April 24, 2018

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

Inca jay by Michael DiGiorgio 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gray School of Irish Dance Gives Demonstration Today at Acton Public Library

OLD SAYBROOK — Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at the Acton Public Library!

Come for a lively demonstration of Irish Dance on Saturday, March 17, from 3:30 until 4:30 p.m. by the young and talented students of the Gray School of Irish Dance, located in Old Saybrook. This program is sponsored by the Friends of Acton Public Library.

This program is free and open to all; no registration required. All children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult.

For additional information call or 860-395-3184 or visit www.actonlibrary.org

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Learn the Art of Reiki at Deep River Public Library, April 14

DEEP RIVER — Learn the Art of Reiki at the Deep River Library on Saturday, April 14, at 1 p.m. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healing. This alternative approach has been shown to provide help for stress, headaches, insomnia and boost confidence and self-worth. Learn how to channel energy through touch to help restore physical and emotional well-being.

Under the guidance of Reiki Master Stephanie Rosally-Kaplan, participants will not only learn about the history of Reiki, but they will be trained on essentials such as meditation, treatment, chakras, crystals, essential oils and self-care. Every major fundamental will be covered in this four-hour-class and partakers will earn their Reiki 1 certification.

Registration is required for this program and limited to 10 participants. You must register through our Signup Genius, which can be accessed at this link.

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pm; Tuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pmThursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.

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Death of Former Chester Resident William (Bill) Hanford Burr Announced

William Hanford Burr (Bill), age 87, died on February 11, 2018, in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  A memorial service will be held on June 8, 2018 at 2:00PM at the site of interred cremains in Oak Land Cemetery in Fairfield, CT. 

Born on August 28, 1930 in Westport, CT to parents Morris Lyon Burr and Catherine Aretta Burr, he was married to his surviving spouse Marilyn Jean Weber on August 18, 1962.  He has three surviving children: daughter Catherine Margaret Burr-Utter (married to Steven Utter; children Nathan Michael Utter and Hannah Elizabeth Utter); son William Osborn Burr II (married to Carole Westhfer; children Thaddeus James Burr and Noah Hanford Burr; and daughter Elizabeth Forrest Burr (married to Dale C. Deutscher; children Bremmer William Mock, John Morgan Mock, and Satari Austin Deutscher). 

Dad has three siblings: brother Morris Lyon Burr Jr. (spouse Arlene Davis (deceased)); sister Mary Bolin (deceased) (spouse United States Army Col (retired) James Bolin); and sister Aretta Muir (spouse James Muir).

His education and military experience include a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture from the University of Connecticut and a Masters in Business Administration from Bridgeport University.  He was inducted into the United States Army and served two years in the rank of Specialist as a Medical Corpsman.  His career in business management brought him to Handy & Harmon in Fairfield, CT and later to Lewis Engineering in Naugatuck CT and finally to Bavier, Bulger, and Goodyear Management Consultants in New Haven, CT where he remained until retirement in 1996.

Throughout dad’s life, he lived in Westport, CT from childhood until 1997 when he and Marilyn moved to Chester, CT.  In 2003, they moved to Bozeman, MT and remained there until their move to Port St. Lucie, FL in 2017.

Dad believed in giving back to his community and did so by remaining actively involved in leadership roles at Greens Farms Congregational Church of Westport, CT and the United Church of Christ of Chester, CT.  He regularly volunteered his labor on environmental conservation projects conducted by the Land Trust of Chester, CT.  In Bozeman, MT he maintained a weekly routine of volunteering at the local food bank and tending plants at the Gallatin Gardeners Club.

Dad loved gardening.   He had the soul of a farmer.  He loved all kinds of outdoor work.  He was a driven do-it-yourself handyman, indeed, a frustrated carpenter, woodsman, and homesteader who insisted on doing any size job himself and with antiquated manual tools and equipment leftover from the bygone Burr Farms era of his childhood.  Of his few allowances for modern methods was his 1929 Farmall B-N model tractor that had to be crank started from the front end.  And when he was not growing and putting up vegetable stores (particularly onions) with an intensity that made one believe survival through the winter months hung in the balance, he was sailing on Long Island Sound.  Neither foul weather nor any number of sea-sick crew members hanging over the side was a reason for him to consider a day on the water unpleasant.  A dousing spray of salt water and vomit he considered a reasonable character building experience for all.

Our father was not a verbose man and not one to seek public attention.  He was fond of a saying: “fools names and faces are seen and heard in public places”.  He was not given to overt demonstrations of intense emotion.  Nevertheless, he had a stoic charm that conveyed a genuine strength of character and integrity.  He cherished family gatherings, most especially at Christmas.  He loved us, his children and his wife.  And we love him.  He is remembered with the fondness and respect.  He is missed.

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Celtic Concert Tonight Benefits Community Music School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘Like It, Paint It’ at Deep River Public Library, March 24

DEEP RIVER — Create your own acrylic masterpiece at the Deep River Library on Saturday, March 24, from 2 TO 4 p.m. Under the guidance of local artist, Carlos Ayala, you will learn to paint a winter wood scene. Ayala will provide all materials and instruction, but participants must pay a materials fee of $20 per person at the door.

Register is required for this program and will be done through Sign-Up Genius, which can be accessed on the library’s website or Facebook Events page. Seating is limited to 20 participants. Children over 12 are welcome.

For more information call the library at 860-526-6039.

Link to sign up:

Like It, Paint It With Carlos Ayala

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pmTuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pmThursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.

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

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carney (R) Seeks Third Term as State Representative, Democrat Pugliese Announces Challenge

State Rep. Devin Carney

UPDATED 3/7 10:09pm: OLD SAYBROOK: Devin Carney, a Republican who ran unopposed for a second term in 2016, has announced his intention to seek a third term as State Representative for the 23rd General AssemblyDistrict, which includes the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and coastal Westbrook. But this November, Carney will be challenged by Old Saybrook resident and Democrat Matt Pugliese.

Pugliese, a non-profit arts executive, notes in a press release that, “The frustration that our community feels is palpable.  The community wants change, wants new voices.  I’m running for state representative to help lead that change.   I’m a listener, and a leader who believes in building consensus, finding compromise and getting things done.”

Carney, who works as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Old Saybrook. explains his decision to seek a third term in a press release in this way, “Over these past two terms, I have always put the people of the 23rd District first.This community is everything to me. I was raised here and I understand the unique values and needs of my constituents. In these difficult and divisive times, it is important that the state has leaders with a proven track record of putting people over politics and who will work together to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order.”

Matt Pugliese.

Pugliese, a resident of Old Saybrook, has spent his career working in the non-profit theatre industry, beginning at the Ivoryton Playhouse.  He served as the Executive Director at Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theatre in Middletown, CT and now is the Executive Producer at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, based on UConn’s Storrs campus. Pugliese holds his BA in Theatre (’04) and his Masters in Public Administration (’17), both from UCONN. Pugliese said, “My work in the arts has been about activism.  It is about bringing together diverse audiences and creating opportunities for dialogue.  That is how we solve problems.  Every day running a theatre is about creative, problem solving and strategic thinking. The intersection of the arts and government – that is community.  That has been my professional career for 15 years.”

A lifelong resident of the district, Carney graduated from Old Saybrook Public Schools and currently lives in Old Lyme. He is the Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee, meaning he is the highest-ranked House Republican on the committee, and he serves on the Environment Committee and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. In addition, Carney chairs the bipartisan Clean Energy Caucus, was the founding House Republican of the bipartisan Young Legislators Caucus, and serves on both the bipartisan Tourism Caucus and bipartisan Intellectual and Developmental Disability Caucus. He has also served as the Connecticut House Republican State Lead for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

Pugliese comments in the release, “Non-profit organizations need to run efficiently and effectively.  We know how to get the most out of every dollar.  My experiences in the non-profit sector in Middlesex County really opened my eyes to the incredible need we have in our community.  We have young people and families facing the most extreme and basic risks.  But we also have incredible resources in our community to draw upon.  That is what makes our district a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.”

Over his first two terms, Rep. Carney says he advocated for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, seniors, tourism, small business, local public education, and improving I-95. In 2015, he voted against the second largest tax increase in Connecticut’s state history. In 2017, he voted against the SEBAC agreement, but supported the bipartisan budget compromise in October.

Pugliese’s community involvement includes Old Saybrook’s Economic Development Commission since 2015, of which he was recently elected Chairperson.  He served on the Board of Directors for the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce for two years.  He served as the co-chair of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County Live Local Give Local 365 initiative when it was launched in 2011.  In 2012, Pugliese was named to the Hartford Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” for his professional work and civic involvement.

Carney’s community activities include serving on the Board of Trustees at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and the Board of Directors at Saye Brook Senior Housing. He is a member of both the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce and the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce, a lector at Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, and serves on both the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee as a member and the Old Saybrook Republican Town Committee as an honorary member.

Public education is a key issue for Pugliese. He comments in the release, “When I think of our communities, I think of our strong public education systems. I will fight for the funding we deserve from Hartford necessary to support our schools.  I believe we need to invest in our higher education system. We want to have a vibrant university system to educate our young people, ensure their access to this education, and keep them here as part of our workforce in Connecticut.”

Commenting on his achievements in the past four years, Carney says, “I have pushed back against drastic tax increases to residents, defeated a federal rail proposal that would have devastated the region, supported bipartisan initiatives to combat our opioid crisis, and fought Governor Malloy’s proposal to push teacher pension costs onto local school districts. I have always put the taxpayer first and engaged with the community.”

Pugliese is an advocate for paid family leave, ensuring rights for women and minorities and championing arts, culture and tourism.  He adds, “Part of the identity of our community is the incredible cultural resources we have in the 23rd district. These resources drive tourism, which is critical to the economy of the towns in our region.  We need to ensure the viability of our cultural assets, and the public infrastructure needed to support tourism.”

Carney highlights in his press release, “I have never missed a vote,” adding, “Connecticut is at a crossroads and our residents and businesses cannot afford the same tax-and-spend policies that have put the state into this mess. It is imperative Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook continue to have a strong voice at the table during this tough fiscal reality.”

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Musical Masterworks Presents Mozart Piano Quartets, Mozart-Inspired Music in Concerts This Weekend

Violinist Tessa Lark

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks presents two concerts this coming weekend, Saturday, March 11, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 12, at 3 p.m. at The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, an acoustically rich venue.

The concerts will juxtapose both of Mozart’s masterful Piano Quartets with two Mozart-inspired works from the twentieth century.  

The performance will feature violinist, Tessa Lark, who has delighted Musical Masterworks audiences with her virtuosity; pianist Jeewon Park; and Musical Masterworks stalwarts violinist Dimitri Murrath and cellist Edward Arron, who is also the Musical Masterworks Artistic Director.

To purchase tickets ($35 individual; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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State Representative Bob Siegrist to Seek Re-Election

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

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

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

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

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

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Rebooting New England: What Do YOU Think? Op-Ed from SECoast

On Tuesday, Feb. 27 we [SECoast] participated in a round table in New Haven hosted by New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, with 40 or so others to discuss alternatives to NEC Future high-speed rail planning. Attendees included administrators from Yale and Trinity college, Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) head Kristina Newman-Scott, former CTDOT Commissioner Emil Frankel, engineer Foster Nichols, among others. The project is being organized by former RPA head Bob Yaro, and former DECD head Kip Bergstrom. You can download the 50 mb 200+ page document here.

In the most simple terms, the plan resembles NEC Future Alternative 3.2, with high-speed rail service heading north, rather than east from New Haven, and then east from Hartford, through Storrs, to Providence. Yaro and Bergstrom are specifically offering “Rebooting New England,” as they call it, as an opportunity to avoid the impacts (and opposition) through southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island to NEC Future planning. It also includes the audacious idea of a tunnel across the Sound.  Here’s an illustration:

And while NEC Future was tailored for the needs of the largest cities along the Northeast Corridor, Yaro and Bergstrom have rather crafted a plan which also benefits inland and mid-sized cities along the corridor, by drawing from similar efforts in Great Britain to connect Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle, in the north, to London.

You can find an hour-long video presentation of the project from last July to the Lincoln Institute here. Given the current lack of funding, it’s an ambitious plan, but a serious one, worth serious consideration. SECoast’s Gregory Stroud will be meeting with project leaders again on Thursday for further discussions. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to take a look at the project, and tell us what you think.

