May 24, 2018

Essex Joins Sustainable CT

ESSEX — On May 3, the Essex Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to join Sustainable CT, an exciting new initiative to support the environmental resiliency of Connecticut’s cities and towns. The statewide initiative, created by towns for towns, includes a detailed menu of sustainability best practices, tools and resources, peer learning, and recognition.

Over the past 15 years Essex has made great strides in reducing the energy consumption and carbon footprint of its residences and municipal buildings.  This is an ideal time to focus on improving the environmental outlook of Essex in other areas.

A newly named Sustainable Essex Committee, formerly Essex Citizens for Clean Energy, will focus on strategies to balance environmental protection, economic development, and social objectives to meet the needs of today without compromising the quality of life for future generations. 

“It’s important to continue efforts toward greater sustainability, not only for the potential grant opportunities, but also because we need to be good stewards of the incredible environment we are surrounded by so that future generations can enjoy all that this community has the potential to offer,” said First Selectman  Norm  Needleman.

The Sustainable CT initiative involves nine categories that towns need to improve upon and earn points toward becoming certified as a sustainable municipality, which opens the door to receiving grants for further improvements. There is no cost to participate and communities will voluntarily select actions that meet their unique, local character and long-term vision. 

The initiative was developed under the leadership of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.  Three Connecticut philanthropies – The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Hampshire Foundation, and the Common Sense Fund – have supported the program’s development and launch.

“We are thrilled that Essex has passed a resolution to join Sustainable CT. The program builds on many current success stories in our communities to create and support more great places to live, work, and play,” said Lynn Stoddard, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy.  “We are looking forward to working with the Town as they pursue Sustainable CT certification.”

For more information on Sustainable CT, visit the program’s website at www.sustainablect.org.

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Tickets on Sale Now for CT River Museum’s ‘RiverFare 2018’ on May 31

Executive Director Christopher Dobbs and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman are joined by Committee Members, sponsors and participating food vendors to celebrate the upcoming RiverFare 2018. From left to right: Bill McGuiness of Becker’s Diamond’s & Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook, Raeleen St. Pierre of Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Evan P. Barrett of The Blue Hound Cookery & Taproom, Melody Tierney, Christopher Dobbs, Joanne Deschler and Norman Needleman.

ESSEX — On Thursday, May 31, from 6 to 9 p.m., the waterfront lawn of the Connecticut River Museum will come to life again as the scenic setting for RiverFare 2018.  Known as the unofficial kick-off of summer on the shoreline, RiverFare, presented by Tower Laboratories and the Ivoryton Playhouse and underwritten by Becker’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook is the area’s most popular tasting event and will feature 25 gourmet food and drink tasting stations plus an incredible silent auction.

This year’s lineup of Connecticut’s leading restaurants and food purveyors includes RiverFare new comers The Essex, Grano Arso and The Essex Clipper Dinner Train. Back by popular demand are Red House, Fromage Fine Foods & Coffees, Gourmet Galley Catering, Griswold Inn, Essex Coffee & Tea, Catering by Selene, The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook, Cloud Nine Catering, Coastal Cooking Company, Atria Crossroad Place and The Blue Hound Cookery & Taproom.

RiverFarers will also have the opportunity to join in the fun of bidding in the silent auction which features a diverse array of fine gifts, services, and entertainment experiences.  Items include two 10’ Pelican Trailblazer Kayaks, a three-night stay at Jiminy Peak, and a massage every month for a year at Privé Swiss Wellness in Westbrook, CT.  Check out additional auction items at ctrivermuseum.org.

Major Support for RiverFare is provided by Bogaert Construction Co., C. Sherman Johnson Co., Egidio Assante Wealth Management, Essex Savings Bank/Essex Financial Services, and Sapia Builders Corp.  Additional support is provided by Centerbrook Architects and Planners; Clark Group; Ivory Wealth Management, Middlesex Hospital, Reynolds’ Garage & Marine, Inc., blp Enterprises, Bob’s Discount Furniture; Carr, Douglas & Cline, LLC; North by Northeast Enterprises, and Stillman & Associates.  In-kind support is provided by SeaSide Wine & Spirits, Rhode VanGessel Design, and Connecticut Rental Center.  Media support is provided by Valley Courier.

RiverFare admission is $60 per person in advance and $65 at the door.  Patron tickets may be purchased for $150 and include a premium bar and a $100 tax deduction.  Net proceeds will help support the Connecticut River Museum’s mission to increase public awareness and access to the heritage, culture, and natural beauty of New England’s Great River.

For more information, or to make advance reservations, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860.767.8269. The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street in Essex.

Photo Caption: Executive Director Christopher Dobbs and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman are joined by Committee Members, Sponsors and participating food vendors to celebrate the upcoming RiverFare 2018. From left to right: Bill McGuiness of Becker’s Diamond’s & Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook, Raeleen St. Pierre of Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Evan P. Barrett of The Blue Hound Cookery & Taproom, Melody Tierney Christopher Dobbs, Joanne Deschler and Norman Needleman.

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Essex Annual Shad Bake to be Held, June 2

Preparing Shad – Rotary Club of Essex volunteers prepare shad the traditional way by nailing them onto oak boards and using a specially prepared rub.

 

One of our State’s great culinary customs returns to the Connecticut River Museum Saturday, June 2, from 3 to 6 p.m. with the 2018 Essex Annual Shad Bake.  For 60 years, the Rotary Club of Essex has been proudly holding this annual rite of spring, nailing delicious American shad onto oak planks and roasting them around a large bonfire.  Share this wonderful Connecticut tradition with your family and friends.

Shad baking around the fire.

This year’s Bake is made possible through the generous support of Guilford Savings Bank and AJ Shea Construction.  Additional support comes from The JECM Foundation, Norman Needleman & Jacqueline Hubbard, Essex Savings Bank/Essex Financial Services, Middlesex Hospital, Gallagher Buick GMC Inc., and many other sponsors.

Representatives from the two lead sponsors, Bake Master Joseph Shea of AJ Shea Construction (left), and David Carswell Branch Manager of Guildford Savings Bank (center) join Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs to celebrate the upcoming Shad Bake.

The Museum’s executive director, Christopher Dobbs said “We are pleased to host and partner with the Rotary Club of Essex on this iconic event that celebrates part of the Connecticut River’s heritage and supports the many worthwhile projects of Rotary and Museum.”

This volunteer-run event has been organized by the Rotary Club of Essex and is coordinated by Bake Master Joseph Shea. Shea comments,“We offer one of the most unique culinary traditions in New England at one of the most majestic and historic locations. It is a winning combination!”

In addition to delicious food on Saturday, the Connecticut River Museum docks welcomes the Onrust for a second season of sailing on the Connecticut River.

The historic replica vessel Onrust will be docked at the Connecticut River Museum through mid October for public cruises and programs. Photo by Judy Preston.

At the shad bake, a variety of activities take place throughout the afternoon. Join JB Lundgren for a deboning demonstration, Saybrook Point Inn Marina and Spa for a presentation on how to cook shad roe, and Al Moncovich for a shad wood carving exhibit.  Always popular is Tim Visel’s historical diorama display of shad fishing through the years.  The Connecticut River Conservancy, The Shad Museum in Haddam and the Connecticut River Museum will also offer programs on the history and traditions of the shad fishery.

For shad lovers, the lure is the secret ingredients and the authentic method of preparing and baking the fish, which has been handed down through generations of Connecticut natives.  Nailed onto oak planks with salt pork and placed in front of the bonfire, the fish picks up the smoky flavor of the fire and the seasoned oak boards on which it is baked. Add to this delicacy homemade potato salad, tossed green salad, and pie from Lyman Orchards and your shad experience is complete.

Bill Hoffstetler demonstrates the fine art of removing bones from shad — a fish referred to by local Native Americans as the “inside out porcupine.”

Don’t care for shad?  Grilled chicken is also available. In addition to the food, participants will be able to enjoy live music and tour the Museum, which will be open until 6 p.m.  The vibrant atmosphere is enhanced with picnickers and the delicious smell of shad baking around the open fire.

Buy your tickets today.  The $30 adult (shad or chicken dinner option) and $10 child (10 and under) ticket includes the full meal (child ticket includes a hot dog and salads) and admission to the Museum.  Tickets will be an additional $5 on the day of the event.

Beer, wine and soda will be available for purchase with a valid ID.  Freshly shucked clams and oysters will also be available at an additional price beginning at 3:00 pm. No carry-in alcohol will be permitted.

To purchase tickets, visit shop.ctrivermuseum.org or buy them in person at the Centerbrook Package Store, Essex Hardware, or the Connecticut River Museum.  There will be no parking on the Museum grounds and on-street parking is very limited.  On the day of the event, a free shuttle will be running between the Museum and the Essex Town Hall parking lot.

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Mondays until after Memorial Day. The Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River.

For a full listing of Museum programs and events, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

The Rotary Club of Essex is the local chapter of Rotary International whose membership is made up of service minded professionals.  The club and its members are committed to improving the community, connecting with other professionals, sharing their time and experience with the young, supporting global causes, and using their skills to help others.

For more information about the Shad Bake and Rotary Club visit http://www.rotaryclubofessex.com.

