeting Set for Chester Main Street Project, Location of Sidewalks an Issue

CHESTER– The Main Street Project Committee has scheduled an April 22 public information meeting on the latest plans for the Main Street East phase of the multi-year project. The session begins at 7 p.m. in the community room at town hall.

The appointed committee is coordinating the long-planned Main Street reconstruction project, with the first phase calling for reconstruction of about 1,800-square-feet of Main Street from the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Route 154) west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. The committee is working with Kent & Frost Associates, a Mystic firm hired by the board of selectmen last fall to prepare engineering design plans with bid documents for the initial phase of the project.

The initial design plans, which were first presented at a public information meeting on Jan. 29, have drawn questions and objections from some residents over tree removals and the location and design of sidewalks on both the north and south sides of the street.. There is currently sidewalk on most of the south side of the street, with several gaps in the sidewalk on the north side of the street..

The committee voted at a meeting last month in favor of constructing a continuous sidewalk, with a width of four-feet in most locations, on the north side of Main Street for the entire length of the project area. The idea of a continuous sidewalk along the north side of the street had drawn a mixed response from about two dozen residents at the March meeting.

With most of an estimated $1 million in funding for the initial phase of the project in place, selectmen and the project committee had been hoping to put phase one of the project out to bid this spring, with construction to begin later this year. Subsequent phases of the project, such as a reconstruction of Main Street in the core downtown village commercial area, are tied to state Department of Transportation plans to reconstruct the Main Street bridge that is not expected to begin until 2016.

Chester Library Hosts Spring Book Discussions

“Views from the South:  Looking Forward, Looking Backward”  will be the subject of this spring’s Mark Johnson Book Discussion Series at Chester Public Library, once again led by Charlotte Rea. Dates for the discussions are Wednesdays, April 30 and May 7, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Former Head of School at the Williams School, Rea’s academic background is in English and theater. She explains her choice of these books for this year’s discussion series. “Thomas Wolfe, writing in the 1920s, Eudora Welty, writing in the ‘40s, and Flannery O’Connor, writing in the ‘50s, all portray a vision of life in rural, small-town South as seen from the inside—inside the family, the friendships, and the community.  Strong nets of family and friends and expectations surround the characters with comfort, love, suspicion, jealousy and exclusivity—as well as a sense of superiority for the civility and civilization that is consciously cultivated in the South.” 

How does this strong sense of connectedness interact with Southern warmth and pride to create a world in which outsiders are viewed with suspicion?  Within this tight world, the characters in these stories yearn for the wider world, for more learning, for greater adventures.  The abundant work ethic and risk-taking behaviors shape the characters’ worlds just as their orthodox views of human behavior control their actions.  How does this tension between yearning for stability and comfort war with the drive to experience the outside world?  What role does the strong sense of the past play as characters shape their own and the region’s futures? 

The rhythmic, rich language of the three authors becomes a way of life and brings great rewards for the reader.

On Wednesday, April 30, discussion will center on Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel, in which the protagonist seeks to shape his identity in contrast to and in harmony with his family and Southern community.

On Wednesday, May 7, the group will look at the view from two famous women novelists, Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty, who in their short stories, “Good Country People” and “Why I Live at the P.O.,” imagine the inner world and outer actions of bright, adventuresome, misfit women living circumscribed lives.

Books on paper and on CD are available at the library. EBook versions of both titles can be downloaded from Overdrive. Please call the library at 860-528-0018 to register. Registration is required for these free discussion programs, which are sponsored by the Friends of Chester Public Library.

 

Chester Selectmen Appoint Planning Committee for North Quarter Park as Potential Library Site

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Tuesday appointed a seven-member North Quarter Park Master Plan committee that will study the park on the west end of Main Street as a potential site for a new public library.

The volunteer committee will work with the selectmen to pick an engineering consultant to prepare a study of the 22-acre park, including analysis of its suitability as the site for a new library. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said a request for proposals for a consultant would be published soon, with a goal of completing the report and site analysis by mid-July. A mid-July completion could allow town officials, including the library board of trustees, to make a decision on a library site in time to meet a September deadline to apply for available state grant funds for library building projects.

After nearly two years of considering options for a renovation and expansion of the historic 1907 library building on West Main Street, library trustees in February agreed to a suggestion from the selectmen for further study of North Quarter Park as a potential site for a new library building.

Meehan noted Tuesday that North Quarter Park has been a subject of previous town-sponsored studies in past years that could be used in the latest analysis of the property. “We want to move this along,” he said.

Members of the new committee include Doreen Joslow,, representing the planning and zoning commission, Robert Gorman, representing the library board of trustees, Matt Sanders, representing the parks and recreation commission, Steve Teizzi, representing the Main Street Committee that is coordinating a long-planned reconstruction of Main Street, Richard Nygard, representing the board of finance, and at-large volunteer Dean Amato. Meehan will represent the board of selectmen on the committee. The committee is expected to hold its first meeting later this month.

Lyme Democrats Endorse Bjornberg, Stone

Emily Bjornberg

Emily Bjornberg

In addition to endorsing those democratic incumbent state office holders who have announced their intent to run for reelection, the Lyme Democratic Caucus endorsed two newcomers to the State scene: Mary Stone for State Representative, and Emily Bjornberg for State Senate.

The chairman of the Caucus, Steven Mattson, commented, “We are extremely pleased to endorse state legislative candidates as well qualified as Mary and Emily,”

Emily Bjornberg is a Lyme resident and is running for the seat once held by Eileen Dailey. “Emily is an exceptionally strong candidate, and we are confident she will be a superior Senator for the 33rd Senate District,” according to Mattson. The 33rd district covers Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. The seat is currently held by Republican Art Linares.

Mary Stone is an Old Lyme resident, who is running for the 23rd Assembly District consisting of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook. This is an open seat, due to the decision of Marilyn Giuliani not to seek reelection.

“Mary is the perfect candidate for this district,” according to Claire Sauer, who represented much of this district when she represented the 36th Assembly District.

Stone currently serves on the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals and is a former member of the Region 18 Board of Education.

Chester and Old Saybrook Receive $5K Energy Efficiency Grants

 L-R: Commissioner Robert Klee, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; Richard Holloway from the Chester Conservation Commission; Chester First Selectman Edward Meehan and Tilak Subrahmanian, Vice President of Energy Efficiency at Northeast Utilities.

L-R: Commissioner Robert Klee, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; Richard Holloway from the Chester Conservation Commission; Chester First Selectman Edward Meehan and Tilak Subrahmanian, Vice President of Energy Efficiency at Northeast Utilities.

Chester and Old Saybrook were among twenty-three Connecticut municipalities who were recognized during a ceremony Tuesday at the State Capitol for their participation in the statewide Clean Energy Communities program, an Energize Connecticut initiative that incentivizes cities and towns to support energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Municipal leaders from the communities were joined by their state senators and representatives to celebrate their city or town earning its first “Bright Idea Grant” through the program. These communities earned the grants based on the level of community participation in Energize CT programs. Bright Idea Grants awarded range from $5,000 to $15,000 and can be used toward a community selected energy saving project.

Together these cities and towns have collectively saved more than 277 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 2.8 million Ccf (one Ccf = 100 cubic feet) of natural gas through their energy efficiency efforts. Those savings are equivalent to the amount of power 33,000 homes would typically consume in one year, and result in avoided emissions of approximately 152,500 tons of CO2, which is the equivalent of taking 26,500 cars off Connecticut’s roads for a year.

