March 26, 2015

Oh, What a Winter … and More on the Way!

Old Saybrook Town beach

Old Saybrook Town Beach.  All photos by Adina Ripkin.

After a snowless first half of winter, the weather finally seemed to catch up with itself as recent snow storms have swept through the northeast.

Piles of cleared snow at the junction of Main Street and Pennywise Lane in Old Saybrook

Piles of cleared snow at the junction of Main Street and Pennywise Lane in Old Saybrook

Storms on Jan. 26 and 27 and then again during the first weekend in February have left snow accumulated throughout Connecticut, especially along the shoreline.

A snowy scene in Saybrook

A snowy scene in Saybrook

Although we dodged the most recent storm, which hit much harder in inland Connecticut and neighboring Massachusetts, bitterly cold weather is just around the corner according to the weather forecasters.

Footsteps_to_the_church_OSIt may seem to have been an endless winter, but no records have been broken here to date — unlike in Boston, Mass., where snowfall accumulation totaled well over 70 inches in January alone!

With more snow and freezing temperatures expected over the next couple of weeks, Shoreline residents are bracing themselves once again for more shoveling, hot chocolate, and picturesque drives!

Stay safe … and warm … and enjoy!

$499.5 Million Deep River Grand List up by $9.14 Million From 2013 Total, Largest Increase in Years

DEEP RIVER — The 2014 grand list of taxable property is up by $9.14 million, a larger than expected increase that will generate about $236,000 in new tax revenue. Assessor Robin O’Loughlin has filed an October 2014 grant list that totals $499,552,409, an increase of $9,145,804, or 1.86 percent, over the 2013 total.

O’Loughlin said the increase, by far the largest since the last property revaluation in 2010, would generate $236,700 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 25.88 mills. Last year, the 2013 grand list was up by only 0.47 percent after a 2012 grand list jump of only 1.2 percent.

There were increases in each of the three categories, real estate, personal property and motor vehicles, with the largest increase coming in the personal property total. The town’s 658 personal property accounts totaled $22,583,125, an increase of $6,677,804 from the 2013 personal property total.O’Loughlin said a 2014 sale and relocation of Tri-Town Precision Plastics to Massachusetts-based Smith and Wesson Co., and a new local subsidiary, Deep River Plastics, had resulted in 224 new personal property accounts for machinery and equipment. But the assessor cautioned that many of these accounts would be eligible for tax deferrals under the state’s Manufacturing Machinery Program, which could lead to some reductions in the higher personal property totals in 2015.

The town’s 2,186 real estate accounts have an assessment total of $442,825,060, an increase of $2,1778,120 from the 2013 real estate total. O’Loughlin said there were four new homes completed in 2014, along with several renovations and expansions of existing dwellings. The town’s 4,800 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $34,144,224, an increased of $289,394 from the 2013 total.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the increase was higher than he anticipated, and good news for the town. “It’s the best increase we’ve had in several years,” he said, adding, “it’s going to help an awful lot with the budgets this year.” The town is conducting a statistical revaluation update of all real estate properties this year, with any changes to be reflected on the October 2015 grand list.

Following are the town’s top 10 taxpayers, along with the assessment totals. The Boyd-Dernocoeur, Olson, and Cribiore accounts are for high value residential properties.

1) Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $5,576,999
2) BDRM Inc. — $4,171,277
3) Mislick Family Limited partnership — $3,173,870
4) Silgan Plastics Corp. — $2,917,775
5) Deep River Associates LLC — $2,917,600
6) Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur — $2,430,610
7) 180 Main Street Partners LLC — $2,277,450
8) Goodspeed Leasing Co. LLC — $2,145,010
9) John & Jane Olson — $2,075,080
10) Alberto Cribiore — $1,934,590

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Letter to the Editor: Proposed Chester Library Will Strengthen Community

To the Editor:

There has been much discussion about the future of the Chester Library. Since I have traveled to over 50 CT libraries presenting children’s programs over the years, I have a unique perspective on just what today’s libraries represent. These are not our grandmother’s libraries anymore.

Even in small towns, today’s library has become the hub of the community. Strong children’s programs grow and support families, whose children grow up to be life long readers and supporters of the library. Senior citizens are able to visit and learn how to operate computers, tablets, and e-books. They also have free access to large print & audio books, which also help our disabled citizens. During the recession, especially, families who could not afford Netflix or cable TV, accessed services like Hoopla for the ability to stream movies, shows, concerts, and news programming- for free.

Sadly, Chester not only has no space for special programs, but has also shut out our aging and disabled population by not being handicap accessible. We have been out of compliance with the ADA for 25 years. Our top-notch librarians do the best they can, but with no decent space, bathrooms, and elevator, their hands are tied.

I have heard people question the size of the proposed library, which is modest and in line with similar towns. The proposed community room will fit 70 people. It only proposes 6 computers. The concern about additional staff was addressed in other area libraries (Haddam, Killingworth, Clinton) by utilizing volunteers-mostly seniors, who look forward to spending one day a week in the library.

These other towns took a similar leap of faith years ago and have never regretted it! A vibrant library, which serves ALL our community, will only strengthen the community.

Sincerely,

Marjorie Warner,
Chester.
Editor’s Note: The author is a former preschool teacher and para-professional for the State of CT Preschool Services for the Blind. Since 1996, she has been a professional storyteller, songwriter, recording artist, and Early Childhood Developmental Music Consultant. She is a member of both ASCAP and the Connecticut Storytelling Center.

Groundhog Day Parade Shorter than Usual But Still Wonderful

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

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

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

The star of the show -- "Essex Ed"

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Celebrate Groundhog Day Today at Essex Parade

Groundhog fun at last year's parade.

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

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

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

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

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

The parade is organized by the Essex Board of Trade.

For more information, visit www.essexct.com.

“House of Cards” Director Speaks at CBSRZ Today

John David Coles

John David Coles

Connecticut fans of Netflix’s addictive phenomenon ‘House of Cards,’ will soon get a rare inside look into how this series on the struggle for power in Washington is made.

