November 22, 2014

Mystic Company Picked for $4 Million Deep River Sewer Expansion Project

DEEP RIVER— The town has hired  B&W Paving and Landscaping of Mystic for the sewer expansion project in several neighborhoods in the Kirtland Street-River Lane area on the east side of Main Street. The board of selectmen voted unanimously to hire the firm at a Sept. 24 joint meeting with the town’s water pollution control authority.

B&W Paving and Landscaping, with a base bid of $3,609,985, had submitted the lowest of four bids for the project that were opened last month. The project was put out to bid a second time over the summer after all of the bids opened in June came in over the $4 million in available funding . Voters at a May 2013 town meeting had approved the $4 million project, which is funded by a combination of federal/state grants and a low interest 30-year loan. The project was intended to extend municipal sewer service to about 120 properties in the Kirtland Street-River Lane area.

But First Selectman Richard Smith said this week  several properties that are located on small streets that were listed as alternates in the bid documents would not receive service in the initial construction because of the limited funding. Alternates that have been deferred include providing service to four properties on River Street, and a new pumping station that would be located to the south on Essex Street. Smith said the town could work on the new pumping station separately, possibly using the pubic works department and subcontractors.

Smith said the work included in the base bid from B&W Paving and Landscaping would extend service to about 95 residential properties, along with bringing sewer service to the town landing on the riverfront  at the end of Kirtland Street.
Smith said the town has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for an increase in the grant and loan funding and is expecting to receive a reply to the request by the end of this month. He said selectmen decided to award the base bid now to advance the project because any additional grant and loan funding would require a separate approval from voters at a town meeting. Smith said preliminary work for the expansion project is expected to begin before the end of the year, with most of the construction of the new sewer line to be completed in the spring of 2015.

Contracts to be Signed for Deep River Industrial development

DEEP RIVER– The board of selectmen this week approved contracts with three local firms for development on a town-owned parcel at the Plattwood Park Industrial Area. The board endorsed the contracts at a meeting Tuesday after selecting the three firms earlier this summer following a request for proposals.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the three firms, Top Notch Electrical Services LLC, Winthrop Tool LLC, and Moyers Landscaping Services LLC, will be required to begin construction of an industrial building on their assigned parcel by April 2015. The industrial building lots are being divided from a four-acre parcel on the northwest corner of the town industrial area that the town purchased last year for $270,000 from local resident Gary Mislick.

The plans, which have received approval from town land use commissions, call for three lots fronting on a new road that would end in a cul-de-sac. The agreement calls for the town to construct the access road for the parcels.
Under the contracts, the three businesses would be required to pay municipal property tax on the property, including tax on all buildings and equipment. Under the terms of a 40-year lease, the businesses would pay a nominal rent on the land of only $1 per year for the first ten years, with annual rent increasing to $3,600 per year in October 2024. The lease also includes an option to buy the parcels, with the annual rent on the parcels rising every ten years through 2054.

In a separate development Smith reported that a large manufacturing company that had expressed interest in a 59-acre industrial parcel on the east side of Route 154 has now stepped back from a possible purchase of the land from the Mislick family. Smith had announced a possible sale of the parcel, which was rezoned industrial in 2006, at the Aug. 12 board of selectmen meeting.

Smith said the costs of constructing an access road in to the parcel, which would have to extend more than 1,000 feet after a crossing of the Valley Railroad tracks, were too much for the unidentified prospective buyer. Smith said the land remains on the market for sale and development.

Possible Development Proposal for Deep River Industrial Land Off Route 154

DEEP RIVER— There could be a development proposal for a 59-acre parcel on the east side of Route 154 that was rezoned industrial in 2006. If the plan proceeds, it could bring a new manufacturing building of up to 100,000 square feet to Deep River with the possibility of additional industrial buildings to follow.

First Selectman Richard Smith reported at Tuesday’s meeting of the board of selectmen that he has been in contact with owners of a manufacturing company in a nearby town that are considering acquiring the parcel to relocate and expand in Deep River. He said the name of the interested party would be announced in the coming weeks if the potential sale of the parcel proceeds.

The 59 acre parcel, located on the east side of Route 154 near the intersection with Kelsey Hill Road, was rezoned by the planning and zoning commission from residential to industrial in 2006 at the urging of the late local developer Walter Mislick. Mislick, who died soon after the rezoning, envisioned an access road that would service a new industrial park with up to five buildings.

Mislick, who began his business career as owner of an egg processing company, had developed an industrial park on the opposite side of Route 154 during the 1990’s. The land, which abuts the Canfield Woods Nature Preserve to the east and the Georgetown Apartments property to the north, is now being offered for sale by Mislick’s heirs for a current price of $1.5 million. The parcel has some frontage on Route 154, and would have access to water and sewer service if developed.
Smith said the interested party currently operates a 50,000 square-foot manufacturing facility with nearly 100 employees in a nearby town, but is unable to expand at the current location. He said development of the property, which includes some wetlands areas, would be costly, requiring a 1,000-foot access road and a crossing of the state-owned Valley Railroad tracks.

If the sale proceeds, Smith said he would recommend the town offer a tax abatement to help facilitate the development. State law allows a municipality to abate up to 50 percent of all local property taxes for a new industrial development or expansion for a period of up to seven years. Deep River has authorized similar tax abatements for industrial development or expansions previously, but for shorter time periods.

“I see it as a win even with an abatement if you’re not getting anything to begin with,” Smith said. The board urged Smith to continue his contacts with the unidentified interested party and the Mislick family. “It would be great to get some activity back there”, said Selectman Angus McDonald.

Deep River Resident Victorious in Vermont Equestrian Competition

Amanda Strain and Carrara 11 won the $10,000 Marimekko Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, on July 17 at the 2014 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont (photo courtesy of David Mullinix Photography)

Amanda Strain and Carrara 11 won the $10,000 Marimekko Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, on July 17 at the 2014 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont (photo courtesy of David Mullinix Photography)

Amanda Strain of Deep River won the $10,000 Marimekko Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, held July 17 at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.

The Vermont Summer Festival hosts six weeks of equestrian competition at Harold Beebe Farm, where some of the country’s best equestrians converge each summer.  Show jumping competitors go head-to-head in the weekly $10,000 Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, over a course of obstacles measuring nearly five feet in height.

The lion’s share of the $10,000 in prize money is awarded to the rider and horse combination that clears both rounds of competition in the fastest time while leaving all the jumps in place.  For her efforts, Strain took home her share of the $10,000 in prize money, in addition to a $1,000 gift card to Marimekko.

Marimekko store manager Elisabeth Hazelton presents Amanda Strain and Carrara 11 as the winners of the $10,000 Marimekko Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets (photo courtesy of David Mullinix Photography).

Marimekko store manager Elisabeth Hazelton presents Amanda Strain and Carrara 11 as the winners of the $10,000 Marimekko Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets (photo courtesy of David Mullinix Photography).

Strain, who operates Lone Wolf Stables in Deep River, won the $10,000 Marimekko Welcome Stake on her horse, Carrara 11, after beating out 23 other challengers.  Eight horse and rider pairs advanced to the second round jump-off, but Strain’s daring inside turn to the second-to-last fence gave her an advantage, and she stopped the timers in 40.44 seconds for the win.

Strain has ridden Carrara 11 for the past two years, and described the mare as one of her favorite horses to ride thanks to her exceptional talent.  “She’s super fun to ride,” said Strain of the eight-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Helen Krieble.  “She doesn’t spook at anything, and she can turn incredibly well.  She’s such a wonderful mare.  She can do anything!”

The Vermont Summer Festival offers a full schedule of equestrian competition through August 10 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.  Competition runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m.  The $10,000 Open Welcome Stake Series, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, is held each Thursday.  The week’s featured event, the Grand Prix, takes place on Saturdays at 1 p.m.

Admission prices are $5 for adults, $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday.  On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children.  100% of the gate proceeds benefit area libraries, including Manchester Community Library.

 

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

Bjornberg1

Emily Bjornberg, Democratic candidate for the 33rd Senate Seat

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

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

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

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

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

 

Deep River Selectmen Pick Three Firms to Build on Town-Owned Industrial Land

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has picked three firms to be offered a chance to build on a town-owned parcel at the Plattwood Park Industrial Area off Route 80. The firms are Winthrop Tool LLC, Top Notch Electrical Services, and  Moyers Landscaping Services LLC.

The firms will be allowed to construct three new industrial buildings as part of an economic development plan endorsed by the selectmen last year. The town purchased a four-acre parcel located off Industrial Park Road from local resident Gary Mislick for $270,000 to be paid in three annual installments. To pay for the acquisition, it used income derived from rentals in two industrial buildings that were constructed using state grant funds in 1997 and 2004.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the town will sponsor construction of a 300-foot road that would open up the parcel for three new industrial buildings. Under preliminary plans, Winthrop Tool LLC would construct a 12,000 square-foot building, Moyers Landscaping a 9,600 square-foot building, with Top Notch Electrical Services to construct a 4,500 square-foot building. Contracts expected to be signed later this summer would require the firms to begin construction within six months. Smith said Monday all three firms are ready to begin construction this year.