“These cities and towns prove that energy efficiency can benefit an entire community, and we hope they encourage every municipality across Connecticut to join this valuable program,” said Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee. “Not only have these communities lowered energy use and costs overall, but have now earned money toward future projects that will help them use energy more efficiently.”

Under the Clean Energy Communities program, municipalities sign a pledge to reduce municipal building energy consumption by 20 percent by 2018, and to attain 20 percent of municipal electricity from renewable sources by 2018. Through community-wide participation in energy-saving and renewable energy programs, including resident and business participation, the community receives points toward rewards. For every 100 points earned through participation in energy efficiency programs, a community is eligible to receive a Bright Idea Grant. Similarly, for every 100 points earned through participation in renewable initiatives, a community can receive a renewable energy system equivalent to a one kilowatt solar photovoltaic system.

The nationally recognized Clean Energy Communities program expanded in 2012 to include energy efficiency. To date, 93 Connecticut cities and towns have signed the new pledge to support both renewable and energy efficiency initiatives.

Following the signing of the pledge, Clean Energy Communities program administrators work with municipalities to establish a local Clean Energy Task Force and aid them in developing a plan of action to reduce overall energy consumption, support renewable energy, and earn rewards for their efforts. Program administrators often host workshops at local public libraries and other municipal buildings to educate residents and businesses on available energy-saving and renewable energy programs that can help them earn points for their community.

The following Connecticut municipalities were recognized for earning a Bright Idea Grant during the March 24, 2014 ceremony at the State Capitol in Hartford:

$5,000

Ashford, Bridgewater, Chester, Coventry, Derby, Goshen, Litchfield, Old Saybrook, Sharon and Thomaston

$10,000

Brookfield, Cheshire, Rocky Hill, Suffield, Watertown, Windham and Wolcott

$15,000

Bristol, New Britain, New Haven, Shelton, Waterbury and West Haven

For more information on the Clean Energy Communities program, visit EnergizeCT.com/communities.

About Energize Connecticut

Energize Connecticut helps you save money and use clean energy. It is an initiative of the Energy Efficiency Fund, the Clean Energy Finance & Investment Authority, the State, and your local electric and gas utilities, with funding from a charge on customer energy bills. Information on energy-saving programs can be found at EnergizeCT.com or by calling 1.877.WISE.USE.

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 Newest Eagle Scout!

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 newest Eagle Scout Dillon Eriksson (Photo  Lianne Rutty).

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 newest Eagle Scout Dillon Eriksson (Photo Lianne Rutty).

Troop 13 – Boy Scouts of America would like to congratulate our newest Eagle Scout, Dillon Eriksson of Deep River. Dillon is the 60th Eagle Scout in the history of Troop 13.

To become an Eagle Scout a boy must advance through the seven ranks by learning Scout and Life skills all while providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community. One on the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the boy’s community, school, or religious institution.

Dillon’s project was to show leadership over others by developing and implementing a plan that resulted in the construction of a crush stone base, blue stone slate walkway using historic site pieces on the property of the Deep River Congregational Church. Completing this project entailed working with various private and municipal agencies to meet permitting requirements, securing donations for supplies, designing and overseeing volunteers through the construction and installation of said walkway. The completed project provides an important service to the members and guests of Deep River Congregational Church, in particular the youth members by providing for a more stable ground area connecting the hall to the play yard.

Information about Troop 13 – BSA

Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun. To learn more information about joining Troop 13 please contact our Scoutmaster, Steven Merola @ 860-526-9262

 

Fire Destroys Clubhouse of the Pattaconk Yacht Club in Chester

Remains of burned out Pattaconk Yacht Club House after fire (Photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson).

Remains of burned out Pattaconk Yacht Club House after fire (Photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson).

CHESTER— State and local fire marshals are investigating to determine the cause of a Friday night fire that destroyed the clubhouse of the Pattaconk Yacht Club at 61 Dock Road.

The fire, reported by nearby property owners around 9:30 p.m., was full involved, with flames breaking through the roof, when volunteer firefighters from the Chester Hose company arrived on the scene. The clubhouse is located directly on the Connecticut River, with firefighters drawing water from the river to battle the blaze.

Chester firefighters were joined under mutual aid by firefighters from the Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Old Saybrook, and the South District of Middletown. Dozens of firefighters were on the scene for about three hours to extinguish the blaze. There were no injuries to firefighters, but the clubhouse building was completely destroyed.

Chester Planning and Zoning to Hold Thursday Public Hearing on Stone-Cutting Business at Industrial Park

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing Thursday on two related special permit applications for a decorative stone business on two parcels on Airport Industrial Park Road. The hearing ,which was rescheduled from the February meeting due to snow, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the community meeting room at town hall.

A.I.S Properties LLC of Deep River is seeking permits for two parcels at 25 and 35 Airport Industrial Park Road. The industrial park is located in the western section of town, off Route 145 near the Chester Airport.

The company is seeking a permit for a 50-foot by 80-foot industrial building at 35 Airport Industrial Park Road for the cutting of decorative stone. The business would have four employees, with hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays. A.I.S. Properties is seeking a second permit for outside storage of raw stone material on a lot at 25 Airport Industrial Park Road.

Six Member Committee to Direct Review of North Quarter Park for Potential Library Site, Other Uses

CHESTER— The board of selectmen will appoint a six-member volunteer committee to direct a review of North Quarter Park as a potential site for a new library and other possible uses.

Acting on a suggestion from First Selectman Edmund Meehan, the board Tuesday endorsed the idea of a coordinating committee, with members expected to be appointed over the next month. Meehan initially suggested a five member committee to be comprised of representatives of the board of selectmen, the planning and zoning commission, parks and recreation commission, library board of trustees, and the main street project committee, but later agreed to a suggestion for one additional at large member of the volunteer panel.

Meehan said the new committee would coordinate the process of hiring a consultant to prepare a master plan for possible future uses of the 22-acre park located on the north side of Main Street near the intersection with Route 154. The site for a new public library would be one of the potential uses for the park, which currently contains only a small children’s playground.

The selectmen and finance board last month approved a $20,000 appropriation to pay for the study of North Quarter Park, a process which would help determine whether the park is a suitable location for a new library building that would replace the existing Chester Library located in a historic 1907 building on West Main Street. Meehan said a consultant should be hired by early April, with park study reported to be completed by June.

Library trustees have been hoping to reach a final decision on a library expansion project by August, in time for a September 1 deadline to apply for available state grant funding for library construction projects. Meehan said making a final decision, and completing the preliminary schematic plans that are required for the grant application, before September 1 is an “optimistic” goal. “It’s something to work toward,” he said.

Meehan said the consultant hired with the new appropriation for the park study may not be the same the firm that prepares any preliminary site plan for a grant application. He said funding for preparation of site plans for a new library would not be available until the start of the town’s next budget year on July 1.

Chester to Receive $450,000 State Grant for Initial Phase of Main Street Project

CHESTER— Town officials received good news last week with an announcement the town will receive a $450,000 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant for the initial phase of the long-planned Main Street reconstruction project.

The funding for Chester was one of six STEAP grants for municipalities announced last week by Gov. Dannel Malloy. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the funding would allow the town to complete the first phase of the Main Street project this year. The initial phase calls for a full reconstruction of Main Street, including new sidewalks from the intersection with Route 154 west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Later phases of the project, covering the commercial area in Chester Village, will be done in 2016 in conjunction with a state Department of Transportation plan to replace the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook. The initial phase of the project is expected to be put out to bid in May, with construction to begin later in the year.

State Rep. Phil Miller, D-Essex, who lobbied for the funding at the capitol, praised Meehan and town public works director John Divas for “doing their homework,” with the application process to make a strong case for the grant funding.