About those Transit hearings…

With Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund on the verge of insolvency, and the Malloy administration proposing a first wave of drastic cuts, and fare increases, to train and bus service to take effect on July 1, [detailed here], the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) has been holding hearings over the last three weeks across Connecticut, and (more surprisingly) in Massachusetts.

SECoast board and staff members attended a February 28 hearing in New London, where a diverse group of 50 or so members of the public — young and old, poor and well-to-do, African-American, Asian-American, Latino, and White — offered relatively muted criticism of proposed fare increases, together with broad and pointed opposition to proposed service cuts. [Take a look at Kim Drelich’s  coverage for The Day here].

In turn, CTDOT commissioner James Redeker presented a persuasive case for increased revenues and investments, including two-cents yearly increases over seven years to the gasoline tax, and new tolling along the state’s major roadways, to avoid these unsustainable cuts to transportation.

This all made for good theater for the Malloy administration, but also missed an essential purpose of such hearings, which is not just to allow the public the chance to air its grievances, but also to take part meaningfully in the decision-making process. As far as the latter goes, meaningful public participation requires a level of transparency which has been lacking in the materials provided. And we have significant concerns that these proposals have been presented as simply mandated, rather than as the result of limited, but real choices made behind closed doors.

In much this vein, RiverCOG executive director Sam Gold briefly outlined lengthy written comments and opposition to the proposed cuts. Gold questioned the fairness of cuts to towns like Old Saybrook, which played by the rules, embraced CTDOT priorities, and heavily invested in transit-oriented development (TOD). Gold further questioned the priorities and motivation of CTDOT cuts which would spare CTDOT’s own CTTransit, while falling heavily on towns like New London with municipal-supported (and controlled) transit. We agree.

In contrast to an earlier hearing in Stamford, where elected officials have faced criticism for cutting a lengthy line to present comments, few elected officials turned up in New London. State Rep. Devin Carney, ranking member on the Connecticut General Assembly Transportation Committee, was a notable exception.

We strongly encourage you to write to CTDOT by March 16 with your comments. Just click here.

Widening I-95

On Feb. 22, as part of a larger coordinated rollout by the Malloy administration of revenue proposals, announced project cuts, service cuts, and fare increases, CTDOT reintroduced targeted plans to widen I-95 through Fairfield County and southeastern Connecticut. Kim Drelich covers the announcement for The Day, here, you can also find coverage in the Hartford Courant, and in the Yale Daily News here.

While we appreciate the need to improve safety and reduce congestion on I-95, we have several concerns about the announcement. Most importantly, whether you are for or against proposals to widen I-95, by failing to release the actual studies, and by providing the public with only summary findings, CTDOT is depriving the public of a chance to meaningfully participate in a decision on the topic.  In southeastern Connecticut, we are left to wonder whether this latest plan differs materially from earlier planning proposed in 2005, which would require significant takings and environmental impacts. In Fairfield County, we are left to wonder about the impacts to the densely settled corridor.

In the case of the National Historic Landmark Bush-Holley house for example, it appears that while keeping to the existing right of way, and to CTDOT property, such widening could still significantly impact properties alongside the corridor, with enormous potential impacts to the property, and to ongoing projects  by the Greenwich Historical Society.

Take a look at a graphic we produced by cross-referencing the released graph of potential land use, with project parameters, and mileage markers:

We are of course encouraged that the plan keeps as much as possible to the existing right of way, and to CTDOT property, but we’d like to know much more about the actual impacts and plans for construction at the Mianus river crossing in particular. Such plans are simply too important to made behind closed doors, and without timely and sufficient public scrutiny. And they obviously make little or no sense when paired with transit cuts that would send thousands of additional commuters onto I-95.

SECoast has submitted a Freedom of Information Request to obtain planning documents. We [SECoast] will let you know, when we know more about these plans …

Editor’s Note: We also urge readers to write to CTDOT by March 16 with your thoughts on the first wave of drastic cuts, and fare increases, to train and bus service to take effect on July 1.  Just click 

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Deep River Historical Society Introduces New Book on Billy Winters’s Journey to Freedom; Author Event, March 11

Rhonda Forristall, curator of the Deep River Historical Society and author of Billy Winters, One Man’s Journey to Freedom.

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Historical Society has announced the publication of a second book called Billy Winters, One Man’s Journey to Freedom, written by Rhonda Forristall, curator of the Society.

Historians often say that “history repeats itself” so is it really a surprise that 117 years after the death of Billy Winters that his story is still current? The news is full of stories of those seeking a new life in Connecticut and sanctuary cities offering help and support.

Billy found both in Deep River.

Born a slave, Billy escaped through the Underground Railroad and sought a safe place to live. He found sanctuary in Deep River and for a time in New Bedford, Mass.

The Boston School of Architecture has just completed a three-month-exhibit about the African-American neighborhood in New Bedford that gave sanctuary to self-emancipated slaves from 1840 to 1863. Frederick Douglass and Billy were only two of the thousands that were sheltered there.

Billy told the story of his eventful life to a reporter for the Deep River New Era shortly before he died in November of 1900. Using this first-hand account Rhonda was able to trace his steps and add some details to Billy’s story. Due to the secrecy needed to protect the operators of the Underground Railroad, and those they were trying to save, there are very few first-hand accounts in existence. 

The Deep River Historical Society is privileged to have this account at the Society and an obligation to preserve his story for future generations. This story has been a significant part of the presentations that the Society provides to the Deep River Elementary School 4th graders when they visit each year.

While not written as a children’s book, it was important to Forristall to write this story in such a way that the students would be able to read and understand it.  Although the story of Billy Winters is known by many, Forristall’s research has turned up a few surprises. 

The Society is hosting an author event on Sunday, March 11, at 4 p.m. in the Carriage House. All are welcome.

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CT Valley Camera Club Presents Talk Tonight on How to Photograph National Parks

Photographer Chris Nicholson at Acadia National Park (Photo courtesy of Steven Ryan)

AREAWIDE: The guest speaker at the Monday, Mar. 5 meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be the acclaimed photographer and author Chris Nicholson, who will give a presentation titled “Photographing National Parks.”  The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn. All are welcome.

Chris Nicholson is a photographer and writer based in southern Connecticut and New York City. Formerly a magazine editor for ten years, he has worked on a freelance basis since 2004, with his camerawork focused primarily on the travel and sports genres. His writing and photographs have been published in over 30 magazines and several books.

Nicholson works in a primarily conservative style, believing that ideal composition is simple, strong and powerful. He has covered locations in Australia and throughout the continental United States (especially in New England, which he considers to be one of the most aesthetically unique regions of America).

Throughout his career he has studied the American national parks. Whether for assignments, publishing projects or personal work, Nicholson travels to national parks several times per year for photography. Over the past two decades he has paid particular attention to Acadia, Everglades, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains, Olympic, Shenandoah and Yellowstone, visiting and photographing those seven a combined 26 times.

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

For more information, visit the club’s website at https://ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com/. CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage.

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Essex Winter Series Continues This Afternoon with Program Featuring Acclaimed Baritone David Pittsinger

David Pittsinger

ESSEX — Essex Winter Series’ 2018 season continues on March 4 with bass-baritone David Pittsinger. in a program to include music by Bach, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Handel, and selections from the American Songbook that celebrate the American spirit.

The Quodlibet Ensemble, a New York-based string chamber orchestra of young, dynamic artists presents a range of great music, from the Baroque to the modern day performs April 8. Their program will include Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, as well as music by Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Nathan Schram.

All performances take place on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. with the Feb. 18 and April 8 concerts at Valley Regional High School, Deep River; and the March 4 concert at John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River. Seating is general admission and tickets may be purchased by visiting www.essexwinterseries.com or calling 860-272-4572.

The 2018 Essex Winter Series season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Guilford Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Tower Laboratories, and BrandTech Scientific. Media sponsor is WSHU Public Radio and outreach activities are supported by the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and donors to the Fenton Brown Circle.

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Dazzling Red Carpet Oscar Event Tonight Raises Funds for ‘The Kate’


OLD SAYBROOK
 — The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (the Kate) will hold an Oscar Party benefit on Sunday, March 4beginning at 7 pm at the center located at 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook. This annual red-carpet event honors the Kate’s 12-time Oscar Nominated, 4-time-winning namesake and makes for an entertaining evening.  Proceeds support quality performing arts and cultural presentations at the Kate throughout the year.

“This event has always been volunteer-driven and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past eight years to support the Kate,” said Diane Hessinger, Oscar Party chair. “Not only is it a very fun evening, but it’s a perfect way to pay homage to our namesake, Katharine Hepburn and raise funds to expand the arts on the Connecticut shoreline.”

Delicious hearty hors d’oeuvres and desserts are provided by Fresh Salt and a cash bar is available while the 90th Academy Awards ceremony airs live on the Kate’s big screen. Guests will walk the red carpet, pose for photos, and have the chance to hold a real Oscar, thanks to Devin Carney, state representative and grandson of the late award-winning actor Art Carney. Carney is an honorary chair of the event along with Ann Nyberg of WTNH, both members of the Kate’s board.

A silent auction and raffle add to the fun of the evening and, new this year, is the Becker’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook “Mystery Red Box” activity. Fifty jewelry boxes wrapped in a vibrant red paper are available for purchase with each box containing a Becker’s gift certificate and one grand prize box holding a beautiful 14k gold bracelet with forty-nine diamonds.

For tickets, visit www.thekate.org or call 877-503-1286.

The 2018 Oscar Party is held in memory of Beverly Whalen, a long-time volunteer at the Kate who gave generously of her time and helped launch this event. The evening is sponsored by Becker’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook, Secor Volvo, Comcast, Gulick & Co., Pough Interiors, and Saybrook Point Inn Marina & Spa.

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (the Kate) is a non-profit performing arts organization located in the former theatre and town hall, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, on Main Street in Old Saybrook. The Kate includes a 250-seat theatre and a small museum honoring Katharine Hepburn. From live music concerts, to children’s arts camp, to films of fine art, and the MET Opera and Bolshoi Ballet simulcasts, events presented at the Kate help to shape the community, making it brighter and more imaginative.

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The Kate, Community Music School Team Up to Offer Kid’s Camp Starting March 21


OLD SAYBROOK –
The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Community Music School (CMS) are partnering again under the umbrella of their performing arts summer camp, “Kate’s Camp for Kids,” to present a spring program and show entitled “It’s Saturday!”

This exciting program takes place at The Kate, 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook, and runs for seven weekly sessions on Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 5 p.m. beginning March 21.  Launched in 2013, Kate’s Camp for Kids is a performing arts camp for children in grades K-5 incorporating music, dance, theater, and visual art.

Directed by Martha Herrle, a 16-year member of CMS faculty and certified Kindermusik educator, this year’s camp theme will be “It’s Saturday!”  Join the celebration of a ‘day off’ in the life of a kid with this clever mini-musical.

From watching cartoons to piano lessons, from football practice to chores, you’ll explore all the options for activities … or are they options? Featuring five original songs and easy-to-learn rhyming dialog, the program culminates in a lively performance for friends and family.

Tuition for this camp is $165 and scholarships are available for families with a financial need.

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

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

Learn more at www.community-music-school.org or call (860)767-0026.

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Tavern Night Returns to CT River Museum, March 23

ESSEX — On Friday, Jan. 26, the Connecticut River Museum brings back its popular 1814 Tavern Night.  This lively 19th century evening will take place at the museum’s historic Samuel Lay House overlooking scenic Essex harbor.  The house will be transformed into a candlelit riverside tavern from the War of 1812. 

The evening includes a bourbon whiskey tasting hosted by Highland Imports, songs by noted musician Don Sineti, tavern games, and a food pairing of early American cuisine provided by Catering by Selene.  Additional wine and beer will be available at the cash bar.

Folk singer Don Sineti will play and sing some rousing tunes at Tavern Night.

Sineti is a folksinger, songwriter, part-time sea chantey man (with one of the most powerful voices on the Eastern Seaboard!), and long-neck, 5-string banjo picker.  For over 20 years, he has entertained with his boundless energy, to deliver rousing renditions of songs from the days of wooden ships and iron men.  With a booming voice and a hearty laugh, he shares his music with audiences of all ages.