Under the contracts, the town will receive property tax revenue for the land, even though it is the land owner, and all buildings, equipment, and machinery on the parcel. Each of the three firms is already involved in the Plattwood Park Industrial Area, with Winthrop Tool and Top Notch Electrical Services currently leasing space in the two existing town owned buildings. Smith said the two firms have “maxed out,” in their rental space and are looking to expand. Moyers Landscaping Services owns an abutting parcel that contains a 12,000 square-foot building.

Smith said new buildings for Winthrop Tool and Top Notch Electrical Services would free up space in the two town owned buildings for new tenants. Smith said the board of selectmen next year would consider selling the two existing buildings, with income from the sale to be placed in a separate fund for future economic development efforts.

New Application for 444 Main Street Requires Variances from Deep River Zoning Board

DEEP RIVER— The new special permit application to allow a used motor vehicle dealership at 444 Main Street will require approval of variances from the zoning board of appeals before it can proceed to a scheduled July 17 public hearing before the planning and zoning commission. A public hearing on the variance requests is scheduled for July 8 at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

Local resident George Bartlett Jr. is seeking approvals for a used motor vehicle sales and service operation at the site of the former manufacturing building he purchased in 2012. The effort has led to two years of zoning disputes, and two lawsuits involving the planning and zoning commission and the ZBA.

An initial proposal in June 2012 led to a lawsuit with the ZBA that is now headed for a settlement to clarify exactly what variances the board approved after a June 19, 2012 public hearing.   The planning and zoning commission in May approved revised regulations governing motor vehicle dealerships and gasoline stations that eliminated one of the issues that forced Bartlett to apply for a variance in 2012, a requirement  that such uses have at least 150-feet of road frontage in the turnpike industrial zone.

But Bartlett, represented by Essex lawyer John Bennet, objected, and later filed a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court challenging the zoning amendments approved by the commission on May 15. Bennet contends two other amendments that were approved, requiring that entrances be at least 30-feet wide with a 30-foot setback from adjoining lot lines and for paving of areas where vehicles are stored, would make it “virtually impossible” for Bartlett to develop the property as a motor vehicle dealership. Bennet also alleges in the lawsuit that commission members are prejudiced against Bartlett and his plans for the property.

But Bartlett has also filed a new special permit application for the vehicle dealership that will be considered by the planning and zoning commission under the previous regulations that were in place before the approval of the amendments. The application is scheduled for a July 17 public hearing with the PZC.

Under the new site plan, Bartlett is requesting variances of the requirements for an island for the parking area at the rear of the property, and to reduce the requirement for a 50-foot front yard setback to 30-feet. He is also seeking location approval for the motor vehicle dealership under a state law that requires approval from zoning appeals boards before a state license can be approved for a motor vehicle dealership.

Cathy Jefferson, zoning enforcement officer, said Monday she has not been instructed by the commission to appear at the July 8 ZBA hearing and speak in opposition to the variances, as was the case in 2012. Jefferson said the commission is ready to proceed with the July 17 public hearing on the new application. “If he gets the variances, we’ll take the next step,” she said.

Deep River Historical Society Exhibit Marks World War I Centennial

Arthur Winschel and Alice Johnson. Winschel's father was the parent of World War I veteran, William Winschel

Arthur Winschel and Alice Johnson stand in the new World War I exhibition at the Stone House Museum in Deep River. Winschel and Johnson’s father was World War I veteran, Pte. William Winschel. (Photos by Jerome Wilson.)

DEEP RIVER— The Deep River Historical Society is hosting an exhibit highlighting the role of town residents in World War I, which began as a conflict among the great powers of Europe in August 1914. The exhibit, at the society’s Stone House Museum on Main Street, opens Saturday and continues through the end of October.

America entered the war in May 1917 in the wake of German submarine attacks on ships in the Atlantic Ocean. Records show a total of 112 Deep River residents served during the 18 months of United States involvement in the conflict that ended with the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. The date that is now marked as the Veteran’s Day holiday.

Kathy Schultz, assistant curator at the Stone House, said the society reviewed its collection, and received several new donations and loans to prepare for the exhibit. The exhibit has uniforms and equipment, including helmets and gas masks, used by town residents during the war. There are also photographs and century-old postcards brought home from France, where most of the town residents served.

Uniform of World War I Sergeant Harry Mavin, who war the first Commander of American Legion Post 61 in Deep River

Uniform of World War I Sergeant Harry Mavin, who war the first Commander of American Legion Post 61 in Deep River

While the last of the town’s World War I veterans died in the 1970s and 1980s, there are several residents whose fathers served in the war that some called “the war to end all wars.” Siblings Arthur Winschel and Alice Johnson are the children of Private Willam Winschel, who entered the war at age 21 in the fall of 1917 as part of the New York-based 305th Infantry regiment. Winschel was wounded during fighting in France in November 1918, and returned to Deep River several months later.

Arthur Winschel said his father survived a German mustard gas attack that damaged his lungs. Despite the injury, William Winschel later worked at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and died in 1974 at age 77. The Winschel siblings, who were not yet born when their father was in the war, have donated several items to the exhibit, including his uniform.

Schultz said society members are hoping other residents from Deep River or nearby towns with relatives who served in World War I will visit the exhibit, and possibly provide information or photographs of area residents that served in the war. “We want it to be an ongoing exhibit,” she said.

The Stone House hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m., with the exception of Saturday, July 19, when Main Street hosts the annual Deep River Fife and Drum Muster.

Six Firms Express Interest in Building on Deep River Industrial Land

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen is expected to decide next month on three firms that would be given an opportunity to construct industrial buildings on a recently acquired town-owned industrial parcel on the western side of the Plattwood Park Industrial Area.

Six firms submitted letters on interest for use of the industrial land last month. The firms are Top Notch Electrical Services LLC, Winthrop Toll and Tackle LLC, Interpro, Colaner Inc., and Olsen Sanitation Co., all of Deep River, and Moyers Landscaping Services LLC of Killingworth.

The town purchased the four-acre parcel earlier this year from local resident Gary Mislick at a appraised price of $270,000. The land is to be paid for in three installments, using revenue generated from the two town-owned small business incubator buildings on Industrial Park Road. The buildings, which are usually fully occupied with tenants, were constructed using Small Cities Program grant funds, with the first building completed in the late 1990s, and the second about a decade ago.

Smith said engineers with the Chester firm Nathan Jacobson Associates have determined up to three new industrial buildings could be constructed on the parcel, two larger buildings of up to 12,00 square-feet, and a small 5,000 square-foot building. He said contracts would require a start of construction within six months of signing.

The new industrial buildings are expected to generate tax revenue on buildings, equipment and machinery, along with creating new jobs for area residents. Smith said the board would discuss, and possibly act, on the proposals at its July 8 meeting.

All Bids for Deep River Sewer Expansion Over Budget

DEEP RIVER— Town officials and engineers will be revisiting a sewer expansion project planned for several streets in the town’s north end after all six bids opened last week were over the $4 million allocated for the project.

First Selectman Richard Smith said he and members of the water pollution control authority will meet with project engineers, with the Meriden firm Cardinal Engineering, to review options for scaling back the project to reduce the cost. Voters at a May 2013 town meeting authorized the project with a funding limit set at $4 million. The project, which would extend sewer service to about 120 properties on and around River Street and Kirtland Street, was to be funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a $1.2 million grant and a $2.8 million loan that would be repaid over 40 years at 2.75 percent annual interest.

All of the bids opened last week were over $4 million, with the lowest bid from Baltazar Contractors Inc. of Ludlow, Mass. coming in at $4,828,958 for a base bid and a bid of $5,5,507,658 that would include all project alternates. The second lowest bid was $5,397,039 and $6,066,954 from C. J Fucci Inc. of New Haven.

Smith said the project would be revised and rebid over the next few weeks. Smith said he is hopeful a revised bid for a scaled back project could be approved by the board of selectmen and WPCA in time for a late summer start of construction for the project.

Deep River Town Meeting Approves Revised $15.27 Million Budget After Initial Referendum Defeat

DEEP RIVER— A slightly reduced $15,277,887 town/schools spending plan for 2014–2015 was approved at a town meeting Monday on a 92-24 paper ballot. The budget, which will require a 0.80 increased in the property tax rate, was initially rejected on a 115-78 vote in a May 27 referendum.

After the referendum defeat, the finance board approved a $25,000 reduction, $12,500 from the town government budget and $12,500 from the appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. But the board was unable to make any changes to the major factor in the tax increase, the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget, after it was approved in a separate referendum on May 6. Voters in Deep River opposed the Region 4 budget, 156-69, but it was approved with support from the voters of Chester and Essex.

