March 17, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


State Representative Bob Siegrist to Seek Re-Election

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

About those Transit hearings…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Widening I-95

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit the club’s website at CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit


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

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

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

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

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

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

More information about the possible service reductions and ways to help prevent the funding cuts can be found at


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proposed Bus Fare Increases (pdf)

Proposed Rail Fare Increases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2018

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2020

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2021

Proposed Rail Service Reductions

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

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

   Shore Line East Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

Proposed Ferry Fare Increase (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Republican Ziobron Joins Race for 33rd State Senate Seat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Ziobron, visit


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

For more details and to apply visit,


Community Music School Hosts Free Preview Week Through Friday

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

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

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

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

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

For additional information, visit, call 860-767-0026, or email

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


CT River Museum Offers Range of Winter Wildlife Programs, Activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Auditions are not required.

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

Registration is $40; music is $13.

For more information visit or call 860-526-1038.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        1. Be kind.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you have any questions/concerns/suggestions, email


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Volunteers Needed to Help Valley Shore Residents With Literacy Challenges

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

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

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

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


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

Desert Pincushion by Charles Mazel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit the club’s website at CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Madhatters Hosts Auditions for ‘Annie,’ Saturday

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

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

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

For more information, visit


Winter Storm Grayson Roars Into Area

CHESTER — The State of Connecticut was hit with a nor’easter today that brought close to a foot of snow in the local area.

Town leaders ask that residents should start making alternate heat and shelter plans for their families.

Readers can also self-identify on CT Alert.  Sign up to receive alerts at or text your zip code to 888-777.

There will be updates on The Town of Chester Facebook page, In a true emergency, call 211 for a listing of local heating shelters near you.

The most important thing to remember is BE SAFE!


Happy New Year!

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

We wish all our readers, advertisers and friends a very Happy New Year 2018.

We hope it brings you and yours peace, good health and happiness.

Thank you for all your support this past year and we look forward to serving you with even stronger coverage of the towns of Chester, Essex and Deep River next year.


Masonicare Acquires Chester Village West, Community to now be called “Masonicare at Chester Village”

Masonicare, the state’s largest not-for-profit provider of senior healthcare and retirement living, has acquired Chester Village West, pictured above, from Iowa-based Life Care Services (LCS), an acquisition which fits seamlessly into Masonicare’s plan for sustained, smart growth and future success in Connecticut.

A Life Plan/Continuing Care Retirement Community set on 55 acres in the Connecticut River town of Chester, the community consists of 105 cottages and apartments.  “The addition of Chester Village to our organization is a win-win for all,” said Jon-Paul Venoit, President/CEO of Masonicare.  “We have extensive experience in the retirement living arena and our cultures are very similar.  We are retaining nearly all of their employees, and we expect to invest in some capital improvements on the campus as well.”

Hilde Sager, Vice President for Residential Services at Masonicare, added, “We’re delighted to welcome Chester Village West residents and staff into our Masonicare family.  We love the Chester area and look forward to Masonicare at Chester Village now being an integral part of the full continuum of senior care we are able to offer statewide.”   

Venoit noted that through its extensive continuum of care, Masonicare will be able to bring Assisted Living services to Chester Village residents as well as offer in-home care through its home care agencies. 

Masonicare’s continuum includes the 360-unit Ashlar Village in Wallingford, which is also a Life Plan/Continuing Care Retirement Community.  In April, Masonicare celebrated the grand opening of Masonicare at Mystic, a rental model with 179 Independent and Assisted Living apartments.

Editor’s Note: Masonicare affiliates include Masonicare Home Health & Hospice, Masonicare at Ashlar Village, Masonicare at Home, Masonicare at Mystic, Masonicare at Newtown, Masonicare Health Center and The Masonic Charity Foundation of Connecticut.


Essex Savings Bank Chester Branch Celebrates Fifth Year Anniversary

CHESTER — On Dec. 14, 2012 the Chester Branch of Essex Savings Bank first opened its doors to the public.

On Nov. 28, the Branch held a gathering to celebrate their 5th anniversary. Joining the branch staff in hosting the evening were members of the Bank’s Board of Directors as well as numerous Bank employees. The overall turnout for the evening was outstanding with over 100 RSVPs from residents and businesses throughout the local area. In addition, all three Selectwomen from the Town of Chester were available to help celebrate.

Guests enjoyed refreshments provided by local businesses The Villager and The Chester Bottle Shoppe. There was also a raffle with Chester themed gifts and gift certificates from The French Hen, Lark, Simon’s, The Wheatmarket, The Villager and Chester Finders’ Market.

The evening provided the opportunity to thank the customers and businesses in Chester and the surrounding towns for their support over the last five years.

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


Season’s Greetings

Christmas-Bow-Picture_512x384We wish all our readers and advertisers a wonderful, peaceful and enjoyable holiday season.

Thank you for all your support this past year and we look forward to serving you with even stronger coverage of the towns of Chester, Essex and Deep River next year.


Santa Claus is Coming to Chester Today! 

CHESTER — Join The Chester Hose Company Elves as Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive to Downtown Chester by fire truck Sunday, Dec. 17, at 5 p.m.

In case of inclement weather, Santa will arrive to the firehouse.

All the members of The Chester Hose Company wish our readers a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Safe New Year!