Chester Grand List Drops by 12 Percent After Townwide Property Revaluation

CHESTER— The 2013 grand list of taxable properties is down by 12 percent after the first full townwide property revaluation since 2003, with decreases in all three real estate categories and the personal property total.

Assessor Loreta Zdanys has filed an October 2013 grand list that totals $441,523,635, representing a decrease of $60,354,708, or about 12 percent, from the 2012 grand list total. Motor vehicles was the only category that showed a small increase over the 2012 total.

The townwide property revaluation conducted last year by eQuality Valuation Services of Waterbury was the first full revaluation, with visual inspections of all properties, done in Chester since 2003. The Waterbury firm had also handled the statistical update revaluation that was done in 2008. But the latest revaluation shows the full impact on property values resulting from the national Great Recession that began in the fall of 2008.

The grand list shows a real estate total of $398,423,780 for the town’s 1,858 accounts, a decrease of $60,362,060 from the 2012 real estate total. Along with residential. property, there were also declines in assessed value for the town’s 88 commercial and 14 industrial properties.

There was also a small decrease in the assessment total for the town’s 1,073 personal property accounts, with a 2013 personal property total of $14,434,390, down by $708,450 from the 2012 personal property total. The town’s 4,115 motor vehicle accounts show an assessment total of $28,665,465, up by $705,802 from the 2012 motor vehicles total.

Zdanys said more than 90 percent of the town’s real estate accounts showed a drop in assessed values, though some properties in the vicinity of the downtown village did not show a decrease. In contrast to past revaluation years where property owners were often objecting to higher assessments, Zdanys said there have been some complaints from property owners, particularly those considering selling, that their assessments were too low. Zadanys said the deadline for property owners to file applications to contest their assessments with the elected board of assessment appeals in March 20.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the decrease in the grand list was actually slightly less than he was expecting. “I was expecting closer to a 15 percent drop,” Meehan said, adding “it reflects market conditions.” Meehan said the selectmen and board of finance are prepared to support a transfer from the town’s undesignated fund balance “to ensure a smooth transition’ ‘in the tax rate for 2014.

The current tax rate is 21.95 mills, or $21,95 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. While the tax rate is likely to increase in 2014, most property owners would be paying the higher rate on a lower assessed value for their property. The town’s undesignated fund balance currently totals about $1.8 million.

In recent years, selectmen and the finance board have authorized transfers from the fund balance in the range of $150,000 to $200,000, to limit increase in the tax rate. Lower totals for education spending allowed the town to avoid any transfers from the fund balance for the current 2013 budget.

The town list of top ten taxpayers remained unchanged from 2012. The top ten taxpayers, along with their 2013 assessment totals are Chester Woods Inc. (Chester Village West)-$15,092,330, Whelen Engineering Co. Inc.-$8,400,010, Connecticut Water Co.-$5,181,300, The Eastern Company-$4,065,740, and Connecticut Light and Power Co.-$4,001,560.

Also Whelen Aviation LLC (Chester Airport)-$3,843,340, Roto Frank of America Inc.-$3,620,820, Hayes Properties LLC-$2,248,350, Margaret & Robert Sbriglio (Aaron Manor)-$2,214,990, and Chester Point Real estate LLC-$2,079,830.

Funding Approved to Study North Quarter Park as Potential Chester Library Site

A patron entering the small and historic Chester Public Library (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

A patron entering the small and historic Chester Public Library (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

CHESTER— A special appropriation of $20,000 has been approved for an engineering analysis of North Quarter Park as a potential site for a new Chester library. The board of selectmen and board of finance approved the expenditure last week.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the appropriation would allow the library board of trustees to hire an engineering firm to analyze the 22-acre park located on the north side of Main Street near the intersection with Route 154 as a potential library site. The study would also include preparation of a conceptual master plan for the park, which now contains only a small children’s playground.

The focus on North Quarter Park as a potential library site began earlier this month after the board of selectmen expressed reservations about a proposal for a $2.8 million renovation and expansion of the existing library building on West Main Street that would place most of the new construction underground. It was the second proposal in the last two years from library trustees seeking to upgrade and expanded the historic 1907 library building.

Meehan, in a meeting between the selectmen and library trustees on Feb. 4, had noted that building a new library could be less costly than attempting to renovate and expand the historic building, while also eliminating the expense and inconvenience of relocating the library during more than a year of construction.

Meehan said Monday the trustees would now seek proposals from engineering and architectural firms, with the plan and site analysis expected to be completed by early summer. The trustees are hoping to make a final decision on a library expansion plan, and complete schematic drawings for the building project, by August, a step that would allow the town to apply for an available $1 million state grant for library building projects. The grant application has a September deadline for submission.

New Chester Historical Society Unearthed Challenge…

What might you create with these rusted Es for the Chester Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge on March 22?   (Photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard).

What might you create with these rusted Es for the Chester Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge on March 22? (Photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard).

The Chester Historical Society has come up with another fun challenge linking Chester history and art.  This spring, those accepting the 2014 Unearthed Challenge issued by the Historical Society will be working with flat, rusted iron pieces found buried in an early Chester Center property – one of the oldest houses in Chester.

These rusty pieces measure 1 ¼ by 2 inches and look like the capital letter E. We do not know their origin, but they’re a great example of what one might find by digging in their own backyard!

As with the Bishop and Watrous Bone Art Challenge and the Bates Square Roots Challenge offered by the Chester Historical Society in past years, the Unearthed Challenge is for area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelry designers, and all others with a creative mind.

Anyone who wants to take the challenge can stop in at the Chester Gallery on Main Street in the center of Chester to pick up their rusty pieces and pay their entrance fee of $30, which includes two tickets to the event. The finished works will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge Reception on Saturday, March 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

For more information, call Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery at 860-526-9822.

Chester Historical Society Presents Program on Chester’s Cooks, Food Sales and Kitchens

Chester Center had a good many food stores, including the A&P and Checkers Store, as well as several meat markets and even a fish market.

Chester Center had a good many food stores, including the A&P and Checkers Store, as well as several meat markets and even a fish market.

Chester is famed for its plentiful restaurants. From pizza and vegan to Italian and French, there’s no shortage of food being professionally prepared and savored in Chester today.

There was no shortage of food in the old days either – but it certainly was different!

Squirrel and rabbits. Polenta. Ravioli. Eels and river shad. Home-grown vegetables. Weekly Sunday dinner for the entire family at Grandmother’s. Friday night food sales in front of the bank, and side-by-side supermarkets and meat markets “downstreet.”

Hunting filled an important need for food, especially during the Depression. Shown here are four Chester men who were known for their hunting skills:  Fred Walden, Layton Kelsey, Curt Bishop and Eddie Carlson.

Hunting filled an important need for food, especially during the Depression. Shown here are four Chester men who were known for their hunting skills: Fred Walden, Layton Kelsey, Curt Bishop and Eddie Carlson.

The Chester Historical Society invites you to “Stories from Chester’s Kitchens,” a program featuring tales of Chester’s cooks, food sales and kitchens shared by longtime Chester residents. The program will be Sunday, March 2 at 4:00 p.m. in the Chester Meeting House.

Food sales and townwide banquets hold special memories for many old Chester residents. We’ll be sharing stories at the Historical Society’s Crackerbarrel Program on Sunday, March 2.

Food sales and townwide banquets hold special memories for many old Chester residents. We’ll be sharing stories at the Historical Society’s Crackerbarrel Program on Sunday, March 2.