With more students attending Valley Regional  High School and John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River faced a steep $442,063 increase in it’s share of the Region 4 budget. The Region 4 increase accounted for all but $56,313 of a total spending increased of $498,376. With declining enrollment, the $5,461,500 appropriation for the elementary school was actually down by $49,658.

Finance board chairman John Bauer said the board was unable to make any reductions in the Region 4 appropriation that could have reduced the tax increase. “Nothing can be done after that budget is approved” in the three-town referendum, he said. Bauer said the town government and elementary school appropriations were already “very tight,” adding the town is unable to transfer any money from an undesignated fund balance that only contains about $500,000.

Richard Balducci, a former speaker of the house who also served on the local board of finance, urged the crowd to approve the revised budget, and then become more involved in the Region 4 budget process and referendum next year. Balducci contended the supervision district budget, which funds shared services in the school system and is then included with the Region 4 and elementary school budgets, can be a major factor in higher education costs even with lower student enrollment.

After about 30 minutes of discussion, voters lined up to cast paper ballots on the budget. The new tax rate of 25.88 mills represents $25.88 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Deep River Finance Board Approves $25,000 Cut, June 9 Town Meeting to Vote on Revised Budget

DEEP RIVER— The board of finance has approved a $25,000 cut in the $15.3 million budget plan that was rejected by voters in a referendum this week, with a June 9 town meeting vote scheduled on a revised budget for 2014-2015. The town meeting will convene at 7:30 p.m. in the town hall auditorium.

The finance board, meeting jointly with the board of selectmen Thursday, approved a reduction of $12,500 in the town government budget, and a $12,500 reduction in the appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. The cut will allow for a small reduction in a planned 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate that had generated some controversy in this year’s budget process and set the stage for Tuesday’s 115-78 referendum defeat for the budge, the first rejection of a budget in Deep River since 2001.
The new tax rate would be 25.88 mills, a 0.80 mill increase from the current tax rate. The spending plan defeated in the referendum called for a tax rate of 25.93 mills. The new rate would represent $25.88 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

First Selectman Richard Smith said finance board reviewed various budget accounts during Thursday’s special meeting, often considering cuts of only $500. But after discussion with the selectmen, the board approved only a $25,000 reduction. He noted the review confirmed that most of the town budget accounts are “very tight,” with reductions possibly leading to budget overruns at the end of the next fiscal year.

Smith said the $12,500 cut in the town government budget would come from an additional $25,000 that was included for storm clean up in 2014-2015, an addition that was made in response to the harsher than usual past two winter seasons. The  $12,500 reduction in the elementary school appropriation will be determined by the local board of education.

There could be no changes in the town’s $5.6 million share of the Region 4 education budget that had been approved on a 319-253 vote in a May 6 referendum. Chester and Essex voters had supported the Region 4 budget, though voters in Deep River opposed the budget 156-69. With more students attending Valley Regional High School and john Winthrop Middle School, Deep River had a $442,063 increase in its Region 4 budget share that accounted for much of the total $523,376 spending increase that led to the proposed 0.85 mill tax increase.

Smith said selectmen and the finance board are prepared to publicly oppose the Region 4 budget before the 2015 referendum if it includes a large increase in the Deep River share that would require a tax increase for 2015-2016.

New Principal Appointed for Deep River Elementary School

The Deep River Elementary School Board of Education is pleased to announce the  appointment of Mr. Christian Strickland to the position of Principal at Deep River Elementary School. Christian Strickland has most recently served as the Assistant Principal at Griswold Elementary School in Berlin, Connecticut for the past four
years.

Strickland replaces an interim principal who has directed the school since January, Nancy Haslam of East Haddam. Haslam, who had worked previously as principal at an elementary school in Waterford, was hired by the local school board at the end of last year to replace Jennifer Byars.

A local resident who was hired in 2012, Byars left to accept a position as assistant superintendent of schools for the Ledyard school district. The previous principal was Jack Pietrick, who held the job for 13 years before retiring in 2012.

Prior to his experience as Assistant Principal, Strickland was a Math Instructional Specialist for two years. Strickland began his career in education as a third and fourth grade teacher in Maryland and then in the Berlin Public Schools. Strickland has been recognized as a Teacher of the Year, and nominated for the CAS Assistant Principal of the year. Outside of school, Christian is an avid swimmer and enjoys participating in Spartan Races.

Strickland completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary education, his Master of Science Degree and his Sixth Year Degree in Educational Leadership, all from Central Connecticut State University.

The Deep River Board of Education and Search Committee were very impressed with Strickland’s knowledge, commitment to excellence, integrity, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for elementary school students, families, and the Deep River community. The Board of Education unanimously endorsed Strickland on Thursday May 15th, at their Board of Education meeting. We are confident that Strickland will provide excellent leadership for the students at Deep River Elementary School.

Strickland resides in Middletown with his family. He will begin his tenure in the Deep River Public Schools on July 1st, 2014.

Proposed $15.3 Million Deep River Budget Plan Fails in Low Turnout Referendum

DEEP RIVER— A proposed $15,302,887 budget plan for 2014-2015 was rejected Tuesday on a 115-78 vote after an eight hour referendum. The board of selectmen and board of finance will hold a special joint meeting Thursday to consider any possible changes to the spending plan, which would then be submitted for a second vote at a town meeting expected in the second week of June.

While the spending plan presented Tuesday included a proposed $3.78 million town government budget, a $5.47 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s $5.6 million share of the Region 4 budget, only the town and elementary school portions of the total spending plan are still subject to revision by the board of finance. The Region 4 budget was already approved on a 319-253 vote in a May 6 referendum, with Chester and Essex votes supporting the budget over a 156-69 opposing vote in Deep River.

The total spending plan rejected Tuesday would have required a 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate, for a new rate of 25.93 mills. Of a total spending increase of $523,376, $442,063 is for the town’s share of the Region 4 budget that is determined by the number of students from Deep River attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. A higher than anticipated increase in the Deep River average daily membership at the two schools made the town’s taxpayers responsible for a larger share of the Region 4 budget.

First Selectman Richard Smith noted that with the Region 4 amount locked in, there is little the selectmen and finance board can do to reduce the increase in the tax rate. “You’ve got to get close to $100,000 in cuts to have any real impact on the mill rate,” he said, adding that both the town and elementary school budgets are already “very tight.”
But Finance Board Chairman John Bauer said the board should make a final review of the town and elementary school budgets for any possible cuts, even with the understanding that cuts in these appropriations would bring little change to the tax rate. Bauer said the second vote on any revised budget should be done by voters at a town meeting, not a referendum. “It’s a waste of money for the amount of people who showed up today,” he said.

Deep River Referendum Tuesday on Proposed $15.3 Million Town and Schools Budget

DEEP RIVER— Polls will be open from 12 noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the library community room for a referendum vote on the proposed $15,302,887 town and schools budget plan for 2014-2015.

The total spending package, which is up by $523,376 from the current amount,  includes a $3,826,230 town government budget and capital expenditure plan, $384,670 for debt service, a proposed $5,474,000 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s $5,602,987 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 total was already approved in a May 6 referendum, with voters of Chester and Essex supporting the budget and Deep River opposed on a 156-69 vote.

With more students attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River is paying a larger share of the Region 4 budget this year. The town’s share of the budget is up by $442,063, or 8.57 percent, an increase that accounts for nearly all of a planned .085-mill hike in the property tax rate that is required to fund the spending total.

The proposed tax rate of 25.93 mills represents $25.93 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value, a 3.4 percent increase in the tax rate. The amount of the tax increase led the board of selectmen to decide to send the spending plan directly to a referendum vote. After more than a decade of  budget referendums with ever decreasing vote turnout, the town last year approved the budget by a town meeting vote for the first time since 2000.

May 6 Public Hearing set on Deep River Town and Elementary School Budgets, Referendum Vote Planned for May 27

DEEP RIVER— The public hearing is Tuesday on a proposed $3.78 million town government budget and a requested $5.47 million appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. The hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the board of selectmen has already decided to bring the total $15,302,887 spending package for 2014-2015 to a12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 27 because of the 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate that would be required to fund the combined town/schools spending plan. After holding referendum votes on budgets since 2000, decreasing voter turnouts for the annual referendums led the board of selectmen last year to hold a town meeting-paper ballot vote on the budget.

Smith said if the required tax increase was less than one-half mill, there would be another town meeting vote on the budget this year. But Smith said the size of the tax increase calls for a referendum vote that could bring wider participation from town voters. The new tax rate would be 25.93 mills, or $25.93 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

The $3,788,230 town government budget that is up by $86,861, or 2.35 percent, from the current total. Smith said the budget includes a two percent wage/salary increase for town employees and elected officials, though the exact amount of the pay increases would be subject to negotiations with the Deep River Municipal Employees Association. The budget also includes $20,000 for a part-time assistant in the accounting office, a move that has been recommended in recent years by auditors. The town spending package also includes a $38,000 capital expenditure plan, and $384,670 for debt service.