More Madhatters ‘Scrooged … with a Twist’ Shows Over Weekend

Galen Donovan of Old Lyme plays the title role in ‘Scrooged — with a Twist.’

CHESTER — Madhatters Theatre Company presents ‘Scrooged …with a Twist’ at Chester Meeting House, 4 Liberty Street Chester.  Performances are Friday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.mSaturday, Dec. 16, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under.  To reserve tickets, email: or call (860) 395-1861.

This production is a benefit for Old Lyme Animal Control.

For more information, visit


Inaugural Men’s Shopping Night to be Held Tonight in Chester

 CHESTER – The first annual men’s shopping night when all the downtown businesses will be open until 8 p.m. offering refreshments, unique presents to give, wish lists and gift wrapping will be Wednesday, Dec. 13 from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Participating merchants will have wish lists of gifts the special people on shoppers’ lists have already filled out on previous visits making selection a snap.

At Perfect Pear, homemade mini pretzels and beer will be served and a free wood-handled knife given with every purchase of $50 or more.

At Lori Warner’s, bourbon and caramels will be served and at French Hen, there will be a scotch tasting by Chester Package Store and pigs in the blanket served.

Meatballs, beer and wine will be offered at Maple and Main Gallery while Lark will have a beer tasting by Chester Bottle Shop, homemade salsa and chip and wrapped chocolates for stocking gifts.

Caryn Davis will sign copies of her book, “A Connecticut Christmas: Celebrating the Holiday in Classic New England Style,’’ at Leif Nilsson’s Gallery.

The Pattaconk is offering $1 off your first beverage and half price appetizers for all shoppers Wednesday night.

Also participating with refreshments, wish lists and gift wrapping: Black Kat, Ruba Ruba and Dina Varano.


Shoreline Club of Soroptimist International Hosts Holiday Dinner & Fundraiser Tonight

AREAWIDE —  The Connecticut Shoreline Club of Soroptimist International has announced that Jonna Gerken, President of the Society of Women Engineers, will be its guest speaker at the new chapter’s first Holiday Dinner and Fundraiser. The event, open to the public, will take place on Dec. 13, at 6 p.m. at Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant, 22 Chesterfield Rd, East Lyme. Buffet Dinner is $40 and for Students it is $30. There will be a Silent Auction.

For tickets or to donate an item, contact Deb Moshier-Dunn or 860-444-9247

Gerken will address STEM (Science, Technology Engineering Math) and how young girls and women can achieve economic independence by pursuing careers in those fields. Jonna Gerken is a manager in manufacturing engineering for Pratt & Whitney. She oversees the program chief manufacturing engineers in their work to ensure all engine components meet manufacturing readiness levels appropriate to their life-cycle stage.

Gerken holds a B.S. in industrial and management engineering and an MBA in technology development, both from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is a life member of SWE, a senior member of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, and an associate value specialist with SAVE International. She received the 2016 Petit Family Foundation Women in Science Leadership Award from the Connecticut Science Center, the 2014 STEP Award from the Manufacturing Institute, the 2011 Pratt & Whitney Diversity and Inclusion Award, the 2006 SWE Distinguished New Engineer Award, and was a 2004 New Faces of Engineering Finalist for IIE. The Society of Women Engineers has nearly 40,000 members worldwide.

The Connecticut Shoreline Club of Soroptimist International was chartered in February 2017. Soroptimist is an international volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world. CT Shoreline members join with almost 80,000 Soroptimists in about 120 countries and territories to contribute time and financial support to community-based projects benefiting women and girls.

Soroptimist, a 501(c)(3) organization that relies on charitable donations to support its programs, such as the Live Your Dream award to support women who are supporting their families and the Dream It, Be It program to empower middle and high school girls. For more information about how Soroptimist improves the lives of women and girls, visit or

The Dec. 13 event will feature a silent auction with gift certificates, baskets and artwork. Funds raised will support the club’s programs and scholarships. The chapter welcomes new members. To learn more, ‘like’ Soroptimist International Connecticut Shoreline on Facebook or visit


Chester Ornaments From Prior Years for Sale at Maple & Main

These wonderful Chester ornaments from prior years are for sale at maple & Main Gallery.

CHESTER — Each year for a number of years, a Chester artist designed a pewter ornament and a limited number were made and sold at this time of year to support local, non-profit organizations.

The last one was done in 2015, and there are no plans to continue the tradition, making the remaining ones definite collector items. Each one has the singular Chester seal, designed by Cummings and Good, on one side; the art on the other.

There are about 70 of these terrific treasures left from the various years, and they’re for sale at $10 each at Maple and Main Gallery while they last. They make excellent stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, additions to your Christmas tree and even classy pulls for window shades.

All the proceeds go to the Chester Merchants to help with their efforts on behalf of the town.

Maple and Main is open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


‘Con Brio’ Presents its Christmas Concert in Old Lyme This Evening, Tomorrow

Danielle Munsell Howard is the soprano at the Con Brio Christmas Concerts this weekend.

Con Brio presents two performances of its acclaimed Christmas Concert this weekend on Saturday evening, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m., both at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme.

Imagine sitting in the center of the bright, high-ceilinged space of Christ the King Church in Old Lyme. The music begins. First from behind you. Then to your left, your right, up in front. It is surround-sound live – provided by the voices of the Con Brio Choral Society arrayed around the great space.

