April 20, 2014

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.

Surprise! A Festival of Parties Benefits the Essex Library – April 26

Two of the Festival of Parties co-chairs, JoAnne Carter and Phyllis Greenberg, are shown  brainstorming party menus for this Friends of the Essex Library benefit event.  Not pictured; co-chair Ann Prichard

Two of the Festival of Parties co-chairs, JoAnne Carter and Phyllis Greenberg, are shown brainstorming party menus for this Friends of the Essex Library benefit event. Not pictured; co-chair Ann Prichard

What if you gave a dinner party — or fifteen — and everyone who loves the Library came? That’s what’s happening at the Essex Library when it throws a gala Festival of Parties on Saturday, April 26, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Library. The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with an elegant wine reception. The Library will be transformed with spring flowers as guests mingle and enjoy aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres.

At about 6:30, the real fun begins when guests learn the names of their hosts and where they will be attending their dinner parties. Guests will then depart for their destinations at one of more than fifteen charming private homes in the town of Essex.

“The ‘surprise destination dinner party’ has been done before and leads to lively combinations of old and new friends, all coming together to benefit the Library,” said Ann Prichard, one of the event co-chairs.

“It’s a very sought after ticket because it raises funds for a good cause, and also lets people enjoy truly gourmet meals in one of the town’s many interesting houses,” said co-chair JoAnne Carter.

The Festival of Parties welcomes individuals and couples. For your dining experience, we can accommodate groups of four at one host’s home. When you buy your tickets please specify that you prefer to dine as a group of four.

The Festival of Parties is one of several special birthday events being held in 2014 to mark 125 years of service to the community by the Essex Library, founded in 1889.  The Library is unique in that it serves as a public library open to all, but gets more than half of its funding from private donors and through events like the Festival of Parties.

“We have been a center for learning and culture for 125 years, and this is certainly something to celebrate. It’s wonderful to see so many families open their homes to help raise the funds that keep our Library currant and well-staffed,” said Phyllis Greenberg, also co-chairing the Festival.

Tickets for the Festival are $75 per person or $150 per couple, and are available at the Library at 33 West Avenue.  Couples who buy tickets will dine at the same destination. For further information, please contact Richard Conroy, Director of the Essex Library, at   860-767-1560.

I Ought To be In Pictures Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse Apr. 23

Date: April 23 – May 11, 2013

Theatre: Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, Connecticut

Tickets: 860-767-7318 /on-line at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Prices: $42 adults/ $37 seniors/ $20 students/$15 children

Time: Wednesday & Sunday matinees at 2pm; Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 7:30pm, Friday & Saturday evenings at 8:00pm

 

 

 

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.

April Vacation Week Workshops at the Connecticut River Museum – Apr. 14 – 18

 

Join CRM during April School Vacation for a week of creativity and discovery at the Connecticut River Museum. Come for one session or the whole week!

Join CRM during April School Vacation for a week of creativity and discovery at the Connecticut River Museum. Come for one session or the whole week!

When school is out, CRM is the place to be! Whether you have two days off or the entire week, there is something fun and exciting waiting for you at the Museum!! Bring your imagination and come prepared to create and experiment as we explore the River and its history. The programs run Monday – Friday April 14 – 18, from 9:00am – 12:00pm.  Each workshop for ages 6 – 12 includes exploration activities in the museum, time outdoors doing nature, science and history projects, and arts and crafts.

Programs are $25/day, $110/week for CRM members and $30/DAY, $135/week for nonmembers. Advance registration is required and space is limited.

To register, please email jwhitedobbs@ctrivermuseum.org or call 860.767.8269 x113. Visit ctrivermuseum.org for more information. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street.

$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.

Connecticut Water Company to Flush Water Mains Local Towns

The Connecticut Water Company will be flushing its water mains in the towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex, including Ivoryton, beginning on March 30 and continuing through April 8, and Old Saybrook from May 4 through May 23.   Routine flushing helps to maintain water quality by scouring the inside of the water mains.

In Chester, Deep River and Essex night water main flushing will be conducted from March 30 through April 1 between the hours of 8:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. Daytime water main flushing will be conducted from March 31 through April 8 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

In Old Saybrook water mains will be flushed between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. from May 4 through May 6. Water main flushing will also take place between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday throughFriday from May 5 through May 23.

During water main flushing it is possible that some customers may experience discolored water and pressure fluctuations. The discolored water should clear within a few hours. While experiencing discolored water, customers should avoid using their washing machine, dishwasher, or other water using devices. Customers should call Connecticut Water at 1-800-286-5700 if discolored water persists for more than a few hours.

Connecticut Water’s water main flushing schedule is available on its Web site at http://www.ctwater.com/ in the ‘Customer’ section. Connecticut Water is also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CTWtr) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/CTwater).

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.

Murphy Pushes For Federal Recognition of Battlefield Essex Project

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) recently wrote a letter to leaders at the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council to offer his support for the Battlefield Essex project and alert the Council that he would strongly advocate for the project to be named to the National Register of Historic Places. The project recognizes the tremendous contributions of the Essex shipbuilding industry to American history during the War of 1812, and will help increase tourism to the region.

“I’m encouraged to see our state remembering this noteworthy moment from a time in Connecticut’s past that gets too little recognition,” said Murphy. “Naming this site to the National Register of Historic Places will bring the area the recognition it deserves from the federal government, while boosting the local economy through increased tourism. The Connecticut River Museum has done tremendous work to restore this site and I’ll do everything I can to support its efforts.”

The Battlefield Essex project recognizes the British Raid on Pettipaug during the War of 1812. During the raid, Americans experienced the greatest shipping loss of the war. This April will mark the bicentennial of this raid.

Full text of the letter:

Mr. Daniel Forrest Chairwoman, State Historic Preservation Officer,  One Constitution Plaza, 2nd Floor, Hartford, CT 06103.

Sara O. Nelson, Historic Preservation Council, One Constitution Plaza, 2nd Floor, Hartford, CT 06103.
Dear Mr. Forrest and Chairwoman Nelson,

As you know, April 8th of this year will mark the bicentennial of the British attack on Essex during the War of 1812. While this attack was the largest American shipping loss of the war, those 136 British soldiers, 27 American vessels, and tiny local Connecticut militias seem to have been all but lost in the annals of history.

I commend the Connecticut River Museum for resurrecting this raid from history—while it was a terrible financial tragedy for the town, I believe this event also highlights the importance of the Essex shipbuilding industry and Connecticut’s trade ports during this period of American history. The history of the War of 1812 is so rarely remembered in our country and I am encouraged to see our state remembering this noteworthy moment from Connecticut’s past.

As the Battlefield Essex project makes its way through the Historic Preservation Council’s approval process, please know that I look forward to supporting and guiding this project through the federal process of being named to the National Register of Historic Places. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Christopher S. Murphy
United States Senator

Get the 411 on Community Resources at the Essex Library

Are you looking for information about social services, support groups, mental health, substance abuse issues, or childhood vaccination? The Essex Library’s Community Resource Room is open daily during the Library’s regular hours, and is stocked with information about all of these topics and more, with contact information that can lead you to the help you’re looking for. The free informational pamphlets and booklets available include titles on child care, mental health, elder issues, substance abuse, domestic violence, diabetes, social services, and much more, as well as a computer especially bookmarked for easy access to websites with more information. Support for the renovation was provided by a grant from the Essex Community Fund. 