The $5,474,000 budget for Deep River Elementary School is down by 37,158, a decrease that is largely driven by decreasing students enrollment at the kindergarten through sixth grade school. But an increase in the number of students from Deep River attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School has led to a sharp increase in the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget.

The $5,602,987 Deep River share is up by $442,063, or 8.57 percent, from the current amount. Smith said the higher share of the Region 4 budget is driving factor for nearly all of the 0.85 mills tax increase. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on Tuesday, the same day as the town budget hearing. Last year, the tax rate increased by 0.40 mills to fund town and school spending in the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

A Smooth Transition from Essex to Westbrook for Middlesex Hospital

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

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

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

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

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

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

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

 Middlesex Hospital President and CEO On Hand

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

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

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

IFoundFitness Weight Loss Challenge Helps Feeds the Hungry

Left to right: Claire Bellerjeau of SSKP, Donna Scott, Owner of IFoundFitness, Jeff Prindle, Store Manager of the Deep River Adams Super Food Store, and the top three winners of the challenge: first place, Sarina Garofalo, second place, “Santa” Dave Puffer, and third place, Deb Garofalo, pictured with the food donation.

Left to right: Claire Bellerjeau of SSKP, Donna Scott, Owner of IFoundFitness, Jeff Prindle, Store Manager of the Deep River Adams Super Food Store, and the top three winners of the challenge: first place, Sarina Garofalo, second place, “Santa” Dave Puffer, and third place, Deb Garofalo, pictured with the food donation.

DEEP RIVER — The 2014 IFoundFitness “Winter River Valley Slim Down” challenge included over 30 people competing for $2,300 in prizes. In addition, the competition raised $478 to purchase a food donation for The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries. The winner, Sarina Garofalo, lost 21% of her body weight in 12 weeks through the challenge.

The total weight of the food donated was equally impressive, resulting in 339 pounds of food for SSKP’s Westbrook Pantry, which distributes over 15,000 pounds of food every month to hundreds of local families in need. When the funds were brought to the Deep River Adams Supermarket, manager Jeff Prindle sold the food “at cost”, making every penny count for the pantry.

Donna Scott, owner of IFoundFitness, repeats this special challenge several times per year. “Getting people of all ages fit, through regular exercise and healthy eating, and then giving back to the community is what it’s about!”, she said.

“On behalf of those we serve, who experience a community that cares deeply each time they attend a pantry, I thank IFoundFitness and all the challenge participants for remembering those in need on the shoreline,” said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP.

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River. Founded 25 years ago, in 1989, at the Baptist Church in Essex, the agency continues in its mission to feed the hungry in body and spirit. Last year with a small staff and over 900 dedicated volunteers, SSKP served over 908,000 meals worth of food to shoreline neighbors in need.

 

Deep River Selectmen Establish New Study Committee for Firehouse Expansion Project

Deep River Fire DeptDEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has established a new study committee to develop a consensus recommendation for a long-planned firehouse renovation  and expansion project.

The committee established earlier this month is comprised of two selectmen, Angus McDonald Jr. and David Oliveria,  two Deep River volunteer Fire Department officers,, Chief Timothy Lee, and assistant chief Timothy Ballantyne, and Susan Watts,a representative of the design advisory board. Selectmen are seeking one additional volunteer at-large member for the committee.

First Selectman Richard Smith said Monday the committee has been asked to prepare a written report by Sept. 1 that would include a review of options and a recommendation for a firehouse expansion project. Town officials and residents have been discussing and debating options for a firehouse expansion project for nearly six years, including two failed referendum votes for a renovation and expansion of the existing 5,084-square foot firehouse at the corner of Union and West Elm streets that was built in 1961.

A proposed $2,.4 million renovation and expansion of the existing firehouse was rejected on 347-312 vote in a July 2010 referendum. A more costly renovation and expansion project was rejected by a wide margin in a November 2007 referendum.

After the 2010 defeat, town officials and representatives of the fire department began considering other possible sites, including the option of building a new firehouse on a parcel on the north side of Route 80 in the vicinity of Plattwood Park. But Smith said Monday there has been no consensus on an alternative site for a new firehouse, with some firefighters and residents contending the Route 80 location is too far from the downtown area, a distance that could lead to increased  rates for fire insurance.

Smith said the committee would focus on a revised renovation and expansion plan for the existing firehouse that may, or may not, utilize portions of an abutting residential property at 57 Union Street that was acquired by the fire department in 2007. “We need to be able to make a decision on what we really need for a firehouse expansion, and how can we make it work” for the existing site, Smith said.

The River Valley Slimdown: Winter Winners and New Summer Challenge

Deep River, CT- Participants of the most recent IFoundFitness River Valley Slimdown laughed in the face of the “Polar Vortex” and showed those dreaded winter pounds who’s boss! With a jackpot higher than ever before, the dedicated group of health-seekers brought in cash, prizes, and a generous donation to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen!

The River Valley Slimdown is a fitness challenge regularly held at IFoundFitness in Deep River, CT. Participants contribute towards a jackpot, paying up for pounds gained or weigh-ins missed. They work closely with fitness expert Donna Scott, taking part in group fitness & nutrition classes, while bonding with their weight-loss companions!

Twenty participants saw the challenge through the end this brutal winter, bringing the jackpot total to $2,392. Almost $500 of this went to Shoreline Soup Kitchen, the charity selected by the group. The winner of the challenge, Sarina, lost 21.04% of her body weight! While she takes home 60% of the jackpot, ESSENCE of Old Saybrook will also be treating her to a makeup and hair makeover to match her healthy new glow.

Second place went to “Santa Dave.” This, jolly, bearded fellow dropped his stereotypical belly by losing 35 pounds! Dave takes home 60% of the jackpot and a massage by True of Clinton, CT but the most incredible reward was bringing his Type 2 Diabetes under control.

“This has been an absolutely amazing challenge!” says Donna. “In the face of one of our worst winters, these guys just would not give in! Even those that didn’t finish in the top 3 experienced incredible transformations. They’re STILL not ready to give up!”

Many participants are ready to go for round two already! Registration for the Summer River Valley Slimdown is open now, with the challenge launching on April 26th.  Signing on for the new challenge means participants will have a chance to shed the winter pounds justin time to trade those bulky winter coats for sleek swimsuits!

Registration is currently open for the Summer 2014 River Valley Slimdown. Email Donna at donna@ifoundfitness.com for complete rules and registration forms.

For more information on the River Valley Slimdown, please visit: http://ifoundfitness.com/rv-slim-down/

Lyme Democrats Endorse Bjornberg, Stone

Emily Bjornberg

Emily Bjornberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information about Troop 13 – BSA

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

 

Deep River Fire Department Appreciates Community Support

DSC_0416

On behalf of the Deep River Fire Department, Fire Chief Tim Lee would like to thank all of those who so generously contributed to this years fund drive. According to Chief Lee, “We appreciate the support shown by the citizens of our community. Funds collected help us to keep current with the ever changing role of a volunteer Fire Department.”

As a result of Operation Save a Life, Chief Lee would like to remind the Deep River community that the Deep River Fire Department has a limited number of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors they will install for free in your home. Please call the Deep River Fire Department at 860-526-6042 and leave a message.

Three Engineering Firms Submit Proposals for Deep River Platwood Park Improvement Project

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has interviewed three engineering firms to guide grant-funded improvements at the town’s Plattwood Park. The board is expected to select a firm at its Feb. 25 meeting, with work on the park improvements expected to begin by September.

Joining the selectmen at Tuesday’s meeting were parks and recreation commission chairwoman Tracy Woodcock and commission member Grace Petroka. Firms that submitted proposals are Nathan Jacobson Associates of Chester, which has provided engineering services for the town previously, Malone & McBroom of Cheshire, and Weston & Sampson of Rocky Hill.

The town was awarded a $400,000 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant last summer for improvements at the 23-acre park located off Route 80. The park, which has been owned by the town since the early 1980s, includes a former sand and gravel quarry pond.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the selectmen and the parks and recreation commission have agreed that priorities for the grant funded improvements would be construction of a new baseball field, improved hiking trails, and various Americans With Disabilities Act handicapped access improvements. Smith said the firms have been asked to be prepared to complete bid documents for the project by June, with work on the improvements at the park to begin by September.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information about Troop 13 – BSA

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

Deep River Zoning Board of Appeals Overturns Zoning Condition on Grove Street Industrial Building

DEEP RIVER— The zoning board of appeals Tuesday overturned a condition on a new industrial building at 16 Grove St. that was included by Zoning enforcement Officer Cathy Jefferson as part of the required certificate of zoning compliance for the structure.