As each of 19 – yes, nineteen! –  parts begin to sing, the sound moves from place to place, the voices echoing one another, harmonizing and weaving a musical fabric that envelopes you.

It’s not like any other Christmas concert you have ever attended … unless you have been to one of Con Brio’s Christmas Concerts before. Attend one of this year’s concerts and experience a musical treat to calm your mind and move you into the Christmas spirit.

Under the baton of Dr. Stephen D. Bruce, Con Brio will perform with the professional 31-piece Con Brio Festival Orchestra, and soprano soloist Danielle Munsell Howard, acclaimed by Opera News Online for her “bright, pretty timbre and remarkable facility.”

Con Brio has sung many Magnificats over the years but Rutter’s setting manages to maintain the traditional approach to the well-known text while infusing it with lush contemporary harmonies and textures. Soloist Danielle Munsell Howard, has a voice well-suited to expressing the wonderment of Mary. The choral movements range from the delicacy of Esurientes (The poor) through the power of Fecit potentiam (He has shown strength) to the thrill of the Gloria Patri.

Stunning is the word often used to describe Morten Lauridsen’s Sure on This Shining Night. Its glistening harmonies and melodies so clearly express poet James Agee’s text and the magic of a December night. In 2007, two years after this piece was composed, President George W. Bush awarded Dr. Lauridsen the National Medal of the Arts, the highest artistic award in the United States.

Two pieces will be sung in the round—now a Con Brio tradition. The chorus loves to take advantage of the spacious and acoustically exceptional sanctuary of Christ the King Church. First will be the a cappella, eight-part, antiphonal motet, In Dulci Jubilo, by 15th century composer Michael Praetorious. That will be followed by the 19-voice Buccinate (Blow the trumpet), by Giovanni Gabrieli.

Other pieces include Fum Fum Fum in a playful arrangement by Mack Wilberg; Pietro Yon’s familiar Gesu Bambino which will feature the soprano soloist; Still, Still, Still in a special arrangement for chorus and harp; perennial favorite Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose); Hodie Christus natus est (Today Christ is born) is one of the greatest renaissance motets; and Claude Debussy’s spritely and expressive Yver, vous n’estes qu’un villain (Winter, you are nothing but a villain).

Also, Con Brio will perform a rousing arrangement of the famous spiritual, Go Where I Send Thee. The concert will close with Stephen Mager’s wonderful arrangement of Ding Dong Merrily on High, which starts with a simple rendition of the familiar melody, accompanied by winds, and slowly transforms it into a thrilling finale featuring the full orchestra.

As always, each Christmas concert will include carols for audience participation.

Con Brio, over 70 voices strong, is the Shoreline’s auditioned chorus, known for the variety of its repertoire, and the strength of its programming and musical skills. Since it was founded in 1997, Con Brio has performed regularly to a growing and loyal local audience. Singers hail from more than 15 towns: from East Haven to Mystic and from Old Saybrook to Moodus. The choir has made six overseas concert tours, with the most recent to Portugal and Spain in 2016. The seventh will be to Slovenia and Croatia in May/June 2018.

Follow Con Brio on Facebook @conbriochoral or visit

Tickets are $30 each, $15 for students. Purchase them in advance online; major credit cards are accepted.

For more information, call 860-526-5399.


Community Music School Hosts Holiday Concert at VRHS, Sunday

The CMS String Ensemble will perform at the 2017 Holiday Concert.

AREAWIDE – ‘Tis the season of celebration and the Community Music School’s (CMS) Holiday Concert scheduled to take place on Sunday, Dec. 10, at 2 p.m. at Valley Regional High School’s auditorium.  Free and open to the public, this community-wide annual event brings together faculty and students to perform vocal and instrumental holiday favorites.

This family-friendly concert will include performances by the Community Music School New Horizons Band, Suzuki Violin Group, Americana String Band, and full String Orchestra, in addition to some beautiful solo piano holiday music performed by CMS’s top students.  Music Director Tom Briggs has arranged a special Holiday Jazz Ensemble to play some contemporary holiday favorites including “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Christmas Time is Here,” and more.

Bring your family and enjoy some of the best music of the season!

For additional information, visit or call CMS at 860-767-0026.

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


Leif Nilsson Hosts Ramblin’ Dan Stevens & a Fiery Band in Sunday’s ‘Concert in the Garden’

Dan Stevens will play the next ‘Concert in the Garden’ at the Spring Street Studio.

CHESTER — Leif Nilsson hosts a Sunday evening ‘Concert in the Garden,’ Dec. 10, from 4 to 6 p.m.,  featuring bluesman Ramblin’ Dan Stevens and a Fiery Band at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery at 1 Spring St, Chester Center.

Stevens performs an eclectic mix of traditional fingerstyle blues and originals and has entertained audiences throughout the US, Germany, UK, Canada and Virgin Islands. Of special interest is his unique style of “bottleneck” slide playing popularized by early Mississippi delta bluesmen including his use of a homemade, three stringed “Cigar Box Guitar” and one stringed “Diddly Bow”, both primitive blues instruments.

Stevens has been lauded for the authenticity of his approach gained by many years on the road as a traveling blues musician. He has appeared with such artists as Arlo Guthire, Richie Havens, Charlie Daniels, James Cotton, Gatemouth Brown and many others.