$100,000 for Essex Elementary School Natural Gas Conversion Goes to Town Meeting

ESSEX— Voters will be asked to approve four special appropriations at a March 5 town meeting, including $100,000 to convert the boiler and other equipment at Essex Elementary School for natural gas heating. The town meeting convenes at 4:30 p.m,. in town hall.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said approval of an appropriation for the natural gas conversion would be a final step that would lead Yankee Gas Co. to begin construction on an extension of an existing natural gas line north from Westbrook to end in the vicinity of the elementary school in the Centerbrook section. The gas line would also be extended east on Bokum Road to provide service to the Lee Company and the Essex Meadows life care complex.

The local board of education last year endorsed converting the school from oil-fired hot water to natural gas heating. Nedleman said construction of the natural gas line extension is expected to begin this summer.

Voters will also be asked to approve a $21,700 additional appropriation for the elementary school for three other capital improvements, including new fencing, new ceiling fans for the gymnasium and cafeteria, and a walk-in storage cooler for the cafeteria.

Voters will also be asked to authorize a $325,000 special appropriation to pay for engineering design services for two bridge replacement projects, including replacement of the Walnut Street and Ivory Street bridges in the Ivoryton section. The bridges were rated in poor condition last fall after a state Department of Transportation inspection, with the board of selectmen moving to speed up plans to replace the two bridges.

Needleman said both the $100,000 for natural gas conversion at the elementary school and the $325,000 for engineering services would be transferred from the town’s undesignated fund balance, and then reimbursed with the proceeds from a larger bonding authorization for major capital projects that is expected to go to the town’s voters for approval later this year. The bonding plan would also include replacement of sections of the elementary school roof.

The final item on the March 5 agenda is an appropriation of $25,000 from the municipal property sinking fund for renovations to the kitchen that is located off the auditorium on the ground floor of town hall. The town hall auditorium is the town’s polling place for elections and referendums.

Approval of Zoning Variance Allows New Ivoryton Restaurant to Apply for Liquor License

ESSEX— The approval of a zoning variance will allow the Blue Hound Cookery to apply for a state license to sell beer and wine. The zoning board of appeals unanimously approved the variance Tuesday after a brief public hearing.

The restaurant, which has a Cajun-Creole-style menu, opened late last fall in the 107 Main St. space that was occupied for years by Aggie’s Restaurant, a breakfast/lunch establishment that closed last June. A variance was required because the front entrance to the Blue Hound Cookery is 175-feet from the entrance to the Ivoryton Tavern, another full service restaurant on Summit Street. Town zoning regulations require a 200-foot separation distance between establishments selling alcoholic beverages. The zoning commission did not object to the variance request.

 

EHS Receives Grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County

2014 CFMC grant for Phot Exhibit - EHS

ESSEX — Essex Historical Society has received a $3,194 grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County which was funded by the Riverview Cemetery Fund and the Connecticut Humanities Fund.   The grant will be used to develop large graphic panels depicting the development of Essex from the founding of  Saybrook colony in 1636 through the early 20th century. The history photo exhibit will be located in the Pratt House barn.  The Pratt House is open to and free to the public during the summer months.

EHS is a not-for-profit organization whose basic mission is to promote and preserve the awareness of the people, places and things that have shaped the history of Essex which incorporates the villages of Essex, Ivoryton and Centerbrook. EHS owns two historic buildings in Essex, the Pratt House Museum which is open to the public June through September and Hills Academy which houses our collections and where our Archival Angels work to catalog and preserve artifacts given to EHS.  For more information on The Essex Historical Society or how you can support us, write to ehs@essexhistory.net, or visit our website at www.essexhistory.org.

The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Middlesex County, and to help Good People Do Great Things. Its two-fold mission is: (1) to work with charitably-minded individuals and organizations to build permanent endowments and other charitable funds; and (2) to support local nonprofit organizations through effective grant making, in order to address community needs, as well as Let Good Grow. Since its founding in 1997, the Community Foundation has provided 907 grants, totaling more than $2.8 million, to organizations for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities, environmental improvements, and for health and human services.

To learn more, contact the Community Foundation at 860.347.0025, or info@MiddlesexCountyCF.org

Griswold Inn Hosts Tour of Its Priceless Collection of Pictures of Steamboats

 

A surfeit of steamboat portraits in the main dining room of Griswold Inn

A surfeit of steamboat portraits in the main dining room of Griswold Inn

On the wintry afternoon of Sunday, February 9, the Griswold Inn hosted a tour for some 50 visitors of its priceless collection of pictures of steamboats. Throughout the 19th century steamboats along the Connecticut River were the commercial lifeblood of the state, and the town of Essex was a favorite port of call.

Leading the tour of the collection of steamboat pictures, was Geoffrey Paul, one of the three Paul brothers who own the Griswold Inn. The three Paul brothers also own the Goods and Curiosity Store across the street from the Inn, as well as Sunset Pond at the entrance to downtown Essex.

In his over two hours of lecturing, Gris owner Paul gave an informative tour of the priceless collection of pictures of steamboats that are on display at the Griswold Inn.  The tour began with Paul’s pointing out the pictures of steamboats that are on display in the new bar room of the Griswold Inn.

Portrait of a sidewinder steamboat after passing under Brooklyn Bridge

Portrait of a sidewinder steamboat after passing under Brooklyn Bridge

A highlight in the new bar room is a newly painted, panoramic portrait of Essex harbor, as it looked in the mid-19th century. Looking at what he called, “a wonderful picture,” Paul let his visitors in on a secret. The secret is that the bartender can flip a switch, which will make the picture behind the bar rock slowly back and forth.

The gentle rocking of the Essex harbor picture is supposed to replicate what it feels like, when a person is on board a gently rocking steamboat, as it comes into Essex harbor in the mid-19th century. However, Paul said that in some cases people might think that the back and forth rocking motion means that they have had too much to drink, and that it is time to go home. (Owner Paul said if a guest wants to make the picture rock, they just have to ask the bartender.)  

During the Gris tour, Paul made much of the fact that the Griswold Inn is the oldest, continuously operating bar room in the United States. The Griswold Inn opened for business in 1776, and it has serving drinks ever since, according to its co-owner.

Other bars in the country may have been opened earlier than, “the Gris,” he said, but they have not been in continuous operation. That means that the bar at the Gris has been serving drinks for 238 years continuously.  

After that factoid had been established, the visiting group moved on to the front room of the Inn to look at some more steamboat pictures, and then thru the old bar room to the picture splendid backroom of the Inn. It a room whose upper walls are covered with steamboat pictures. The profusion of steamboats portraits is staggering.  

Treasured Jacobson Steamship Portraits

The most treasured portraits of the steamboats of the 19th century on display are those painted by a leading American marine artist, Antonio Nicolo Gasparn Jacobson. The Griswold Inn owns five original ship portraits by Jacobson, and many copies are on display as well.

Portrait of late model steamboat by noted marine artist Antonio Jacobson

Portrait of late model steamboat by noted marine artist Antonio Jacobson

In addition to the Jacobson pictures, owner Paul noted that a sketch of a Norman Rockwell picture of a steamboat is on display in the new bar room. In addition to his painstaking tour of the steamboat pictures at the Gris, Paul raised the question as to who was first inventor of the steamboat in America. 