The board’s decision came after a nearly two hour public hearing that featured dueling arguments from three attorneys, with Essex lawyer John Bennet representing property owner Raymond Galeotti, Middletown lawyer William Howard representing Jefferson and the planning and zoning commission, and Old Saybrook lawyer David Royston representing the ZBA.

The 8,400 square-foot building was constructed last year after Galeotti received zoning approval in the summer of 2012. Galeotti received a special permit from the planning and zoning commission for what he described as an expansion of his existing business on the site, a jewelry engraving business called Eve’s Addiction. He also received a variance from the ZBA because the planning and zoning commission had adopted new village district regulations for the area, a move that made the existing 50-year-old industrial building on the parcel a non-conforming use.

After the building was completed last summer, Jefferson included a condition on the certificate of zoning compliance noting the structure was for use only as an expansion of the existing business. Jefferson said Tuesday the condition was based on information presented by Galeotti at the July 2012 public hearing on his permit application, and because the more recent village district regulations made the 16 Gove St. parcel non-conforming. Grove Street is a mostly residential street that extends south off Bridge Street to end at the 16 Grove Street parcel.

Bennet, presenting meeting minutes for both the PZC and ZBA, maintained the condition on future use was never included in the July 2012 approvals for the industrial building. He acknowledged that any separate uses in the building would require approval from the PZC, but maintained Jefferson had “no authority” to impose the condition now on the certificate of zoning compliance, which is tied to a required certificate of occupancy.

Bennet said Galeotti needed a “clean” certificate of occupancy from the town, and contended the condition had interfered with his efforts to sell a portion of his business, and lease a portion of the building that is not needed by the business at the present time. In sometimes angry testimony where he threatened a lawsuit against the town, Galeotti said the condition had disrupted his plans to sell a large share of his business to a company that also owns the From You Flowers business in Old Saybrook. Geleotti added that he is now planning to move Eve’s Addictiion, and its 25 employees, to space in Old Saybrook in the spring.

Jefferson and Howard said the use of the new building in December by From You Flowers had led to new complaints from nearby residents, leading Jefferson to stand by the condition during discussions with Bennet in December. Howard said the provision on use by the existing business was “more a statement of fact” based on zoning regulations than a condition.

Priscilla Lerner, of 15 Grove St,, said the pre-holiday use of the building by the flower business led to a sharp increase in traffic and parking on the dead-end street. “The street is too small for it,” Lerner said, adding that she suspects Galeotti had always planned the 8,400 square-foot building for other uses beyond the jewelry engraving business.

The board relied heavily on advice by Royston in it’s deliberations on the appeal. The attorney urged the board to overturn the condition because it had not been specifically included on the ZBA and PZC approvals in July 2012, and to avoid any effort to direct future decisions on use of the property. “I don’t think you have to decide anything more about the property to sustain the appeal,” Royston said..

Deep River Grand List Up 0.47 Percent for 2013

DEEP RIVER— Assessor Robin O’Loughlin has filed an October 2013 grand list of taxable property that totals $490,407,091, an increase of $2,307,140, or 0.47 percent, from the current grand list total.

The list shows small increases for real estate and motor vehicles, and a small decrease in personal property assessments. The town’s 2,182 real estate accounts show an assessment total of $440,646,940, an increase of $2,480,110 from the current real estate total. The town’s 4,874 motor vehicle accounts show an assessment total of $33,015,550, an increase of $839,280 from the current motor vehicles total.

The town’s 441 personal property accounts show an assessment total of $15,905,321, representing a decrease of $1,012,250 from the current personal property total. O’Loughlin said much of the decrease is a result of manufacturing equipment becoming eligible for expanded statewide tax exemptions.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the small increase, which will generate about $60,000 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 25.08 mills, is better than a loss. “It’s not as much as I would like, but it’s still going up,” he said. The grand list was up by 1.21 percent in 2012.

The town’s top ten taxpayers was unchanged from recent years. The top ten taxpayers, with the current assessments, are Connecticut Light and Power Co.-$5,279,976, BDRM Inc.-$4,171,936, Mislick Family Limited Partners-$3,175,245, Silgan Plastics Corp.-$2,968,020, Deep River Associates LLC-$2,605,680, Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur-$2,430,610, 180 Main Street Partners LLC-$2,277,450, Goodspeed Leasing Co LLC-$2,145,010, Jerome and Marlene Scharr-$1,923,180, and Virginia B. Linburg-$1,881,950. The Linburg, Scharr and Boyd-Dernocoeur properties are high value residential properties located on or near the Connecticut Rver.

Interim Principal Serving at Deep River Elementary School

DEEP RIVER— Nancy Haslam, an East Haddam resident and former principal at Cohanzie Elementary School in Waterford, has been appointed as interim principal at Deep River Elementary School through the end of June. Haslam began working at the school on Jan. 2, replacing Jennifer Byars in the leadership position.

Byars, a Deep River resident, announced in late November that she had accepted a position as assistant superintendent for the Ledyard school district. Byars, who had worked previously in Ledyard, was hired in June 2012, and served as principal in Deep River for about 18 months. She had replaced Jack Pietrick, who retired in 2012 after serving as principal at the Deep River school for 13 years.

Haslam was interviewed by the Deep River Board of Education and appointed as interim principal at a Nov. 26 meeting. Haslam has a 40-year career in public education, serving most recently as principal at the Cohanzie Elementary School in Waterford. She is an elected member of the East Haddam Board of Education, and has served as board chairwoman. The school board will advertise the principal position in the spring, with a goal of hiring a new permanent principal for the school by the end of June.

Deep River Zoning Board of Appeals Hearing Rescheduled to Feb 4

DEEP RIVER— The zoning board of appeals meeting that had been set for Tuesday evening has been rescheduled to Feb. 4 due to the Tuesday snow storm. The board’s public hearing is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The board will hold a public hearing on an appeal from Raymond Galeotti of the conditions included in a zoning compliance certificate for a new 8,400 square-foot industrial building located at 16 Grove St. The planning and zoning commission in July 2012 approved a special permit for the building that was presented as part of an expansion of Galeotti’s existing business, Centerbrook Sales/Eve’s Addiction. The company that makes engraved jewelry for internet sales is located in an existing 6,600 square-foot building located on the 2.5-acre parcel at the end of Grove Street, a dead-end street extending south off Bridge Street.

Zoning enforcement Officer Cathy Jefferson included a condition that the building was for an expansion of the existing business as part of the zoning compliance certificate that was issued for the completed building late last fall. But Jefferson learned in late November that Galleotti had advertised the new space for lease, and has not been using it for an expansion of the existing business. In the appeal, Galeotti is asking the ZBA to change the conditions of the zoning compliance certificate.

Deep River Zoning Board of Appeals Sets Jan. 21 Public Hearing on Status of New Industrial Building

DEEP RIVER— The zoning board of appeals has scheduled a Jan. 21 public hearing on an appeal of the zoning status for a new 8,400-square-foot industrial building at 16 Grove St. The meeting begins Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

Raymond Galeotti, owner of Centerbrook Sales/Eve’s Addiction, a jewelry engraving business focused on internet sales, is appealing the conditions on a certificate of zoning compliance issued by late last fall by zoning enforcement Officer Cathy Jefferson. The planning and zoning commission in July 2012 approved a special permit for the new industrial building as an expansion of the existing 6,600 square-foot industrial building located on a 2.5-acre parcel, at 16 Grove St., a dead-end street extending south off Bridge Street. Galeotti had said during the commission’s public hearing on his permit application the expansion would add about five new jobs to the company’s workforce.

The permit was approved for an expansion of Galeotti’s existing business, with Jefferson including that condition as part of the certificate of zoning compliance for the recently completed structure. Jefferson said earlier this week that she learned in late November that Galeotti had advertised the new space for lease, and has not been using it for an expansion of his existing business.

In other business, the board’s Jan. 21 agenda also includes consideration of a “settlement proposal’ from resident George Bartlett for a lawsuit against the ZBA involving his property at 444 Main St., on the south end of town. Bartlett filed suit against the board in the fall of 2012 amid a dispute over whether the board had approved a variance allowing a used car dealership in the industrial building on the west side of Main St., also known as Route 154.

The planning and zoning commission objected to what it contended was an improper use variance for the car dealership, and the ZBA later determined it had granted only a dimensional variance of the road frontage requirement for the property. In subsequent months Bartlettt has leased most, but not all, of the building to a small manufacturing business, and most recently, for a dog dare care business that received a special permit approval from the planning and zoning commission last month.

Deep River Democrats and Republicans Select Town Committees for 2014-2016 Term

DEEP RIVER— Town Democrats and Republicans have selected town committees for the 2014-2016 term after party caucuses held over the past week. The new town committee terms begin in March.