Executive producer/director John David Coles will speak at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 1, just weeks before the long-awaited Feb. 27 release of season 3. No tickets are required and the event is free of charge as part of the synagogue’s 100thanniversary cultural arts programming.

‘House of Cards’ stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Spacey, playing a sinister Frank Underwood, aims to beat back enough enemies to rise to the White House. A Washington Post reviewer noted that the “back stabbing, bed hopping, betraying, compromising and scandal mongering” captures ageless, Shakespearean themes. Coles and the creative team based the story on a 1990 BBC television miniseries and earlier book by Michael Dobbs, but let the actors and story craft fresh approaches to the ethics and psychology of power.

Coles is an award-winning director and producer known for evocative material with compelling performances from some of today’s most respected actors.  He has enjoyed success in features, television and theater while his production company, Talking Wall Pictures, has focused on the development of cutting edge feature and television projects.

Coles shot his first full length 16mm film at age 17 – a wry update of “Casablanca” re-imagined in a high school. While at Amherst College he directed a documentary about the school that was aired on PBS, and soon after was making short films for Saturday Night Live.

He then went on to become an editor on Francis Coppola’s “Rumble Fish” and “The Cotton Club.” His feature directorial debut, “Signs of Life,” starred Beau Bridges, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Mary Louise Parker. The film won the International Critics Prize at Deauville and launched a prolific and versatile directing career.

In television, Coles is one of the few directors who is equally adept at both drama and comedy.  He has directed numerous Emmy Award-winning series ranging from “Sex and the City” to “The West Wing,” and many other notable shows such as “Justified,” “Damages,” and “Bates Motel.”  Coles recently directed A&E’s “Those Who Kill” with Chloë Sevigny, and the new Starz original series Power.

His success as an episodic director allowed Coles to begin a producing career and one of his first projects, “Thief,” led to Andre Braughers’ Emmy award for Best Actor.  Other executive producer credits include hit drama “Elementary,” “Unforgettable,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” with Jeff Goldblum, “3LBS” with Stanley Tucci, “New Amsterdam,” and the drama “Wonderland,” a critically acclaimed series that addressed the frail boundaries of insanity within a New York City hospital’s psychiatric ward.

Coles continues to write and create original dramas through Talking Wall Pictures, which produced the CBS drama “Songs in Ordinary Time” (based on the Oprah Book Club pick) starring Sissy Spacek and Beau Bridges and co-created and executive produced the series “Crash and Burn.”  Talking Wall has developed numerous projects with HBO, CBS, New Line, IFC, Bravo and worked with numerous distinguished writers, including Academy Award nominated Mike Weller (“Hair”), Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright (“Quills”), Kate Robin (“Six Feet Under”) and Ann Peacock (“Nights in Rodanthe”).

In the theater world, Coles was a member of the Circle Rep Lab and an alumnus of Wynn Handman at the American Place Theater. His Off-Broadway credits include directing the critically acclaimed play “The Impostor” starring Austin Pendleton and Calista Flockhart, as well as “Johnny Suede,” starring Tom DiCillo.

Coles lives in New York with his wife Laura and his children, ­­­­­Sam and Jessica.  He is a Sundance Director’s Lab Alumni, and teaches at the Columbia University Graduate Film Program.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  Founded 100 years ago, CBSRZ translates as House of Peace Seeking Justice. Pegged as a “cultural center and architectural landmark” by the Jewish Ledger, CBSRZ goes by the moniker “ancient and cool” because of its pioneering fusion of renewed tradition with spiritual learning, cultural expression, and prayer labs. Located on the Connecticut River, it is the only public building ever designed by the internationally renowned artist Sol LeWitt. Find more information, 860-526-8920 or www.cbsrz.org or www.ancientandcool.com.

‘Average Joe Photo Show’ on View at Lori Warner Gallery, Benefits Water.org

View of a Child by Maddy Richardson,  taken June 26, 2014, at Cuttyhunk, Mass.

‘View of a Child’ by Maddy Richardson, taken June 26, 2014, at Cuttyhunk, Mass.

The Average Joe Photo Show’s second exhibition is on view at the Lori Warner Gallery in Chester. A selection of photos selected for the show are pictured in this article.

The concept behind the exhibition was developed by two local women and a group of shoreline volunteers to celebrate the everyday perspective of the average person through a common medium: the camera app on a mobile phone.

'Glacier Water in July' by Peter B. Alosky, taken July 10, 2014, at April Bowl, Hatcher’s Pass, Alaska.

‘Glacier Water in July’ by Peter B. Alosky, taken July 10, 2014, at April Bowl, Hatcher’s Pass, Alaska

With a grass roots effort from January through December 2014 via word of mouth, social media and local papers, any “average joe” was invited to submit their cell phone photos while following a few simple rules, namely,that each image had to include some element of water as well as a component of the human figure.

'Red Parapluie… Paris' by Leighton Gleicher, taken Jan. 3, 2014, in Paris (France)

‘Red Parapluie … Paris’ by Leighton Gleicher, taken Jan. 3, 2014, in Paris (France)

Over 350 people submitted images that will be on display at the Lori Warner Gallery through Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22.

In the same way that most everyone throughout the world now sees the mobile phone as necessary to “survive” socially or professionally, everyone must have water to survive physically. With this in mind, the steering committee of the Average Joe Photo Show selected water.org as its 2014 philanthropic focus.

In 2015, Average Joe Photo Show will shift their philanthropic focus to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders to raise awareness and funds for their extraordinary humanitarian work and their efforts to give voice to communities disconnected from the world health system.

'Nectarine' by Sarah Rand, taken July 10, 2014, at Brookside Pool

‘Nectarine’ by Sarah Rand, taken July 10, 2014, at Brookside Pool

Each accepted photograph is printed in two limited editions and available for purchase, with 2 percent of photo sales donated to water.org or MSF/Doctors Without Borders and 40 percent going to the “Average Joe” Photographer.