There are three candle lit evenings planned.  Two additional Tavern Nights will be held; 

  • March 23 – Heritage Wines and Port Tastings with folklorist Stephen Gencarella & historian Chris Dobbs; Music by Joseph Mornealt
  • April 27  – Olde Burnside Brewing Company beer tastings; music by Rick Spencer, Dawn Indermuehle & Chris Dobbs. 

Save $10 when you buy all three evenings!

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

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

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St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Offers New Wednesday Evening Celtic Prayer Service

EAST HADDAM – St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church is starting a new tradition.

St. Stephen’s is offering a Wednesday evening prayer built upon the Celtic Christian tradition. This quiet and meditative prayer service begins at 7 p.m. and lasts for about half-an-hour.

This time represents an opportunity to find an oasis in the midst of busy lives where you can sit and be still with God. This service is open to any person who hungers for rest in the divine and is seeking a deeper connection with God, regardless of their religious background.

The Celtic Evening Prayer Service places an emphasis on silence, meditation, the mysteries of our faith, and creation. Celtic Spirituality draws its inspiration from the earliest manifestation of Christianity as well as the wisdom of pre-Christian Ireland.

The prayers of the Celtic Saints are filled with the experiences of God’s presence in creation, the simplicity of living in harmony with creation, and the awareness of the sacredness of all things. In the prayers, the passion, and the practice of the faith in the early church on these islands, there is a clarity, simplicity and wisdom that speak to many of today’s concerns.

“The Celtic Evening Prayer service offers an opportunity to come to a quiet place, to be reflective and through prayer to be renewed. We are pleased to offer this unique prayer experience,” comments Thom Hagerth, parishioner of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

“Preparing for this Celtic Evening Prayer Service has been very rewarding and it is my hope that people will find a new way to worship through time honored traditions,” comments Mike Corey, Intern, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

St. Stephen’s is located at 31 Main St., East Haddam, Connecticut, 860-873-9547.

For more information, visit www.ststeves.org.

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Letter From Paris: ‘The Donald’ and Europe Grow Further Apart

Nicole Prévost Logan

In February 2017, the European Union (EU) members, gathered at the Malta summit, were flabbergasted by President Donald Trump’s hostile attitude toward the United States’s traditional allies.  One year later the world has adjusted in the opinion of the seasoned diplomat Hubert Vedrine, France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (1997-2002).  The French diplomat commented, “One has to get over our initial disbelief as to the unpredictable and apparently erratic policy of the 45th president of the US.”

The European opinion of Trump is not monolithic.  One has to differentiate between the North and South:  heavily indebted Greece and Germany with a flourishing economy will have opposite opinions.  The same divide exists between East and West: for example, nationalist and authoritarian countries like Poland will view Trump differently from the liberal Netherlands.

The Europeans resent Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement leaving a wide open boulevard for China to become the champion defender of the environment.  Last January, the announcement made by the controversial Ryan Zinke, US Secretary of the Environment, that he would allow oil and gas drilling near almost all US coasts from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico was considered a mistake.  The French oppose the position of Trump’s administration on the use of coal and other fossil fuel as sources of energy.  France has closed all its coal mines and does not even allow fracking for oil or gas exploration in fear of endangering the environment.

President Donald Trump

The recent financial and tax reforms introduced by the US president were characterized as a fiscal war with the rest of the world by economist and professor Philippe Dessertine.   On Jan. 26,  2018 at the Davos World Economic Forum, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), criticized those measures by saying that, subsequent to creating benefits in the short term, they would ultimately impact world  financial vulnerability.  She believes that the increase in both liquidity and the budget deficit, will eventually cause a sudden drop in the stock market.  It is interesting to note that a few days after her speech, the Dow tanked and began a new cycle of high volatility.

French economists commented that lowering corporate taxes to 21 percent in the US – not that far from the 12.5 percent of Irish tax heaven – is placing the competitiveness of countries like France at a disadvantage.  It will take five years of arduous effort by French President Macron to lower French corporate taxes to 25 percent.  The French Minister of Economy and Finances, Bruno Lemaire, criticized these reforms for technical reasons.  He commented that they will penalize European subsidiaries located in the US and also be an incentive for American companies located in France to relocate to the US.

According to French economist Thomas Piketty, 68.1 percent of the US income tax reduction will benefit just 1 percent of the population, thereby increasing the already exisiting inequalities even further.  For Gerard Courteois, editorial writer of the French national newspaper Le Monde, there is an incoherence in the statement,”Make America great again,” particularly in the use of the word “again.”  Does it apply to the boom years after World War II when it actually was a time of high taxes and international trade?

Trump’s foreign policy is scrutinized by French diplomats and geopoliticians.  Vedrine describes the American president’s policy in the Middle East as a disaster.  Trump has created a confrontational axis with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey against Iran and managed to freeze the Israel-Palestine peace process.  Regarding the European Union (EU), Trump’s objective seems to be its deconstruction.  Trump applauded Brexit and asked “Who is next?”  To European satisfaction, Congress has blocked the confirmation of a Europhobe nominee as US Ambassador to the EU.  The post has not been filled to date.

Trump’s diplomacy is not sophisticated.  It is a bully approach, forever brandishing the threat of more and greater sanctions, whether in the Ukraine, Iran or Korea.  Punitive measures are even taken by Trump toward the Palestinians.  He intends to suspend financial aid because they refuse to sit at the negotiating table.

French diplomats prefer pragmatism and negotiations.  Dominique de Villepin, former foreign minister (2002-2004) and prime minister (2005-2007), believes, for instance, that one has to accept the fact that North Korea is a nuclear power and entice that country to join the international community by helping  its economic development .

However, Vedrine says one should not blame Trump for everything.  Being realistic, France and Europe are not at the center of the world today.  If the US is stepping back, it is a chance for Europe to regain its autonomy.  Villepin suggests that Europe needs to break away from US guardianship .

At the annual Munich conference on security, participants showed for the first time their intention to step up the defense of the EU.  Last year Trump had scolded NATO members for not paying their share leading to the irritation of Washington today.  To put a stop to transatlantic polemics, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, wanted to be conciliatory and declared, “The increase in the European defense budget will reinforce the NATO European pillar.”

Judging from this non-exhaustive list of disagreements, relations between Trump and Europe are not particularly warm right now — in fact, one might be tempted to conclude they are well on the way to just plain bad.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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9 Town Transit Faces Drastic Funding Cuts From State, Seeks Help From Readers to Prevent Them

AREAWIDE — For decades, transportation programs in Connecticut have been funded by a tax on gasoline and diesel fuels that goes into the Special Transportation Fund (STF.)  The 25 cent gas tax has not changed since 2000, while vehicles have become more fuel efficient, both of which combined have resulted in a significant decrease in revenues.

Without action from the legislature, the Connecticut Department of Transportation warns that there will not be enough funding coming into the STF to cover the expenses of the state’s transportation system.  As a result, 9 Town Transit would see a 15 percent reduction in funding in 2018 and a 50 percent reduction of funding in 2019.

9 Town Transit has asked ValleyNewsNow.com to let its readers know that a 15 percent reduction of state funding beginning July 1, 2018 would result in changes such as fare increases, elimination or reduction of bus routes and reduced Dial-A-Ride service.  In addition, a 50 percent reduction of state funding beginning July 1, 2019 would result in changes such as additional fare increases, elimination of most bus routes, elimination of Saturday service and elimination of Dial-A-Ride service.

These changes would have a significant impact on the more than 100,000 trips made each year on these services.  Hundreds of area residents would be stranded, and unable to get to work, school and medical appointments.

9 Town Transit is therefore asking our readers who are transit users and/or supporters to let their state representative and senator know how important 9 Town Transit, Shoreline East and/or other public transit services are to them. We urge our readers to support all these transportation programs in those ways and also to share this message with others, who may not read ValleyNewsNow.com.

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

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CT DOT Schedules Public Hearings Tomorrow in Chester & New London on Proposed Rate Hikes, Service Reductions for Local Bus, Rail, Ferry Services

AREAWIDE — The Connecticut Department of Transportation will conduct public hearings on proposed public transit fare increases for bus, rail and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit services; and proposed service reductions to the New Haven Line, New Canaan Line, Danbury Line, Waterbury Line and Shore Line East rail services.
The nearest hearing to the ValleyNewsNow.com coverage area on these proposed changes will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the New London City Hall Council Chambers, 181 State St.  The snow date is Wednesday, March 7, at the same time and location.  There are also hearings scheduled at New Haven (2/20) and Hartford (2/22.)

Additionally, information meetings will be held on proposed Connecticut River ferry fare increases.  The hearing for those will also be on Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Chester Town Hall Conference Room, 203 Middlesex Ave., Chester. The snow date is Tuesday, March 6, at the same time and location.

No bus or ADA paratransit services reductions are proposed at this time.

If approved, a rail fare increase would take effect in three phases:

  • 10 percent on July 1, 2018
  • 5 percent on July 1, 2020
  • 5 percent on July 1, 2021, for a cumulative total of 21.28 percent.

A 14.3 percent, or 25-cent, bus fare increase would take effect on July 1, 2018.

Rail service reductions would also take effect on or about July 1, 2018; no bus service changes are proposed at this time.

A $1 increase in the car fare for the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury and Chester-Hadlyme ferries is also proposed.

The rail service proposals include significant reductions to off-peak and weekend rail services on the New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury branch rail lines, and elimination of off-peak and weekend service as well as significant reductions in peak period service on Shore Line East.

Proposed Bus Fare Increases (pdf)

Proposed Rail Fare Increases

   New Haven Line Proposed Fares to/from Grand Central Terminal – July 2018 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Fares to/from Grand Central Terminal – July 2020 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Fares to/from Grand Central Terminal – July 2021 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Intermediate Station Fares – July 2018 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Intermediate Station Fares – July 2020 (pdf)

   New Haven Line Proposed Intermediate Station Fares – July 2021 (pdf)

   New Haven Line UniTicket Proposed Fares 2018-2021 (pdf)

   Shore Line East and UniRail Proposed Fares – July 2018 (pdf)

   Shore Line East and UniRail Proposed Fares – July 2020 (pdf)

   Shore Line East and UniRail Proposed Fares – July 2021 (pdf)

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2018

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2020

   Hartford Line Proposed Fares – July 2021

Proposed Rail Service Reductions

   New Haven Line and Branch Line Weekday Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

   New Haven Line and Branch Line Weekend Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

   Shore Line East Service Reductions – July 2018 (pdf)

Proposed Ferry Fare Increase (pdf)

Service and Fare Equity (SAFE) Analysis (pdf) (available 2/20/18)

Public hearings on the proposed bus and rail fare increases and rail service reductions, and informational meetings on ferry fare increases, will be held as follows:

In case of inclement weather, public hearings or informational meetings that need to be re-scheduled will be announced through local media and on the CTDOT website at www.ct.gov/dot

At these hearings, CTDOT will provide information and accept public comments about the fare and service proposals and the Service and Fare Equity (SAFE) Analysis.  The SAFE Analysis evaluates the proposed changes to determine if they will cause a disparate impact to minority populations or have a disproportionate burden on low income populations.

The proposed fare increases and service reductions may be viewed on the Department’s website at www.ct.gov/dot/farecomments. The Service and Fare Equity (SAFE) Analysis is available for public review as of Friday, Feb. 16. Note the SAFE will not be available until Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Written comments on the proposed fare changes must be received by March 9, 2018 at COMMENT ON PROPOSED FARE AND SERVICE CHANGES, Bureau of Public Transportation, P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546 or via e-mail to dot.farecomments@ct.gov

The meeting facilities are ADA accessible. Language assistance may be requested by contacting the Department’s Office of Rail at (203) 497-3374 at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting. Persons with a hearing and/or speech disability may dial 711 for Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). Language assistance is provided at no cost to the public, and efforts will be made to respond to timely requests for assistance. 

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Deep River Resident Joins KBE Building Corporation as Preconstruction Manager

DEEP RIVER – Deep River resident Chris Desrosiers has joined Farmington-based KBE Building Corporation as Preconstruction Manager. KBE has expanded its preconstruction team in response to a steadily growing client base and demand for in-depth preconstruction services.

Mr. Desrosiers has more than 10 years of experience as an architect, and previously worked with JCJ Architecture, Lerner | Ladds + Bartels, and DiLeonardo International. He has worked on projects throughout the U.S., the Middle East, and the Far East. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Roger Williams University.