Democrats have selected a 26 member town committee that has three new members, Janet Edgarton, Stephen Bibbiani, and Karol Tulp Magee. Two members of the current committee stepped aside, John Bairos and Stella Beaudoin. Democrats have controlled the majority on the three-member board of selectmen since First Selectman’s Richard Smith’s election to a second term in 1991.

Incumbents returning to the Democratic panel include Carmela Balducci, Leigh Balducci, former Speaker of the House Richard Balducci, current committee Chairwoman and Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani, Cindy Cosme, former Selectman Richard Daniels Jr., Dorothy DeMichael, Bruce Edgarton, Nancy Fishbach, Joanne Grabek. George Howard and Carol Jones. Also Ann Joy, Jonathan Kastner, Russell Marth, Mary Maraschiello, Selectman Angus McDionald Jr., Alan Miezejeski, Roy Monte, Valerie Nucci, Mark Reyher, Carol Smith, and Richard Smith.

Republicans have picked a 16 member town committee that includes two new members, Michelle Grow and Doug Nagan. Three members of the current committee stepped aside, Mary Brownlee, Robert Edgeworth, and Margot Gamerdinger.

Incumbents returning to the Republican panel include committee Chairman Gargory Alexander, Louise Cowan, Douglas Dopp, William Harris, Alice Johnson, Town Treasurer Thomas Lindner, Joyce Winterstein, Selectman David Oliveria, Rolf Peterson, Donald Routh, Grace Stalsburg, Cynthia Stannard, Rosemary Unan, and Town Clerk Amy Winchell.

Adams Hometown Market Supports Deep River Fire Department

Customer Service Manager Kevin Hunt  (left) and Adams Manager Jeff Prindle present  DRFD Chief Tim Lee with a check for the Department.

Customer Service Manager Kevin Hunt (left) and Adams Manager Jeff Prindle present DRFD Chief Tim Lee with a check for the Department.

Adams Hometown Market in Deep River sold paper fire alarms and held a hotdog fund raiser in support of the Deep River Fire Department. According to Adams Manager Jeff Prindle ” It is our responsibility to support an organization of men and women who are willing to protect their community 24/7. Due to the support of our community, we are able to provide the vehicle in which to do this”.

In thanking Adams for their support, Fire Chief Tim Lee commented ” The Department appreciates this very generous gift. This financial support will allow us to purchase tools and equipment necessary to provide the best possible protection in an ever changing fire fighting world.

Deep River Fire Department Offers Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke alarmNews Channel 8 recently partnered with Kidde, The Home Depot, and the Burn Center and the Trauma Center at Bridgeport Hospital to present Operation Save a Life; a life-saving program designed to increase public awareness of fire and carbon monoxide dangers. One of the cornerstones of this program is the distribution of smoke alarms to Connecticut families in need.

The Deep River Fire Department has a limited number of these smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors that we will install for free in your home. Please call the Deep River Fire Department at 860-526-6042 and leave a message if you or anyone you know is in need of a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector. Someone will return your call and schedule a time for installation.

Deep River Homicide Victim Identified, Margaret Rohner, 45

DEEP RIVER– State police have identified the woman who was stabbed to death Thursday in a rented house at 131 Rattling Valley Road as 45-year old Margaret Rohner. Police have arrested and charged her son, 22-year-old Robert O. Rankin, with murder in the slaying.

Rohner’s body was found Thursday afternoon after her former husband, local resident Robert Rankin Jr., 54, called police around 1 p.m. to report that he believed his son had stabbed his ex-wife. After questioning and investigation at the scene, detectives arrested Robert O. Ranking for murder.

Rankin was presented Friday at Middlesex Superior Court in Middletown, where a judged ordered him held on $1milliion bond and placed on a suicide watch while in custody. Rankin’s next court appearance is set for Feb. 4. According to information released after the courant appearance, state troopers reported that Rankin had admitted to stabbing his mother to death sometime Thursday morning.

Local Man Arrested for Murder of His Mother at Rattling Valley Road Home

DEEP RIVER— State police have arrested a local man for murder in the stabbing death of his mother in a house at 131 Rattling Valley Road. Robert Rankin, 22, was arrested late Thursday and presented Friday at Middlesex Superior Court in Middletown. He was ordered held in custody on a $1 million bond.

State police were called to the home, located off a common driveway on the eastern end of Rattling Valley Road, around 1 p.m. Thursday by Rankin’s father, Robert Rankin Jr.

According to information released at the court appearance, Rankin Jr. told troopers that he believed his son had stabbed his ex-wife. Her body was found inside the house after police arrived on the scene. Police had not released the deceased woman’s name as of late Friday afternoon. Detectives with the state police Central District Major Crime Squad were at the home into the night Thursday, and later arrested the younger Rankin on a murder charge.

River Valley Slimdown is Losing For Good

Deep River, CT - Donna Scott’s River Valley Slimdown returns to tackle New Year’s Resolutions for the body and spirit! While participants will compete to lose the most weight over 12 weeks, they will also be raising funds for charity. Those who take the challenge will be dropping the holiday pounds for the good of their health, and of their community.

The next River Valley Slimdown will begin on January 11, and will run for 12 weeks, ending on April 5.  Over the past six challenges, Donna Scott and her team at IFoundFitness in Deep River, CT, have helped over 120 participants shed over 860 pounds! They’ve also raised over $1,100 for multiple organizations, including Shoreline Soup Kitchens, and Tri-Town Youth Services, to name just a few.  The Winter 2014 River Valley Slimdown will donate 20% of the challenge jackpot to the charity decided upon by the participants.

The jackpot itself is even determined by those who take the weight loss plunge. Participants agree to pony up $65 to participate in the challenge, which includes a weekly weigh in. Any weight gain results in a penalty fee. All penalties, and the original registration fees go towards the final jackpot. That jackpot is then divided between the contest winners, and the charity of choice.

“People love that extra motivation!” says Donna. “While, of course, we tend to over-indulge during the holidays, it’s also a time to give back to others. My clients are amazing. Their dedication to their health is only matched by the dedication they have to helping these charities!”

The Fall 2013 River Valley Slimdown resulted in a jackpot of over $2300. Both the first and second place winners dropped over ten pounds each. For the upcoming challenge, Donna will again be working with Penny Smyth, CHHC, AADP Certified Health Coach, to provide nutritional and weight management seminars to the challenge-takers throughout the challenge.  RVSD will also be offering a Brand New On-Line Meal Planning Program where participants can choose from over 450 menu choices, including vegan and gluten free diets!!  Need one more reason to get involved? Sign up before January 1st to receive a free pass card to five fitness classes at IFoundFitness (new members only).

Registration is currently open for the Winter 2014 River Valley Slimdown. Email Donna at donna@ifoundfitness.com for complete rules and registration forms.

For more information on the River Valley Slimdown, please visit: www. ifoundfitness.com/rv-slim-down/

To contact Donna Scott of IFoundFitness:  (860) 961-4507

Deep River Planning and Zoning Approves Relocation of Dunkin Donuts to 246 Main Street

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission has approved a special permit for the relocation of Dunkin Donuts to a vacant commercial building at 246 Main St. The panel approved the permit on a unanimous vote at a Dec. 12 meeting after plans were presented at a lengthy public hearing on Nov. 21.

In a separate decision, the commission last week approved a special permit to allow a dog day care business in a portion of the industrial building at 444 Main St. that had been the subject of a zoning dispute last year.

The permit will allow Great American Donut of Plainville to relocate the Dunkin Donuts that has operated for about 4 years in commercial space at 190 Main St. to move south to the 246 Main St. property that is located at the intersection of Main and Union streets. The Dunkin Donuts would occupy 1,600 square-feet, or about half, of the vacant commercial building on the parcel. The west section of the building, on the Union St. side, would be reserved for another unspecified commercial use.

The commission imposed nine conditions on the permit approval. Four of the conditions will require the applicant to return to the commission for permit modifications on lighting, the main sign for the business, the design and color scheme of a planned outdoor seating area, and the location and enclosure for the dumpster uses by the donut shop.

The location of the dumpster was a major topic of discussion at the public hearing, with some residents objecting to placing the dumpster at the front southern most section of the parcel, which is at the apex of the Main Street-Union Street intersection. But the commission decided to allow the dumpster in the front section of the parcel under conditions. The dumpster would have to be fully enclosed in a 10-foot by 12-foot structure with a roof.. Final plans for the dumpster location and enclosure would be reviewed by the commission before work begins on the site improvements.

Other conditions include extending the improved front facade of the building to the back of the building to obscure mechanical equipment on the roof, extending granite curbing to the parking area, and elimination of a window the west side of the building that is reserved for the future commercial use. There would be a prohibition on signage on the west side of the building facing Union Street.