The program will revolve around the popular crackerbarrel format that has been successful for so many Historical Society programs. Audience participation is encouraged – we want to hear everyone’s memories of Chester’s cooks and kitchens. We’re also planning to show historical photos to whet your appetite for storytelling. This will be a great program for all ages, so children are invited too.

The program is free. Refreshments will feature some tastes of Chester’s past. More information at Facebook.com/chestercthistoricalsociety.

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 Announces Five New Eagle Scouts

Chester/Deep River Boy Scouts Troop 13 Five newest Eagle Scouts (L-R) Samuel Jones,  Tyler Johnson, Iestyn Norton, Gregory Merola, and William Brown

Chester/Deep River Boy Scouts Troop 13 Five newest Eagle Scouts (L-R) Samuel Jones, Tyler Johnson, Iestyn Norton, Gregory Merola, and William Brown

Troop 13 – Boy Scouts of America would like to congratulate our five newest Eagle Scouts: Tyler Johnson and Gregory Merola of Chester and Samuel Jones, Iestyn Norton, and William Brown of Deep River.

To become an Eagle Scout a boy must advance through the seven ranks by learning Scout and Life skills all while providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community.  One on the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the boy’s community, school, or religious institution.

Tyler’s project was at the Bushy Hill Nature Center in Ivoryton where he cleared a hiking trail and replaced a bridge to an island at the camp.  Tyler wanted to give back to the camp where he spent many summers and was a counselor at the camp.

Gregory’s project was to rebuild an amphitheater used by hundreds of campers each summer at Camp Hazen in Chester.  Greg led the Scouts in replacing benches, clearing the access trails, and installing new gateway and sign.

Samuel’s project was to GPS the location of all 701 storm drains in Deep River.  He also supervised the affixing of labels that informs the public that anything put in the storm drain will make its way into rivers and the ocean.

Iestyn’s project was to design and supervise the construction of a snack shack/storage building at Plattwood Park in Deep River for the residents and their guest to enjoy.  He secured many donations for material and labor to keep the cost down for the town.

William’s project was to replace the boardwalk through the historic Cedar Swamp at Bushy Hill Nature Center in Ivoryton. The old walkway had deteriorated over time and was posing a safety risk for campers. The walkway allows campers to walk through the swamp to view ecological diversity at the camp.

Information about Troop 13 – BSA

Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun.  To learn more information about joining Troop 13 please contact our Scoutmaster, Steven Merola @ 860-526-9262

Chester Library Trustees Are Asked to Consider Building a New Library at North Quarter Park

CHESTER— The library board of trustees has agreed to investigate the option of constructing a new library at North Quarter Park in place of expanding the historic existing library building on West Main Street.

The decision comes after a Feb. 4 meeting with the board of selectmen, where the selectmen asked the trustees to more fully explore the option of building a new library at the 22-acre park located on the east end of Main Street, near the intersection with Route 154. The trustees have been focused for the past two years on a building plan that would renovate and expand the historic 1907 library building on West Main Street.

Library trustees in December presented a revised plan for a $2.8 million expansion plan that would focus most of the new construction underground as an extension of the existing lower level of the building. A more costly $3.09 million expansion plan with above-ground extensions of the existing building had received a mixed response from residents when it was presented in 2012.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said this week he, and the other two selectmen, had numerous questions about the plan for an underground expansion. “I have some reservations about spending money on an underground library,” he said.

Meehan said the option of building a new library at North Quarter Park has never been fully explored since the library trustees began considering a building renovation and expansion project more than two years ago. Meehan said building a new library could be less costly than attempting to renovate and expand the existing historic building, while also avoiding the expense, and inconvenience, of relocating the library for more than a year during construction at the existing building.

Terry Schreiber, chairwoman of the elected library board of trustees, said the board, with reluctance among some members, had agreed at a meeting Monday to investigate the option of building a new library at North Quarter Park. Schreiber noted that residents had expressed a preference for retaining the existing library building during surveys and public forums held in 2011. She acknowledged that constructing a new building would avoid some of the problems associated with the existing site, including the need to move the library to an undetermined location for more than a year during construction.

Schreiber said the trustees would request an appropriation to pay for an engineering analysis of the feasibility and potential cost of building a new library at the park. A $20,000 state grant had paid for the preliminary plans that were prepared by a South Windsor architectural firm on the two expansion options for the existing building. Schreiber said the trustees are hoping to make a final decision on a building plan by August to meet a September deadline to apply for a $1 million state grant that will be available for library building projects later this year. The town would need a confirmed site, and preliminary schematic plans for a building project, to apply for the state grant

New Chester Marketing Firm to Focus on Non-Profits and Charitable Organizations

New business partners Michelle Paulson (left)  and Susan Daniels (right) have teamed up to make a difference for their marketing clients and their communities

New business partners Michelle Paulson (left) and Susan Daniels (right) have teamed up to make a difference for their marketing clients and their communities

Chester, CT – New business partners Susan Daniels and Michelle Paulson have a long history of bringing voice to their clients’ stories. Going all the way back to the 1980s and having lived parallel lives for most of their careers, the duo recently teamed up to form PaulsonDaniels llc, a marketing communications firm with a mission to help businesses grow while benefitting non-profit or charitable organizations. The innovative approach is a combination of two tried and true marketing disciplines – lifestyle marketing and cause marketing – where a client’s distinct brand beliefs, attitudes and social conscience are used as the foundation for engaging and communicating to consumers with similar views. “Every business has its own brand personality with foundational values that set it apart from like businesses,” explained Daniels, “We work with those values to create a greater awareness of our clients’ commitment to the customer experience and to the communities that support them.”

Case in point is the highly successful Dinner At The Farm benefit dinner series created by Paulson’s long-time client River Tavern restaurant. Continually sold-out for the past seven years, the project was developed to promote and support Connecticut’s farming community, and has helped earn the State a place in the local food movement and kept the River Tavern’s mission out in front through a multitude of well-placed feature stories including: Time Magazine, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Cooking Channel, Yankee Magazine, Connecticut Magazine and more. “The beauty of this approach is that it creates opportunities for customers and the community at large to make a difference and support a good cause while enjoying a very special dining experience,” commented Paulson, “It’s all good.”

Daniels’ work for Best Cleaner’s COATS FOR CONNECTICUT campaign is another example of the use of marketing to make a difference. The company’s deep-rooted tradition of doing what they do best to better the community was the inspiration for the development of the program where Best collectsgently-used winter coats donated by customers and the general public and then cleans and delivers them to Connecticut Salvation Army centers for distribution to those in need throughout the cold-weather months. Media partnerships with WFSB-TV 3, YZ 92.5, The River 105.9 and Young’s Printing helps get the word out and has resulted in over 20,000 coats collected in just five years.

According to the two partners who have an office in Chester, success has come from a shared passion and enthusiasm for solving problems anchored by a no-nonsense ability to get things done and keep the process simple. The firm offers a full complement of marketing and design services including brand development, strategic planning, website development, advertising, public relations, social media, direct marketing, photography, interior space planning and design.

ABOUT MICHELLE PAULSON

Michelle is a seasoned professional in the areas of public relations, advertising, graphic design and strategic brand management including social media and internet/digital marketing. She served as account manager for Connecticut’s leading advertising and creative agencies including Decker Rickard (now Decker), Mintz & Hoke and Cummings & Good managing corporate, state agencies, arts and non-profit accounts. In establishing her own marketing communications company for small to mid-sized businesses, Michelle has developed and directed communications programs for clients in the manufacturing, restaurant, environmental, and architectural/interior design industries, often wearing multiple hats as writer, designer, photographer, web & social media content developer and more. Michelle also co-founded the award-winning Dinners At The Farm , a summertime benefit event series that helped put Connecticut on the Local Food Movement map. Her efforts garnered local, statewide and national press (including AP, TIME, BusinessWeek, New York Times and the Cooking Channel) and led to her helping develop the State’s first Farm-to-Chef Harvest Celebration Week. For that good work, Michelle earned an invitation to the White House for the launch of Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools campaign, inspiring her to help create Region 4 School’s healthy school lunch initiative, Get Fresh 4 Schools. Michelle’s key operating principal: “Know your passion.” One of hers is photography which often comes in handy for certain client work.