In addition to hiring Mr. Desrosiers, KBE has promoted two of its current employees in the preconstruction department:

Erica Millard, CPE, LEED AP, was promoted to Manager of Preconstruction Services. As head of KBE’s preconstruction department, she oversees a staff of three preconstruction managers and is responsible for all preconstruction phase services and procurement on select projects. She joined KBE in March of 2012 as a senior project engineer in the field, and has worked as an estimator and preconstruction manager. She previously worked with Balfour Beatty in Washington, DC. Ms. Millard is a Certified Professional Estimator and LEED Accredited Professional, and received her BS in Civil Engineering from University of Virginia.

William Culviner was promoted to Preconstruction Manager. Mr. Culviner worked with KBE as an intern and was hired in 2014 as an Estimator. He received his BS in Construction Management from Central Connecticut State University and is 30-Hour OSHA Certified for Construction Safety. He is currently hospitality chair of the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) – Nutmeg Chapter.

KBE has managed more than $4 billion in construction volume during the past two decades alone and is ranked among Engineering News-Record magazine’s top 400 construction companies nationally.

With offices in Norwalk and Farmington, CT, as well as Columbia, MD, KBE Building Corporation is a full-service, single-source commercial construction company strategically positioned to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. Our New York City clients are serviced through our affiliate, KBENY, LLC. (www.kbeny.com)

Founded in 1959 and incorporated in 1966, KBE bills $300 million annually. The firm provides preconstruction, construction management, design-build, and general contracting services to clients in the retail, educational, senior living, federal, corporate, hospitality, health care, and institutional markets.

KBE’s team of 120+ construction professionals and support staff is deeply committed to the firm’s corporate philanthropy program, 50 Ways to Make a Difference. Established in 2009 to celebrate the firm’s 50 years in business, 50 Ways has helped KBE associates donate more than $2.5 million and 12,000 volunteer hours to charitable causes benefiting children, seniors, and military veterans in Connecticut and Maryland.

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Susan Strecker Presents Eight Tips & Tricks for Writing a Novel at Deep River Library, Wednesday

DEEP RIVER — Calling all budding writers! Join Deep River Public Library on Feb. 21, from 6 to 7:45 p.m. for a special novel-writing boot camp given by Susan Strecker, an award-winning novelist, writing coach and editor.

Strecker will share her eight tips and tricks for writing a novel. Participants will have a chance to share their work or just discuss ideas and concepts. All novels in various stages of completion are welcome. Whether you have a finished first draft, notes for a plot or have already been through several rounds of editing and revising, this class will help you find a way to make your book even stronger.

Although every novel is unique, each follows a trajectory and arc leading to its conclusion. By incorporating these eight basic elements, your novel will be more enjoyable for your readers and you will have all the tools you need to produce your best work.

Space is limited. Call the Deep River Public Library at 860-526-6039 to reserve your spot for the workshop.

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pm; Tuesday 10 am – 6 pm; Wednesday 12:30 – 8 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.

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New Book Club to Start at Deep River Public Library, Welcomes Members

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Public Library is looking for a few good readers!

The Library is forming a new reading group to be facilitated by members, to meet once a month in the reading room. Participants will take turns each month, choosing a book and leading the discussion. This is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with other members of the community and enjoy meaningful chats centered on topical books. The library can request holds for members through its consortium, Bibliomation.

If you are interested in joining, email the library at: deepriverpubliclibrary@gmail.com and let us know your name, if your prefer Monday or Wednesday evening and the types of books you’re most interested in reading.

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pmTuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pmThursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.

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The End of an Era … but the Journey Continues: Jeff Andersen Retires From the FloGris Museum After 41 Years

Retiring Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeff Andersen stands between State Senator Paul Formica (left) and State Rep. Devin Carney holding the State Citation with which the two legislators had presented him.

OLD LYME — There wasn’t a parking spot to be found Sunday afternoon at the Florence Griswold Museum, nor come to that at the Lyme Art Association. And the reason?  Despite torrential rain, it seemed as if the whole town had come out to say a fond farewell to Jeff Andersen, the much beloved Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, who was retiring after an amazing 41 years in that position.

Jeff Anderson stands with Charter Trustee George Willauer and New York Times best-selling author Luanne Rice alongside the Willard Metcalf painting, “Kalmia,” which the board has now dedicated to Andersen in honor of his 41 years service.

The Museum hosted a wonderful party to celebrate Jeff and his wife, Maureen McCabe, and both Marshfield House and the tent situated in the courtyard outside were packed almost to capacity. Federal, state and local dignitaries were there along with Museum trustees, staff, volunteers, friends and pretty much anyone who had ever had a connection with Jeff, Maureen or the Museum — well over 400 people in total.

The formal segment of the event was emceed by Charter Trustee Jeff Cooley, who opened the proceedings by introducing Senator Richard Blumenthal. Describing the Florence Griswold as “a world-class Museum,” Blumenthal went on to present Andersen with a Certificate of Recognition from the US Senate, which he noted to considerable laughter, “was approved by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote.” He thanked Andersen warmly for, “Your immense public service … and your values.”

State Rep. Devin Carney says, “It all started with just one … and that was, you, Jeff.”

State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) stepped up next the podium and Carney noted poignantly, “It all started with just one … and that was you, Jeff.”  Carney was referring to the fact that 41 years ago, Andersen was the Museum’s first — and only – employee whereas now the Museum has 20 staff, 255 volunteers, 3,000 members and 80,000 visitors annually.

Saying, “I truly want to thank you, Jeff, for doing so much good for the economy as a whole,” Carney pointed out that many of the visitors to the Museum, “come, stay and shop,” in Old Lyme and the surrounding area, adding, “You did a great job at the Museum … but you also stopped a train!”  This latter was a reference to the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposal to route a high speed train through the center of Old Lyme, which Andersen actively worked to defeat.

State Sen. Paul Formica reads the Citation from the state in honor of Jeff Andersen.

Formica then presented Andersen with a Citation from the Connecticut House and Senate, which recognized Andersen for his “passionate dedication directing, restoring and revitalizing the Florence Griswold Museum,” noting, “For 40 years you shared your vision and inspired countless volunteers and workers to help fulfill this vision expanding exhibits, gardens and collections making it into the reputable attraction we know today.” The Citation concluded, “We want to thank you for your tireless leadership and congratulate you on your retirement.”

Following the legislators was Old Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who immediately confessed, “Frankly, I have to say I didn’t think there would ever be a time when Jeff wouldn’t be here.”  She continued, “It’s good for him [Jeff] and all of us to be aware of all you have done.  You’re part of our DNA, you’re the heart of our culture,” and then announced that the Town of Old Lyme was declaring Feb. 11 as “Jeff Andersen Day,”  adding to loud applause and much laughter that it was a unanimous vote.

Andersen mingled freely with the more than 400 guests gathered to say their goodbyes.

She read a Proclamation from the Town which stated, “Since he began working with the Museum in 1976, the Florence Griswold Museum has grown from a small seasonal house museum where he was the only staff member to a nationally recognized center for American art.” The Proclamation also noted that, “Jeff is recognized today as the pre-eminent scholar on the historic Lyme Art Colony … and has helped grow the Museum’s modest collection of works of American Impressionism into a deep and distinguished regional collection of American art.”  Describing Andersen as a “visionary Leader,” with a “thoughtful devotion to excellence,” Reemsnyder concluded, still reading from the Proclamation, that Andersen’s, “tireless advocacy for the Museum and its uniquely Connecticut story has transformed the Florence Griswold Museum into one of the state’s most important and beloved cultural destinations.”

Jeff Cooley (center) emceed thw formal proceedings at the party. His wife Betsy stands to his left.

Charter Trustees George Willauer and Cooley then unveiled the beautiful 1905 painting titled, “Kalmia,” by Willard L. Metcalf to which a plaque had been attached stating that it now honored Andersen’s 41 years of service during which he “transformed” the Museum “through his unswerving devotion to preserving the legacy of the Lyme Art Colony.”

Jeff Andersen addresses the at capacity audience.

A clearly emotional Andersen then addressed the audience, which by now was overflowing the tent, saying simply, “We are feeling the love …”  He gave a long list of thank you’s, noting that he and his wife had, “felt such affection and regard since announcing his retirement.” Andersen then shared his opinion that, “whatever you give to the Museum – whether time, talent or money – it is returned to you many fold.”  He said, “Not many get the opportunity to have a career in one place [in his case, from age 23 to 64] and for that I am deeply grateful and humble.  Stressing, “Be assured the future is bright,” he commented almost wistfully, “What an incredible journey this has been … but the journey continues.”

Jeff Andersen and his wife Maureen McCabe applaud the pianist after he played a tune to which they had danced together at the very end of the party.

And with that, Cooley proposed a toast to Jeff and Maureen, glasses were raised, Prosecco was drunk and then vigorous applause and loud cheers erupted all around.

Florence Griswold Museum docent Linda Ahnert points out a detail from the newspaper cutting to fellow doscents.  The cutting announced Andersen’s arrival as the Museum’s first director — and then only employee — 41 years ago.

We here at LymeLine.com can only add our deep and personal thanks to Jeff and Maureen for an extraordinary career in which so much given with such incredible warmth and humility.  Rep. Carney said it best so we’ll end by echoing his words, “The Florence Griswold is truly a treasure, but so are you … Miss Florence would be really proud of you.”

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Welcome to Betsy Groth, our new ‘Family Wellness’ Columnist

Betsy Groth

We are delighted to welcome Betsy Groth to our stable of writers today. She is an APRN, PMHS – BC and a pediatric nurse practitioner with advanced certification in pediatric mental health.  She is a counselor, mental health educator and parent coach in Old Lyme and will be writing a monthly column for us on ‘Family Wellness.’  

In this introductory column, she explains the background to her column and some of the subjects she will be covering. 

For more information about Betsy and her work, visit Betsy’s website at betsygroth.com

Family is defined by Merriam Webster as, “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also: any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family.” But we all know in today’s society, family is defined more broadly both theoretically and practically speaking.

Wright and Bell (2009) define family as a group of individuals bound by strong emotional ties, a sense of belonging and a passion for being involved in one another’s lives. There is usually a generational aspect to our definition of family and a sense of development over time. We think of families that are couples, families with young children, families with older children, families that have launched the younger generation, and families caring for aged members.

There is no universally accepted definition of wellness. It has been described as “… a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” This state of being is a lofty goal for any individual or family!  But it can be a sought after goal, the “ball” on which we all keep our eye.

Development as an individual and as a family has some built-in challenges to wellness, in addition to the joys to be found at each stage. There are also some often unexpected challenges and struggles, such as illness in a family member, academic struggles, financial difficulties, strained relations within the family.

This monthly column will explore factors in family and individual wellness, and approaches to maintain the goal of optimal wellness. Topics will include stress and anxiety in children and adolescents (next month), caring for aging parents, coping with chronic illness, raising children in a competitive society, and adjusting to first time parenthood.

And of course, I am always listening to families and the areas that they would like addressed in these columns, so please drop me a line at betsy.groth.aprn.pmhs@gmail.com if there’s anything in particular you would like me to discuss.

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Republican Ziobron Joins Race for 33rd State Senate Seat

State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) who has announced her candidacy for the State Senate 33rd District seat.

Republican State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) has announced her candidacy for the 33rd State Senate District a day after Democratic Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman (D) had announced his campaign for the same district. which includes the Town of Lyme.  This is Ziobron’s first run for a State Senate seat while Needleman ran unsuccessfully in 2016 for the 33rd District seat against then incumbent State Senator Republican Art Linares.

Linares is not seeking re-election in 2018 and has announced his candidacy for State Treasurer.

Ziobron is in her third term as State Representative for the 34th District comprising East Hampton, East Haddam and part of Colchester. Needleman is in his fourth as Essex First Selectman.

Ziobron explains in a letter to her supporters that her decision to run for the Senate seat represents, “a change in course,” so that she can rise to , “the greater challenge of serving as State Senator in the 33rdDistrict.” She notes, “This larger, 12-town district includes three towns I’ve been honored to represent — East Hampton, East Haddam and Colchester – and nine more in the Connecticut River Valley that I will be spending many hours meeting new friends and voters this spring.”

