The First Congregational Church of Deep River will hold its Annual Flea Market on the Green on Saturday, August 17, 2013 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Many of the 74 spaces have already been reserved, so contact the church as soon as possible to reserve your spot. Spaces are 20 x 20 and the price is $30.00. For more information please call the church at (860) 526-5045 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to request a map and registration form. You may also email the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org or download the form and map from our church website, www.deepriverchurch.org.
DEEP RIVER–- The planning and zoning commission has denied a special permit application for sale and maintenance of used construction equipment at a 444 Main Street property after the applicant declined to address issues raised by the town’s zoning enforcement officer and consulting engineer. The panel acted at a May 16 meeting after the applicant, local resident George Bartlett Jr., indicated he would not respond to the zoning enforcement officer and town engineer recommendations.
The 13,340 square-foot former industrial building on the west side of route 154, also known as Main Street, has been the subject of zoning issues over the past year since Bartlett purchased the formerly vacant structure and proposed using most of it for a used car dealership. The zoning board of appeals approved variances related to the used car dealership use last June, 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 commission maintained a used car dealership was a use not permitted in the Route 154 turnpike industrial zone by a variance.
The ZBA later determined that it had only approved a dimensional variance related to road frontage requirements, leading Bartlett to file a lawsuit against the board late last year. With the lawsuit still pending, Bartlett earlier this year submitted a new special permit application for sale and maintenance of used construction equipment. He had also rented about 8,000 square-feet of the structure to a light manufacturing business.
Unlike the June 2012 ZBA public hearing, nobody spoke against the new permit application at the planning and zoning commission’s May 16 public hearing. But during and after the public hearing, Bartlett told the panel he would not comply with several recommendations from Zoning Enforcement Officer Cathie Jefferson and consulting engineer Joseph Dillon with the Chester firm Nathan Jacobson Associates. The recommendations, and potential conditions for a permit approval, included lighting, a stormwater runoff mediation plan, the location of the proposed display area for the equipment, and a landscaping plan that would include buffer plantings on the north side of the parcel that abuts a residential property.
Based on Bartlett’s comments about the outstanding issues, the commission voted unanimously to deny the special permit application “without prejudice.” He would be allowed to submit a new and revised application for the proposed used construction equipment related use.
DEEP RIVER— Voters at a town meeting Monday approved a $14,779,461 town/schools spending plan for 2013-2014. The budget was approved on a 48-12 paper ballot vote in the first town meeting vote on a town budget since 2000.
The budget appeared to win approval on a voice vote only minutes after it was presented, with no questions or discussion from the crowd. But First Selectman Richard Smith asked for a paper ballot vote based on a public commitment made by the selectmen and finance board when the panels decided last month not to schedule a referendum vote on the budget. Some voters said they were not aware the voice vote was the final deciding vote on the spending plan.
Deep River has been voting on budgets by referendum since a contentious budget season in 2001. But declining voter turnouts in the annual referendums led the board of selectmen to decide last month to return to a town meeting vote on the budget.
The budget plan includes a $4,094,439 town government budget that includes $348,060 in debt service and $43,000 for capital expenditures. The total spending package also includes a $5,511,158 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s $5,160,924 share of the Region 4 education budget that was approved in a May 7 referendum. The total spending package will require a 0.40 increase in the tax rate, for a 2013-2014 tax rate of 25.08 mills. The new rate represents $25.08 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.
The Deep River Fire Department is actively seeking new recruits to join the department. Positions in fire fighting- both junior division, (14 years and over) and senior division, grant writers, computer specialists and volunteers to help the auxiliary are all welcome.
The ability to serve a community is an honor, sometimes hard work, very fulfilling and always a challenge. Please consider helping us meet that challenge. Interested individuals please stop by the Union Street Station any Wednesday at 6:30.
For additional information visit: deepriverfd.com.
DEEP RIVER— More than 200 residents turned out Wednesday evening to celebrate the reopening of the second floor auditorium at the historic 1893 town hall after a renovation project that was brought to completion over the past year by a committee of volunteers.
Former Selectman Art Thompson, who chaired the Deep River Town Hall Auditorium Restoration Committee, welcomed the crowd to an event “that only happens once every 120 years.” Thompson, who had pushed for completion of a restoration effort, served as master of ceremonies for a program that celebrated the role of the town hall auditorium in the town’s history.
Thompson introduced former First Selectman Joe Miezejeski as “honorary chairperson,” for the event. Miezejeski, who served four terms as first selectman through the 1980s, was a member of the Deep River Town Hall Restoration Association that began the restoration effort when it incorporated and began collecting donations for the project in 1979.
The association collected about $270,000 in donations and coordinated various improvements over the past 30 years, including installation of an elevator that was funded by the late Emma Marvin, a former selectwoman. But many improvements remained unfinished, including renovations needed to bring the auditorium in to compliance with current building codes to allow full use of the balcony.
At Thompson’s urging, the board of selectmen in 2011 appointed the new 11-member committee and gained control of the funds amassed by the former restoration association. The committee included four members of the association, Bruce Edgarton, Sally Carlson-Crowell, Frances Strukus and Kenneth Wood Jr. The new members included Claudia Epright, Janice Kmettz, Richard Nagot, Kim Olson, Linalynn Schmelzer, and Dennis Schultz. The committee used the $270,000 in available funds to complete the restoration project over the past 14 months.
Attending the program Wednesday were more than a dozen elderly graduates of the former Deep River High School, which closed when Valley Regional High School opened in 1952. The high school was located in a section of what is now Deep River Elementary School, but it lacked an auditorium. For more than 60 years, students used the town hall auditorium for group events that ranged from dances to the annual graduation ceremony. The construction and April 1893 dedication of the town hall was recounted by Dan Conners, a retired history teacher who was a member of the original faculty at Valley Regional High School and author of a book on the history of Deep River.
Wednesday’s program, which also featured music from the Deep River Junior Ancient Fife and Drum Corps and the elementary school chorus and clarinet ensemble, opens a period of active use of the 279-seat auditorium. Over the next month there will be concerts, movies, and a May 31 dance. The new chairs on the main floor of the auditorium are movable, allowing for a return of dances to the historic facility.
DEEP RIVER— A proposed $3,701,379 town government budget and a proposed $5,511,158 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School goes to a public hearing on May 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the newly renovated second floor auditorium at town hall.
The town government budget is combined with a $43,000 capital expenditure plan and $348,060 in debt service for a total town government expense of $4,094,439. The town government and elementary school spending plans are combined with the town’s $5,160,854 share of the Region 4 education budget for a total proposed 2013-2014 spending levy of $14,779,521.
The $3,701,379 town government budget is up by $192,113, or 5.47 percent, from the current appropriation The town budget includes a three percent wage-salary increase for all town employees, including elected officials and part-time employees.. Debt service is up by $155,357, mostly due to new lease payments for a new fire truck and highway department truck, while the capital expenditure plan has been reduced by $291,000.
The $5,511,158 appropriation for the elementary school is up by $110,371, or 2.04 percent. A shift in student enrollment, with additional students from Deep River attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, contributed to the $281,854, or 5.78 percent, increase in the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget.
The total $14,77 million spending levy, including Region 4, is up by $448,695, or 3.13 percent. The board of selectmen and board of finance has endorsed a plan to increase the tax rate by four tenths of a mill to fund the proposed spending plan for 2013-2014. The increase would bring the tax rate to 25.08 mills, or $25.08 for each $1,000 of assessed property value. The proposed tax increase matches a 0.40. tax increase that was required to fund the current budget.
or the first time since 2001, the board of selectmen has decided to hold the budget vote by paper ballot at a May 20 town meeting, rather than by a referendum vote. Extremely low voters turnouts for the budget referendums in recent years led the selectmen to call for a town meeting vote on the budget.. The Region 4 budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 7, the same day as the town budget hearing.
Blythe, Arizona – Here I was, approaching this tiny town. Blythe is as far east in California as can be. It was Day 5 of my solo transcontinental ride home to Connecticut.The sun was setting on one of my finest days so far as I approached Blythe on I-10—my destination for this day. I saw it coming up. It’s what I call a ”one-story town.” I didn’t spot one building any higher than that.
I kept right on at 60 miles an hour with all the other traffic, waiting for the main exit to Blythe to announce itself. Surprise! I found myself suddenly crossing the Colorado River—which is a modest stream here—and confronting a big sign, “Welcome To Arizona!” What?!
I had overshot Blythe. That’s how small it is.
It was another mistake, plain and simple. Mistakes, errors, call them whatever you like, are inevitable in the kind of travel I’m doing. I experience them every day. I don’t go nuts over them any more. The only solution is to “Grin and Bear It!” Plus, “Maybe something good will come of this!”
Oh, I know what you smarties are thinking. “John, if you had GPS, this would never have happened.”
Well, I do have it. Brand-new, too. A Gamin Novi 401. Finally I got it hooked up and going. But it’s not calibrated right. That anonymous tenor persists in giving me one wrong direction after another. I’ve unhooked the darn thing. I’m hoping to run into a geek soon who will get it going right for me.
Besides, for these many decades of doing nutty trips like this, I’ve done fine with my trusty road atlas. This mistake was all Blythe’s fault! They should have a big sign up at the exit, “Stop! This Is Blythe!”
My intention was to “camp” in Blythe for the night. My definition of “camping” in my old age is sleeping in my van and eating most of my meals in it.
One reason I chose Blythe is there’s a 24-hour Walmart here. I’ve camped at a Walmart every night on this trip so far. It’s perfect.
This way, I don’t have to drive miles out of my way to find a campground, then drive miles back in the morning. Walmart is safe! And so convenient. Its 24-hour superstores—that’s what they usually are–offer everything I can possibly spend money on except gas. Plus clean bathrooms! And Walmart is free! And welcoming!
I wish they had been around on all those big past trips I’ve taken. And the many trips I took my wife and kids on.
I’ll be delighted if I can find a Walmart every single night on my 3,500-mile route home. We now have 3,000 Walmart super-centers in the U.S., which never close. I stand a pretty good chance.
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As usual this trip isn’t a picnic. It’s hard work. I didn’t expect it to be easy. It never is. It keeps me busy from early morn till 10 or 11 p.m. With naps as needed, I admit. You’d be surprised at everything that’s required to do it right.
So far my ride is as good as I hoped it would be. I love the challenge of it. And I enjoy its many rewards. One is running into interesting folks. So far. I’ve struck it lucky again. and this is one of my major goals. And not a bad apple yet.
Another is to see—really, really see, with my own eyes—how our country is doing and changing. And experiencing the sights, natural and man made, at times beautiful and inspiring, at times ugly and regrettable, and too often very dull and skip-able.
Important to remind you I’m driving an 11-year-old van with more than 180.000 miles on it. Yes, that’s right, 180,000 plus.. She’s running like a top. I feel it’s just broken in. Honest! Maybe I’m setting myself up for a gigantic disappointment. But it couldn’t be sweeter running. I’m delighted.
It’s a Ford 7-passenger Econoline van. The model name is Chateau, which is—maybe was–Ford’s top of the line in vans. It’s loaded with amenities, some I love. The tinted windows (people can’t see in). The comfortable seats. The electric this and that. Other features, too.
My first little camper years ago—a VW “bus”— was Dandelion. That’s what I dubbed her. She was that color of beautiful yellow. Notice, I said “she.” After all, if we can give our boats feminine monickers, why can’t I do it for my lovely camper?
I deliberated and finally settled on Chateau as the name for this one. It’s so appropriate. This really is a wonderful and lovely little chateau, on four wheels, of course. So from now on Chateau is “she,” too. My poetic license! You’ll get used to it fast.
She does have a few bugs. The worst is the obstacle course I face to get from my driver’s seat to the back. You have to be as agile as a monkey, but I’m no monkey. And there’s no way to fix that.
The next is that I can’t stand in her. I may get home permanently hunched over. It’s made me think of the advantages of being a midget.
She has six ceiling lights. I think if I go over a bump, they all go on. Sometimes even when I’m stopped for a while.On my second day I had a dead battery. Not a promising start. But I have a AAA Classic membership—they’ll tow me up to 100 miles. A tech guy showed up in 35 minutes, gave me a jump, and pointed out the troublesome lights. Still they go on. I’m thinking of duck-taping them OFF.