Michelle studied Journalism at American University and has a B.A. in History with a Marketing Minor from Central Connecticut State University.

ABOUT SUSAN DANIELS

Susan is a business strategist who focuses on her client’s bottom-line growth opportunities. Her talent is identifying brand attributes that have real market value and delivering marketing communications plans that are strategically sound and highly actionable. Susan’s background includes both corporate and agency leadership positions within consumer, business-to-business and non-profit organizations, giving her an unusual blend of big-picture savvy and realistic, achievable goal definition. Susan’s experience includes local, regional and national work in the fields of retail, consumer products and services, healthcare, entertainment/leisure,new technology, public service and non-profit. Having served in the role of marketing director, agency account director, media planner, and broadcast producer/writer for a diverse range of companies, she has a comprehensive knowledge of all marketing disciplines with an in-depth understanding of market research, advertising, public relations, direct marketing and interior space planning and design. The end result is a marketing communications that is as efficient as it is effective for each and every client. Prior to establishing her own brand-planning consultancy and marketing company, Susan served as Vice President, Marketing for TJX Companies-Bob’s Stores. She also held the positions of Executive Vice President, Marketing Services for KGA Advertising, a retail marketing firm; Director of Sales and Marketing for the Arrow Prescription Center franchise; Account Supervisor at Maher/Hartford Advertising and Public Relations; and Broadcast Manager for Sage-Allen department stores. A confessed sports nut, she has worked with UCONN Division of Athletics, Hartford Whalers, Red Sox, Patriots, Boston Bruins, and the Greater Hartford Open. Susan’s non-profit work includes the Connecticut River Museum, Community Music School, Essex Elementary School Foundation and Community Foundation of Middlesex County. Susan has a B.A. in Psychology from Trinity College, a M.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Hartford, and a certificate in Interior Design from Rhode Island School of Design.

 

 

Chester Democrats and Republicans Select Town Committees for 2014-2016

CHESTER— Town democrats and republicans selected town committees for the 2014-2016 term at party caucuses held earlier this month. The new two-year terms for town committees begin in March.

Democrats have selected a 25-member town committee that includes four new or returning members. New members include Karen Badger, Marta Daniels, and former Old Saybrook First Selectman Roger Goodnow, who moved to Chester in 2012 after serving previously as the elected judge of probate in Old Saybrook. Returning to the committee is former school board member Lynn Pease. Six members of the current town committee stepped aside, including Robert Bibbiani, Lawrence DeBernardo, Pastelis Kehayias, John Yrchik, Issac Ruiz, and Margaret Meehan.

Incumbents returning to the Democratic town committee include Samuel Chorches,, Lori Ann Clymas, Joe Cohen, David Fitzgibbons, Robert Gorman, Errol Horner, Arthur Heneck, Charlene Jenecek, Henry Krempel, Justin Kronholm, Suzane Levine, First Selectman Edmund Meehan, James Miller, James Ready, Sandra Senior-Dauer, Lynne Stiles, Selectman Lawrence Sypher, Jane Zanardi, former selectman and current committee chairman Peter Zanardi, and Kurt Zeimann.

Republicans have selected a 26-member town committee that includes two new members, Alex Strekel and Virgil Lloyd. Stepping aside from the current committee is Alexa Jamieson.

Incumbents returning to the Republican town committee are current committee chairman Mario Gioco, Laura Gioco, Ashley Marsh, former Selectman Bruce Watrous, Beverly Watrous Joyce Aley, Joel Severance, Selectman Tom Englert, Terri Englert, Karl Ohaus, Tracey Ohaus, joni Malcynsky, David Clark, john Hutson, Kristan Seifert, Melvin Seifert, Carolina Marguez-Sterling, Maria Ruberto, Victor Hoehnebart, Jill Sakidovitch, Brian Sakidovitch, Jamie Grzybowski, Doreen Joslow and Jon Joslow.

Chester Planning and Zoning Rejects Town Plan Changes for Aaron Manor But Opens Option for Sewer Connection

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has rejected changes to the town plan of conservation and development that were requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility, but in a carefully worded decision, gave the facility the option of pursuing a connection to the municipal sewer system.

The commission unanimously approved a motion on the Aaron Manor application after the close of a public hearing on Dec. 12. The nursing facility located off Route 148 is under an order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to upgrade its septic system, and opening the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system that serves the downtown village was the major reason the request for the changes to the town plan

Aaron Manor representatives, along with many town officials and commission members, believed a revision to the 2009 town plan was necessary for the planning and zoning commission, and other town commissions, to consider any proposal to connect to the municipal system. This led to three months of discussion on the merits of revising the town plan, including a Sept. 12 informal public hearing, a November town meeting, and the formal public hearing with the PZC on Dec. 12.

But after lengthy discussion, the commission determined that changes to the language of the town plan are not required for the town to consider any sewer connection plan put forward by Aaron Manor. Commission Secretary Sally Murray noted during discussion that the plan includes a phrase “where appropriate” that would allow alternatives to on-site septic systems under certain conditions. The motion approved by the panel specifies that changes to the town plan would be “redundant” because the plan already allows consideration of “numerous possible septage alternatives and designs.”

First Selectman Edmund Meehan, who had supported revising the town plan to provide an option for Aaron Manor, said the commission’s decision would give town agencies the option of considering any sewer connection proposal from Aaron Manor. “They left the door open,” he said.

Engineers for Aaron Manor have said both options, constructing a new and larger on-site sewage disposal system that meets state approval, or constructing a new sewer line more than 1.5 miles east along Route 148 to connect to the municipal system, are very costly. Meehan has said any sewer connection would have to be funded by Aaron Manor, and would require approval from the town’s water pollution control authority and voters at a town meeting.

Essex Savings Bank Donates to Local Communities

Old Saybrook 1

Essex – Each year all six branches and the corporate office of Essex Savings Bank hold a holiday contest designed to help those less fortunate in the local communities.  The goal of this year’s event was to collect food and non-perishables for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen as well as the food pantries in Chester and Madison.

The festive displays at each office location centered on a particular food course, and the entries ranged from breakfast selections to desserts.  Although this contest adds to the fun of the season, the deeper goal for all of the Bank employees is to help those in need as that is the true spirit of the season.

All donations were at the employees’ expense and generated by their goodwill.

As a result of everyone’s efforts, on Monday, Dec. 23, Essex Savings Bank employees delivered 845 pounds of food to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen.  Additional donations were made to the pantries in Chester and Madison.

Branch Manager/AVP Marla Bogaert serves on the Board of Directors for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and a team of Bank employees volunteer to prepare and serve dinner throughout the year.  The ingredients for these meals are collected through the generous donations from Bank employees.

Admin-HR

Editor’s Note: Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc, Member FINRA, SIPC. Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value and are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

 

 

Essex Savings Bank Chester Branch Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Branch Manager/AVP Lisa Berube with the winner, Michael Cressman of Chester.

Branch Manager/AVP Lisa Berube with the winner, Michael Cressman of Chester.