Ziobron says in her letter that the reason why she is running is simply, “Because I love the 34th State House District, and the CT River Valley Towns of the 33rd State Senate District, and our entire state – I want to see all of our friends and neighbors prosper.”  She mentions the challenges of the current budget situation and states, “It’s no secret we urgently need to address the state’s chronic over-spending!”

Laying out what she sees as the requirements of the incoming 33rd District State Senator, Ziobron writes, “We need a strong voice in the State Senate who: 1) is a proven fighter and has a reputation for putting their constituents first, fighting full-time for their small town communities, and 2) can immediately and effectively navigate the difficult legislative landscape, with the proven and dedicated commitment needed to focus on the budget, and 3) fights for fiscally conservative policies and has a record of implementing them, with bipartisan support, at the Capitol.”

Ziobron comments that she has, “thought a lot about one question,” which is, “How can I best help my state first survive over the near term, and then thrive over the long term?” She responds to her own question, “No matter which legislative chamber I serve, I will work to protect my district and offer the same high level of constituent service, and active community involvement – along with a laser-like focus on reducing wasteful and unneeded state spending,” concluding, “The bottom line: I can help more people in our state in service as your State Senator.”

Noting how well she knows the 33rd State Senate District, Ziobron describes it as, “an amazing treasure,” saying, “I’ve never imagined myself living anywhere else,” adding, “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to expand my many years of dedicated public service to this beautiful part of the state, I love.”

For more information on Ziobron, visit www.melissaziobron.com

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Letter From Paris: Book That Wins France’s Top Literary Prize Raises Chilling Questions About WWII History

Nicole Prévost Logan

Coincidence or not ?

The prestigious French literary Prix Goncourt came out came just a few weeks before the election of 31-year-old Sebastian Kurtz as chancellor of Austria.  Many would say that election marked another step by the European Union along the road toward nationalism.

The topic of the novel is the Anschluss.  With devastating sarcasm the author, Eric Vuillard, puts the magnates of German industry on trial for profiting from the Nazi regime and the Austrian people for welcoming the invading German army on March 12  1938. The title itself is ironic since L’Ordre du Jour – which translates as ‘the order of the day’ or ‘the agenda’ – refers to a democratic assembly, which in the book will soon be abolished by Hitler.

It is a very short book (only 150 pages) printed in an unusual miniature format.  But it is a striking story, beautifully written, leading the reader through shocking scenes in which cruel humor is mixed with great despair.  Vuillard, is also a film maker, which explains the way he stages the story as seen through a camera, with colorful images, a sound track, leading actors and supporting crowds.

The action starts on February 20th, 1933, in Potsdam.  Twenty-four managers of the German industry – Gustav Krupp, Wilhem von Opel, Günther Quandt, Kurt Schmitt and others – are waiting in the ante-chamber of the Reichstag at the pleasure of its president, Hermann Goering.  The 24 grey-haired gentlemen, dressed in formal black or brown coats, with stiff shirt collars and striped pants, resemble the bare trees lining the Spree river in the winter.

Goering is late but the visitors wait patiently.

When he finally shows up, the guests raise like lizards on their hind legs.  Hitler – appointed chancellor just one month before – makes his entry and greets his guests.  At the end of the meeting, as expected from them, the managers obsequiously make their meager contribution of several millions Deutschmarks to help the Nazi war effort.

Vuillard turns the Anschluss into a farce. Using threats, lies, and brutal intimidation, Hitler manipulates the Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, making him totally helpless, bulldozed by the Nazi timetable.

February 12, 1938, is the second decisive date in Vuillard’s story.  Hitler has invited Schuschnigg for a secret lunch at Berchtesgaden, his mountain retreat in the Bavarian Alps.  It is an ominous sequence.  When the doors close behind the guest, the reader feels a sense of foreboding.

Overwhelmed by the hypnotic personality of Hitler, Schuschnigg caves in and has to agree to all his  demands: appointment of the Nazi Seyss-Inquart to the post of minister of the Interior;  amnesty of those condemned for the assassination of the Austrian chancellor Dollfuss in 1934; rehabilitation of all national socialist officials.  Having said that, Hitler reaffirms the independence of Austria.  Wasn’t that the ultimate?  asks Vuillard.

On the eve of the planned invasion, Mr and Mrs Ribbentrop (he is the German foreign minister) are invited to dinner at Downing Street.  The author describes in detail the menu of French cuisine and the wine list.  The conversation is light and animated.  All seem interested in tennis and the performance of Bill Tilden, who won the Davis cup seven times.

Toward the end of the dinner, a staff member brings a note to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who becomes preoccupied.  Vuillard writes: “Winston Churchill opens his big cocker spaniel eyes.”  The Chamberlains are getting impatient but, out of sheer British politeness, do not show it.  Guests start leaving but the Ribbentrops linger on, saying endless goodbyes.

The camera jumps to the car where the German couple is now on its way home.  They burst out laughing.  They knew all along what was in the note … German troops have just crossed the Austrian border.

The story reaches its climax when the German forces are ready to pounce on Vienna on March 12, 1938.  The sky is a bright blue but it is freezing cold.  The Panzers are massed by the border but a problem arises — they run out of gas and a monumental traffic jam occurs.  It is hard to pull out a tool kit by the side of the road in sub-zero temperatures.

Hitler, who at first was elated by the prospect of entering Vienna with cheering crowds waving small flags and  blond-braided, young girls throwing flowers at the German soldiers, is now stuck on the road along with hundreds of armored cars.  When an army experiences a breakdown en route, ridicule is guaranteed.

Hitler cannot contain his anger and keeps shouting. By dusk, his Mercedes reaches Linz, the town where he spent his youth.  On March 15, the poor Austrian population, abused, but finally submissive, stands in front of Sisi’s palace to hear Hitler’s hoarse voice vociferate insults.  In a referendum, Austrians voted 99.7 percent in favor of the annexation by the Reich.

What happened to the 24 captains of industry we met in 1933?

During the war years, they made an incredible amount of money by employing cheap labor from Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, Buchenwald or Dachau.  They may have died of old age, but their empires live on, stronger than ever … BMW, BASf, Bayer, IG Farbem, Siemens, Tellefunken, Opel, and Thyssen-Krupp.

Exaggerated or not, the fact is that such a novel gives the reader a major jolt.  It is a literary feat, which revives dark moments of history that one should never forget.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Chester Celebrates “Hygge” in February with ‘Beat the Winter Blues,’ Sunday

CHESTER –Denmark is considered the happiest country in the world, marked by its devotion to “Hygge,” a state of being that conjures up peace, coziness and warmth.

Chester, which considers itself a particularly happy and cozy town, not to mention fun, is doing its own version of Hygge during February starting with First Friday and continuing through Feb, 18.

Special promotions and sales, warm drinks, Italian soup, silent auction, cookies, wine, beer, music, candles and warm pretzels will be featured on Friday, Feb. 2.

Soup will be offered on “Souper Bowl Sunday”, Feb. 4, by restaurants, shops and galleries and on “Chocolate Sunday”, Feb. 11, all the downtown will be offering everything chocolate.

“Beat the Winter Blues” on Sunday, Feb. 18, means pancake breakfast, pink flamingos, root beer floats, chili, soup, beer, tractors and much more.

 On First Friday, French Hen will host a wine and cheese party and offer 20 percent off on candles and Lori Warner and Swoon will serve Bellocq teas and cookies and have a 50 percent sale.

Maple and Main Gallery will have a wine tasting by Sunset Hill Vineyard in Lyme, cookies, its newly installed Annual Juried show and the kick-off for a silent auction of two Hygge-inspired paintings.

At Arso Grano, cups of broddo, a special Italian soup, will be offered to guests and the bar will create a special warm drink while Perfect Pear will kick off Hygge with warm soft pretzels and beer samples along with discounts on cold-weather kitchen gear.

Lark will have nibbles and drinks plus a sale: buy one item, 10 percent off on the next item while Dina Varano will be serving wine and feature new, one-of-a-kind jewelry designed by Dina.

There will be music by The Grays and Indigo Soul at Harvest Moon and more music by Arrowhead at Leif Nilsson’s Gallery on First Friday and each Sunday afternoon.

Free soup tastings will be offered  Souper Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4, at the Pattaconk, River Tavern, Simons and the Villager as well as at Perfect Pear, Lark, French Hen and Maple and Main.

Chocolate Sunday, Feb. 11, will be celebrated at Lark with Chester’s largest brownie, and there will be Valentine giveaways with each purchase while

Lori Warner will host a visit from Priscilla Martel, who will serve and share recipes for her favorite chocolate recipes;

French Hen and Lori Warner will give away a chocolate with every purchase and Maple and Main will serve chocolates.

The Pattaconk is offering several chocolate stouts at a $1 off each glass and also serving hot chocolate and coffee drinks at half price all month.

The Perfect Pear is introducing John & Kira’s Chocolates with a limited selection of this new husband-and-wife chocolatier gift-packaged offerings

On Beat the Winter Blues Sunday, Feb. 18, the Pattaconk will have special beers on tap, a bloody Mary bar, pancake breakfast, free cotton candy, face painting, food and drink specials, chili and soup bar, open juke box, tractors out front and more.

Lark is having a pink flamingo party and a giveaway of Mardi Gras beads; Perfect Pear will serve Bundt cake samples, French Hen will serve tropical refreshments and music and Maple and Main will offer root beer floats and feature “summer” and tropical” themed paintings.

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Norm Needleman Announces Campaign for State Senate, First Selectman and Business Leader to Run for 33rd State Senate District

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman who yesterday announced a second run for the 33rd State Senate District.

ESSEX, CT — Today, Essex First Selectman and successful businessman Norm Needleman announced his campaign as a Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, promising to use his business and small town leadership experience to bring people together to get Connecticut back on track.

The seat will be vacant due to the incumbent Senator Art Linares (R) moving out of the District and announcing his candidacy for State Treasurer.

“Leading a small town and building a business taught me that the best way to get things done is to put people and their needs ahead of party politics,” said Needleman. “I respect taxpayers’ dollars because I know how hard you’ve worked to earn them.”

He continued, “That’s why as First Selectman, I brought Democrats and Republicans together, found consensus, solved problems, and kept property taxes among the lowest in the state without cutting services. If elected State Senator for the 33rd District, I will make a clean break from the decades of bickering and harmful policies that have come from Hartford, and I will get Connecticut working for the towns in our district.”

“As an elected town official, I’ve seen the work Norm does as the First Selectman of Essex,” said Colchester Selectman Rosemary Coyle. “Norm governs in a fiscally responsible manner, making sound decisions. His hands-on, small town government experience in the legislature will benefit our communities and help us build a brighter future for our children and families.”

Needleman, who campaigned for the seat in 2016, is currently in his fourth term as Essex First Selectman. He has over 20 years of experience advocating for his small town, having previously served as an Essex Selectman, a member of the Essex Zoning Board of Appeals, and a member of the Essex Economic Development Commission.

Needleman is also a member of the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, helping the 17 member towns coordinate various government functions. He is also a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications, a center formed by local pubic safety professionals to handle emergency call processing and dispatching needs for communities throughout the region.

“Building a company from the ground up has given me invaluable experience on how to grow jobs and create a region where businesses want to start and thrive,” said Needleman. “I will be a State Senator who will create good-paying jobs in our towns and throughout Connecticut.”

Needleman founded Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company, 38 years ago. The company has grown to become a leader in its field, employing over 250 people. As a leading CEO in the region, he serves as a board member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. He is also a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications, a center formed by local pubic safety professionals to handle emergency call processing and dispatching needs for communities throughout the region.

“Norm asks the right questions, and is willing to listen to all options,” said Centerbrook businessman and Clinton resident Gary Stevens. “I believe that with Norm’s insight into the way that a successful business (his) is run and considering the wasteful and unnecessary spending habits of the State, he could go a long way to make the government a more responsible entity.” Stevens, an unaffiliated voter who has known Needleman since the 1980s, owns Stevens Excavating, Inc. and has worked with Needleman on numerous projects.

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

Needleman lives in Essex with Jacqueline Hubbard, the Executive Director of the Ivoryton Playhouse. His two sons and their families also live in Essex.

