March 6, 2015

Is Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman Running for a Third Term? That is the Question 

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman stands beneath a new awning at the parking lot of Essex Town Hall

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman stands beneath a new awning at the parking lot of Essex Town Hall

If you listen to Essex’s First Selectman, Norman Needleman, he will tell you that — really, truly — he has not made up his mind, whether to run for a third term as First Selectman of Essex … or not.  It must be acknowledged that Needleman’s first two terms as Essex First Selectman have been noteworthy, especially, as regards upgrading the public landscape of the Town of Essex. Needleman’s accomplishments in this area include:

  • Essex Town Center
    Needleman has created and supervised a major upgrade of the Town Center of Essex. New improvements include: (a) reconditioning of Essex’s two tennis courts, (b) building a new and imaginative Essex playscape for children, which has proved to be very popular for young and old alike, (c) a new Town Hall parking lot with parking spaces clearly and precisely lined, and (d) new landscaping of the grounds in the front of Town Hall.Furthermore, Needleman was instrumental in raising significant new monies to help pay for these improvements. The total cost of the upgraded Essex Town Center was $700,000 with $480,000 of that amount raised through a Connecticut Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant initiated by Needleman to help pay for the costs.
  • Ivoryton Main Street Upgrade
    Needleman also raised $400,000 from a second STEAP grant to pay for a major upgrade of the town center of Ivoryton. The improvements will include new cross walks and parking areas, along with a general reconfiguration of the Ivoryton town center. The final plans for the  Ivoryton improvements have been completed so now it is a question of implementing them.If Needleman runs successfully again for Essex First Selectman, he will be able supervise the construction of these already-funded Ivoryton improvements. If on the other hand, he chooses not to run, a new Essex First Selectman would be in charge.
  • Centerbrook Improvements
    Upgrading of the town center of Centerbrook is another town improvement under consideration by Needleman. If this project were to go forward, he says there would most likely be an effort to obtain yet another state STEAP grant to pay for it.  Considering Needlman’s success in obtaining approvals for STEAP grants for both Essex and Ivoryton, it seems likely that he may be able to do so again for this initiative.

Needleman’s Private Job in Essex  

Headquarters of Tower Laboratories LTD, in Essex Industrial Park

Headquarters of Tower Laboratories LTD, in Essex Industrial Park

In addition his public position as First Selectman of the Town of Essex, Needleman is also the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tower Laboratories, LTD. “Tower Labs,” as it is called in abbreviated form, is a sizeable private company that has no less than 250 employees.

The company specializes in the manufacturing of health and beauty aids, which are sold worldwide. The headquarters of the company is located in two building in the Essex Industrial Park, and the company also has two other locations.

St. Patrick’s Celebration Benefits Ivoryton Playhouse, March 15

Pictured: from the left – Kathleen Mulready, Annie Kerins, Morgan Crowley and Michael McDermott in the 2011 production – The Irish …and How they got that Way. Photo: Anne Hudson

Pictured: from the left – Kathleen Mulready, Annie Kerins, Morgan Crowley and Michael McDermott in the 2011 production – The Irish …and How they got that Way. Photo: Anne Hudson

IVORYTON:  On Sunday, March 15, at 2 p.m., join Playhouse favorite Michael McDermott and his group, Cead Mile Failte, to celebrate Celtic culture and heritage through stories and song. The afternoon will be filled with traditional Irish music including “That’s An Irish Lullaby”, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”, “Star Of The County Down”, “Carrickfergus”, and, of course, “Danny Boy”.

Michael will be joined by Kathleen Mulready, an Ivoryton Playhouse favorite who starred in Finian’s Rainbow and shared the stage with Michael in The Irish… and How They Got That Way Michael has been seen many times at the Playhouse – most recently in The Bells of Dublin: The Carol of the Bells and he will be back in April – though this time it will be Italian arias and not Irish ballads that he will be singing.

He has been performing with Cead Mile Failte for several years and says, “”Cead Mile Failte means A Hundred Thousand Welcomes in Irish Gaelic.  This has always been a saying that has warmed and inspired my heart and is especially meaningful for me here in Ivoryton which is like my second home. For me, the month of March is a time of renewed hope, that feeling of spring just around the corner.  We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and feel the weather change with the old saying, “in like a lion out like a lamb” when strong gusts of wind push out winter and warmer, greener days are joyfully welcomed.”

He adds,  “And boy, do we ever need that now!”

He explains the origins of the group as being a combination of,  “this inspiration from nature, combined with my deep love for Irish music,”  So the group Cead Mile Failte was formed and, “As a group, we strive to create that feeling in our concerts – the feeling that all are welcomed to share in the stories and music that the Irish tell so well.  At our concerts you will find friendly hospitality, good conversation, and great music – a hundred thousand welcomes!”

The St. Patrick’s Celebration to benefit the Ivoryton Playhouse will take place at Centerbrook Meeting House at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 15. Tickets are $30 and include light refreshments after the concert.

For tickets and information, call 860.767.7318.

Seating is limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

 

All Performances of ‘Motherhood Out Loud’ at Ivoryton This Weekend Cancelled

Pictured from top left are Beverley Taylor and Michael Cartwright. From bottom left – Atticus Nischan, Jeanie Rapp, Kase Vradenburgh, Vanessa Vradenburgh, Elle Vradenburgh. Photograph by Anne Hudson

Gathered for a photo are some of the Motherhood Out Loud performers and their children. From top left are Beverley Taylor and Michael Cartwright and from bottom left, Atticus Nischan, Jeanie Rapp, Kase Vradenburgh, Vanessa Vradenburgh, Elle Vradenburgh.  Photograph by Anne Hudson

1:30pm Update: Due to the threat of bad weather this weekend, all three performances of Motherhood Out Loud have been cancelled.

CANCELLED:  Friday, February 20 at 7:30pm in partnership with Women and Family Life Center
CANCELLED:  Saturday, February 21 at 7:30pm in partnership with Community Foundation of Middlesex County to support the Sari A. Rosenbaum Fund for Women & Girls
CANCELLED:  Sunday, February 22 at 2:00pm in partnership with Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut

Call the Ivoryton Playhouse at 860.767.7318 for ticket refunds.

ESSEX – “Mom!” “Mommy!!” “Ma!!!” How many times a day does a mother hear these words? Being a mother is one of the most rewarding, hilarious, joy-filled and heartbreaking jobs in the world. Come and celebrate all things Mom during a staged reading of Motherhood Out Loud at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Feb. 20, 21 and 22 to benefit local agencies that promote programs for women and children.

Motherhood Out Loud features a great variety of pieces by women reflecting upon the diversity of the parenting experience in America today, yet at the same time, the universality of it. From the wonder of giving birth to the bittersweet challenges of role reversal and caring for an aging parent, it is all shared with tremendous candor, heart and humor.

Conceived by Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein, Motherhood Out Loud is written by a collection of award-winning American writers including Leslie Ayvazian, Brooke Berman, David Cale, Jessica Goldberg, Beth Henley, Lameece Issaq, Claire LaZebnik, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Marco Pennette, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Annie Weisman and Cheryl L. West.

Henley is a Pulitzer-Prize winner, Rebeck is the creator of the television series SMASH, and Pennette was Executive Producer of Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty and is Executive Producer of Kirstie Alley’s television show. Luanne Rice is the New York Times best-selling author of 33 novels, who has a home in Old Lyme.

Directed by Maggie McGlone Jennings (who has directed several shows at the Playhouse), the play features local actors who are well known in the shoreline community. The cast includes Beverley Taylor (a regular on the Playhouse stage), Jeanie Rapp (known to local audiences as the artistic director of Margreta Stage), Vanessa Daniels and Michael Cartwright.

This special production is a partnership between the Ivoryton Playhouse and several different organizations that promote programs for women and children. Friday, Feb. 20, is in partnership with Women & Family Life Center in Guilford; Saturday, Feb. 21, is in partnership with the Sari A. Rosenbaum Fund for Women & Girls at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; and Sunday, Feb. 22, is in partnership with Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT. The Ivoryton Playhouse is proud to partner with three different organizations to raise funds to help those in need in New Haven, Middlesex and New London Counties.

Performance times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m; Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting the Playhouse’s website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main St. in Ivoryton.

2015 ‘Essex Go Bragh’ Irish Parade & Festival to be Held March 14

St. Paddy Day 9ESSEX – ‘Essex Go Bragh’ translates as ‘Essex Forever’ and is the name of the Irish Parade and Festival that takes place in town this year on Saturday, March 14.  The Parade will step off from the Essex Town Hall at 10:30 a.m., led by 2014 Grand Marshal Mr. Augie Pampel.

Pampel, has been living and contributing to the Essex Community for many years.  He has worked tirelessly as the Town of Essex Tree Warden since 1994.  He is a proud member of the Essex Garden Club and was instrumental in securing Keep America Beautiful Grants, used for Tree Restoration throughout the three villages.

St. Paddy Day 11 (2)Pampel will lead more than 100 marchers through down Main Street Essex in front of hundreds of spectators. The parade will feature nearly 25 units including elected officials, fife & drum corps, floats, Irish step dancers, boy and girl scouts, community organizations, church groups, police, fire, EMS, military, accompanying service and antique vehicles, and more. Members of the Essex Veterans Memorial Hall are the parade honor guard.

The Festival will follow in the Village offering Food, Drink, Horse Drawn Carriage Rides, Live Music by “Rock of Cashel” at the Griswold Inn, and Kids Activities sponsored by the Community Music School.

st. paddy day 11Professional Face Painting by Z Face & Body Art, an Irish Step Dancing demonstration and Guinness Pour at the Gris are some of the festivities planned for after the parade.  The organizers encourage visitors to stay downtown after the parade, enjoy the festival and visit local restaurants and businesses to check out their special St. Patrick Day promotions.

The organizers invite your group or organization to march in the parade.  To confirm your group’s participation or for more information, contact Essex Park and Recreation at 860-767-4340 x110 or recreation@essexct.gov.

Sponsorship opportunities are as follows:

Band Sponsor – $500 

Name Identification on the banner preceding one of the six bands.

An opportunity to participate in the parade ahead of the band

Sponsor volunteers may distribute marketing materials to spectators.

Logo identification on the park and recreation web site

Logo identification on all Flyers distributed

Float Sponsor – $1,000 

Name identification on banners on both sides of Grand Marshal’s Horse Drawn Carriage

Opportunity to participate or march in the parade ahead of the Carriage

Sponsor volunteers may distribute marketing materials to spectators.

