September 1, 2014

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,.

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

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Emily Bjornberg, Democratic candidate for the 33rd Senate Seat

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

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

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

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

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

 

Play Ball! 19th-Century Style – Sep. 21

The historical societies of Chester, Deep River and Essex are teaming up to present a tri-town Vintage Base Ball game on Sunday, Sept. 21 at Devitt Field in Deep River. The 2 p.m. game will be free to the public.

Three teams – one from each town – are being formed. The teams will play by late 19th-century rules (such as no bunting or stealing) and customs to recreate the earliest days of America’s pastime, when courtesy prevailed on and off the playing field. There is no swearing, no spitting and no “ungentlemanly” behavior anywhere during the games.

Ballists (players) will use replica equipment such as authentic reproduction wooden bats and hand-sewn hard balls. No gloves are worn.

The three teams will play two or three-inning games in a round-robin format.

Men and women over age 16 who enjoy playing baseball and have an interest in the game’s history are encouraged to submit their name to chestercthistoricalsociety@gmail.com before July 29 to be considered for a team. Team members will be asked to pay $20 each for a vintage team shirt.

Saybrook Point Inn & Spa Donates $25,000 to The Preserve

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, Old SAybrook.

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, Old Saybrook.

OLD SAYBROOK –– The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, through the Louis F. and Mary A. Tagliatela Family Foundation, has donated $25,000 to “The Preserve,” a swath of 1,000 acres of coastal forest along the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, Connecticut.  As the largest unprotected coastal forest between New York and Boston, this land is rich in natural resources, wildlife and habitat that not only offers residents with outdoor recreational opportunities, but also provides an important coastal buffer against storm waters during natural disasters.  Residents of Connecticut treasure this 1,000-acre coastal forest as a place to connect with nature close to home. Known locally as The Preserve, the woodland plays an important role in maintaining water quality in Trout Brook and the Oyster and Mud rivers, which feed into the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. The partnership to preserve and protect this natural ecosystem in Connecticut consists of the State of Connecticut, neighboring towns (Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook), and The Trust for Public Land.

“On behalf of my family, we are proud to be able to preserve and protect one of Connecticut’s most sacred ecosystems for generations to come,” said Stephen Tagliatela, Innkeeper/Managing Partner, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa. “It’s always been a founding principle of our family to care and maintain the environment we live in. It’s through our efforts, in cooperation with the Trust for Public Land, Town of Old Saybrook, and Essex Land Trust, that we will conserve this important coastal forest to forever as a natural asset for our region and our state.”

On Tuesday, July 8th, voters in Old Saybrook overwhelmingly approved the purchase of “The Preserve,” which will now be protected in perpetuity as open space for Connecticut residents for generations to come. As the largest unprotected coastal forest between New York City and Boston, this 1,000-acre ecosystem will be permanently protected from future development. It will connect to 500 acres of existing town parkland providing expanded opportunities for hiking and viewing a variety of birds and other wildlife.

“We are very grateful that the Tagliatela family has made this very generous gift to support the Campaign to Protect the 1,000 Acre Forest,” said Kate Brown, Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land. “This is a wonderful boost that will help us move closer to the fundraising goal and permanent protection of the land.”

The Louis F. and Mary A. Tagliatela Foundation was established in 1997 by North Haven business leader Louis F. Tagliatela. Over the years, the Foundation has donated more than $9 million to support local non-profit organizations including hospitals, schools and churches. In addition, the organization helped establish the Tagliatela School of Engineering at the University of New Haven and the Tagliatela School of Business at Albertus Magnus College.

The Preserve is a 1,000-acre coastal forest located in Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook, Connecticut. It is the largest unprotected coastal forest remaining between New York City and Boston. The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles. Bobcats and fisher cats have also been spotted on the property.  The land includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, headwaters of the Oyster River, and tributaries of the Mud and Trout Brook Rivers. These rivers eventually flow into Long Island Sound.

The property has a fifteen-year history of development proposals, foreclosure, and lawsuits by neighbors and conservationists opposing its development. The land is currently owned by Lehman Brothers Holdings, the holding company that emerged from the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. The holding company has agreed to sell the property to The Trust for Public Land for its fair market value of $8.09 million. If protected, this highly unusual intact coastal forest will be preserved and the public will have passive recreational access to the property via trails.

The Trust for Public Land is working in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environ-mental Protection, the Towns of Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook, the Old Saybrook Land Trust, the Essex Land Trust, The Connecticut Fund for the Environment, the Alliance for Sound Area Planning, Audubon Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy, and others to raise the funding necessary to protect The Preserve. The goal of the fundraising effort is to raise $10 million to cover the purchase price, costs and stewardship. We expect to raise $3 million via a private fundraising campaign, to supplement $7 million in public funding.

Since it opened 25 years ago, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa has adapted and changed. It has taken a decidedly green direction, win­ning numerous awards for its often best-in-class green practices, including the first Connecticut inn to be named a Certified Energy Hotel in 2007. The Inn now features SANNO, a full service European spa, as well as Fresh Salt, a restaurant designed by Peter Niemitz that opened to strong reviews in 2011.  The property employs more than 260 hospitality professionals in the town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, and is among the town’s top employers and economic engines.

Saybrook Point Inn & Spa recently opened its new Three Stories guesthouse adjacent to the main Inn. Thiscompletely renovated Italianate home overlooking Long Island Sound was originally built in 1892 as a single-family home for the prominent engineer William Vars. The property has been fully refurbished and revitalized as a seven-room guesthouse with wrap around porches and private gardens, making it the perfect retreat for couples, families and friends to reconnect, rejoice and create lasting memories and experiences. Each individually designed room features a pri­vate balcony, fireplace, fine linens, heated bathroom floors, multiple showerheads, extensive water views, and original artwork by local artists. As a testament to its rich history, each room at Three Stories tells the story of a famed local resident who made sure that the history of the community was well preserved. This includes Katharine Hepburn’s mother, who was a co-founder of Planned Parenthood and leading suffragette, and Anna Louise James, who had the distinction of being one of the first African-American female pharmacists in America and ran the James Pharmacy locally.

About Saybrook Point Inn & Spa

Situated along the picturesque coastal community of historic Old Saybrook, Connecticut in the hamlet of Saybrook Point, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa features 82 elegantly appointed guestrooms, a rejuvenating full-service spa called SANNO, and a casual fine dining restaurant named Fresh Salt. Luxurious spa amenities include 11 treatment rooms, and diverse menu of services including massages, facials, body wraps, manicures and pedicures. SANNO is a latin word meaning to make sound or to heal. The goal at SANNO is to help guests be well, look well, feel well, and eat well. Fresh Salt diners savor fresh, seasonal and local cuisine served in Old Saybrook’s most spectacular setting – the spot where the fresh waters of the Connecticut River meet the salt of Long Island Sound. It’s a treasured and historic place, rich in life, and the restaurant reflects that lively diversity. The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa also features the historic Saybrook Point Marina, a landmark yachting dock conveniently located at the mouth of the Connecticut River with easy access to Long Island Sound. The marina is Connecticut’s first designated Clean Marina, featuring friendly concierge service, award-winning onsite cuisine, AAA Four Diamond accommodations, an indulgent spa, and a community-based member-driven health club. It can accommodate vessels from 12 to 200 feet and has received numerous premier Connecticut marina awards. More information is available at www.saybrook.com.

About the Trust for Public Land

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at www.tpl.org.

 

Old Saybrook Gives Overwhelming Approval for $3 Million Preserve Land Purchase

Polling taking place at the Old Saybrook High School (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Polling taking place at the Old Saybrook High School (photo by Jerome Wilson)

OLD SAYBROOK— Voters Tuesday gave overwhelming approval for $3 million in bonding for the town’s share of a planned $8 million purchase of the Preserve property, described as the “1,000 acre forest.” The bonding for the 930 acres located in Old Saybrook was approved on a 2,002-242 vote in an eight-hour referendum.

About 20 percent of the town’s 7,361 registered voters turned out for the referendum, with 115 property owners who are not registered voters in Old Saybrook also casting ballots. The bonding approval is the key element in a combination of funding sources that is expected to lead to a closing on the property by the end of the year.

First Selectman Carl Fortuna said he was not surprised by the huge margin of support. “This has been a generational issue in this town and it’s finally being put to bed,” Fortuna said, adding that he was aware of no organized opposition to the bonding authorization while “there was certainly organized support.”

The parcel, which includes 70 acres in Essex and four acres in Westbrook, is located off Bokum Road and Ingham Hill Road in Old Saybrook and Ingham Hill Road in Essex. The property had been the subject of development proposals dating back to 1999 that once called for over 200 homes and a golf course. It is currently owned by River Sound Development/Lehman Brothers, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers setting the stage for negotiations that led to a purchase plan earlier this year. The purchase negotiations were coordinated by the non-profit Trust For Public Land.

Along with the Old Saybrook contribution, the plan calls for about $3.3 million in state funding and about $1.9 million from the Trust For Public Land. Essex voters will be asked at a July 16 town meeting to approve a $200,000 town funding contribution, with the Essex Land Conservation Trust also contributing through private fund raising. The Essex town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m.at town hall.

Fortuna said the acreage in Old Saybrook would be co-owned by the town and the state. The Essex Land Conservation Trust will own the section of the property in Essex. Fortuna said trails through the vast property should be improved and ready for public use by the summer of 2015.

Supporters of the referendum near the polling station (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Supporters of the referendum near the polling station (photo by Jerome Wilson)

 

Blumenthal Urges “Yes” Vote for $3 Million Towards Purchase of ‘The Preserve’

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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at July 7 rally for a “yes vote” at July 8 referendum

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal came to the Old Saybrook Green on Monday, July 7, to urge Old Saybrook voters to vote “Yes” in a referendum to grant $3 million of town monies to help purchase 930 undeveloped acres in the open land known as The Preserve. The referendum for Old Saybrook voters will be held on Tuesday, July 8, at the Old Saybrook High School gymnasium, and the polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

Other public officials urging a “Yes” vote on the July 8 town referendum were: Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, State Representative Phil Miller; and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna said in his prepared remarks, “This property has been at the center of attention, good and bad, for 20 years. It is now time for resolution. We are optimistic that enough private and public funds can be raised to purchase the property and preserve The Preserve in its natural state. The Town will work cooperatively with all parties in this effort, including DEEP. Most importantly, I will work for and listen to Old Saybrook’s residents as they decide the future of this parcel.”

State Representative Miller said in his prepared remarks, “We’re grateful to the citizens of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, and our allies, the Trust for Public Land, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Governor Malloy, Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, Congressman Courtney, First Selectmen Fortuna and Needleman and the Connecticut legislature. A thousand acres forever preserved. What a rightful thing.”

Essex First Selectman Urges “Yes Vote”

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said in his prepared remarks, “Over in Essex, we’re excited about the proposition for acquiring this majestic property. Essex will hold a public hearing and town meeting to approve a $200,000 appropriation for the purchase on July 16 and look forward to joining our neighbors in Old Saybrook in support of this wonderful project.”

The Essex town meeting to consider approval of the town’s $200,000 appropriation to The Preserve’s acquisition will be held at 6:45 p.m. on July 16 at Essex Town Hall.

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Senator Blumenthal takes time to chat with Democratic State Senate candidate, Emily Bjornberg, at referendum rally

Other Supporters of Acquisition

Other remarks for the occasion were offered by Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, who said, “Coming off July Fourth weekend, this is an exciting time for Old Saybrook to exercise their patriotic rights and vote to protect this important piece of land here in town.”