I’m allowed only four road calls a year, and my year is just starting. On my next night at Walmart I bought jumper cables. Cheap insurance.
I have two keys to Chateau. They look identical. One works much better than the other. The bad one will not open the doors every time. Makes me very nervous. I’m afraid of locking the good key inside, and what then? Methinks I need see a locksmith.
It takes a mighty flick of my wrist with the ignition key to start the engine. Sometimes I have to flick hard twice, even three times. If this keeps up, I’ll be buying a brace for my wrist soon. Walmart stocks those, too.
I told you in my previous report she has a fancy, super-sophisticated entertainment system. Even a TV screen in the ceiling in back to watch DVDs. The system included GPS, too. But I discovered it was dead and the dealer that sold me Chateau, FamVans, gave me that portable Gain Navi instrument.
Well, now I find that the CD player is broke, too. So now I can’t enjoy the dozen music CDs I brought along. Got to do something about this, too.
The radio is fine. But it’s a pain to search and search and not find a station I really enjoy. Silence is golden.
Turns our that Chateau’s tires are oversize. If I try a tight turn left or right, the front tires rub on the body. Not good! So tight turns are impossible. Sometimes I can turn around 180 degrees only with two or three tries. You wouldn’t like that, either.
She gulps gasoline like a monster. California is a $4-a-gallon gas state. Maybe a few cents over, a few cents under here or there. At one stop high in the San Gabriel Mountains on Day 2, $4.14! I find that very painful.
I’m stopping for refills whenever I need $40 worth or so. That happens more often than I thought it would. Why stop so often? I like frequent breaks. And I try to work in as much exercise as I can. It’s a big step up into Chateau, and a big step down.
Besides, If I bought a maximum fill, the tab would be well over $100, and that makes me shudder. Just consider, I remember a gas war when the price dropped to 17.9 cents a gallon! I’d like a price war like that at least once a week Sob!. Such price wars are history. How come?
But I’m delighted with the many changes and improvements I made to convert her into a mini camper. My bunk with the foam mattress. The clothes hooks I screwed in. The drawers and shelves I put in. How I planned the whole interior lay-out. The whole list of little things I’ve done. Chateau is tiny, but wonderfully efficient and comfy.
I’m still making changes every day. One little improvement after another. I call them my Robinson Crusoe moments. Remember how shipwrecked Robinson used his wits to solve all kinds of problems and make his shipwreck life easier? Well, that’s me in Chateau. Each Robinson Crusoe moment, as simple as it is, gives me a glow of pleasure.
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Here are some of the highlights of my trip so far. I’ll sketch them out briefly. I found them so interesting that I hope to write them up for you one by one as I go along. Patience, please.
Day 1. A symposium on three “isms” that I attended at Claremont-Lincoln School of Theology in Claremont, CA. The three are Buddhism, Sikkism, and Janism. The Jainism segment was the one that drew me. It’s a strange and impressive religion in India. I am not a Jain, but I’ve had close Jain friends for 30 years and I’ve learned abut it through them.
Day 2. My day resting and exploring Claremont. What a charming and delightful small community. With seven colleges, mind you. To me it’s THE small town to live in.
Day 3. My ride high up into the awesome San Gabriel Mountains for a white-knuckle ride along its famous Rim of the World road. But so exciting, too. A ride I won’t forget soon.
Day 4. My visit to Palm Springs, the man-made oasis out in the desert a couple of hours east of L.A. Palm Springs is a small place but who hasn’t heard of it? So many movie stars have bought fancy second homes there. I’ve been to Palm Springs several times, thanks to Annabelle. I much prefer the newer small communities that have sprung up around Palm Springs.
Day 5. As you know by now, I think, I’m not fond of Interstate Highways. Of course I appreciate their practicality. They’re great to get somewhere fast. But they bypass so many interesting things and they are so dull. I much prefer the far more interesting lesser roads. I’ve been lucky at finding some dandy ones. But I got lost! Three times!
Day 6. How I find myself in tiny Mecca. Strange name for a town here in California. A town with a heavy population of Mexicans. How I’m impressed by them. And the library that serves them and the others in Mecca as well, of course.
Day 7. I knew that the next 100 miles to Blythe would be a tedious and taxing ride. But I managed to find an alternate route and then went and messed it up again. But I got some nice rewards.
As always, I’ve met some interesting people along the way. Including some truly Good Samaritans. How lucky I’ve been. I can’t wait to tell you about some of them.
I’ve wondered whether I’ve become too old to enjoy this kind of travel. I’ve done a lot of it over the years and it’s been so much fun. Well, I have good news. It’s hard. Yes, it is. No denying that. But so far I am rejoicing. It is shaping up as the grand adventure I hoped for.
Long ago I realized that Mark Twain was right. That smart guy is the one who said that often it is better to travel than to arrive. My whole point is not just to get home. It’s to squeeze in as much pleasure out of every mile as I can. And it’s working out that way.
Know what? So far I’ve been on the road seven days and have traveled barely 500 miles. That’s very little–only about one-seventh of the mileage I expect to run up before I roll into Deep River. And the best parts of the route are still ahead.
So I’ve found myself wondering, When the heck will I finally be getting home?! Labor Day? Thanksgiving? Christmas? I leave it all to Serendipity!
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A Post Script. Just a few days ago I turned 84. Yes, 84. Which means that was tip-toeing into my 85th year on Earth!!!
You have no idea how surprised I am to have made it this far.
I remember when I was 8 or 9 I wasn’t doing well and my mother had our family doctor come to the house and examine me.
I remember how he finally put his stethoscope back in his black bag and looked at my mom and said, “Madame, I am sad to tell you I don’t think this little boy will live to see his 30th birthday.”
Gosh, did he shake her up! And my father when he came home! As for me, 30 seemed a long, long time away.
Gosh, have I fooled him!
I’m going to be alone on the road for this birthday. Not a problem. I’m just looking forward to another nice day, my eyes filling, I’m sure, with one wonderful sight after another, as always. It won’t be perfect. Nothing ever is. But it will be great.
I don’t need a birthday cake. I’d be embarrassed to try to blow out all those candles. How huge a cake would it take to hold them all?
Besides, I know I’ve got a lot of people cheering for me. How lucky I am! How really lucky!
Susan Rooney (right), the new Deep River Library Director, and Linda Fox, the Chester Library Director, represented their respective libraries at the Adams Shopping Center on April 23 as part of World Book Night. They gave away free copies of The Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.
World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light readers and non-readers. Not only is World Book Night about giving books. It’s also about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways—through the sharing of stories.
DEEP RIVER-– For the first time in 11 years, voters will decide on a town/elementary school budget plan by a town meeting vote without a referendum. The town meeting vote on a spending plan that is still being finalized will be held on Monday May 20 in the newly renovated town hall auditorium. The annual budget hearing is set for May 7.
The board of selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday not to hold a referendum vote on the budget plan for 2013-2014. First Selectman Richard Smith said Wednesday he had consulted with members of the Deep River Taxpayers Association before making the decision, and pledged that the vote at the May 20 town meeting would be by paper ballot. “There will not be a referendum this year unless we’re petitioned for one,” he said.
Smith said most residents, and elected officials such as members of the board of finance, had advised that a referendum vote on the budget should be skipped this year after extremely low vote turnouts for the budget referendums held in recent years.
Last May, a total of 190 voters turned out to approve a $14.3 million town/elementary school budget plan on a 147-46 vote. A total of 361 voters turned out for the budget referendum in May 2011. “It’s just too costly based on the turnout,” Smith said, noting that with a budget referendum costing the town about $1,800, the 2012 turnout amounted to an expense for the town of almost $100 per vote.
The town began holding annual referendums on the town government/elementary school budgets in 2001, when a depleted fund balance and steep tax increase led to controversy, and three votes before a spending plan was approved by voters. The taxpayers association formed that year, and indicated to the selectmen that they would seek a referendum vote on future budgets.
Rather than allowing a petition process to delay the budget vote, the board of selectmen, led by Smith, agreed to send the annual budget directly to a referendum vote. But turnout for the referendum that is usually held in the last week of May has decreased in recent years.
Referendum voting will continue on the Region 4 education budget, which is subject to approval by voters of the three district towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex. The Region 4 Board of Education had adopted a policy of referendum voting on the budget in 2001, after spending plans were rejected twice before wining voter approval in a third referendum. The Region 4 budget referendum will be conducted on May 7 from 12 noon to 8 p.m. at the regular election polling places for the three towns.
The Deep River Fire Department presented John White Jr. (Jack) with a plaque honoring his 50 years of service, while First Selectman Dick Smith presented White with a citation from the State of Connecticut commending his service to the Fire Department and to the town of Deep River.
White joined the Department at the age of 21, inspired by his father, John White Sr. who served the Department for over 25 years as Secretary. White, the Chief Engineer of the Fire Department is responsible for the upkeep of all the fire engines and equipment used by the department.
DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission public hearing on the special permit application of resident George Bartlett Jr. for sale and maintenance of used construction equipment at a former industrial building at 444 Main St. has been postponed until the panel’s May 17 meeting. Zoning Enforcement Officer Cathy Jefferson said the public hearing, which had been scheduled for Thursday, was postponed at the request of the applicant.
Bartlett’s previous plan for the former Champion Tool and Dye property on the west side of Route 154, also known as Main Street, had generated controversy last year and eventually led to a lawsuit filed by Bartlett against the zoning board of appeals. The initial plan called for a used car dealership, a use that would have required two variances from the zoning board of appeals.
One variance was dimensional, because the parcel was 5.3-feet short of the 150 feet of road frontage required for uses in the Turnpike Industrial Zone. But a second variance related to the used car dealership use drew strong opposition from Jefferson, representing the planning and zoning commission, at a June 19 public hearing.
The ZBA approved the dimensional variance, but there was dispute over whether the board had also approved the use variance that drew objections from the planning and zoning commission. The ZBA last September declined a request to amend it’s minutes of the June 19 session to reflect approval of both variances. The refusal led Bartlett, represented by Essex lawyer John Bennet, to file a lawsuit against the ZBA late last year.
The lawsuit that is still pending in Middlesex Superior Court does not prevent the planning and zoning commission from considering the new proposal for sale and maintenance of used construction equipment. The public hearing on the new application is expected to convene May 16 at 7 p.m. in town hall.
Newport Beach, CA — This morning at 9:30—after the massive freeways here have been relieved of their crushing commuter traffic—I’ll climb behind the wheel of my new little camper van and start the long ride home to Deep River.
I’ve been here far longer than usual on my annual get-away from the ice and snow of Connecticut. This has been my 18th winter here with milady Annabelle, lucky me. It happens that she has lived in this warm and sunny place all her life. (If some really icy place were her home, I suspect I’d make it up there to be with her.)
Anyway, tomorrow is when I get going. A kiss and embrace and I’ll start the engine, and with a final wave and toot, begin another long solo trip. One of many I’ve racked up.
The most direct route home is about 3,200 miles. No way will that be how I’ll go. I plan to zig and zag. Take as few Interstates as possible. Stop here and stop there, Look at this and that. See famous sites and little-known ones. Avoid the very big cities—I’ve seen many of them. Don’t want to put up with all the traffic and headaches getting in and out of them.
I’ll be camping most of the way. I expect to stay at a motel now and then. More to my liking would be a hostel, For a rest, a chance to soak my body and do my laundry and hang out with some interesting folks.
I have no specific “must-sees” in mind. But I’ll visit parks big and small, and museums, I hope, and factories that welcome visitors, and for sure, senior centers and libraries and universities. And get to meet people. That’s a priority.
I’ll be driving on a California permit that gives me two months to get home. If it gets tough and isn’t fun, I’ll be home in two weeks. But I hope to make the most of the trip and get home on the last day of my permit. Why not? There’s no rush. I’m looking at is as maybe my last hurrah. And I’m leaving it up to serendipity.
I flew here in late December, which has been my routine for some years. And I expected to fly home, as usual. What the heck happened?
~ ~ ~ ~
I have to go back about seven years to explain. Annabelle and I did a house swap in France. I got the idea deep in Chile while on my solo trip around the world. I met a French couple down there. He was an M.D. with a specialty in psychiatry. She was a professor of nursing. They were there for some light mountain climbing.