According to Paul, it was not Robert Fulton, who is frequently credited as the inventor of the steamboat, but rather was John Fitch, an American inventor who build the first functioning steamboat in the 1790’s.

Original portrait of a steamboat by Jacobson at Griswold Inn

Original portrait of a steamboat by Jacobson at Griswold Inn

Visitors do not have to book a formal tour to view the museum quality pictures of steamboats that are on display on the walls of the downstairs rooms of at the Griswold Inn. The general public is generally welcome to view the priceless collection of steamboat portrait, most especially the picture-rich in the back room of the Inn.

There is also a “gun room” in the warren of downstairs rooms at the Gris. And don’t forget that upon request the big mural in the back of the new bar room can be made to rock and forth.

Another public tour of the Griswold Inn’s collection of nautical prints and paintings is scheduled for Sunday, March 2 at five p.m. Reservations to join the tour can be made by calling 860-767-1776. The tour is very popular and space is limited, so it is would be a good idea to call early.

Essex Planning Commission Begins 10-Year Update of Town Plan of Conservation and Development With Session Thursday

ESSEX— The planning commission is holding a series of public forums as it begins the process of updating the town plan of conservation and development. The first session, focusing on the Ivoryton village area, is scheduled for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

Cities and towns are encouraged to update their plan of conservation and development every ten years. The Essex POCD was last revised in 2005. The plan update is expected to address several land use and development issues, with an aim of setting goals and standards for the next ten years. Issues to be addressed in the 10-year update include affordable housing, acquisition of open space land, zoning and subdivision regulations, sidewalk improvements, and possible expansion of public water and/or sewer lines.

The commission is hoping to complete most of the work on the plan update this year. The panel is planning five public information and cviscussion forums focused on five separate sections of town, begging with Ivoryton village and continuing in the coming months with Centerbrook village, Essex village, the Bokum Center area around Westbrook Road (Route 153), and the Route 9 Gateway-Plains Road area.

New Ivoryton Restaurant Needs Zoning Variance For Sale of Beer and Wine

ESSEX— The zoning board of appeals has scheduled a Feb. 18 public hearing on an appeal that would allow the Blue Hound Cookery in Ivoryton to sell beer and wine with its restaurant menu. The Feb. 18 hearings begin at 7:30 p.m. at town hall, with four other appeals on the board’s agenda that evening.

The Blue Hound Cookery opened late last fall in the 107 Main Street space that was previously occupied by Aggie’s Restaurant, an establishment that usually offered breakfast and lunch only. The restaurant is now open for both lunch and dinner, with a Cajun-Creole-style menu. Owner Matt Carroll is hoping to obtain a liquor license to sell beer and wine in an establishment that is currently BYOB.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said Friday Carroll needs a variance because his front entrance is 175-feet from the entrance to the Ivoryton Tavern on Summit Street. Zoning regulations call for a 200-foot distance between restaurants selling alcoholic beverages. Budrow said he has no plans to oppose the variance request at the ZBA meeting.

Essex Selectmen Seek Appropriation for Bridge Projects Engineering Design Work

ESSEX— The board of selectmen will seek a $325,000 appropriation from the town’s undesignated fund balance to pay for engineering design work for two bridge replacement projects in the Ivoryton section.

The board endorsed the appropriation at its meeting Wednesday, with the board of finance expected to consider the requested expenditure at a meeting later this month. The appropriation would also need approval from voters at a town meeting.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the current estimate for engineering design work is $225,000 for the Walnut Street bridge, and $100,000 for the smaller Ivory Street bridge. Both bridges that span the Falls River were constructed in 1983 as replacements for bridges destroyed in the June 1982 flood.

Selectmen had been planning to fund all costs related to the bridge replacement projects from a capital projects bond issue that is expected to go to the voters for approval later this year. But inspection reports from the state Department of Transportation confirmed that both bridges are in poor condition, leading the board to expedite plans for the replacement projects.

In endorsing the $325,000 appropriation Wednesday, the selectmen recommended the expenditure be reimbursed to the fund balance with proceeds from the larger capital projects bonding authorization. A committee is now working to finalize a list of projects, and cost estimates, for the proposed bonding authorization, with a plan for the projects expected to be presented to voters at a public hearing by this summer.

Needleman said the town would hire an engineering firm for the bridge projects after the requested appropriation is approved, with a goal of putting the bridge projects out to bid later this year.

In other business Wednesday, selectmen accepted the resignation of Chris Pugliuco from the honorary position of town historian. Pugliuco had assumed the position after the death in 2009 of author and longtime town historian Donald Malcarne. Anyone interested in serving as town historian for Essex is urged to contact the selectmen’s office.

No “Butts” About It, CVS Pharmacies Have Stopped Selling Cigarettes; While Rival, Rite Aid, Is Still Selling Them

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The nation’s largest pharmacy chain, CVS, recently announced that it would stop selling cigarettes. However, one of its major competitors in the pharmacy business, Rite Aid, has declined not to adopt a similar policy.

Rite Aid’s Bob Neveu, who is in charge of the pharmacy at the Colonial shopping center in Essex, maintains that even though Rite Aid still sell cigarettes, it is still cutting back in selling tobacco products generally. “We used to have a special cigar section in the stores,” he says, and now they have been eliminated.

Rite Aid’s Nevey admits he has always felt that, “it was somewhat incongruous for a health goods store, like Rite Aid, to be selling cigarettes.” However, regardless of the store manager’s personal feelings, cigarettes enjoy a prime spot behind the checkout counter at the front of the store, where Marlboro cigarette packages and other brands are on full display. 

As for the CVS pharmacy chain, in its pharmacy in downtown Old Saybrook on Boston Post Road, it indeed appears that CVS is not selling cigarettes, true to its word. Not a single cigarette package was evident on recent visit. However, it does appear that CVS has not given up selling other tobacco products. On a recent visit right behind the checkout counters, although there were no cigarettes in view, there were clearly other kinds of tobacco products for sale.

CVS pharmacy where they no longer sell cigarettes

CVS pharmacy where they no longer sell cigarettes

When asked what they were, “We sell pipe tobacco and cigars,” said one of the women behind the CVS checkout counter.

 

Letter From Paris: All Things Braque and Beautiful

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The Georges Braque retrospective in Paris – the first in 40 years – just closed its doors after four months at the Grand Palais. Braque is best known for being one of the creators of cubism. But it would be an error to overlook the rest of his creative life, which was in constant metamorphosis from “Fauvism” at age 24 to his art studio and magnificent birds series from the 1930s onwards. He was one of those rare artists to be recognized during his lifetime since honors were lavished on him.

Georges Braque (1882-1963) was a tall, handsome man with a quiet manner. Instead of joining his father as a painting contractor, he left Normandy and moved to Paris to study art. Soon he joins the Fauves (Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck) and his paintings at l’Estaque, or La Ciotat, on the Mediterranean, are an orgy of colors.

Then, after a two-year period, with the same apparent ease, he absorbed the geometrization of nature approach that Cézanne was the first to introduce. The old master had died just one year earlier. Braque turned houses and vegetation into stylized shapes, devoid of any detail. His colors are muted.

In 1907, Braque went to the Bateau Lavoir studio of Picasso in Montmartre. Since 1905, Picasso (two years his junior) had been feverishly working on the “Demoiselles d’Avignon.” Braque sees the preparatory studies Picasso had done, and is stunned.