Also, Alicia Sullivan, Connecticut State Director of the Trust for Public Land said, “We commend Governor Malloy and the General Assembly for the state’s early funding commitment to this significant landscape. Also, we are grateful to Senator Blumenthal and our congressional delegation for supporting federal conservation programs that the state will use for this acquisition.”

An audience of some 30 to 40 persons attended the pre-vote July 7 rally.

Letter: Responding to the OS Economic Development Commission on The Preserve

To The Editor:

The OS EDC, which has itself endorsed the acquisition of The Preserve, recently released a letter asking five questions.  They deserve a response.  In order of importance, they are:

  1. Cost to the taxpayer.   In short, very little and perhaps nothing at all.  Read on.

    Acquiring The Preserve under the proposed agreement saves Old Saybrook potentially tens of millions of dollars the town would have incurred if development as planned had gone forward—and might still incur if The Preserve is left open to development.  Perhaps more important to some residents is that acquiring The Preserve will almost certainly save Old Saybrook money.  First, the cost to taxpayers for the bonding required for the town’s share of the purchase price—less than 40%–implies annual property taxes for a median home of $12 to $24 dollars, depending on the form of bonding.  So for $1-$2 a month, residents take control of an extraordinarily important 1000 acres, the headwaters of three rivers, a critical source of clean water for the area aquifer, and an environmentally important area.  Second, the costs the town now incurs will almost certainly go down.  The proposed agreement includes a very substantial permanent endowment (perhaps reaching $1 million) which will provide funds to cover proper management of The Preserve, including trail mapping, trail marking (so folks no longer get lost on the unmarked, tangled trails they now hike), and permit sustainable forestry practices.  In addition, because of the partnership with the State, state conservation officers will share the responsibility for policing the area, relieving Old Saybrook police of some of that responsibility.  And because the area will now be managed properly, residents in Old Saybrook and adjacent towns no longer face the very real threat of damage to the aquifer and degradation of their water supply—thus again saving potentially thousands of dollars for every household affected.  On balance, it is almost certain that town costs will fall by more than the cost of the bonding.

    Wen considering costs, beyond the offsetting savings we can immediately recognize, preserving The Preserve will create value for the town and the region.  Real estate professionals will tell you that the two things potential home buys ask about are the quality of the schools and access to public open space, whether parks or forests.  Multiple studies confirm that towns that acquire and manage significant open space clearly benefit along a host of vectors.   Given how well this acquisition is planned, with the creation of an endowment to provide continuous funding and the partnership with State, preserving The Preserve will deliver real value to the town and the region.

  2. Why the State is interested in assuming more than 40% of the purchase price: Connecticut has, since the early 1970s, taken a very strong bipartisan interest in preserving open space and improving environmental quality.  Perhaps some remember when the lower Connecticut River was heavily polluted and the target of quite embarrassing coverage by the New York Times.  The river is now remarkably clean and a major asset to the region.  Moreover, the Federal government provides significant financial incentives and support for these kinds of initiatives, which are so important to sustaining and strengthening a healthy natural environment.
  3. Has anyone approached Lehman Brothers directly?  I don’t know; I suspect not.  Frankly, Old Saybrook could acquire very little by trying to “go it alone” with its $3 million.  Buying two fifths of The Preserve appears absurd on its face—it avoids none of the potential costs the town would incur if the balance of the land were then developed (new school, new police and fire stations, roads and bridges to maintain—a frightening potential cost)—and captures almost none of the benefits.  It would not achieve environmental protection nor guarantee against degradation of the aquifer with the threat to the three rivers that draw on The Preserve; it would not create well-managed public access; it would not provide an endowment to provide funding to manage and maintain the property.  It is an approach that would have secured virtually no benefit but left the town open to potentially massive expenses in the future.
  4. Is hunting allowed?  Just as with the existing 500-acre Gleason property that Old Saybrook owns, state law does permit “regulated hunting” on these kinds of open spaces.  But Old Saybrook has never permitted hunting on the Gleason property, and it is unlikely that the town would permit it on The Preserve.  Moreover, given that this a state statutory requirement, if the issue ever did emerge—and there is no reason to anticipate that it will, as it has never come up with the Gleason property—then modifying the state law would be quite straight forward.   Besides, leaving The Preserve in private hands would make hunting in all forms much much more likely—just as leaving it in private hands runs the very significant risk of future developments that will impose significant continuing costs on the town.
  5. What are the pros and cons?  The comments above point to multiple pros.  Whether your interest is in environmental protection, assuring access to high quality water (the aquifer), avoiding degradation to rivers flowing form The Preserve, having easy access to a wide array of passive recreational activities, making the region more attractive to potential residents, or simply preserving the forest canopy which mitigates global warming (the NE is an important carbon sink, especially during some months), acuiring The Preserve for a comparatively small sum makes eminent good sense.  And then add the shared responsibility (and costs) with the state and the first-ever dedication endowment in support of a part or open space, and it is extremely hard to find an argument against this acquisition.

    The cons?  I have been listening intently for nearly a year.  I haven’t heard one argument against this initiative that withstood careful scrutiny and thought.   I believe that the answers to the OS EDC questions strongly confirms that view.

Acquiring The Preserve and thus preserving it for all time is simply a winner on every count.  Old Saybrook will be quite wise to join with the Trust for the Public Lands, the State of Connecticut, and hundreds of individuals who have pledged more than $1 million of their own money to make this happen.  Let’s take control of our future: vote “Yes” on July 8.

Sincerely,

Fred V. Carstensen

Professor of Finance and Economics
Director, Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis
University of Connecticut

Resident: Old Saybrook

Saybrook Point Inn Sponsors Sea Scouts at CRM Boat Building Workshop

Commodore Marshall Parsons of the Sea Scouts and Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina shake hands to commemorate the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina’s sponsorship. The sponsorship will allow several Sea Scouts to take part in the Connecticut River Museum’s public Boat Building Workshop to be held in August. From left to right: Reggie Walden of Old Saybrook, Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parson, Steve Taglietela, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook and Cameron Fogg of Old Saybrook.

Commodore Marshall Parsons of the Sea Scouts and Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina shake hands to commemorate the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina’s sponsorship. The sponsorship will allow several Sea Scouts to take part in the Connecticut River Museum’s public Boat Building Workshop to be held in August. From left to right: Reggie Walden of Old Saybrook, Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parson, Steve Taglietela, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook and Cameron Fogg of Old Saybrook.

The Connecticut River Museum is pleased to announce that it has received a sponsorship from the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina that will allow Sea Scouts to build a CRM 12 skiff as part of a public three-day workshop in August.  The 12’ skiff is reflective of the traditional boats that were built locally in the late 19th and early 20th century.  With great versatility, these skiffs were used for fishing, rowing and sailing on the River and in the tidal marshes and tributaries.

After hearing that the Museum was piloting a summer boat building workshop for families and adults, Stephen Tagliatela (2012 “RiverMan” of the Year), managing partner of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina wanted to make a difference by sponsoring a boat that the local Sea Scout crew members could build.  Tagliatela’s father was an Eagle Scout and built model power and sail boats.  Two of the models won awards in the New York Boat Show of 1939 and are now displayed in Saybrook Point Inn’s restaurant, Fresh Salt.  He said “It is important to provide opportunities to our future adults and leaders.”  Tagliatela went on to say that “building a boat creates a sense of accomplishment and helps to develop the critical life skills of problem solving and teamwork.”

Since 1912 Sea Scouts has been part of the Boy Scouts of America.  Sea Scouts is a coed program offered to young adults 14 years (or 13 years and completed the eighth grade) through age 21. This youth maritime training program is organized to address members’ boating skills and promote knowledge of America’s maritime heritage.  The Scout units are called “Ships”.  The local Ship out of Westbrook is captained by AJ Maxwell. For more information about Sea Scouts, contact the New England Sea Scout Flotilla Commodore Marshall Parsons at twinpars@earthlink.net and/or 860-938-7681.  Mr. Parsons is excited to have this opportunity and noted that “we are opening this up to a limited number of parents and teenagers who would like to know more about Sea Scouts.”

The three-day boat building workshop that the Connecticut River Museum is offering for families and adults will be held on August 22 – 24.  Participants can either do the workshop as individuals or as a group (up to four people).  There is no previous boat building experience required to build one of these kits.  However, organizers do expect that participants will have basic woodworking knowledge.

Space is extremely limited for the boat building workshop.  Participants must be at least 10 years old (13 if they are doing it as part of the Sea Scout program) and accompanied by an adult.  The deadline to register is Monday, July 14.  The $1,500 program fee includes all the supplies needed to build the CRM 12, oars, and instruction.  By the end of the weekend, participants will have a nearly completed boat (all but paint) that is ready to take home. The basic kit is designed to be rowed.  However, a sailing conversion kit and sail is available for an additional cost.  Paul Kessinger, owner of Madison Kit Builders, has donated and constructed a CRM 12 that is now on display at the Museum for those interested in seeing the final product. Thanks to the generous donation of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, there is no cost toSea Scouts. For more information, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

The Sea Scouts gathered at the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Tagliatela, Chris Dobbs and Boat Building Volunteers to celebrate the sponsorship. The Scouts will be one of the groups that take part in the public Boat Building Workshop held at the Museum in August. Left to right: Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parsons, Museum Director Chris Dobbs, Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, Paul Kessinger of Madison, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook, Skipper AJ Maxwell of Chester and Tom Doggart of Niantic.

The Sea Scouts gathered at the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Tagliatela, Chris Dobbs and Boat Building Volunteers to celebrate the sponsorship. The Scouts will be one of the groups that take part in the public Boat Building Workshop held at the Museum in August. Left to right: Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parsons, Museum Director Chris Dobbs, Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, Paul Kessinger of Madison, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook, Skipper AJ Maxwell of Chester and Tom Doggart of Niantic.

 

Essex Island Marina to be Sold to the Highest Bidder at Auction on Tuesday, August 5

A bird's eye view of the Essex Island Marina

A bird’s eye view of the Essex Island Marina. (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneer)

One of the land marks of the Town of Essex, the Essex Island Marina, will be sold at auction on Tuesday, August 5. The auction will be held at the Essex Island Marina, which is located on its very own island, and which has the address of 11 Ferry Street in Essex. The auction will start at 11:00 a.m.

The Essex Island Marina will be sold at what is called an “Absolute Auction.” This means that the marina will be sold to the winning bidder, regardless of the price, as long as it is over $75,000.

A representative of JJ Manning, the company which is conducting the auction, was asked if this is not a dangerous strategy to open with such a low price. The representative said that in the long run, “having a low, opening price frequently attracts the highest sales price for the property.”

The Essex Island Marina’s property consists of 13.2 plus, acres on a private island on the Connecticut River. The site has 125 boat slips, a gas dock, a repair shop, a laundry, a swimming pool, a dog walk, and inside and outside boat storage facilities. There is also a restaurant on the site. In addition, the sale includes the boats used to take passengers to and from the island, and miscellaneous equipment and leases.

Property Tour on July 22

Boat storage at the marina (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneers)

Boat storage at the marina (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneers)

There will be a tour of the site for prospective bidders on Tuesday, July 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Terms for the winning big include: payment of a 10% certified deposit of the winning bid, due within three business days of auction, and payment of the full price of the bid, 45 days after the close of the auction.

JJ Manning, conductor of the auction, bills itself as, “the leading professional auction marketing firm in the Northeast U.S.” The company is headquartered in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.

Marina Is Presently Family Owned

The present owner of the Essex Island Marina is Wallie Schieferdecker, who lives in Essex. Schieferdecker operates the marina with the assistance of his two daughters, Dawn and Kyle.