When he told me they came from Poitiers, I got excited. It’s a small city about two hours southwest of Paris. Famous for an ancient university. But more important than anything else for me is that the Poitiers area is where my ancestor LaPlante came from—my great, great, great, great, great grandfather, I think. He was a soldier in New France–the present Quebec. He was one of about 1,100 who arrived in June 1665. Their mission was to protect the colonists from the nasty Iroquois from what is now up-state New York.
The soldiers beat the Iroquois back and restored peace. After thee years the king recalled the regiment home. But there were only 2,500 or so colonists in New France—most living in what is now Quebec City. The troops were given the choice of staying—more strong Frenchmen were essential to get this tiny settlement going. My ancestor was one of the third who stayed in that harsh but welcoming new land.
But his name was not LaPlante then. It was Savignac. A strange thing happened. For some reason still debated. Many of those guys decided to take on new names. To symbolize a new life? Maybe.
He chose LaPlante. All it means is ‘the plant.” So, nothing romantic. Others chose other common words like that as their name—words starting with “La” or “Le.” But I know his name was Savignac because church records were meticulous—the records of baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and deaths. That’s why I also know he came from the Poitiers corner of France, and that his outfit was the Regiment Carignan-Salieres. Those were the names of two colonels.
My two new French friends in Chile laughed off the idea of a house swap when I first mentioned it. “Risky!” they said. “How can you be sure what kind of people will be moving into your house?”
Back in Deep River, I kept up an email correspondence with them. Sent them photos of our pretty town. And my nice little condo, And news about typical events. And we made the swap happen.
We swapped residences, of course—their home and my condo. And everything in them, of course—the kitchen stuff, the books, the computers, the TVs and other electronics, the whole works. Also their big VW wagon and my Buick sedan. Plus their network of relatives of friends and mine—how important that turned out to be. I joke now—everything except the ladies! We agreed on a six-week swap. I wanted 12 weeks. “Impossible!” he said. “I’m still practicing.”
It worked out fine in every way. They drove my Buick to Niagara Falls. We drove their VW to Paris—had a picnic lunch in it under the Eiffel Tower—and down through the rich wine country to the Med.
Oh, I was a Rotarian. So in Poitiers I went to the weekly meetings of the big Rotary Club there. Four times the size of our Deep River club. Annabelle came along. And that was marvelous. I had a ball speaking French and really getting to know what life over there was really like. Annabelle had studied French long ago and was a good sport about it all.
~ ~ ~ ~
A bit of background. I was born in the U.S. My parents were immigrants from Quebec. I’ve been there often. Still have a few relatives there. So I have a great interest in Quebec..
I speak French well and enjoy using it. You have to use a language or you’ll lose it. One thing I do is listen to Quebec radio via the computer. Streaming radio, it’s called. I listen to two fm stations, one in Montreal and one in Quebec City. They offer light classical music, and their announcers speak good French—contemporary French, with current idioms and slang. Wonderful.
So! I got the idea not of a house swap up there, but of a home stay. With a Quebec family for a month or so. To talk the language, enjoy the culture, experience their life. I’d gladly pay. I wrote to the two stations, then to a big Rotary Club, then to a university. Didn’t get a single bite.
What to do? I decided I’d go on my own. It was now late October, and the weather was getting cold and the days short. I’d go for two weeks. Drive up. Annabelle chose to stay behind in California and I understood that.
Not long ago, I would have started on a trip like this without hesitation. But bad things have happened to me of late. Nothing calamitous. But challenging enough to make me feel my age.
On the morning that I got into my Hyundai Sonata to start out, I looked in the mirror and spoke to myself. “Is this wise? To go with no companion? What if something goes wrong? Something could.”
And I spoke back to myself. “I really want to do this. Time is running out. I’d getter do it while I can. Something bad could happen at home. I’m going!”
And I turned started my car and headed north. I traveled some 1,500 miles in all. Crossed into Quebec at a small custom station in Vermont. Just a mile or two into Quebec I made out big Mount Sutton. It rises beside the small town of Sutton.
That’s where my grandparents lived. My grandfather Michel LaPlante had a maple operation on the flank of Mount Sutton. Tapped trees and made maple syrup every early spring. On the rise on the opposite side of the village was his farm–an old-fashioned self-sufficiency homestead. Thirty milk cows. Sunday was the day of rest but they still had to milk the cows twice that day, too. A vegetable garden and small orchard.
My grandma had a big cast-iron stove…baked a huge pot of beans every Saturday for the week. Served her large brood 21 hearty meals a week. She had a handpump for water in the kitchen. Every fall they filled the cellar with firewood they had sawed and split. There was an outhouse in the backyard.
On Sunday mornings my grandfather hitched the family horse to their Sunday carriage. The horse that pulled his plow and hay wagon. And drove them to the little Catholic church they could see in the valley below. They sat through Mass and then lingered on the church steps to greet and chat with their friends. It was their big outing of the week.
Yes, that little church where they had attended so many weddings and baptisms and funerals. I did that when I went with my dad and mom. And later as a grown man visiting up there.
So on this trip, Sutton was my fist stop. I had a nice visit with Tante Rosanne, the last of my aunts. She was so surprised and pleased! I visited the church, then the church cemetery. Saw a whole row of my kin resting side by side. Visited the farm, of course. The house had been knocked down and a beautiful expensive country home stood in its place. Sutton has become a famous ski resort, and this was the country home of a wealthy Montreal family. The barn still stood. It had never looked so good. But now it housed riding horses instead of cows.
I visited in the village and got into little talks. Sutton has been transformed. It’s a tourist town with cafes and art galleries and pricy restaurants. If my grandparents and parents could have seen this!
I went on to Montreal and Quebec City and half a dozen small cities. All familiar to me. Stopped and looked and talked time and again. Stopped at mom-and-pop motels on most nights. But it was just me and the TV set. That’s not my favorite thing, even in French. But found three cozy hostels to stay in. I was so old I wondered whether they’d let me in. They did. Nobody looked at me crossways and I had fun. I spoke French all day.
On Quebec highways, tourist information stations are indicated by a big question mark. Yes, just a huge ?. I stopped at every one I spotted. For tourist advice, but that was my excuse. What I wanted was a little chat. It was magic when I mentioned I was of Quebecois descent. They made me feel like a prince.
I finally made it home to Connecticut with not a single bad thing happening to me. And guess what? I felt 20 years younger.
~ ~ ~ ~
Here at Annabelle’s two months ago I began thinking of my return flight to Connecticut. And remembered my splendid road trip to Quebec. I wondered, why not drive home? Yes, why not? In the same casual and relaxed way. And that’s how I got the idea of making the long ride home to Connecticut in a little camper.
I chose a good moment to mention it to Annabelle. She’s certainly chalked up a lot of adventures of her own. But she’s getting along in years, too. She declined. Understandable. She didn’t have the same interests of language and family
Then I spread the word to family and friends. Nobody was ecstatic. They advised caution. Great caution. I’m sure some considered me nuts. That didn’t surprise me. But as I’ve said, doing it is important to me. And here I am, ready to go.
Oh, I had to find a camper. A must was a rig that I could park in a single parking spot. So many are so huge! Offer nice amenities but what a challenge driving them around.
I started searching while I was in Morro Bay with my daughter Monique and her hubby David at Christmas. No big argument from them. Just “Caution!”
David was a big help in feeding me leads about promising vehicles. When I moved down here to Annabelle’s, he continued to send me leads. He made a hundred-mile round trip to check one out for me. He was disappointed.
A friend up there named Martha also steered me to a couple of possibilities. They didn’t pan out.
I searched here at Annabelle’s. Looked at this one and that one. Studied Craig’s List time and again. With Annabelle, I made a 120-mile trip up to the city of Riverside to check one rig that sounded perfect. Disappointing.
One day online I read of a 2002 Ford van called the Chateau. It wasn’t a camper. It was a seven-passenger van. It was loaded with nice features. Even a ceiling drop-down screen to watch DVDs. There were photos of the van. It looked terrific. The price was $4,900. Definitely in my budget.
It was for sale at an outfit called FamVans. Just a 25-minute ride away. I called and spoke to a salesman named Mike Malvey.
He told me the Chateau model was the top of the line. Was in excellent condition. Had 180,000 miles on it. Wow! That’s something to think about! But I went and looked. The photos had not exaggerated. It had a tiny scrape on one side. And a small ding in the front bumper, and another at the back. It was better than I expected. I was excited.
I told him about my cross-country plan. He looked dubious. I understood that. I’m no kid. But I gave him details about some of my long-distance travels and her perked up.
“Tell me,” I said to him. “What’s wrong with this van?”
“There’s nothing wrong with it.”
That’s not a surprising thing to hear from a used-car salesman.
“Let me explain how we do business,” he continued. “We have a complete staff here, including good mechanics. We check every vehicle. We sell 20 per week, week in and week out. More than a thousand a year. Have been in business more than 20 years. But I want you to check us out.”
He smiled. “Look! I understand your concern. Take it for a day. A weekend. Take it to any mechanic of your choice. Have it checked thoroughly. We’ll pay for that. Then show us his written report. We’ll take it from there.”
“Sounds good. But I don’t know any mechanic here.”
“No problem. We’ll take it to a Ford agency near you. They’ll do the checking. Give you their report. We’ll pay for it. Then you decide.”
Very fair, I thought. He did that. I got the report. The form had some 30 items on the check-off list. Every single one got checked off as “Good.” Remarkable, I thought..
At my next meeting with Mike—yes, we were using our first names now—I asked about the whopping 183,000 miles. Who wouldn’t?
“That’s really much for a van of that age. We got one in the other day. A Ford. Owned by an airport shuttle service. Its odometer said 900,000 miles. And still in service.”
I whistled at that.
I was curious about one thing. How come the Chateau looked so good. I put the question to him.
He turned to his computer. Looked up the Chateau. “This is the second time we sell it. The first time was when it was about 18 months old. We chose it to a Japanese man for family use. He traded it in for another. That’s the story. Not that unusual.”
“A Japanese man, you say. Well, I’ve been to Japan. I know how people over there take care of things.”
He nodded. “You’re probably right.”
“Well, I’ll pay $4,500.”
He smiled. “Sorry. The price is the price.”
“How about at least a senior discount?’
He smiled again. And shook his head. “Sorry. No.”
I test-drove it, of course. I used to drive a van of this size routinely at Incarnation Center in Ivoryton, Conn., when I was the director of its Elderhostel program. Often filled with passengers. That kind of driving all came back to me now.
I had searched for a high-rise model, with more headroom. In this one I couldn’t stand fully. But adapting wouldn’t be difficult.
Mike and I discussed some details. I had no place to keep the van till departure time. I had to make modifications. Could I keep it at FamVans? I had no tools. I might need a hand on some jobs.
“Not a problem. Keep it here. Just ask and we’ll let you borrow whatever you need. And we’ll help you find a young guy to help you as needed.”
One more question. Did I have to register it in California? I’d register it in Connecticut when I got home. It would be crazy to have to register it in one state, then the other.”
“We know the law. There is a simple solution. I’ll give you a document. You’ll have a permit on the windshield. You will be able to drive it to Connecticut with the previous owner’s plates. They’re on the van now. You’ll be allowed to make that single trip home. Nothing for you to do here. No California sales tax to pay. You’ll register and pay the tax in Connecticut. That’s all there is to it.”
There was considerable discussion, but that was the essence of it. We shook hands on the deal. I paid a deposit. It worked out just as he said. I kept the Chateau at FamVans for more than a month. He let me use his dealer’s plate to do errands with the van.
He introduced me to one of his workers, Antonio—Tony. Mexican. Born there. About 35. Working at FamVans for 13 years. Took a liking to him. He was talented and enthusiastic. He called me “Senor John.” I liked that.
Nearly all the employees were Mexicans. They impressed me. And I liked the culture of the place. They worked hard. Seemed to enjoy their day. Were friendly.
One small detail. I spotted a popcorn machine in the office. It was filled fresh every morning. I love popcorn.
Mike was one of three brothers. His older brother was president. He was the sales manager. A younger brother ran the huge parts department.