From that time until the beginning of the Great War, a relationship – unique in the history of art – is formed between the two artists, based on mutual stimulation without any trace of rivalry. They were like mountain climbers roped together, to use Braque’s own words. Braque’s “Le Grand Nu” of a heavy set woman, with a distorted body, the face like a mask, shows the same understanding of African art that Picasso imbued.

In 1908, art critic Louis Vauxelles commented that Braque’s painting were reduced to cubes — thus, the word “cubism” was born. Braque and Picasso were about to create the most important aesthetic revolution of the 20th century.

In the next few years, cubism evolved through several phases: “analytic” with the de-multiplication of the object into facets, absent of perspective. A second phase, called “hermetic”, followed. It is austere, to the point of being illegible, with colors reduced to camayeux (monochromes) shades of grey and ochre. During the final “analytic” phase, the artist introduced clues to help the onlooker: letters from wine bottle labels or newspapers, or parts from a piano, guitar or mandolin (Braque had a passion for music.)

During this period, Braque and Picasso were also to invent totally new techniques to be emulated by many other artists: first the method of “collage ” using a variety of materials like sand, metal shaving, ground glass or dirt. In his key painting titled, “Compotier, Bouteille et Verre, “(fruit dish, bottle and glass) of August 1912, he introduced the method of “papiers collés” (glued papers) serving as “trompe-l’oeil.”

In 1914, Braque is called to the European front. In May 1915, he is seriously wounded in the Artois battle and undergoes brain surgery. After coming out of his “trou noir” (black hole), he begins a long convalescence. Not surprisingly, given his personality, he feels no bitterness, nor anger .

He returned again to cubism, but this time his paintings are vibrant with colors and, in spite of their abstraction, easier to read.

In the 1930s, his series of still life paintings in his art studio setting is so complex as to be called “studio landscapes.” A charming chaos seem to lift fruits and objects and pile them on the ubiquitous “guéridon” (round table.) An exuberant humor replaced the austerity of his pre-war cubism. American collectors, like MOMA or the Phillips gallery, are enthusiastic about his new works.

In the mid 1950s, the artists introduces a new theme : a bird floating above the apparent disorder of the studio. In “Nid dans le Feuillage” (Nest in the foliage), the bird flies over an eerie mountainous landscape toward a nest lit in a frigid light. The emptiness of his very last painting,”Sarcleuse,” is overpowering. Under a black sky, golden wheat undulates in the breeze. The metal wreck of the “sarcleuse” (agricultural machine) left on the beach is a final message of human activity.

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

Essex Grand List Drops by 7.72 Percent After Revaluation

ESSEX— Assessor Jessica Sypher has filed an October 2013 grand list of taxable property that totals $1,033,200,611, representing a revaluation-driven decrease of $86,418,685, or 7.72 percent, from the current grand list total.

In the first full revaluation with visual; inspections of all properties since 2003, a sharp decrease in real estate values was only slightly offset by small increases in the assessment totals for personal property and motor vehicles. The town’s 3,407 real estate accounts show an assessment total of $942,519,420, a decrease of $89,567,020, or 8.68 percent, from the current real estate total. The revaluation, conducted last year by Vision Appraisal Government Solutions of Northboro, Mass., captured much of the decline in both residential and commercial property values associated with the nationwide Great Recession that began in the fall of 2008.

The last townwide adjustment of property values was a revaluation update that was completed in 2007. Vision Appraisal handled both the 2003 full revaluation and the 2007 statistical update. Sypher said more than half of the real estate accounts, including most commercial properties, showed a decrease in assessed value.

But some assessments remained roughly the same, and Sypher estimated about 300 residential properties in various neighborhoods show an increase in assessed values. Most of the properties with a higher assessed value are located near the Connecticut River, or the Mill Pond of the Falls River in the Ivoryton and Centerbrook sections.

The town’s 718 personal property accounts show an assessment total of $29,585,631, an increase of $915,055 from the current personal property total. The town’s 7,627 motor vehicle accounts show an assessment total of $61,095,560, an increase of $2,233,280 from the current motor vehicles total.

Sypher estimated the decline in the grand list would represent a loss of about $1.6 million in tax revenue at the current tax rate of 18.99 mills, or $18.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. The tax rate for 2014-2015 will be determined through the town budget approval process that concludes with a town meeting or referendum vote on a spending plan in May.

Sypher said property owners objecting to their new assessment may file an appeal with the elected board of assessment appeals, which holds hearings in March that could result in adjustments to some assessments. The deadline for applying for a hearing with the board of assessment appeals in Feb. 20.

Essex Top Ten Tax Payers

The town’s list of the top ten tax payers remained largely unchanged from recent years, but with one new addition. SKR Partners LLC, which is handling development of the high value Foxboro Point subdivision near the Connecticut River, took the number four spot on the list. All Waste Inc. slipped out of the top ten. The town’s largest taxpayer remains the Essex Meadows Properties Inc. life care facility on Bokum Road with an assessment total of $22,875,400.

Others in the top ten, with the current assessment totals, are Lee Company-$7,367,350, Connecticut Light and Power Co.-$6,480,780, SKR Partners LLC-$5,413,200, The Griswold Inn LLC-$3,369,800, Essex Savings Bank-$3,340,440, Stepher R. Cline successor trustee-$3,276,600, MacBeth Ventures LLC-$2,759,500, Herbert T. Clark III-$2,742,260, and River Properties Inc.-$2,295,3909.

Essex “Slum” House Sold at Auction for $142,000 to Madison Resident

 

Present condition of the interior of 63 North Main Street in Essex

Present condition of the interior of 63 North Main Street in Essex

It took 28 individual bids at the auction before Madison resident Edmund Mormile won the right to purchase the forlorn property at 63 North Main Street in Essex. The purchase price was $142,000. “I have always liked Essex,” auction winner Mormile said after his successful bid had been recognized.

Essex Attorney Jeannine Myszkowski, who conducted the auction, did so by acknowledging numbered cards held up by bidders who wanted their bids to be recognized. Soon there were only three bidders still in the completion, holding up their numbered cards. Finally, there was only one numbered card still being held up by a bidder, willing to pay the last and highest bid price.

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski conducted the auction, recognizing 28 bids

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski conducted the auction, recognizing 28 bids

The auction was over, and Mormile was the winner. To make it official Attorney Myszkowski brought down the gavel and declared his was the winning bid. The auction took no more than 30 minutes. “I was pleased with the result,” she said after the auction was over. She also ventured the opinion that to her the North Main Street property “looks like a teardown.”

To Tear Down or Not to Tear Down

However, auction winner Mormile said after his victory that he was not willing to concede that the present structure could not be rebuild; although he said that building a new structure was an option. Either way, he said, there was a real possibility that he and his wife would move and live in Essex on the site.

Auction winner Mormile is a retired educator, and he has a real estate license as well. He said that before making his bid, “I worked the numbers, and it made sense to do what I did today.” “It’s in a beautiful area,” he said, and the North Main location of the property was “a motivating factor to me” in purchasing the property.

One final note, the sale must be approved by the state Superior Court.   

Exterior of auctioned property of Edmund Mormile, pending court approval

Exterior of auctioned property of Edmund Mormile, pending court approval

The Essex Community Fund Donates an English Oak

ETC-ECF 2012 giftIn 2012 the Essex Community Fund donated $500 to the Essex Tree Committee so that the Essex Tree Committee could purchase and plant an English Oak at #7 Dennison Road. 