Paul Risseeu, the Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy in Essex, and who occasionally operates the ferry from the main land to the Essex Island Marina, says that the Essex Island Marina, “is a class operation.”  Risseuw also observes that, “the yacht business has been tough lately, because people are moving to owning smaller boats.” Also, “it is part of the five year recession in the country,” he says.

Editor’s Note:  Justin J. Manning, President of the Auctioneer Firm J.J. Manning, has provided the following clarification of the auction process: “The auction is Absolute, which means that it sells to the highest bidder, period.  The $75,000 is merely the initial deposit made by the buyer on auction day, not the starting bid.  This Marina appraised 14 years ago for $1.23 million and would likely appraise today for well over $2 million.  The real estate tax appraisal in $1.53 million.”

Essex Sets July 16 Town Meeting for $200,000 Contribution to Preserve Land Purchase

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has scheduled a July 16 town meeting to vote on a $200,000 appropriation that would be the town’s contribution towards the planned $8.1 million purchased of the 1,000-acre Preserve property that includes 70 wooded acres in Essex. The town meeting vote in contingent on referendum approval in Old Saybrook of a $3 million bonding authorization that would be that town’s contribution to the total land purchase.

Under a plan announced earlier this spring by state and Old Saybrook officials, the $8.1 million for the purchase would be raised through a combination of state grant funds, municipal funds, and private donations raised by the land conservation trust organizations in Old Saybrook and Essex. State grants, including some state bonding, would account for $3 million of the purchase price. Old Saybrook voters will be asked to authorize $3 million in bonding for the purchase in a referendum expected during the first two weeks of July, possibly on July 8. In addition to the proposed $200,000 in town funding, the Essex Land Conservation Trust is expected to provide a matching $200,000, mostly from private donations.

The 1,000 acre forest, the subject of failed development proposals dating back to 1999, can be accessed from either Ingham Hill Road and Schoolhouse Road in Old Saybrook, and from Bokum Road that connects Essex and Old Saybrook. The property became a target for acquisition and preservation as open space after the fall 2008 financial crash that began the Great Recession.

Paul Greenberg, with the Essex Land Conservation Trust, told the selectmen at Wednesday’s meeting that Bokum Road would be the access point in to the property from Essex, with plans to construct a small parking area and trails that would connect to a larger network of trails in the vast Old Saybrook section of the parcel.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the $200,000 would come from the town’s open space sinking fund, which currently contains about $225,000. Needleman said he believes town voters will support making a contribution to the Preserve purchase project, even though only 70 acres of the property are in Essex. The 70 acres in Essex has been valued at about $700,000 in two appraisals.

Ivoryton Farmer’s Market Open Through Oct. 11

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It’s summertime, and what is more exciting than the prospect of fresh local produce provided by your nearby farmers’ market? This season, don’t forget to buy your produce and goods at the Ivoryton Village Farmers Market.

Starting on June 21st, you can find the Ivoryton Farmers Marketon the Ivoryton Green, Main St, Ivoryton CT, every Saturday 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. through October 11th.

The Ivoryton Farmers Market is not only a great place to purchase local produce and goods, but it is a place to enjoy some time with family and friends. This year we will be having live music from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Opening day features the Juniper Hill Jumpers Jazz Band.

There’s no better way to strengthen your local community than to shop and eat locally! By visiting our farmers market, you support our localfarmers as well as businesses and community members.

If you have any questions about the market or wish to become a vendor, please contact Dave Sousa, Market Manager at (860) 767-4967 or visit our website at www.ivorytonfarmersmarket.com

 

Popular Jenny Tripp to Retire as Programming Librarian at the Essex Library

Departing Program Librarian Jenny Tripp and Chief Librarian Richard Conroy

Departing Program Librarian Jenny Tripp and Chief Librarian Richard Conroy

After nine years of creating some of the most interesting adult programs on the Connecticut shoreline, the Essex Library’s Programming Librarian, Jenny Tripp, is  be retiring from her position effective July 1.  During her service at the library Tripp has been the creator of many of the library’s most popular programs.

They include, the “Science for Everyone” series, which included talks on the “Mars Rover,” the concept of “Time Travel,” and a program on the similarities of the actions of human beings and monkeys. As Tripp puts it, “Each of the species [human and monkey] seem to be hard wired to make the same mistakes repeatedly.”

Another popular library program that Tripp created is the “True Crime” series.” This series featured discussions of “cold cases,” an examination of the murder trial of Martha Moxley, and a lecture by Dr. Henry Lee, a noted forensic pathologist, who has reviewed hundreds of cases of foul deeds.

Created Popular Bereavement Group

Another significant accomplishment of Tripp has been her creation of a Bereavement Support Group, which meets twice a month, and which she characterizes as “the program of which I’m most proud.” Roughly a dozen of evolving library patrons attend the sessions of the open group, based on personal need.

Another activity of Tripp has been chairing two of the library’s book clubs. One of the clubs is the Classic Plays Readers Club, which has exhaustively discussed Shakespeare’s plays, and other classic works as well. The next play to be discussed is Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie.

Tripp’s second book club, the Classic Readers Group, has tackled tomes as diverse as The Magic Mountain and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The current selection of the club is The Red and the Black by Stendhal. As if this was not enough, Tripp has also hosts a memoir writing group at the library.

In addition to these activities Tripp has been the editor of the library’s Ex Libris, the Library’s twice-yearly mailed newsletter. When asked about her, likely impossible to find, replacement, Tripp says dismissively that “You really don’t need a trained librarian to do this, just someone with some imagination who is prepared to make a lot of phone calls.”

For all her reputation as the “go to” person on perhaps every aspect of the library, Tripp has been actually a part time employee working only 24 hours a week. As for her own personal background, Tripp was an English major at the University of California (Berkley). She has also worked extensively as a screen writer, and is a lifetime member of the Writer’s Guild of America.

On a personal note about her work at the Essex Library, she says, “I have never held a job this long.”

Library Director Lauds Tripp

Essex Library Director Richard Conroy was fulsome in his praise of  Tripp’s work at the library. He said, “She has been one of the key factors in the success of the library this past few years,” He noted that library attendance is up, and that there has been an upgrade as well in the quality of the library’s services.

Conroy especially praised Tripp’s, “intellectually stimulating programs,” singling out the True Crime series, the Science for Everyone series, and her Shakespeare and Classic Book clubs as well. “How do we replace the irreplaceable?” he concluded.

As for her future plans, in addition to helping out at the Essex library from time to time, Tripp says that she is going to engage, “in helping people to write their books.” Asked if this this means she is going to be a professional “ghost writer,” her answer is, “Just call me Casper.”

Essex Garden Club Announces 2014 Scholarships

The Essex Garden Club is pleased to announce the winners of its 2014 scholarships.  Scholarships of $1,100 each were award to three Essex students:

Tyler Jaynes, Senior at VRHA, will attend the University of Vermont

Sarah Watson will be a sophomore at Gettysburg College

Allyson Clark will be a freshman at Drew University

Additionally, 13 campership awards of $125 each were given to Essex Park and Recreation Summer session.  These will be distributed by Park and Recreation.  Three awards of $520 were given to Bushy Hill Nature Center to be distributed by the Center.

The Essex Garden Club congratulates all the winners and thanks the Essex community for its ongoing support which allows the Club to provide these educational opportunities to our students.

Our Library Rocks! Returns at Essex Library – Sep. 13

Families enjoyed the food, fun, and entertainment at the 2013 Our Library Rocks!  party at the Essex Library

Families enjoyed the food, fun, and entertainment at the 2013 Our Library Rocks! party at the Essex Library

Join your neighbors at a fun-filled community celebration to cap the 125th Anniversary celebrations for the Essex Library at the “Our Library Rocks!” party, coming Saturday September 13th from 5 to 9 PM at the Library. This event offers entertainment for all ages, including an inventor’s workshop for kids from 3 to 12 years, a dazzling magic performance by illusionist David Garrity, a fun photo booth to commemorate your evening for a small extra charge, and the ever-popular gourmet brick oven pizza trucks.

The Andy Sherwood Jazz Quartet will provide musical entertainment, performing tunes from Dixieland through the Swing Era. Featuring some of New England’s finest jazz musicians, the group includes Andy Sherwood on clarinet and saxophone, Ian Frenkel on piano, Mark McCormick on bass and Tom Briggs on drums, all current or retired United States Coast Guard Band musicians with degrees from top music colleges. A silent auction will offer items that are sure to appeal to families and adults.

Food and fun are included in the price of admission. Tickets are on sale now at the Essex Library, priced at $20 for adults, and $5 for kids ages 12 and under; admission is free for children aged two or younger.  Soft drinks and lemonade are free, and beer and wine will be available with the additional purchase of a wristband. Tickets are limited, though, and last year’s event sold out quickly, so don’t delay.

Essex Town Meeting Amends Ordinances, Sanitary Waste Commission Discontinued

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Wednesday approved amendments to two town ordinances, effectively ending the role of the sanitary waste commission and revamping the 2004 delay of demolition ordinance for historic structures.

About 15 residents turned out for the town meeting that was preceded by a public hearing on the changes that were endorsed last month by the board of selectmen. One amendment, which drew an opposing vote from Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac, ends the joint commission status for the water pollution control authority/sanitary waste commission that was established under a 1991 town meeting vote. The seven appointed members of the dual commission will continue as the water pollution control authority with staggered two-year terms and a renewed focus on sewer avoidance and wastewater management issues.

The amendment ends the appointed sanitary waste commission that was first established in 1958 to supervise operations of the former town landfill, and more recently the solid waste transfer station and recycling center. First Selectman Norman Needleman recommended the change, noting the trash compactor and transfer station are currently managed by town employees under the supervision of the board of selectmen. Needleman said the amendment would “eliminate the theoretical purview of the sanitary waste commission in running the transfer site.”

But Glowac, who served on the sanitary waste commission before winning election as first selectman in 1991, maintained there is still a role for a volunteer commission in coordinating the town’s solid waste disposal and recycling efforts. “Municipal solid waste, bulky waste and recycling are ever changing subjects in today’s world and a volunteer commission can be an asset to the town,” he said. The amendment was approved on a nearly unanimous show of hands vote, with Glowac opposed.
The revision of the delay of demolition ordinance was approved on a unanimous vote without discussion. Needleman said the amendments clarify the process for an ordinance that was first adopted in 2004 at the urging of the late town historian and author Donald Malcarne.

The amendments do not change the 75 years trigger date where advance posting and notice are required before a demolition permit is issued by the building official for a potentially historic structure.. If the town historian or Essex Historical Society raises an objection, a 90 days delay would be required before the building official could issue a demolition permit.

“Scouting For Food” Helps Fill Pantry Shelves

Members of the Essex Cub Scouts, Pack 4.

Members of the Essex Cub Scouts, Pack 4.

This spring local Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts participated in “Scouting for Food” service projects to benefit The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

Twelve members of the Essex Cub Scouts of Pack 4 held a food drive, collecting 707 pounds of non-perishable food. The Essex Cub Scouts, who are between 7 and 10 years of age, each gathered an average of 55 items of food, or about 60 pounds of food each.

Also, a group of four Westbrook Boy Scouts from Troop 38 made a special visit to SSKP’s Westbrook Pantry to learn more about the issue of hunger along the shoreline, and presented a $200 donation on behalf of their troop.

“We sincerely thank the Cub Scouts of Pack 4 for their food drive, and the Boy Scouts of Troop 38 for their donation and their desire to learn more about those in need,” said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP. “It’s great to see Scouts of all ages working to help others. In the spring months we have a need for additional food drives, so “Scouting for Food” is very much appreciated. With the support of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and so many others in our community, we are able to make a place at the table for all our neighbors.”