The Chester office of Essex Savings Bank opened its doors on December 14, 2012 and has been embraced by the local community.  The anniversary was marked by a weeklong celebration at the branch.  Customers were treated with appetizers, desserts, beverages, giveaways, and raffles throughout the week of December 9 through 14.   All visitors to the Chester Branch were encouraged to enter their name for the grand prize drawing, an Apple iPAD.  On December 17, President and CEO Gregory R. Shook selected the winning entry.   Bank management is proud of the Chester Branch’s successful first year serving the Connecticut River Valley.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851.  The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook.  Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc, Member FINRA, SIPC. Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value and are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

Public Information Forum on New Chester Library Expansion Plan

CHESTER—Trustees for the Chester Library have scheduled a Jan. 11 public information forum on a new expansion plan for the library building that would focus most of the new space on an underground lower level. The “community conversation” on the new expansion plan begins at 10 a.m. at the Chester Meeting House, with a snow date set for Saturday Jan. 25.

The trustees and library supporters have been working for nearly two years to develop a plan to expand the historic 1907 library building and make the structure fully accessible for handicapped persons. Using a $20,000 state grant, the trustees hired a South Windsor architectural firm to prepare preliminary expansion plans. A plan for a 2,000 square-foot expansion, with a $3.09 million estimated price, that would double the size of the existing building drew a mixed response from residents at two information forums held early this year.

Architect Ken Best has prepared a new plan for a slightly smaller expansion that would extend the lower level on the west side of the building. The cost of the new, lower level expansion has been estimated at about $2.8 million. In a statement announcing the Jan. 11 session, the trustees noted the new plan would “preserve the façade of the building and its historic main floor while creating a fully accessible facility at a lower level.”

Library representatives presented the new plan to the board of selectmen at a Dec. 3 meeting, and were urged by the selectmen to hold another public forum to test community reaction to the new plan. Based on the public response, there could be a request for town funding for red test borings that would confirm feasibility of the new plan. The goal is to bring an expansion plan to the town’s voters in a bonding referendum sometime in 2014.

Aaron Manor Town Plan Revisions Draw Mixed Comments at Chester P & Z

CHESTER— Revisions to the town plan of conservation and development that would give the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center the option of connecting to the town sewer system drew a mixed response from residents and officials Thursday at a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission.

The nursing facility located off Route 148 at the Route 9/Exit 6 interchange has requested amendments to the 2009 plan that would give the facility the option of connecting to the sewer system that serves the downtown village and a section of Route 154. Aaron Manor is under order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to upgrade the on site septic system serving the facility. Earlier this year, the town inland-wetlands commission asked representatives of the facility to investigate the option of connecting to the town sewer system before pursuing an application for a new and larger on-site sewage disposal system.

Changes to the town plan are needed for the facility to begin a detailed analysis of the option of a connection to the municipal system, a costly project that would require installing an underground sewer line along about 1.5 miles of Route 148 east from Aaron Manor to the downtown village area.

About 20 residents, including members of the conservation and economic development commissions, turned out for the public hearing. Several residents, including First Selectman Edmund Meehan, spoke in support of the requested revisions. Meehan, a former municipal planner for Newington, presented a written statement from the board of selectmen endorsing the changes, and also spoke at the hearing. Meehan contended giving the 10-year plan the option of expanding the municipal sewer system would be a “good thing for Chester.”

“If you have it in the plan you can guide it and direct it,” Meehan said, adding that planning and zoning commission oversight and current zoning for minimum one or two acre building lot sizes would limit development and population density along any Route 148 sewer extension. “I don’t think this is going to upset the town’s land use patterns,” he said.

Steve Flett, chairman of the economic development commission, said the revisions represent a request for help from an existing business, not a plan to promote wider economic development. “If Aaron Manor is prepared to pay the bill, you should just let them do it,” he said.

But Michael Prisloe, chairman of the conservation commission, contended the changes to the plan could have “unintended consequences” for future development that would change the environment and character of. the town’s western gateway. The commission presented a statement urging further study before approval of any changes to the town plan. Prisloe also noted the changes to the plan could become effective early next year, long before completion of any sewer line from Aaron Manor.

The commission was expected to close the public hearing Thursday and begin deliberations of the Aaron Manor application at it’s Jan. 9 meeting.

Chester Selectmen Endorse Requested Aaron Manor Plan of Development Change

CHESTER— The board of selectmen last week endorsed changes to the plan of conservation and development that were requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to give the facility an option of connecting to the town sewer system. First Selectman Edmund Meehan will present a statement from the board when the planning and zoning commission considers the request at a public hearing that begins Thursday at 7;30 p.m. at town hall.

The nursing facility off Route 148 is under order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to upgrade the septic system serving the facility. The inland-wetlands commission last year asked representatives of Aaron Manor to explore the option of connecting to the town sewer system before presenting an application for a new and larger on site sewage disposal system. The requested changes to the 2009 town plan would allow town boards and commissions to consider a request to tie in to the municipal sewer system.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan, a former town planner, said last week it would be “shortsighted” to hold to a plan that does not provide options for expanding the system that currently serves the downtown village and properties on Route 154. Meehan presented a written statement outlining several reasons to revise language in the plan.

The statement notes that “public sanitary sewers are a major infrastructure asset that benefits a community’s public health, water quality, and economic base.” It also suggests that a future sewer expansion could help the town’s “long range economic development and business retention options for existing non-residential land uses when on-site systems are not feasible.”

The selectmen unanimously endorsed the statement prepared by Meehan. Selectman Tom Englert said any future economic development along Route 148 west to the Aaron Manor property would be controlled by the planning and zoning commission and other town land use commissions, while the changes would simply give the nursing facility the option of investigating the feasibility of a connection. “It doesn’t say we are going to do it,” he noted.

Letter: Chester Library Expansion Clarification

To Editor:

As a Chester Library Trustee, I would like to clarify that the expansion “plan” mentioned in Mr. Stannard’s article is more of a concept. There are no specific architectural plans but conceptual drawings of an idea for a lower level. The Board of Trustees has scheduled a community conversation to present this concept to the people of Chester on Saturday, January 11 (snow date 1/25) at the Meeting House. Details to be announced soon.

Sincerely,

Deedee Prisloe
Chester Library Trustee

Chester Library Trustees Present New Expansion Plan

CHESTER– Trustees for the Chester Public Library Tuesday presented a new library expansion plan to the board of selectmen. The plan focuses on an underground expansion on the west side of the historic 1906 library building on West Main Street.

Library trustees, using a $20,000 state grant, hired an architectural firm to explore options for expanding the library. In the fall of 2012, the trustees presented a plan for a 2,000 square-foot expansion that would double the size of the library building at an estimated cost of $3.09 million with additions on both sides of the building.

Trustees chairwoman Terry Schreiber said the plan drew a mixed response from residents attending to public information sessions held last March. She said architects with the South Windsor firm Drummey-Rosane-Anderson Inc. were asked to develop an alternative plan.

The new plan calls for a slightly smaller expansion, with most of the new space extending west from the existing basement underground beneath an existing parking area. The plan has an estimated price tag of about $2.8 million.

The trustees told the selectmen the next step was conducting a series of test borings to a depth of 25-feet to confirm the feasibility of the underground, lower level expansion. The borings would cost about $6,000.

But First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the trustees should obtain more community input before the town expends funds for the test borings. Selectman Tom Englert said he was uncomfortable with the underground expansion. “Some people may not want to have most of the new space under a parking lot,” he said.

The trustees agreed to hold another public information session on the alternative plan in January. Meehan said the trustees could then approach the board of selectmen with a funding request for the borings and other preliminary costs for the project.