The English Oak (quercus robur) provides architectural elegance to any landscape. When fully grown, it has an imposing trunk and a broad-rounded habit with wide spreading branches. The 3-7 lobed, 2 to 5 inch long, rich blue green leaves remain until late fall with limited autumn color.  This tree has adapted well from its native English countryside to the USA, from North Dakota to Utah to Georgia. It will grow to 40 to 60 feet high and wide. Augie Pampel, Tree Warden carefully selected the location on Dennison Road so that the tree would eventually show off its natural beauty. Fred Weber Associates planted the tree.

Ms. Lauren Caiazzo, ECF Secretary said that as part of its mission, the Community Fund is committed to the preservation and protection of Essex’s natural environment, including planting trees.  Since the 1940s ECF has given grants to help local non-profits provide services and enhance the quality of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton.  Augie Pampel recently thanked Ms. Lauren Caiazzo, (pictured), for the Community Fund’s generous donation.  The Essex Tree Committee looks forward to continued collaboration with the Essex Community Fund in its efforts to protect the natural beauty of the villages of Essex.

If you or your organization would like more information about tax deductible tree donations, contact Augie Pampel, Tree Warden at augiepampel@att.net.

Five Book Clubs at Essex Library Keep Members, Both Busy and Informed

 

Library Director Richard Conroy (center) chairing an American History Book Club meeting

Library Director Richard Conroy (center) chairing an American History Book Club meeting

If you like to read books on a regular basis, joining one of the book clubs at the Essex Library is the thing to do.  The library’s Executive Director, Richard Conway, is in overall charge of the library’s book clubs. In addition, he personally moderates the discussions of three of them. The other two book clubs are moderated by the library’s Programming Librarian, Jenny Tripp.

Programming Librarian Jenny Trip, who leads two book clubs and has a host of other duties at the Essex Library

Programming Librarian Jenny Trip, who leads two book clubs and has a host of other duties at the Essex Library

Here is a look at the library’s five book clubs.

1) The American History Book Club

This is the oldest of the library’s book clubs, and generally there are twenty to thirty book club members attending club meetings. Recent books discussed include, “Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindberg, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1942” by Lynn Olson. Another recent selection was, “The Hopkins Touch” by David L. Roll, which highlighted the key role that Harry Hopkins played in the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

One of the unique pleasures of the meetings of this book club are the comments of two members who are retired college professors, Richard Buel and John Osborn. Hearing these two debate various nuances of American history is an extra pleasure.   

Club member, Lory ffrench-Mullen, travels all the way from Madison to attend the club’s meetings in Essex. Commenting on the high quality of the club’s discussions, she observes that, “American history is alive and well on the Connecticut Shoreline.” Continuing she says, “Whether our subject is the presidency and military history of Ulysses S. Grant, the life and accomplishments of Henry Luce, or the dramatic debate prior to World War II about America’s participation in that war, the comments and observations from everyone seated at the table lead to very lively and informative discussions.”

Also, club member John Osborn comments, “The group discusses serious books of American history.” As for the moderating skills of library Executive Director Richard Conroy, Osborn says, “He is firm but unobtrusive. He lets people talk freely, but he is ready to advance the subject under discussion, if they talk too much.”  

2) The Third Wednesday Book Club

This book club, also moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conway, holds its meetings at the Essex Meadows retirement home.  Conroy observes that the club’s members, “are very engaged in various subjects, even though they are older.”

Jean Luburg, an active member of the book club, says that she first thought that being a member of a book club, “was a stupid idea.” Now, she has completely changed her mind and says being a member of the book club is “fantastic.” Luburg is also pleased that the library director Conroy personally comes to the Meadows to moderate the club’s discussions.

A recent book discussed by the club was, “The Curse: Big Time Gambling’s Seduction of a Small New England Town” by Robert H. Steele.  

3) The First Thursday Book Club 

Library Director Conroy also moderates this book club, which meets at the Essex Library. He says that this book club, “read quality literature, both fiction and non-fiction.” Recent club selections are, “My Beloved World” by Sonya Sotomayor; “Long Halftime Walk” by Billy Lynn; and “Slaughter House Five by Curt Vonnegut.

Another selection of this book club was Carlos Eire’s, “Learning to Die in Miami.” The author, who is a Cuban refuge, was a recent guest speaker at the Essex library.

4) The Shakespeare Book Club

The library’s Programing Librarian, Jenny Tripp, is the moderator of this book club, which focuses on the plays of William Shakespeare. Recently, members have read and discussed; “King Lear,” “The Tempest,” and “Cymbeline.” The group has also read historical plays of the Bard, including a less familiar play, “King John,” and a very familiar play, “Richard III.”

5) The Classic Book Club

This book club, which is also moderated by Jenny Trip, has read such classic books as; Thomas Mann’s “Magic Mountain,” “The Leopard” by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, and classic books from “Beowulf to Brideshead Revisited,” according to Tripp.

The interior of the Essex Library, where four of the library’s five book club are held. The fifth book is held at Essex Meadows.

The interior of the Essex Library, where four of the library’s five book club are held. The fifth book is held at Essex Meadows.

The Library Director’s View of the Book Clubs

Library Director Conroy says that by personally moderating the book clubs, “it gives me the opportunity to really interact with our library patrons, and they get to know me as well.” Conroy brings an impressive academic background to the book club meetings. He has a B.A., and an M.A. in Library Science, from Connecticut Central University. He also has an M.A. from Trinity College in Hartford.

Conroy says, “I am a voracious reader,” which is fortunate, because he has to keep up with the reading assignments of three very active book clubs, in addition to his administrative duties at the Essex Library.

As for Programming Librarian Jenny Tripp, she also has other responsibilities at the library besides moderating book club discussions. They include organizing and publicizing the library’s adult programs, setting up film showings, and editing the library’s newsletter, Ex Libris. It’s a full plate for a part time employee.  

Letter From Paris: ‘French-Bashing’ Doesn’t Add Up If The Numbers Are Wrong

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The latest round of “French bashing” has been circulating on the internet, touching a nerve among the French social networks .  On January 3rd, Newsweek journalist Janine di Giovanni  published on the magazine’s website (Newsweek has ceased to appear on news stands for around a year) an article titled, “Fall of France.”  She is a successful correspondent covering the war scene in the Middle East, but her only qualification to write about France is that she has been living in Paris for 10 years.  Two days later, the Newsweek editor reiterated its attack on France in another article, this time, “How a Cockerel Nation became an Ostrich.”  That article, in fact, repeated the recommendations addressed by the European Commission to the nine countries of the EU (European Union), France among them.

Di Giovanni’s general message is that the decline of France has greatly accelerated under the Socialist government of François Hollande and that the “French model” of a providence state (the author calls it a “nannie state”) is not sustainable.  This is not an original point of view and the French themselves are frequently criticizing their own system and trying to modify it.  The American-born journalist has written an entertaining and clearly poorly researched article.  She backs her arguments with a mixture of true, false and, sometimes, outrageous information, which make the piece quite entertaining.

Challenges, a well-established French weekly magazine dealing with economy, and reliable web sites, such as Decodeurs.com, have gone to the trouble of analyzing point by point di Giovanni’s story.