FamVans had 200 vans and cargo trucks on the lot. Very busy. This was really a full-service place. Twenty workers doing everything from A to Z, including complete engine changes and rebuilds. Every vehicle got scrubbed and washed when it arrived. And spiffed up for delivery.
Antonio said “Yes, senor” to everything I asked.
Here are some of my changes to the van. I removed one of the two big seats in the second row. I had the second one turned around, so it faced backward. I was going to remove the 3-passenger back seat. But I moved it back 18 inches and adapted it into a bunk. Got a 4-inch foam mattress custom cut for it.
Installed two three-drawer cabinets. Built a shelf along one side. Put in a one-burner propane stove and an ice chest. Even a homemade potty, for emergencies only. The carpeting was very clean. I put in carpet runners to keep it clean. Built a wooden step to rest on the ground by the big sliding door. Made it much easier for me to get in and out. Did this and did that.
Oh, important. Behind the back bench I installed a big plywood shelf. It was the width of the van and two-feet wide. I could store suitcases and boxes under it. I had lots to take home. And loads of everyday stuff on it. I am delighted with it.
The Chateau had tinted windshields. I liked that. People couldn’t see in. But the tint on the window by the driver gave a distorted view when I looked out at an oblique angle. That was a problem..
Antonio used a razor to make a crescent-shape cut and peel off that corner of the film. Excellent. Then did the same thing on the other side. I asked why he bothered. “Not good if they look different, senor!”
Oh, I forgot to mention that the van had a gps navigation system. At the last minute it was discovered it had a problem. Not fixable. Mike gave me a new Garmin instrument. I’ve set it up.
Antonio made even more small changes that I requested when I picked it up. He installed two brackets for me. I’ll hang my clothes neatly on them.
I had one final request. I asked him to drive the Chateau to the front of the lot and park it there, with the big FamVans’ sign showing right behind. And had Luis, the foreman, to
take a photo of Mike and Antonio and me side by side. They were busy but good sports about it. I wanted it as a souvenir of this very nice experience.
We shook hands. I was glad I had tipped Antonio. He deserved it. Mike had kept his word in every way. We shook hands and promised to keep in touch. They were waving to me as I drove off.
I would be departing in three days. They knew that. Mike said, “If something comes up, don’t hesitate to call me.” This was a no-warranty deal. But his words made me feel good.
Well, tomorrow morning is the big moment. I’ll get home to Deep River when I get home. Maybe in a few days. Maybe in several weeks. We’ll see.
I’ve never lived in a chateau. But now I have a nice little one on wheels to live in.
Gosh, I’ve written a lot of words to tell you all this. God bless you if you’ve reached this last paragraph!
AREAWIDE— State police have announced the arrest of the second suspect in the April 8 chase and shootout on Route 153 in Westbrook, Sebastian P. Award, 24, of 257 West Elm St. in Deep River. Another suspect, 24-year-old Jonathan Alvarado of Deep River was shot to death in an exchange of gunfire with police that left Detective Scott Wisner with a shoulder wound.
Award and Alvarado were fleeing the scene of an armed robbery at the Days Inn motel on Route One in Old Saybrook, with police in pursuit, when their vehicle crashed into a vehicle operated by Wisner on Route 153 near Doc’s Hill Road in Westbrook. Award was injured in the crash and shooting, and has been under treatment and police guard at Hartford Hospital for the past week. Wisner is a former resident state trooper for Essex.
Award has been arrested and charged with two counts of criminal attempt to commit murder, two counts of first degree kidnapping, two counts of first degree robbery, three counts of second degree larceny, and assault on a police officer. He was expected to be arraigned Monday at Middlesex Superior Court in Middletown.
The May 1 re-dedication of the Deep River Town Hall Auditorium will kick off a series of free diverse community activities, permitting residents of Deep River and surrounding towns to experience the restored auditorium as spectators and performers. The Restoration Committee is arranging free programs that will include a variety of showcases in music, dance, theatre, and community activities. Face Arts Music, Marjorie Warner, Michel Harris, Amy Forbes, the Meadows Brothers, SayWhat and Park and Recreation will all be offering free events. The restoration committee will close the month of celebration with a community social dance on May 31at 7p.m. with the live music from the Dizzy River Band and Ryan Hartt & the Blue Hearts.
If your music, dance or theater group wants to participate in the celebration contact Restoration Committee member, Linalynn Schmelzer, through email at Linalynnschmelzer@yahoo.com, by April 12.
Dates and events will be announced in the following weeks. Look for updates via mailings, or follow us on Facebook at Deep River Town Hall.
DEEP RIVER— The long-running restoration of the second-floor auditorium at the historic 1892 town hall is nearing completion, with a community open house scheduled for May 1 setting the stage for wider public use of the facility.
A restoration project that began in 1979 had been brought to completion over the past year by the Town Hall Auditorium Restoration Committee that was appointed by the board of selectmen in late 2011. The nine-member volunteer committee, chaired by former Selectman Art Thompson, replaced the Town Hall Restoration Association, a private group that began the restoration effort more than three decades earlier.
Thompson said this week the committee held its first meeting in January 2012, and quickly accessed a $260,000 fund that had been gathered largely through private donations by the former association. Thompson said the work that began last spring is now in it’s final stages, and has been entirely paid for by the available funds with no additional appropriations from the town.
Thompson said the latest improvements have resolved all building and fire code issues for the auditorium, allowing for public use of the auditorium balcony and an ornate rear staircase for the first time in several years. Seats that had been on the main floor have been relocated to the balcony to create a hall with a seating capacity of 279 persons, including 129 seats on the balcony and 150 on the main floor. But the main floor seats are all moveable, allowing for multi-use of the hall for dances and other programs that do not require seating.
Other improvements completed over the past year include a new control booth on the balcony, a small kitchen on the south aide of the building, air conditioning, new fire resistant stage curtains, and a slightly larger stage.
Thompson said the committee consulted with members of the former restoration association, and followed their guidance in choosing colors for the repainting- red for the lower levels and grey for the upper levels. He said the committee used local contractors for nearly all of the restoration work. A movable chandelier attached to the upper ceiling was provided by Schofield Lighting of Ivoryton.
A new five-member committee is being formed by the board of selectmen to supervise promotions and scheduling for the 279 seat hall. Already appointed to the Town Hall Auditorium Management Committee are Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., and resident Linalyn Schmelzer, who had been handling scheduling for the former restoration association. Three additional members will be appointed before the hall is opened for wider public use in May.
Adams Hometown Market in Deep River sold paper fire alarms and hotdogs to the public to raise funds 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 accepting the check, Chief Tim Lee commented, “The department appreciates such a 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 Parks and Recreation is pleased to announce some upcoming programs. The Commission is sponsoring two bus trips to see Major League Baseball games this spring. The commission is also sponsoring two, 1 day 8 hour safe boating courses and announcing their summer camp registration.
Two bus trips are planned to see MLB games at both Yankee Stadium and at Fenway Park. The Yankee game will take place on Sunday, May 5th and will feature the New York Yankees vs. The Oakland A’s. The cost is $66.00 per person which includes a ticket for the bus as well as the cost of the bus. The seats are located in left field in section 233A. The second bus trip will be to Fenway Park in Boston to see the Boston Red Sox take on the Toronto Blue Jays. The date of this game is Sunday, June 30th and the cost of this trip is $63.00 per ticket. Seats are in grandstand, section 1 in right field. The coach buses will pick up and drop off from the exit 4 commuter lot off of Route 9. Buses will depart at approximately 10:00 am and will leave the stadiums approximately ½ hour after the conclusion of the game.
Two sessions of the1 Day, 8-hour safe boating course are scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 7th and again on Sunday, June 2nd. The classes run from 8:00- 4:00pm and will be held in the community room at the Deep River Public Library located on Main Street in Deep River. This single session, 8-hour course, taught by Professional Marine Education, provides a certificate of completion as partial fulfillment of the requirements to obtain the certification of Personal Watercraft Operation, which allows the operation of motorized recreational vessels up to 65’ and sailboats 19 ½’ in length and longer. Prior to taking this class each student should create an account online at www.ct.gov/deep, and then click “Purchase a Hunting/Fishing License” and click the START button. Create an account if you don’t already have one, and then print the page that includes your Conservation ID number and bring it to class. Once your score has been entered in the DEEP system you will use your account to purchase & print the certificate after the class. Students should bring a pen or pencil to class.
Finally it is time to register for the 2013 summer youth camp. The camp will run for 6 weeks from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. There is a pre-camp option from 8:00-9:00 am. The camp begins the week of July 1st and concludes on August 9th. The camp will feature different themes each week and will include field trips to such destinations as the Connecticut Dinosaur Museum, mini golf in Old Saybrook, The Trampoline Place, the Movies, Laser Tag and Bowling, and the Beardsley Zoo. Children can register for a morning session only or a full day option. Cost is $45.00 for half day or $80.00 for a full day. Pre-Care is an additional $15.00. To see the complete camp schedule or to register, log on to the Town of Deep River website www.deepriverct.us.
Should you have any questions please feel free to contact me at any time. By phone, please call the Parks and Recreation Office at 860-526-6036 or by email @email@example.com.
Veterans and members of Essex Veterans Memorial Hall in Centerbrook are holding their annual Corned Beef Dinner on Sunday, March 10.
From noon to 6 p.m. , a corned beef dinner complete with potatoes, cabbage, carrots, Irish soda bread and dessert will be served. Adults pay $10 at the door; children pay $5. Anyone who prefers take-out, may request it.
Proceeds from the dinner support our veterans and those currently serving our country. Recently, Ivoryton resident Hunter Sanford was deployed, so the members of the Veterans Memorial Hall will be sending him packages from home.
If more information is needed, call 860-767-8892.
Over a hundred men, young and old, from congregations throughout the Connecticut River Valley annually gather in Deep River for the annual Palm Sunday Men’s Communion Breakfast. You are invited to come at 7 a.m. on Palm Sunday, March 24, for a half-hour Communion service, followed by breakfast in Fellowship Hall. After breakfast, we will welcome our speaker, the Rev. Keith Jones.
Please plan to join other men from throughout the Valley Shore for this long-time Valley Shore tradition by calling the Deep River church office before Tuesday, March 19 (860-526-5045), or by e-mailing your reservations to firstname.lastname@example.org (or go to our church web site and click the box on the main page www.deepriverchurch.org ).
The Rev. Keith Jones is a retired UCC minister who lives in our Valley Shore area. Rev. Jones has been in the ministry within the United Church of Christ for 45 years, serving half of those years in the parish. During the 1980’s and 90’s he worked as a competitive analyst at AT&T in New York and New Jersey. Later he returned to parish ministry as an Intentional Interim Minister. Throughout his ministerial career he has been sole pastor or Senior Minister in team settings in Windsor, Norwalk, North Branford, and Higganum as well as in various churches in New Jersey. Most recently he served as Interim Minister at the Congregational Church in Old Saybrook.
He received his Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Univ. of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business and his Master of Divinity from the Harvard Divinity School. Rev. Jones is married to Joan and has three daughters, a son, and four grandchildren. He enjoys music and model trains.
On Palm Sunday, March 24, all men of the church, community and local churches are invited to attend our Annual Men’s Palm Sunday Breakfast. Worship begins at 7:00 a.m., followed by a breakfast and guest speaker, Rev. Keith Jones. There is no 8:30 service that morning.
Palm Sunday worship is at 10:00 a.m. and palms will be distributed.
On March 28th, Maundy Thursday at 7:00 p.m., our Communion Service commemorates the Last Supper and our fourth grade Sunday School students will receive their First Communion that evening.
There will be a Soup and Bread supper at 6:00 p.m. on Good Friday, March 29th, followed by a moving Good Friday Worship service at 7:00 p.m.
The traditional Easter Sunrise Service will be held at Mt. Saint John School at 6:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday, March 31. There will be two services at the church; one at 9:00 a.m., which is a family service and the traditional Easter at 10:30 a.m. There will be special music from the Sr. Choir and Chancel Handbell Choir, along with a special Easter message from Rev. Timothy Haut. A wonderful array of treats prepared by Martha Beaudoin will be served by our Deacons at a special coffee hour at 10:00 a.m. between the two services.
DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen and board of finance last week endorsed a proposed expansion of the municipal sewer system in to the Kirtland Street-River Street neighborhoods that would be funded by grants and a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
First Selectman Richard Smith said the proposed expansion would serve about 130 properties on and around Kirtland Street and River Street, east of Main Street (Route 154). Smith said many of the houses in this neighborhood are on smaller lots, with some failing septic systems. He said several property owners had requested an opportunity to hook in to the municipal sewer system.
Smith said the town has already received grant and loan approvals for a project that is estimated to cost about $4 million. He said about $2.8 million would be funded by a USDA loan at 2.75 percent annual interest over 40 years. The annual payment for the town would be $116,000.
Smith said voters will be asked at a town meeting later this month to authorize an expenditure of up to $4 million for the expansion project, and accept the federal grants and loan that would fund the project. He said the project could be put out to bid by the end of this year for construction in 2014.
Morro Bay, CA—My new friend Don is rushing to meet his new love.
I’m visiting my daughter Monique here. We say New Year’s Day is the golden opportunity to turn a new page and start a bright new life. Well, Don is really resolved!
I met him because of the bike he was riding. I love bikes. Rode actively for decades.
But his wasn’t a bicycle. It was a tricycle. A recumbent—he sat low on a seat, not a saddle, leaned way back, and worked pedals not under him, but straight ahead. He seemed as comfortable as in a TV chair. He was towing a neat little trailer.
Don was an unlikely rider– 65 or so. Six-four. Rumpled. Twenty pounds overweight. A mustache a bit out of control. Very sharp eyes.
He was sitting with two friends outside Spencer’s, the local supermarket. It offers free coffee. They were sipping coffee out front in the sunshine. So, it attracts a lot of seniors. It attracts me. I like to take a walk and run into people. And I like a free coffee.
I paused. All strangers. I broke into their talk. Focused on him. “Quite a bike!|” I said. He nodded. But he was busy talking with his buddies. I went on for my coffee and a bit of shopping. When I came out, they were gone. I was disappointed. This was two days before New Year’s.
I ran into him again three day after New Year’s. Downtown, a mile away. I was on a walk. He was parked on the sidewalk, lounging on his trike in front of a store. He recognized me. But no smile. I began talking bikes again. Now he began talking. But in clipped sentences. Offered nothing more.
Said he had owned the trike five years. No longer had a car—didn’t need one—especially with the trailer. He could carry groceries, books, lots of stuff. He had a balance problem and the trike was much more stable than a bike. And it had 27 gear possibilities—“I could climb a wall if I had to!”
I tried to guess his occupation. Not easy. He was big and muscular. But his hands didn’t show hard work. He was smart, but he spoke too few words to tip me off about his education. He had a friendly face but seemed determined not to smile.
“Got to go!” he said finally and pedaled away. Down a slope. Coasting, not pedaling.So nice and easy. I wished I could see him come UP the hill. How easy would that be?
My third encounter was again at Spencer’s. This time he hailed me! “Ah, the newspaperman!” What a change! And we had coffee together out front. He smiled a bit. I talked bikes again. And now he opened up.
“This is my all-around vehicle. Haven’t had a car in 20 years. I just don’t like cars. I like bikes. Good exercise. Cheap to own and use. Especially in this nice weather year-round here.”
I tried broadening my questions. “Don’t interrupt me!” he said. “I’ll fill you in. But let me tell it my way! I grew up in Kansas. Graduated from the University of Kansas. Moved out here. Went to grad school at Berkeley.”
Graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley–that impressed me. “For a master’s?”
He shook his head. “No, a doctorate.”
I pressed him.
“Yes, I have a Ph.D. In classical languages.”
“Oh? Latin and Greek?” He nodded.
I couldn’t resist. I began conjugating the Latin word for “love” in the present tense: “Amo…amas…amat…amamus….” And I added, “I studied Greek, too.”
He put up his hand to stop me. “Yeah! Yeah! I became a teacher of Latin and Greek. Taught in quite a few places. Was fired at half of them…but I won’t go into that. I loved Latin and Greek. I was hooked as a kid! Am still fascinated.”
I jumped in. “Don, you’re smiling! You said you don’t smile. You’re smiling!!!”
He stopped me again. ”I don’t smile!”
But he was wrong. He had been smiling. He went on. “I’ve done other things. Picked olives in Greece for more than a year. Knocked around. I’m retired now. But!” Suddenly he was excited. “In four days I’m going to Germany!”
“Yes, Leipzig. Yes, my first time to Germany. All because of a website. It’s called Libri Vox—www.librivox.com. It offers free audio books. You know, books you listen to. Volunteers read them and record them. Many languages. Including Greek and Latin. I’ve been listening to readings of old Latin writers on Libri Vox. Virgil. And Lucretius. And others.”
He told me that through Libri Vox, he had met a woman reader of Latin texts. She lives in Leipzig, They have talked and talked. Not only about the ancient authors. About all kinds of things.
“How old is she?” I asked.
“Half my age. Not a problem! We’ve discussed all that. And I am going to Germany to meet her!.”
He didn’t have to say any more. He had a dream. And his dream was to bring her back to California. And he was determined. At 68!
“God bless you, Don! And God bless her! I hope, hope it works out!”
He smiled. Broadly! Wow!
We shook hands. I couldn’t stay longer. My daughter was waiting for me.
Now Don is over there. What a great New Year’s story. The rare opportunity for a fresh start. And he grabbed it. It’s inspiring, really. Don’t you agree?
Don said he’d e-mail me. I can’t wait. I’m praying for a happy ending. I’ll let you know. I hope she’ll take to a trike like his, too.
DEEP RIVER— Assessor Robin O’Loughlin has filed an October 2012 grand list of taxable property that totals $488,099,951, an increase of $5,842,067, or 1.21 percent, from the 2011 grand list total. The list shows increases in real estate and personal property, with a small drop in the motor vehicles assessment total.
The town’s 2,182 real estate accounts showed a net assessment total of $438,166,830, up by $3,397,540 from the previous year. The town’s 428 personal property accounts had a total of $16,917,571, up by $2,677,877 from 2011. The 4,795 motor vehicle accounts had a new net total of $33,015,550, down by $233,350 from the 2011 total.
The 1.21 percent increase was stronger than 2011, when the grand list increased by only 0.73 percent. The 2012 increases would generate about $144,000 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 24.68 mills.
First Selectman Richard Smith said he was pleased with the increased revenue, even as higher teacher salary costs are expected to lead to higher education spending this year. “It helps,” he said, adding “if it were flat then we would really be behind the eight ball.”
Smith said the increases in real estate and personal property reflect a handful of new homes, a new building at Brewer’s Deep River Marina, and the relocation of PCI Medical to the former Champion building on the north side of town. “It’s a good indicator that Deep River has a healthy business climate,” he said.
The town’s list of the top ten taxpayers was unchanged from 2011. The top ten taxpayeers and their 2012 assessments are as follows, 1– Connecticut Light & Power Co.- $5,176,987, 2- Brewer’s Deep River Marina Inc.- $4,443,901, 3–Silgan Plastics Corp.- $4,435,461, 4– Mislick Family Limited Partnership- $3,137,190, 5–Deep River Associates LLC- $2,605,680, 6–Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur-$2,430,610, 7– 180 Main Street Partners LLC (Adams)-$2,277,450,8– Goodspeed Leasing Co. LLC–$2,145,010, 9– Jerome and Marlene Scharr–$1,923,180. and 10–Virginia B. Linburg–$1,881,950. The Scharr, Linburg and Boyd-Dernocoeur properties are all high value residential properties located near the Connecticut River.
Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex and a graduate of Valley Regional High School and the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Charlie worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995, covering Haddam and Killingworth and later Middletown city hall and schools. From 1997 through 2010 Charlie was a reporter for the Hartford Courant and has covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade. Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex. Contact Charles at email@example.com
DEEP RIVER– In another example of regional cooperation among area towns, the town is buying a used solid waste disposal trailer from Clinton for $20,000. The purchase of the 100-cubic yard trailer was approved this week by the board of selectmen and board of finance.
First Selectman Richard Smith said the town had been renting the trailer from Clinton since November, when the town’s original trailer, which was acquired in the late 1970s, could no longer be used. The trailer is used to haul trash that is compacted at the town disposal area off Route 80 to the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority regional transfer station in Essex.
Smith said research determined a new 100-cubic yard trailer would cost about $60,000. The price led Smith to ask Clinton First Selectman Willie Fritz whether his town would be willing to sell the used trailer to Deep River. It was one of three trailers used by Clinton to haul compacted trash to the Essex facility. Fritz agreed, securing approval of the $20,000 equipment sale from the selectmen and finance board in Clinton.
DEEP RIVER— Actions by the zoning board of appeals last summer on requested variances for a proposed used car dealership at a former industrial building on Route 154 have led to a lawsuit filed against the board. Local resident George Bartlett Jr. filed a lawsuit in November asking the court to direct the board to amend its minutes from a contentious June 19 public hearing, and to approve two variances needed for Bartlett to pursue planning and zoning commission approval of a used car dealership at the 444 Main Street property.
The lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior Court by Essex lawyer John Bennet contends the board in September improperly rejected a request from Bartlett to amend and correct allegedly inaccurate minutes from the June 19 public hearing and meeting on the variance appeals. The lawsuit contends minutes prepared by long-time zoning board of appeals chairman Donald Grohs did not accurately report Bartlett’s request for two variances at the June 19 session. The suit also notes that Grohs had recused himself from hearing the appeal because he owns nearby property, and that there is no tape recording of the board’s discussion and vote on the variance appeals.
The plan to open a used car dealership at the former Champion Tool & Die Co. building had drawn strong opposition from the planning and zoning commission at the June 19 hearing. Variances were needed to pursue approval of a used car dealership in the parcel because zoning regulations require at least 150 feet of road frontage for businesses in the Turnpike Industrial Zone on the south side of town. The 444 Main Street parcel has only 144.7-feet of road frontage.
The lawyer for the commission, Middletown attorney William Howard, had maintained that Bartlett, who was represented by Essex lawyer and Bennet partner Michael Wells, was seeking both a 5.3-foot dimensional variance, but also an illegal use variance of a separate regulation that required at least 150-feet of road frontage for used car dealerships. The board approved the dimensional variance on a 4-1 vote, but there was also a clear sense after the June 19 meeting that the board had also approved a separate variance of regulation 7B.9.3 that had drawn objections from the planning and zoning commission.
The commission at a June 21 meeting directed Howard to file a court appeal of the ZBA decision, setting up a possible legal battle between the zoning board of appeals and the planning and zoning commission, with town taxpayers paying the legal expenses for both panels. But the commission vs. board lawsuit appeared to have been averted after First Selectman Richard Smith set up a July 2 meeting between members and legal counsel for the board and commission.
Cathy Jefferson, zoning enforcement officer, said Wednesday the commission is not involved in the lawsuit between Bartlett and the zoning board of appeals. Jefferson said Bartlett received approval during the fall to lease a portion of the building to a small manufacturing business, but has not filed any applications for approval of the proposed used car dealership.
Deep River Rotary will be sponsoring its 3rd annual antiques and collectibles auction on April 6, 2013 at the Deep River Congregational Church on Main Street in Deep River from 6-9 p.m.
We are asking people to consign or donate antiques and collectibles to be auctioned with a percentage of the profits to be a tax deductible donation to the Deep River Rotary Club for its works both in the local community and abroad. If you are not familiar with what a Rotary club does here is a little information about us.
Rotary International has 1.2 million members. Members believe it starts with a commitment to Service Above Self. In more than 34,000 clubs worldwide, you’ll find members volunteering in communities at home and abroad to support education and job training, provide clean water, combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, and eradicate polio!!
If you wish to DONATE OR CONSIGN items please contact Quality Collectibles on Main Street in Deep River at 860-526-8343. Items will be accepted up and until April 2nd.
Deep River’s very own First Selectman, Richard Smith joined the “Share the Love” Meals on Wheels Holiday Campaign by personally delivering a meal. Selectman Smith is just one of many special guests paying visits to seniors this holiday season during the Subaru and Meals on Wheels of America national “Share the Love” campaign.