 

Related letter: Chester Library Expansion Clarification

Chester Rotary Gives Dictionaries to All Students

ROTARY DICTIONARIES (1)

Students in grade 3 at Chester Elementary School received their very own Webster Dictionary on October 16th. One of the Rotary Club’s goals is to promote literacy, and each year they fulfill that goal by donating a dictionary to each third grader at CES.

Rotary Club members met with the students during an assembly which concluded with a Vocabulary Quiz Show game. The assembly was held on October 16th, which is Noah Webster’s birthday.

Deep River Resident/Author Supports Local American Legion

Todd CurryTodd Curry has been a resident of Deep River for over twenty years and is a veteran of the US Army and a retired Madison Police Officer with 22 years of service. He recently wrote and published a book of short horror/thriller stories (“Revolting Tales“) which is widely available and a book signing tour is planned.

Concerned that the local American Legion branch had insufficient funds to purchase American flags to place at the grave sites of  fallen soldiers, Curry and his co-author decided to donate a portion of their profits to the Chester American Legion Local 97 in order to assist them with the purchase of flags.  The American Legion place flags by the graves of fallen soldiers twice a year, on Flag Day and Veterans Day.

Chester Sets Nov. 20 Town Meeting on Aaron Manor Town Plan Revision

CHESTER— Voters will be asked at a town meeting Wednesday to offer input on proposed revisions to the town plan of conservation and development that would give the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system that serves the downtown village area. The meeting convenes at 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room at town hall.

The town meeting was scheduled after lawyers for the town and the planning and zoning commission concurred with First Selectman Edmund Meehan’s contention that a town meeting was required as the commission considers the Aaron Manor request for revisions to the town plan. The commission opened a public hearing on the request in September, but last month agreed to convene a new public hearing on Dec. 12 to consider any input provided by a town meeting.

The nursing facility off Route 148 has been under a state Department of Environmental Protection order to upgrade the septic system that serves the facility. The town’s inland-wetlands commission early this year asked representatives of Aaron Manor to explore the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system before pursuing a wetlands permit application for a new and larger on site wastewater treatment system. Both a new on-site system and a connection to the municipal system would be very costly, and no decisions have been made on how the nursing facility should proceed. A revision to the 2009 town plan would give Aaron Manor the option of pursuing a connection to the town sewer system.

The call of the town meeting asks residents to “review and make comments to the Chester Planning and Zoning Commission” on the proposed town plan revisions requested by Aaron Manor. The resolution does not call for a vote, with the voters present at the town meeting having the option to decide whether to vote on a motion supporting or opposing the requested revisions. If a town meeting vote is held opposing the revisions, it would require a two-thirds vote of the nine member commission to approve any revisions.

Voters at the town meeting will also be asked to amend the 1997 ordinance establishing an economic development commission to reduce membership of the panel from seven to five members. The appointed commission has been having some difficulty in recent months mustering the required four member quorum for meetings.

New Chester Pewter Ornament for 2013

Chester Ornament 2013Chester has a new pewter ornament for 2013. It was created by Peter Good, of Cummings & Good in Chester, and features his tractor seat design from the 2013 Chester Carnivale. The ornaments are being sold at stores throughout Chester Center for $15 each. Profits will benefit Chester Merchants activities such as the 2014 Chester Carnivale.

Town Meeting Vote, Second Hearing for Requested Revisions to Chester Town Plan

CHESTER-– A town meeting vote, and a second public hearing before the planning and zoning commission, will be required for a requested revision to the town plan of conservation and development that could allow Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to pursue the option of connecting to the town sewer system.

At the commission’s Oct. 10 meeting, Chairman Jon Lavy announced that a second public hearing would be required for the nursing facility’s petition because the full language for the five requested revisions to the 2009 plan had not been provided to the board of selectmen for review a required 65 days before the commission opened it’s public hearing on the petition on Sept. 12. In a related development, First Selectman Edmund Meehan said Tuesday he has confirmed that a town meeting discussion and vote are required before the planning and zoning commission can consider the requested changes to the town plan. The board of selectmen is expected to schedule a mid-November town meeting on the town plan revisions requested by Aaron Manor.

The nursing facility located off Route 148 has been under a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection order for more than two years to upgrade a failing septic system that serves the facility. The town’s inland-wetlands commission earlier this year had asked representatives of Aaron Manor to explore the option of connecting to the town sewer system before pursuing a wetlands permit application for a new and more complex on site sewage disposal system.

Revisions to the town plan are needed for any expansion of the sewer system, which now serves the downtown village and areas running south on Route 154 to the Deep River town line. Alvin Wolfgram, engineer for Aaron Manor, had said at the Sept. 12 public hearing that connecting the nursing facility to the terminus of the existing sewer system, a distance of about 1.5 miles along Route 148, is feasible but very costly. Wolfgram added that constructing a new system on the Aaron Manor property would also be very costly.

Meehan said the town meeting on the requested town plan revisions would include a vote that would be advisory for the planning and zoning commission. If voters at the town meeting reject the requested revisions, it would then require a two-thirds majority, six votes on the nine-member panel, for the commission to further consider the Aaron Manor request. The commission has scheduled a second and “official”” public hearing on the Aaron Manor town plan revisions for Thursday Dec. 12.

Mystic Firm Expected for Design Work on Phase One of Chester Main Street Project

CHESTER— The Mystic firm of Kent & Frost is the recommended pick for preparing detailed designs and bid documents for phase one of the long-planned Main Street reconstruction project. The firm, which recently prepared a comprehensive plan for the entire project, has been recommended by the town’s Main Street Committee that is coordinating the project.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan told the board of selectmen at a meeting Tuesday that he is ready to follow the committee’s recommendation after resolving some final details on the exact scope of work that would be required for the project, which is a reconstruction of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 west to vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. Meehan said he hopes to sign a contract with the firm by the end of October.

Meehan said Kent & Frost was of of three firms interviewed by the 11-member volunteer committee. A total of seven firms submitted proposals for the project work in August. Meehan said the price from Kent & Frost, about $122,00, was slightly lower than prices from the other two firms interviewed, Millane & McBroom Inc. of Cheshire and Tectonic Engineers PC of Rocky Hill.

Meehan said the plan is to complete the project design over the winter5 months to be ready to seek bids for the project by April. The design plans would be presented at a public information meeting before bidding. Kent & Frost had estimated the cost of the phase one project at about $1.3 million in the full “Chester Village and Center District Master Plan” plan that was approved by voters at a town meeting in July

Chester Boy Scout Builds Bridge in Bushy Hill Nature Camp to Qualify for Eagle Scout Rank

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

Tyler R. Johnson, a 17-year old Chester resident, and six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, recently supervised the complete rebuilding of a much needed bridge in the Bush Hill Nature Camp in Ivoryton.

The bridge building project fulfilled for Johnson a necessary requirement for him to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. The new bridge connects the Red Trail to Berry-Berry Island in the Bushy Hill Camp.

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The new bridge is 22 feet in length and three feet wide, and it has new, four foot high, rope railings on both sides. All of the work on the new bridge was supervised by Johnson, who was assisted by 15 or more Boy Scout volunteers.

As a reward for their efforts, the volunteers received “services hours,” which are necessary for their advancement in the ranks of the Boy Scouts.  For Johnson the bridge-building project fulfilled for him the requirement to have an “Eagle Leadership Project” to become an Eagle Scout.

Johnson is a six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, and to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, he had to pass through the ranks of scouting from Tenderfoot to Eagle, with four other ranks in between. In the process Johnson earned 33 different Boy Scout merit badges, ranging from Swimming to Financial Management, from Citizenship to Small Boat Handling.