Photo Captions:

  1. Members of The Rotary Club of Essex season and plank the Shad to cook in front of the fire just as it has been done for hundreds of years.
  2. Representative from the two lead sponsors, Bake Master Joseph Shea of AJ Shea Construction, and David Carswell Branch Manager of Guildford Savings Bank join Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs to celebrate the upcoming Shad Bake.
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RTP Estuary Center Hosts Final Spring Lecture This Evening on ‘Genius’ Roger Tory Peterson

ESSEX — The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson (RTP) Estuary Center is hosting a three-part Spring Lecture Series from April 19 through May 17.

The third and final lecture in the series will be held Thursday, May 17, at 5 p.m. at Lyme Art Association and is titled Creation of a Genius: Roger Tory Peterson.

Roger Tory Peterson made his home and, as an adult, found inspiration for his monumental work on the banks of the Connecticut River Estuary. But the seeds of his passion for art and conservation were sown in his youth.

Twan Leenders, President of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, N.Y., will focus on Peterson’s early years, his youthful explorations, and how the hidden treasures of his hometown, were to become a passion and eventually lead to inspiring amateur and professional naturalists through generations and throughout the world.  RSVP here.

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Poetry and the Human Condition: Final Talk of Series by Prof. David Cappella is Tonight

ESSEX — Poetry is a spiritual gift. Poetry reclaims the worth of subjective experience, expanding the human mind and spirit in endless ways. It celebrates our basic experience of living in the world. Thus, poetry cannot be reduced to a stock answer. In this sense, it is an art that pushes back against our commodified society.

Using selected poems from a pairing of various poets, these sessions will explore the enormous possibility that poetry, through the art of language, offers its readers to plumb the experience of being human.

Join Essex Library for five consecutive Thursday evenings beginning April 19 and running through May 17, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Poets will include: Robert Frost/ Emily Dickinson; Hayden Carruth/Jane Kenyon; Wallace Stevens/Elizabeth Bishop; Jim Harrison/Maxine Kumin and Czeslaw Milosz/Anna Akhmatova.

Dr. Cappella is Emeritus Professor in the English Department at Central Connecticut State University. He has co-authored two widely used poetry textbooks, Teaching the Art of Poetry: The Moves and A Surge of Language: Teaching Poetry Day to Day.

This series is free and open to all.

For more information, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 or visit this link. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Join a ‘Follow the Falls’ Celebration & Clambake, June 3

A  colorized postcard, circa 1910, shows the sawmill, dam and mill pond, part of the Williams Complex & Shipyard, which once stood at the mouth of Falls River Cove.  Photo courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

ESSEX — Celebrate the history and natural beauty of Falls River Cove area with a riverside soiree and clam bake, hosted rain or shine by Essex Historical Society and Essex Land Trust, held at Osage Trails Preserve, Foxboro Road, Essex, on Sunday, June 3, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Learn about the groups’ major collaborative partnership, investigating the Williams Complex & Shipyard, 1689 – 1845, ‘hidden’ below Falls River Cove for 150 years. Osage Trails is as close as the public can get to the site of the former shipyard, now on private property. 

The Clambake will be catered by Flanders Fish Market. 

Follow the Falls represents a joint effort by Essex Historical Society and the Essex Land Trust to tell the remarkable story of the Falls River, which binds together the three historic villages of Ivoryton, Centerbrook and Essex to form what we know today as the Town of Essex. Besides its historic significance, the Falls River is home to a rich natural history, kept alive by the four Essex Land Trust preserves located along its winding shores.

In 2018, Follow the Falls explores the area’s natural history, Native American and European settlements, the harnessing of the river’s water power and the industrial development of Falls River Cove. and the industrial development of Falls River Cove.

A triple-spillway dam at the mouth of the Falls River, once powered several small industries in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.  A wooden bridge connected the river banks between a grist mill and the sawmill, as in seen in this late 19th century photograph.  Photo courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

Thanks to new technology, a 24-page booklet and conversations with research participants, attendees can look through this window into the shipyard’s history. See how local resident and environmentalist Diz Callender’s vision was realized as she donated this beautiful parcel to form the Osage Trails Preserve with its rich natural history. 

The ongoing project is made possible with support from Overabove, the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and Guilford Savings Bank, as well as private funders. 

The Follow the Falls Celebration and Clambake will be catered by Flanders Fish Market.  Photos courtesy of Flanders Fish Market.

Admission is $65 per person for the event and clambake. Event limited to first 150 registrants. Your registration and payment must be received no later than May 25 to be placed on the reservation list. Tickets will not be mailed out or sold on the day of the event.  (Keep your confirmation of payment as your event admission receipt. Sorry no refunds.) 

For more information, visit www.essexhistory.org or 860-767-0681.

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Letter to the Editor: Thanks to Donors from Essex Garden Club’s ‘May Market’ Silent Auction Committee

To the Editor:

On Saturday May 12th in Town Park the Essex Garden Club held its 66th May Market. The Silent Auction Committee of May Market would like to thank our area merchants, friends, and artists for the incredible generosity they showed in supporting this year’s Silent Auction. They are:

Abby’s Place Restaurant, Acer Gardens, Ashleigh’s Garden, Bartlett Tree Experts, Blue Hound Cookery & Taproom, Bob’s Centerbrook Package Store, Connecticut River Museum, Cooper & Smith, Copper Beech Inn, Ron Cozzolino, De Paula Jewelers, Earth and Fire Art Studio, Essex Chocolatier and Coffee Bar, Essex Winter Series, Goodspeed Musicals, Haystacks, Ivoryton Playhouse, Wendy and John Madsen, Charlotte Meyer Design, Melanie Carr Gallery, Al Moncovich, Musical Masterworks, New Earth Acupuncture, Olive Oyl’s, Patricia Spratt for the Home, Perfect Pear, Eve Potts, Savour Café & Bakery, Saybrook Country Barn, Scotch Plains Tavern, 1738 Farm, That’s the Spirit Shoppe, The Essex, The Valley Railroad Company, Gay Thorn, Truffle Shots, Weekend Kitchen, and Weltner’s Antiques and Art.

With thanks to them all.

Sincerely,

Dawn Boulanger, Genie Devine, Barbara Hall, Marily MacKinnon
The Essex Garden Club May Market Silent Auction Committee

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Town of Essex Conducts State Mandated Real Estate Revaluation

ESSEX – The Town of Essex has begun the state mandated revaluation project. Connecticut law requires municipalities to conduct a general revaluation at least once every five years. The revaluation will be effective with the Oct. 1, 2018 Grand List. Vision Government Solutions has been awarded the contract to assist the Town with the process.

If your property sold within the last year a representative from Vision will be visiting your property in the near future. Each employee of Vision will carry proper identification and a letter of introduction. Their vehicles have also been registered with the Essex Police Department.

Homeowners, be advised that the Vision employees will request access to your home to ensure accuracy of the information. While the assessor encourages you to allow access, you are not required to do so. As always, do not let anyone into your home without the proper identification.

If you are unsure, you may contact the Assessor’s Office at 860-767-4340 x124 or the Essex Police Department at 860-767-1054 for verification.

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It’s May Market Time in Essex Today

Flowers for the asking at the Essex May Market.

ESSEX — The long-awaited May Market is almost here.   Set your Calendars, i-Phone and Smart Phones to Saturday, May 12, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine, in the town park, located on Main Street in Essex Village.

Just in time for Mother’s Day there will be herbs and herbal gift creations as well as the Garden Club’s famous garlic salt, made from a closely guarded secret recipe since 1953. This garlic salt is made by the Essex Garden Club and its “world Famous”

Always the star of Essex May Market is the ever-popular Members Plants.  People have been coming to Essex on May Market day for years from all over New England to take advantage of the healthy plants dug and nurtured by the Garden Club members.  These plants include perennials, ground covers , grasses and shrubs dug and potted from the garden club members. 

Members’ plants of all kind will be for sale at the Essex May Market

An early sell-out in the Members’ Plants area each year are the many varieties of tomato plants grown from seed and cultivated carefully.  There will be 300 tomato plants, including many heirloom varieties guaranteed to grow in our climate. There will also be a colorful assortment of annuals and hanging baskets for sale. 

Knowledgeable Garden Club members will be available to help with any questions on caring for the plants.  Back by popular demand this year is the all-natural compost available for sale.

The “Treasures” section is a great place to find gently used pieces of jewelry, garden pieces, planters, books. Children’s items, gardening tools and a mix of odds and ends. There will be lots of interesting finds for all ages.

The Silent Auction will have an incredible array of goods and services donated from many generous merchants. Gift for Mother’s Day. 

Last year the fresh flowers were such in demand, we are going to have them again! In addition, we have also added a few new things … garden gifts, things that every gardener would love to have, or children could purchase as a Mother’s Day gift.

The May Market Café offers donuts and coffee starting in the morning and light lunch fare at midday.

Don’t forget to look for the Artist in the Park who will be painting scenes of May Market.

May Market is the Garden Club’s only annual fundraising event.  Proceeds support civic improvement projects, such as beautifying town parks and traffic islands in Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton.  Funds also provide scholarships for high school seniors and college students, summer camperships for young students, and educational programs for Essex Elementary school and John Winthrop Middle school.  Funds also support adult and children’s  programs in both Essex and Ivoryton Libraries.