The Meals on Wheels Program delivered nearly 60,000 nutritious meals to seniors in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Old Lyme, Lyme, Killingworth, Madison, Essex, Deep River, Clinton and Chester this past year.
Locally Reynolds Subaru of Lyme has partnered with the Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc., in helping to make this holiday season a bit special for seniors along the shoreline. They have donated the use of one of their automobiles to be used throughout the six week campaign for meal delivery by members of their own family, staff and many civic groups. The campaign continues through the new year with local Rotary Clubs, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Vista Volunteers and First Selectmen from all the shoreline towns paying visits to seniors as they deliver meals along with holiday cards and plants donated by area nurseries.
As one of the five Subaru “Share the Love” event charitable partners, the Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is awarding $200,000 in “Share the Love” grants to local Meals on Wheels programs that partner with Subaru dealerships in the fight to end senior hunger. The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. is eligible to win a MOWAA-Subaru “Share the Love” grant of up to $35,000 to help provide hot, nutritious meals to homebound seniors in all ten towns it serves. Hayden Reynolds is spearheading a “matching funds competition” and hopes that many other local businesses will join him. If you are interested in providing a tax deductible financial match or a partial match to the grant they hope will be awarded to The Estuary Council of Seniors please contact Sandy at 860 388-1611.
The Deep River Fire Department held it’s Annual Election Officers on January 2, 2013. The results of those elections are as follows;
Chief: Timothy Lee
Deputy Chief: James Budney
Assistant Chief: Timothy Ballantyne
Assistant Chief: Robert Raymond
Chief Engineer: Jack White
Secretary: John Kollmer Sr.
Treasurer: James Dee Jr.
Trustee: Richard Sypher
If you are interest in becoming a member of the Deep River Volunteer Fire Department please visit our their website, www.deepriverfd.com, for full details or stop by the firehouse any Wednesday evening.
Ramblin’ Dan Stevens will be performing in the SPECIAL CONCERT IN THE GALLERY at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery, 1 Spring Street, Chester on January 6, 2013 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Dan performs an eclectic mix of traditional fingerstyle blues and originals and has entertained audiences throughout the US, Germany, UK, Canada and Virgin Islands. Of special interest is his unique style of “bottleneck” slide playing popularized by early Mississippi delta bluesmen including his use of a homemade, three stringed “Cigar Box Guitar” and one stringed “Diddly Bow”, both primitive blues instruments. Dan has been lauded for the authenticity of his approach gained by many years on the road as a traveling blues musician. Dan has appeared with such artists as Arlo Guthire, Richie Havens, Charlie Daniels, James Cotton, Gatemouth Brown and many others. For more info on Dan Stevens, please visit www.danstevens.net.
The Pattaconk 1850 Bar and Grille is offering 1/2 off an appetizer and $3.50 for a glass of wine or a beer, before or after the concerts.
DEEP RIVER– Police in Pickens County, South Carolina have arrested three suspects in the home invasion murder of 23-year-old Steven Grich, a former Deep River resident who graduated from Valley Regional High School and was attending Clemson University at the time of the crime.
Grich was shot to death Saturday night at his residence in Central, S. C. after four men entered the dwelling through an open back door. Grich, a junior engineering major at nearby Clemson University, shared the residence with 29-year old Robert McKinley.
Police investigating the crime later charged Mckinley with possession of marijuana. Police believe the suspects may have thought the two men had a larger quantity of marijuana at their residence, though only a small amount was seized by police. By Monday, police had arrested three men, ranging in age from 19 to 24, on charges of murder, armed robbery, burglary, and weapons possession. A fourth suspect, age 18, is still being sought by police.
Grich was raised in Virginia, but lived in Deep River during his high school years, graduating with the Valley Regional High School Class of 2007. He attended New England Technical College in Rhode Island for two years, but moved to South Carolina and entered Clemson University after his family moved to the state about three years ago. Friends and former classmates of Grich are planning a vigil in his honor Friday evening at the skateboard area at Plattwood Park.
Read obituary here courtesy of Heraldoline.com
DEEP RIVER— After a six-month closing for construction, the Village Street bridge was reopened to traffic Thursday afternoon. The bridge over the Deep River, located on Village Street behind the Deep River Library, was closed for the reconstruction project at the end of May.
First Selectman Richard Smith said Friday he is pleased with the bridge replacement that was done by Brunelli Construction of Southington. Engineering design work for the new bridge was done by Jacobson Associates of Chester. The price for the bridge construction was $1.11 million.
The project was funded under the Local Bridge Program, with federal funds covering 80 percent of the total cost. The town was required to pay 20 percent of the project cost.
Deep River, CT – At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, December 12, Deep River Town Hall will host an event to decorate a floral portrait of tissue donor Robert Novak, Jr. On June 7, 2008, after winning a golf tournament with his father, 33-year-old Rob suffered an undetermined medical episode and died while driving home. Among those who benefited from his gifts of life were three infant boys.
At the event, Rob’s family, including wife Sage and daughters Grace and Natalie, will put the finishing touches on his floragraph. Following this event, the portrait will travel to Pasadena and appear on the Donate Life Rose Parade Float titled “Journeys of the Heart” on January 1, 2013. Sage, Grace and Natalie will also be traveling to Pasadena for the Rose Parade and Donate Life Float official events.
The floragraph, a portrait made entirely of organic floral materials, will be one of the floral portraits that will appear on the Donate Life float to honor the lives of organ and tissue donors and the decision they made to give the gift of life by donating their organs. The floragraph is sponsored by CryoLife.
DEEP RIVER— A consultant’s study of the option of building a new firehouse on the existing site is the next step in a more than five year effort to upgrade the 51-year old main firehouse at the corner of Union and West Elm streets.
First Selectman Richard Smith said the town has hired Noyes-Voght Architects of Chester to study the option of constructing a new firehouse that would use more of the site of the existing firehouse, a step that would include a phased demolition of the existing building that was built in 1961. He said the idea under study is to use an area to the south of the existing 5,084-square-foot firehouse to construct a new and larger facility.
Smith said the initial goal is avoid demolition of a two-story house on an abutting parcel at 57 Union Street that was acquired by the Deep River Volunteer Fire Department in 2007. He noted that objections to removing the house, which is currently rented out by the department, may have been a factor in the most recent narrow referendum defeat for a firehouse renovation and expansion project.
A $2.4 million plan to renovate and expand the existing firehouse was defeated on a 347-312 vote in a July 2010 bonding referendum. A more costly renovation and expansion plan failed by a much larger margin in a November 2007 referendum.
A preliminary report from the firehouse project study committee last January had raised the possibility of constructing a new firehouse on a 14-acre parcel on the north side of Route 80, near the Platwood Park area. The January 2012 report had estimated the cost of constructing a new and larger firehouse at about $2.8 million, an estimate that did not include any land acquisition cost.
Smith said last week he did not favor an alternate site for the new and larger firehouse because of the need to maintain fire equipment at a different location during much of the construction, and questions about what to do with the existing building.
Smith said the consultants would prepare a “site plan” for a new and larger firehouse that would use more of the property, but avoid demolition of the house on the abutting fire department owned parcel. He acknowledged the study could lead to the conclusion a new and larger firehouse could not be built without removing the nearby house. “We need to get to the next step,” Smith said. “We’ve got to find out if it in fact works.”
Smith said the consultant’s report should be completed by January for discussion at a joint meeting of the board of selectmen and board of finance. Smith said there is a consensus among the two boards to try to resolve the fire department’s space and facilities needs in 2013.
Hurricane Sandy didn’t stop the ghosts and goblins of Deep River from making their rounds and with most of the Town still without power the fire department made it just a little bit safer.
The Deep River Fire Department set up their Rescue Truck’s light tower in the firehouse parking lot and passed out treats to close to 200 kids. In all they went through 80 premade goodie bags and an additional 12 more bags of candy. It was also a great spot for the kids and adults to take a break too and due to the overwhelming response the Department is planning on making this an annual event.
DEEP RIVER— Voters at a town meeting Tuesday approved a total of $123,228 in additional appropriations under four categories in the 2011-2012 town budget, including a $44,549 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School that generated the most discussion at the town meeting.
Town officials outnumbered residents at the town meeting, where the three selectmen were joined by Town Clerk Amy Winchell, and residents Margo Hilfinger and Richard Strukus, who attend most town meetings as the video crew for the Deep River Taxpayers Association. Volunteers from the taxpayers association have been filming town meetings and meetings of the board of selectmen for more than a decade for later showing on the Comcast public access channel.
The additional appropriations includes $42,569 for town hall operations, specifically fuel oil and gasoline and diesel for town vehicles, $22,707 for special services for contingency expenses and a lease payment on a copier, $13,403 for police protection, specifically overtime for the resident state trooper and vehicle maintenance, and $44,549 for the elementary school.
It was the appropriation for the elementary school that generated more than a half-hour of discussion at the meeting. First Selectman Richard Smith said he was advised by the school board and administration that over-expenditures for special education led the school district to miss a payment for employee pensions, which are managed by the town. Smith said when the school district made the pension payment, it generated most of the $44,549 over-expenditure.
Hilfinger and Strukus each questioned the overexpenditure, contending the local board of education should have advised the selectmen and board of finance of the overrun in special education costs sooner, and made budget reductions over the fiscal year that ended June 30 to cover the required pension payment. Smith said school officials have pledged to provide monthly updates of spending from the education budget to reduce the chances of a large budget overrun in the future.
The four additional appropriations were approved on a voice vote, with Strukus opposed. Smith said budget savings and new revenue, including higher rental payments for a cellular phone tower on town property, are expected to cover all of the additional appropriations for the 2011-2012 budget without the need for a transfer from the town’s undesignated fund balance.
Bargain books, local crafts and baked goods will be available at the Deep River Book and Bake Sale on Saturday September 15 at Deep River Library, 150 Main Street, Deep River.
Admission is free. All proceeds go to the library. Special this year: Peggy Scheadler will be at the library to sign and read excerpts from her newly published children’s book: Dagger & Dash: The Scrimshaw Medallion
For more information cal l(860)526-6039 or visit www.deepriverct.com/library.
Event sponsored by the Friends of the Deep River Library.
Join US Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge, Kris Vagos, for an activity and discussion filled evening focused on nighttime wildlife at Deep River Public Library on Wednesday September 26 at 7:30pm.
Learn about owls, bats, oppossums, flying squirrels and other fun and fascinating creatures.
Family friendly fun and everyone is invited. For more information and to register please call 860-526-6039.
For one week this summer Deep River Fire Department Junior Division members Zachariah Scalandunas, Roger Clapp, John Kollmer Jr. attended the Introduction to the Fire Service Academy and the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks.
The CT Fire Academy course is offered by the State of Connecticut Commission on Fire Prevention and Control to young men and women 14-17 years of age who are actively involved in their local fire department. The 16-17 year olds attended in June and the 14-15 year olds attended in July. To date, almost every Deep River Junior Division member has attended this Academy.
During their week at the Academy, the juniors are treated as actual academy cadets and are taught in a paramilitary setting. They all had to wear the same training uniform everyday and address their instructors as sir or madam. The cadets were taught everything from the command structure of a fire department to the operations on a fire ground and their typical day was from 6:00am to 10:00pm with most of their training at the Academy’s state of the art training grounds. These grounds have a fire house with a pumper, rescue and ladder truck, a 5 story training tower/building, propane fired vehicle simulators and burn trailers for live fire training.
At the end of the week the cadets participated in a graduation ceremony with a Deep River Fire Department Officer presenting them with their certificate of completion with their family in attendance. After the ceremony the cadets themselves put on a live response demonstration of fire at the tower to showcase their weeks training. Each cadet was assigned to a truck or rescue company and all worked together under their commanding officer, which was another cadet chosen by the group.
Upon completion of this Academy the cadets can apply for the Advanced Introduction to the Fire Service Academy held for one week in August every summer. Juniors must be 16 years old to attend this course and the cadets learn more advanced firefighting skills, such as vehicle extrication, etc. Jessica Grote attended the advanced academy and graduated in August.
The Deep River Fire Department is very proud to have their juniors complete this course and they are our next generation of fire services members.