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

A Hole in the Ground Where There Once was a Slum House

A hole in the ground, where once was the Slum House (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

A hole in the ground, where once was the Slum House (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

Finally the unoccupied property on North Main Street has been demolished. Early in the morning of Tuesday, May 27, a work crew from Shea Construction brought heavy equipment to the site, and methodically demolished the property and removed the debris, leaving a hole in the ground where there once was a slum.  Read the full story:  Eyesore No More, Essex Slum House Is Taken Down.

Eyesore No More, Essex Slum House Is Taken Down

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

It was a day of celebration in small town Essex. Finally, finally the town’s number eyesore was coming down. Early in the morning of Tuesday, May 27, a work crew from Shea Construction, which is headquartered on Westbrook Road in Essex, brought heavy equipment to the site, and methodically smashed the old slum house to the ground.

The pile of debris gets larger

The pile of debris gets larger

The crushed fragments were then loaded into a waiting dump truck, which took the debris to a local land fill. Joseph Shea, Owner of Shea Construction, was personally on hand to supervise the operation. “We will completely finish the job,” he said, including filling the hole left in the ground by the house’s removal with fresh clean land fill. Also, the work entails not only crushing and removing the entire building structure but also removing the old house’s septic system. This full process should take a week, Shea said. In addition, once the house has been removed, “All of the nails will be pulled out of the boards,” he said, as an environmental measure.

The trip to the dump is next

The trip to the dump is next

Among the spectators watching the destruction proceedings from the side walk was Tom Rutherford, who lives on nearby Laurel Hill Road in Essex, “We all have been ready for this to happen for a long time,” he said.” Rutherford also expressed his and the town’s gratitude to fellow Essex resident Ina Bomze, who paid $142,000 to purchase the property of the old slum house from the bank, and hired the contractor to clear the site. She will also fund the conversion of the property  into a new town park. “I think it is wonderful thing that she has done,” Rutherford said, referring to Ms. Bronze.

A central feature of the new park will be a solid bronze statue of Ms. Bromze’s late canine companion, “Morgana“, which she always refers to as a person. Also, the street address of the new park is 63 North Main Street, and Ms. Bromze, lives just across the street at 64 North Main Street. Once the new park is completed she will be able not only to see the new park, but also the memorial statue of “Morgana” from her front windows.

The Essex Land Trust has agreed to maintain the park in the future with its memorial statute to a beloved companion in full display.

Essex Eyesore to be Demolished on May 27

Abandonned "Slum House" at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Abandonned “Slum House” at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Essex’s number one eyesore, the abandoned property at the corner of North Main Street and New City Street at 63 North Main Street, will be torn down on May 27. This is the promise of Ina Bromze, who purchased the property from the bank last April for $142,000.

According to Ms. Bromze, the highlight of the new park on the site will be a bronze statue of her beloved dog, “Morgana.” Morgana died last year, but when she was alive she and her mistress were a frequent sight walking around Essex.

Ms. Bronze still takes her walks around Essex, but now she walks alone.

Essex Finance Board Sets Tax Rate at 20.99 Mills For 2014-2015

ESSEX— The board of finance Thursday set a property tax rate of 20.99 mills to fund the total $23.05 million town/schools spending package for 2014-2015 that was approved by voters at the May 12 annual budget meeting. The rate, representing $20.99 in tax for each $1,000 in assessed property value, is up by two mills from the current rate of 18.99 mills.
Much of the two mill tax hike was required to make up for revenue lost after the townwide property revaluation completed last year led to a 7.72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property. Despite the increase, First Selectman Norman Needleman said Thursday about 80 percent of the town’s residential property owners would see only a “nominal” decrease or increase in the property tax bill they receive next month. Most, but not all, of the town’s residential properties had a drop in assessed value under the first revaluation conducted since the Great Recession began in 2008.
Finance Director Kelly Sterner presented the board with ten options for the tax rate, beginning with an “adjusted mill rate” of 20.62 mills to cover the drop in the grand list after revaluation. Sterner said the “break even mill rate,” with no planned deficit, would be 21.05 mills. She noted the finance board, in setting the rate at 18.99 mills last year, had projected a potential deficit of about $113,000, with the understanding that any possible deficit could be covered from the town’s estimated $2.7 million undesignated fund balance.
But with help from unanticipated revenue, a small Region 4 education budget surplus that was returned to the town, and under spending in some accounts, the projected deficit became a surplus of about $100,000 that will put the fund balance at about $2.8 million when the current fiscal year ends on June 30. Needleman predicted there would be some surplus remaining from the 2014-2015 budget, and urged the finance board to limit the tax increase to a 1.65 percent rise that would match the increase in spending.
A 1.65 percent increase would require a tax rate of about 20.96 mills, with a potential, but not certain, deficit of about $100,000. But board Chairman Keith Crehan said he would prefer to project a slightly lower deficit in the event there is less surplus remaining as the 2014-2015 fiscal year draws to a close. Crehan favored a tax rate of 20.99 mills, a figure that would project a deficit of around $55,000 at the close of the next fiscal year.
The 20.99 rate was approved on a unanimous and bipartisan vote, with Democratic members Campbell Hudson, Mary Louise Pollo, and Donald Mesite joining Republican Crehan in supporting the 20.99 rate. Democrat Fred Vollono and Republican Jeffrey Woods were absent fromThursday’s meeting.

Essex Town Meeting Approves $23.05 Million Town/Schools Spending Plan

ESSEX— A $23,056,963 combined town and schools budget plan for 2014-2015 won quick approval from voters Monday at the annual budget meeting. About 70 residents turned out for the meeting approving the budget on a voice vote with scattered opposing votes.

The total spending package, which is up by 1.64 percent from the current total, includes a $7,202,161 town government budget, a $7,742,313 appropriation for Essex Elementary School, and the town’s $8,112,489 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 budget was approved in a May 6 referendum, with voters in Chester and Essex supporting the budget while a no vote carried in Deep River.

The total spending package was approved at the meeting Monday without discussion, and no questions from the crowd on the property tax rate that will be required to support the spending. The board of finance is expected to set the tax rate for 2014-2015 at a meeting Thursday. The current tax rate is 18.99 mills, or $18,99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

An increase in the tax rate is required to cover a 7,72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property that resulted from the townwide property revaluation completed last year. The revaluation resulted in a decrease in assessed values for most residential property owners.

Letters: Senator Linares, Explain Your Voting Record

To the Editor:

The ValleyNewsNow.com (April 29) carries a press release written by supporters of Senator Linares expressing “marvel at what this young man has accomplished in such a short period of time”. Given Mr. Linares’s lamentable voting record, it is hard to understand what the release is talking about.

The record shows that Mr. Linares has waged a quiet but persistent campaign against a wide range of legislation that most constituents in his District support. For example, Mr. Linares has:

  • Voted against an increase in the minimum wage, a measure supported almost three to one by Connecticut voters (71% for, 25% against).
  • Voted against a measure that paves the way to allowing commuters, the elderly, working parents, and many others who have difficulty getting to the polls to exercise their right to vote by means of absentee ballot. Such provisions are prevalent in other states and enjoy strong public support.
  • Voted against bipartisan legislation on gun safety following Newtown that was supported by a super majority of Connecticut voters (anywhere from 68% to 93% depending on the provision) and even by many in his own party.

Mr. Linares’s web site does not even mention these important votes, let alone explain his reasoning for them. The web site is filled with details of his other exploits — toy drives, hosting flag collections, honoring a beauty queen (and, yes, his opposition to an increase in the gas tax and work on some other bills) — but not his opposition to major mainstream legislation that commands widespread public support. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Mr. Linares seeks to draw attention away from his record. Why?

One concern is that Mr. Linares may be more attuned to the interests of the Tea Party than those of the moderate center of his District. Mr. Linares has stated publicly that he was inspired to enter public service by his experience in 2010 working “proudly” for Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, known in political circles “the Crown Prince of the Tea Party”.  When it comes to voting, can it be that Mr. Linares hears the voice of the Tea Party more clearly than any other?

In the absence of information from Mr. Linares on his voting record, constituents can turn to Project Vote Smart, a well regarded, non-partisan, independently funded voter education website. It has posted a report on 10 “key votes” by Mr. Linares over the past two years.

In 7 of the 10 cases, Mr. Linares voted “no” — in other words, his “accomplishment” was to oppose any legislation. In an 8th case, he did not vote at all. In only one case in the sample did Mr. Linares vote for something that actually became law – the legalization of mixed martial arts competitions – a matter most voters would not consider a priority.

Mr. Linares, we are entitled to know why, in our name, you have opposed the exercise of basic voting rights, opposed economic fairness by means of increasing the minimum wage, and opposed protecting the public from gun violence. Please give us a full accounting of your votes on these key issues, so that we may know you by your actions, rather than your press releases.

Sincerely,

David Harfst
Essex

Two New Rebud Trees on South Main

2014-04-25 09.54.47In celebration of Arbor Day, the Essex Rotary Club and the Essex Garden Club each donated a redbud tree to the Essex Tree Committee. These trees were planted on Friday, April 25 on South Main Street (opposite Collins Street) by Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden and Chairman of the Tree Committee with the help of Fred Weber Tree and Landscape Experts. Richard Levene and Dr. Peter Pool from the Rotary Club and Linda Newberg from the Essex Garden Club, the Club’s President were on hand to add the final touches to the planting.

The Eastern redbud (cercis Canadensis) is one of the first trees to flower in the spring with large showy clusters of soft pink to magenta buds that pop out directly on the branches and trunk. After blooming, light green, heart shaped leaves appear. These darken to an emerald green and in the fall turn to a golden yellow. The disease resistant trees mature to a height of 20-30 feet.

These new trees are just two of many that were added to the Essex landscape this year thanks also to the Essex Land Trust and the Dept. of Park and Recreation. To see any of the new trees take a walk across the Town Hall campus, stroll into Cross Lots, check out the new trees at the Essex Elementary School and the Ivoryton Green.

Once again the Essex community enhances the beauty to our streets and parks! If you or your organization would like to fund/donate a tree, please contact Augie Pampel at augiepampel@att.net.

A Smooth Transition from Essex to Westbrook for Middlesex Hospital

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

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

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

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

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

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

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

 Middlesex Hospital President and CEO On Hand

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

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

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

Obituary: Gary William Lamothe – April 13, 2014

ESSEX – Gary William Lamothe, 56, died Sunday, April 13, 2014, at Yale New Haven Hospital.

He was born in Meriden May 23, 1957. He lived in Essex and will be missed by his friend, Marsha Pond, and his dogs Ty, Cooper and Phoebe. Gary had struggled with many medical conditions in the past years but he always embraced his spirituality.

He is survived by a brother, Bruce Lamothe, of Ogunquit, Maine; a sister, Janet Gura, of Meriden; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his life partner, Spirit T. X.; his mother and father, Marlene and Richard Lamothe; his brother, Richard Jr.; and sisters, Carol and Diane.

A memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, May 3, at 1:15 p.m. at St. Lawrence Parish, 121 Camp St, Meriden, Ct.

Friends may make donations to: Maryheart Crusaders at 338 Coe Ave., Meriden, CT 06451 and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – SPCA, 359 Spring Hill Road, Monroe, CT 06468-2100.

Essex Town Elementary School Budgets Unchanged After Public Hearing

ESSEX– The board of finance made no changes to a proposed $7.2 million town government budget and a proposed $7.74 appropriation for Essex Elementary School after a quiet budget hearing Thursday.

About 25 residents turned out for the public hearing. There were no objections or calls for specific changes to the spending plans,despite an anticipated increase in the property tax rate that is largely driven by the results of a townwide property revaluation completed last year. The revaluation, the first for Essex since the start of the national Great Recession in 2008, resulted in a 7.72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property that is used to establish a tax rate.