Name identification on all flyers distributed

Name identification on Park and Recreation website, www.essexct.gov

Parade Program Advertisers 

Business card size- $150

1/4 page- $250

Half page- $400

‘China Day’ at Essex Elementary Offers Lantern Learning

3rd Grader Raegan Wyrebek-Brasky makes a paper lantern during EESF's China Day.

3rd Grader Raegan Wyrebek-Brasky makes a paper lantern during EESF’s China Day.

ESSEX – Second and third grade students recently practiced martial arts, made paper lanterns and learned new letters during China Day at Essex Elementary School.  The celebration, funded by the Essex Elementary School Foundation’s (EESF) Justus W. Paul World Cultures Program, included activities with Asian Performing Arts of Connecticut and Malee’s School of Tae Chi.
Chinese lanterns made during China Day at Essex Elementary School funded by the EESF.

Chinese lanterns made during China Day funded by EESF at Essex Elementary School. .

The EESF is looking for your support.  The not-for-profit, volunteer organization provides funds for enrichment programs that bring a mathematician and historian-in-residence into the classrooms, as well as an iPad lab and author visits.

For donation information, visit www.essexelementaryschoolfoundation.org.

Essex Garden Club Hosts Successful Terrarium Workshop

EGCterrarium1

Sandy Meister, left, works with a participant at the terrarium workshop.

 

ESSEX – The Essex Garden Club and Essex Library Association co-sponsored a terrarium workshop on Saturday, Feb. 7, at Essex Library.

Workshop participants create their masterpieces.

Workshop participants create their masterpieces.

Twenty participants were given step-by-step instructions by Sandy Meister of the Essex Garden Club.  She also provided information on choosing plants and tips on garden maintenance.

 

A Swashbuckling Party Planned at CT River Museum’s ‘Privateers’ Bash,’ March 14

Join the pirate crew for a night of merriment and mayhem at the Connecticut River Museum on March 14.

Join the pirate crew for a night of merriment and mayhem at the Connecticut River Museum on March 14.

ESSEX –- Ahoy, Matey! Come if ye dare and be part of the swashbuckling crew who are lookin’ for a lively way to let off a bit of winter steam!  Grab your sword and hoist your sails to the Privateers’ Bash on Saturday, March 14 at the Connecticut River Museum, presented by Gosling’s Rum.

All are invited to come in costume and relive Riverfront history at the Ninth Annual Bash, a playful nod to the privateers who made their wealth by relieving foreign ships of their valuable cargo during the War of 1812.  Grog, grub, music and dancing will fill three floors of exhibit galleries from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

The Sun Kings, a Caribbean party band, will help create the tropical mood. Savory bites will be provided in-part by Gourmet Galley, Coffee’s Country Market, Emily’s Catering Group, Coastal Cooking Company, Da Vinci Pizza and David Allen Catering. Treasure can be found with great prizes up for raffle, plus booty awarded for best costumes.

The Sun Kings will bring the Caribbean to Essex

The Sun Kings will bring the Caribbean to Essex

A $50 Privateer ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, grog and one complimentary drink. Or take advantage of a two-ticket purchase deal and buy two Privateer tickets for just $85.  A $75 Commodore ticket also includes hors d’oeuvres and grog plus an open bar.

Net proceeds benefit the Connecticut River Museum.

Support for the Privateers Bash is provided in part by Bogaert Construction; Reynolds’ Garage & Marine, Drs. McAraw, Cantner, Cantner, Foisie & Barasz LLC., All Pro Automotive, Brown & Brown/McCutcheon Burr & Sons, Clark Group, Sound Rigging Services, Daniel’s Oil, Shore Discount Liquor & CCA Services.  In-Kind support provided by McChesney Design, Apparel + Plus and Connecticut Rental Center.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 860-767-8269, online at www.ctrivermuseum.org, or at the door on the evening of the event.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront.  It is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to lead in the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley.

Essex Grand List Shows Small 0.33 Percent Increase

ESSEX — The grand list of taxable property has remained nearly flat after a revaluation-driven drop in 2013, with the October 2014 total showing an increase of only $3.72 million or 0.33 percent.

Assessor Jessica Sypher has filed an October 2014 grand list that totals $944,905,200, up by $3,726,569 from the 2013 total. There were small increases in each of the categories of real estate, personal property, and motor vehicles. The increase is expected to generate only about $60,000 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 20.99 mills.

The grand list, which previously had totaled over $1 billion, dropped by 7.72 percent after the full townwide property revaluation that was completed in 2013. The 2012 grand list was also down very slightly, dropping by about six one-hundredths of a percent.

Sypher said a court settlement for two of about a dozen appeals that followed the revaluation had resulted in a loss of about $700,000 in assessed value, or about $21,000 in tax revenue.

Brewer’s Marina appealed the revised assessments for marinas it owns on Ferry Street and Chandler Street. Sypher said attorneys for the town recommended a settlement that would split the difference between the revised assessments and the values claimed by the marina company. The compromise that was approved by a superior court judge last month dropped the assessed value for the two marinas from about $5 million to $4.3 million.

The town’s 3,253 real estate accounts have an assessment total of $943,246,673, up by only $727,030 from the 2013 real estate total.The town’s 722 personal property accounts have an assessment total of  $41,873,673, up by $1,213,929 from the 2013 personal property total.

The town’s 7,697 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $62,881,170, up by $1,785,610 from the 2013 motor vehicles total.

Following are the town’s top 10 taxpayers with current assessment totals

1) Essex Meadows Inc. — $22,875,400
2) Lee Company — $14,820,920
3) Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $6,875,610
4) SLK Partners LLC — $5,708,900
5) River Properties Inc. — $3,597,210
6) Griswold Inn LLC — $3,378,640
7) Essex Savings Bank — $3,355,950
8) Stephen R. Cline Successor Trustee — $3,319,200
9) Herbert T. Clark III — $2,760,140
10) Macbeth Ventures LLC — $2,759,500

Ivoryton Announces Spectacular Season for 2015, Features ‘Memphis’, ‘Calendar Girls’

ESSEX: Ivoryton Playhouse has announced details of its upcoming 2015 season as follows:

Stand by Your Man
March 18 – April 5, 2015
By Mark St. Germain

Relive the journey of country music legend, Tammy Wynette, from the cotton fields of Itawamba, Mississippi, to international superstardom, including the five husbands she stood by. Among the 26 songs are “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “Til I Can Make It On My Own” and “Golden Ring.”

The Last Romance
April 22 – May 10, 2015
By Joe DiPietro

A crush can make anyone feel young again – even an 80 year old widower. This heartwarming comedy about the transformative power of love mixes heartbreak with humor and opera with laughter.

Calendar Girls
June 3rd – June 21st, 2015
By Tim Firth

One of the best-selling plays in British theatre history is making its US premier. This dazzlingly funny and shamelessly sentimental story of the ladies of the Women’s Institute who pose au natural for a fundraising calendar is guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and walk out singing Jerusalem!  Sponsored by Webster Bank, PCI Medical

South Pacific
July 1 – July 26, 2015
By Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan

Who doesn’t love this extraordinary show that includes “Some Enchanted Evening”, “Younger Than Springtime”, “Bali Ha’i”, “There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame”, and “A Wonderful Guy”? But South Pacific is also a deeply felt drama. Its portrayal of Americans stationed in an alien culture in wartime is as relevant today as when it first thrilled audiences back in 1949.

Memphis
Aug. 5 – Aug. 30, 2015
By Joe DiPietro and David Bryan

Memphis is set in the places where rock and roll was born in the 1950s: the seedy nightclubs, radio stations and recording studios of Memphis, TN. With an original score, it tells the fictional story of DJ Huey Calhoun, a good ole’ local boy with a passion for R&B music and Felicia Farrell, an up-and-coming black singer that he meets one fateful night on Beale Street. From the first notes of its electrifying opening number, right up to a rousing finale , Memphis delivers one energetic song after another. A rollicking new musical.

Little Shop of Horrors
Sept. 23 – Oct. 11, 2015
By Howard Ashman and Alan Menken

The charming, tongue in cheek musical comedy of Seymour who stumbles across a new breed of plant he names “Audrey II” – after his coworker crush, has been devouring audiences for over 30 years. A deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi smash musical.

Liberace!
Oct. 28 – Nov. 15, 2015
By Brent Hazelton

Liberace! is a moving and highly entertaining tribute to the performer and musician famous for his charm, glitz, and glamour. Liberace relives the highs (and lows) of his prolific life, with a rollicking piano score spanning classical and popular music from Chopin to “Chopsticks,” and Rachmaninoff to Ragtime.

Subscriptions for 3-play, 5-play or 7-play packages are available now by calling Beverley Taylor at 860.767.9520

Single tickets go on sale Feb. 17 — call 860.767.7318.

For more information, visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Groundhog Day Parade Shorter than Usual But Still Wonderful

Republican State Senator Art Linares (left in photo) leads the marchers up Main Street in Essex.

Republican State Senator Art Linares (left in photo) leads the marchers up Main Street in Essex.

ESSEX – The spirit was all there for the 38th annual Groundhog Day parade in Essex on Feb. 1. “Essex Ed,” the star of the parade, who every year shows up with a new costume, was very much on display.

The star of the show -- "Essex Ed"

The star of the show — “Essex Ed” in his Warrior football uniform

 

This year he was dressed as a ‘Warrior’ football player from the Valley/Old Lyme high school co-op football team. The theme of this year’s parade was a salute to the team, who won the 2014 Class S-Large state championship for the first time in their history.

A marching band was stationed just behind the dignitaries in the parade.

A marching band was stationed just behind the dignitaries in the parade.

Missing from this year’s parade, however, were the many antique automobiles that usually make an appearance. Their owners kept them in their garages because of  fear of bad weather.

Immersed in the spirit of the parade, this marcher posed with her personal grounhog

Immersed in the spirit of the parade, this marcher posed with her very own groundhog

Still, hundreds of enthusiastic spectators crowded the sidewalks along the entire length of Essex’s Main Street from the river to the “roundabout,” as natives like to call traffic circle at the top of  Main Street.

Fur hats -- for good reason -- were much in vogue among many marchers

Fur hats — for good reason — were much in vogue among the marchers

 

Town of Essex, Fire Company Call for Help to Clear Snow from Hydrants

2)A snow-covered fire hydrant on Dennison Rd. in Essex, waiting to be cleared by residents.

A snow-covered fire hydrant on Dennison Rd. in Essex, waiting to be cleared by residents.

ESSEX – The Town of Essex and the firefighters of the Essex Fire Engine Company #1 have put out an urgent call to Essex residents to personally help clean the snow away from the town’s 136 fire hydrants. “Many are now covered with snow and hidden from Essex Firefighters needing them in an emergency,” the Town of Essex said in a statement.