The most glaring mistakes she makes concern the excessive taxes.  She writes: ” Since the arrival of the Socialist President François Holland in 2012, the income tax and social security have rocketed. The top rate is 75 percent and a great many pay in excess of 70percent.”  In  fact, in 2011 (that is under Nicolas Sarkozy) the top income tax bracket was 43.7 percent and today it is 45 percent.  The tax of 75 percent is only paid by the very rich with an income of over one million Euro.

By decision of the Conseil Constitutionnel, the tax of 75 percent  is not considered as a separate tax bracket.  It has only been paid by 11,960 households.  Furthermore, the tax is not paid by the individuals, but by the firm which employs them.   Finally the Newsweek journalist may have mixed up income tax with the amount paid by the employer  (including social benefits), which resulted in a doubling of the numbers.

Commentators had a field day with some hilarious statements made by di Giovanni.  There is no word for entrepreneur in French, she claims.  Apparently she forgot that the word entrepreneur is French!  Another is quoting the price of a liter of milk as being six euros when it is only 1.33.  An online reader commented that the author must shop at the most expensive gourmet Grande Epicerie of the luxury department store of Bon Marché.

From her bourgeois apartment near the Luxembourg garden in the 6th District - the most expensive in the capital – she has a strange perception of what real life is like for the working population.  Talking about nurseries, for instance, she writes that they are free, can be found in every neighborhood and provide free diapers.  In fact, only some 13 percent of the middle class can afford nurseries and they have to pay roughly 9 percent of their income for using them.

The French seem to regard such “bashing” as stimulating … and it certainly keeps them on their toes.

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

Town is Included in Lawsuit Involving Essex Veterans Memorial Hall

ESSEX— The town has been included in a recent lawsuit involving the Essex Veterans Memorial Hall because of its status as a fall back owner of the building and property located off Route 154 in the Centerbrook section.

The lawsuit, filed last month in Middlesex superior Court by local attorney Michael Peck, springs from a dispute that developed among EVMH members last year. Peck, a Chester resident who is a veteran, contends local resident Michael Bergeron, a Gulf War veteran, was permanently, and improperly, banned from the club area that serves alcoholic beverages, and also from participating in townwide veterans events held at the property.

The building, a former school that includes a bar area and a meeting room, was town property in 1946 when, at the request of returning World War II veterans, it was conveyed by a town meeting vote to an entity listed as Essex Veterans Memorial Hall Inc. for use as a meeting hall for area veterans. It has been used in subsequent years as a meeting hall for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, and also occasionally by other veterans groups. The surrounding, triangle-shaped property is the terminus of the town’s annual Memorial Day Parade and site of the November 11 Veterans Day ceremony. The property also contains a granite war memorial, listing the names of all local veterans dating back to World War I, that was erected in 2001.

Peck contends in the lawsuit that his research indicates that Essex Veterans Memorial Hall Inc. forfeited its non-profit status in 1971 after failing to file required annual reports with the Secretary of the State’s Office. The suit also contends a newer Essex Veterans Memorial Hall Inc. established in 1993 has also not filed required reports for recent years. EVMH is governed by a board of directors that is comprised of area veterans. The lawsuit also claims the bar operation at the hall is under investigation by the state Liquor Control Division for alleged violations of liquor control laws.

Peck, in a recent statement on the case, said Bergeron is asking the court to clarify the status of the property and the Essex Veterans Memorial Hall Inc. organization that is charged with supervising it. He said Begeron wants the property to be maintained as a meeting hall for area veterans.

Jerry Lamark, a Chester resident who is the current president of EVMH, this week declined to comment on details of the lawsuit. Lamark said the hall remains open seven days each week, and continues to offer the meeting room for use by the VFW or any other veterans organizations. Lamark said the hall’s board of directors has retained an attorney, and are working to resolve any outstanding issues related to operation of the bar. “We’re trying to save the hall,” he said.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said last week the town views lawsuit as “an internal issue” for the veterans groups, and would like to limit its involvement in the case. “I want them to resolve their issues and function to the benefit of local veterans,” he said. The board of selectmen has discussed the lawsuit in closed sessions at two recent meetings.

Paintings by Local Artist, Luisa Kreis Whiting, On Display at Essex Library

 

Luisa Kreis Whiting displaying her paintings at the Essex Library

Luisa Kreis Whiting displaying her paintings at the Essex Library

Clouds, clouds, and even more clouds, that is the first thing that strikes a visitor in viewing the paintings by Essex artist, Luisa Kreis Whiting. In many of Whiting’s paintings, the clouds receive far more emphasis then the ground below.

There are thirteen original paintings by Whiting presently on display at the Essex Library. They are located on the wall across from the check-out desk, and along the walls of the library’s program room as well.

Whiting, who has spent a lifetime as a painter of pictures, has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. As for the style of her paintings she says seeks to emulate the work of the American master, Edward Hopper. “He is my ideal,” she says, mentioning specifically “the hard-edged light” that she finds in Hopper’s paintings.  

New England moonlight from painter’s imagination

New England moonlight from painter’s imagination

In addition to her paintings of clouds, Whiting in other painting seeks to portray the classic simplicity of the houses in New England, and a number of paintings on this subject are in the exhibit. As for Whiting’s background, she is an Artist Member of the Essex Art Association, and her paintings have been exhibited in the Left Bank Gallery in Essex, the Town Hall in Clinton and at the Essex Yacht Club.

Clouds over a New England landscape

Clouds over a New England landscape

As regards her family, she has three daughters and five grandchildren. For a period Whiting living in Richmond, Virginia, where she had a number of exhibitions of her works. However, she feels that, “The taste for art is much better here [in New England] than in Virginia,” although she has high praise for the mansions found in the south.

Her Father a Noted Artist  

Whiting is the daughter of a major American artist, Henry Kreis. Kreis was an immigrant from Germany, who proudly became an American citizen. His creative works are featured in a number U.S. government buildings in Washington, D.C., and he designed the official medal for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, among many other government commissions of his art and sculpture.

Also, Whiting’s father loved Essex and made the town his home for very many years. Now, his daughter, Luisa, is back in town, displaying her own works at the Essex Library.    

Essex Democrats and Republicans Select Town Committees for 2014-2016

ESSEX— Town Democrats and Republicans selected town committees for the 2014-2016 term at party caucuses and nominating sessions held over the past week. The new two-year term for town committee members begins in March.

Democrats, who have held the elected majority on the three-member board of selectmen since 2003, selected a 27 member town committee, leaving three seats open on a total authorized membership of 30. Members were asked to confirm their interest and intent to serve before Tuesday’s endorsement session, with three current members stepping down from the committee, including Matthew Cooper, Earl Fowler, and Lee Rowley, who served as town chairman in the early 2000s.

The 27 member committee is comprised entirely of incumbents, including Cathy Bishop, Mark Bombaci, Brian Cournoyer, William Doane, former First Selectman Carl Ellison, Lois Ely, and Geraldine Ficarra,. Also newly elected Town Treasurer James Francis, Frank Hall, Tax Collector Megan Haskins, Campbell Hudson, Jonathan James, Louisa Ketron, Loretta McClusky, and State Rep. Phil Miller. Also First Selectman Norman Needleman, Mary Ann Pleva, Selectwoman Stacia Libby, Lon Seidman, Stanley Sheppard, Lawrence Shipman, Deputy Secretary of the State James Spallone, John Stannard, Claire Tiernan, Kathleen Tucker, committee Chairman Fred Vollono, and Alvin Wolfgram.