For more information on Dan Stevens, visit

This monthly concert series highlights eclectic international singer/songwriter artists from cool jazz to blue grass.

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

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


Community Renewal Team Accepting Submissions for 2018 National Arts Program Through Jan. 11

AREAWIDE — For 27 years, Community Renewal Team (CRT) has served as the sole host in the state of Connecticut for the annual National Arts Program® (NAP), providing an opportunity for local artists to showcase their art within the community.

Professional artists, along with youth, teens, amateurs and intermediate artists from Middlesex and Hartford counties are invited to submit their work now for the 2018 art show, which will be on display at Capital Community College (950 Main Street in Hartford, CT) from Jan. 19 – Feb. 7, 2018.

All forms of visual arts are accepted for this show; from paintings and photographs to sculptures, crafts and textiles.

Applications are being accepted until Jan. 11, 2018, and it is free to submit work for the show.

The NAP provides materials and funding for this visual art exhibit, including cash awards totaling $3,450.

More information about how to get involved in the 2018 National Arts Program is available on the CRT website at


Looking Ahead to 2020, CBSRZ Leaders Network With Thousands of Peers at URJ Biennial in Boston

CHESTER –  Leaders from Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester will join 5,000 Jewish leaders for the 2017 Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial, being held in Boston, Massachusetts, from Dec. 6-10.

The URJ Biennial is the largest Jewish religious gathering in North America. Clergy, professionals, lay leaders, educators, youth leaders, and high school and college students will come together to learn, pray, share ideas, network, celebrate, make Reform Movement policy, and create engagement opportunities for the 2 million people – representing nearly 900 Reform Jewish congregations in the U.S. and Canada – who comprise the Reform Jewish community.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is one of 138 Reform Jewish congregations from across North America who will send a group delegation to the conference. Participants from 480+ congregations in 57 states/provinces will attend intensive leadership training and learning sessions about congregational life, designed to enrich personal skills and knowledge, and deliver tangible take-aways to bring back to their congregations.

Attendees may choose from more than 200 learning sessions from 400 expert presenters. Programming is organized within five intensive tracks that reflect the top priorities of the URJ’s bold 2020 Vision action plan: Strengthening Congregations, Audacious Hospitality, Tikkun Olam (social justice), Youth Engagement, and Transforming Texts (presented in partnership with the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion). View the detailed schedule.

“For clergy, synagogue professionals, and lay leaders, the URJ Biennial offers new and creative solutions about every aspect of congregational life,” said Chair of the URJ Biennial 2017 Luise Mann Burger. “Biennial is simply the best way for local leaders to learn from, share ideas, and network with peers and leading experts.”

“URJ Biennial is like a big family reunion – you get to learn, pray, share best principles, network, and catch up with 5000 of your closest Reform Jewish friends and colleagues,” shares Rabbi Marci Bellows, spiritual leader at CBSRZ. “I always return from Biennial feeling refreshed, as well as reinvigorated with new, creative programs, music, and other ideas for our wonderful congregants back at home.”

Biennial attendees will hear from a variety of speakers and expert practitioners, including:

  • Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
  • Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker
  • Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, social justice leader of Moral Mondays, Repairers of the Breach
  • Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Michigan State University-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative: her study exposed elevated lead blood levels in Flint children
  • David Grossman, Israeli author and activist, just named the winner of Man-Booker International Prize for Literature
  • Krista Tippett, host of On Being public radio show and podcast
  • Jodi Nussbaum, VP, Sesame Workshop
  • Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ President
  • Daryl Messinger, Chair of URJ North American Board of Trustees

Visit for event info. Use hashtag #URJBiennial. Follow the URJ on Facebook & Twitter.


For more information about URJ, visit


CT Valley Camera Club Hosts Award-Winning Travel Photographer at Tomorrow’s Meeting

‘Native Girls in Ethiopia’ by Bobbi Lane.

AREAWIDE: The guest speaker at the Monday, Dec. 4, meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be the award-winning travel photographer Bobbi Lane, who will give a presentation titled “Travel Portraits: Capturing Light and Life.”  The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lyme’s Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn. All are welcome.

Photographing people anywhere, home or abroad, presents many challenges to the traveling photographer. The technical concerns about light, camera angle and lenses, backgrounds, selective focus, and composition can sometimes overshadow the importance of making a connection with another human being. Honoring, respecting and communicating with your subject are the first steps to making a meaningful and storytelling photograph. Language barriers can be overcome with a smile, a great attitude and tone of voice, allowing you to communicate without words.

It’s imperative to use good lighting techniques, both natural and with flash, to create the mood and description of the scene and capture the essence. Patience and observation help the photographer choose the right time and place to capture the subject appropriately.

Lane will share her many tips and multiple experiences in both the common place and exotic locations. This presentation will help photographers connect with people, develop a deeper understand of what all humans have in common, and assist them in making photographs that emotionally affect and enlighten the viewer.

Lane is an award-winning commercial photographer specializing in creative portraits in studio and on location for editorial, corporate, and advertising accounts. Lane’s multi-faceted approach to photography incorporates over 40 years of technical experience with innovative artistic interpretation. Lane’s honest and fun connection with her clients allows them to feel relaxed and authentic.