“The snow won’t start melting anytime soon and more snow is on the way. Please take a few minutes to clear the snow from the fire hydrants next to where you live and work,” the Town and Fire Company urge.

A fire hydrant already cleared on North Main St. in Essex.

A fire hydrant already cleared on North Main St. in Essex.

This simple act will, “Help protect your family, property, and livelihood,” the Fire Company, located at 11 Saybrook Rd., explains.

 

Celebrate Groundhog Day Today at Essex Parade

Groundhog fun at last year's parade.

Joining in the groundhog fun at last year’s parade.

The annual Essex Groundhog Day Parade in Essex Village will take place on Sunday, Feb. 1. The parade forms at 1:30 p.m. and steps off at 2 p.m.

Essex Ed will make his annual trip from Essex Boat Works to the top of Main Street. He will lead a raucous parade of antique cars, fire trucks, residents, and visitors.

Everyone is invited to don their groundhog gear and join in the fun. Children are encouraged to bring noisemakers – pots and pans, anything – to help awaken Ed from his long winters nap.

Part of the excitement annually is to find out how Ed is dressed. Each year, Essex Ed is costumed in unique attire to acknowledge a special occasion, person or organization. Past years have seen Ed dressed as historical figures, athletes, thespians, and musical performers. As always, this year’s costume is a secret but organizers guarantee that it will be a “huge hit” when Ed makes his appearance.

The parade is organized by the Essex Board of Trade.

For more information, visit www.essexct.com.

Essex Garden Club Offers Scholarships To Environmental Studies Students

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club is offering a scholarship of up to $5,000 for the school year 2015-16.

To be considered for this scholarship, applicants must be:

  • A resident of Essex, Centerbrook, or Ivoryton, Conn.
  • A high school senior or undergraduate/graduate college student
  • Have a ‘B’ or better GPA
  • Be planning to pursue studies related to the environment in an accredited two- or four-year institution of higher learning. Fields of study may include:
    >Biology, Ecology, Horticulture, Forestry, Land Conservation, Environmental Science;
    >Closely related subjects may also apply: Landscape Design, Nursery Management

Application forms are available from Guidance Counselors.  The deadline for receipt of applications is April 27, 2015.

Letter From Paris: Marcel Duchamp at the Pompidou Center

Marcel Duchamp i(1887-1965) is well known in America.  Most people have heard of his readymades like the famous (or infamous) Fontaine, which is, in fact, a public urinal.  Stiglitz immortilized the original in a 1917 photograph before it disappeared for ever.  The bicycle wheel set on a kitchen stool is a familiar sight for MOMA vistors.

Nude descending a staircase No. 2

Nude going down a staircase No. 2

Since his first trip to the US in 1915, the artist made multiple visits to that country, avoiding the two World Wars.  He acquired American nationality in 1955.  It was at the 1913 Armory Show that his cubist painting  ‘Nu Descendant un escalier No. 2′ (Nude going down a staircase No. 2) became a huge success.

Some critics have labelled Marcel Duchamp as the creator of modern art while others say he destroyed it when he advocated “non-retinal” painting.  Volumes have been written about him.  In an amazingly short time – since he abandoned art for chess at age 36 – he was able not only to produce art, but also to integrate into it the latest discoveries  of science and modern technology.

The Marcel Duchamp exhibit at the Pompidou Center just closed its doors after several successful months.  It was a monographic approach consisting of about 100 paintings  and drawings little known in France (most of them are part of the Louise and Walter Arensberg collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art) covering the 1912 to 1923 period and leading to his main creation, ‘Le Grand Verre.’

Born in Normandy, Duchamp belonged to a talented family of six children.  The mother was a distant figure, which may explain his alienation from women.  ‘Sonate,’ 1911, represents the three sisters playing musical instruments.  The mother stands stern and erect . Strangely enough she seems to be enjoying the concert, although she is deaf.

He had a deadpan sort of humor and provocation was his tool.  He enjoyed playing  tricks on the Regardeurs  (viewers), giving wrong titles to his works.  He relished plays on words, for example, he called himself Rose Selavy (Eros – that’s life) in the photograph Man Ray took of him.  To put a moustache and a goatie on Mona Lisa was a virtual iconoclastic gesture and he made it even more outrageous by giving it the title of LHOOQ (if  the letters are pronounced in French the meaning is shockingly vulgar) .

Duchamp joined his two brothers Jacques Villon and Raymond-Duchamp in the Puteaux group of Cubists.  ‘Dulcinea’ and the ‘Joueurs d’échecs’ are among his superb cubist paintings.  Borrowing the technique of chronophotography and cinema, he introduced time and movement in ‘Jeune Homme Triste dans Un Train 1911-12,’  where the real accomplishment was to show a person in a train in motion while also suggesting his sad mood.

La Mariée mise a nu par ses célibataires,’ meme (also called Le Grand Verre) was his major work.  It consists of two free-standing glass panels.  In the lower register, nine Moules Maliques*  (an officer, a gendarme, a priest, etc) stand beside a chocolate-crushing machine, which rotates non-stop.  By means of sexually-related devices, gas travels up toward the mariée, who is hanging limply at the top, having gone from the virgin to the bride stage.  The work alludes to the universal themes of erotic love and the inaccessible woman.

* I am not even attempting to translate these nonsensical words!

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.

‘EagleWatch’ Opens at CT River Museum with Exhibit, Boat Tours, Programs

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator, Bill Yule, leads the boat tours and helps participants spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and water fowl and other wildlife from the deck of Enviro-Lab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator, Bill Yule, leads the boat tours and helps participants spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and water fowl and other wildlife from the deck of Enviro-Lab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

ESSEX – Winter has arrived and the ice is starting to freeze across the Connecticut River. Bald Eagles and other winter birds are moving to the southern reaches of the river in search of open water and food. The eagles are primarily fish eaters and, as the lakes and rivers freeze to the north, the big birds begin to drift south looking for open water where they can catch fish and survive winter.

One of the best places to survive the hardships of a New England winter is Essex and the lower 12 miles of the Connecticut River. The combination of river-flow, tides and proximity to the coast creates a micro-climate that keeps the lower river from freezing solid and is perfect for winter fishing.

The arrival of the eagles signals the beginning of another season of the return of the majestic Bald Eagle to the lower Connecticut River and the Museum’s annual EagleWatch programs.

EagleWatch & Winter Wildlife Cruises include more than just big birds! Passengers often site beautiful winter ducks and even harbor seals. Photo by: Bill Yule.

EagleWatch & Winter Wildlife Cruises include more than just big birds! Passengers often site beautiful winter ducks and even harbor seals. Photo by: Bill Yule.

EagleWatch officially begins Jan. 30 this year and will run through March 15. As a part of this winter celebration of wildlife along the River, the Connecticut River Museum will offer an exhibit, boat tours, public programs and workshops.

Opening on Jan. 31, and running through March 15, the ‘Eagles of Essex’ exhibit tells the story of Bald Eagles along the Connecticut River, why they winter here and how they came back from near-extinction to becoming one of the greatest environmental come-back stories in history. In addition to an interactive eagle nest, the exhibit illustrates how to identify birds of prey and where the best land-viewing spots are located. An eagle sighting scoreboard and a digital photography display is also featured. Along with the exhibit, an Eagle Driving Tour is available in print and as an app to help birdwatchers discover key viewing sites along the lower River Valley.

A Community Photography section is also part of the exhibit. Amateur photographers who capture a great image of an eagle or other wintering bird along the Connecticut River are invited to submit their digital entry to curator Amy Trout. Your image will be on view in the exhibit as a part of the digital display. For more information or submit an image, contact Amy at atrout@ctrivermuseum.org

The Bald Eagles are here along the lower Connecticut River and boat tours in February and March can help you get a great look at them! Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

The Bald Eagles are here along the lower Connecticut River and boat tours in February and March can help you get a great look at them! Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

Boat Tours

Through a partnership with Project Oceanology, a Groton-based marine science and environmental education organization, the Connecticut River Museum will once again provide a dynamic, on-water, eagle-viewing experience.

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting on Jan. 30 and running through March 15, Project Oceanology’s Enviro-lab III, a 65-foot modern research vessel, will depart from the Museum’s docks for an up-close view of winter wildlife, Bald Eagles, and other big birds of prey.

Educators from the Museum and Project Oceanology will provide narration while passengers can enjoy viewing from the heated cabin or outside deck area. Boat tours are $40 per person and include free admission to the Museum. Advance boat tour reservations are strongly suggested.

Public Programs

Throughout the season, the Connecticut River Museum offers a variety of public programs.
Feb. 14 and March 7 at 1:15 p.m.: noted photographer Stanley Kolber will be at the museum for his popular Nature Photography Workshops.
Feb. 15 at 3:30p.m.: ‘A Place Called Hope’ will present their Live Birds of Prey program at Essex Town Hall.
Feb. 19 at 5:30 p.m.: Author Richard King will talk about his book, ‘Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History.’
Feb. 22: Wood carver Al Moncovich will demonstrate eagle carving in the Eagles of Essex exhibit.

For more information or to make reservations, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator, Bill Yule, leads the boat tours and helps participants spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and water fowl and other wildlife from the deck of Enviro-Lab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum.

EagleWatch & Winter Wildlife Cruises include more than just big birds! Passengers often site beautiful winter ducks and even harbor seals. Photo by: Bill Yule.

As Winter Storm Juno Begins, Closings Announced

Chester Library will close at 4 p.m. today due to the inclement weather.

Chester Town Hall Offices and the Chester Library will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 27.

Essex Town Hall will also be closed tomorrow,

Anne Penniman LLC of Essex Receives 2015 CT Landscape Architects Professional Award

The Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (CTASLA) announced the winners of its annual Connecticut Professional Awards competition at the chapter’s annual meeting in December.

Anne Penniman Associates, LLC  of Essex won two awards.  The first was in the  Landscape Architectural Design – Residential category and was an Honor Award for Blast Site Restoration (Private Residence, Essex).  The second was in the Landscape Planning & Analysis category and was a Merit Award for Vegetation/Habitat Mapping and Management Plan for Haversham Property (Private Residence, Westerly, RI)

CTASLA conducts the awards competition each year to recognize excellence in landscape architectural design, planning and analysis, communication, and research. To be eligible, an applicant must be a landscape architect or designer in the state of Connecticut, and the entrant or project location must be based in Connecticut.

“These award-winning projects exemplify Connecticut landscape architects’ skills in designing beautiful spaces that add value to the land, encouraging people to get outside and explore their surroundings while protecting habitat and natural resources,” said Barbara Yaeger, president of CTASLA and principal of B.Yaeger, LLC, of Madison, Conn.