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Musical Masterworks Hosts Japanese Pianist Rieko Aizawa in Old Lyme Concerts This Weekend

Japanese pianist Rieko Aizawa

AREAWIDE — This month, Musical Masterworks welcomes back three-time Grammy nominee and Musical Masterworks veteran, Todd Palmer on clarinet.  Joining Palmer and Musical Masterworks Artistic Director, Edward Arron on cello, will be Japanese pianist Rieko Aizawa, who has been praised by the New York Times for an “impressive musicality, a crisp touch and expressive phrasing.”

The concerts will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 11, at 3 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme and will feature music by Beethoven and Chopin.  Concertgoers will also hear from an international cast of composers including Poulenc (France), Svante Henryson (Sweden), Glinka (Russia), and Piazzolla (Argentina).

Musical Masterworks’ 27th season continues through April 2018.  To purchase a mini-subscription for any three concerts ($100 each) or individual tickets ($40 individual; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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Letter From Paris: The Seine is Flooding … Again

Nicole Prévost Logan

The Paris floods crested Friday, Jan. 26, at almost six meters, therefore slightly lower than in June 2016 . They did not even make the ‘Top 10’ among the most destructive floods of the past 100 years. The monster flood of 1910 saw the river’s level rise eight meters and 60 centimeters.  However, the inhabitants in the communities upstream from the city, who have been underwater for days and have now been flooded twice in 18 months, were certainly entitled to call it a natural disaster brought on by the global warming.

The submerged tree and lamp post in the foreground show the depth of the flooding on the Seine.  The Hotel de Ville stands at right in the background while the Ile de la Cité is at right. Photo by Stylvia Logan.

Monumental work has been done in the past century to protect the capital and the resultant price is paid by the surrounding areas.   Paris is such a strategic place that it has to be protected by a system of locks and reservoirs, both up and down stream. Besides, France is endowed with numerous waterways and this is particularly true in the Paris basin.  The Seine’s tributaries — Marne, Yonne, Aube and Loing — flow toward Paris.  In the case of extreme precipitation, these small rivers easily overflow and submerge their unprotected banks.  The small towns of Champagne, Moret or Thomery, only 30 minutes by train south of Paris, had disappeared underwater by midweek.

The banks of the Seine are submerged while the Cathedral of Notre Dame still stands proudly in the background. Photo by Sylvia Logan.

In prehistoric times, the Seine was a shallow stream, indolent and undisciplined, moving its bed all over the place.  The most northern of its secondary beds followed what is today the ring of Grands Boulevards and flowed from the Bastille, along the hills of Buttes Chaumont and Montmartre, and back down to the main channel below the hill of Chaillot.   On the Left Bank, the Seine also had a secondary bed, which used to flow under the modern Boulevard Saint Germain. 

The restaurant ”Calife,” which is moored in the middle of the river near the Pont des Arts, is flooded.  Photo by Sylvia Logan.

Between 1991 and 1993, excavations prior to the building of the new Bercy district, brought to light spectacular remains of human settlements on the banks of the wandering Seine river.  Neolithic pirogues dating back to more than 3,000 years BC are exposed today in the Orangerie of the Carnavalet museum. They are the oldest found in Europe.

The construction of massive stone quays in Paris started in  the 14th century.  In 1991, they became part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

By midweek , as the peak of the floods approached, there was no panic among the city officials, engineers and technicians, but a feverish activity to prevent disaster.  By way of precaution, the RERC running along the river, was closed until the end of the month.  Already the treasures exposed on the lower levels of the Louvre and Orsay museums had been moved to safe locations.  The great danger was that the dense network of cables, pipes and wiring, providing gas, electricity and internet, and lying eight floor deep underground would be reached  by the water.

Crowds gather above the famous Zouave statue on the Pont de l’Alma. Photo by Karen Logan

Curious onlookers have been following the progress of water on the statue of the Zouave at the Pont de l’Alma.  The statue was placed below the bridge in 1836 to mark one of the battles at Alma, near Sebastopol, during the Crimean war (1853-56.) 

The Zouave at the Pont de l’Alma has been a point of reference for the severity of Seine floods for centuries.. Photo by Karen Logan

The  coalition of France, England and the Ottoman Empire wanted to put a stop to the expansionist policy of the Russian Tsar Alexander II (1856-1881.) The Zouaves were part of the Algerian light brigade in the days of French Algeria — their bright red baggy pants were famous. 

Down he goes!  As the waters rise, the Zouave at the Pont de l’Alma disappears deeper into the River Seine. Photo by Karen Logan

Although not very reliable – since the statue was raised by 40-80 centimeters  in 1970 – the Zouave remains the most popular indicator of the severity of the floods in Paris.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Red Sox Invite VRHS Students to Submit Applications for 2018 Service Scholarship

AREAWIDE – For the 8th consecutive year, the Boston Red Sox Foundation is seeking submissions from inspiring senior students, who are dedicated to making a positive impact in their communities, for the New England Red Sox Service Scholarship. The annual scholarship honors academically-inclined high school seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to community service. Those selected will receive a $1,000 college scholarship and recognition during a special pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park.

“We are continually inspired by high school students’ charitable endeavors and seek to recognize and reward their ongoing dedication to promoting social good,” said Linda Henry, Red Sox Foundation Board Member. “We are very pleased with the growth of the Service Scholarship program and we are eager to hear about this year’s seniors who are going above and beyond in their communities.”

The Red Sox Service Scholarship, presented by Jenzabar and sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund, was first introduced in New Hampshire in 2010 and has since expanded to honor students in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont as well. This year, the Scholarship Program will be available to students in more than 200 schools throughout New England.

Submissions for Connecticut seniors are due Feb.16, 2018.

For more details and to apply visit, redsoxfoundation.org/service-scholarships.

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Friends of Deep River Public Library Seek Reader’s Votes at Essex Savings Bank

The handsome Deep River Library building stands at 150 Main Street, Deep River

DEEP RIVER — The Friends of the Deep River Public Library are asking for your vote!

Throughout the month of February, Essex Savings Bank is giving thousands of dollars to help aid projects that improve our communities. Customers of Essex Savings Bank can vote for their three favorite non-profit organizations. Help support the Friends of the Deep River Library by voting. Paper ballots are available at any of the Bank’s six branches or an electronic ballot may be submitted by logging into your Essex Savings Bank online account.

The Friends of the Deep River Public Library help raise funds for programs that provide education and enrichment for children, families and adults. Visit your local Essex Savings Bank or log into your online account today to help us continue supporting these important community programs!

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pmTuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pmThursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; andSaturday 10 am – 5 pm.

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Community Leaders Hope to Help Parents Improve Communication With Teens; Forum in OS Tonight

OLD SAYBROOK — Compassion Counts invites shoreline community members to join an upcoming community conversation, ‘Weathering the Adolescent Storm in a Pressure-Filled World,’ on Wednesday, Jan. 31, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the Old Saybrook High School Auditorium.   This free event will be a dynamic evening for teens, parents and teachers to learn how to nurture positive communication and foster resilience.

Attendees will watch a series of skits simulating common family conflicts in today’s pressure filled world to demonstrate both negative and positive communication styles.  A panel of Shoreline area teens will share their reflections on the skits.  The evening will conclude with an important talk on failure, resilience and success along with an opportunity for audience members to ask questions.

Dan Osborne, CEO of Gilead Community Services will be the moderator. Facilitators include Tom Allen, Ph.D., founder Pathways Center for Learning and Behavioral Health; Andy Buccarro, LSW, LADC, founder Project Courage Substance Abuse Treatment Center; and Alicia Farrell, Ph.D., Cognitive Psychologist and founder Clearview Consulting.

“We are responding to the requests of many parents in our community to learn how to better communicate with their teens,” says Dr. Alicia Farrell.   “This forum is the perfect opportunity for families to recognize that they are not alone in their daily challenges.  Parents, teens and teachers, will leave uplifted with new tools to keep communications with their teens positive, help them to foster grit and resilience while harnessing the hidden power of imperfection.”

To attend this free event, register online at https:/weatheringtheadolescentstorm.eventbrite.com.  Light refreshments will be served from 6 to 6:30 p.m.  A snow date is scheduled for Tuesday, March 20.

For more information contact Lucy McMillan at 860.343.5300 or lmcmillan@gileadcs.org.

Compassion Counts is an ongoing series of community conversations held in the upper and lower Middlesex County. The purpose of these events is to educate and support the public around challenging life issues. Previous events have addressed topics like mental health, addiction, and suicide.  The Compassion Counts events are made possible by the generous support from various nonprofits throughout Middlesex County.

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Letter From Paris: Emmanuel Macron Goes to China

Nicole Prévost Logan

At first sight, the January visit of Emmanuel Macron to meet Xi Jinping might have appeared like the futile encounter between David and  Goliath.  But, in fact, it was a well thought-out strategic move and an illustration of Macron’s personal style of diplomacy.

Never before had any French president gone to China so early in his mandate. He timed his visit to seize the opportunity of a world stage left vacant by most of the players.

He came as an European leader, not as a French one. He stepped into the role Angela Merkel  –– still embroiled in internal political negotiations to create a coalition government — had played for many years.

The trip was put under the symbols of history and culture shared by France and China.  Instead of Pekin, it started in Xi-an, Shaansi province, where the discovery of an imperial tomb made world headlines in 1974.  The tomb contained 8,000 terracotta warriors, horses, and chariots, dating back from the golden age of the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD.)

During her several visits to Asia, German chancellor Merkel had openly blamed the Chinese government for its violation of human rights.  Unfortunately, this method did not bring any positive results. 

French President Emmanuel Macron

Macron chose a more pragmatic approach, limiting his criticisms to subliminal  remarks.  According to analysts, his diplomacy can be described as “Gaullienne.”  At a press conference in 1964, General de Gaulle abandoned his aloof and philosophical tone and declared that, to talk with leaders having opposing views, did not mean having to agree with or condone them.

Linguistics can create difficulties since the key words used be the two sides may have different meanings.  Take for instance the definition of “terrorism.”  For Xi Jinping, it mostly refers to the activity of the autonomists Ouïgours whereas for  Macron it means the bomb attacks inflicted on the French population by radical followers of Daesch.

To conduct diplomacy with China is to enter a minefield.  Two examples.  One does not attack China frontally for its action in the South China seas because the Chinese government considers this region as its private turf.  Macron would like China to help with the efforts of the G5 to fight terrorism in the Sahel but it might become a two-sided sword because interference by China in the region is not really wanted.

On the crucial topic of the nuclear threat coming from North Korea, the French president could only reinforce the European Union (EU) position.  He complimented Xi Jinping for becoming the world leader in the fight against global warming, and for being a staunch defender of the Paris Accord.

Fifty CEOs of leading French companies were part of the trip, which was marked by the signing of enormous contracts.  The Chinese government ordered 134 A320 Airbus commercial  planes.  AREVA, the French multinational specialized in nuclear power and renewable energy, signed an agreement China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to build facilities for the reprocessing of nuclear waste.  The largest existing plant in the world is located in La Hague, near Le Havre.  Cooperation in the agro-business will be developed.  The Chinese enjoy French beef but since 2011 an embargo had been imposed on the imports following the “mad cow” disease.

The surplus of the Franco-Chinese trade balance amounts to $30 billion in favor of China.  Macron wants too re-equilibrate those figures.  His objective is to widen the types of exports beside foodstuff or cosmetics and include digital technology, artificial intelligence and other sectors.

The silk road sounds like a romantic concept, which makes one dream. but in reality it is pharaonic project where the Chinese plan to invest around $1,000 billions to build a network of rail, maritime, land, or air routes to export its products.  Almost needless to say, this project is worrying many … starting with Macron, who declares that the silk road should be a two-way road.  Historically the silk road was developed in the Han dynasty and its starting point was the town of Xi-an (cf. above.)

During the official visit to Pekin of the French presidential couple, it was impossible not to notice the spectacular redcoat (red is a symbolic color in Chinese, meaning happiness) worn by Brigitte Macron.

Translated into Chinese phonetics, the name Macron means “the horse that dominates the dragon.”  Is that perhaps a good omen for Emmanuel Macron?

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Understanding Your Best Friend: Phil Klein, Certified Dog Listener Speaks at Essex Library, Feb 10

ESSEX — Phil Klein will present a kind and lasting methodology for gaining your dog’s cooperation based on its instincts. Learn how canines see the world and the underlying reasons for unwanted behaviors like hyperactivity, destructive chewing, incessant barking, toileting in the house, jumping on guests, and aggression.