The town government budget of $7,202,161 represents a $234,700, or 3.37 percent, spending increase over the current town government appropriation. The budget for the elementary school, $7,742,313, is up by $107,396, or 1.41 percent, from the current appropriation.

The total spending levy for 2014-2015 also incudes the town’s $8,112,489 share of the Region 4 education budget that funds the operation of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle school. The Region 4 share is up by only $30,717, a much smaller increase than recent years because of a smaller rise in the number of students from Essex attending the two secondary schools.

Former Selectman Vince Pacileo asked the key question of the budget hearing, specifically where would the spending plans put the town’s tax rate when the new fiscal year begins in July. The current tax rate is 18.99 mills, or $18.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. The tax rate increased by 0.52 mills last year to current town/school spending.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said a tax rate of 20.4 mills would be required under the new grand list to cover current 2013-2014 spending. With total requested new spending of $372,813, a slightly higher tax rate could be required for 2014-2015. Under the new grand list, a tax mill raises about $1 million in revenue.
Pacileo also asked the expected total for the town’s undesignated fund balance at the start of the next fiscal year in July. Finance Director Kelly Sterner said the fund balance is expected to contain about $2.7 million.

The finance board will set a tax rate for 2014-2015 after the town and school budgets are approved by voters. The board could use a transfer from the fund balance to limit the tax increase for 2014-2015. But in recent years the board has not favored use of the fund balance to defray increases in the tax rate

The town government and elementary school budgets are scheduled for a vote at the annual budget meeting on May 12, though residents could petition for an eight-hour referendum vote on these components of the budget. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy Tours ‘The Preserve’ in Old Saybrook

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Old Saybrook — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined representatives from the Trust for Public Land and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and about 40 other environmentalists and town officials on Thursday afternoon on a short guided tour of the Preserve in Old Saybrook.  The Trust for Public Land is currently working with the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook  to acquire the 1,000-acre forest for public enjoyment and to prevent it from further development.

“I’m thrilled to be here with you today,” said Murphy, “My family, for as long as I’ve been alive, has had a little tiny summer house in Old Lyme so this part of the world is like a second home to me.”

Sen. Murphy took off his office shoes and replaced them with hiking footwear as he joined the rest of the group on the hike through to the middle of the Preserve.

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Senator Murphy joins the group on the short hike through the Preserve

After a short hike, the group reached the center of the 1,000 acre property, overlooking Pequot Swamp.  Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, described the swamp as an area of particular environmental significance.  “Pequot Swamp is a 113-acre wetland area that feeds two tributaries of the Connecticut River and is an important resting site for migratory birds”, said Cryder.

Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, explains the environmental significance of Pequot Swmap to Senator Chris Murphy

Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, explains the environmental significance of Pequot Swamp to Senator Chris Murphy

The Trust for Public Land has been working with the towns of Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Essex, Land Trusts for the three towns, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Audubon Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy and the State of Connecticut to raise the necessary funds to purchase the property.  The Trust hopes to raise $2 million to $3 million in private donations towards the re-negotiated  price of $8.1 million.  The remaining funds could potentially come from the state and from the town of Old Saybrook, who will be holding a referendum in June when town voters will be asked to vote on the issue.  If successful, the land would be owned by the town and would be kept open to the public for hiking and recreation purposes.

“In our office, we eat, sleep and breathe land conservation,” said Murphy, “so this is really exciting when we have a big piece of iconic property like this that, hopefully with a little bit of luck and some good partnership, we can preserve for the ages.”

After returning to the trailhead, the group posed for a photo with Senator Murphy.

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Essex Savings Bank Supports Essex Garden Club Project

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The Essex Savings Bank’s grant of $700 has generously supported the Essex Garden Club’s special project of purchasing and planting two Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum “Bloodgood”.  These trees were planted in front of the Town Hall to enhance its appearance with the graceful round shape and colorful foliage of the Japanese Maple. Though separate from the Town Campus project, these trees will complement the overall changes.

As it matures the Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ grows to a height and spread of 20 feet.  The picturesque, multiple grey sub-trucks are particularly showy on a snowy, wintery day.  The foliage displays a red crimson canopy throughout the summer and fall and the bright red samaras (seed pods) add to the ornamental value of the tree.  Palmatum is descriptive of the leaves which are palm like, bearing lobes that fan out from the center.

Greg Shook, President of the Essex Savings Bank told the Essex Garden Club that the Bank was very pleased and fortunate to support its mission of beautifying Essex and specifically the placement of these very special trees.

John W. Rafal Ranked 12th in Barron’s Special Report on the Top 100 Financial Advisors

John Rafal, long term resident of Old Lyme and the Founder and current Vice Chair of Essex Financial Services, has been ranked 12th in Barron’s special report of the nation’s Top 100 Financial Advisors.

John Rafal, long term resident of Old Lyme and the Founder and current Vice Chair of Essex Financial Services, has been ranked 12th in Barron’s special report of the nation’s Top 100 Financial Advisors.

Essex – Barron’s, the acclaimed financial and investment newsweekly, has published the 2014 list of America’s Top 100 Financial Advisors, and John W. Rafal of Essex, Connecticut, is ranked number 12. Very few independent advisors, such as John Rafal, were included in the list, which is mostly composed of advisors from the major wire house firms.

Mr. Rafal is the Founder and current Vice Chair of Essex Financial Services, which is owned by Essex Savings Bank. The ranking appears in the April 21 edition of Barron’s
(www.barrons.com).

In the story accompanying the list, Barron’s noted that John Rafal was among a small group of financial advisors who have appeared on the top 100 list every year since inception in 2004.

“I am gratified to Barron’s for the recognition and accept the honor on behalf of the entire team at Essex Financial Services,” said John Rafal. “I want to express my sincere thanks to our clients, many of whom we have represented for over 30 years. It’s a privilege to earn and retain your trust.”

Doug Paul, Chairman of the Board of Essex Savings Bank, which also owns Essex Financial Services, stated, “The Barron’s ranking is a testament to John Rafal and the entire team at Essex Financial Services. On behalf of the entire board and management team, I want to offer our congratulations to John Rafal.”

Essex Financial Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Essex Savings Bank, is one of the leading independent financial advisory firms in the country

Essex Zoning Commission Approves Essex Place Elderly and Affordable Housing Development

ESSEX— The zoning commission Monday unanimously approved a site plan for the 22 unit Essex Place elderly and affordable housing development that would be located off Main Street in the Centerbrook section.

The project would be the first elderly and affordable housing development in town since the existing 36-unit Essex Court elderly housing complex was constructed in 1985. The new development would be located on a one-acre town-owned parcel at the southwest corner of the Essex Court complex, with the new units to receive access off Main Street through the existing entrance road in to Essex Court.

The 22 units, including 18 one bedroom and four two bedroom units, would be in a three-story building, with a total of 46 parking spaces for the development. The project was designed by architects with Quisenberry Associates of Farmington.

The applicant for the project is Essex Elderly and Affordable housing Inc., a non-profit group established by the Essex Housing Authority that manages the Essex Court complex. The application was submitted under state statute 8-30G, a law intended to promote additional elderly and affordable housing in Connecticut.

The statute allowed the project to bypass some requirements town zoning regulations that govern height and setbacks from abutting properties. Under the 8-30G process, the commission’s jurisdiction over the site plan was limited to public health and safety issues.

But any public health issues related to development were resolved with a report submitted earlier this month by Lisa Fasulo, town director of health. Fasulo advised that site testing confirms the  parcel could accommodate an engineer-desighned septic system to serve 26 bedrooms, though the project would also require written approval from the state Department of Health before construction could begin.

The project received statements of support from nine residents at a March 17 public hearing, with three residents also speaking in support of the project when the hearing resumed Monday. Dawn  Boulanger, a member of the Essex Housing Authority and Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., said construction of additional elderly and affordable housing would benefit the town. No one spoke in opposition to the project.

The units would be reserved for persons age 62 or older who meet income guidelines. Construction of the Essex Place development is expected to begin this fall, with state and federal grant and loan funding expected to pay for the cost of building the 22-unit development.

April 24 Public Hearing for Essex Town Government, Elementary School Budgets

ESSEX— A proposed $7.18 million town government budget and a proposed $7.74 million appropriation for Essex Elementary School will be presented at the annual budget hearing Thursday. The hearing, to be conducted by the board of finance, begins at7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The proposed $7,189,062 town government budget for 2014-2015 represents an increase of $221,601, or 3.18 percent, over the current budget. The spending plan includes a three percent wage-salary increase for most town employees. The recommended budget for the elementary school totals $7,742,313, representing an increase of $107,396, or 1.41 percent, over the current appropriation for the school.

The largest segment of the total town spending package, the $8,112,489 Essex share of the Region 4 education budget, is not subject to review by the finance board. With little change in the number of students from Essex attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, the town’s share of the proposed 2014-2015 Region 4 budget is up by only $30,717 after a much larger increase for the current year. The Region 4 budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

The finance board will consider any input received at the public hearing before deciding whether to make any changes to either the town government or elementary school spending plans. The annual budget meeting to voter on the town/elementary school budgets is set for Monday May 12.

The tax rate for 20-14-2015 will be set by the board of finance after the budgets are approved by voters. The current tax rate is 18.99 mills, or $18.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value
A townwide property revaluation completed last year resulted in a 7.72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property, with the assessed value of many residential properties falling by around 8 percent. The drop in the grand list will require an increase in the tax rate for 2014-2015, though many homeowners would be paying the higher rate on a lower property assessment.

Connecticut River Museum Livens Things Up . . . 19th-Century Style

 

The historic Samuel Lay House is the venue for Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern. The beautiful home is now part of the Connecticut River Museum campus and overlooks the River. Photo by Bill Yule, Connecticut River Museum

The historic Samuel Lay House is the venue for Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern. The beautiful home is now part of the Connecticut River Museum campus and overlooks the River. Photo by Bill Yule, Connecticut River Museum

Essex, CT – The Connecticut River Museum (CRM) premiers the Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern program on Saturday, April 26.  With gourmet historic food, wine and beer tastings, music and games, the museum will unveil its newest property overlooking the Connecticut River. 

Christopher Dobbs, Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, said that “We wanted a fun program that pulls people into the museum and provides a unique experience.”  He also noted that this is one of several events taking place along the lower Connecticut River that commemorates the April 8, 1814 British Raid on Essex.  Dobbs said “I can’t think of a better way to give people a sense of life in Essex in 1814 than seeing the Lay House by candlelight, indulging in libations and good food, and enjoying period entertainment.”

The evening will include drinking songs and ballads by noted folk musician Don Sineti.  Sineti is best known for his sea chanteys and lively banjo music.  Catering by Selene is creating appetizer-sized samples of early 19th-century food.  These are based on chef Selene Sweck’s extensive research and collection of early American cookbooks and will comprise such foods as roasted corn chowder, pork pie and cranberry pudding.  Fine crafted Connecticut beer by City Steam and Shebeen Breweries will be available.  Shebeen is brewing a special beer just for this night that is based on a 19th-century recipe.  Also available will be select period appropriate wines.  As part of the evening, participants will have an opportunity to try their hand at historic games such as Skittles (played with a top that goes through a maze knocking down pins) and Captain’s Mistress, a game with a scandalous sounding name. 