Essex Winter Series Presents Four Concerts in 2015

Essex Winter Series (EWS) will present four diverse and exciting concerts in 2015, including two programs of classical chamber music, a concert of jazz from the early part of the twentieth century, and — for the first time — a world-renowned chamber chorus. Programmed by EWS artistic director Mihae Lee and newly-appointed Jazz Impresario Jeff Barnhart, these concerts offer world-class performing artists and an impressive array of styles and genres.

Three concerts, all Sundays at 3 p.m., follow the season opener on Jan. 11. The Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert on Feb. 8 at Valley Regional High School will feature Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.  On March 1,  Chanticleer, “ An Orchestra of Voices” will perform a program entitled “The Gypsy in My Soul” at Old Saybrook High School. The final concert, on March 29 at Valley Regional High School, will be an exciting program of piano trios, with Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee, violinist Chee-Yun and cellist Julie Albers.

StringFest2 is co-sponsored by Guilford Savings Bank and Essex Meadows.

All tickets to EWS concerts are general admission. Individual tickets are $35; four-concert subscriptions are $120, which represents a $20 saving over the single-ticket price for four concerts. Tickets may be purchased on the EWS website,www.essexwinterseries.com, or by calling 860-272-4572.

 

 

Playhouse’s Hubbard Joins WWI Xmas Eve Truce Centennial Celebration in Europe

Xmas_Eve_football_game_335KB

World War I soldiers transport an injured comrade.

World War I nurses prepare to tend the injured.

World War I nurses prepare to tend the injured.

ESSEX – Ivoryton Playhouse Executive Director Jacqueline Hubbard and her daughters recently took a memorable trip to Europe.

The three of them spent Christmas in Belgium visiting the battlefields of Ypres where they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the extraordinary Christmas Eve Truce, which was observed during World War I in 1914.

As happened in 1914 and 100 years later memorialized in a  2014 Christmas advertisement made by the British grocery chain of J.Sainsbury, a soccer game was played in Ypres in costumes from the war period.

Hubbard notes, “It was an incredibly moving experience.”

She also shared with ValleyNewNow a link to a story that was written by a journalist for an Aberdeen newspaper that accompanied Hubbard and her daughters on the tour. https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/uk/440689/video-watch-re-enactment
-christmas-day-truce-football-match/

View the J. Sainsbury advertisement below:

Essex Teen Receives Award for Fundraising Efforts to Support Shelter Dogs

Jenny Merrick receives her award

Jenny Merrick receives her award

Jenny Merrick, 14, of Essex received an award in December for her fundraising efforts to help save shelter dogs. For the fourth year in a row, Jenny has given up birthday gifts, asking instead for donations for the ‘Red Dog Project,’ a program of ‘Dog Days Adoption Events’ of Old Saybrook.

Jenny is not only an active volunteer, but her donations have helped transport and
provide veterinary care for many dogs from high kill shelters so that they
could find loving and responsible homes.

Dog Days has programs for kids of all ages, for more information or if you would like to volunteer contact info@godogdays.org.

Essex Garden Club Donates to Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

Xmas_2014_donation

Pictured packing the food for delivery to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries are Dianne Sexton and Carol Denham.

Essex Garden Club members collected non perishable food items for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) at the club’s annual festivities at Essex Meadows.  Individual members and the club also donated $1,510 to the SSKP, which will be matched by the Gowrie Challenge.

All Five Essex Bonding Authorizations Approved in Low Turnout Referendum

ESSEX— Voters Monday authorized up to 8.085 million in municipal  bonding, approving five separate ballot questions in a low turnout referendum. A total of 257 of the town’s 4,654 registered voters turned out for the 14-hour referendum, along with two property owners who are not registered voters in Essex.

An authorization of $2,845,000 to replace the Walnut and Ivory street bridges in the Ivoryton section had the widest margin of approval, 221-38. A combination of federal and state funds will reimburse 80 percent of the cost of the Walnut Street bridge project, while the much smaller Ivory Street bridge will be paid for entirely by town bond funds.

A $2,815,000 bonding authorization for improvements at Essex Elementary School was approved on a 193-64 vote. The improvements include replacement of the school roof, which will be eligible for partial state funding reimbursement, along with $600,000 for air conditioning at the 61 year-old school.

Improvements to the town  hall, including renovations to the land use offices, at an estimated cost of $1.3 million won approval of a 175-81 vote.  Improvements at the town public works garage, with an estimated cost of $525,000, won approval of a 178-80 vote. Voters authorized bonding of $600,000 to purchase a new fire truck on a 186-71 vote.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said he is pleased the capital projects initiative won voter approval. ” Thanks to everyone that came out and voted and thanks to the committee that did all of the hard work,” he said.
The capital projects plan was developed over the past year by a building committee chaired by Selectman Bruce Glowac. The first bonds are expected to be issued by 2017 for a pay off over 20 years ending in 2037.

‘Simply Sharing’ Eases Transition from Shelter with Furniture, Household Donations

(l-r): Simply Sharing President and Founder Alison Brinkmann shares a special moment with a client from Gilead Community services after helping her move into her new home.

(l-r): Simply Sharing President and Founder Alison Brinkmann shares a special moment with a client from Gilead Community services after helping her move into her new home.

ESSEX – When Simply Sharing President and Founder Alison Brinkmann decided to dedicate her time to a good cause and create an organization that would have a meaningful and lasting impact, she had no idea where that decision would take her.  She did know that she wanted to create a collaborative effort, one with a simple, single mission.

Through her involvement with the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Brinkmann saw the potential to help homeless individuals and families in local communities by building a network of shared services and resources.  After numerous discussions with leaders from area organizations and agencies, it was evident that there was a great need to secure furnishings and household items for those transitioning from shelters to sustainable and supportive housing.

So with a leg up from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, who provided fiscal oversight and funding, the Essex resident launched ‘Simply Sharing’ in April 2012 and has been on the move ever since.

“When someone first moves out of a shelter, the money they’re earning usually doesn’t go very far, and many can’t afford furnishings,” explained Brinkmann, “ A kitchen table and chairs, beds and sheets, pots, pans and dishes – these are basic household goods many of us take for granted. Yet for individuals and families who have been homeless, these basic necessities are, indeed, luxuries.”

While the concept of collecting donated items for redistribution is not a new one, ‘Simply Sharing’ takes a more collaborative, personal partner approach on both ends of the process. The all-volunteer, non-profit organization welcomes material and financial donations from individuals and businesses and then works solely through other qualified non-profit agencies and organizations to identify clients that are in the most need of those donations.

In addition to the furnishings and funds given by residents throughout Middlesex County, ongoing relationships with Bob’s Discount Furniture, Essex Meadows, Gather, and Realty 3 CT have built a solid foundation of additional resources.  Working with Columbus House, Gilead Community Services, The Connection, Inc, Middlesex Hospital and Central Connecticut State University, Simply Sharing has helped well over 50 families get a fresh start in a new home.

That help comes in the well-orchestrated form of Brinkmann and other ‘Simply Sharing’ volunteers making house calls to pick up donations or receiving them at their warehouse space in Essex, cleaning, selecting and organizing goods for the specific needs of identified families, and then delivering and “setting up” the items in the new living space. “It’s the most gratifying part of our work,” added Brinkmann, “ To be able to meet the people you are helping and see their reaction and appreciation for all the good that’s being given to them – it’s hard to keep a dry eye.”

For more information on ‘Simply Sharing,’ visit simplysharing.org, email info@simplysharing.org or call 860-388-7390.

Champions! Valley/Old Lyme Football Defy Odds to Win State Class S-Large

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!  Photo by W. Visgilio.

Congratulations to coach Tim King and his Warriors on an incredible win!

New Britain – Quarterback Chris Jean-Pierre’s four-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining rallied top-seeded Valley Regional/Old Lyme to a 21-20 victory over No. 2 Ansonia in their Class S-Large state championship football game at Willow Brook Park on Saturday morning. Click here to read the remainder of this full initial report of the game by Ned Griffin, which was published in The Day yesterday

And here’s another link to great article about the game.

And, finally, here’s Tim Devlin’s video of all Saturday’s state game highlights.

Essex Zoning Commission has January Public Hearing on Separate Proposals for Bokum Road Life Care Zone

ESSEX— The zoning commission has scheduled a Jan. 26 public hearings on separate proposals to expand and revise regulations for the residential life care zone on Bokum Road. The zone had been established in the 1980s to accommodate the Essex Meadows life care complex that is now the town’s largest taxpayer.

Resident Marc Bombaci has submitted an application for a zone change from rural residential to residential life care for a 35.8-acre parcel that surrounds his 80 Bokum Road residence. Sections of the property on the  west side of Bokum Road abut land owned by Essex Meadows.

Bombaci, represented by local lawyer Campbell Hudson, has also proposed a zoning text amendment that would apply more recent regulations for active adult communities, or cluster-style housing for persons over age 55, to the residential life care zone that refers to housing and services for persons over age 62 The revised regulation would also allow the commission to waive under certain conditions a requirement that 80 percent of all the units in an active adult community must be owned by persons over age 55

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said if the zone change is approved, Bombaci would have to secure special permit and site plan approval from the commission for any future residential life care or active adult community development on his property.

The commission will also hold a public hearing next month on an application by Essex Glen LLC to revise the residential life care and active adult community regulations for a parcel on the opposite side of Bokum Road that was approved for a 55-unit active adult community development in 2007. The partnership never pursued the development plan that was approved in 2007.

Budrow said the partnership, represented by lawyer Terrance Lomme, is preparing to submit a new application and plan for the property that calls for 22 units in separate buildings. Essex Glen LLC is requesting a revision to regulations for an active adult community that would change the setback requirements that are part of the current regulations.

The change would reduce the front setback requirement from 80-feet to 40-feet, and the side and rear setback rule from 80-feet to 30-feet. Budrow said the change would accommodate a revised development proposal for the property with separate buildings. Lomme, who was re-elected last month as judge of probate for a nine-town region, had represented Essex Glen LLC during the 2007 application process.

Essex Tree Committee Awarded America The Beautiful Grant

Essex Tree-ATB grant 2014 (2)In the fall of 2014, the Essex Tree Committee, was awarded an America the Beautiful (ATB)  grant of $1,186 to plant trees in an effort to advance “urban forestry” as outlined by the ATB grant program.  These competitive grants are made available to municipalities and non-profit organizations by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Division of Forestry (DEEP).  The funding comes from the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry Program and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection described the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as “a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont to cap and reduce power sector CO2 emissions.”  Because of these efforts by RGGI, DEEP Forestry expanded the grant criteria to focus also on reduction of energy use.  Additionally, as a result of the recent storms, focus was placed on roadside tree management.  Invasive insects such as the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle were of great concern to the grant program as well.