Come on this journey, laugh and cry with Bobbi and her travels to Ethiopia, Myanmar, Venice for Carnival, Turkey, Hong Kong, Dubai and Oman and discover the keys to making great portraits.

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

For more information, visit the club’s website at CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at


United Church of Chester Holds Christmas Fair Today

CHESTER — The United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, CT holds its annual Christmas Fair on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Come enjoy shopping for hand-crafted items and delicacies, decorations, greens, knitted goods and mouth-watering morsels for holiday giving.  There will also be a silent auction, tea-cup auction and Grandma’s attic to prowl through for Christmas treasurers and charitable gift-giving possibilities.

Lunch will be served between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.


Chester Celebrates ‘First Friday’ Tonight

CHESTER – Tree lighting, carol singing, hot chocolate, cider, wine, homemade cookies passed around by St. Lucia girls, luminaries by local boy scouts , music, art openings, shops in their winter wonderland glory with special gift ideas, tastings and more are all part of the annual Holiday Night/First Friday, Dec. 1, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Christmas tree, donated by Camp Hazen and decorated by Chester Elementary students, at the corner of Maple and Main streets will be lit at 6 p.m. accompanied by caroling.

And, at Maple and Main Gallery, homemade cookies by Camp Hazen and the Guest House will be offered along with cider. Along with the Holiday Exhibit, “Luminous Perspectives,’’ opens that day in the Stone Gallery featuring landscapes by gallery artist Janine Robertson, and there will be a free drawing for the painting ‘Waiting for Mr. Claus,’ by Rosemary Serfilippi shown above.

An opening for the annual Postcard Show – dozens and dozens of original works postcard size or smaller – will be at the Chester Gallery.  Champagne by the fire will be served.

The Perfect Pear will introduce Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salts with a tasting and talk by the company co-founder and refreshments will be served.

At Harvest Moon Design, there will be an opening reception for an art show by Chelbi Wade and Jaime LeDeuce, and the musical group, the Grays will entertain from 8 to 10 p.m on this and subsequent First Fridays.

The French Hen will celebrate “A White Christmas” with a signature cocktail, “snow” dusted cookies and gift ideas while spiced hot cider will be served at Strut Your Mutt.

New jewelry designs from Dina Varano.

Lark will host a tree full of hand-made, fair-trade, African ornaments with the proceeds from sales going to the organization, “Ornaments 4 Orphans.” Peppermint Stick hot chocolate will be served.

New paintings of the Connecticut River and the artist’s garden will be shown in the Holiday Exhibit at Leif Nilsson’s Gallery. His house band, Arrowhead, will   photographer Caryn Davis signs copies of her new book, “A Connecticut Christmas: Celebrating the Holiday in Classic New England Style.”

Dina Varano Gallery will introduce Dina’s annual new collection of jewelry and wine will be served while Black Kat will host potter Ave Rivera and Jewelry Artisan Sea Glass Designs.


Heated Boat Storage Facility Now Open at Chester Point Marina, CT.

CHESTER –  Over the past five years, the marina industry has been sailing along with increased revenue growth and rising profit. While most marinas cater to small boats and recreational boaters, Chester Point Marina is now providing heated storage for larger yachts with their newly completed 15,000-sq. ft. boat storage facility. The largest of its kind on the Connecticut River, this storage facility is 150’ deep.

Pelletier Construction Management joined by Butler Manufacturing designed the facility that met the needs of the marina and their customers. The new facility is designed to enable boat travel lifts to enter and store full- size yachts within the new structure. The innovative pile-supported new design was engineered to withstand hurricane force wind loads and associated potential storm surge.

The demand for boat storage has increased due to rising disposable income, recreational expenditures and the number of boat owners.


‘Ranky Tanky’ Brings American Roots Gospel Music to Chester This Afternoon

Ranky Tanky will play the final Collomore Concert, Nov. 26.

CHESTER — Their music has been called “soul-stirring” and infectious, intoxicating and exotic,” and they’ll be at the Chester Meeting House on Sunday, Nov. 26, at 5 p.m.

The Ranky Tanky quintet from Charleston, South Carolina, revives the extraordinary Gullah music of America’s southeastern Sea Islands, mixing the low country traditions with large doses of jazz, gospel, funk and R&B. Their music is a variety of traditional tunes, from playful game-songs to ecstatic shouts, and heartbreaking spirituals to delicate lullabies.

Fresh out of college, trumpeter Charlton Singleton, guitarist Clay Ross, bassist Kevin Hamilton and drummer Quentin Baxter originally worked together as an in-demand jazz quartet on the Charleston scene in the late 1990s before splitting off to each make their way as freelance musicians, working with names like Houston Person, Freddy Cole, Cyro Baptista and René Marie.

Gaining years of valuable experience plus international acclaim, Grammy nominations and thousands of performances around the word, they developed a deeper appreciation for the South Carolina Gullah tradition they came from. They reunited and formed Ranky Tanky, along with the dynamic low-country vocalist Quiana Parler, celebrated for her big, stunning, soulful voice. (Ranky Tanky translates loosely as “Work It,” or “Get Funky!”)