If you missed submitting your photos for this year’s exhibition, you have until Jan. 1, 2015 to enter your photos taken during 2015.

Visit averagejoephotoshow.com for more information.

Essex Garden Club Offers Scholarships To Environmental Studies Students

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

To be considered for this scholarship, applicants must be:

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

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

Letter From Paris: Marcel Duchamp at the Pompidou Center

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

Nude descending a staircase No. 2

Nude going down a staircase No. 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boat Tours

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

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

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

Public Programs

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

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

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

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

Carney Proposes Ban on Electronic Cigarette Use in Schools, on School Grounds

State Representative Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney

OLD SAYBROOK/WESTBROOK: State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) hopes to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds in his bill H.B. 5219. Current regulation is limited to the use of electronic cigarettes by anyone under the age of 18; this legislation, however, would seek to expand upon the current bans to include prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds entirely. Schools already ban tobacco-based products, so this would add e-cigarettes to that ban.

“It’s critical that our schools be free from negative influences. Countless studies show that electronic cigarette use among high school and even middle school aged kids is rapidly rising. Not to mention that many kids who would have never tried a traditional cigarette are experimenting with e-cigarettes – especially flavored ones,” Carney said. “The bad habits brought on by them lead to the increased potential for addiction to nicotine-based products in the future.”

A recent Yale study notes that one in four Connecticut high school students have tried an e-cigarette. In addition, 26 percent of students who had reported to have never tried one were interested in trying one in the future.

Carney adds, “The availability of electronic cigarettes and ease at which they can be purchased by minors is a bit unsettling to me. We are fortunate to live in an area where many schools have already taken this initiative – a statewide ban on them on school property will strengthen those initiatives while also ensuring other schools, who may not have banned them yet, will have a ban in place.”

Carney has also proposed other bills including several proposals to lower taxes and increase the overall quality of life for the residents of the 23rd District.

Ribbon-cutting Ceremony at Chester Town Hall Today for New Solar Array Cancelled

The 24-panel 6kw solar array on Chester Town Hall was awarded to the town for operating the CT Solar Challenge. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Jan. 29 at 9 a.m.

The 24-panel 6kw solar array on Chester Town Hall was awarded to the town for operating the CT Solar Challenge.        A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Jan. 29 at 9 a.m.

01/28 Update: This event has now been cancelled and will be rescheduled to a date in February.

The Chester Energy Team will host a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Chester Town Hall at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29, for the town hall’s 6-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array.  Chester community members and public officials are invited to attend. CT Solar Challenge and Aegis, along with energy efficiency professionals from the state’s Home Energy Solutions program, will be there to answer questions about residential solar.

The town hall’s photovoltaic solar array, which was installed recently, was awarded to the town for operating the CT Solar Challenge, which resulted in 20 new residential photovoltaic and thermal installations.

“The town hall’s new system marks another step on our town’s path to carbon neutrality,” said Pat Woomer, chairman of the Chester Energy Team. “We are proud to be moving forward with these significant investments in clean energy because we believe we have an obligation to be a model for Chester and other communities.”

With the Energy Team’s help, by 2018 Chester hopes to achieve its commitment to the Clean Energy Pledge signed in 2013.

More information about the Chester Energy Team is available from the First Selectman’s office (860-526-0018) or at www.ChesterCT.org.

HOPE of OS, OL Affordable Housing Merge; Host ‘Friendraiser’ at Cooley, Tonight

hope-partnership-logoHOPE Partnership of Old Saybrook is consolidating with Old Lyme Affordable Housing and, to celebrate, they are planning a “Friendraiser” on Thursday, Jan. 29, from 5:30-7 p.m. at The Cooley Gallery, 25 Lyme St., in Old Lyme.

This free event is an opportunity to enjoy fine art, food, wine and fellowship, while viewing a video about the HOPE Partnership and listening to a brief presentation. All are welcome, but an RSVP to 860.388.9513 or ltmccluskey@msn.com would be appreciated to facilitate planning.

The mission of the HOPE Partnership is to develop, educate and advocate for affordable housing options in Southern Middlesex County and surrounding shoreline towns.

As Winter Storm Juno Begins, Closings Announced

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

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

Essex Town Hall will also be closed tomorrow,

Chester Library’s Winter Book Sale Continues for Next Two Weeks

book sale 028

CHESTER – The Friends of Chester Library opeed the doors on the Winter Book Sale today, Friday, Jan. 23.
  Be sure you have a stockpile of reading for the long winter months ahead!  Drop in for a great selection of hardcover and paperback books and movies for children and adults at rock-bottom prices.
All proceeds from the sale help the Friends fund children’s programs and adult discussion groups, and purchase movies and museum passes for the library. The Book Sale is open for two weeks during regular library hours.

For more information, call 860-526-0018 or visit www.chesterct.org.

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

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

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

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

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

Essex Winter Series Presents Four Concerts in 2015

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Xmas_Eve_football_game_335KB

World War I soldiers transport an injured comrade.

World War I nurses prepare to tend the injured.

World War I nurses prepare to tend the injured.

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

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

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

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

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

View the J. Sainsbury advertisement below:

Letter: Building Chester Library at North Quarter Park is an Inspired Idea

To the Editor:

I think it’s a great idea to build at North Quarter Park. Much as I love the current library – and I do love it; it’s been home to me since I was a child – it truly is too small for our town’s current needs, let alone our future needs, and there are just too many issues with renovating the building, even if the church gave the go ahead. I won’t deny that it will be sad to move from this beautiful historic building, but a move to North Quarter Park will allow us to design something that not only gives access to and better fulfills the needs of all our residents, but puts us in the center of more activities. We need to let go of what we have always had and think of the needs of the town first. If those needs cannot be met in the current building, and I believe they cannot, then it’s time to build a new library that will meet them.