Space is extremely limited with programs at 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM.  The $18 CRM museum member and $22 general public tickets include a wine and beer tasting, period appetizers, one complimentary drink and entertainment.  Additional drinks will be available for purchase.  Call 860-767-8269 or visit ctrivermuseum.org to buy your tickets.  Reservations are required and you must be 21 or older to participate.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm and closed on Mondays. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children age 6-12, free for children under 6.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org

Essex Tree Warden Rules on Mares Hill Road Tree Removal

Mares 2In an effort to promote greater collaboration within the community, Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden, called a public hearing on March 19, 2014 in accordance with Chapter 451, Section 23-59 of the Connecticut General Statutes and in response to public complaints about the planned removal/pruning of approximately 40 trees on Town owned land adjacent to Mares Hill Road, Ivoryton Ct., between #5 and #72 address locations. CL&P requested the removal of these trees to satisfy the trimming/removal specifications they follow on the road.

The hearing gave members of the public a chance to voice their concerns and CL&P a chance to provide an understanding of the specifications that are used for “Enhanced Tree Trimming (“ETT”). ETT is a severe form of trimming calling for an eight foot clearance zone on either side of the conductors and ground to sky.

Susan Stotts, the CL&P representative, presented slides of the various trees under consideration, indicating those she thought should be removed and those that could remain.

Augie Pampel reported at the hearing that he was authorized to make a decision about the trees within three days following the hearing, considering the public’s input and after a walk-through of the trees with Susan Stotts. His decision would be based on the health of the trees including diseases as well as structural issues. He initially estimated that 20-25 of the trees might stay but each tree would need to be examined to make the final determination. He noted that the Town owns 20 feet on both sides of the road and that all the trees designated for removal are on Town property.

People raised concerns about the ground to sky regulation which was considered extreme and worried that the result would be the same as on route 153. Also some expressed concern about the impact of tree removal on the soil environment, water runoff and possible flooding if the soil becomes less absorbent. Other questions about a plan to plant new trees and the payment of the tree removal were raised.

Augie noted that the Town tries to replace as much as is possible and that CL&P pays for the tree work, leaving the wood for people to collect. The contractor for CL&P will follow CL&P specifications. Nonetheless, Augie and Susan Stotts will consider the residents’ wishes to maintain the country road appearance when examining the trees. Augie clarified that the tree work done on Melody Lane and Hickory Lane was done on private property with the consent of the property owners.

Augie informed the public that there are no other Essex streets being considered for tree removal at this time. CL&P looks at streets with 40 or more customers and considers liability issues.

The general consensus at the hearing was that as many trees as possible should be preserved to maintain the country road affect while keeping in mind the necessity to avoid power loss and maintain access due to fallen trees.

Since the hearing, Augie Pampel, as Tree Warden examined the trees and posted the final decision on March 21, 2014, regarding the tree removal on Mares Hill Road. Based on a review of all trees posted for removal, 17 will stay. The remaining trees will be removed because “they either have defects sufficient to warrant removal, or the CL&P ETT specification requires that they be removed.” Augie will issue a removal permit to the CL&P contractor with this decision detail.

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Though this is the final decision of the Essex Tree Warden, it should be noted that Chapter 451, Section 23-59 of the Connecticut General Statutes states ‘…the Tree Warden shall render his decision granting or denying the application, and the party aggrieved by such a decision may, within ten days, appeal therefrom to the superior court or the judicial district within which such town or borough is located.’”

The Essex residents, and especially those on Mares Hills Road will still enjoy a full canopy of trees despite the loss of 23 trees. That 17 were saved is a testament to the efforts of citizens, CL&P and the Tree Warden to work together to come to the best resolution.

If anyone has further concerns or questions about this decision or wishes to contact Augie Pampel about other concerns related to town trees (trees not on state roads), please contact him at augiepampel@att.net. When possible, Augie will provide advance notice to the public through the media of future CL&P requests for tree trimming and removal.

 

Essex Selectmen Consider Dissolving Sanitary Waste Commission

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday discussed dissolving the sanitary waste commission, an appointed panel that is charged with supervising the town’s solid waste compactor and recycling site.

First Selectman Norman Needleman suggested amending a town ordinance to dissolve the seven-member commission. The commission was established under a 1958 town ordinance, with the ordinance amended by town meeting vote in 1991 to designate members of the sanitary waste commission as the town’s water pollution control authority.

Needleman said the commission now has “no effective function” because the compactor and recycling site are managed by town employees under the supervision of the director of public works, and the board of selectmen. “I don’t think we need another board in between the staff and us,” he said. Members of the commission voted unanimously to recommend ending the panel’s sanitary waste functions at a meeting last month.

Needleman said the seven members would continue serving as the water pollution control authority, charged with directing the town’s sewer avoidance program that monitors pump outs of residential septic system, and also coordinating studies to determine whether any areas of town need a more centralized treatment system.

Selectman Bruce Glowac asked for more time to consider the recommendation. Glowac said there is no question about chain of command and that the site is managed by staff and the board of selectmen, but added that “sometimes a commission can be a help.”

The board agreed to discuss the proposed change at it’s April 16 meeting. Amending the ordinance to end the sanitary waste commission would require approval from voters at a town meeting.

In other business, selectmen appointed local resident David DeLeeuw as building official. DeLeeuw has been serving as acting building official since Keith Nolin retired from the position last October.

Proposed $18.77 Million Region 4 Education Budget for 2014-2015 Goes to Public Hearing Monday

REGION 4— A proposed $18,377,431 district education budget for 2014-2015 will be presented at a public hearing Monday at 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River. The spending plan for the operation of the middle school and Valley Regional High School was approved by the Region 4 Board of Education last month.

The gross budget, which represents a $601,310, or a 3.38 percent, increase over current spending is reduced by $297,447 in anticipated revenues to a net education budget of $18,079,984 that is assessed the taxpayers of Chester Deep River, and Essex based on the number of students from each town attending the two secondary schools. The net budget represents a $579,396, or a 3.31 percent, increase over the current net assessment for the three towns.

The Chester share of the net budget is $4,364,508 based on 240 students, an increase of $106,615 from the current Chester assessment. The Deep River share is up substantially this year, with a budget share of $5,602,987 based on 308 students that is up by $442,063 from the current amount. The Essex share of $8,112,489 based on 446 students, an increase of $30,717 from the current amount.

The Region 4 board will hold a special meeting after the hearing Monday to consider any possible adjustments to the budget plan based on public input received at the hearing. The Region 4 education budget goes to an eight-hour, 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum inn the three towns on Tuesday May 6.

$7.74 Million Budget Proposed for Essex Elementary School

ESSEX— The board of finance has received a proposed $7,742,313 budget for Essex Elementary School. The spending plan, which was approved by the local board of education earlier this month, represents a $107,396, or 1.41 percent, spending increase over the current budget for the school.

The budget projects enrollment for the kindergarten-sixth grade school at 428 students when the 2014-2015 school year begins, down from a current enrollment of 451 students. The spending plan includes no new staff positions, but calls for elimination of one classroom teacher position due to the drop in enrollment. The reduction of one teacher position brings a total savings of about $87,000 for salary and benefits, with an additional $27,529 in savings anticipated from other staffing changes.

The only enhancements funded in the budget are $10,000 for painting in the gymnasium and one wing of classrooms, and $7,143 for an improved student assessment system for math and reading.

The spending plan for the elementary school will be presented, along with the proposed town government budget, at an April 24 public hearing. The elementary school budget goes to a vote with the town budget at the annual budget meeting on May 12. The Region 4 education budget, which funds the operations of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, goes to the voters of Chester,Deep River, and Essex for approval in a May 6 referendum.

New Hobby in Essex, the Keeping of Chickens

 

Dr. Michael J. Darre, Professor, Department of Animal Science, UCONN

Dr. Michael J. Darre, Professor, Department of Animal Science, UCONN

Who would have thought it? Well, it’s true, many residents of Essex, Connecticut, are now keeping chickens. The wide interest in this “feathery” hobby was evident at a recent program at the Essex Library. The program, which lasted well over two hours, was about just one thing, the care and feeding of backyard chickens.

The speaker at the program was Dr. Michael J. Darre, PhD, P.A.S., who is a Professor of Animal Sciences at the Department of Animal Science of the University of Connecticut. Darre invited those attending the program to contact him directly at any time, if they had any questions about raising chickens. He added that those persons attending the Library’s program might find the “UCONN Poultry Pages” of particular interest.

In passing Dr. Darre’s said that one of his own specialties was training chickens to stand still in chicken competitions. He also said that on the UCONN Poultry pages, there was information on where to purchase chickens.  

It Takes a Lot of Skills to Raise Chickens

In addition to asserting that it takes a lot of skills to raise chickens, Dr. Darre said that in raising baby chickens to the point where they are laying eggs, required the adoption of what he called a “Food Safety Plan.” He noted, ominously, that over 50,000 chickens die every year from fecal poisoning.

As regards egg production the professor said that when they are fully grown, five chickens can produce 3 to 5 eggs a day. He also said that when considering the cost of chicken feed and the construction of proper chicken housing, that from “a cost benefit analysis,” no one saves money in the cost of eggs by raising their own chickens.

He said that that there are three types of chickens that can be raised in the backyard. They are: 

1) Layer chickens, which are owned for producing eggs,

2) Meat type chickens, which are for eating, and

3) “Show bird” chickens, which are for chicken beauty contests.

He also noted that there are regular sized chickens, and “bantam,” smaller chickens.  Dr. Darre suggested that, “giving five ‘live’ chickens to another person would make a nice Easter gift.” 

Dr. Darre discussed the proper hormone supplements that are safe and nutritious for chickens, and he noted in passing that he taught a poultry class at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. The poultry professor also noted that in the hen house, older birds have a tendency to pick on younger birds, and that chicken keepers should be aware of this fact.

There then followed an extensive discussion on the proper housing for chickens. The professor pointed that “hen houses” should have proper ventilation, and that roosting chickens should be keep, “free from drafts.” Dr. Darre’s said that there should be heat sources in the hen house to protect the chickens from the cold, and that chickens should not be kept outdoors, when it is over 95 degrees. “Watch your chickens to make sure it is not too hot or too cold,” he said with emphasis.

He added that if the chickens were clucking, it meant they were happy, and when they are making distress noises, they are not. Then, the professor went into what he called, “An owner’s checklist.” One of the items mentioned was that dry litter made of pine savings was the best thing for chickens to rest on, and he cautioned against using straw in the hen house. He also suggested the use of a garden rake to spread the liter around.

There should also be a perch for the chickens to walk on, and a roost on which the birds can sleep, he said. The professor noted that the birds like to cuddle together when they sleep. 

As for feeding the birds, he said that bird feed should be bought by the bag, and that it was a good idea to buy “name brands” of feed. He also noted that chickens like to eat table scraps. He stressed as well that bird owners should make sure that the chickens have enough drinking water at all times.

Professor Darre said that chickens should be kept away from rodents, and that wild birds sometime eat chickens. Also, he advised that sick chickens should be put in quarantine. The professor also observed that in the hen house, “the birds themselves establisher their own pecking order.”

Baby Chickens for Sale in Old Saybrook

Baby chickens are frequently available for sale at the TSC Tractor Supply Co at 401 Middlesex Turnpike in Old Saybrook.

Tractor Supply Company, which sells baby chickens

Tractor Supply Company, which sells baby chickens

Store Manager Andrew Gaskine said that the store orders as many as 400 “live” baby chickens at a time, and that they are completely sold out in a matter of days. He said that state law requires that the baby chickens be sold in groups of six. The price range is $1.99 to $2.99 per chicken. Call 860-388-9641 for further information.  

Chickens for Sale sign at tractor company

Chickens for Sale sign at tractor company

 

Zoning Board of Appeals Denial of Variances Puts Essex Property Purchase on Hold

ESSEX— A zoning board of appeals denial of variances to allow a property split has put on hold the $200,000 purchase of a back section of the Perry property at 27 West Avenue that was approved by voters at a November town meeting. The property abuts the town hall property.