May Market is truly a gardeners dream.  Come early, rain or shine,  and for sure you will find something beautiful for your garden or a special gift to take home.

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Community Music School Offers Performance Anxiety Workshop This Afternoon

Community Music School faculty member Cheryl Six offers a Performance Anxiety Workshop, June 3.

CENTERBROOK — Community Music School (CMS) will be offering a Performance Anxiety Workshop specifically for musicians on May 12, from 3 to 5 p.m.  Many musicians struggle with stage fright and this workshop will address all the usual symptoms including butterflies, trembling hands, a racing heart, or worse.  The workshop is open to the public and costs just $30 for a two hour interactive workshop.

Community Music School faculty member Cheryl Six will discuss the roots of performance anxiety, the common symptoms, the most popular remedies, and tricks, tips and techniques that you have probably never heard of!  This is your opportunity to listen, learn and share with other musicians.  You will leave feeling hopeful and prepared to tackle your performance anxiety head on.

Six is an active performing flutist and instructor, specializing on piccolo.  She served as piccolo player in the US Coast Guard Band from 1977 until her retirement in 2007, and currently performs with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, a position she has held for over 35 years.  In addition, Six is often heard in the flute sections of the Salt Marsh Opera, the Con Brio Choral Society Orchestra, and other Connecticut ensembles.

After retiring from the US Coast Guard Band, Six pursued a life-long interest in hypnosis and received a certification in Hypnotherapy in 2008.  In 2012, she completed a Master’s Degree in Holistic Thinking with a focus and culminating project on “Insights in to the Use of Hypnosis for Musical Performance Anxiety.”

For additional information or to register, visit www.community-music-school.org or call CMS at 860-767-0026.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30-year -tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities.  Programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

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Final Weekend to Enjoy ‘Love Quest’ at Ivoryton Playhouse

Photo by Emily Ash. In this rehearsal photo, Katherine Crawford played by Linda Purl checks computer dating activity with Susan Slotoroff.

IVORYTON – A renowned scientist once theorized that finding “intelligent life” on other planets in the universe would be like shooting a particular blackbird in a room full of blackbirds, with the lights out. Ironically, the same probability applies for finding a “normal man (or woman)” on an online dating service.

Love Quest – a new comedy, which opened at the Ivoryton Playhouse April 25 – explores the journeys of two women in the perilous world of online dating.

Kate Crawford, 60, was married for 30-years and divorced for three. Her husband left her for a younger woman and she is dealing with issues of abandonment, old age and the new world order of internet dating. It is a position in which she never thought she would find herself. Her concerned daughter, Megan, posts Kate’s profile on the Love Quest dating site and Kate is thrust into unknown territory.

The “gentleman caller” is a thing of the past. Now a relationship is decided in a millisecond with the “swipe” of a finger across your smart phone. And speed dating gives Kate 60 seconds to present herself, 30 seconds too long for many of the younger men who sit across from here.

Brook Davis, 35, single, has climbed the corporate ladder in the fashion industry with a driven, single minded focus. Her ambition left her little time for socializing which is just fine with her. Raised in foster homes she has learned to only trust herself. A relationship would only get in her way.

However, executives in her firm want her to raise her celebrity profile by being seen and photographed at the right places with eye candy dates. Her assistant, Bové, reluctantly signs her up on Love Quest. Brook is far more cynical than Kate and is more amused than shocked by what she encounters in the world of high speed dating.

Kate and Brook meet after a bad date goes awry and become friends and allies in this strange new dating world. This is their story.

Jacqui Hubbard – Playhouse Artistic Director – is taking the helm of this new production. “It has been part of the mission of the Ivoryton Playhouse for the last five years to try to include one new play in our season. I saw a reading of Love Quest in the city last year and was immediately impressed by the humor and the heart and most especially, audience response. This is a funny, poignant and very timely story that I know many in my audience will relate to.”

Love Quest stars Linda Purl* as Katherine Crawford. Many will remember Linda for her roles at Charlene Matlock in Matlock and Ashley Pfister, Fonzie’s girlfriend in Happy Days but her career has included many movie and TV appearances. She can currently be seen in The Oath (recurring), and in recent episodes of Homeland, True Blood, The Office, and  Designated Survivor.

Sharing the stage with Linda are Playhouse favorites Josh Powell* (My Way) and Mike Mihm* (Biloxi Blues), Jes Bedwinek, Joe Candelora* and Susan Slotoroff will be making their Playhouse debut.

Love Quest opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on April 25 and runs through May 13, 2018.  Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

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VRHS Students Present a Custom-Made Equipment Box for the Town of Essex Fire Marshal Vehicle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Region 4 Budget Referendum is Today

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

Vote at the following locations:

Chester: Chester Town Hall Community Room

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

Essex: Essex Town Hall auditorium

 

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

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

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

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

Denise Merrill, incumbent candidate for secretary of the state;

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

Shawn Wooden, candidate for state treasurer;

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

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

Martha Marx.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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CT River Museum Hosts ‘Tavern Night’ Tomorrow With Beer, Ale Tasting and Games Galore

The Connecticut River Museum’s War of 1812 Tavern Night features an evening of food, drink, music and games in the Museum’s historic Samuel Lay House. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

ESSEX — Join the final Connecticut River Museum Tavern Night of the season on Friday, April 27!  This lively 19th century evening will take place at the museum’s historic Samuel Lay House overlooking scenic Essex harbor.  The house will be transformed into a candlelit riverside tavern from the War of 1812.

The evening includes a Beer and Ale tasting by Olde Burnside Brewing Company, drinking songs and ballads by Rick Spencer, Dawn Indermuehle & Chris Dobbs, tavern games, and early American cuisine provided by Catering by Selene.  Additional wine and beer will be available at the cash bar.

Catering by Selene is creating a sampling of appetizers/light dinner featuring early 19th-century food. These are based on chef Selene Sweck’s extensive research and collection of early American cookbooks and will comprise such foods as hearty corn chowder, chess pie, and other light bites.

As part of the evening, participants will have an opportunity to try their hand at historic games such as Skittles (played with a top that goes through a maze knocking down pins) and Captain’s Mistress, a game with a scandalous sounding name.

Tastings take place at 6 and 8 p.m.  Space is limited and reservations are required.  Call to reserve tickets at 860-767-8269 or visit ctrivermuseum.org.  Tickets are $24 for museum members or $29 for the general public (must be 21 or older and show valid ID).  Includes Beer and Ale tasting, light bites, and entertainment.  The evening is sponsored in part by Catering by Selene, Connecticut Rental Center and Bob’s Centerbrook Package Store.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 AM – 5 PM and closed on Mondays until Memorial Day. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $7 for students, $6 for children age 6-12, free for children under 6. 

For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org

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Community Music School Hosts 35th Anniversary Gala Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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See “Speaking Light’ at Melanie Carr Gallery Through May 8

ESSEX — Melanie Carr Gallery hosts a new exhibit, ‘Speaking Light,’ featuring the work of Hartford-based interdisciplinary Joe Bun Keo, on view at 1 North Main Street (across from the Essex Art Association) from April 20 through May 8. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, April 28, 2 – 4 P.

While incorporating everyday items and popular commercial products, Bun Keo’s sculptural, installation and conceptual works utilizes semantics to bring forth issues of cultural identity and the evolution of language.

He’s also interested in the relationship between art and work, specifically the correlation between global supply chain management and the art world. ‘Speaking Light’  explores the mysteries of autism and light – in the Artist’s words:

‘Speaking Light’

Autism is a spectrum.
Light is a spectrum.
We are all on that spectrum.
Cinema marquees light up the night with the newest films to enjoy.
The challenges of autism play themselves out in an action-packed feature.
You have your Oscar-winning moments of progress and then you have your empty seat moments of helplessness and frustration.
Light is a revelation, it is a beacon, it is a sign.
These light boxes feature terms, phrases, and soundbites I’m hearing, reading and learning about as a parent to an autistic child.
Let these be educational, but also let them be comforting and reassuring for those living life on the spectrum.

Artist Bio:   Joe Bun Keo

Joe Bun Keo received his BFA from the Hartford Art School. He was a candidate for The Mountain School of Arts (2012; Los Angeles, CA), nominated for the Wellesley College Alice C. Cole ’42 Fellowship (2013-2014; Wellesley, MA) and is currently pursuing his MFA. Bun Keo has participated in/ assisted with projects in Germany, United Kingdom, France, and has exhibited all over the United States.

Bun Keo is an active member of the creative community in Connecticut. He was selected for SLIDE SLAM at Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT (2010). He’s exhibited in pop-up galleries with David Borawski’s ATOMspace NOW ON (2012) and CT ArtList (2013). He has been featured in group exhibitions such as A Crew In Interest (Accruing Interest) at The Mill at Trinity College (Hartford, CT) and Hartford DADA at Pump House Gallery at Bushnell Park (Hartford, CT).

He had his most recent solo exhibition Head to Toe, at ArtWalk at Hartford Public Library, Hartford, CT (2015), group exhibitions, Distracted Driving, at Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT (2016) , Scars and Stripes, at Spaceworks Gallery, Tacoma, WA (2017),  Cool + Collected, at Melanie Carr Gallery, Essex Village, CT

He is a contributor to CT ArtList, a growing online arts resource for the State of Connecticut. Joe has also worked alongside Sharon L. Butler as a contributor for her award-winning blog, Two Coats of Paint. Bun Keo lives and works in Hartford, CT.