I admit, it was initially a shocking idea, moving out of our gorgeous stone building. Now that I’ve thought about it, however, and having closely followed the evolving proposals for possible redesigns of our current building, I’m excited about it. I love the idea of having the park around us. I think that more residents will use both park and library: borrow a book and go for a stroll. Let the kids burn off some energy and then enjoy a quiet hour at the library. It just feels like such a perfect place for a library.

The most exciting thing about moving to North Quarter Park is that we would have the space to offer so many more programs to area residents, and they can all be held at the library, instead of scrounging around for large enough space elsewhere in town. We can offer regular children’s programs, perhaps even partner with Parks & Rec. With the park right there, we can even do outdoor programs. The library will be what libraries should be – a central gathering place for the town.

Sincerely,

Lisa Tollefson,
Chester.

Essex Teen Receives Award for Fundraising Efforts to Support Shelter Dogs

Jenny Merrick receives her award

Jenny Merrick receives her award

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

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

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

Proposed Library at North Quarter Park: Update

CHESTER — With the New Year comes a new burst of activity regarding Chester’s proposed new library at North Quarter Park. On Tuesday, Jan. 6, the Library Trustees will request funds from the Board of Selectmen to complete necessary site evaluation work and underwrite the costs of developing schematic plans for a new library building. With the Selectmen’s approval, this request will move to the Board of Finance in mid-January and then to the public for approval. This funding would come from the current year’s budget. The goal is to have this work completed this spring.

Got questions? Denny Tovey, Chair of the Library Building Committee, will host a Question and Answer session at the library on Saturday, Jan. 10 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Drop in for a cup of coffee and share your concerns.

The Library Building Committee welcomes community input and encourages your attendance at its monthly meetings that will take place at Chester Town Hall at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month throughout 2015.

Send a message to the library at Library@chesterct.org to be put on the list for building project updates via email.

Old Lyme Church Celebrates 350 Year Heritage with Organ Concert, Feb. 8

FCCOL_historical_image_v2

Illustration by Arthur L.Keller taken from a 1906 edition of the Ladies’ Home Journal

 

Throughout 2015, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme will celebrate 350 years of history. A series of concerts and a talk on the historic landscape of Lyme Street will commemorate the rich legacy of the past and ongoing connections that link the church and the larger community.

Two events are planned to kick off the year-long celebration, one in January and the second in February, as follows:

The American Organ Society’s Children’s Choir Festival
Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 at 4 p.m.

Simon Holt: An Organ Recital
“Spanning 350 Years of Organ Music”

Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015 at 4 p.m.

Public worship began on the east side of the Connecticut River in 1664 when the Court acknowledged that there were “thymes and seasons” when inhabitants could not attend Sabbath meetings in Saybrook and ordered them to agree on a house where they would gather on the Lord’s Day. A year later, Articles of Agreement defined a “loving parting” that created a separate “plantation” on the river’s east side, which would soon be named Lyme.

The first minister, Moses Noyes, a Harvard graduate from the Boston area, settled in the growing community in 1666. Rev. Noyes helped to found the Collegiate School in Saybrook that later became Yale and was elected the twelfth Trustee of the college. Most famous among Lyme’s ministers was Rev. Stephen Johnson, who used a pen name to publish fiery letters in a New London newspaper urging colonists to resist British authority and fight for liberty. He later served as chaplain in the regiment led by Col. Samuel H. Parsons from Lyme and reached Roxbury at the end of the fight for Bunker Hill.

In colonial times, the meetinghouse was not only a place for public worship but also for town meetings and, after stocks were erected in 1685, for public punishments. Over the centuries, community disputes, family quarrels and local scandals played out within its walls. Beginning in 1719 with the creation of a separate Congregational parish in North Lyme, other churches, first Baptist and Methodist followed by Episcopal and Roman Catholic, met the religious needs of the community.

The first three meetinghouses stood on a hill overlooking Long Island Sound. After a lightning strike destroyed the third of those structures in 1815, the church was relocated to its present site closer to the village. Master builder Samuel Belcher from Ellington was hired to design a fourth meetinghouse beside the town green and the cornerstone was laid on June 10, 1816.

That stately white church with its graceful steeple and columned façade, painted repeatedly by the country’s most prominent landscape artists, burned to the ground on July 5, 1907, in what was almost certainly an act of arson. Rebuilt to replicate Belcher’s design after a community-wide, fund-raising campaign, the fifth meetinghouse, dedicated in 1910, remains today as both a vibrant center of faith and fellowship and the town’s most important historic landmark.

For more information, visit www.fccol.org or call the church office at (860)-434-8686.

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme is located at the intersection of Ferry Road and Lyme Street in Old Lyme, CT.

Three Region 4 Administrators to Swap Positions in Next School Year

REGION 4— Region 4 school boards this week unanimously approved a reassignment of three administrators that was recommended by superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy after a retirement decision by one administrator. The changes that are effective in July 2015 will  put different people in the positions of assistant superintendent and principals at Valley Regional High School and Chester Elementary School.
Levy said Friday the moves were prompted by the decision of Assistant Superintendent Joanne Beekley to retire in June after a 38-year career in  public education. Beekley, a Haddam resident, assumed the assistant superintendent position in 2012 after six years as principal at Essex Elementary School, the largest of the three district elementary schools.
Levy said after Beekley confirmed her plans at the beginning of the month, she began considering options that would allow the district to retain experienced administrators while also promoting from within the ranks of the current team. Levy said she met with the Region 4 Administrators Association, the bargaining unit for district administrators, and found support for her plan.
Under the plan, Beekley will retire on June 30, but continue working for two years as principal at Chester Elementary School, the smallest of the three elementary schools. Kristina Martineau, principal at Valley Regional High School since 2010, will assume the position of assistant superintendent. Michael Barile, a Haddam resident who has served as principal at Chester Elementary School since 2008, will become principal at Valley Regional High School.
The reassignments prompted a series of special school board meetings this week, where the boards conducted closed door interviews before voting to approve the changes recommended by the superintendent. Levy advised district staff and the first selectmen of Chester, Deep River, and Essex of the changes on Tuesday.
Levy said the reassignments will maintain continuity, while also allowing the district to move forward and give experienced administrators an opportunity to advance. She noted that each administrator will remain with the district and available to assist and mentor their successor.  “This will provide a whole circle of support for one another,” Levy said. The Chester Board of Education will begin the process of hiring a successor for Beekley in 2017.