DRFD Junior Graduates
Zachariah Scalandunas – 16
Roger Clapp – 16
John Kollmer Jr. – 15
Jessica Grote – Age unknown
Deep River Library Is an Ideal Place to Read a Book or a Newspaper, Even with Reports of Ghosts on the Premises
The Deep River Library is a typical small town library. Occupying the entire first floor of 150 Main Street in Deep River, it offers a lot of quiet time to read without distractions. In addition to the many favorite books on its shelves, the 6,000 square foot library has 42,500 items, including e-books, DVD’s, magazines and newspapers and audio books.
Also, if a patron cannot find a wanted item on the library’s shelves, it can usually be found through the inter-library loan.
The Director of the Deep River Library is Ann Paietta, who has held this post since 1999, some 13 years. In her experience in lending out books, she says, “I have found that most people still want a book in their hands.” “It is difficult to flip through the pages of an e-book,” she observes.
Library’s Annual Budget Is $140,000 a Year
The Deep River Library has a modest budget of $140,000 a year. Also, the Friends of the Library, who have a one room headquarters upstairs, raise monies to get free passes for patrons to attend local attractions, and for other special programs.
Paietta is the only full time employee at the library, and she is assisted by a part time staff of six. Also, some 4,400 Deep River residents hold Deep River library cards, as do 2,700 residents from the neighboring town of Chester.
The library is open Monday and Wednesday from 1pm to 8pm; Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10am to 6pm; and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. During July and August hours on Saturday are 10am to 2pm. It is not open on Sundays.
Many Special Programs at the Library
The Deep River Library hosts many special programs throughout the year. For those interested in attending these programs, it might be helpful to record dates and times in a personal calendar.
Here are the library’s programs with their days and times:
- Tuesday Friends, ages 3 and up, every Tuesday at 2pm
- Parent/Infant Group, parents and caregivers with their babies and children up to 24 months, every Thursday at 11am
- Knitting Club, knitting items for charity (beginners welcome), every Wednesday at 6:30pm
- Daytime Book Discussion, on third Wednesdays of each month at 1pm
- Movies and a Pizza, on third Mondays of each month at 5:30pm
- Foreign Films, on first Fridays of each month at 7:30pm. (Many of the films have subtitles, and films have been in French, Spanish, Lebanese and Hebrew)
- Shakespeare Club, on the second and fourth Mondays of each month (Paietta says, “It’s fun. They read the parts of the plays out loud.”)
The following two programs are only held during the school year.
- Mother and Daughter Book Group, last Monday of each month at 5pm
- Comic Book Club, every Thursday at 3:30pm
Again, to keep track of the days and times of these programs, it would be a good idea to put them in a personal calendar.
Teddy Bear Picnic Coming Up
In addition to these programs, Deep River Library’s grand, annual “Teddy Bear Picnic” is coming up on Tuesday, August 21. The picnic begins at 11am and is held at the Gazebo at Deep River Landing. Children with their parents are invited to picnic.
Also, the picnic is a “BYOB” affair. That does not mean “Bring Your Own Bottle,” but rather, “Bring Your Own Bear.” Twenty or more children and adults are expected to attend the event, which will include a simple lunch at no charge. Deep River resident Linda Hall is running the show.
In addition to its regular programs, the library hosts guest speakers and local authors, such as Jane Manning, who recently wrote a children’s book entitled “Millie Fierce.”
Presently, favorite new books at the library are, “The Chaperone” and “Gone Girl.” “Gone Girl” is about a woman’s murder, and it is very popular,” the director says.
Among the library’s regular patrons, “A lot of men come into the library just to read,” the library director says.
Also, non-English speaking people are coming into the Deep River Library. Most are Spanish speakers, Paietta says. For those library visitors who want to strengthen their English, literacy volunteers, regularly tutor at the library.
One thing that you will not find at the library is copies of the New York Times. Paietta says, “You cannot have everything,” and also, “It is expensive,” referring to the subscription price of the Boston Edition of the Times.” However, the library does subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, although not to the Financial Times.
Both the New York Times and the Financial Times are available at the neighboring library in Essex.
Historic “New Era” Newspapers at Library
One hidden gem at the Deep River Library is that it has on microfilm back copies of the “New Era,” a local newspaper that was published from 18 47 to 1977. Only the Connecticut State Library has a similar copy of this historic publication. The “New Era” newspaper covered events in Old Saybrook and surrounding towns. “Some horrible things happened back then,” says Paietta, referring to some of the local news stories that she has read in the “New Era.”
As for the Town of Deep River’s support for the library, Paietta says that Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith is “very supportive of the library.”
Ghosts at the Deep River Library
Library Director Paietta says that in past years, as many as 30 times, people have reported evidence of ghosts on the premises of the Deep River Library.
Although she personally will not commit herself, as to whether she believes that there are spirits roaming around the library during the night time hours, she does say, “Some people have said that they have seen evidence of the presence of the ghost of Robert Spencer, whose private home the library building used to be.” Spencer died in 1910.
Also, the smell of Spencer’s cigars and cigarette’s has been reported, as has the smell of the lavender soap used by his second wife. In addition, there have been spooky sightings of a woman coming down the stairs, and other “weird things happening,” the director says.
Although there was a time, when she allowed night time visitors into the library searching for ghosts, she says that now, “I have kind of stopped it.”
“They used to stay all night, “she says of the once allowed, ghost seekers. Summing it up, “People believe what they want to,” she says. As for the ghosts, “The kids love it.”
DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission has approved a special permit for an 8,400-square-foot of the Centerbrook Sales/Eve’s Addiction industrial building at 16 Grove Street in the town’s north end.
The commission approved the permit on a unanimous vote after a public hearing Thursday. Cathy Jefferson, zoning enforcement office, said Monday the conditions on the permit approval are related to completion of recommended fire protection and drainage improvements. The approval will allow company owner Raymond Galeotti to expand the existing 6,600-square-foot building where he has operated the company since 2007. The building is located on a 2.5-acre parcel at the end of Grove Street, a dead-end street extending south off Bridge Street.
Galeotti needed approval from three town land use commissions for the expansion project, including a permit from the inland-wetlands commission and a variance from the zoning board of appeals. A variance was needed because new village district regulations approved by the planning and zoning commission last fall imposed a 2,500-square-foot limit on the size of buildings in the village district, which includes the previous light industrial zone in the north end. The ZBA approved the variance on July 17 after a two-part public hearing than opened on June 19.
Galeotti said Monday construction of the expansion would begin later this year. He said the project would add about five new jobs, with some of the positions to be filled before construction of the addition begins. The company, which currently employs 20 people, sells jewelry through an internet web site. Light assembly, including setting of stones and engravings, are done at the Grove Street facility.
Fifty-six Fife and Drum Corps on Parade at Deep River’s Ancient Muster, While on the Sidelines Thousands Cheer
On and on they came, the parade of more than fifty, fife and drum corps, playing the old and sacred tunes of our national memory, “the Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “America the Beautiful,” and “It’s a Grand Old Flag.” In keeping with the music were patriotically dressed marchers, wearing the military uniforms of wars gone by, three corner hats, Union blue uniforms of the Civil War, and of the Revolutionary War as well.
In all there was 56 fife and drum corps on parade down Main Street in Deep River on Saturday, July 21. It took the units of the muster over an hour and a half to pass a given point along the parade route.
The annual musters were first started in Deep River back in 1953, which made this the 59th year of these events. Normally, the small town of Deep River has a population of around 5,000. During the muster the town’s population swells by another 5,000, taking into account the marchers and the rows of spectators along the sidelines.
In front of Deep River town hall the chairs of muster watchers were four deep. In fact, rows of spectators in chairs and standing stretched from one end of Deep River’s Main Street to another. Adding to the pleasure of the event, the weather was perfect.
The Muster Represents U.S. Tradition
The President of the Deep River Annual Muster Committee is Deep River resident Tim Goss. It his committee that organizes the two day muster event.
The first day of the muster, always on the Friday the day before the march, there is what is called a Tattoo. It is a gathering at which members of the various marching corps can get to know each other. The second day, which always takes place on the third Saturday in July, is the day of the Ancient Muster itself, which features the actual march of the various corps.
In Goss’s mind, “The muster represents the country’s tradition, stretching back to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.”
Goss, himself, participates in the muster. He plays the bass drum in the first, fife and drum corps in the march. Many of the marching units in the Ancient Muster were formed the 1870’s after the Civil War, when this conflict was still fresh in memory.
In addition to the tunes of the fifes, and the deep thumps of the drums, on occasion some minor explosions went off, making a bit of noise and smoke.
Leading the Deep River Ancient Muster
Leading off this year’s Ancient Muster were Deep River’s First Selectman Dick Smith and town Third Selectman, Dave OIiveria. Of the muster tradition in Deep River, Smith said, “Personally, I love the muster. It is one of the things that Deep River is known for, and we take pride in it.”
He continued, “When I am out of town, and I tell people that I am from Deep River, a lot of them ask me, isn’t that where they have the muster? It is one of the things our town in know by. ”
Many of the fife and drum corps that took part in the muster were from Connecticut. There were also corps from other New England states, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and as well as from New York and other states. Sometimes there are even overseas groups participating as well.
Political Campaigning among the Muster Crowds
There was also a bit of political campaigning among the swelling crowds before the muster began. Former Congressman Christopher Shays, who is running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, against wrestling figure Linda McMahon, was shaking hands amongst the crowd. When asked why he was running, he said, “I want my party back.”
Also campaigning were supporters of Melissa Schlag, who is running for the Connecticut State Senate on the Green Party ticket.
On hand as well was U.S. Navy veteran Pasqual Casanova, age 89, who saw action in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa during World War II. He said that he and his wife Rose love the muster and have been attending for many years.
To give the reader a real sense of Deep River’s annual Ancient Muster, there follows more photos of this year’s event.
DEEP RIVER— A July 2 meeting has averted a lawsuit between the planning and zoning commission and the zoning board of appeals over the board’s June 19 approval of a variance that would open the door to a used car dealership in a vacant industrial building at 444 South Main Street on the south end of town.
The ZBA on June 19 approved a variance for local resident George Bartlett of the road frontage requirements of zoning regulations as applied to the former Champion Tool & Dye Company site on South Main Street, also known as Route 154. Zoning regulations require at least 150-feet of road frontage for used car dealerships and other uses in the turnpike industrial zone on the south end of town, while the parcel acquired by Bartlett has only 144 feet of road frontage.
The planning and zoning commission, represented by Zoning Enforcement Officer Cathy Jefferson and commission attorney William Howard, opposed the variance appeal at the June 19 public hearing, with Howard contending approval of the six-foot road frontage variance would also be a use variance that exceeded the legal authority of the ZBA. The board approved the variance on a 4-1 vote. Two days later, at its June 21 meeting, the planning and zoning commission directed Howard to file a court appeal challenging the variance approval.
Concerned about the prospect of one town board suing another, with the town paying legal expenses for both sides, First Selectman Richard Smith arranged a July 2 meeting where he was joined by ZBA Chairman Donald Grohs, ZBA attorney David Royston, Jefferson, and Howard.
Smith said Thursday the meeting resulted in the planning and zoning commission agreeing not to pursue a lawsuit against the variance approval, with Bartlett required to file a special permit application with the commission for the proposed used car dealership. The special permit application requires a public hearing, where the commission will hold jurisdiction over all aspects of the used car dealership plan, including the final decision on whether to approve a used car dealership on the site.
Smith said he is pleased the meeting earlier this month was able to resolve the dispute, and avert a lawsuit. “I don’t think boards should be fighting with each other and costing the town money,” he said.
DEEP RIVER— The zoning board of appeals Tuesday approved a variance that should pave the way for an 8,400-square-foot expansion of an existing industrial building located at 16 Grove Street in the town’s north end.
The variance approval, on a unanimous vote of the board, will allow Raymond Galeotti, owner of Eve’s Addiction/Centerbrook Sales, to proceed to a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission Thursday on a special permit application for the proposed business expansion. The commission’s public hearing begins at 7 p.m. in town hall.
A variance was needed because new village district zoning regulations approved by the commission last November impose a 2,500-square-foot limit on the size of buildings in the village district, which includes the area in the vicinity of Grove Street and Bridge Street that had previously been a light industrial zone.