Melanie Carr Gallery is hybrid artist-run project space dedicated to the practice, exhibition, and sale of contemporary art and design. Carr’s studio occupies the back of the gallery and the goal of MCG is to promote the importance of contemporary art and examine its impact on society while providing its artists greater exposure to new audiences.

Melanie Carr, Owner and Director, is a Connecticut-based artist who received her MFA from the College of Art and Design at Lesley University in 2011. Carr began her studies in visual art after serving in the United States Navy as an Operations Specialist onboard the USS Willamette (AO-180) in Pearl Harbor, HI. Carr spent over 10 years at the New Britain Museum of American Art, her most recent role as Curator of New Media. She is now Adjunct Professor at Central Connecticut State University, where she teaches drawing, and joined the staff at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, University of New Haven.

For more information, email melaniecarrgallery@gmail.com or call 860.830.6949

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

Tenor Brian Cheney

Bass David Pittsinger

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

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

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

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

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Centerbrook Architects Hosts SCEH Presentation This Afternoon on Cross-cultural Activities in Haiti

Students from Valley Regional HS teach robotics to Haitian students in the Deschapelles Community Library.

ESSEX — Sister Cities Essex Haiti invites the community to join them Sunday, April 22, at 4:30 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects, 67 Main Street, Centerbrook. Parking on site and across the street at Spencer’s Corner for two Cross-Cultural presentations of activities in Deschapelles, Haiti

The first presentation will be a talk titled, Teaching Robotics in Haiti, which will be in the form of a power point presentation with Valley Regional High School seniors Patrick Myslik, Sam Paulson, and Nicholas Otte about their one-week workshop in Deschapelles teaching programming to the Robotics Club of the Deschapelles Community Library.

The second will be a short film titled, Education in Haiti, by Olivia Henrickson and Gabe Vasquez, freshmen at Amherst College and Yale University. There will be a short Q and A with the students at the end.

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Thatchbed Island Ospreys Return

Webcam image of the nesting ospreys at Thatchbed Island.

ESSEX — The Essex Land Trust’s Thatchbed Island property is once again hosting returning Ospreys. Having wintered in the warmer climates of Central and South America, the arrival of Ospreys towards the end of March is the clearest indication that Spring is on its way.

The Essex Land Trust’s OspreyCam has not been operational for the past two seasons due to battery and camera problems. With these problems now resolved, the Trust took advantage of the opportunity to upgrade the camera to digital quality. This Thatchbed Platform has been hosting a nesting pair since 2003 and has successfully reared numerous fledglings.

I see you! A osprey looks up at the camera from his — or is it her –nest?

Ospreys continue to make a remarkable comeback after having practically disappeared from our coastal region in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2017, the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Osprey Nation Citizen Science Program monitored 540 nest sites throughout the state. Of these sites, there were 394 active nests and 607 total fledglings observed in the state. 

Ospreys are now occupying new nesting sites that are further inland than their historical range along the Connecticut coast.

The Middlesex County Community Foundation/Riverview Cemetery generously funded the initial installation of the Essex Land Trust OspreyCam. The live streaming of the Essex Land Trust OspreyCam is made possible by the generous support of Essex Savings Bank

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Letter From Paris: The (Rail) Battle That Macron Must Win 

Nicole Prévost Logan

France is going through the labor pains of implementing a variety of overdue structural reforms if France is to be brought into the 21st century.  President Emmanuel Macron has tackled this objective at a dizzying speed since his election on May 7, 2017.  The pace of change was so fast that the opposition appeared unable to react until Macron turned to the reform of the SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français.) 

Now that process is developing into a major crisis.  Other groups  – university students,  Air France personnel, hospital staff,  garbage collectors, violent clashes at the Notre Dame des Landes “zad” (zone à defenre), etc. – joined the movement.  To overcome the spread of the social discontent  will be the first and decisive test for the French president. 

When the government announced a restructuring of the SNCF , which involved the status of the railroad workers or cheminots, dealing with the unsustainable debt, introducing competition, and the overall modernization of the rail network – the reaction of the unions was immediate and massive.

On March 18, four trade unions – CGT (Confédération Générale du Travail), UNSA (Union Nationale des Syndicats Autonomes), RAIL-SUD and CFDT (Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail) – announced  an innovative and deadly form of strikes: work stops for two days, then trains run for three days.  This schedule will be repeated for a total of 36 days during a period of three months until the end of June … longer if necessary. 

The platform at the Gare de Lyon in Paris on April 3, showing the rail strike’s devastating effect.

The French are bracing themselves for this monster strike, which will be hard for millions of working people, mainly commuters.  The specter of the 1995 strike, which paralyzed France for one month, looms over the country.  The collateral cost of a widespread strike is astronomical with the loss of work days; hotels and restaurants losing more than 30 percent of their profits; and factories momentarily having to close down and lay off employees, and the like.

Facing the angry unions was Minister of Transports Elizabeth Borne, who is a petite, remarkably qualified 57-year-old woman.  A product of the top elite school Polytechnique, part of the socialist government of Lionel Jospin, former head of the RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) and of the SNCF strategy from 2002 to 2005. Technocrat rather than politician, Borne knows everything, but communication is not her forte

The 150,000 cheminots occupy a special place in France and are at the heart of the nation’s DNA. This is why the government’s efforts to bring reforms have met resistance violence the like of which it may not have anticipated.  The aura surrounding  the cheminots has been significantly fed in popular culture by a couple of films. 

In Jean Renoir’s “La Bête Humaine”, 1938, Jean Gabin portrays a cheminot. He looks quite dashing as he leans out of the steam engine wearing goggles, his face smeared with black dust.  Sustained by a bottle of wine he shares with his jolly co-worker, his exhausting job is to feed the “beast” with coal in the deafening noise of an inferno while breathing  poisonous fumes. The indelible image of this hero inspired the population’s respect for the hard work of the cheminots. 

Jean Gabin as a cheminot in ‘La Bête Humaine,’ 1938.

The other film, which contributed to the collective adulation of the French for their cheminots, is La Bataille du Rail, 1946, played by non-professional actors.  It shows their courage against the Nazi occupants in provoking the derailment of many German trains.

The cheminots are fiercely attached to their special status including retiring at as early an age 52 with a very generous package of  guaranteed employment for life and free transport tickets for the extended family. The government is trying to be reassuring, saying that the changes will only concern the railroad workers hired in the future.  The cheminots will also benefit from a “social backpack” whereby they can take their special status with them in case of transfer to another job.

The SNCF is badly in the red: its debt of over 50 billion Euros increases by three billion every year and the infrastructure is in dire need of investment.  Although showing some signs of disfunction – trains are often late,  major break downs such as the ones which occurred last fall when the Gare Saint Lazare and Gare Montparnasse left passengers stranded for hours – the rail system is still one of the best in Europe.  The French people do not realize what an expensive luxury it is to have such a public transport system.  But this luxury comes at a price: its operation cost is 30 percent higher than the one of other European railroads.    

The cheminots have a visceral fear of the word” privatization.”  The government has repeatedly said that there will be no privatization.  The state will remain the sole share holder and the only change will be that, in the future, the SNCF will be run as a private company, according to directives approved by the European Council in 2001.

The opponents to reforms spread unfounded horror stories about the introduction of competition and problems it caused in other countries.  Besides, the SNCF’s structure, as a public company created in 1937, had already entered that process over the years.  Freight was privatized in 2003.  International lines – like Eurostar (to England) and Thalys (to Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany) – are run independently from the SNCF.   The Italian company Thello runs night trains between Paris and Venice.  All Trains à Grande Vitesse (TGV — high-speed train) tracks are scheduled to be shared with foreign companies by 2020, according to the guidelines approved by the European Union (EU) members.

Criticisms have been expressed about the overbuilding of TGV lines at a high cost and at the expense of other lines.  The announcement of  suppression of small lines provoked an outcry from public opinion well-orchestrated by the unions.  The dense network of TER (Transport Express Regional) and inter-city trains dates back to the days after WWII.  It was a time when half the French population lived and worked in the country versus less than only 4 percent today.  Each village wanted its gare (railroad station.)  Obviously, the time has come to adapt the network to the population’s current needs.  Since 2002, the small lines are the responsibility of the 12 “regions.”

Emmanuel Macron is dealing with the most challenging issue of his presidency to date.

With the one-year mark of his mandate approaching, Macron felt it was timely to take stock of  what has been accomplished to date by his government.  His first talk took place on Thursday, April 12, during the midday news.  The president was sitting on a tiny chair in an elementary classroom in Normandy.  In a relaxed atmosphere, the president answered the questions French people – including retirees – were asking regarding the erosion of their purchasing power.

Many people expected fireworks during the second event on the evening of Sunday, April 15.  The fireworks duly happened. 

Two journalists – Edwy Plenel from Mediapart and Jean-Jacques Bourdin, from RMC (Radio Monte-Carlo ) wanted only one thing: to tear Macron to pieces.  Interrupting him from the start, their questions were bundled with disinformation.  Insults and accusations flew.  Plenel went as far as saying, “Mr. President, you only won the election by default and your program was supported by just a handful of people.”  Bourdin treated the president as a criminal — as  he frequently does in respect of the person he is interviewing, bullying them into  a “Yes or No” answer.  When the exchange touched on the veil worn by Moslem women, both journalists blasted Macron for totally opposite reasons.