The ZBA, acting after a public hearing that began in February, Tuesday rejected variances requested by the town on a 4-1 vote. Member Michael Noto supported approval of the variances, with members Paul Greenberg, Al Daddona, W.T. Ferguson, and William Veilette opposed. Minutes released Thursday show the board majority determined the town had not proven a hardship from its zoning regulations, and that any claimed hardship was ‘self-created and financial.”

First Selectman Norman Needleman negotiated the purchase of the back, .65-acre, section of the 27 West Avenue property with the heirs of longtime resident Eileen Perry, who died last June. Needleman, with support from other members of the board of selectmen, contended the town could have future use of the back section of the parcel, but had no interest in owning the historic house that fronts on West Avenue. The back section of the property also abuts the Pratt House property that is owned by the Essex Historical Society.

The $200,000 land purchase was approved on a 34-30 show of hands vote at a Nov. 20 town meeting, with the purchase contingent on approval of any zoning variances required for a split of the property.

The variances requested by the town would increase the non-conformity of the 27 West Avenue property by raise the building coverage on the lot while reducing setbacks and the required minimum lot area. Lawyers for the town with the Hartford firm of Robinson & Cole had contended during the two-part public hearing that the town’s desire to acquire the property for preservation and possible future municipal uses represented a legitimate hardship from zoning regulations. Two West Avenue residents spoke in opposition to the variances at the Feb. 18 public hearing, one in person and one by letter, but there were more residents speaking in opposition at Tuesday’s hearing.

Needleman said Wednesday he is disappointed by the ZBA decision, and is currently reviewing options to determine whether there is any way the purchase could proceed. He noted the Perry family is hoping to sell the 27 West Avenue property, including the house, is town is unable to complete the purchase of the back section under the terms of the agreement negotiated last fall. “For now this may go down on the list of missed opportunities for the town,” Needleman said.

They’re Putting in the Docks at the Pettipaug Yacht Club; It Must Be Spring

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A harbinger that spring must be on its way, is when the Pettipaug Yacht Club starts putting its docks in the water on the Connecticut River. During the winter the dock sections are stacked up in piles in the open air.

Club work crews, with the assistance of a powerful crane which can lift over 1,500 pounds, raise up docks sections one by one, and then lower them down to the waters below. Directing this procedure last Saturday was Sandy Sanstrom, a former Club Commodore and Member of the Board of Governors.

Although the club’s crane can handle heavy loads, when dock sections are being lowered into the water, work crews must physically swing the cranes and their loads into position.

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The Club’s Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, the venerable Paul Risseeuw, looks on at the docks-in-the-water proceedings.

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Club member Doreen Joslow (left) and Club Rear Commodore Kathryn Ryan (right) clear debris from the small Pettipaug beach.

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A very important step in putting in the docks consists of anchoring the dock sections, securely, to the underwater ground below. The method used at Pettipaug is that at each of the four corners of the floating dock sections, there are 21 foot hollow steel pipes holding them in place. These pipes are driven straight down to the ground underwater.

To drive the steel pipes into the ground entails using a gas powered water pump, which pumps water into the top of the steel pipes at a rate 150 gallons of water pressure per minute. This strong, gushing water, coming out at the bottom of the steel pipe, blasts away the sandy soil beneath it. This in turn creates a hole that goes deeper and deeper into the ground.

In some cases the steel pipe can burrow itself into the ground to a depth of 10 feet, according to Risseeuw.

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Here is a final look at a dock fully installed, even including an outboard ready to go. The preparation of the docks is just a prologue to the sailing of sail boats at the club. Sailing will commence as early as next Wednesday, March 18, by groups of high school sailors.

Let the races begin!

Essex Zoning Commission Continues Public Hearing on Proposed Elderly Housing Expansion to April 21

ESSEX— The zoning commission has continued until April 21 the public hearing on a site plan for a proposed 22-unit elderly and affordable housing project in the Centerbrook section after the plan received expressions of support at a public hearing Monday.

Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., a non-profit group associated with the appointed Essex Housing Authority, is pursuing development of 22 units of elderly and affordable housing, including four two bedroom units, in a three-story building to be constructed on a one-acre town owned parcel on the southeast side of the existing Essex Court elderly housing complex at 16 Main St. The development would be called Essex Place, and receive access off Main Street through the Essex Court complex.

The project is being presented for site plan review under a process defined by state statute 8-30G, a law that is intended to promote additional elderly and affordable housing in Connecticut. Under the law, the commission retains authority to approve or reject the site plan for safety and public health reasons, but must waive certain requirements of the town’s zoning regulations in reviewing the proposal. The zoning board of appeals last fall rejected a request from EEAH Inc. for several variances related to the project.

Janet Atkeson, chairwoman of the Essex Housing Authority and president of EEAH Inc., told the commission the waiting list for units at Essex Court, a 36-unit elderly housing complex that opened in 1985, contains more than two dozen names. She said there is a clear need for the additional units that would come with an expansion that has been under discussion for more than a decade. The new units would be reserved for persons age 62 or older who meet income guidelines.

Project architect Tom Arcari, with the Quisnenberry Associates firm of Farmington, presented the plan for the building that would be 30-feet high and include a first floor community room that could seat up to 70 persons, and also serve as an emergency shelter for both complexes. There would be 46 parking spaces, with most located behind the building on the west side of the property.

While the 8-30G process limits the commission’s discretion over many details of the development, the project must receive local and state Department of Public Health approval for the septic system that would serve the complex. The plans remain under review by the local and state health departments, though Arcari said he anticipates receiving a written approval by the time the public hearing resumes on April 21.

Nine residents spoke in support of the project during the public hearing, with resident Mary Ann Pleva declaring the expansion of elderly housing is “very much needed and long overdue.” No one spoke in opposition to the project at the hearing.

Purchaser of “Slum House” at North Main Street and New City Street in Essex Backs Out

 

Exterior of auctioned property

Exterior of auctioned property

The winner of the bid at auction to purchase the dilapidated house at 63 North Main Street in Essex has withdrawn from making the purchase. “I will not be purchasing 63 North Main Street, Essex. CT,” Edmund Mormile of Madison said in a written statement sent with a note dated March 14.  

Mormile won the right to purchase the property at an auction on January 26. His winning bid for the property was $142,000. In justifying his action to cancel his bid Mormile wrote, “After dealing with a long list of issues and potential problems two concerns are especially difficult and very expensive to resolve.”

“First,” he said, “the septic system as shown on the site plan dated 2001 can not be documented” …A map of the sanitary system (an as-built) is not on file with the Essex Health Department as required by both state and local regulations. Without verification the existence of an upgraded sanitary system is questionable.”  

The bid winner’s second concern, “is an existing and out – dated septic tank located under the building. The environmental concerns and potential cost grow.”

Mormile asserted, “If the town determined an engineered septic system is needed, then the cost of the project could increase twenty-five thousand dollars or more.” Furthermore, he wrote, “The town would only make the decision regarding the suitability of the septic system after I purchased the property, applied for a variance and a building permit.”

Momile wrote, “Although it is disappointing to reach this conclusion [of cancelling his bid], I am thankful for the experience and the lessons learned.” He concluded, “Finally, I’m grateful for all the friendly advice and good wishes received from the people of Essex.”

Essex Selectmen Present a Proposed $7.18 Million Town Government Budget for 2014-2015

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has endorsed a proposed $7,189,062 town government budget for 2014-2015. The spending plan, to be presented to the board of finance at a March 27 meeting, represents a $221,601, or 3.18 percent, spending increase over the current town government budget.

The selectmen approved the budget plan ion a unanimous vote at a March 5 meeting after holding budget review workshop meetings on Feb. 8, Feb. 19, and March 5. First Selectman Norman Needleman said he is pleased with the proposed budget. “We’re keeping up with things and we’re keeping a lid on the costs,” he said.

The proposed budget includes a general three percent wage/salary increase for most town employees. The salary for the first selectman job will not increase, remaining at the current $87,296. The salary for the town clerk position, held by newly elected Town Clerk Joel Marzi, is set at $61,179, with a salary of $58,492 for the tax collector, and $10,300 for the part-time elected position of town treasurer.

The budget increases town funding to the two public libraries by three percent, with appropriations of $275,300 for the Essex Library, and $104,000 for the Ivoryton Library The budget funds four full-time police officers at an expense of $243,179, and a full-time health director/sanitarian position with a salary set at $78,396. The budget includes $453,425 in “sinking funds” for capital expenditures and projects, including $140,000 for the volunteer fire department, $32,500 for parks and recreation, and $60,000 for municipal properties.

After review by the finance board, the budget plan will be presented at an April 24 public hearing in combination with the proposed budget for Essex Elementary School. The town’s share of the Region 4 education budget goes to the voters in a May 6 referendum, with the annual budget meeting vote on a total spending package for 2014-2015 set for Monday May 12.

St. Patrick, Himself, Would Have Been Pleased with the Essex Parade

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Essex last Saturday was a triumph. The audience along the Main Street parade route, especially from the traffic circle down to the Griswold Inn, were as much as five or six spectators deep. And every one of the marchers wore at least some kind of green.  

The parade feature a wonderful variety of home town floats. Among the highlights one of many green bedecked couples, a color guard, a green-bedecked Model A Ford, a bright red tractor, a big green tree cutter, a horse drawn carriage, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman with State Representative Phillip Miller and State Senator Art Linares, Essex’s own “Sailing Masters,” always in perfect order, and a huge bunch of green balloons. Here they are and more:

St pat 1

St pat 2

St pat 3

St Pat 4

St Pat 5

St pat 6

St Pat 9

St Pat 10

St Pat 11

Stpat 7

Stpat 8

Stpat 9

Essex Zoning Commission Has Public Hearing Monday on Site Plan for Elderly Affordable Housing Expansion

ESSEX— The zoning commission will hold a public hearing Monday for review of the site plan for a proposed 22-unit expansion of the Essex Court elderly housing complex off Main Street in the Centerbrook section. The public hearing convenes at 7 p.m. in town hall.

Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., a non-profit group associated with the appointed Essex Housing Authority, has submitted plans for a 22-unit housing complex, including four two bedroom units, to be located on a one-acre parcel on west side of the existing Essex Court elderly housing complex off Main Street. An expansion of the existing 36-unit elderly housing complex that opened in 1985 has been under discussion for more than a decade, but the award last year of a $250,000 planning grant from the state Department of Housing gave new impetus to the effort.

Some of the grant funds were used to hire Quisenberry Associates, a Farmington architectural firm that has prepared plans for the elderly and affordable housing expansion that would be called Essex Place. EEAH Inc. is seeking approval for the project under state statute 8-30G, a law intended to promote additional affordable housing in Connecticut.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said this week the 8-30G law does not provide for special permit approval of proposed elderly and affordable housing projects, but rather allows town zoning authorities to review site plans for a proposed project. The proposed 22 units would be located in a single building that required several variances of town zoning regulations. The zoning board of appeals last fall denied a request for several variances, leading EEAH Inc. to submit it’s zoning application under the 8-30G law.

Budrow said the process provided by statute 8-30G negates the need for variances, but gives the zoning commission some authority in reviewing the site plan for the project. Budrow said the commission could reject the site plan only for public health and safety reasons.

The commission will also hold a public hearing Monday on a zoning amendment proposed by the panel that would include family day care homes as a permitted use in residential districts. A family day care home could serve up to six children under the proposed regulations. Budrow said town zoning regulations currently do not provide for such family day care homes, though there are currently several in operation in Essex.