The dog day care business at 444 Main St. was approved after a brief public hearing where the proposed use drew no objections from any nearby property owners. The permit will allow local resident Jerilyn Nucci to provide daytime care for up to 24 dogs. The dog day care would occupy about 1,500 square-feet of the building.

The industrial building on the west side of Main St., also known as Route 154, had been the subject of a zoning dispute in 2012 after town commissions blocked a proposal by the property owner, local resident George Bartlett Jr., to use most of the building for a used car dealership.

Deep River P&Z Holds Public Hearing on Proposed Dog Care Business for 444 Main Street

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing Thursday on a special permit application for a dog day care business in a portion of a former industrial building at 444 Main St. that was the subject of a zoning dispute last year. The hearing convenes at 7 p.m. in town hall.

Local resident Jerilyn Nucci is seeking to use 1,500-square feet of the building owned by resident George Bartlett Jr. to provide day care for up to 24 dogs. The dogs would be walked outside during the day in a monitored play area.

Bartlett had purchased the 13,340 square-foot building, former home of the Champion Tool & Dye Co., in 2011. In 2012, he proposed using most of the building for a used car dealership, an application that led to a dispute between the planning and zoning commission and zoning board of appeals. The ZBA approved variances for the proposed use in June 2012, drawing objections from the planning and zoning commission over whether one of the variances was a use-related variance that exceeded the authority of the ZBA.

The ZBA later determined that it had granted only a dimensional variance related to road frontage requirements, a move that led to a lawsuit filed by Bartlett against the board that is still pending in Middlesex Superior Court. Last May, the planning and zoning commission denied a special permit application from Bartlett to use a portion of the property to store and maintain construction equipment amid a dispute with the applicant over conditions related to a permit approval.

Bartlett is currently renting about 8,000 square-feet of the building to a small manufacturing business, and another section to a boat repair business that was formerly located in Chester.

Democrats Win Contested Finance, Region 4 School Board Seats in Deep River Town Election

DEEP RIVER– Democrats won contested board of finance and region 4 Board of education Seats in Tuesday’s town election where 24-year Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith ran unopposed for a record 13th term.

Democrats Russell Marth, a former selectman, and incumbent Lori Guerette outpolled Republican candidates John Wichtowski and douglas Nagan to win full six-year term seats on the finance board. The vote was Marth-564, Guerette-524, Wichtowski-383, and Nagan-364. Appointed incumbent Democrat Carmella Balducci was uncontested with 721 votes for a two-year vacancy term on the finance board.

Democrat Jane Cavanaugh won a full-six-year term seat on the region 4 Board of Education, outpolling Republican James Olson on a vote of 494-429. Democrat Mark Reyher won the only other contested position on the ballot, outpolling Republican Douglas Dopp for a seat on the board of assessment appeals, 537-351.

Smith received 811 votes for first selectman in the third consecutive town election where the longtime incumbent has run unopposed. Democratic Selectman Angus McDonald was elected to a second term with 554 votes. Republican Selectman David Oliveria was re-elected to a third term on the board with 368 votes. Incumbents were unopposed for three other paid town positions, with Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell winning a third term with 709 votes, Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani winning a third term with 777 votes, and longtime Republican Town Treasurer Thomas Lindner winning a new term with 727 votes.

All four candidates were elected to serve on the local board of education that supervises the operation of Deep River Elementary School. They are Democrats Hadley Kornacki-469 and Augusta Ferretti-471, along with Republicans Nelle Andrews-401 and Michelle Grow-414. All three candidates were elected for the library board of trustees, including Democrats Michelle Emfinger-631 and Roy Jefferson-696, and Republican Patricia Unan-505.

Deep River Considers New Ordinance Allowing Fees for Late Paid Motor Vehicle Taxes

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has decided to present a proposed new ordinance for town meeting approval that would allow the town to impose a fee for delinquent motor vehicle taxes. The ordinance, endorsed by the selectmen last week, will be presented to voters for approval at the next town meeting.

First Selectmen Richard Smith said the ordinance was recommended by Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani as a way to recover some of fees the town is now charged by the state Department of Motor Vehicles for administering the statewide motor vehicle registration monitoring program. The program enables the DMV to block renewals of required motor vehicle registrations for vehicles with unpaid property tax due to cities and towns. Bibbiani advised the amount the town is paying for this service has increased, totaling $1,112 in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The ordinance, which has been enacted in many other Connecticut towns, would allow the town to charge an additional fee of $2 for each delinquent motor vehicle tax payment, and 50 cents per page for any printing expenses incurred. The fee would be levied when the delinquent motor tax is paid by the vehicle owner.

Deep River Selectmen to Pursue Sale of Industrial Building, Purchase of Industrial Land

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen agreed Tuesday to investigate the possible sale of a town-owned industrial building at the Plattwood Industrial Area, with the proceeds to be used to acquire land for development in the same industrial area.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the deal, still in its early stages, would involve the sale of a town owned industrial building on Industrial Park Road that was constructed with the help of state grant funds about six years ago. The 9,000-square-foot building is currently occupied by four businesses. Smith said the proceeds from the sale would then be used to purchase four acres of industrial land located near the end of Industrial Park Road from local businessman Gary Mislick.

Smith said the parcel could then become the site for two or three new industrial buildings, helping to create jobs and boost the town’s industrial tax base. “We would control the site and there is no doubt in my mind we could have new industrial buildings back there,” he said.

Smith said the town would hire an appraiser to establish a value for both the town-owned building, which is now occupied by four businesses, and Mislick’s four-acre parcel. Smith said the board of selectmen would use the appraisals to negotiate a sale of the building, and a purchase of the Mislick parcel. He said the proceeds from sale of the building would be used to buy the additional industrial land at no direct cost to town taxpayers. He said state rules would allow the town to sell the building if the proceeds from the sale were used for additional job-creating industrial development.

The other two selectmen, Democrat Angus Mcdonald Jr. and Republican David Oliveria, expressed support for the plan presented by Smith. “It’s worth continuing to explore,” McDonald said. Both the sale of the building and any purchase of additional industrial land would also require approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting.

In other business, the selectmen agreed to pursue the sale of a one-acre parcel at 73 Kirtland St. that was acquired by the town in lieu of unpaid back taxes. The parcel, which has steep terrain and ledge, would not support an on-site septic system. But the parcel has access to a public water line, and after completion of a sewer expansion that was approved by a town meeting last May, could support a small single-family residence. The selectmen set the minimum bid for the parcel at $14,000, which is the current assessed value of the property.

Letters: Supporting Doug Nagan for the Deep River Board of Finance

To the Editor:

I confidently recommend Doug Nagan for the Deep River Board of Finance.  Doug, a longtime resident of Deep River is an experienced businessman and understands finance and the need to balance budgets.  He is a past Treasurer of the Old Lyme Country Club.

The purpose of the Board of Finance, in Doug’s view, is not to micromanage the daily operations of Deep River, but rather to make sure the department’s budgets reflect the community’s objectives and resources.  Doug realizes every budget reflects a balancing of desires and resources and compromise is necessary as part of the process.  He only wishes that this view was held in Washington, D.C.

Doug’s commitment to responsible town government will help promote financial stability.  If you want thoughtful people serving in town government, join me in supporting Doug Nagan for the Deep River Board of Finance.

Sincerely,

Thomas W. Lindner
Deep River

DR Planning and Zoning Sets Hearing on Proposed Relocation of Dunkin Donuts

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission has scheduled a Nov. 21 public hearing on a special permit application to relocate the town’s Dunkin Donuts to a vacant commercial building at 246 Main St. The hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall auditorium.

Great American Donut Inc. is seeking approval to relocate Dunkin Donuts from the current location at 190 Main St. to the building at 241 Main St., on the southern gateway to the downtown section of Main Street. The building that formerly housed an Irish gifts shop was purchased in 2011 by Peter Keyhayas of Chester. Two small businesses that opened last year as part of a three-unit development quickly closed, and the building has been vacant in recent months.

Great American Donut Inc., which owns several Dunkin Donuts franchises in the area, is expected to purchase the 241 Main St. property if the relocation is approved. The Dunkin Donuts would be located on the Main Street side of the property, which also has frontage to the west on Union Street. The plans call for one unspecified retail space on the west side of the building. The Dunkin Donuts would not have a drive-through window. The Dunkin Donuts opened at 190 Main St. in 2009.

Two Juveniles Arrested Thursday After Bomb Threat at DR Elementary Schools

DEEP RIVER— Two juveniles were arrested by state police Thursday after a morning bomb threat forced an evacuation of Deep River Elementary School. The unidentified juveniles, who are students at the kindergarten through sixth grade elementary school, were arrested and charged with breach of peace and threatening.

A telephone bomb threat was received at the school at 9:20 a.m., leading to an evacuation of the building with students and most staff transported by bus to the John Winthrop Middle School. State police and emergency personnel searched the building and determined there was no threat. Students and staff returned to the school around 11:30 a.m.