Of the seven categories outlined by the ATB grants (see DEEP Forestry website: www.ct.gov/deep/forestry for more information), the Essex Tree Committee concentrated on: planting or maintaining legacy trees, planting or managing trees to reduce energy consumption or increase carbon sequestration, and the management of roadside trees for storm resistance.

Conforming to the 2014 ATB guidelines, the Tree Committee planted 8 non invasive trees at the following locations:

  1. An English Oak at the corner of Melody and Walnut streets in Ivoryton
  2. A White Oak/Swamp Oak at 44 Walnut St., Ivoryton
  3. A Sunset Maple at 46 Comstock Street, Ivoryton
  4. A Sweet Gum at 6 Donald St., Essex
  5. An English Oak at 46 Dennison St., Essex
  6. An American Hornbeam on the West St. strip, Essex
  7. A Sunset Maple on High St. at the corner of Prospect, Essex
  8. A London Plane (sycamore family) at 168 River Road, Essex.

The grant is a 50-50 grant in which the funding through the state program is matched by an equivalent contribution from the grant recipient.  This matched contribution was made by the Town of Essex in the funding of the purchase and planting of the trees.

The Essex Tree Committee under the leadership of Augie Pampel, completed the above plantings by December 2014.  On December 1, Chris Donnelly, Urban Forestry Coordinator for DEEP Forestry, came to Essex to inspect and approve the plantings in order that the monies from the grant could be awarded to the Essex Tree Committee in accordance with the ATB grant guidelines. One of his tasks was checking the root flares and girdled roots to make sure the trees were not planted too deeply and assure the roots would not strangle the tree in the future. (see below)

Essex Tree-ATB grant 2014

The Essex Tree Committee would like to thank Fred Weber and Associates for their help in planting the trees and all the people who worked with the committee to select the appropriate sites for the trees.

If you would like to make a donation to the Essex Tree Committee or discuss a tree memorial, please contact Augie Pampel at: augiepampel@att.net.

Essex Resident Claims “Frontier” Has Raised Rates, and the Senator Responds

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

Essex resident Robert Kern has written a letter to State Senator Art Linares, complaining that Essex’s new telephone and Internet carrier, Frontier Communications, has raised rates in Essex, when it promised not to do so, after it had acquired local service from AT&T.

Kern in a letter to the Senator wrote that his, “customer bills have gone up despite the pledge by Frontier to keep them the same.” Kern also sent to the Senator, “my recent bills from AT&T and Frontier as an example.”

Making the Case

Kern continued, “Even though the basic line service charge has remained the same, they eliminate a $6.00 monthly ALL DISTANCE promotional credit and added a bogus ‘Carrier Cost Recovery Surcharge’ of $1.99 per month.” As a result,” Kern wrote, “my bill for the exact same services rose from $30.15 to $39.50, an increase of more than 26%.”

“This is outrageous,” Kern wrote the Senator. “Please check this out, as I’m certain customers within your district and across the state are confronted with these unwanted increases in this most basic of utility services.”

Senator Linares’ Response

Promptly responding to Kern’s complaint, the Senator wrote on December 9, “I am bringing your complaint to the attention of state officials.” Also, the Senator advised Kern that, “A Dec. 22 public meeting has been scheduled with executives of Frontier Communications regarding complaints like yours,” and that the meeting would include a public comment section.

The December 22 public meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m., and it will be held at the offices of the Public Utility Regulatory Authority at 10 Franklin Square in New Britain.

The Senator also wrote, “I have found that many frustrated taxpayers are unaware of how to bring their complaints directly to state officials. If you wish to do so on the Frontier issue email PURA at Pura.Executivesecretary@ct.gov and the Office of Consumer Counsel at occ.info@ct.gov.”

The Senator also wrote to Kern, “To file a complaint about Frontier service with the state Department of Consumer Protection, send an email to dcp.fraud@ct.gov,” that includes your contact information and the particulars of your complaint. .

Essex Town Meeting on Proposed $8.085 Million Bonding Plan Adjourns to December 15 Referendum Without Discussion

ESSEX— Voters Monday adjourned a town meeting on a proposed $8,085,000 bonding plan without discussion, setting the stage for an all day referendum on Dec. 15 on a plan that is expected to result in an increase in property taxes beginning in 2017.

About 40 residents, nearly half of them volunteer firefighters, turned out for the required town meeting on a plan that was first presented at a public hearing on Nov. 19. But the meeting was quickly adjourned to the referendum without questions or discussion. No one expressed opposition to any of the components of the bonding plan that will be presented for approval as five separate ballot questions in the referendum.

The bonding plan, developed over the past year by a building committee chaired by Selectman Bruce Glowac, was first presented at a Nov. 19 public hearing.. The plan includes two bridge replacement projects in the Ivoryton section and replacement of the roof at Essex Elementary School, which were identified as priorities at the start of the process, along with several other projects. The components, each presented as a separate yes-or-no ballot question, include $2,845,000 for replacement of the Walnut and Ivory street bridges, $2,815,000 for improvements at the elementary school, $1.3 million for improvements at town hall, $535,000 for improvements at the town public works garage, and $600,000 for purchase of a new pumper fire truck.

The two bridge projects and the school roof replacement are eligible for state or federal funding reimbursement of $2,055,000, leaving town tax payers to finance bonding of up to $3,030,000. The elementary school project also includes $600,000 for air conditioning at the school.

The town is expected to use bond anticipation notes to fund some of the initial projects, with the full 20-year bonds expected to be issued in late 2016 or early 2017. The highest year for debt service payments is expected to be 2017-2018, when the bonding plan is expected to require a 0.49 mill increase in the property tax rate that is currently set at 21.99 mills.

Town Finance Director Kelly Sterner said at the Nov. 19 hearing the 0.49 mill increase would represent about $147 in additional tax for a residential property assessed at $300,000. Debt service costs would begin to drop in 2021, falling off more steeply beginning in 2027 for a final pay off of the bonds in 2037. Polls will be open Monday at the town hall auditorium from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 

 

Essex Conservation Commission to Hold Off Lethal Trapping of Beavers

The conservation commission agreed Thursday to defer any possible lethal trapping of beavers in the ponds at Viney Hill Brook Park after hearing objections from dozens of residents at the panel’s regular meeting.

More than 80 residents turned out for the meeting of the commission that supervises the town’s open space lands, with most voicing opposition to the decision at a Nov. 6 meeting to pursue the trapping. The commission in recent months has been discussing damage caused by beavers to trees and trails at the 90 acre park. The commission had authorized some lethal trapping of beaver at the park in March 2011, a decision that drew objections from some residents, but not the public outcry sparked by the latest consideration of the trapping option.

About two dozen residents, including some children and teenagers, spoke in opposition to the option of lethal trapping. Many called the trapping, in which beavers are restrained and held underwater until drowning, as cruel and inhumane. Paul Leach said the method of removal “is unkind and therefore unacceptable,” while Scott Konrad maintained it take the animals several minutes to expire during the trapping. Several residents urged the commission to further investigate options for controlling beaver activity that do not include lethal trapping, with some offering to contribute money to pay for any devices or piping that could control the beaver without trapping.

But some residents, including parks and recreation commission members Jim Rawn and Robert Russo, contended too much beaver activity could impact water quality in the larger of the two ponds that is used as a town swimming area. Rawn said the swimming area was closed for a period in 2001 due to contamination of the water from animal feces, while also suggesting that beaver activity could undermine the man-made dams that help contain the two man-made former sand and gravel quarry ponds.

After hearing more than 90- minutes of public comment, commission members, some reluctant, agreed to hold off any lethal trapping this year to investigate other options for controlling and limiting damage caused by beaver activity. State rules limit beaver trapping to the colder weather months.

First Selectman Norman Needleman, who joined commission members at the table as an ex-officio member, urged the commission to spend additional time exploring other options for beaver control. Needleman also offered the services of the town’s consulting engineer, Robert Doane, to help establish whether the beaver activity truly poses any threat to the structure of the two ponds.

Op-Ed: Let’s Do Something About Essex’s Tacky “Front Door”

Cause for concern:  the bridge carrying Rte. 9 at exit 3 is Essex's "Front Door"

Cause for concern: the bridge carrying Rte. 9 at exit 3 is Essex’s “Front Door”

Look at the “front door” to Essex, Conn.:  Tacky, patch-painted bridges and untamed brush.  Hardly welcoming enticements for visitors, and in sharp contrast to the beautiful center road “gardens” maintained by our beloved, hard working,  Ancient Order of Weeders.

There are two issues here: (1) refurbishment of the bridges themselves and (2) upkeep of the land around the bridges.

(1)   Expense for upkeep of these bridges and surroundings belongs to the Conn. Dept. of Transportation (DOT).  Conversations with the DOT regarding Essex’s tackiness
result in this:  due to budget constraints, repainting these  bridges (lead paint is huge issue) will only happen when the bridge needs major structural rehab.  However, were there grafitti all over the  bridges, the DOT could indeed get out and cover it.  Which is to say, the DOT could make the bridges look good without the necessity of the total overhaul.  But will not.  The solution is simple!  All I need to do is to get out with long-armed spray paint cans (would you join me?) and spell out something gross.  Just kidding.

Underneath the Rte. 9 bridge -- not a pretty picture.

Underneath the Rte. 9 bridge — not a pretty picture.

I challenge the so-called “budget constraints.”  While the DOT has no funds to fix the ugly Essex bridges, it does indeed have budget to mow down, — remove — all greenery in a large divider section on Rte. 9 at Exit 2.  You’ve surely noticed it.   Inquiries with State Rep. Phil Miller indicate the reason for the mowing was that there were invasive trees in that area.  So when or why does the DOT study and determine the quality of greenery on public lands?  Connecticut has a Forestry Dept. within the Department of Environmental Protection that studies and has funds to control such problems. The DOT has funds for invasive tree eradication, but not for tidying up ugly bridges.

A view of the Old Saybrook exit.

A view of the Old Saybrook exit.

As you can see, there is something awry here.  But, as it appears hopeless that such wasteful duplications in our State Government will be fixed soon, if ever, it seems that the only way Essex can get its ‘Front Door’ at Exit 3 spruced up, is by a special allowance to the DOT from State funds specific for “Bridge Beautification.”  I submit that as there are State Small Town Economic Assistance Program ( STEAP) funds granted for upgrades to replace crosswalks, tennis courts and parking lots, there surely are funds available to relieve Essex of its “Tacky Town” appearance.