Their Chester Meeting House concert is brought to you by the Collomore Concert Series in the last concert of its 44th season. Tickets are $28 for adults and just $5 for students (up through grad school) and can be purchased online at or by calling 860-526-5162. The concert will be followed by an informal reception, with refreshments by La Vita Restaurant at Goodspeed Landing. More information about Ranky Tanky is available on the website.

“Ranky Tanky proved that exotic music can be both unfamiliar enough to be surprising, and yet familiar enough to provoke swinging hips and nodding heads. When it works, it’s the best of both worlds.” – Paste Magazine


Local Historical Societies Open Today

Entertain the kids during the Thanksgiving break with a visit to one or more of the local museums. It’s a great chance to get them away from one of their electronic devices.

AREAWIDE — College students home over the Thanksgiving break? House guests who have eaten more turkey than they wanted to and looking for something to do? Free entertainment and getting to know more about our local towns can all be accomplished during the extended hours at the Chester, Deep River and Essex historic museums and houses. Such a welcome alternative to dealing with crowds at the malls!

For the fifth year in a row, the historical societies of Chester, Deep River and Essex are helping you entertain your guests on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Chester Historical Society president Skip Hubbard said, “This year will be the fifth year our museums have been open over Thanksgiving and it’s become a popular thing to do.  Some people even visit more than one of the three sites. The combination of free admission, rekindling memories and learning more about the local area can be hard to resist.”

The Chester Museum at The Mill, at 9 West Main St., Chester, will be open both Friday and Saturday, Nov. 24 and 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Deep River Historical Society’s Stone House, at 245 Main Street in Deep River, will be open on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Essex Historical Society’s historic Pratt House, located at 19 West Avenue in Essex, also will be open to visitors Friday, Nov. 24 and Saturday, Nov. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Chester Historical Society Hosts Lecture, Book-Signing by Dr. Gary Ford Today; Author of Constance Baker Motley Book

Photo Credit: Library of Congress Prints, Courtesy of the Author

CHESTER — On Sunday, Nov. 19, at 4 p.m. at the Chester Museum at the Mill, the Historical Society will host a lecture and book signing by Dr. Gary Ford Jr, author of the just published book, Constance Baker Motley: One Woman’s Fight for Civil Rights and Equal Justice Under Law (University of Alabama Press)The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Ford, a professor of Africana Studies at CUNY’s Lehman College, with degrees from Harvard and Columbia Law School, will offer a treasure trove of exciting new facts, stories and unique insights into Motley’s unrecognized and under-represented contributions to the civil rights movement, and ultimately, her significance in American history.

According to Ford, Motley was a key strategist and brilliant courtroom litigator for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as the only woman on its legal team.  “As such,” said Ford, “she was the person most often sent to the South, and the one to argue the difficult and important desegregation cases involving public schools, colleges, universities, housing, transportation, parks, and other places of public accommodation.”

Between 1946 and 1964, she litigated and won over 200 desegregation and discrimination cases across 11 southern states at every court level, including the U.S. Supreme Court, where she became the first African American woman to argue a case.

“Winning those cases,” says Ford, “was an integral part of the civil rights movement. The cases legally ended Jim Crow in the South and created a sea change in both the law and public perception, but went under-represented in traditional narratives of civil rights history.”

Ford argues in his book that Motley’s quiet courtroom battles were essential to the success of the street protests, sit-ins and marches because they turned those public campaigns for integration, equal rights and equal access, into codified American law. “This was Motley’s great, but little understood contribution to American history,” said Ford.

Constance Baker Motley (1921-2005), a native of New Haven was a resident of Chester for 40 years, and had a seasonal home on Cedar Lake Road. She was an active member of the community, who involved herself in preserving local history. Her part-time residence in Chester coincided with her second career as a distinguished Federal Judge in the Federal District Court of NY, (1966-2005), appointed in 1966 as the first African American woman by Pres. Lyndon Johnson. She spent weekends, summer vacations and holidays in Chester.

Prior to her Chester house purchase in 1965, Motley briefly entered public service (1964-1966), first as a state Senator from New York, and then as President of the Manhattan Borough Council, both firsts for an African American woman. Before that, she spent 20 years in the South as the chief litigator for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund arguing the most important desegregation cases that arose from the 1954 Brown vs Board of Education ruling that declared separate but equal unconstitutional. (See boxed civil rights history below).

As an African American woman, Motley broke countless barriers and raised the glass ceiling for all women. Her path-breaking work was honored when she was inducted into the National and Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame (1993 and 1998 respectively), and awarded the Presidential Citizen Medal of Honor (2001). Her autobiography, Equal Justice Under Law, (Giroux, 1998) has been in constant circulation.

This past summer, the Chester Land Trust acquired her 8-acre property off Cedar Lake Road, and dedicated the land as the Constance Baker Motley Preserve to honor and commemorate her life. Since her death in 2005, the Chester Rotary has provided a summer scholarship in her name to a child from New Haven to attend Camp Hazen in Chester, one of the earliest integrated YMCA camps in Connecticut, financed by her own New Haven benefactor, Clarence Blakeslee, who supported her education at NYU and Columbia Univ.

Last June, the Chester Historical Society, of which Judge Motley was a founding Trustee in 1970, mounted its first exhibit about her life at their Museum at the Mill. That exhibit will serve as the backdrop for Dr. Ford’s lecture and offer the last opportunity to view it before the Museum closes for the winter. The exhibit, also includes the celebrated documentary on her life (Justice is a Black Woman) produced by Dr. Ford and Quinnipiac University in 2012, and which airs annually on PBS.