Essex Garden Club Donates to Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

Xmas_2014_donation

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

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

Chester Library Trustees to Seek Appropriation for Design Work on New Library at North Quarter Park

CHESTER— Wasting no time after receiving a  $1 million state grant with a three-year timeline, members of the library board of trustees advised the board of selectmen Tuesday of plans to seek a town funding appropriation to prepare engineering design plans for a proposed new library at North Quarter Park.

Trustee Terry Schreiber said the group, working with a volunteer building committee, would have a specific total for the funding request at the board’s next meeting on Jan. 6. Any appropriation of town funds, which is expected to be in the range of $100,000, would also require approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting. The appropriation would pay for preparation of a site plan and schematic design plans for a new library building at the park.
Schreiber said the trustees have also met with a professional fundraiser to discuss options for a fundraising campaign for a library building project that could cost as much as $4 to $5 million to complete, with the state grant covering only a portion of the total cost. An authorization of town bonding would also be needed to pay for the project

The building committee was established by the selectmen last summer as part of an effort to complete the state grant application by an end of August deadline. The committee, with support from the selectmen, hired Lerners, Lads, & Bartells Architects, a Pawtucket, R. I. firm that has experience with library construction projects.

As part of information required for the grant application, the architects prepared very preliminary plans for a two-story 5,600-square-foot library building that would be located in the front section of the 22-acre park on the east end of Main Street. The $1 million grant was approved by the State Library Board last month

Schreiber said the trustees and building committee have made no final decisions on the size of a new library, whether it should have one or two floors, or whether a community center component should be included in the project. The trustees are planning a public information meeting on the project for Saturday Jan. 10 at the library.

The trustees had spent nearly two years considering options for a renovation and expansion of the 108 year-old existing library building on West Main Street before deciding earlier this year, with encouragement from the selectmen, to focus on the option of a building a new library at North Quarter Park.

All Five Essex Bonding Authorizations Approved in Low Turnout Referendum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chester Town Meeting Approves Accepting State Grant Funds for Main Street Project

CHESTER— Voters at a town meeting Tuesday formally authorized acceptance of two state grants totaling $783,088 that will be directed to the revised Main Street East improvement project. Despite some talk of rejecting the grant funding over opposition to a now deferred element of the project plan, voters authorized accepting the funding on a unanimous voice vote.

About 60 voters turned out for the town meeting, acting on the resolution after about 45 minutes of discussion. The vote comes two weeks after the Main Street Project Committee, and the board of selectmen, decided to scale back the project to eliminate plans for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street that had drawn opposition from some residents and at least one property owner fronting on the proposed sidewalk. There were concerns that opposition to the sidewalk, which would also require removal of two mature trees, would delay the project and lead to a possible loss of the state grant funding.

The town has received two separate Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants, one of $450,000 and the other $333,088. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the grant funds would cover most of the cost of the revised Main Street East Project that is now estimated at about $800,000. The project area is now limited to a 1,000-foot section from the intersection with School Lane west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery.The initial plan, including the north side sidewalks had a cost estimate of about $1.2 million.

Meehan said the revised plan includes five new drainage catch basins in the vicinity of the Chester Post Office, new granite curbing, new sidewalks with a four-foot width that meets Americans With Disabilities Act standards, and additional lighting for the parking area at the entrance to the historic cemetery. Improvements to the street east from School Lane to the intersection with route 154 would be limited to milling and repaving, and possibly some repairs to a decaying state wall along the Chesterfields Health Care Center property on the south side of the street.

Meehan said final details of the revised plan are now under review by the committee and project engineers, with a goal of putting the project out to bid for a start of construction in the spring. Meehan added that further improvements to the eastern section of the street would await future community decisions on whether to building a new library with other improvements to North Quarter Park on the north side of the street. The town was recently awarded a $1 million state grant for construction of a new library at the park, but it would cover only about a quarter of the total cost of a library building project.

Voters also authorized the release of capital improvement funds, including $10,000 for two new police mobile radios and $6,934 for security enhancements at Chester Elementary School. The funds for the elementary school are a town match for a $59,000 state grant awarded to Regional School District 4 for security enhancements at the five district schools. The Chester Elementary School enhancements will include new interior and exterior cameras and a locked gate that would limit access from a wooded area on the west side of the school property.

Essex Tree Committee Awarded America The Beautiful Grant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essex Tree-ATB grant 2014

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

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

CT State Senator and State Representative Join in 35 Year Celebration in Chester

CT Senator Art Linares (33rd District), and CT Representative Philip Miller (36th District), congratulated and honored Roto Frank of America, Inc. at the celebration of their 35-year presence in North America.

CT Senator Art Linares (33rd District), and CT Representative Philip Miller (36th District), congratulate Roto Frank of America, Inc. at the celebration of their 35-year presence in North America.

On Thursday, December 4th, CT Senator Art Linares (33rd District), and CT Representative Phil Miller (36th District), congratulated and honored Roto Frank of America, Inc. of Chester at the celebration of their 35-year presence in North America. They presented Roto with an Official Citation from the General Assembly during the event. The festivities also included a retrospective of the company’s growth and development by Skip Branciforte, an employee who has been with Roto Frank of America since its beginning, as well as a catered luncheon and gifts for all personnel to commemorate the occasion.