Republicans selected a 26-member town committee at a party caucus last week. Three members stepped down from the panel, including Lynn Faulstick, Leigh Rankion, and Elizabeth Schellens. Committee member and former Republican State Central Committee member Neil Nichols died last July. The committee includes five new or returning members, including Selectman Bruce Glowac, who served as first selectman from 1991-1995 and was elected to the board again last year, Robert Fisher, Peter Decker, James Palagonia, and Melanie Phoenix. Decker and Palegonia were the party’s unsuccessful candidates for board of finance in the only contested races of last year’s town election.

Incumbents returning to the GOP panel are John Ackerman, Susie Beckman, Herb Clark, committee Chairman Edward Cook, Alexander Daddona, Ann Dixon, D.G. Fitton, Adrienne Forrest, John Heiser, James Hill, Donna Hyde, Jerri Macmillian, 2011 first selectman nominee Bruce Macmillian, newly installed Town Clerk Joel Marzi, Barbara Ryan, David Sousa, Terry Stewart, Alice Van Deursen, Gary Van Deursen, and June Wilson.

Essex Eyesore Is Up for Sale, Finally – Auction This Saturday

 

Sign presently on the property at 63 North Main Street

Sign presently on the property at 63 North Main Street

After literally years of waiting, Essex’s number one eye sore, the decaying property at 63 North Main Street at the corner of New City Street and across from busy Grove Street, will be up for sale at a court-ordered, public auction on Saturday, Jan. 25.  The auction will begin at noon and persons wishing to inspect the property beforehand can view it from 10 a.m. on the day of the auction.

A $150 deposit by check will be required from all bidders at the auction.  The checks should be made payable the bidders themselves, and they should be given before the auction to Essex-based Attorney Jeannine M. Wyszkowski, who is conducting the auction.  She will hold the checks until the conclusion of the auction.  Then she will return all checks, except the check of the winning bidder, whose check will be retained.

To answer further questions about the auction, Attorney Wyszkowski can be reached at her law office at 860-767-0195, or by writing her at P.O. Box 393, Essex, CT 06046.  To date Attorney Wyszkowski says there has been “lots of interest” from potential buyers of the property being auctioned.

A number of prospective buyers have told Attorney Wyszkowski that they would renovate the present property on the site, if they had the winning bid.  Others have told her that they would tear down the present building on the site and put up a new one.  In addition, there has been some discussion of turning the property into a public pocket park.

The abandon property up for sale at auction on January 25

The abandoned property up for sale by auction on Jan. 25

How the Auction Will Proceed

As to how the auction will proceed, the bank that presently holds the property may make an opening bid of $130,000, according to Attorney Wyszkowski.  Then, after this sum has been announced, she might ask for a bid of $140,000.  If this bid accepted, and there is no further bidding, that would be the final sale price of the property.  Or, of course, if there were other bids from registered buyers, the bid price could go higher and higher.

Attorney Wyszkowski is confident that the bidding will go smoothly.  “I have done it before,” she says.

Attorney Jean Wyszkowski will conduct auction of slum house on January 25

Attorney Jean Wyszkowski will conduct auction of the derelict house on Jan. 25

 

Essex Selectmen Delay Changes to Delay of Demolition Ordinance – Seek Input from Historical Society

ESSEX— The board of selectmen will delay action on any possible changes to the town’s delay of demolition ordinance, seeking input from the Essex Historical Society and the planning commission before considering any changes that would be brought to the voters for approval at a town meeting.

The board discussed possible changes to the 2004 town ordinance, which includes a 90 days delay of demolition rule for structures older than 75 years, at a Dec. 18 meeting, First Selectman Norman Needleman suggested several possible changes, including setting a fixed date of 1900 for houses and other structures to qualify for the delay of demolition rule, and requiring the town historian and Essex Historical Society to request a delay of demolition for a structure. The current ordinance allows any resident to petition the building official for a 90 days delay of demolition on a structure older than 75 years, for a current trigger date of structures built before 1939.

It was these possible changes, particularly the 1900 trigger date, that brought several members of the historical society to Wednesday’s meeting to raise objections. The group included appointed town historian Chris Pugliuco, Eve Potts, and Shirley Malcarne, window of the late long-time town historian and author Donald Malcarne. It was Malcarne, who had written several books about the town’s historic structures, that pushed for adoption of the ordinance, and the current wording, in 2004.

Potts said she “strongly objects” to any changes that would weaken the ordinance She said the ordinance is doing what it was intended to do, providing a 90 days review period for structures that may have historic value. Pugliuco noted that many structures built in the 1920s, including factory houses and Sears Roebuck kit houses, have now become historically and architecturally significant.

Needleman said the board’s review of the ordinance is just beginning, with no immediate plans to present any proposed revisions to a town meeting. He said the board would seek input from the historical society and the planning commission, and then hold a public hearing on any possible changes.

Needleman added that he is “not close minded” about a 1900 trigger date for the ordinance, while adding that he was “never happy” with the current “rolling date” set at 75 years. Selectman Bruce Glowac said the board should be cautious in setting any fixed trigger date for the ordinance.

Essex Savings Bank Donates to Local Communities

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Essex – Each year all six branches and the corporate office of Essex Savings Bank hold a holiday contest designed to help those less fortunate in the local communities.  The goal of this year’s event was to collect food and non-perishables for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen as well as the food pantries in Chester and Madison.

The festive displays at each office location centered on a particular food course, and the entries ranged from breakfast selections to desserts.  Although this contest adds to the fun of the season, the deeper goal for all of the Bank employees is to help those in need as that is the true spirit of the season.

All donations were at the employees’ expense and generated by their goodwill.

As a result of everyone’s efforts, on Monday, Dec. 23, Essex Savings Bank employees delivered 845 pounds of food to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen.  Additional donations were made to the pantries in Chester and Madison.

Branch Manager/AVP Marla Bogaert serves on the Board of Directors for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and a team of Bank employees volunteer to prepare and serve dinner throughout the year.  The ingredients for these meals are collected through the generous donations from Bank employees.

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Editor’s Note: 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 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.

 

 

Local Battlefield Site Moves Closer to Federal Recognition

Archeologists investigated sites along the Connecticut River in Old Saybrook and Essex and discovered a variety of objects linked to the 1814 Raid.

Archeologists investigated sites along the Connecticut River in Old Saybrook and Essex and discovered a variety of objects linked to the 1814 Raid.

ESSEX – Following nearly six years of planning, historic research and archeological digs, the War of 1812 era battlefield site along the mouth of the Connecticut River is moving closer to receiving federal recognition.  The British Raid on Pettipaug (Essex, CT) occurred on April 7 and 8, 1814.  During this engagement, 27 American vessels were destroyed, resulting in the country’s largest loss of ships during the War of 1812.

The Connecticut River Museum in Essex has spearheaded this effort.  In 2012, the Museum received a grant through the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program to identify and document the British Raid in preparation for nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places as a battle site. If accepted, the battle site would include several locales: the Village of Essex; portions of Watrous Point; Ayer’s Point; and Saybrook Point. These areas along the Connecticut River include the peninsula of Essex which served as the British landing site, several period buildings, and locations of former shipyards where ships were burned.  Also included are sites along the River in Old Saybrook, where Americans fired on the enemy in an attempt to prevent their escape.