I-95's Exit 70 offers a beautiful gateway to Old Lyme.

I-95’s Exit 70 offers a beautiful gateway to Old Lyme.

(2)   In contrast to Essex’s bridges and surrounding areas, look at the expansive, elegant and well-mowed plantings at I-95,  Exit 70, Old Lyme.  I hereby ask of the DOT to give Essex equal treatment.  And I hereby request Essex’s First Selectman Norm Needleman to request a State grant to the DOT to speed along this project.  In addition,  I hereby request our state representatives … Phil Miller and Art Linares … to assist in pushing these projects through.

Essex Elementary School Foundation Hosts Haiti Day

Second grader Lyle Pitman works on his Haitian mask.

Second grader Lyle Pitman works on his Haitian mask.

Second and third grade students at the Essex Elementary School were recently treated to Haiti Day, as part of the Justus W. Paul World Cultures program, funded by the Essex Elementary School Foundation.  They learned about Haitian life and culture by making masks and metal art, as well as listening to music performed by the Carnival Trio.  The children will also study India and China.

In early December, the Essex Elementary School Foundation (EESF) kicked off its annual appeal.  In addition to the World Cultures Program, this not-for-profit, volunteer organization also provides funds for enrichment programs, such as an iPad lab, a talent show and a mathematician-in-residence.

United Church of Christ Seeks Christian Education Director

The United Church of Chester is currently looking for a Christian Education Director.  See the church website at uccchester.org or email unitedchester@sbcglobal.net or call 860-526-2697 for a job description.

The church’s mission states, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here at the United Church of Chester, an Open and Affirming Church, and a member of the United Church of Christ.”  Each member has the undisturbed right to follow the Word of God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience, under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

Visit for Sunday morning worship at 10 a.m. or come by the office Tues-Fri 9 a.m.-1 p.m. to find out more about the church.

The mailing address for the church is United Church of Chester Post Office Box 383 29 West Main Street  Chester, Connecticut 06412

Letter: Must Consider the Health Risks the Beavers Present

To the Editor:

It’s distressing to read the several letters about the extermination of the beavers at Vineyard Hill Brook Park. You can be sure the “remedy” chosen to remove the beavers from the park is a last resort, not the first choice, of the park managers. The unfortunate reality is that water in which beaver resides is not healthy, is in fact dangerous, for humans, especially young humans.

Maybe the remedy would be to allow a pond to be developed downstream, somewhere, or some such; there just aren’t a lot of places to which they can be removed any more. The reason Essex has the park is to allow people to swim and play in a potable water body, not just for fun, but also to learn a little about being able to survive in water.

We allow the killing of other animals which are a threat to us, and though it is not my own desire to do this, no one seems to have a better remedy.

Sincerely,

Jonathan James
Essex

Friends of the Essex Library Donate $10,000 to the Library for New Front Doors

Friends Essex Library October 2014

Linda Levene, President of the Friends of the Essex Library presented Richard Conroy, Director of the Essex Library with a check for $10,000 at the Annual Meeting of the Library on Wednesday evening October 15.  The donation will be used to install new, easy to operate front doors on the Library’s Grove Street entrance.  Richard Conroy thanked the Friends for their gift, saying it would be “…appreciated by everyone each time they visit the Library.”

The Friends donation is the result of two very successful fundraising events this Fall:  “Our Library Rocks” in September and the annual Fall Book Sale in October.

Essex Selectmen Schedule Nov. 5 Public Information Meeting on Ivoryton Main Street Project

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has scheduled a Nov. 5 public information meeting on a grant-funded improvement project for a section of Main Street in the Ivoryton village. The session will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.
The project, which includes four new raised crosswalks, new curbing and sidewalks and some new lighting, is to be funded by a $435,000 grant awarded last year from the state’s Main Streets Investment Fund program. The town has hiredAnchor Engineering Services of Glastonbury to prepare design plans for the improvements.

Selectwoman Stacia Libby, who been coordinating the project said at Wednesday’s board meeting that project engineers would be at the Nov. 5 meeting to review the plans with residents and answer questions. Libby said the plans have been reviewed by the parks and recreation and planning commissions, and had received a favorable response at a recent meeting with members of the Ivoryton Alliance, a group comprised of business and property owners in Ivoryton Village. The preliminary design plans will also be on display at the Ivoryton Library before the Nov. 5 meeting

The plans also include removal of a paved island at the intersection of Main and Summit streets that was constructed in the early 1970s. The removal would create a wider T-shaped intersection that would be safer and more convenient for winter snow plows and fire trucks from the Ivoryton Firehouse on Summit Street. Selectmen are hoping to put the project out to bid by May 2015 for construction next year.

Essex Garden Club Installs “Francesca”

Franchescagardenclub

Essex Garden Club has created “Francesca” to compete in this year’s Scarecrow Competition sponsored by the Essex Board of Trade. Pictured left to right are Eve Potts, Mylan Sarner and Sandy French.  “Francesca” sits at the entrance to Town Park on Main Street where the Garden Club members recently completed their fall cleanup.

Essex Selectmen Endorse Possible $8 Million Bonding for Capital Projects

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday gave a preliminary endorsement to a possible $8 million bond issue for capital projects, adding $600,000 for a new fire truck to a list of projects that had been recommended by an advisory capital projects committee.

The board discussed the capital projects report that was submitted last month for nearly an hour, along with a separate 10-year capital expenditures plan that was submitted by the Essex Volunteer Fire Department. The selectmen crafted a motion to approve a capital projects plan, but deferred a final vote on an exact recommended projects and bonding total to its Oct. 15 meeting.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the board of finance would begin discussing the capital projects plan at it’s Oct. 16 meeting, with the next step a public hearing on the projects and proposed bonding that would be held in mid-November. He said a referendum vote on a possible bonding authorization for capital projects could be held before the end of the year.

The volunteer fire department last month submitted a 10-year capital expenditures plan that would include possible renovation and expansion of the Ivoryton Firehouse in 2024. The most immediate item on the list is the $600,000 purchase of a new pumper fire truck by 2017 that would replace a 1994 model truck.

Selectmen agreed to add the new fire truck to the capital projects list recommended by the committee, concluding that bond funds should be available to purchase the truck by 2017. The capital projects plan recommended by the committee would require about $6 million in bonding, though the town would be eligible for $2 million in state or federal funding reimbursement for a bridge replacement project and improvements at Essex Elementary School.

The work at the elementary school, including roof replacement and other improvements, would cost about $2.52 million. The two Ivoryton section bridge projects, replacement of the 30 year-old Walnut Street bridge and a much smaller bridge on Ivory Street, are estimated to cost $2.1 million. The plan also includes $1.65 million for renovations and improvements at town hall, and $470,000 for improvements at the town public works garage.

There was no discussion Wednesday on removing any projects from the list recommended by the committee. But Needleman said the list of projects and proposed bonding total would be subject to possible change based on the review by the finance board and input received at the public hearing.

Essex Meadows Receives LEED Gold Certification

ESSEX — Imagine what a group of residents and staff who cares about its environment can do for a 26-year-old retirement community with 318,936 sq. ft. of space. With lighting upgrades, solar power, geothermal heating, low-flow plumbing and an ozone injection system, among other investments, the result is a resourceful use of water, chemicals and electricity in daily life. Essex Meadows, a lifecare retirement community located at 30 Bokum Road in Essex, Conn., has implemented these green principles, and is proud to announce that the U.S. Green Building Council has recognized the community’s efforts and has given it one of the organization’s highest honors: LEED Gold certification. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an initiative promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council to recognize organizations across the country and their efforts to reduce global footprints.

“We’re honored to receive this certification,” said Jennifer Rannestad, Executive Director of Essex Meadows. “We find it very important to make a difference, and now our efforts to do our part have been recognized.”

Senior living communities across the country are making renovations to improve environmental sustainability as a new wave of older adults, with progressive priorities in addition to a desire for the traditional necessities of retirement living, are searching for active, engaged communities to call home. Essex Meadows took the necessary steps to meet changing expectations, which include: installation of a solar power system; geothermal heating and cooling used in new construction; lighting upgrades; extensive HVAC balance testing; non-potable water used in irrigation; new low-flow plumbing fixtures; an ozone injection system added to laundry; a full recycling and green cleaning program; and naturalized meadows for wildlife and reduced mowing. Essex Meadows also purchases locally grown food when feasible, and provides real-time monitoring of the community’s solar power system on its website to show the positive impact the installation is having.

“Our green initiatives are important aspects of what makes Essex Meadows what it is,” Rannestad said. “And these initial principles we’ve implemented are a step in the right direction for us to continue making a difference.”

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program takes into account many factors while considering whether a structure is certified “green.” Categories judged and scored for each building include: Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, and Innovation in Operations.

 

New Pastor at First Baptist Church in Essex

On September 28th, First Baptist Church in Essex officially installed their new pastor, Rev. Joy Perkett.  Participants in the service included Rev. Joe Delahunt, a representative of the American Baptist Churches of Connecticut, Rev. Amy Hollis, a local Baptist pastor and former member of First Baptist Church in Essex and Philip Miller, the state representative for the 36th Assembly District.

Joy Perkett was called by the congregation in early May and her first Sunday was July 13th.    She is an ordained minister in the American Baptist tradition and holds a Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work from Boston University.  Rev. Perkett is also a Licensed Master Social Worker.  Prior to her appointment at First Baptist Church in Essex, she worked as a campaign coordinator around issues of economic justice and as a case manager with people recovering from addiction and mental illness.   Rev. Perkett’s vision for ministry is one in which we experience God’s love and peace in our own lives and then go forth and share it with the world.  She is passionate about spiritual growth and development as well as meaningful work in the community.   She was drawn to First Baptist Church in Essex by the deep, abiding love they share with one another and with the world.

First Baptist Church in Essex was founded in 1811 and built in its current location in 1846.  The church’s slogan is “Planting the Seeds of God’s Love since 1811”.  One of the notable ways the church planted seeds of God’s love is by envisioning and starting the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries in 1989.  Since then, the non-profit has grown to include eight soup kitchens and four food pantries in an eleven town area.  First Baptist Church remains active in the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and continues to envision new ways to serve including donating meat for the local food programs and collecting food donations at local grocery stores.  The church also fosters relationships and spiritual growth through its book and Bible studies.  They meet for worship on Sundays at 10 a.m.  For more information, visit the church website at www.fbcinessex.org or call the office at 860-767-8623.