Macron’s performance was superb.  He kept his cool and managed not only to answer the questions at length, but also to explain the rationale for his policy.  Among all the information he disclosed, one was crucial — starting in 2010, the state will gradually take over the huge debt of the SNCF.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Family Wellness: Does Mindfulness Work for Families?

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

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

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

Let’s first define the term: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Cassano puts away a volley.

But you don’t have to be retired …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article author Tom Soboleski runs down a forehand.

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

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

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

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

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

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Learn About Avian Artist Michael DiGiorgio’s Fascinating Life Journey, Tonight

Inca Jay by Michael DiGiorgio 2005

ESSEX – Enjoy a captivating evening with bird artist Michael DiGiorgio on Friday, April 13, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Connecticut River Museum. In his presentation, DiGiorgio will describe his journey from tracking and observing birds in wild to learning how to express their beauty and his feelings about them in drawings and paintings.  Along the way he meets the masters of bird art, finds his voice as an artist, and comes into his own as a nationally recognized nature artist.  The talk will also discuss sketching birds from life and becoming a field-guide artist.

Michael DiGiorgio is a nationally recognized artist living in Madison, CT.  His paintings and drawings have appeared in nature books and journals, including Birds of Brazil vol. 1 and 2, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Audubon Field Guide to Birds/Eastern and Western Region, and The Narrow Edge by Deborah Cramer.  Mike recently completely revised the artwork for the new edition of Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds.

DiGiorgio has painted birds since he was five and studied bird painting under the late Don Eckelberry.  Under Eckelberry’s critical eye, DiGiorgio developed his style emphasizing the character of the bird and its relationship to the environment.  Committed to painting from life, he has traveled extensively to create field sketches of birds, plants, and habitat from all over the Americas, West Indies, Trinidad, and the Outer Islands of Britain.

DiGiorgio won the first ever Eckelberry Endowment Award from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for his Bird Illustration work.  His paintings have been exhibited at numerous museums and institutes including the Roger Tory Peterson Institute; The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; and the The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

The Connecticut River Museum is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. For questions, call 860-767-8269 or log on to our website www.ctrivermuseum.org.

Photo Credit:  Durham Fairground Bobolink by Michael DiGiorgio 2017

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Needleman Announces Support For Initiatives To Promote Tourism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bill to Study State Employee Compensation Moves to Senate

State Senator Art Linares

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Quodlibet Ensemble Plays Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ This Afternoon in Final Essex Winter Series of Season

The Quodlibet Ensemble who will play the final Essex Winter Series concert for 2018.

ESSEX — Essex Winter Series closes its 2018 season on Sunday, April 8, with the Fenton Brown Emerging Artists Concert featuring a 10-member string chamber orchestra, the Quodlibet Ensemble, performing Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, among other works.

The concert takes place on April 8, at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Road, Deep River. Tickets are $35 and $5 for students and may be purchased by visiting www.essexwinterseries.com or calling 860-272-4572.

The New York City-based Quodlibet Ensemble is comprised of young, dynamic artists who present a range of music from the Baroque to the modern day. The players hold degrees from the Yale School of Music, Curtis Institute, Juilliard, New England Conservatory, and Harvard University, among others.

Currently they pursue careers as performing artists in both solo and prominent chamber ensembles ranging from early music group The Sebastians, to contemporary ensemble New Morse Code, to the Amphion String Quartet. A few of the players also serve as faculty at universities such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Yale School of Music, and Connecticut College.

In addition to The Four Seasons, the April 8 program will include music by Mendelssohn, Mozart, and an original piece by Nathan Schram, one of the Ensemble’s members.

Three of the players will take part in Essex Winter Series’ outreach residency and will travel throughout the area conducting workshops, master classes, and special performances in schools and community settings from April 9 through 11.

Essex Winter Series is not-for-profit arts organization and is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Guilford Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Tower Laboratories, and BrandTech Scientific.

Media sponsor is WSHU Public Radio and outreach activities are supported by the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and donors to the Fenton Brown Circle.

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Final Chance to See ‘The Fantasticks’ This Afternoon at Ivoryton Playhouse

Rehearsing for The Fantasticks are, from left to right, Carly Callahan, David Pittsinger* and Patricia Schuman.*

ESSEX — The Ivoryton Playhouse will open its 2018 season with a romantic fable that has enchanted audiences around the world for over 50 years. The Fantasticks by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt is a timeless tale of young love, shattered dreams and universal truths and it opens in Ivoryton on Wednesday, March 21.

The show was first performed Off Broadway in May 1960 and ran for 42 years, making it the world’s longest running musical. It has helped launch the careers of Liza Minnelli, Glenn Close, F. Murray Abraham, Kristin Chenoweth, and even Ricardo Montalbán.

The Fantasticks has been performed in 82 countries, and each year some 250 productions are mounted worldwide. Its themes — the blind passion of youth, the meddling of parents, the deepening of love through pain and struggle — are timeless and continue to captivate audiences everywhere. This intimate show with a bounty of catchy tunes and beautiful melodies, including the classic “Try to remember the kind of September …”, is a quintessential celebration of love in all its gorgeous simplicity and heartbreaking complexities.

In rehearsal for The Fantasticks seen here are, from left to right, Ryan Bloomquist, Cory Candelet and Kimberley Immanuel*.

David Pittsinger*, who has performed in Ivoryton to great critical acclaim as Emile de Becque in South Pacific,  and  Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, will be playing the storyteller – El Gallo.  He will be joined by his wife, Patricia Schuman*, Carly Callahan, R. Bruce Connelly*, William Clark, Kimberley Immanuel*, Ryan Bloomquist and Cory Candelet.

The show is directed and choreographed by Brian Feehan, the set is designed by Martin Marchitto, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Cipollina. Musical direction is by Jill Brunelle.

Don’t miss this opportunity to fall in love again and catch the magic one more time!

The Fantasticks opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse runs through April 8. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. There will be no performance on Easter Sunday, April 1 — the replacement show will be on Saturday, March 31, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults, $45 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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Gilead Hosts Road Race Today to Raise Awareness About Mental Health

Celebrating last year’s run …

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

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

Gilead’s 2018 goals are:

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

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

Walk/Run the Race

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

Join the Fundraising Efforts

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

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

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Seeking Golfers, Sponsors for Ädelbrook Golf for Kids Tournament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Closing Reception for ‘Mighty Minis’ at Melanie Carr Gallery

This work titled ‘Juncture’ by Susan Breen is one of the signature paintings in ‘Mighty Minis’ at the Melanie Carr Gallery.

ESSEX — A Closing Reception for Mighty Minis curated by Suzan Shutan will be held Saturday, April 7, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Melanie Carr Gallery in Essex.

In the art world where ‘bigness’ reigns, 30 contemporary artists from United States and abroad have come together to reflect and respond to working small. For centuries, artists have utilized pint-size scales to depict and explore cherished, esteemed, and intimate subjects. The contemporary miniature can be seen as an approach to art making that marries craft and concept with gemlike details of tiny treasures.

Despite our fast-paced world, small works require giving time for reflection and thought. The reward may be the element of surprise. There are many reasons for an artist to favor working small. There can be practical limitations regarding space, time or resources, but in the case of the works presented here, working small is the objective.

There is also the reality that few collectors can accommodate only large-sized work. The focus of this exhibit is on the process of abstract painting, the exploration of work in two and three dimensions, on traditional and modern approaches, the space between craft and concept, and content and form.

The artists exhibiting include: Nancy Baker, NY Caroline Blum, NY Susan Breen, CT Andy Cunningham, CA Kevin Daly, CT Ellen Hackl Fagan, CT Judith Farr, SPAIN Kathy Goodell, NY Elizabeth Gourlay, CT Bob Gregson, CT Richard Griggs, CT Julie Gross, NY Debbie Hesse, CT Jeffrey Cortland Jones, OH Zachary Keating, CT Susan Knight, NE Bonny Leibowitz, TX Barbara Marks, CT ML McCorkle, GA Irene Miller, CT Juan Alberto Negroni, TX Paula Overbay, NY Heidi Pollard, NM Karen Schifano, NY Susan Scott, CT Belle Shafir,ISRAEL Dee Shapiro, NY Suzan Shutan, CT Andrew Small, PA Jill Vasileff, CA

Suzan Shutan graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting/Drawing from California Institute of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Installation from Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts. Shutan has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, Quinnipiac University, CT, University of Omaha, NE and currently teaches Sculpture at Housatonic Community College.

She has attended artist residencies, has been awarded grants that include CEC Artslink, Art Matters, Berkshire Taconic Foundation’s A.R.T, and recently a Fellowship in Sculpture from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism funding all work created in 2012-13. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally including Bank of America Headquarters in N. Carolina and internationally in Germany, France, Sweden, Poland, Argentina, Russia, Canada and Columbia.

She has been reviewed by the NY Times, High Performance Magazine, and has work in private and public collections such as the Villa Taverna Foundation and UCLA.