Death Announced of Jean Washburn Hernandez: Essex Resident, Dedicated Volunteer

Jean Washburn Hernandez

Jean Washburn Hernandez

Jean Washburn Hernandez died peacefully on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at her home in Essex Meadows in Essex, Connecticut. She was 93 years old.

Jean was born on September 20, 1920, in Brooklyn, NY, to Lawrence and Margaret Washburn and was the oldest of three sisters. Raised in Montreal, Canada and Scarsdale, New York, she was the 4th generation of women in her family to graduate from Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights, NY. After a childhood bout of polio, she attended Mt. Holyoke College where she contracted tuberculosis. After recuperating in upstate NY and Arizona, she resumed her studies at the University of Arizona.

At the start of WWII Jean enlisted in the American Red Cross and served at an Army Air Force Base in Arizona, at Camp Edwards in Massachusetts, Otis Field on Cape Cod, and at Washington DC’s St. Elizabeth Hospital. In all locations she tended the returning wounded, particularly those impacted by psychological trauma.

Before the war she met her future husband, Silvio E. Hernandez in Havana, Cuba while staying with family friends. She married him in 1946, when he returned from wartime service with the U.S. Army in Europe. They first resided in New York but shortly after the births of their two children were sent by Westinghouse Electric to Madrid, Spain where they remained for 8 years. From there they moved to Havana, her husband’s birthplace, a year before the Cuban Revolution. After being witness to the tumultuous changes brought on by Castro’s policies, they fled in 1960, settling in Essex CT so as to be near Jean’s parents who had retired there. She remained a resident of Essex for 54 years as an active and contributing member of the community.

Jean was a homemaker and dedicated volunteer. She was on the Board of the Florence Griswold Museum, in Old Lyme, CT, where as a volunteer, she initiated and ran a successful travel program for the members of the Museum. She was President of the Essex Garden Club, on the Board of the Essex Library Association, and active with St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex, the Child and Family Agency of SE CT, and many other charitable and community organizations. Jean and her husband loved to travel and together they enjoyed taking extended trips throughout the world.

Jean was preceded in death by her loving husband of 55 years and more recently by her gentle companion, George (Bud) Lethbridge. She is survived by her daughter Margaret (Maggie) Hernandez of Key Biscayne, FL, son Robert (Laurie) Hernandez of Essex, CT and their sons Alexander and Christopher.

A memorial service will be held May 2, 2014 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex, CT at 10 a.m.

Memorial donations can be made to the Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme St, Old Lyme, CT, 06371

Essex Resident to be Honored at New CT Bar Association Awards Celebration

Attorney Christina M. Storm, Recipient of Connecticut Bar Association Citizen of the Law Award

Attorney Christina M. Storm, Recipient of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Citizen of the Law Award

The Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) is proud to announce Attorney Christina M. Storm as the recipient of this year’s Citizen of the Law Award.

Christina Storm has been a practicing trial lawyer for the last 35 years and is currently a partner at Byrne & Storm PC in Hartford. Her longtime litigation experience covers a wide spectrum of practice areas, including civil and criminal, matrimonial, employment discrimination, and alternative dispute resolution.

As an active member of the CBA throughout the years, Attorney Storm has held membership in the Human Rights and Responsibilities Executive Committee, Pro Bono Committee, Family Law Section, and General Practice Section, and has chaired the International Law Section. She is currently a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section.

In 2000, in a quest to channel more time into pro bono and to provide lawyers around the world the opportunity to do the same, she founded Lawyers Without Borders, an international nonprofit organization with chapters in New Haven, London, and Nairobi, Kenya. Lawyers Without Borders is dedicated to the promotion of the rule of law. The organization, which maintains a commitment to practical, concrete programming that has observable and measurable impact and results, has won the recognition from the United Nations and has placed volunteer lawyers in various countries around the world to help promote the rule of law. She currently serves as the organization’s Executive Director.

The Citizen of the Law Award will be presented to Storm at the CBA’s new annual awards celebration, “Celebrate with the Stars,” on April 3 at Cascade in Hamden sponsored by Geraghty & Bonnano LLC, Attorneys at Law and Kronholm Insurance Services.

For decades, the association has honored leaders in the legal profession for their professional accomplishments and community service as part of the CBA Annual Meeting. This year, a separate event is being dedicated to recognizing Connecticut’s top judges and lawyers who make a difference through their work by demonstrating allegiance, dedication, conscientious service, commitment, and mentorship.

“Celebrate with the Stars” is an exciting occasion where professionals and supporters of the legal industry can mix and mingle with their peers in a lively, celebratory evening out. Other awards to be presented at “Celebrate with the Stars” include: John Eldred Shields Distinguished Professional Service Award, the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award, the Charles J. Parker Legal Services Award, the Tapping Reeve Legal Educator Award, and The Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award.

The recipient of the Citizen of the Law Award must meet the following criteria: be a judge, attorney, or paralegal member of the CBA who has made a significant contribution to a charitable or public service cause that does not involve professional legal skills, but provides inspiration and contributes to the needy, the good of society, the environment, or our way of life. These activities should have been undertaken on a nonprofessional, charitable basis with little or no personal economic reward, and some personal sacrifice.

Attorney Storm was selected based on nominations submitted to the CBA Awards Committee.

The Connecticut Bar Association is a professional association committed to the advancement of justice, the practice of law, the image of the profession, and public understanding of the law. For more information, please visit www.ctbar.org.

Essex Seeking New Advisor for Three Town Pension Plans

ESSEX— The board of selectmen will be seeking a new adviser for the town’s three pension plans for town employees, with a goal of selecting a new manager for the plans before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30.

First Selectman Norman Needleman told the board at a meeting last week that the town has received notice that Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, the town’s current pension adviser, will cease providing services for municipal pension plans as of June 30.But Needleman said Wednesday that Bank of America/Merrill Lynch had submitted a second notice advising that current services could continue through October. He said the town will publish a request for proposals for pension services, including managing investments, custodial banking, record keeping, and actuarial services.

Needleman said the town’s appointed retirement committee will review the proposals before making a recommendation to the board of selectmen for selection of a new pension plan adviser. Needleman said he is hoping some local financial services firms will offer proposals for the town’s pension management business. The town has three separate pension plans, including the municipal plan for town employees, a merit service incentive plan for volunteer firefighters, and a police pension plan.

In other business, Needleman announced the town’s emergency operations center is starting a program to register emergency volunteers. The registered volunteers would receive training and identification badges, while also being subject to a back round check. Interested residents should contact the selectmen’s office at town hall for additional information.

Essex Park and Recreation Summer Programs…

It’s almost  that time of year again – Summer!!! Are you and your children ready for Tons of Summer Fun?

Join Essex Park and Recreations as we host a variety of Great Summer Camps. Complete program information including registration, times, dates & fees can be found on our web site: www.essexct.gov. Choose the Department tab then choose Park and Recreation. For More information contact 860-767-4340 x110.

Slamma Jamma Basketball Camp – Join the Valley Regional High School Players & Coaches. The camp is built on individual instruction and fundamentals. The goal of the camps is to provide instruction that will help your child become a better basketball player. As the saying goes “Basketball players are made during the summer and perform in the winter.” Every camper gets a Slamma-Jamma T-shirt, Basketball, and Certificate.

Running Rams Track & Field Camp – Instruction in most of the track and field events from some of the area’s best coaches, eight in all, at one of the finest venues in Connecticut…Valley Regional HS in Deep River, CT. Campers will enjoy plenty of instruction, plenty of snacks, juice, water, plenty of breaks and awards at the conclusion of Friday’s final session.

Summer Tennis Clinics at Valley Regional High School Courts- Tennis Pro Coach Gary Ribchinsky will be teaching the fundamentals of tennis: ground-strokes, volley, serve, and game play in the clinics designed for ages 5 – 15.

Girls LAX Clinic – Join Coach Greg Ruel, along with a coaching staff of USL certified coaches, club coaches & college and high school Players. No prior LAX experience required. Girls will be taught the fundamental and technical skills that will help them to become stronger all—around players. The girls will be put in to different game environments where they will gain confidence and field mobility while increasing their comfort level on the field. Enjoy great coaching, gear food & Fun!! Clinic includes—t-shirt, reversible game pinnie, light food each night, raffle prized and more!! (There will be no goalie play of goalie training at this clinic)

We offer several other great summer programs such as Summer Day Camp with some really great themed activities, field trips and games. Mini Hawk Sports Camp a great way to introduce kids ages 3 -7 to a variety of different sports. Baseball & Softball Camp with “Between the Lines”, Skyhawk’s Multi Sport & Golf is also being offered. Also this summer join the Staff at Shoreline Gymnastics for another great camp designed to teach basic gymnastics skills, while increasing confidence. Coach Mesite & Konstan will once again offer the “Made in the Summer” Girls Basketball Camp. New this summer is our Field Hockey Camp with JWMS teacher & Coach Rebecca Suntheimer, with the popularity of our Fall Clinic this is sure to be a great addition to our summer programming. Again for more information visit our web site www.essexct.gov or contact Park and Recreation 860-767-4340 x110.

Essex Town Meeting Approves Funding for Ivoryton Bridge Projects, Elementary School Natural Gas Conversion

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Wednesday approved funding for four special appropriations, including $325,000 for engineering design work for two bridge replacement projects in Ivoryton, and $110,000 to convert Essex Elementary School to natural gas hearting by this fall.

About a dozen residents turned out for the town meeting to approve the appropriations on unanimous show-of-hands votes. Despite the lack of opposition, show of hand votes were required because officials intend to use proceeds from a bonding authorization planned later this year to reimburse the expenditures for the bridge design work and the school natural gas conversion.

A conversion of the elementary school to natural has heating was endorsed by the local board of education last year. John Maziarz Jr., a representative of the Southern Connecticut Gas Co., told residents at the meeting the plan for an extension of the natural gas main south along Route 153 from Westbrook to Essex is on track for construction to begin this summer.

The gas main extension would end at the elementary school in the Centerbrook section, with another extension east along Bokum Road to provide service to the Lee Company and the Essex Meadows lifecare complex. Mazairz said the gas main expansion should be completed and ready to provide service by the start of the next heating season this fall.

The $110,000 appropriation for natural gas conversion at the elementary school was approved on a unanimous vote. The gas company is expected to hold a public information session at town hall later in the spring to provide information to home and business owners along the expansion route on the option, and potential cost savings, of using natural gas for heating and cooling.

Voters also approved a $325,000 appropriation to pay for engineering design for replacement of the Walnut Street and Ivoryton Street bridges in the Ivoryton section. The Walnut Street bridge that spans the Falls River was constructed in 1983 as a temporary replacement for a bridge that was breached in the June 1982 flood. Both bridges were rated in poor condition after a state Department of Transportation inspection last year, a report that led the board of selectmen to expedite plans for the bridge replacement projects.

Both the bridge and elementary school conversion appropriations were transfers from the town’s undesignated fund balance.The selectmen and finance board plan to reimburse the fund balance for the appropriations with proceeds from a bonding authorization that is expected to go to the town’s voters for approval later this year. The bonding authorization would also include funding for actual construction of the bridge replacements, replacement of sections of the elementary school roof, and other large capital improvement projects.

Voters also approved an expenditure of $25,000 from the municipal property sinking fund for renovations and improvements to the ground floor kitchen at town hall. Improvements to the outdated kitchen were needed because the town hall also serves as the town’s emergency operations center, and a possible emergency shelter for residents.

Voters also approved an expenditure of $21,700 from the elementary school capital improvements fund to pay for barrier fencing, a new walk-in cooler, and replacement of ceiling fans in the school building.