Learn the four main areas of canine communications, including the leadership signals that will eliminate or minimize these behaviors and turn your dog into a relaxed, joyful companion. Bring your questions, but not your dog for an informative, fun event at the Essex Library on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.

Klein’s path to becoming a Dog Listener started when his family rescued a special dog named Abby from Labs4Rescue.  At the time, he had no idea about the journey he would be privileged to take with Abby.  Abby’s behavioral challenges were the motivation for Klein to learn a lot more about dogs and find a way to help Abby overcome her fears. 

In the process,Klein discovered Jan Fennell, The Dog Listener who had developed a revolutionary method for training dogs based on their instincts.  In April 2009,Klein attended Jan Fennell’s Foundation and Advanced Canine Communications courses, thereby becoming a Certified Dog Listener. 

Through in-home consultations, volunteer work with Labs4Rescue and other rescue organizations, and public talks,Klein has been honored to help hundreds of dog owners and their dogs.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information and to register, call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Community Music School Hosts Free Preview Week Through Friday

Community Music School, located at 90 Main Street in Centerbrook and 179 Flanders Road in East Lyme, welcomes the general public to enjoy a variety of music programming during Free Preview Week scheduled for Jan. 29 through Feb. 2, 2018.

Children and adults are invited to schedule a free 30-minute preview lesson, and sample a vast array of programs for all ages including private and group lessons, Suzuki violin, adult cabaret, senior band, string ensembles, music therapy, Kindermusik, and more.

The public is welcome to observe any group class or ensemble during Free Preview Week.

Community Music School is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.mMonday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Those interested in a 30-minute preview lesson can schedule it by calling 860-767-0026 or emailing info@community-music-school.org.

Musical instruction is available for all ages, all abilities, and all genres.

For additional information, visit www.community-music-school.org/programs, call 860-767-0026, or email info@community-music-school.org.

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

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See a Live Raptor Presentation by ‘A Place Called Hope’ at Essex Meadows, Saturday

A member of A Place Called Hope holds a Snowy Owl during a recent demonstration.

ESSEX — Want to get a close up look at live birds of prey?

The Essex Land Trust hosts A Place Called Hope, Inc., a raptor rehabilitation and education center specializing in the rescue and care of Connecticut’s wild injured, orphaned or ill birds of prey, Saturday, Feb. 3, at 2 p.m. at Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Rd., Essex.

The goal of this volunteer-based organization is to preserve wildlife for the future by protecting wild raptor species and promoting an understanding of how we as humans can lessen conflicts with wildlife in our very own backyards. Handlers share resident raptor species with the public for a unique up close experience as each bird shares its own personal story of survival.

All ages welcome.

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Pfeiffer Presents Final Lecture in Winter Series on Natural, Industrial and Maritime History This Afternoon

Falls River Cove during the spring floods.  Courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

Essex Historical Society, Essex Meadows and Essex Land Trust co-sponsor, “Follow the Falls River: Natural, Industrial and Maritime History,” this year’s Annual Winter Lecture Series.

ESSEX – Explore Essex’s rich history along the Falls River in the popular Winter Lecture Series presented by Essex Historical Society (EHS), Essex Meadows and Essex Land Trust (ELT), Sundays, Jan. 14, 21 and 28, at 3 p.m. Each illustrated talk will feature in-depth discussion of the resources – natural, human or industrial — along the waterway that ties together the town’s three villages. 

Titled, “Follow the Falls,” the series is part of a year-long collaborative program between EHS and ELT.  All lectures are held at Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Road, at 3 p.m. on those Sundays.  The programs are free and open to the public. 

The series begins on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m. with “Falls River Cove Estuary,” led by naturalist Phil Miller of Bushy Hill Nature Center.  Mr. Miller will describe the flora, fauna and ecology of the Falls River Estuary and will elaborate on the area’s natural resources that were ideal for settlement by both Native and European populations. 

On Sunday, Jan. 21, at 3 p.m., Brenda Milkofsky will present “Enterprise and  Industry Along the Falls River,” an examination of the mills, forges, cottage industries and larger manufacturies all powered by this dammable waterway with its natural falls.  Ms. Milkofsky, the Founding Director of the CT River Museum, elaborates on the work of Bill Grover, a partner in Centerbrook Architects, a firm located on the site of various industries.  She will explain how the development of all three of Essex’s villages depended upon harnessing the Falls River’s waterpower.  

The series concludes on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 3 p.m., as Dr. John Pfeiffer, Professor Emeritus, Archaeology, Wesleyan University, will address the historic Williams Shipyard at Falls River Cove and Osage Trails Preserve. Dr. Pfeiffer will explain how the shipbuilding complex’s foundations still lie beneath the river’s silt.  Examining the site in detail paints a vivid picture of early interdependent maritime trades, all operated by one family from 1790-1845 – a thriving, pre-industrial complex paralleling the village’s growth as a seaport community. 

All lectures are held in beautiful Hamilton Hall, Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Road, Essex.  Free and open to the public.  More information can be found at www.essexhistory.org or by calling Essex Historical Society, 860-767-0681.

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‘Essex Ed’s Identity Will be Revealed in Today’s Annual Groundhog Day Parade on Main St., Essex

Groundhog fun at a previous parade.

ESSEX — Grab your pots and pans and head to Essex Village this afternoon, Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. for one of the most popular parades of the year.

“Essex Ed”, a larger-than-life ground hog, will make his annual pilgrimage from Essex Boat Works on Ferry Street up to the top of Main Street leading a parade of antique cars, fife & drum corps, residents, and visitors.

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

All are invited to join in and encouraged to bring their own noisemakers and ground hog gear to celebrate the day.

Each year, Essex Ed is dressed in unique attire to acknowledge a special occasion or person. As always, this year’s costume is a secret but organizers guarantee that it will be a “huge hit” when Ed makes his appearance.

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CT River Museum Offers Range of Winter Wildlife Programs, Activities

Eagles on Ice: White-headed adult eagles can be seen in numbers along the lower Connecticut River. Photo by Mark Yuknat.

ESSEX — Winter along the Connecticut River brings many things – including cold winds and grey skies.  But the change in seasons also signals a shift in the ecology of New England’s Great River.  The osprey, the swallows and the egrets may be gone, but in their place now are mergansers, goldeneyes, and the highlight – bald eagles.  These once rare, majestic birds can be seen fishing along the unfrozen lower Connecticut River, a testament to one of the greatest environmental recoveries of the last half century.  To highlight these winter wonders, Connecticut River Museum (CRM) has planned a range of programs and activities.

Connecticut River Museum is happy to again partner with Connecticut River Expeditions to offer Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruises in February and March.  These popular trips offer visitors a chance to get out on the River in winter to see eagles, as well as other winter species that visit the estuary such as harbor seals.

This seal is relaxing on the Connecticut River ice. Photo by Bill Yule.

Cruises aboard the environmentally friendly R/V RiverQuest provide passengers with a comfortable, heated cabin supplied with hot coffee and tea, as well as binoculars to aid in spotting and narration from a staff naturalist.  These cruises depart Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at various times in the morning and early afternoon, and are $42 per passenger.  Museum members get 10 percent off and group rates are available.

In addition, the Museum will offer its annual Eagles of Essex exhibit, which offers a wealth of information about bald eagles and their return to the lower Connecticut River.  Patrons can try their hand at building an eagle nest, and marvel at life size silhouettes of Eagles and other large raptors, a map showing good shore viewing locations, and other displays.

On the opening day of the season, Saturday, Feb. 3, the exhibit will host Family Activities related to the return of the Eagles from 1 to 4 p.m., free with Museum admission.

On Saturday, Feb. 17 and March 17, award-winning photographer Stanley Kolber returns to CRM to offer his annual Bird Photography Workshop.  Kolber has been photographing birds for years, and takes great pleasure in sharing his experience with aspiring photographers of all levels, through anecdotes, slides, and question and answer.  In addition to helping skills development, his greatest pleasure in giving workshops is the opportunity to kindle and encourage his audience’s interest in the natural world.  He hopes that young people as well as adults will attend the workshops, so that he can impart some of his own enthusiasm to the next generation.  These popular programs are also free with Museum admission.

Species other than Eagles visit our River during the winter months. Photo by Joan Meek.

A Live Birds of Prey Show will be offered on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m.  CRM will partner with Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation Organization for this annual show, which features a bald eagle and several other species of raptors.  Visitors will be able to get an up close look at the birds while learning more about the lifecycle and ecology of these magnificent animals.  This event will be held at the Centerbrook Meeting House and is free to the public.

For a full listing of event details, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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 more information, call CRM at 860.767.8269 or RiverQuest at 860.662.0577.

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State Holds Flu Vaccination Day on Saturday; Local Clinics in Saybrook, New London

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

AREAWIDE — In effort to protect the public’s health and reduce the spread of the influenza (flu) virus, which has heavily affected the state, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is teaming up with local health departments to provide free or low cost influenza vaccine at several locations across the state on Saturday, Jan. 27. DPH strongly encourages all Connecticut residents over the age of 6 months to get a flu shot, and is working with local health departments and districts to make it easy to get one.

The full list of clinics and their locations is at this link.

The two clinics in or local to our coverage area, which are open on Saturday, are:

Old Saybrook
CT River Area Health District Office, 455 Boston Post Rd, Old Saybrook (Saybrook Junction)
10am-1pm
860-661-3300 (M-F)

New London
Ledge Light Health District:
216 Broad St. New London
11am-1pm
860-448-4882 (M-F)

You may attend any of the clinics listed regardless of the town you live in. If you have an insurance card bring one with you. Your insurance will be billed a small administration fee, but you will not be charged anything out of pocket. The vaccine is free.

In addition to the schedule below, many local health departments around the state are conducting on-going flu clinics. If you cannot attend one listed, check with your local health department for upcoming flu clinics.  Click here to find your local health department.

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‘Knit Together’ at Deep River Public Library, Saturday

Photo by MabelAmber® on Unsplash

DEEP RIVER — Come join Deep River Public Library in the Community Meeting Room for Knit Together, which will next meet on Saturday, Jan. 27, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Bring your latest project or your wish list. The group is intended to create new knitters looking for instructional guidance as well as an enthusiastic community for those who want to share the craft. Bring your own supplies or purchase the basics at the meeting. Adults and children with an adult are welcome.

No registration is required for this program.

Veteran crafter Wendy Sherman will facilitate the group and offer her knowledge based on 30-plus years of her own knitting. Call the library for additional information.

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on our monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pm; Tuesday 10 am – 6 pmWednesday 12:30 – 8 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.

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A Rally to Remember — Women (Mostly) Gather to Call Attention to Power of Peaceful Protest

Three generations fighting for freedom: from left to right, Dale Griffith of Ivoryton takes time out from the rally for a photo with her five-year-old granddaughter, Eva Levonick, and her daughter (Eva’s mom) Becky Petersen, both of Old Lyme.

EAST HADDAM — More than 400 warmly dressed people gathered Saturday morning under clear skies on the forecourt of the Two Wrasslin’ Cats cafe in East Haddam to stand in solidarity with all the other Sister Marches taking place all over the country … and beyond.  The event was organized by Together We Rise CT (TWRCT) and facilitated by Theresa Govert, founder and chair of TWRCT.

Govert, pictured above, spoke passionately to the assembled crowd, which spanned both age and gender, reminding members that it was precisely one year since President Trump took office and to look back on all the things his presidency had changed and to be cognizant of all the things that are in line for change.  She emphasized the need at all times for peaceful protest and was emphatic about never responding to violence.

Govert is a recently returned United States Peace Corps Volunteer. She served for three years in Botswana, where she worked with her community to organize thousands for a national campaign to end gender-based violence, started a small business as an alternative economic employment opportunity for female sex workers and presented to participants of the White House Mapathon on the importance of free, accessible data.

In 2016, she was selected to receive the prestigious John F. Kennedy Service Award, awarded every five years to six individuals.

Christine Palm of Chester gave an impassioned speech to the attentive crowd.

The keynote speaker was Chester resident Christine Palm, who is Women’s Policy Analyst for the General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors and also principal of Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC.

Palm opened by reminding those gathered that, “One year ago, many people predicted the Women’s March would fizzle out — that we couldn’t sustain the momentum,” but then pointed out that, in fact, the opposite has happened, and, “In this past year, it’s only grown broader and deeper and more ferocious and more inclusive, and now nothing coming out of Washington escapes our notice, or our resistance.”