Melanie Carr Gallery is an artist-run project space dedicated to the practice, exhibition, and sale of contemporary art and design. The goal of Melanie Carr Gallery is to promote the importance of contemporary art and examine its impact on society while providing its artists greater exposure to new audiences.

Melanie Carr, Owner and Director, is a Connecticut-based artist, who received her MFA from the College of Art and Design at Lesley University in 2011. She began her studies in visual art after serving in the United States Navy as an Operations Specialist onboard the USS Willamette (AO180) in Pearl Harbor, HI.

Carr spent over10 years at the New Britain Museum of American Art, her most recent role as Curator of New Media. She is now Adjunct Professor at Central Connecticut State University, where she teaches drawing, and joined the staff at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, University of New Haven. Other teaching venues include Spectrum Art Gallery, Centerbrook, Pathways Senderos, New Britain, CT, Green Street Arts Center, Middletown, CT, and the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT.

Carr’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Soapbox Gallery, NY, Stockman Gallery, New Britain, CT, City Arts on Pearl, Hartford, CT, Westport Arts Center, Westport, CT, and Pegasus Gallery, Middletown, CT. In addition, her work was included in numerous exhibits that include The Point, United Kingdom, Gibney Dance, NYC, Gallery Aferro, New Jersey, The Delaware Center for the Cotemporary Arts in Wilmington, Mattatuck Museum, CT, Hans Weiss Newspace Gallery, CT, and Herter Gallery, MA.

Carr has work in the collections at the New Britain Museum of American Art, The Loomis Chaffee School, and the Boston Public Library, as well as many private collections

For more information, email melaniecarrgallery@gmail.com or call 860.830.6949

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Essex Winter Series, Community Music School Present Master Class for Strings, Tuesday

CENTERBROOK Community Music School (CMS) and Essex Winter Series present a master class with members of the Quodlibet Ensemble, April 10, at 4 p.m. at the Centerbrook Meeting House, 51 Main Street in Centerbrook. The musicians will offer advice on technique and performance for student musicians who will each play during the class. The master class is free and open to the public.

The Quodlibet Ensemble is a New York-based string chamber orchestra of young, dynamic artists, who present a range of great music from the Baroque to the modern day. After its debut in 2008, the Ensemble has since performed at the Shepherd Music Series in Collinsville, the Yale British Arts Center, and at Drew University in Madison, N.J.

The Quodlibet Ensemble made its New York debut in March 2016, followed by an appearance at Rockefeller University. Their debut CD, Quodlibet Ensemble: Concerti Grosso, in which all players adapt gut strings, was released in the fall of 2014.

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

As part of its robust outreach program, EWS brings highly accomplished young artists to public schools, senior residences, and community organizations in several Shoreline communities each year. This year’s outreach program expands to two cities, five towns, eight schools, three senior residences, and two community service organizations over the course of just three days, from May 8 through 10. These outreach programs are sponsored by the EWS’ Fenton Brown Circle, Community Music School, and in part by a grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County/River View Cemetery Fund.

For additional information or to register, visit www.community-music-school.org/argus or call CMS at 860-767-0026.

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Letter From Paris: Macron & Merkel: Can This Power “Couple” Lead Europe?

Nicole Prévost Logan

On Sept. 26, 2017, Emmanuel Macron chose the Sorbonne University to develop his grand vision for Europe.  In that seminal speech he was urging his perceived partner German Chancellor Angela Merkel to join him in tackling the lofty goals of European reforms, speeding up the integration of the Eurozone through the creation of a parliament, a ministry of finances, and its own budget.   

Macron proposed to strengthen the common market and reduce the economic inequalities through the  harmonization of taxes, creation of a minimum wage, and reform of the “detached workers” system, which leads to employment of migrant workers at cheaper rates than would likely be available locally — a practice known as “social dumping.”  His approach is based on several principles: a Europe protected by well-managed  external borders and a strong defense; the opening of Europe to free trade, but with due regard for reciprocity, and solidarity among the European Union (EU) members regarding the treatment of refugees.

After an interminable six months, the “Great Coalition” between German Conservatives and Social Democrats has made it possible for Angela Merkel to start her fourth mandate. Barely a few hours after her confirmation as Chancellor on Friday, March 16, she met with French President Macron accompanied by several ministers.  The speed with which she came to Paris shows how important it was for those two heads of state to get to work. 

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Unfortunately, the geopolitical environment allowing them to be the driving force of a dynamic Europe has shifted and even deteriorated during that long waiting period and their task has become more difficult. Merkel is politically weaker.  The continent is now fragmented and the resistance from newly-created groups within the EU has become more aggressive.  Macron will have to downgrade his proposals and make adjustments.

The political context in which Merkel starts her fourth mandate is quite different from the one existing in 2013.  Only 52 percent of the population supported the new chancellor in 2017 versus 73 percent in the earlier elections.  Compared to the consensus Merkel was able to maintain previously, it is harder now for her to keep the lid over dissenting opinions.

Even though they are part of the “Great Coalition,” several ministers stand in disagreement with the chancellor, including Olaf Scholz (social democrat or SPD), vice-chancellor and minister of finances, who believes in tightening the budget; Horst Seehofer  (head of the conservative Christian Social Union or CSU in Bavaria), who was given the  “super ministry” of the interior, who intends to be harsher toward the immigration policy in the name of the reactivated concept of “heimat” (homeland); Jens Spahn, 37, minister of health (Christian democratic union, CDU or Merkel’s own party), who is also a critic of Merkel’s policy on migrants, and Andrea Nahles, leader of SPD in the Bundestag, wants to rush through social reforms in favor of the workers. 

Even more difficult for Merkel will be the meteoric growth of the far right party (Alternative for Germany or AfD).  In  2013 it did not have enough votes to have representatives  in the Bundestag.  To-day AfD holds 92 seats out of 709.   At a recent news cast on the ARTE channel, the violent tone of a AfD member at the Bundestag was incredible.

The “Countries of the North” (as they are now called) — Ireland, Iceland, along with the Scandinavian and Baltic states, as well as the Netherlands — believe in a strict budget and are inflexible about financial and monetary discipline. Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of TheNetherlands, speaking for the North countries , declared, “We have to adhere to the Maestrich criteria,” namely to keep the public deficit under 3 percent of the Domestic Gross Product.  On March 27, for the first time in 10 years, France saw her deficit fall down to 2.6 percent.  This was a significant accomplishment:  France is now a credible member of the “club.” 

The North countries ask that Italian and Greek banks clean up their toxic debts.  A “mutualization” of the debt (particularly of Greece’s sovereign debt) and financial transfers are a red line conservative parties from Germany or Holland are not willing to cross.  Like Macron and Merkel, however, Rutte sets as a priority a European Stability Mechanism (EMS) and a European Monetary Fund .

The recent Italian elections on March 8 were a blow for moderate centrists like Matteo Renzi, and the victory of two extremist, anti-system and xenophobe parties: the Five Stars (M5S) at the far left, and The League at the far right.  Italy joins now the eurosceptic countries like Austria and the Visegrad group (the former Iron Curtain countries of Eastern Europe.)  All these countries oppose the Macron/Merkel policies on trade, finances, democratic values and attitude toward the migrants.

Given this overview of the political landscape of Europe, it seems that the strategy of Macron and Merkel will be to start from the areas of agreement – passage toward Brexit, defense against terrorism, and protection against excessive Chinese investments in the name of the “Silk Road.”

The reactions of other EU members toward Macron’s “jupiterian” style and desire to reform are ambivalent.  In a March 20 interview published by Le Monde, Xavier Bettel  prime minister of Luxembourg said that a “directorate Paris-Berlin is out of the question, but added”  France and Europe are lucky to have him. Even if we do not agree with all his proposals, they are most welcome.” 

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Essex Land Trust Hosts UConn Professor Tonight on Protecting CT’s Groundwater Resources

Dr. Gary Robbins will speak March 29 on Connecticut’s groundwater resources at Essex Town Hall.

ESSEX — The Essex Land Trust presents a lecture on protecting Connecticut’s groundwater resources on Thursday, March 29, at 7 p.m. at Essex Town Hall, 29 West Ave. The lecture will have a focus on the lower Connecticut River valley.

Gary Robbins, Professor of Geology in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut, Storrs will be stressing groundwater resources—so will start with a Groundwater 101. Then look at the hydrogeology of the lower CT river valley and talk about groundwater conditions and contamination issues now and in the future.

Dr. Robbins specializes in Hydrogeology and has been at UCONN for 31 years. He has published many papers related to Connecticut groundwater resources.

It is important to note that the date for this event has changed from March 26 to March 29.

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Needleman Supports Legislation to End False Advertising by Limited Service Pregnancy Centers

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman and businessman Norm Needleman submitted testimony Monday, March 26, to the Public Health Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly in support of a bill to require limited service pregnancy centers to end deceptive advertising practices.

Needleman submitted testimony in support of Senate Bill 5416, An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices Of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers. In his testimony, Needleman stated his reason for supporting the bill: ”Every other business in our state and in our nation is held accountable for false advertising practices. Limited service pregnancy centers should not be exempt from the rule of law that requires all businesses to be truthful in advertising and promotion.”

His testimony identified the advertising practices the legislation seeks to end: “By law, women can seek and obtain the medical services they desire relative to their pregnancies. It is patently deceptive to use advertising to lure these women into centers that do not provide the services they are seeking. Limited service pregnancy centers should not be permitted to engage in these false and deceptive advertising practices.”