The two juveniles were arrested by police later Thursday. Their cases have been referred to the juvenile court in Middletown.

Deep River Residents Enjoy Homesteading Life in Maine

Richard and Maria on top of their new world, happy in their fields of wild blueberries.  Visible  below are their home and barn, and far back, Lake St. George. She picked the flowers on the walk up

Richard and Maria on top of their new world, happy in their fields of wild blueberries. Visible below are their home and barn, and far back, Lake St. George. She picked the flowers on the walk up

Liberty, Maine–Is it possible for two people in middle-age–late middle age –to change just about every aspect of their lives and find fulfillment in a new life style?

I said just about every aspect. Here is what I mean. To change the person they would live with. Where they would live. What they would do for a living. How they would spend their money. And so many other aspects that spin off from these.

Well, I know a couple who have done exactly that. And I have just seen them up close in this new life of theirs. Nothing on this earth is perfect, and that’s certainly true of human relationships. But from what I have witnessed of these two, I would say they are happy. In fact, surprisingly happy.

I am speaking of Richard and Maria King. Richard is from Deep River, Connecticut, which is my town. Maria is from Poland. They met online and then in Warsaw and quickly became convinced that they shared many aspirations.

Read the full story here

Former Resident State Trooper Hired as New Deep River Police Officer

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen this week hired Chris Cope, a former resident state trooper, as the town’s new full-time police officer. The hiring was approved at the board’s regular meeting on Aug. 27.

First Selectman Richard Smith said Friday Cope, an East Lyme resident, was one of six finalists interviewed for the new full-time police position. Cope retired last March after 20 years with the Connecticut State Police. At the time of his retirement, Cope was completing about four years of service as the resident state trooper for Deep River.

Smith said Cope must complete about two weeks of comparative transfer training at the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden. The training is required for former state troopers shifting to work in a municipal police department. Smith said Cope is expected to begin patrol duties in Deep River by mid-October. He joins a force that now includes full-time officer Raymond Sypher, and two part-time officers, Smith and Peter Lewis. The town officers serve under the supervision of a resident state trooper.

In other business this week, a town meeting Tuesday approved five additional appropriations from the now concluded 2012-2013 budget year that totaled $283,221. Only one resident joined the three selectmen and Town Clerk Amy Winchell at the town meeting to act on the additional; appropriations.

The additional appropriations included $34,751 for selectmen/town hall operations, $64,741 for police services, $70,265 for the highway department, $45,401 for parks and recreation, and $60,063 for capital projects, specifically the completion of improvements to town hall. Smith said nearly all of the additional appropriations were covered by grants, additional revenue, and unexpended funds from other budget accounts.

Smith had said earlier this month that about $65,000 from the $283,221 total may not be covered by other sources of funding and could require an appropriation from the town’s undesignated fund balance. Smith said Friday he now believes the actual shortfall that would require a transfer from the fund balance will be closer to $40,000.

Aug. 27 Town Meeting to Act on Deep River Budget Over Expenditures

DEEP RIVER— An Aug. 27 town meeting will be asked to approve five over expenditures in the 2012-2013 town budget that total a combined $283,221, though nearly all of the total is expected to be covered by additional revenue, reimbursements, or unexpended funds from other accounts in the town budget. The town meeting convenes at 7 p.m. in town hall. The expenditures were approved for referral to a town meeting at an Aug. 13 joint meeting of the board of selectmen and board of finance.

The over expenditures that require approval from voters at a town meeting include $34,751 from the selectmen/town hall operations section of the budget, $64,741 for police protection, $78,265 for the highway department, $45,401 for parks and recreation, and $60,063 for general government capital expenditures.

First Selectman Richard Smith said Tuesday the selectmen/town hall operations overrun resulted from unexpected expenses for engineering services and supplies and equipment. Smith said the police overrun includes funding for the planned hiring of a new full-time police officer and over expenditures for special police services such as traffic control. He said the parks and recreation overrun developed from additional repairs and upgrades to structures at Devitt’s Field and Plattwood Park. Smith said the $60,063 for capital expenditures includes $49,543 that was expended as part of the now completed town hall renovation project.

Smith said the $78,265 over run for the highway department was largely the result of expenses related to Storm Sandy last October and snow removal from the Feb. 8 blizzard. “Our budgets are very lean and the two big storms really hurt us,” he said.

Smith said nearly all of the over expenditures would be offset and covered by additional revenue, reimbursements, and unexpended funds from other budget accounts. But Smith acknowledged as much as $65,000 of the total may not be covered, depending on the outcome of final state reimbursements for the now completed Village Street bridge reconstruction project. “I’m pretty sure it will be close to a wash and the $65,000 would be a worst case scenario,” he said. Any final 2012-2013 budget overrun that is not covered by additional funding would require an appropriation from the town’s undesignated fund balance.

Deep River Receives $400,000 State Grant for Improvements to Plattwood Park

DEEP RIVER— The town has received a $400,000 state grant for improvements to Plattwood Park, the town’s major recreation area located off Route 80. The grant, provided under the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP), was announced last week with a visit to town by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman.

The 23-acre park, which includes a former sand and gravel quarry pond, was acquired by the town in 1981 and improved for recreational uses in subsequent years. The 1981 purchase, for a price of $75,000, also included a separate 25-acre area to the west that was sold for development as the Plattwood Industrial Park.

The grant will fund several improvements at the park, including a new and larger pavilion with handicapped accessible bathroom facilities. The grant will also pay for a new athletics field and circular jogging/walking trail on the eastern section of the park. There would also be a new, handicapped accessible walking trail through a wooded area on the southern side of the park.

Along with a public swimming area in the former quarry pond, the park currently includes a picnic area with charcoal grills and tables, a basketball court, a skateboarding park, and a paved parking area. The park is open to town residents free of charge, while non-residents pay a $20 per vehicle parking fee to use the park. Construction for the grant-funded improvements is expected to begin in 2014.

Deep River Ancient Muster – Photos and Video

The Deep River Annual Muster is the oldest and largest gathering of fife and drum participants and enthusiasts in the world and has been referred to as “The Granddaddy of All Musters”, and “A Colonial Woodstock”.

This year’s parade and Muster took place on July 20, and the photos and video below are provided courtesy of local Chester professional photographer John Stack.  John Stack can be contacted at johnstack@spiritdogphotography.com.

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DRAM 2013

Click here to see video clips of the Muster

Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith Unopposed for 13th term, Republican Caucus sets up Contests for Board of Finance, Region 4 School Board

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First Selectman Richard Smith

DEEP RIVER– Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith will run unopposed this fall for the third straight town election, but party nominating caucuses have set up Nov. 5 contests for two seats on the board of finance and a seat on the Region 4 Board of Education.

Town Republicans nominated no candidate for first selectman at the party caucus, with the seven party members at the caucus discussing a possible cross-endorsement of Smith for a record 13th term in the top job.

Long-time Town Treasurer Tom Lindner and Republican Town Chairman Greg Alexander, who sparred with Smith while serving on the board of finance in the 1990s, each said Smith has “done a good job in Deep River.”

Lindner said a cross-endorsement, giving Smith both the Republican and Democratic lines, could help Republican candidates in any contested races. But the caucus decided to make no cross endorsements, with some members noting town Democrats had declined to cross endorse  Linder and incumbent Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell for new terms.

Republicans nominated incumbent Selectman David Oliveria for a third term on the board of selectmen. Barring any unexpected petition candidates, the 2013-2015 board of selectmen  is certain to be comprised of Smith, one-term incumbent Democratic Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., and Oliveria. Republicans nominated Winchell, who was first elected in 2009, and Lindner, for new terms, with no candidate nominated to challenge two-term Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani.

Republicans nominated two candidates for board of finance, Douglas Nagan and John Wichtowski, who works as a chemist for Pfizer Corp. They will compete for the two open board seats with incumbent Democrat Lori Guerette and Russell Marth. Incumbent  Democrat Carmella Balducci is unopposed for a two-year vacancy term on the finance board.

Republicans nominated James Olson for Region 4 Board of Education. Olson is completing a term on the local school board that supervises Deep River Elementary School. Olson is in a contest with Democrat Jane Cavanaugh for the seat now held by departing Region 4 Board Chairwoman Linda Hall.

Republicans nominated Nelle Andrew and Michelle Grow for uncontested election to the local board of education. Douglas Dopp was nominated for a seat ion the board of assessment appeals, with incumbent Donald Routh and Patricias Unan nominated for library board of trustees.

Smith said Wednesday he is pleased with the chance to run unopposed for a new two-year term “I appreciate it,” he said, adding “everybody is working together and the results speak for themselves.” Smith was unopposed for re-election in 2009 and 2011, facing his last challenge for the top job in 2007 from a candidate running on the Deep River Independent Party line. Smith was also uncontested by town Republicans in 1995 and 1999.