Ford’s popular video on Motley—Justice Is a Black Woman—produced at Quinnipiac University in 2012, and shown on PBS, will also be available as part of the Motley exhibit currently on view at the Museum.

The Museum at the Mill is located at 9 West Main St (Route 148) in Chester. (Attendees should park in the Chester Library parking lot just up the hill from the Museum.)

For directions to the Chester Museum at the Mill, 9 West Main St (Route 148), click here

For more information, contact: Marta Daniels at or 860-343-3191


Letter to the Editor: Time for Democracy, Support the National Popular Vote

To the Editor:

This past Election Day, we took for granted that our votes would matter and the local candidates receiving the most votes would be the winner. That’s the way it works for every election in the U.S., except for president.

With winner-take-all Electoral College voting, a dozen battleground states with only 33% of the population decide who becomes president. Twice in the last 17 years, the loser of the popular vote became the winner. That doesn’t make sense.

Fortunately, there is a solution. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a nonpartisan plan to make everyone’s vote for president matter equally—regardless of whether they’re in a blue, red or battleground state—and to make the winner the candidate with the most votes.

The NPV Compact is an agreement among states to award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. It kicks in as soon as states with a combined 270 electoral votes sign on, ensuring the popular vote will always pick the president. Eleven states with a combined 165 electoral votes have already signed on.

Our state legislature has considered joining the Compact five times since 2009. Last session, there were 68 co-sponsors of the NPV bill, more than ever before. It will be introduced again in 2018. If you agree that the candidate with the most votes nationwide should become the president, contact your state legislators and ask them to support it.

This isn’t a partisan issue. A switch of 60,000 Ohio voters in 2014 would have put Kerry in the White House, despite three million more votes cast for Bush. The NPV is not a Democratic plan: in 2014 Newt Gingrich strongly endorsed it. With a national popular vote, every vote would matter, not just those in twelve states. It’s time for a change, time for democracy.


Marta Daniels,


Final Collomore Concert Features Soulful Sounds of ‘Ranky Tanky,’ Nov. 26

Ranky Tanky will play the final Collomore Concert, Nov. 26.

CHESTER — For its 44th season, the Robbie Collomore Music Series will offer all four of its concerts in the fall, between Sept. 24 and Nov. 26. These will be on Sundays at 5 p.m. in the historic and charming Chester Meeting House. It is now the time to buy your season subscription.

In recent years, Jason Vieaux and Julien Labro have thrilled Collomore Concert audiences separately – Jason playing classical guitar in a solo concert and Julien playing accordion with the Detroit Hot Club. When the Collomore committee heard they had joined forces touring, playing the guitar and bandoneon, they jumped at the opportunity to have them return to Chester on Sunday, Oct. 15.  You can expect something “entertaining, fun, exciting, virtuosic in the unusual pairing of these two instruments. The program contains some modern classical, world music from Brazil and Argentina, and even some pop music.”

Latin Jazz comes to Chester on Nov. 5, with the Curtis Brothers Quartet featuring Ray Vega, percussionist.  The Curtis Brothers Quartet takes bold steps towards a modern Latin Jazz sound, fearlessly pushing their musical approach into new territories. Their unique rhythmic concept is what separates them from most other jazz quartets. All of their music, original or not, is based on the percussive concepts that they have accumulated through their various musical experiences.

And on Nov. 26, the soulful songs of the Gullah culture will be brought to life by Ranky Tanky, a five-piece band of native South Carolinians who mix the low country traditions with large doses of jazz, gospel, funk, and R&B. They’ve been called “infectious, intoxicating and exotic” with
“frisky and hypnotic rhythms with a bone-deep mix of spirituals and gutbucket blues.”

Buy a season subscription now and save money, plus you’ll be certain you will have a seat even when a concert is sold out. A subscription to all four concerts is just $98. Individual concert tickets cost $28. For students from elementary through graduate school, a subscription is $15 ($5 per concert). Tickets and subscriptions can be purchased online at using PayPal. All ticket-holders are invited to stay for a reception after the concert to meet the performers. For more information, check the website or call 860-526-5162.


Chester Historical Society Hosts Free Program Today on Town’s Earliest Industry: The Waterhouse Grist Mill

Nathan Jacobson with his intricately designed scale model of the Waterhouse Grist Mill, the subject of a free program in Chester on Nov. 12. Photo by Skip Hubbard

CHESTER — In 1729 two brothers, Abraham and Gideon Waterhouse, aged 29 and 16, moved to the wilderness later named Chester and within a few years built a grist mill. Of course they had no power machinery, yet that didn’t stop them from constructing a two-story wooden building, about 22 feet square, complete with a wooden waterwheel and other wooden machinery, plus two granite millstones weighing about a ton and a half each.

And you think you work hard!

Nathan Jacobson, a registered professional engineer who has spent most of his life living near the site of the old Waterhouse Grist Mill, spent several years researching the history of the old mill. The Chester Historical Society recently published Jacobson ’s book, “The Waterhouse Grist Mill Saga.” Additionally, Jacobson created an intricate scale model of the grist mill for permanent exhibit at the Chester Museum at The Mill.