Noting, “It has not escaped our notice that this administration is defunding programs for veterans, kicking brave transgendered soldiers out of the military, and attacking women’s reproductive rights  that have been in place for decades,” Palm added, “We have paid attention to the fracking, back-stabbing … money-grubbing and gerrymandering,” before declaring, “The Women’s March has grown to encompass it all.”

Recalling the words of the renowned African-American civil rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley, who lived locally in Chester, Palm said, “There appears to be no limit as to how far the women’s revolution will take us,” pointing out, “That’s why we’re all still here, a year later.”

After thanking all those attending for “paying attention to what’s going on in our fractured, frightened world,” and acknowledging the work of all “the new, well organized progressive groups,” Palm expressed her gratitude to, “the hard-core folks who have kept vigil at this enlightened business, Two Wrasslin’ Cats, through rain and sweltering heat, every Saturday, for a year.”

Palm urged everyone not to give up, commenting on the fact that for the older people present, “it seems, we’ve been boycotting, and protesting, and working to right what is wrong,” for a very long time, but she noted, “We are buoyed not only by one another, but in remarkable new ways, by a smart, hardworking and committed group of young people.”  She thanked the Millennials for their “passion and energy,” which she determined, “cannot be overestimated.”

Palm gave a list of practical steps out of which she proposed everyone present could find at least one to follow.  Her suggestions included, “If you’re old enough to vote, do it. Don’t forget the municipal elections, which  have been lost and won by a handful of votes. If you are unaffiliated, please consider registering with a party so you can vote in the primary,” and “If you have a driver’s license and a car, offer to drive an elderly voter to the polls in November.”

She continued, “If you have any disposable income, support candidates you believe in. If you can walk, knock on doors. If you can hear, make telephone calls. If you like to cook, make food for a house party. If you speak a language other than English, offer to translate for an immigrants’ rights group. If you can write, pen an op-ed or a letter to the editor. If you teach, welcome difficult conversations in the classroom.”

Finally, she offered the idea, “If you can speak into a mic, testify at the Capitol,” before closing with the rousing call to all to, “Stay vigilant.  But stay hopeful, too,” and …

Pink “pussy” hats were much in evidence at the rally.

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Cappella Hosts Late Registration/Rehearsal for Haydn’s ‘Creation’

AREAWIDE — Cappella Cantorum Masterworks Chorus late registration and second rehearsal for its spring concert will take place Monday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River. Use the rear entrance.

Auditions are not required.

The concert will feature Haydn’s masterpiece, “The Creation,” that includes the well-known “The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God.” It will be performed Sunday, April 22, with professional soloists and orchestra with Simon Holt of the Salt Marsh Opera directing.

Registration is $40; music is $13.

For more information visit www.CappellaCantorum.org or call 860-526-1038.

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Op-Ed: In Light of Current Events, Head of The Country School Confirms, Defends School’s Mission

By John D. Fixx, Head of School at The Country School

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a moment in which people in the United States and throughout the world celebrate a gentleman who gave his life striving for equality and the principle that all people are created equal.

Our country has stood for generations as an example of hope for people throughout the world. Many relatives of our families and teachers arrived here recently or generations ago. Some arrived as slaves. Some arrived voluntarily to seek a better life of freedom, opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness.

I am concerned that students have recently been hearing from the White House, the entertainment world, and the sports world that not all people are created equal. I send this letter, therefore, to make it clear how language and actions in the news today are counter to our mission at The Country School — to make it clear that as educators we will honor forthright questions from inquisitive students while striving to respect parental prerogative and disparate political viewpoints. It should not be controversial to deplore language and actions that undermine the bedrock on which the United States has been built and has prospered.

Our students might be reading on their phones and hearing stories about the mistreatment of women in Hollywood, on Olympic teams, and by influential men in broadcasting and elsewhere, while also hearing reports of hateful, racist, dangerous words from Washington that are inappropriate to use anywhere on our campus or use, many would argue, anywhere in a polite, civil society.

The Country School’s mission reads, “We nurture every student’s unique role in the community,” and that means that we value their differences. We live our mission daily by “encouraging students to embrace differences, explore new perspectives, and find common ground in a multicultural world.” We honor this ethos especially through our IDEA (Interpreting Diversity Education through Action) Day and Theme Day workshops, but also every day when we teach empathy and kindness.

I am tremendously proud of The Country School’s increasing diversity, as measured in terms of race, culture, family structures, religion, nationality, socio-economic status, and so forth. Our students’ families come from at least 27 different countries and their parents and grandparents speak some 17 languages at home. Our community spans the world, from Poland to Portugal and from China to Cambodia, from India to Israel to Italy to Ireland to Iceland, from Taiwan to Texas, from Lima to London, from Hungary to Sudan, and from California to Colombia. As educators, we cannot defend the idea that some families’ countries are worse or better than other countries.

Our core values state that our students “practice empathy by considering different perspectives and making all members of the community feel welcomed, included, and respected.” The Country School’s Mission Statement speaks to character and leadership development. As we teach our students in the Elmore Leadership Program, there are many ways to lead, and the best leaders bring disparate groups together to accomplish more than any individual could achieve on her or his own. And as part of the Elmore Leadership Program, we also teach students that leaders should use elegant, elevated language, and they should avoid profanity, misogyny, and similar “locker room” language.

We routinely answer questions as candidly and cleanly as we can, keeping our politics as adults as neutral as possible. I write this not to address specific tax policies or the Russian investigation, or a Mexican border wall, or trade agreements, or North Korean missiles, and so forth.

Rather, I want to make clear that it is part of our leadership mission at The Country School to ensure that our students understand that people can disagree agreeably, can use civil and respectful language, and — whether in Connecticut, Washington D.C., New York, or Hollywood — can always follow our primary school rule:

        1. Be kind.

Editor’s Note: Founded in 1955, The Country School serves 215 students in PreSchool to Grade 8 on its 23-acre campus in Madison. See our community in action during our Open House on January 28 from 1-3:30 p.m. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org.

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Women’s Vigil to be Held Today in East Haddam; Goodspeed Bridge Closed to Traffic During Day


Update 1/20 in italics: EAST HADDAM —A sister vigil will be held today, Saturday, Jan. 20, from 10 to 11 a.m. at Two Wrasslin’ Cats (374 Town Street, East Haddam, CT).

You may need to take a different route to the event, if you were planning to cross the East Haddam bridge across the Connecticut River.

The following notice was posted by the CT DOT Friday afternoon:

Weekend Traffic Notice Regarding The Closing of Route 82 in East Haddam at the East Haddam at the East Haddam Swing Bridge Because of Ice Dam at the Bridge.

The CT DOT announced that the Coast Guard will have the bridge open for several hours sometime tomorrow. The major problem is the Coast Guard will only give an hour’s notice about the opening.

Here’s how to cross the river if you are north of the bridge at Exit 7 on Route 9, or if you’re to the south of the bridge on Route 9.

If you are south of Exit 7 on Route 9, head south on 9 and go East on I-95. You will be getting off at the first exit across the river for Old Lyme, Route 156 and take 156 north to route 82 and follow it to East Haddam.

If you are north of Exit 7 on Route 9, go north and get off at the exit for Portland and follow route 66 East to Cobalt where you will go south on 151 to East Haddam.

Whatever you use to plan your route, if you are on the WEST side of the Connecticut River, you must cross on I-95 or at Middletown to get to the rally.

For those interested in attending, RSVP’s are requested at this link.One year after the historic Women’s March on Washington, when millions marched across the world and 500 showed up in East Haddam, this event will be focused on bringing our communities together and moving onto the next stage of the movement. In 2018, the intent is to channel energy and activism into tangible strategies and concrete wins to create transformative social and political change.

There will be a standing vigil (with limited seats available for those who are not able to stand for the duration of an hour) not a march (in order to increase accessibility for people with disabilities and/or small children).

The vigil will be near a sign that says, “Dear Muslims, Immigrants, Women, Disabled, LGBTQ+ folks and People of Color. We love you- boldly & proudly. We will endure. -Shaun King”. Attendees are welcome to bring your own signs and banners.

Theresa Govert, founder and chair of Together We Rise CT (TWRCT), will be facilitating and speaking at the event. She is a recently returned United States Peace Corps Volunteer. She served for three years in Botswana, where she worked with her community to organize thousands for a national campaign to end gender-based violence, started a small business as an alternative economic employment opportunity for female sex workers and presented to participants of the White House Mapathon on the importance of free, accessible data.

In 2016, she was selected to receive the prestigious John F. Kennedy Service Award, awarded every five years to six individuals.

In 2017, she was one of six women under the age of 40 who received Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) and Young Women Rising‘s The Future is Now Award.

All participants should park at the Rotary Skating Pond or the Upper Parking lot of Town Tavern & Restaurant and walk (approx 30 seconds to the site of the vigil). For those with limited mobility, there will be parking reserved in the parking lot of Two Wrasslin’ Cats (the site of the vigil). Car-pooling is strongly recommended.

The vigil will be held in the parking lot of the Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee shop, so people with children, senior citizens, etc will be able to go inside and warm up during the event.

If you have any questions/concerns/suggestions, email togetherwerisect@gmail.com

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Chester Garden Club Hosts Avian Author John Himmelman, March 20

CHESTER — On Tuesday, March 20, at 7 p.m., the Chester Garden Club will be hosting a presentation by author, John Himmelman from Killingworth, Conn., on“Birds; Their Side of the Story …” at the United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, CT.

He will share light-hearted stories of birds and bird watching – from cuisine to cartoons; ornaments to icons, murmurs to murders. You’ll be given a whole new look at the avian friends we so admire (and some, not so much…)

Members of the Chester Garden Club and the public are invited to attend.  The cost for guests will be $5.

For additional information, contact Chester Garden Club Co-President Brenda Johnson at (860) 526-2998.

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See ‘How The Other Half Loves,’ Presented by Saybrook Stage, at ‘The Kate,’ Runs Through Sunday


OLD SAYBROOK —
Alan Ayckbourn’s farcical tale of matrimonial mishaps, “How The Other Half Loves” will have audiences in stitches. Aykbourn enthralls with his clever use of space and time as he intertwines the lives of two very different couples – a perfectly posh upper-class older one and a messy middle class younger one – on the same stage!

As Bob Phillips and Fiona Foster clumsily try to cover up their affair, their spouses’ intervention only adds to the confusion. William and Mary Detweiler – the third couple – find themselves in the middle of the mayhem when they are falsely accused of adultery – with no idea as to how they’ve become involved.

The fact that all three of the men work at the same company – in the same department adds to the fun. The plot culminates in two disastrous dinner parties on successive nights, shown at the same time – on the same stage – after which the future of all three couples is definitely in question.

The fast pace and physical humor of this piece makes this one of Ayckbourn’s funniest and most exciting plays to experience. The play is set in 1969 which allows for plenty of comic routines around landline telephones, distinct class structures and changing sexual mores.

The play originally opened in London in 1970 to rave reviews and ran for over 850 performances – it also opened on Broadway in 1971.

Ayckbourn has spent over 55 years as a theatre director and a playwright. To date he has written 80 plays – the latest of which opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough in 2016 – and his work has been translated into over 35 languages, is performed on stage and television throughout the world and has won countless awards.

The Saybrook Stage Company returns once again to The Kate in “How The Other Half Loves” directed by Michael Langlois, who previously directed Saybrook Stage’s “A Piece of my Heart” in January 2013. Their more recent plays include The Farnsworth Invention, Noises Off, Deathtrap, The Wayside Motor Inn, Moon Over Buffalo and this past July, Barefoot in the Park.

Visit www.thekate.org or call 877.503.1286 to reserve your tickets. The play will be performed Jan. 18 , 19 and 20 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 21 at 3 p.m.

Also, visit www.SaybrookStage.org for more information about The Saybrook Stage Company.

The Saybrook Stage Company was founded as a non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality local theater on the Connecticut Shoreline at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center. Saybrook Stage welcomes actors of all levels and abilities – and anyone who genuinely loves the arts – to come together and share in the experience that only live theater can provide. The actors that have been part of The Saybrook Stage Company to date have varied backgrounds and “day jobs” from teachers, artists and homemakers to lawyers, business people and judges.

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