The Chester, Connecticut facility houses Roto’s administration, engineering, manufacturing and distribution departments for their North American and European hardware. Roto Frank of America and Roto Fasco Canada combined form Roto North America, with over 120 employees, and are subsidiaries of the world’s largest manufacturer of OEM window hardware, Roto Frank AG.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this significant milestone in our company’s history, and we realize that this achievement would not have been possible without all of the dedicated Roto employees, customers, partners, and shareholders who have helped us along the way with their loyalty, integrity, and commitment,” says Chris Dimou, Roto North America’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

About Roto Frank of America, Inc.: Founded in 1979, Roto Frank of America, Inc. (www.rotohardware.com) has a long tradition of providing manufacturing solutions to OEMs in the window and door industry. The company specializes in window and door hardware, such as Casement/Awning, Single/Double Hung, Tilt & Turn, Sliding/hinged Patio and Euro.

Chester Rotary Participates In the Liberty Bank “Thanksgiving Dinner Drive”

Rotary 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner Drive Check Presentation

Rotary 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner Drive Check Presentation

On November 24, 2014 Gary Torello, the chairman of Chester Rotary’s Liberty Bank Thanks Giving Dinner Drive, presented a check in the amount of $2,407.51 to Rosie Bininger, Director of Human Services for the town of Chester, CT. Torello along with other Chester Rotarians raised funds throughout the month prior to this year’s Thanksgiving holiday in order to feed a growing number of Chester families on Thanksgiving Day. Funds not used to directly provide Thanksgiving dinners to area residents will be used to help stock the Chester Food Pantry in the coming months.

The Chester Rotary was one of 33 Rotary Clubs participating in the annual Liberty Bank/Rotary Club Thanksgiving Dinner Drive. While Liberty Bank had promised matching funds in the amount of 20% of funds collected by Connecticut Rotary Clubs, a last minute surprise by Liberty Bank President and CEO, Chandler Howard, increased it to 25 cents per dollar at the conclusion of the drive. All total, Connecticut Rotary clubs collected $167,476.11 which together with The Liberty Bank Foundation’s $41,869.03 in matching funds makes for a grand total of $209,489.82.

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

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

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

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

Making the Case

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

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

Senator Linares’ Response

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

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

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

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

Letter: Chester – Library, Trees, Roosters and Guns

To the Editor:

I find Chester a very interesting place to live and would live nowhere else. Over the years I have moved away to find myself returning as soon as I can. You are free to raise roosters, shoot a gun and not have your trees cut down (without due course) and if someone tries to change these things there is a huge public outcry.

These things are important to some but what is important to me and should be important to all is that our Library is not able to serve every person. This coming year will be the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Chester has failed to address this issue within our Public Library to conform to this act in the past 25 years! Where is the outcry! We now have the opportunity to address this with the recently acquired grant from the State of the Connecticut that will provide partial funding for a new library.

Fact: The current Chester Library does not address handicap accessibility.

Fact: The Town of Chester does not own the property on which the current library stands, so investing in the current building is not a solution.

Of course there are many other valid reasons why the library needs updating and the need for a community center, but first and foremost the primary issue needs to be addressed. There is no longer the need for any discussion, it’s a simple fact. Unfortunately this means that we as a community must provide the necessary remaining funding either through private donations or tax increases, but not doing anything is no longer an option. It is our social responsibility and the time has come address it once and for all.

Sincerely,

Dean Amato
Chester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Essex Conservation Commission to Hold Off Lethal Trapping of Beavers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chester Selectmen Vote to Take No Action on Residential Target Shooting Ordinance

The board of selectmen will take no further action on the issue of a residential target shooting ordinance that was requested by a group of Wig Hill Road residents living near an undeveloped property that is used for target shooting.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday on a motion by Selectman Larry Sypher to take no further action on an issue that had drawn dozens of target shooting enthusiasts and gun rights supporters to an Oct. 21 public information meeting. The issue had been discussed further when more than two dozen residents turned out for the board’s Nov. 18 meeting.

The nine-acre Wig Hill Road property that sparked the public debate on the issue is owned by Deep River resident Warren Elliot and has been used as a private target shooting range for several years. A group of residents living near the property, raising concerns about noise and public safety, had submitted a petition last summer urging the selectmen to consider a town ordinance that would prohibit target shooting on properties in a residential zone.. The idea of an ordinance, which would have required approval from voters at a town meeting, was strongly opposed by most of the residents that turned out for the Oct. 21 information meeting.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said he concluded that any town wide ordinance regulating target shooting would be unworkable, and suggested the issue should be handled on a “case by case basis.” Meehan said he believes concerns about activity on the Wig Hill Road property could be resolved with “the cooperation of the property owner and using law enforcement when necessary.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A view of the Old Saybrook exit.

A view of the Old Saybrook exit.

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

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

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

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

Essex Elementary School Foundation Hosts Haiti Day

Second grader Lyle Pitman works on his Haitian mask.

Second grader Lyle Pitman works on his Haitian mask.

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

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

United Church of Christ Seeks Christian Education Director

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

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

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

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

Letter: Must Consider the Health Risks the Beavers Present

To the Editor:

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Jonathan James
Essex

Last Day Today for Hadlyme Hall Fine Art & Crafts Show

The 12th annual Fine Art & Craft Show at Hadlyme Public Hall will be held over Thanksgiving weekend from Friday through Sunday, Nov. 28 to 30.

The event features artist Clio Newton from Madison, Conn. Festivities will include live music and hor d’oeuvres.

With a B.F.A from Cooper Union, NYC, featured artist Clio Newton has refined her skills to become one of the most sophisticated up and coming contemporary portraiture artist. She captures true to life imagery through her chosen mediums of oil and charcoal.

In 2012 she won the Elizabeth Greenshield’s Fellowship Award. She has studied locally at the Lyme Art Academy under Prof. Dunlap and Jerry Weiss and has studied at Florence Academy of Fine Arts in Italy on a Merit scholarship.