The ZBA had opened a public hearing on Galeotti’s variance appeal on June 19, but postponed a decision until Tuesday amid questions about the extent of requirements in the new village district regulations. David Royston, the board’s attorney, opened the session by confirming the board had the legal authority to grant a variance on the new building size limit, despite language in the new regulations which implied the requirements were not subject to a variance.
John Bennet, a Chester lawyer representing Galeotti, said Galeotti purchased the industrial building that had been vacant for several years in 2007 with the hope of eventually expanding his business that involves the manufacturing and sales of jewelry items . Bennet said the new regulations with the 2,500-square-foot building size limit impose a legal hardship on a pre-existing non-conforming use. “A few months ago we wouldn’t even have to be here for this,” he said, adding “this is the kind of business that every community would like to have.”
First Selectman Richard Smith, speaking in support of the variance, said he had urged Galeotti to open his business in the 16 Grove St. building five years ago, and last year urged him to pursue a building expansion after neighborhood complaints about tractor trailer trucks that were remaining on the property while waiting to be unloaded. Bennet said the planned expansion would eliminate any need for large delivery trucks to linger on the property.
The expansion project, which has received a required permit from the inland-wetlands commission, calls for an 8,400-square-foot expansion of the existing 6,600-square-foot building on the 2.5-acre parcel at 16 Grove Street, a dead-end street located off Bridge Street.
In approving the variance, the board determined the new regulations imposed a hardship on a legal; non-conforming use, and that the planned expansion conformed with the existing building on the parcel.
Children’s Book Author and illustrator Jane Manning will be reading her soon-to-be -released book “Millie Fierce” Under the Stars at Deep River Public Library on Wednesday July 18 at 8pm, plus other fun things that evening!
Deep River–I had long forgotten about the enormous Post Office event that took place way back in 1960. Enormous because important to the whole country. At the left is the special poster designed back then to mark it.
That historic event came back to me yesterday in a strange flash.
I got home from my errands and found a new message on my answering machine. From AT&T.
A computerized male voice told me AT&T had mailed me an important message and it had been returned as un-deliverable. “This was our second attempt!” the unhappy voice said.
I called that number and of course I waited for somebody to pick up. And waited. And waited. Finally I gave up for now.
My problem with the Post Office was not new. I had gotten three other complaints. I had complained at the Post Office just last week.
Right away I called the Post Office to straighten this out. Busy. Again 20 minutes later. Busy. I did a bit of work. Called again. Busy. Damn!
I had to go to Old Saybrook. I’d be driving right by the Post Office. I’d stop in. I was sure I’d have to wait my turn.
To my surprise, I was alone. The only clerk was busy checking something. I had been hoping it would be the clerk I had complained to last week. Not so. I waited. Finally she turned to me. “Yes?”
I explained. I gave her my name and address.
Told her that three days ago I had gotten a call from Life-Long Learning in Madison. They had mailed me a check for a talk and it had been returned as un-deliverable. “What address did you use?” I asked them. They had used the correct address. Strange. Said told me they would re-send me the check. “Sorry for the trouble!” I said.
I told the clerk, “I just got a call from AT&T complaining about the same thing!”
Also told her that twice recently milady Annabelle in California had forwarded mail to me that had been forwarded to her for me from Deep River. True, I had been there with her for a long stretch but had returned home to Deep River three months ago.
And I had given the Post Office notice of those changes of address and proper forwarding instructions.
I also explained something else. “What’s puzzling is that I am getting mail properly addressed to me. Why just some? Why not all?”
The clerk was all business, “I’ll go and check.” She said it in a tone that told me she was no stranger to such complaints.
She disappeared behind a partition. I waited a couple of minutes. She re-appeared.
She looked triumphant. She had discovered the problem for sure. “What is your address again?” I told her No. 228.
“I just checked with the clerk back there. She said that just this morning she caught two letters going to you not at 228, but 111. She re-addressed both to 228. That’s the problem! Some people are using the wrong address!”
“No. 111 used to be my address. I lived there until about eight years ago. But the mail that is being returned is from regular billers. AT&T, for instance. I get mail sent to 228 from At&T every month without a hitch. Why this all of a sudden?”
“You’d better check! I’m sure they’re the cause.”
I believed differently but didn’t say so. I suspected the Post Office was at fault. “I certainly will check,” I said. And I added, “We’re all human. We all screw up at times. I undertand that. I’m not angry at anybody. Just irritated.”
“But what you just said is NOT true,” she said stiffly. “All this mail is being sorted by machines! Not people. By machines!”
“Oh, of course! I had forgotten. I will do some checking at my end. Anyway, we had a good discussion. Thank you for explaining!” And I left.
I went out to my car. Of course. Machines! How come I didn’t remember that! I should have. Long ago—52 years ago! — I had written a big story about the very first mail processed by machines in the USA. At the very first automated Post Office in the country. The one in Providence! The one you saw in that poster up top.
It was such a big event in postal history that the Post Office had issued a special stamp. The stamp showed that very building you saw in the poster. It was a regular first-class stamp. It sold for four cents! The Post Office sold 833,306 copies of that stamp on the first day.
I was a staffer at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. The Post Office sent us one news release after another about the automated post office it was building. The world had never seen a post office designed to handle huge hauls of mail by machine. It was always done by human hands. This was a technological break-through. A big deal. It sent those news releases to newspapers everywhere.
It invited newspapers to come to Providence for a preview tour of this phenomenal operation.
Well, I got the assignment. I was a feature writer. This would be a huge feature story. And I was familiar with Providence. I was born next door to Providence. Had gone off to school in Massachusetts. Then had come home to do graduate work at Brown University. I walked by the Post Office every day to get to Brown at the top of College Hill.
But this post office would be a mile or so away. The old Post Office would remain open. This would be a factory really. The only people in there would be postal workers operating these mammoth machines. The machines would spew out the sorted mail faster than the eye could see. And do it more accuraely.
If it proved itself (and all the officials believed that of course it would), it would be the prototype for others spotted across the country.
I looked forward to the tour. I loved being a feature writer.
Sometimes someone asks, “John, what’s the difference between a reporter and a feature writer?” Good question.
I’ve developed a pat answer that seems to satisfy. “A feature writer is an experienced reporter. Knows how to ferret out all the facts and write them up. Like a good reporter. But a feature writer adds all the extra little facts and background and ‘color’ that give the story real human interest.”
Feature stories usually run longer. Are not always pegged to a certain event, although this one would be—the opening of this new factory. Top reporters usually cover a beat: police, or education, or politics, or business, or health, and so on. Beat reporters develop deep expertise. Feature writers cover just about anything. And range farther geographically to do their work. The tour was two weeks before the grand opening day. I was one of a number of press people who showed up. Some of the biggest papers in the country were there. Some of the mid-size papers like mine from throughout southern New England. And little ones from nearby.
The new building was enormous. It sprawled over 13 acres. It looked very strange. Like an egg carton turned upside down but beautiful in its own way. Big trucks would bring in the mail. Three miles of conveyor belts laced through the place. The specially designed machines would turn the mail face up. Sort it. Cancel it. The the belts would carry it out to the right trucks going to the right places. What a marvel!
We didn’t get to see the factory working. Everything had been set up. Everything was ready. The Grand Opening was coming up, and the mail would stream through from that day on. But we could see by the enthusiasm of the tour officials that this would be smooth and easy. And historic indeed.
The tour ended and all us dispersed, thoroughly impressed. I went back to Worcester and wrote my feature. The Post Office had supplied photos and we used some. My feature would be published on the big day.
It was truly a grand day. I was not there. I had done my job.
I knew that the main speaker would be the postmaser general himself from Washington, Arthur E. Summerfield. And I knew what he would talk about. How significant this was. A huge step forward. Progress!
I waited eagerly to see how other big dailies would handle it. The Providence Journal-Bulletin especially. It was the usual big trio like my paper—meaning it published morning, afternoon, and Sunday editions. Bigger, but not that bigger.
I had another reason. I admired the Journal. Clever people there. I had written for it. It had a fine Sunday magazine. It was called The Rhode Islander. Its editor, knowing my Little Rhody roots, had asked me to come back and drive through Providence on all its numbered routes—Route 1, and 6, and 44, and others. The city had made big changes. I’d tell what I liked, and what I didn’t like if I found such. I did that. And I took the photos to illustrate it.
The headline said something like, “A Rhode Islander returns home and takes a fresh look at Providence.” I don’t remember the exact words. I hadn’t said a word about tis to my family and friends in Rhode Island. My piece was a surprise to them and it created a pleasant stir.
Finally I got a look at the Journal story about the big event. It was a good, straight story, like mine. But the Journal published a follow-up story a few days later. And I saw it. I was shocked. Yes, shocked. Then I laughed. The Journal had done a clever thing.. But terrible and sneaky in one way. But important in another because it was a true public service.
Some editor had gotten a devilish idea and had pulled it off.
The paper had gone to a lot of trouble. Had collected all kinds of stamps. But not one of them was a legitimate postal stamp. They were tax stamps attached to cigarette packs. S & H Green Stamps (if you remember what they were). Other phony stamps of various kinds. The Journal had pasted them on numerous pieces of first-class mail addressed to itself. And waited to see what would happen.
And all this phony mail got processed by those fantastic new machines and got delivered to the paper. All those new workers were too busy running the machines to notice. Wow!
The Journal took pictures of this bad mail, made a montage of them, and published it. The headline said, “New Post Office Processes All the Mail!” Excuse me. I made up that headline. I don’t remember the original. But it was along those lines.
Imagine the consternation…the anger…the fury at the new Post Office!
Maybe scanning machines to detect bogus mail were already part of that factory. If so, they were not working that day. But for certain automated scanning devices were soon making sure such mischief would be caught. And prosecuted.
Yes, prosecuted. Tampering with the mail is a federal crime. I never heard if the Journal suffered legal headaches because of that stunt. But the paper had made a big point. Machines are only as good as the designers who create them. And as the workers who run them are trained.
When I go to Providence, sometimes I pass by that big, strange building. Still in service. Always think of the awful start it got. And smile.
Know what? Nowadays any mail mailed from anywhere in the U.S. to anywhere in the U.S. passes through a processing center. In our case here, it’s in Wallingford. If I drop a birthday card into the mailbox in front of the Deep River Public Library addressed to a friend three blocks away, that card will pass through Wallingford. Imagine that.
Today’s machines are descendants of those original ones. Better, I’m sure. But the system is still fallible. What isn’t?
So maybe a machine somewhere has been causing my mis-delivered mail. I hope it gets straightened out. I will keep my word to that clerk. I’ll ask folks to make sure they mail to me at 228, not 111. But she’s probably right.
A big coincidence! I just spotted a story in the New London Day. “Even Before Closures, Postal Service in Decline.” It was a summary of a story in the New York Times by staffer Ron Nixon. I looked up the original. Much more detail.
Nixon reported many complaints about mail service. From heavy users of the mail. Newspaper and magazine publishers. Utilities. Big fund-raisers. Mass mailing services. Said one business executive, “The problems only seem to be getting worse.” Many people are upset. So, not only me.
The Post Office does have a major headache.
Have you had problems like mine?
DEEP RIVER-– Voters at a July 24 town meeting will consider a proposed $550,000 appropriation to purchase a reconditioned aerial ladder fire truck for the Deep River volunteer Fire Department. The town meeting convenes at 7 p.m. in town hall.
The proposed appropriation and purchase was approved on June 26 by the board of selectmen and board of finance based on a request from the volunteer fire department. The aerial ladder truck, while previously used, is newer than an existing ladder truck the fire department is expected to attempt to resell.
The truck will be purchased under a five-year lease-purchase arrangement with Sun Trust Leasing Corporation. The annual payment from the town will be $118,000 year, with the interest rate for the five-year agreement fixed at 2.25 per cent per year. The town has used similar lease-purchase agreements previously to purchase fire trucks and other heavy equipment.
With nothing more than a truck full of props and his non-laced Adidas, Jester Jim takes the stage and starts his show. Young and old are glued to his every sound as he performs his amazing beatbox intro.
Tuesday July 10, 3:30pm, Deep River Public Library. For more information call 860-526-6039.