On Sunday, Nov. 12, at 4 p.m., at the Chester Meeting House, Jacobson will demonstrate how the Waterhouse mill would have been constructed and how it worked. Through a Powerpoint program and the grist mill model, he will show how the Waterhouse brothers would have used the different parts of the machinery to grind the corn and grain for the early settlers. 

This is a free program sponsored by the Chester Historical Society and refreshments will be served. Jacobson ’s book will be available for purchase following the program.

The Chester Meeting House is at 4 Liberty Street in Chester.

For more information, visit or call 860-558-4701.


Democrats Sweep First Selectmen Positions Across Tri-Town Region, Republican Fortuna Keeps Top Job in Saybrook

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (File photo)

AREAWIDE — Perhaps reflecting the mood of the country in Tuesday’s elections, Democrats locally retained control of the majority of seats of government in the Tri-Town area.

Democrat incumbent Norm Needleman convincingly won a fourth term as First Selectman in Essex with an almost 2 to 1 majority of 1,509 votes over Republican challenger Vin Pacileo’s 772.  Needleman is joined again on the board of selectmen by fellow Democrat Stacia Libby (1,204 votes) and Republican Bruce Glowac (1,047 votes)

Needleman’s 737 majority over Pacileo was far higher than the 80-vote margin he achieved over Glowac in 2015, and also in 2011 when, in his first contested election, he defeated Bruce MacMillian by over 400 votes. Needleman was uncontested by town Republicans for a second term in 2013.

Glowac had previously served as first selectman from 1991-1995.

In Deep River, where all three board of selectmen candidates were unopposed, incumbent Democrat Angus L. McDonald, Jr. won 804 votes to be returned as first selectman. He is joined by fellow Democrat incumbent Duane Gates (D) with 601 votes and newcomer William L. Burdick (R), who polled 360 votes.

Democrats Lauren Gister (left) and Charlene Janecek (File photo)

Chester saw another incumbent Democrat Lauren Gister re-elected to the position of first selectwoman with a strong showing of 797 votes, representing a more than 2 to 1 margin over Republican challenger Carolyn Linn (360 votes). Gister’s fellow incumbent Democrat Selectwoman Charlene Janecek, who polled only 32 votes less than Gister, also retains her seat on  the board.  The third member of the board will be Republican James Grzybowski, who defeated Linn by just three votes.

The only Republican success in the area was incumbent Carl Fortuna’s re-election in Old Saybrook with 1,911 votes over Democrat Stephen Sheehan, who polled 1,220 votes. Joining Fortuna on the board will be Republican Scott Giegerich  (1,688 votes) and Democrat Carol Conklin with 1,398 votes.


Tri-Town Veterans Day Parade to be Held Tomorrow

TRI-TOWN — Tri-Town Veterans Day Parade kicks off on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 1 p.m. from behind the Deep River Elementary School, travels down High Street to Main Street and then onto the memorial for a wonderful ceremony.

All veterans are welcome to join the parade.

All are invited to watch the parade and honor the veterans.


It’s ‘First Friday’ Tonight with Art, Beer, Books, Knives (Yes, Knives!) and More

The ‘Arrowhead String Band’ will play at the Spring Street Gallery tonight.

CHESTER – Art openings, free beer samples, wine tastings, a book signing, trunk show, artisan knife makers, a new collection of plaid and stripped clothes, music, fine art glass works, lots of wine and food and free items from the design archives of Cummings and Good.

All this and more is happening on First Friday, Nov. 3, when Chester restaurants, galleries and shops stay open until at least 8 p.m. with special offerings for visitors to the downtown.

Ruba Ruba will unveil a new collection of clothing with plaid and stripped themes while at French Hen, resident Caryn Davis will be signing her new book, “ A Connecticut Christmas,’’ and Uno de 50 jewelry will be featured in a trunk show.

At Maple and Main’s Stone Gallery, there will be an opening reception with wine, appetizers and desserts for “The Art of the Sea,’’ a solo show of marine and seascape oil paintings by artist Peter Barrett. A portion of the proceeds go to cancer research.

In her gallery, Dina Varano will display more one-of-a-kind designs that she has created in 14kt and 18kt gold for the new gold jewelry collection for the season. Be one of the first to see these dramatic creations in gold.

A sample of Stein Roaldset’s work.

The Perfect Pear will host two artisan knife makers: Stein Roaldset who will show, sell and discuss his work and woodworker Jerry Lalancette who will showcase his hand-made knife handles.

Cummings and Good are clearing out their design archives and offering for free on their porch: pins, cards, posters prints calendars, paper, pads and more – all designed by them.

Leif Nilsson is opening his Autumn Exhibit of new oil paintings of the Connecticut River and his garden while the artist’s house band, Arrowhead, entertains you at the Spring Street Gallery.

The Lori Warner Gallery will exhibit a new collection of fine art glass work by Carrie Gustafson (see image above), who is inspired by patterns and forms from art history and observations of nature.

Lori Warner Gallery will exhibit a new collection of fine art glass work by Carrie Gustafson.

Wine and goodies will be served at Lark and Strut Your Mutt while the Historical Society will keeps the Mill building open serving wine and appetizers to passers-by.

The Chester Package Store will offers tastings of wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner and the Pattaconk will do free sample flights of any three beers on tap.