Speaking on behalf of the Connecticut River Museum, executive director Christopher Dobbs said “This will be a significant honor for our region.” Dobbs went on to say, “National recognition is yet one more way to elevate the importance of the River and bring tourists to the area.”  Stacey Vairo, State Historic Preservation Officer, noted that “Battle site designation is largely symbolic and recognizes the area’s significance in State and National history.”

As a next step for battle site designation, the State Historic Preservation Board will meet to review the nomination at their scheduled meeting on January 27, 2014.  In preparation for this meeting, the Connecticut River Museum will host a short information meeting with project archeologist Kevin McBride from the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, whose team has conducted the field work in this project, and Stacey Vairo, State Historic Preservation Officer.  The meeting is free and open to the public and will take place on Tuesday, January 21at 5:30 PM at the Connecticut River Museum, 67 Main Street, Essex, CT. Following the State review, the application will most likely move to the national level.  It is the intent by many in Essex to have the nomination completed in time for the bicentennial of the event in 2014.

For more information about the proposed nomination and National Register process, please contact the State Historic Preservation Office at 860-256-2766.

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Connecticut River Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River. For a full listing of event details, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

Essex Land Trust: Hike of the Month Schedule – Get to Know Essex Outdoors

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The Essex Land Trust is pleased to announce a new program to encourage enjoyment of our special outdoor open spaces. Hikes are planned for every month on the first Saturday, starting at 9am and lasting approximately 1 hour. Meet at each property’s entrance. Hikes will be canceled in the event of bad weather.

Explore Essex’s outdoor open space by visiting many of the special sites that have been preserved for the benefit of all. For directions please refer to the Essex Land Trust Trail Guide, or on line at www. essexlandtrust.org. This activity is being co-sponsored by the Essex Park and Recreation Department as part of their Essex Outdoors program, which encourages families and people of all ages to experience the natural beauty of our community.

Hikes will be led by Essex Land Trust volunteers and are scheduled as follows.

  • Jan 4 – Turtle Creek Preserve – Watrous Point Road, off Route 154
  • Feb 1 – Canfield Preserve – Park at the Book Hill Woods Road entrance
  • Mar 1 – Heron Pond Preserve – Heron Pond Road, off Route 154
  • Apr 5 – Tiley-Pratt Preserve – On unmarked Kreis Lane, off Laurel Road
  • May 3 – Viney Hill Brook Preserve – Parking lot at end of Cedar Grove Terrace
  • June 7 – The Millrace – Park at the Ivory Street entrance Part of CT Trails Day
  • July 5 – Osage Trails – Take Maple Avenue, off N. Main to Foxboro Road
  • Aug 2 – Windswept Ridge – On Windermere Way, off of Mare’s Hill Road,
  • Sept 6 – Falls River Preserve – End of Falls River Drive, off Main St., Ivoryton
  • Oct 4 – Bushy Hill Nature Preserve – Park on Bushy Hill Road entrance
  • Nov 1 – Fern Ledge – Next to Shoreline Clinic, off Route 153
  • Dec 6 – James Glen – End of Hudson Lane, off River Road

For more information email the Essex Land Trust: info@essexlandtrust.org

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Essex Selectmen Consider Scaling Back Town Delay of Demolition Ordinance

ESSEX— The board of selectmen is considering amendments that would scale back the requirements of the town’s delay of demolition ordinance for historic structures. The board discussed the ordinance at a meeting Wednesday, and is expected to discuss specific changes o the ordinance at the next meeting on Jan. 8.

The ordinance was approved at a October 2004 town meeting at the urging of longtime town historian and author Donald Malcarne, who died in 2009. It requires public notice of intent to demolish any structure in Essex that more than 75 years old, and allows the Essex Historical Society, or any other resident, to petition for a 90 days delay of demolition.

Malcarne, responding to the demolition of a handful of older homes in town in the early 2000s, had contended the ordinance would give preservationists time to explore alternatives to demolition, or at least document the structure for the town’s historic record. The fine for a property owner ignoring the ordinance was only $100.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said he favors pushing back the historic date when the ordinance and related public notice requirements would be triggered to 1900. Under the existing ordinance, the date when the ordinance requirements are effective would be 1936. The year was 1927 when the ordinance was adopted in 2004.

“1900 is better than a rolling 75 years, Needleman said, adding the requirements of the ordinance have become “onerous” for some property owners in recent years. “It’s the law of unintended consequences,” he said.

Needleman also suggested revising the ordinance to specify that both the Essex Historical Society and the appointed town historian would be required to file an objection to trigger the 90 days delay of demolition, rather than simply any town resident. Selectman Bruce Glowac said he is open to revising the ordinance, while adding that Malcarne’s intentions were good when he pushed for adoption of the ordinance nearly a decade ago. “Historic houses were being torn down and nobody knew it was going to happen,” he said. Any amendments to the delay of demolition ordinance would require approve from voters at a town meeting.

In other business, the selectmen appointed Jae Wolf, a Deep River resident, as animal control officer. Wolf replace Belden Libby, who resigned from the part-time position last month.

Libby, husband of Selectwoman Stacia Libby, had been hired in June after the retirement of longtime animal control officer Joseph Heller. Needleman said Wolf is an animal lover who applied for the position, which includes an annual stipend and use of a town vehicle for calls.

Trees In the Rigging Boat Parade Contest Winners Announced

Trees in the Rigging’s Lighted Boat Parade winners Chris and Casey Clark receive their award from Connecticut River Museum executive director, Chris Dobbs.

Trees in the Rigging’s Lighted Boat Parade winners Chris and Casey Clark receive their award from Connecticut River Museum executive director, Chris Dobbs.

Essex – On Tuesday, December 9, the Connecticut River Museum officially announced the winners of the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade.  The event, held on December 1, featured festively-lit vessels passing in front of the museum’s historic 1878 Steamboat dock and warehouse.  Out of a field of 12 participants in the judged competition, Chis and Casey Clark of FOLLOWING C won first place, Bill Sullivan of PATIENCE took second place, and Andy and Beth Pye of MONOMOY were awarded third place.

Trees in the Rigging is a community event presented annually by the Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Historical Society, and the Essex Board of Trade.

Essex Zoning Commission Sets Date for Public Hearing on Medical Maijuana Moritorium, Village District Uses

ESSEX— The zoning commission will hold a public hearing Monday on a proposed one year moratorium on medical marijuana-related applications on proposed prohibitions on various commercial uses in the downtown village district. The hearing convenes at 7 p.m. in town hall.

The amendments to town zoning regulations are proposed by the commission. One proposed amendment would impose a one year moratorium on applications for uses developing from the new state law allowing prescription of medical marijuana for certain health conditions. The moratorium would apply to both growing businesses and dispensaries for medical marijuana.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the panel is hoping to take a year to monitor how potential zoning uses related to medical marijuana are handled in other municipalities. “The commission wants to get more of a grasp on the new laws and determine whether those uses are appropriate for Essex,” he said.

A separate public hearing will focus on the commissions proposal to prohibit certain commercial uses in the downtown Essex village district. The proposed new regulation would allow arts and crafts-related uses in the district, while prohibiting check cashing establishments, tattoo and massage parlors, adult-themed stores, and head shops. Budrow said none of the proposed changes were prompted by any potential local applications for the uses, including medical marijuana uses.