Needleman went on to point out that the legislation does not impact the operation of limited service pregnancy centers: “It is important to note that the legislation does not in any way impact the services these centers actually provide, nor does it in any way impede their operation. They are free to continue delivering services they believe are appropriate.”

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

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Sharing our Stories with Ellen Luby, Gerontologist, at Essex Library, April 16

ESSEX — Have you ever wanted to share the stories of your life with your family but don’t know where to start? 

Research has shown that sharing your lifestory can bring an increase in self-esteem, resolve past conflicts and promote successful aging.  The Sharing Our Stories presentation reviews the different lifestory methods of Reminiscence, Life Review, Guided Autobiography, Memoir and Personal History to help you determine how you want to tell your story.

The goal of the program is to help people see how sharing stories can help to make sense of the past, gain insight for the future and connect generations.  This informational meeting will be presented by Ellen Luby, a gerontologist on Monday, April 16 at 10:30 a.m. 

Sharing your unique LifeStory can be a wonderful, meaningful and fun experience.

This presentation is free and open to all.

For more information, call the Essex Library. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Melanie Carr Gallery Hosts a ‘Critical Conversation’ on the ‘Artist as Curator,’ Saturday

ESSEX — The Melanie Carr Gallery in Essex will host a ‘Critical Conversation: Artist as Curator Round Table,’ Saturday, March 31, at 2 p.m.

All are welcome and admission is free.

Join Melanie Carr Gallery representatives for a discussion of how the role of artist influences the job of curator featuring:

Suzan Shutan, Independent Curator
Jacquelyn Gleisner, Independent Curator
David Borawski, Independent Curator for Real Art Ways
Joe Bun Keo, Independent Curator
Ellen Hackl Fagan, Owner, Odetta Gallery
Jane Rainwater, Independent Curator

See the current exhibition on view through April 8, Mighty Minis, curated by Suzan Shutan, which has been described thus: In the art world where bigness reigns, 30 contemporary artists from the United States and abroad have come together to reflect and respond to working small. For centuries, artists have utilized pint-size scales to depict and explore cherished, esteemed, and intimate subjects.

The contemporary miniature can be seen as an approach to art making that marries craft and concept with gemlike details of tiny treasures. Despite our fast-paced world, small works require giving time for reflection and thought. The reward may be the element of surprise. 

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Learn How to Spring Into Genealogy Research at Essex Library, Tuesday

ESSEX — Spring is always a great time to start researching your family history.

The citizens of Connecticut are very fortunate to have an abundant amount of genealogy resources at the State Library in Hartford. To learn more about the resources that are available there, join a presentation on Tuesday, April 3, at 5:30 p.m. to hear Gerald Seagrave, a Librarian in the Connecticut State History & Genealogy Department.

Seagrave will present information on materials and services available for genealogy research at the Connecticut State Library.  The presentation will include using State archives, town vital records and accessing databases.

Seagrave has been a Librarian at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council and, most recently, the Connecticut State Library.

This program is free and open to the public.

For more information, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue.

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Essex Library Hosts Author of ‘The Sunken Gold,’ Wednesday

ESSEX — Author Joseph A. Williams will visit the Essex Library to discuss the true story of the HMS Laurentic, which, laden with 44 tons of gold bullion was sunk by German mines off the coast of Ireland during the Great War. 

Britain desperately needed that sunken treasure, but any salvage had to be secret since the British government did not want to alert the Germans to the presence of the gold.

Lieutenant Commander Guybon Damant was the most qualified officer to head the risky mission. As the war raged on, Damant was called off the salvage to lead a team of covert divers to investigate and search through the contents of recently sunk U-boats for ciphers, minefield schematics, and other secrets. The information they obtained, once in the hands of British intelligence, proved critical toward Allied efforts to defeat the U-boats and win the war.

Williams, a historian, archivist and librarian brings this exciting, true tale of undersea diving and early 20th century naval operations to life on Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m.

Copies of The Sunken Gold will be available for purchase and signing.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is advised. Call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register or for more information.

The Essex Library is located at 33 West Ave. in Essex.

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Centerbrook Announces New Hires; Archer, Brakels Join Architectural Staff

René Brakels  (left) and Cassie Archer have recently joined the staff of Centerbrook Architects. Photo by Derek Hayn/Centerbrook Architects

CENTERBROOK – Centerbrook Architects & Planners is excited to announce two new hires as it has welcomed Cassie Archer and René Brakels to the architectural staff.

Archer, who grew up in Nigeria and England, comes to Centerbrook from Kenneth Boroson Architects in New Haven, Connecticut, where she was a senior job captain. After graduating from Wentworth Institute of Technology in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture, Archer began her career as a designer in California. She now resides in East Haddam with her husband.

Brakels joins Centerbrook with a diverse background of 15 years in the architecture industry that includes positions in his home country The Netherlands, Ireland, Latvia and New York. Most recently he served as a job captain at RGB Architects in Providence, Rhode Island. Brakels earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture in The Netherlands, where he is a licensed architect. Brakels and his family currently live in Mystic.

Both Archer and Brakels joined Centerbrook in February and have hit the ground running on Quinnipiac University projects.

“We look for well-rounded people who have a spark. We were delighted to find René and Cassie who are full of energy, care about people and are driven to excel at the craft of building,” said Centerbrook Principal Jim Childress, FAIA. “They are already proving to be great additions to our staff.”

Centerbrook currently has designs under construction in Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina, New York and Texas, and active projects in seven states, Canada and China.

Centerbrook Architects & Planners is a firm conceived in 1975 as a community of architects working together to advance American place-making and the craft of building. A collaborative firm with an exceptional history of building, Centerbrook is known for inventive design solutions that are emblematic of its client and their traditions. Centerbrook’s designs have won 380 awards, including the Architecture Firm Award, a distinction held by only 36 active firms nationwide.

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Connecticut River Artisans Coop Hosts New Artist Reception, April 14

ESSEX — Connecticut River Artisans Cooperative is pleased to welcome the following new members with a reception on Saturday, April 14, from 1 to 4 p.m.

  • Sharon Chaples – a painter specializing in landscapes and houses, who lends an impressionist flair to her artwork.
  • Sandy Sicignano – a painter, who leans toward the modern, she gives an abstract quality to everyday items.
  • Andrea Aron –  a jeweler, who creates one-of-a-kind, silver pieces as well as enamel work.

The reception will be held at the Artisan’s Co-op at 55 Main St., Essex. Wine and nibbles will be served and there will be an opportunity to meet the new artists and enjoy their unique work.

For more information, visit www.ctriverartisans.org, the Artisan’s Facebook page or call 860-767-5457

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Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Continues Tonight with ‘Designing for Fun: The State of Play’

A free, illustrated talk on Luckey Climbers, an example of which is shown in the photo above,  will be presented by Spencer Luckey at 7 p.m. March 23 in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects. Luckey will focus on where Luckey LLC came from, why they do what they do, and why they push the boundaries of sculpture, play, art and design with each piece.


ESSEX —
Luckey LLC is a small design/build firm in New Haven that produces whimsical play structures throughout the world. Part artwork, part playground, Luckey Climbers can be found at children’s museums, science centers, malls and public parks.

On Friday, March 23, at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects, Spencer Luckey will talk about where Luckey LLC came from, why they do what they do, and why they push the boundaries of sculpture, play, art and design with each piece. The lecture will cover built and unbuilt schemes in an attempt to demonstrate the struggles and triumphs of the intrepid playground designer.

Luckey is president and chief architect of Luckey LLC, which creates bespoke children’s climbing sculptures for institutional and commercial clients around the world. Creating soaring, whimsical, gravity-defying play structures for kids, Luckey is helping to reinvent the state of play, inspiring it with the limitlessness of a child’s imagination and the complexities of conceptual art.

After completing his degree at the Yale School of Architecture, Spencer rejoined Luckey Climbers in 2006 after his father, Thomas Walker Luckey, suffered a terrible accident.

Tom, Spencer and the making of the 2007 Luckey Climber at The Boston Children’s Museum were the subjects of the documentary film “Luckey” that depicts the early struggles and triumphs the family had in reconciling life directly following Tom’s accident. The film played at festivals all over the world including SXSW and was aired several times on the Sundance Channel.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. Centerbrook Architects is located at 67 Main St. In Centerbrook.

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

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

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

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

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

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Letter From Paris: Visit to Franco-American Museum in Blerancourt Sparks Review of Relationship Between the Two

Nicole Prévost Logan

La Fayette nous voilà (La Fayette, here we are) are the famous words General John J. Pershing , commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, is supposed to have pronounced  on July 4, 1917 during the commemoration near the tomb of the Marquis de La Fayette at the Picpus cemetery in Paris. The entry of the Americans in World War I was a way to return the favor to the French for being an ally throughout their history. The Franco-American museum in Blerancourt, in a concrete way, furthered this enduring amity.

From the outbreak of the war even before America declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, a segment of US public opinion, wanted the country to enter the conflict. Among the Americans living in Paris (there were 100,000 of them at the time), private associations such as the American Field Service,  intellectuals, writers, and artists offered to join the allied cause. Many young people volunteered as ambulance drivers.