Commenting on his bridge building project, Johnson said, “I wanted to give back to the [Bushy Hill Nature]camp, which I attended for seven years, and for which I have fond memories.” Johnson also very much wants to have the impressive rank of Eagle Scout on his resume,’ as he searches for a college to attend next year.

Chester's Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester’s Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester P & Z Approves Pizza Restaurant for 69 Main Street

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has approved a special permit for a new pizza restaurant at 69 Main St. in the downtown village. The panel approved the permit on a unanimous vote at it’s Sept. 12 meeting.

The restaurant will be run by Jonathan Rapp, who also owns and operates the River Tavern restaurant at 23 Main St. in the downtown village. The 35 seat restaurant would be open daily from 5 to 11 p.m., offering pizza, salads, and gelato, along with beer and wine. The three-story building at 69 Main St. is owned by local resident Jonathan Schroder, who purchased it from the town several years ago.

The town had acquired the property in the mid-1990s for a possible expansion of town hall, which was located in a building on an abutting parcel until the current town hall opened in 2003 at 203 Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The commission imposed several conditions with the special permit approval, including a ban on outdoor music and parking behind in the area the building which is reserved for tenants on the other two floors. Patrons of the restaurant will be required to use on street parking or park in any the three town-owned lots in the village. Rapp had included a provision for outdoor seating in the application, but he will be required to obtain a separate accessory use zoning permit from the zoning enforcement officer before any outdoor seating is allowed.

Chester P & Z Continues Hearing on Town Plan Change Requested by Aaron Manor

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has continued a public hearing on the request by Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for an amendment to the town plan of conservation and development that would give the facility the option of connecting to the town sewer system. The hearing that began Thursday will resume at the commission’s Oct. 10 meeting.

The 60-bed nursing facility, located at 3 Wig Hill Road off Route 148, is requesting revisions to the 2009 town plan that would give it the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system that currently serves the downtown village and areas south on Route 154 to the Deep River town line. The septic system for the 60-year old facility has been failing for several years due to seasonal high ground water, and Aaron Manor is under a consent order with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to resolve the problems.

Represented by Essex engineer Alvin Wolfgram, the facility last winter applied to the inland-wetlands commission seeking a permit for a new and expanded septic system and on-site treatment system. The IWC asked Wolfgram to also investigate the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system, leading to a withdrawal of the permit application last March. The town plan currently makes no provision for sewers west of the downtown village along Route 148, a situation that blocks any consideration of the hook-in option for Aaron Manor.

The idea of revising the town plan to accommodate Aaron Manor drew a mixed response from residents at the hearing. The hearing began with First Selectman Edmund Meehan contending the request should have been first presented to the board of selectmen, and could possibly require approval from voters at a town meeting. Commission lawyer David Royston said town meeting action was not required if changes are approve by a two-thirds vote of the nine-member commission. But Royston recommended continuing the hearing to allow for review and input from the selectmen.

Royston also urged the commission to “proceed cautiously” with any changes to the town plan, with an eye toward addressing any possible conflicts with a statewide plan of conservation and development that became effective in June. One possible conflict could be an increase in potential development density that could result from an extension of the sewer line west along Route 148.

Several residents objected to changing the plan, with some suggesting there should be another way to give Aaron Manor a connection option without amending the plan. Meehan said any decision on changing the plan should include a review of all vacant land that is available for development along Route 148 to the Route 9 Exit 6 interchange. “Part of this decision is what is the sewer service area the commission wants for the town of Chester,” Meehan said.

But a representative of one nearby property owner suggested connecting Aaron Manor to the municipal sewer system could be the most environmentally sound option for resolving septic problems at the facility. Joan Malloy, a Wallingford attorney representing the owners of nearby Chapel Farm, contended the new and larger on site system proposed last winter could lead to contamination of a stream that runs through the farm property.

Wolfgram said connecting Aaron Manor to the municipal system with a sewer line running more than 1.5 miles along Route 148 would be “physically feasible,”, but costly, while adding the new and larger on site septic system that would be required for Aaron Manor would also be “very expensive.”

Chester P & Z to Hold Public Hearing Thursday on Proposed Revisions to Town Plan

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing Thursday on proposed modifications to the 2009 town plan of conservation and development that are requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The hearing convenes at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The 60-bed skilled nursing facility located off Route 148 at 3 Wig Hill Road is under a consent order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to repair and upgrade the septic system that has served the facility for decades. Aaron Manor, represented by Essex engineer Alvin Wolfgram, had applied to the inland-wetlands commission earlier this year for a permit for a new and expanded septic system. In considering the application, the IWC had asked Wolfgram to also explore the option of connecting to the existing town sewer system which serves the downtown village and several properties extending east to Route 154 and south to the Deep River town line.

The system was expanded in 2009 and currently sends waste water from Chester south to the Deep River sewer system and the waste water treatment plant on Winter Avenue in Deep River. Under a 2005 agreement, Deep River agreed to accept waste water from Chester for treatment at the Winter Avenue plant.

The town plan that was last updated in 2009 makes no provision for an expansion of the municipal sewer system to the west along Route 148. Aaron Manor is requesting changes to four chapters in the town plan that could allow for consideration or any proposal for a future expansion of the system west along Route 148.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said last month the town has no plans for any westward expansion of the sewer system on Route 148 to the Route 9 Exit 6 interchange, an area that includes Aaron Manor. Any expansion to the area, a distance of about 1.6 miles from the end of the existing system, would have to be self-funded by Aaron Manor, possibly with assistance from state and federal grants. A change to the town plan of development would at least allow Aaron Manor to consider a connection option as it works to comply with the state consent order.

Sen. Linares, and Rep. Carpino Hear from Local Manufacturers in Chester Meeting

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Chris Dimou, President of Roto Frank, Inc. (right) pause at the entrance to the Chester-based manufacturer which hosted the Sep. 6

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Chris Dimou, President of Roto Frank, Inc. (right) pause at the entrance to the Chester-based manufacturer which hosted the Sep. 6

State Rep. Christie Carpino and State Sen. Art Linares on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion with local business owners to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

The meeting, which was held at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc., brought together area job creators with the goal of crafting and improving the state’s business climate.

“It was a productive meeting and a great turnout,” Rep. Carpino said. “We want business leaders throughout our districts to know they have partners at the State Capitol who will fight to pass policies which grow jobs and make our state a more attractive place to do business. We heard real-life examples of some detrimental state legislation that hinders job creation and growth. This is unacceptable! We look forward to future meetings like this where we can continue to exchange ideas.”

“We view these manufacturers – and all taxpayers – as our customers,” Sen. Linares said. “We want them to know that their voices matter and that they will be heard in Hartford. Whatever Rep. Carpino and I can do to help respond to their needs, we will do.”

Among the business leaders in attendance were:

  • Chris Dimou, President of Chester-based Roto Frank, Inc.
  • Chip Merritt, CEO of Colchester-based InCord, Ltd
  • Andrew J. Gibson, CEO of Chester-based AeroCision
  • Robert Reynolds, Co-CEO and Chief Operating Officer at Portland-based Standard-Knapp Inc.
  • Kelli-Marie Vallieres, President/CEO at Old Saybrook-based Sound Manufacturing, Inc./Monster Power Equipment
  • Rick Puglielli, President at Portland-based Promold Plastics
Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Christie Carpino listen to comments from local business leaders on how Connecticut can improve its business environment. The legislators on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc. to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Christie Carpino listen to comments from local business leaders on how Connecticut can improve its business environment. The legislators on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc. to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.