She has been commissioned by Yale University for an oil portrait of St. Anthony Hall of Presidents and by Cooper Union for a series of twelve drawings of the institution’s past presidents for a permanent instillation in their new academic building. Clio has also been featured by the Village Voice for her piece, “Cooper Union’s Giant Breast retires the Country”. Clio is available for commissioned pieces.

at_the_showAdmission for Saturday and Sunday is free. The show is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

A variety of artists — many local — will be exhibiting mixed media, holiday home décor, photography, oil and watercolor paintings, stoneware, wood carvings, jewelry, pottery, and sculpture.

All the artists have been asked to prepare “Small Wonders” in order to be able to offer some pieces that are affordable for all and suitable for holiday gift lists.

A full listing of the artists exhibiting is given below:

NAME Style
Laurie Gelston Alt Ceramic sculpture, ocarinas, jewlery, painitngs
Lesley Braren Oils, watercolors, monotypes
Skip Broom Photographs
Ashby Carlisle Ceramic bowls, plates, and functional containers
Claudia Cormier Dried flowers, shell wreaths, and arrangements, pastels
David Courant All exotic wood cheese boards, knives, spoons, utensils
Jeff Demarest Wood sculptured birds -folk art, impressionistic, ultra realism
Linda Elgart Enhanced giclees and original rooster oils
Marc Evankow Stone birdbaths and bowls
Marcy Furphy Handmade goat’s milk soap, lip balm, lotion sticks, soy candles
Sue Gallagher Handmade jewlery using fine silver, gem stones, artisan lampwork, found objects
Charlotte Gelston Hand knit shawls, throws, Afghan and sweaters in Aran style
Maureen Girard Mixed media
Matthew Goldman Art, prints,books and cards
Paula Goldman Face creams, saves, teas, sachets, jam
Hadlyme Hall Garden Club Pecans
Bud Haines Realistic handcarved and painted wild fowl
Bonnie LeMay Oils, watercolors, cards, jewerly
Jill Beecher Matthew Palette knife oil paintings
Paul Maulucci Wooden bowls and art forms from found wood
Thomas McLean Oil paintings
Clio Newton Oils on wood panels, charcoal drawings
Juliet Rutigliano Eclectic jewerly for the classically modern
Maureen Tarbox Oils, watercolors, notecards, minature oils
Carol Watson Equine and abstract mixed media and collage pieces, photo notecards feather artwork, acrylic
Christopher Zhang Oils

For further information, click here.

Chester Committee Drops Plan for Main Street North Side Sidewalk as Town is Awarded $1 Million Grant for Library Project

CHESTER— In an abrupt change of plans, the Main Street Project Committee voted Tuesday to drop plans for a continuous north side sidewalk as part of the Main Street East reconstruction project. The decision came as town officials learned Monday that Chester has been awarded a $1 million state grant for construction of a new library at North Quarter Park, the 22-acre town park that would have been served by the proposed north side sidewalk.

The Main Street Project Committee, working with engineers Kent & Frost Associates of Mystic, last March recommended the continuous north side sidewalk as part of the Main Street East plan to reconstruct 1,800 feet of Main Street from the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Route 154) west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. The plan drew a mixed response at an April 22 public information meeting, with some residents objecting to removal of two mature maple trees along the section of street, while others agreed a sidewalk was necessary, particularly if the town pursues construction of a new library at North Quarter Park.

The plan also drew strong objections from Jeff and Comer Gates, property owners at 137 Main Street, who contended the sidewalk would be too close to the front of their house. The board of selectmen later endorsed the plan with the north side sidewalk, and directed engineers to prepare design plans that included it. Officials were hoping to put the project out to bid this winter.

But earlier this fall, selectmen learned the total cost of the project would be about $1.3 million, exceeding the approximately $1,154,000 in available funding that included  $780,000 in state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants, and $374,000 in set aside town capital funds. Engineers were reviewing the plans for possible cost savings as the board of selectmen last week scheduled a Dec. 9 town meeting to vote on authorizing a release of the $374,000 in set aside town funds for the project. The Gates’s continued to oppose the plan, posting a large sign on the front of their property calling for removal of the continuous north side sidewalk to save money.The board of finance at a Nov. 20 meeting expressed concerns about the approximate $150,000 funding gap, and tabled a any decision on authorizing release of the town funds.

As the Main Street Project Committee convened Tuesday evening, Chairman Michael Joplin announced that he would recommend scaling back the project to include only the area from the intersection with School Lane west to the parking area at the entrance to Laurel Hill Cemetery, deferring any work east of School Lane including a continuous north side sidewalk. Joplin said the reluctance of the finance board top approve release of the town funding indicated the plan could face opposition, and possible rejection, by voters at the Dec. 9 town meeting. He said a town meeting defeat could jeopardize the state grant funding that is needed for the project.

Other committee members, and First Selectman Edmund Meehan, reluctantly agreed. Meehan said the plans for a continuous north side sidewalk could be “pulled off the shelf,” and revisited when the town is closer to completing final plans for a new library at North Quarter Park. The committee later voted to direct project engineers to revise the plans to focus on the segment west of School Lane, along with some limited, and possibly temporary, improvements to roadway from School Lane east to Route 154.

Meehan said Wednesday the board of selectmen would discuss the Main Street East Project, and the proposed new library, further at its Dec. 2 meeting. The selectmen over the summer appointed a library building committee that has hired a Pawtucket, R.I. firm, Lerner, Lads & Bartells, to prepare preliminary plans for a new 5,600-square-foot library on the front section of North Quarter Park.

Meehan said the terms of the $1 million grant require the town to approve full funding for a library project within three years. He said the grant is only expected to cover about a quarter of the total cost for a new library, with an authorization of town bonding funds and private fundraising expected to be needed for the plan for a new library to move forward.

Chester Main Street Bridge Reconstruction Expected to Begin 2016

CHESTER— State Department of Transportation officials reported Monday that a $3 million reconstruction of the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook is expected to begin in early 2016, with the bridge in the downtown village expected to be closed to vehicular traffic from mid-January to mid-May 2016. About 30 residents turned out at the Chester Meeting House Monday for a public information meeting on a project that is entirely funded by the state.