Essex Historical Society Receives $12,500 Grant from 1772 Foundation

The Pratt House

The Pratt House

ESSEX — The Essex Historical Society (EHS) has been awarded a $12,500 grant from the 1772 Foundation, in partnership with CT Trust for Historic Preservation, to support restoration work on the Pratt House Museum. The award is part of the 1772 Foundation’s highly competitive matching grant program for historic preservation projects.

The funding will support repair on the Pratt House that was recommended by Building Conservation Associates, Inc. of Dedham, Mass., in its 2012 Architectural Conservation Assessment. These recommendations include: repair of the Pratt House’s exterior foundation, painting the exterior and glazing its windows, repairing gutter work, cleaning the interior of the chimney and replacing a missing door in the cellar.

“We are grateful to the 1772 Foundation for their support,” said Sherry Clark, president of the Essex Historical Society. “With the grant and the matched funding by the Essex Historical Society, nearly all of the necessary repairs and maintenance recommended in the Architectural Conservation Assessment of the Pratt House will be completed.”

The restoration work is scheduled to begin October 2014 and to be complete by May 2015.

The historic Pratt House was built in 1701 and was home to the descendants of Lt. William Pratt, one of the three first settlers of Essex for two centuries. Its barn, traditional herb garden and meadow complete the pastoral setting of a New England farmhouse. The house remained in the Pratt family ownership until 1952, when it was deeded to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now known as Historic New England). In 1985 Historic New England transferred the property and much of its contents to EHS, and EHS has been caring for the property ever since. Visitors are invited to tour the home Fridays through Sundays, from June through September.

About the 1772 Foundation —The 1772 Foundation was named in honor of its first restoration project, Liberty Hall in Union, NJ, which was built in 1772 and is the ancestral home of the Livingston and Kean families. The late Stewart B. Kean was the original benefactor of the 1772 Foundation. The Foundation seeks to continue his legacy throughout the country by helping preserve architectural and cultural history and agricultural landscapes for generations to come. For more information, visithttp://www.1772foundation.org/.

About the Essex Historical Society — The Essex Historical Society seeks to promote awareness and understanding of the people, places and events that have shaped the history of Essex, Connecticut. The Society collects and interprets artifacts and archival material, and provides educational programs and exhibits to bring those interpretations to the community. To house this collection and to provide a window into earlier Essex life, the Society maintains two historic structures: Pratt House (1701) and Hills Academy (1832). Recognizing the importance of the past to our understanding of the present and our planning for the future, the Essex Historical Society advocates the preservation of significant structures and sites that reveal the history of Essex. To learn more, visit the EHS website and follow EHS on Facebook.

Talking Trash – Essex Land Trust Coordinates Shoreline Cleanup

In general, Essex is not one of those communities where trash in public places is a problem. Along the length of our Connecticut River shoreline, however, it is another matter. The amount of debris that accumulates along our shores is nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately, there seems to be a never-ending supply of debris along the riverbanks.

The Connecticut River’s steady flow towards its mouth brings with it logs, branches and other organic material that are swept into the river by storms, high tides and occasional flooding. It also brings with it an incredible array of items that have clearly been carelessly allowed to be swept away or dumped outright into the river.

For the past two years the Essex Land Trust has tried to do its part by focusing on cleaning up Essex’s Great Meadow. This past Fall, on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, 65 volunteers dedicated three hours to gathering all kinds of trash including, significant quantities of Styrofoam, bottles, cans, car tires and more.

This effort is part of an annual program sponsored by the Connecticut River Watershed Council Participating. Called the Source to Sea Cleanup, each September communities along the 410-mile length of the Connecticut River dedicate themselves to cleaning up their shoreline. This past year, 2,227 volunteers collected a total haul of 45 tons, which included electrical appliances, furniture, automotive parts, and mattresses, among many other items.

The list of debris collected on the Essex Great Meadow is shown below:

  1. Glass bottles (5 five gallon buckets)
  2. Plastic bottles (27 thirty gallon bags)
  3. Plastic items (3 five gallon buckets)
  4. Styrofoam (35 thirty gallon bags)
  5. Tires (19)
  6. Wood (19 lbs)
  7. Metal items (10)
  8. Other items (6′ x 3′ plastic tub, 50 gallon plastic and metal drums, 30 gallon plastic drum, 2′ x 4′ plastic float, fiberglass kayak, hunting tent, large float/raft, LP gas container, plastic sled)

Besides being unsightly, trash in our water bodies has a damaging effect on the environment particularly impacting wildlife and vegetation. One measure of this impact is the decomposition rate of common debris. The following chart illustrate how long items last in our environment, i.e., 200 years for aluminum cans and 450 years for plastic bottles.

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The Connecticut River has come a long way from the 1950s when it was called the “best landscaped sewer in the country.” The passage of the Clean Water Act and the ban on DDT in 1972 have done much to help the river recover to a Class B status, meaning that it is safe for all purposes excluding drinking. Turning to the future, our challenge is to build on the progress achieved by ensuring a cleaner and healthier river, one that would harken back to the days when the Algonquians gave it its name, the “quinetucket,” the place of the long tidal river.

The Land Trust intends to repeat the Great Meadow clean up this coming September. The date has already been set: Saturday, September 27 at 9 am. So, mark your calendars!

 

Essex Wellness Center – New Essex Business Unlike Any Other

ESSEX — The Essex Wellness Center has opened its doors at 28 Main Street in the colonial village of Essex, Connecticut.

The first of its kind in or near this idyllic riverfront community, Essex Wellness Center offers a strategically developed range of holistic services in one location. Medical specialties and complementary therapies include naturopathic and Chinese medicine, acupuncture, anti-aging techniques, nutrition for health and weight loss, hypnosis, life coaching, therapy for body image and eating disorders, massage, integrative nurse coaching, mindful meditation, life and business/executive leadership coaching, and counseling for substance abuse and addictions.

Having a team of holistic minded health professionals under one roof is beyond convenient; it allows for assessments and a comprehensive wellness plan for a client who may be experiencing complicated symptoms triggered by anxiety, allergies, burnout, sports injury, or for someone who wants to strengthen their immune system or overcome a struggle with weight, smoking, insomnia, phobias, substance abuse or addiction.

Services and classes at Essex Wellness Center’s waterside locations on nearby Novelty Lane include Tai Chi and Qigong with Master Teacher David Chandler, Pilates, yoga, mindfulness meditation, Reiki, Barre, Zumba and personal and private fitness training.Essex Wellness Center founder and director Heidi Kunzli, MS, LADC, created this consortium of highly experienced holistic providers following the same high standards by which she grew her internationally acclaimed Privé-Swiss mental health retreat program in Laguna Beach, California. Founded 14 years ago, Privé-Swiss maintains a world-renowned reputation for offering clinical excellence through practitioners who deliver exceptional quality in care.

“Bringing the Essex Wellness Center to this enchanting village of Essex is a thrill,” said Kunzli, a Connecticut native and Essex resident. “The charm of this town and natural beauty of the river seem like a perfect fit for our natural approach to healing and maintaining optimum physical and mental health for a long, fulfilling life.”

Program updates, class schedules, new services and news about health and wellness will be posted through  facebook.com/ essexwellnesscenter , on Twitter @essexwellnessct and at www.essexwellnessctr.com. Call 860.767.7770 with questions or to make an appointment.

Essex Selectmen Review Plan for Ivoryton Main Street Improvements

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday reviewed a conceptual plan for state grant-funded  improvements to Main Street in the Ivoryton section that could be put out to bid in the spring of 2015.

The town last year was awarded a $435,000 state Main Street Investment Fund grant for several improvements that would  slow traffic through Ivoryton village and create an improved pedestrian environment with four new or improved raised crosswalks. Based on a recommendation from an advisory committee chaired by Selectwoman Stacia Libby, the town earlier this year hired Anchor Engineering Services of Glastonbury to prepare preliminary plans for the project.
One key component of the plan is the removal of a raised island at the intersection of Summit Street and Main Street  that was constructed in the early 1970s with little input from the public.  The removal would create a wider T intersection for the two streets.

The plan also calls for new curbing and sidewalk, along with the new crosswalks. There would also be several new lantern pole-style streetlights installed on the easternmost end of Main Street, extending lighting that was first installed with state grant funding in 2005.  A reconfiguration of the parking area for the Ivorvton Park on the north side of Main Street would add a handful of additional public parking spaces for the village.

Libby said some of the improvements depicted in the plan would require approval from owners of private property on the street. Libby said the conceptual plan is now being reviewed by several town commissions, with a goal of putting the project out to bid by May 2015.

Essex Officials Cut Ribbon on Town Hall Civic Campus Project

Cutting the ribbon: (l to r) First Selectman Norman Needleman, Ryce Libby, Maizy Libby, Selectman Stacy Libby, Selectman Bruce Glowar (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Cutting the ribbon: (l to r) First Selectman Norman Needleman, Ryce Libby, Maizy Libby, Selectman Stacy Libby, Selectman Bruce Glowar (photo by Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— A crowd of more than 70 residents was on hand late Wednesday afternoon as the board of selectmen held a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting for the Town Hall Civic Campus project.

The project, which includes a an expanded and improved parking area for town hall, new tennis courts, and a new handicapped accessible children’s playscape, was funded through a combination of state grand funds with some town funding. Completion of the tennis courts earlier this year marked the final phase for a project hat began last fall with work on the town hall parking lot. Most of the heaviest construction work was done by Xenelis Construction Inc. of Middlefield, with some work completed by town public works employees and sub-contractors.

The town was awarded a $471,500 Small  Town Economic Assistance Program, (STEAP) grant for the project in the fall of 2012. Town Finance Director Kelly Sterner said this week the total cost of the project was about $620,000, with the largest components covered by the grant funding, Town funds were used for improvements to the front entrance to town hall on West Avenue, and new crosswalks and sidewalks on Grove Street  at the other side of the building. A $10,000 donation from the Bauman Family Foundation paid for lighting for the tennis courts.

Sterner was one of several town employees praised for their efforts on the project by First Selectman Norman Needleman at the ceremony Wednesday. Needleman, who described the project as a “perfect example of state and local partnership,” said Sterner had helped prepare the grant application while also guiding the different sources of funding for the project. He also praised Parks and Recreation Director Rick Audett for his efforts during construction of the tennis courts and playscape at the Grove Street Park that abuts the town hall property.

Essex First Selectman  Norman Needleman makes opening remarks prior to ribbon cutting (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman makes opening remarks prior to ribbon cutting (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Also participating at the ceremony Wednesday were two incumbent legislators from different political parties who are seeking new terms in the Nov. 4 election, 36th District Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex, and 33rd District Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook.