Many volunteers served in ambulances like this one on display in the Museum of Blerancourt during the Great War.

One of them was Anne Morgan (1873-1952)  third daughter of  John Pierpont Morgan, Sr., banker and art collector.

Anne Morgan

She started raising funds to equip the French army as early as 1915, and in 1917 chose the village of Blerancourt, which was in the midst of total devastation, to carry out her humanitarian aid to the wounded soldiers and civilian population. 

The Aisne department (a department in France is the US equivalent of a county) was one of the worst hit battle fields. It is sadly remembered for being the scene of three bloody campaigns all called Chemin des Dames in 1914, 1916 and 1917 . In April 1917 alone, 100,000 French soldiers died on that front. 

Morgan worked from the barracks she erected on the terraces of the Chateau de Blerancourt – a grand 17th century private residence built by the architect who designed the Luxembourg Palace, for Marie de Medicis.  In 1919, Morgan bought the ruins of the chateau and started its restoration. In 1923, she created the association of the Friends of Blerancourt and the following year founded what was to become the Franco-American Museum.

The restored 17th century elegant rooms of the chateau are quite fitting for the historical part of the museum.  French explorers -Jacques Cartier, Father Jacques Marquette-Cavelier de la Salle, Champlain and others  – left their trace in the geography books of the New World. Their names are still vivid but the lands they discovered – from Canada to Louisiana – have long severed ties with France.  Only the St Pierre et Miquelon archipelago remained part of the mother country.

La Fayette was the first Frenchman to enlist in the War of Independence in 1777. With a great deal of panache, in October 1781, the 6,000 men of Count of Rochambeau, joined the Continental Army of George Washington, later the fleet of Admiral de Grasse encircled the English forces.  The combined effort ended in the victorious battle of Yorktown and the rendition of the British.  

Was its support in the conflict beneficial to France?  Some historians do not think so.  Claude Moisy, former president of Agence France Press  (AFP), journalist and specialist in the political history of the US, is one of them and goes as far as to believe that France was caught in a fool’s game.  

During a talk Moisy gave to the France-England Association in 2007, he described the sequence of events, as he sees it: the US Congress had promised not to sign a separate peace with the English, but it did on November 30 ,1782, after secret negotiations.

The real objective for the American government was to resume, as soon as possible, trade and economic relations with Great Britain.  Washington had dispatched Benjamin Franklin to Paris. He soon became the coqueluche (the rage) of the Paris society and suspiciously close to it. The author describes Paris at that time as a “panier de crabes” (can of worms), crawling with spies and foreign agents.

The final peace treaty was only signed 10 months later in September 1783, with the participation of Holland and Spain.

2018, – the year of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the Great War- started appropriately with the “Cesars” selecting Au Revoir Là Haut, as best film and best director.  It is based on the 2013 Prix Goncourt novel by Pierre Lemaitre. Two soldiers- nicknamed “poilus” during the Great war-  experience the horror of trench war, including being buried alive .  (the writer may have been inspired by what happened to the poet and art theoretician  Guillaume Apollinaire, who was buried alive three times, underwent trepanation and died in 1918.).  The story continues after the war, when the two heroes, traumatized and disfigured by injuries, witness the sordid traffic of war memorials.

The Chateau de Blerancourt makes a charming picture.

The Blerancourt museum  is a lovely, luminous building,, located at about two hours drive north-east of Paris. The World war I activities of Anne Morgan -including her ambulance, uniform, wartime memorabilia and mobile library- are brought back to life. 

The Art department has just been renovated and contains more than 400 works. The collection  includes paintings by impressionist Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent and many others.  The arrival of American troops in St Nazaire was caught in Art Deco style by French artist Jean Emile Laboureur in 1918.  Singer and dancer Josephine Baker, appears on the cover of the “Revue Nègre“.  She was born in St Louis, joined the Resistance and is an idol in France.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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See ‘From Field to Frame: The Avian Art of Michael DiGiorgio’ at CT River Museum Through May 3

Inca jay by Michael DiGiorgio 2005

ESSEX – The new Spring Exhibit at Connecticut River Museum is From Field to Frame:  The Avian Art of Michael DiGiorgio.  The exhibit opened to the public on Saturday, March 17, and runs through May 3.

Michael DiGiorgio is a nationally recognized artist living in Madison, CT.  His paintings and drawings have appeared in nature books and journals, including Birds of Brazil vol. 1 and 2, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Audubon Field Guide to Birds/Eastern and Western Region, and The Narrow Edge by Deborah Cramer. DiGiorgio recently completely revised the artwork for the new edition of Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds.

DiGiorgio has painted birds since he was five and studied bird painting under the late Don Eckelberry.  Under Eckelberry’s critical eye, DiGiorgio developed his style emphasizing the character of the bird and its relationship to the environment.  Committed to painting from life, DiGiorgio has traveled extensively to create field sketches of birds, plants, and habitat from all over the Americas, West Indies, Trinidad, and the Outer Islands of Britain.

DiGiorgio won the first ever Eckelberry Endowment Award from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for his Bird Illustration work.  His paintings have been exhibited at numerous museums and institutes including the Roger Tory Peterson Institute; The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; and the The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

The Connecticut River Museum is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For questions, call 860-767-8269 or visit www.ctrivermuseum.org.

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Celtic Concert Tonight Benefits Community Music School

John Birt (pictured above) and Evelyn Cournoyer will play contemporary and traditional music from Ireland and Scotland in a March 16 concert.

CENTERBROOK – Enjoy an evening of contemporary and traditional music from Ireland and Scotland performed by John Birt (guitar, mandolin) and Evelyn Cournoyer (harp) on Friday, March 16, at 7 p.m. The Celtic Harp & Guitar Concert will take place at the Centerbrook Meetinghouse, 51 Main Street, Centerbrook, CT 06409.

This St. Patrick’s Day program will feature a variety of traditional dance tunes including reels, jigs, airs, and marches. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Community Music School. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10 with a reception following the performance.

John Birt is a musician who has proven his versatility on many stages throughout the world. As a classical guitarist, recent solo programs have explored 16th-century lute music, the solo cello and violin music of J.S. Bach, and have included world premieres by American composers David Macbride and Thomas Schuttenhelm. John completed his Master’s degree at The Hartt School, where he studied with internationally recognized pedagogue Richard Provost and partook in masterclasses by Oscar Ghiglia, Andrew York, Odair Assad, and Scott Tennant

Evelyn Cournoyer is a harp player from Preston, Connecticut. Her specialty is in Scottish and Irish traditional music. In 2014 Evelyn won the Young Composer Award presented by the Clarsach Society in Scotland, and she performed her winning composition at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival. Evelyn received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music in 2015, where she studied under Maeve Gilchrist.

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

For additional information, visit www.community-music-school.org/celtic or call CMS at 860-767-0026.

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Needleman Calls for Increased Staffing, Improved Response Times from Utility Companies

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman

ESSEX — Today, March 12, in response to unacceptable and inadequate utility response time during power outages, Essex First Selectman and businessman Norm Needleman submitted public testimony in support of new proposed legislation to have utility companies increase staffing and equipment levels.

Senate Bill 329, An Act Concerning Minimum Utility Staffing and Equipment Levels, would require the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to initiate a docket and issue a final order regarding minimum utility staffing and equipment levels. The Authority was originally meant to create these minimum levels following Tropical Storm Irene, but has yet to finish its work.

Needleman, who is in his fourth term as Essex First Selectman, has seen the responses by the local utility company Eversource get slower and less efficient with every storm. His testimony, which was submitted to the Energy and Technology Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly, is detailed in the following paragraphs:

“In recent years, I have witnessed an alarming deterioration in response to power outages by Eversource, causing inordinate delays in power restoration to homes and businesses in Essex. It is my strong belief that this inadequate response to power outages is the result of two factors. First, Eversource has drastically reduced repair personnel and equipment, instead relying on resources from private contractors and service units from outside of their system.

Second, and equally alarming, is the lack of operating management oversight in directing and coordinating whatever resources are available.  Said another way, Eversource does not maintain staffing levels sufficient to provide adequate response to power outages, and they have failed to develop a communications and management system to direct the outside resources that eventually arrive.

This service problem is not confined to Essex. In consulting with officials in surrounding  towns, they have detailed their frustrations with prolonged power outages, inadequate staffing, and incorrect information from Eversource.”

Not only have I experienced these problems as a First Selectman trying to provide basic services to residents but also as a business owner and a household customer myself. My manufacturing plant in Michigan has lost power one time in 14 years and they have pretty drastic weather conditions, especially during the winter. Meanwhile, my manufacturing plant in Centerbrook loses power regularly and sometimes for no reason at all.

Considering we are paying one of the highest prices in the country for electricity we should have a world class system, not a third world system, which is what it feels like we have. The lack of reliable electricity is a serious deterrent for new businesses considering locating in Connecticut.

Repeatedly, Eversource has ignored their responsibilities by failing to implement effective weather-related response and repair. Instead, they have chosen to implement staff and equipment reductions to effect cost economies. As a matter of public safety, Eversource should be required to maintain adequate staffing and equipment levels. S.B. 329 will help remedy this crippling public utility problem.”

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

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State Representative Bob Siegrist to Seek Re-Election

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

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

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

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

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

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