Project managers Andrew Fesenmeyer and David Stahnke presented the latest plans for replacement of the 1921 bridge that carries up to 3,600 vehicles per day. Town officials and residents were supportive of the project, which is expected to set the stage for completion of the final phase of a town sponsored Main Street improvement project that would begin after the new bridge is completed.

But DOT officials cautioned that any delays in securing permits for the project could delay a start of construction to 2017. Fesenmeyer said the project requires permits from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said the permits must be approved by May to allow the project to be put out to bid for a start of construction late next year that would precede the five month bridge closing in 2016. First Selectman Edmund Meehan, along with several residents, said they want to be notified as soon as possible if the bridge closing is to be delayed until January 2017.

DOT has already accepted a construction schedule requested by the town that would limit any closing of the road and bridge to the winter and spring months to reduce disruption for Main Street businesses and annual events. Under the planned schedule, the bridge and road would reopen no later than May 22, 2016. The plan calls for work to be done between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m,. six days per week, with no night work.

The new bridge would be slightly longer and wider than the existing bridge, with a concrete deck and a roadway width of 37-feet. Plans call for preserving the existing stone abutments while reinforcing the abutments with concrete. There would also be improvements to a small section of Main Street and West Main Street (Route 148) in the vicinity of the bridge, including new sidewalk, granite curbing, a new crosswalk, added street trees, and an improved and wider turning radius from Route 148 on to Main Street.

Glastonbury Firm Buys Assets of Chester Insurance Business

Smith Brothers Insurance, in Glastonbury, announced this week it has bought the assets of Archambault Insurance, Inc. and its related parties, of Chester, Connecticut. Archambault is a multi-generational insurance agency that has insured Connecticut families and businesses for over 100 years. Archambault Insurance will remain in Chester with its current staff.

“Ray and Tom Archambault have a terrific reputation for building long-term relationships with businesses and families in the Chester area, and going the extra mile to provide excellent service for their clients; which matches our way of doing business at Smith Brothers. Chester is a great community and there is a lot we can offer their clients”, stated Joe B. Smith, President & CEO of Smith Brothers.

Ray and Tom Archambault will continue to manage the Chester office and will work with Smith Brothers to expand their service offerings to their clients. “We have already began introducing the additional value that Smith Brothers can bring to our clients. We are excited to continue our tradition in Chester and look forward to working with the people at Smith Brothers” stated Ray Archambault. Tom Archambault added, “the culture at Smith Brothers fits our culture very well, and that was very important to Ray and I as well as our team”.

About Smith Brothers Insurance, LLC

Smith Brothers is one of the largest independently operated insurance and financial service organizations in New England.

For over 40 years their core values remain consistent: develop, nurture and maintain trust and respect with all stakeholders: clients, suppliers, employees, shareholders, and community. Smith Brothers’ guiding principles are to build strong relationships with   well-regarded carriers and provide clients with a level of service higher than industry standards, so clients know that they have an advocate, and their assets are protected.

Smith Brothers provides insurance, surety, risk management, employee benefits, and financial services to individuals and businesses. Smith Brothers is a member of Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, one of the most respected independent agency affiliations.

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

Friends Essex Library October 2014

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

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

Gun Rights Supporters Voice Opposition to Requested Chester Shooting Ordinance

CHESTER— Gun enthusiasts packed the Chester Meeting House Tuesday to express opposition to a requested municipal ordinance that would prohibit target shooting and discharge of a firearm in residential neighborhoods.

But a smaller group of residents expressed support for an ordinance, or some other restrictions, that would regulate the shooting that is frequently occurring on a nine-acre Wig Hill Road parcel that is owned by a Deep River resident. More than 150 residents, including some non-residents, turned out for a public information meeting that was called by the board of selectmen in response to a petition submitted in August by more than a dozen residents living near the Wig Hill Road property. The board of selectmen has taken no position on the requested ordinance.

The undeveloped parcel, owned by Deep River resident Warren Elliot, contains a fixed trap target shoot area that neighbors contend is a heavily used rifle range. John Ratchford, whose 85 Wig Hill Road property abuts the Elliot parcel, said an ordinance would enhance public safety by clarifying what type of shooting is allowed in a residential neighborhood. His wife, Sally, said the frequent sound of gunfire from large rifles has driven her indoors on sunny days.  Marzena Adams said she is concerned for the safety of visitors and children in the neighborhood, noting “it only takes one bullet.” Cynthia Monahan said she is “all for guns but I’m not for shooting in may back yard.”

Other residents, including many gun owners and some who shoot on the Elliott property, said any town ordinance would be unnecessary and could not be tailored to the topographical conditions of Chester. Some said target shooting should be expected in a rural town like Chester, and one resident compared the request for a shooting ordinance to a  controversial 2012 request from one resident for a zoning regulation to prohibit hens and roosters in residential areas.

Jason LaMark, of 62-1 Wig Hill Road, said a small hill separates the shooting area from any nearby homes that he contends are nearly 500 feet away. LaMark said existing state laws already prohibit reckless discharge of a firearms, and noted conditions on the Eilliot property have been monitored by police. He added that no rural towns in Connecticut have a local shooting ordinance.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan, who has also inspected the Elliot property, said  he believes the shooting “is being conducted in a safe way,”  based on differences in elevation and distance to nearby homes. Meehan said the board would discuss the shooting issue further at a future meeting, while also noting that any possible ordinance would require approval from voters at a town meeting.

Based on the volume of applause for speakers on both side of the issue at Tuesday’s meeting, a shooting ordinance would be unlikely to win voter approval at a town meeting. But resident Joe Cohen, speaking at a selectmen’s meeting that followed the public information meeting, said the shooting activity on Wig Hill Road is a land use issue. Cohen said selectmen should have investigated regulating the activity through that avenue before calling an information meeting on an ordinance.