Essex Garden Club Announces Officers for 2014

Officers2014 (2)

New Officers of the Essex Garden Club. From L to R: Carol Denham, Barbara Burgess, Linda Newberg, Patricia Mather, Dianne Sexton, Barbara Marden and Barbara Hall

Essex Garden Club has announced its new officers.  Officers for the for 2014-15 are Linda Newberg, president; Barbara Burgess, first vice president; Dianne Sexton, second vice president; Barbara Hall, recording secretary, Barbara Marden, corresponding secretary; Patricia Mather, treasurer; and Carol Denham, assistant treasurer.

In her opening remarks at the September meeting, Newberg described the club’s agenda and activities for the coming year, and introduced the theme for this year, “A Tribute to You”.  She went on to say that the success of the club’s projects is directly dependent on the tireless work of the many club volunteers.  These projects include civic beautification, scholarships, and educational and conservation initiatives.

Essex Transfer Station and Recycling Center Procedures Starting October

Pitching in the garbage with feeling

Pitching in the garbage with feeling

The Town of Essex’s Transfer Station and Recycling Center, which is located a 5 Dump Road in Essex, will adopt new use procedures, effective October 1, 2014. From that date forward, users of the transfer station must either have: 1) a valid official sticker affixed to the windshield of their vehicle, or 2) a pre-paid punch card in hand, before disposing of household garbage and trash at the Essex town transfer station.

Use of the transfer station is limited, exclusively, to the residents of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton. The transfer station is located in Essex at 5 Dump Road off Route 154. It is also just off Exit 4 of Route 9. The hours of operation at the facility are Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Windshield stickers permitting a year’s unlimited access to the transfer station can only be purchased at the Town Clerk’s office at the Town Hall in downtown Essex. The cost of a one year permit is $125, and $75 for seniors. They can be paid for by cash or check, but not by credit card. The Town Clerk will also sell 10 bag punch cards for $25 a card.

In the addition, the transfer station at 5 Dump Road will sell 10 bag punch cards. which can be paid for by check, credit or debit card, but not by cash.

Supplemental Disposal Fees

Effective October 1, there will also be additional Supplemental Disposal Fees for users of the transfer station. The supplemental fees, which will be collected at the transfer station, will range in price from $5 for the disposal of an old tire, to $20 for the disposal of sleeping furniture. However, there will be no extra Supplemental Disposal Fees for many items, such as antifreeze, computers, leaves or paint.

Payment of Annual Stickers and Punch Cards Online

Essex residents can download the Transfer Station’s Resident Pass Application form by going to the Essex town website at www.essexct,gov. The form on the website is listed under “News & Announcements.” Also available on the Town of Essex Transfer Station & Recycling Center website is a complete roster of Supplemental Waste Disposal fees, effective October 1.

A benefit when purchasing an annual user sticker before October 1, 2014 is that purchasers can begin using the annual stickers immediately, thus giving them some days free of fees before the October 1, 2014, the effective date of the new windshield stickers and punch cards.

In announcing its new waste disposal rules Essex residents were reminded that the annual stickers and punch cards only allow the disposal of household garbage and trash. Information regarding other accepted disposal items can be found in the transfer station’s brochure, which is available at the transfer station, and on its website.

The Betty Pierson Recycling Building

Another service at the Essex transfer station is a recycling center that offers reusable items that Essex residents are offering without charge to their neighbors. Items such as wooden furniture, household items and bicycles in good condition may be left for the use of fellow Essex residents at the center. The items are for personal use only.

The recycling center

The Betty Pierson Recycling Building

Essex residents who wish to pick up these items are restricted to one trip a week to the Betty Pierson Recycling shed. No loitering at the building is permitted, and the staff at the transfer station will enforce these policies.

Lawsuit Involving Essex Veterans Memorial Hall is Withdrawn

ESSEX— A lawsuit against the Essex Veterans Memorial Hall Inc. that was filed last December has been withdrawn after a Middlesex Superior Court judge held settlement conferences with the parties. The lawsuit filed by local lawyer Michael Peck included the town because the town remains a fall back owner of the Essex Veterans Memorial Hall property located in the Centerbrook section.

Peck, a veteran and Chester resident, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Michael Bergeron, a town resident who is a Gulf War veteran. Peck claimed in the suit that Begeron had been improperly banned from the property, including a club area where alcoholic beverages are sold, and from local veterans activities. The lawsuit also claimed Essex Veterans Memorial Hall Inc. had lost, and never regained, its status as a non-profit tax exempt organization, and that a majority of the EVM club members are no longer U.S. military veterans.

The town-owned property was donated to returning World War II veterans in 1946 for use as a meeting hall for local veterans organizations. The building has served as a meeting hall for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and occasionally other veterans organizations for more than 60 years. The separate club has been in operation during this time for sale of alcoholic beverages to members and their guests.

Peck said this week he withdrew the lawsuit at the end of July after three settlement conferences directed by Middlesex Superior Court Judge Edward Domnarski, who is an Essex resident. Also participating in the sessions was Richard Palladino, an Old Saybrook lawyer retained by EVM Inc. in response to the lawsuit. Peck said town attorney David Royston declined to participate in the sessions.

Peck said the settlement did not result in reinstatement of Bergeron as a club member, but did clarify the legal status of the property and various procedures that are required of EVM Inc.. as a tax exempt not-profit veterans organization. He said EVM Inc. has regained its 501C18 status as a tax exempt organization, and has also  pledged to strive to ensure that at least 75 percent of club members are veterans.

After a review by the state Liquor Control Commission, the EVM club retains its liquor license. The club is planning its annual Pig Roast, which is open to the public, for Saturday Sept. 13.

Essex Capital Projects Submitted to Selectmen, Bonding Could Exceed $6 Million

 

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday received a long-awaited report on municipal capital building projects. The selectmen deferred discussion to a Sept. 17 meeting on a list of projects that could require more than $6 million in bonding if all of the projects were included in a bonding authorization resolution.

The 22-page report was prepared by a Capital Projects Building Committee that was established the fall of 2013 to carry forward the efforts of a capital projects study committee that was formed in 2012. The committee was chaired by Selectman Bruce Glowac, with members that included Finance Director Kelly Sterner and Leigh Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer who also serves on the Region 4 Board of Education. The committee worked with the engineering firm CME Associates Inc. of Woodstock to develop preliminary cost estimates for each project.

Glowac said the report lists projects in priority order, and includes projects the committee believes should be addressed by the town looking forward for the next ten years. The top priorities are replacement of the Walnut Street and Ivory Street bridges in the Ivoryton section, along with five improvements at Essex Elementary School, the most important being replacement of most of the school roof.

Cost estimates for the bridge projects are $2.1 million for the Walnut Street bridge, and $450,000 for the Ivory Street bridge. The elementary school projects total $2.52 million, including  $1.4 million for the roof replacement, $600,000 for air conditioning at the school, $225,000 for paving work around the front entrance, and $185,000 for improvements to the school media center, including removal of asbestos located under the floor tiles. The town has already expended $110,000 to convert the school to newly available natural gas heating.

The report estimates the Walnut Street bridge replacement and the school roof replacement would be eligible for $2,055,000 in grant funding reimbursement that would reduce the actual expense for town taxpayers.

The report lists six improvements at town hall with a total estimated cost of $1,165,000. Projects include roof replacement-$200,000, 47 new energy efficient windows-$115,000, reconfiguring land use offices-$500,000, air quality improvements-$200,000, bathroom improvements $120,000, and a new fire alarm system that would include a fire suppression system for the town records vault-$30,000.

The report lists three improvements for the town public works garage with a total estimated cost of $470,000. The projects include replacing the roof of the garage that is  more than 30 years old-$109,000, a new heating system for the facility-$97,000, and a new two bay garage with a covered storage area for road salt and sand-$264,000.

The selectmen are expected to review the report with the board of finance later this month, and hold one or more public information sessions during the fall before final decisions are made on a bonding authorization resolution that would be presented to town voters for approval in a referendum.

Arnold to Lead Commercial Lending at Essex Savings Bank

Diane H  Arnold

Diane H Arnold

ESSEX — Gregory R. Shook, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank is pleased to announce the promotion of Diane H. Arnold to the position of Vice President/Senior Commercial Loan Officer.  Mrs. Arnold is responsible for business development and portfolio management, as well as assisting in the growth of the commercial loan department by utilizing her thirty one years of broad banking experience.  Mrs. Arnold previously served as the Vice President of Southington Savings Bank from 1993 until 2001 where she managed the credit department.  From 1988 to 1993, Arnold served as the Assistant Treasurer and Commercial Loan Officer at Branford Savings Bank.  Mrs. Arnold earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Quinnipiac College.  She is also a 1990 graduate of the Connecticut School of Finance and Management.  Mrs. Arnold is a resident of Ivoryton.

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

Ivoryton Village Named to National Register of Historic Places

Rose Brother’s Store and village gathering spot, as it was almost a century ago

Rose Brother’s Store and village gathering spot, as it was almost a century ago

ESSEX— The Village of Ivoryton has been placed on the National Parks Service National Register of Historic Places in recognition of the number of historic structures in the village and it’s role as a “well preserved company town” from the Industrial era of New England.

The town’s planning commission played a key role in the village’s nomination and inclusion on the National Register, which includes hundreds of historic sites and structures in all parts of the United States. The commission established a subcommittee more than three years ago that surveyed and documented nearly 100 historic structures in the three villages of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton with assistance from the State Office of Historic Preservation. The effort was aided by the work of the late former Town Historian Donald Malcarne, who wrote several books about the town’s historic in its historic structures.

Gather  today.  The building is practically unchanged from a century ago when it served as the location of the Rose Brother’s Store (photo by Jody Dole)

Gather today. The building is practically unchanged from a century ago when it served as the location of the Rose Brother’s Store (photo by Jody Dole)

With more then 200 identified “contributing” structures, the National  Register highlights an area roughly bounded by Main St., North Main St., Oak St., Blake St., Summit St. and Comstock Avenue. These streets include many structures tied to the village’s two major industries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the ivory import and manufacturers Comstock, Cheney & Co. and Pratt, Read & Co, Many of the houses in the area were home to immigrants from Germany, Poland, Italy and Sweden that worked in the two ivory processing factories.

Between 1860 and the late 1930s, Ivoryton was a self-sufficient industrial center that was home for more than 600 workers. Both the Ivoryton Library and Ivoryton Playhouse buildings date back to this era.

The addition of Ivoryton village to the National Register represents a tribute to its continuing historic character and contributions to the Industrial Era in New England, but the honorary designation carries no regulatory burden and imposes no obligations on private property owners. There are no restrictions on the use, transfer or disposition of private property, though the designation could open the possibility of funding assistance for restoration of identified historic structures,.