February 24, 2017

Join the ‘Common Good Gardens’ to Discover the Benefits of Volunteering; Orientation Meeting, Mar. 11

OLD SAYBROOK — Each year, the Common Good Gardens in Old Saybrook raise nearly four tons of fresh vegetables and fruit, and then then donates them to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries  And they do it entirely with volunteers – volunteers who have kept it going and improved it for 15 years.

You’re probably thinking, “How unselfish … doing all that work to benefit other people,” and they are for sure.  But, according to new research, volunteers are also on the receiving end of some amazing benefits; and most likely, they don’t even know it.  They just know that they feel better when they leave the garden.

Never too young … all ages can volunteer at the Common Good Garden.

Solid data on the benefits of volunteering has appeared in a variety of current publications, ranging from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health Letters, to a review from the Corporation for National & Community Service, which states,

On average, volunteering 40 to 100 hours per year increases personal satisfaction and happiness, decreases depression, improves functional capacity; and results in fewer illnesses and a longer life span.

Similar articles from the Huffington Post, Atlantic Monthly as well as research released by Johns Hopkins, The London School of Economics and University of Exeter Medical School have all told a similar story.

Greatest Gains for Seniors

Volunteering has health benefits — especially for seniors!

While there are potential gains to be had for high-schoolers and middle-aged persons, the greatest gains related to volunteering are for those 65 and older.  Some researchers suggest this greater gain for seniors may be because they start out lower before volunteering. Their health may not be as good as that of younger people or they may have lower self-esteem and more social isolation due to retirement.  Even if that proves true, starting to volunteer at an earlier adult stage seems to correlate with fewer health issues later in life.

Regarding functional capacity, the Hopkins study showed improved brain function associated with activities that get you moving and thinking at the same time.  As for happiness, though some of the happiness data is based on self-reporting alone, other data show hormone levels and brain scan activity consistent with physiologic changes associated with happiness.

Studies in UK

In addition to the improvements shown above, a large review of nearly 25,000 articles in the UK notes increased coping ability, better parenting skills and richer personal relationships.

Impact on Chronic Illness and Longevity

Several studies examined in particular the impact for those with chronic illness. They found that these volunteers reported decreased pain and depression. People with a prior heart attack also had lower incidences of depression after volunteering.

A United Health Group survey showed these striking figures:

  • 25% reported volunteering helped them live better with chronic illness
  • 76% reported feeling healthier
  • 78% reported lowered stress levels
  • 94% reported improved mood
  • 96% reported an enriched sense of purpose

Finally U.S. census data confirms that those states with high volunteer rates show greater longevity and lower rates of heart disease.

Come Join the Common Good Gardens

There’s always room for an extra pair of hands …

Come join us at the Common Good Gardens.  Whatever your age, level of health, or skill set, there’s a way for you to contribute while benefiting from volunteering.

Yes, gardeners are needed to plant, weed and harvest, and beginners are always welcome. But also needed are people with computer skills, carpentry skills, writing and speaking skills;   people who can drive a car to deliver produce; leaders to organize small groups and work with public schools; people who love nature or are excited about nutrition, and folk who want to help experiment with natural ways to deter pests or make soil richer.

Common Good Gardens by the numbers

  • 14: Number of years garden has been in existence (2002-2016)
  • July 7, 2011: Date the garden incorporated and received non-profit 501(c)3  status
  • 10: Number of Board members
  • 220,000: Total pounds of produce grown, collected and delivered 2004-2016 through garden volunteer efforts
  • 50: Number of core active volunteers (gardeners, drivers, other)
  • 3,000: Number of volunteer hours donated annually
  • 1/2 acre: Size of garden located at rear of Grace Episcopal Church, 336 Main Street, Old Saybrook
  • 22: Number of different varieties of fruits and vegetablesgrown at the garden during 2016
  • 6,900: Pounds of produce grown at the garden in 2016 season
  • $17,200: Dollar value of produce grown at the garden in 2016 season
  • 7: Number of farm stands that donate excess produce to garden for distribution to pantries in 2013.

Many hands make light work at the Common Good Gardens.

Current volunteers at the Common Good Gardens encourage you to get involved so that together, a healthy future for the garden, ourselves, and our shoreline community can be created.

If interested, contact Common Good Gardens at PO Box 1224, Old Saybrook, CT 06475 or call Barbara Standke at 860-575-8645 with questions, or to sign up for the annual new volunteer orientation on March 11.

Editor’s Note: The authors of this piece, Kate Wessling and Barbara Standke, are respectively Common Good Gardens President and Common Good Gardens Volunteer Coordinator.

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All About Invasives: Essex Land Trust Hosts Educating Event Tonight at Library

The bush honeysuckle (Lonicera) is a widespread, non-native, invasive plant in Connecticut.

ESSEX — Do you know what plants are growing in your yard?

Chances are very good that along with your favorite flowers and shrubs, there are non-native invasives on your property. Learn about invasive plant species you’re likely to encounter in and around your home and the lower Connecticut River valley at, “Invasive Species:  Identification, Control and Alternatives,” at Essex Library, Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m.  This event is hosted by the Essex Land Trust.

David Gumbart, Director of Land Management for The Nature Conservancy, will discuss the value of native plants and share experiences in identification and control of invasive plants, including several that may be unfamiliar to the general public. Gumbart is also a member of the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group.

Non-native invasives are aggressive exotic plants introduced intentionally for their ornamental value, or accidentally by hitchhiking with people or products. They thrive in our growing conditions, and with no natural enemies have nothing to check their rapid spread. The environmental costs of invasives are great – they crowd out native vegetation and reduce biological diversity, can change how entire ecosystems function, and pose a threat to endangered species.

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Siegrist Sworn in, Prepares for First Term as State Representative

State Representative Bob Siegrist takes the oath of office at the swearing-in ceremony held in Hartford, Jan 4, 2017.

AREAWIDE — State Representative Bob Siegrist (R-36th) was sworn in on Wednesday, Jan. 4, to represent the 36th General Assembly District, which includes the communities of Chester, Deep River, Haddam and Essex.

Siegrist states he is committed to reducing the expense of government and wants to ensure that Connecticut responsibly balances its checkbook.

“I am grateful to the wonderful people of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam for their support. It is truly an honor to represent the 36th District in Hartford, and I pledge that I will do so with energy, respect and hard work. We are blessed to live in such a picturesque community in the lower Connecticut River Valley. I vow to always keep an open mind and open door for all residents of our beautiful towns,” added Siegrist.

Rep. Siegrist took the oath of office and was sworn in by Secretary of State Denise Merrill on Wednesday afternoon in the State House Chamber. He then participated in a Joint Convention of both the House of Representatives and Senate as Gov. Dannel Malloy addressed lawmakers about the 2017 Session.

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides appointed Siegrist to serve on the Insurance, Veterans’ Affairs and Public Safety Committees for the 2017 legislative session.

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More Than Eight Inches of Snow Falls in Local Area

A view of the snowfall in Essex taken yesterday, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 by Jerome Wilson.

AREAWIDE — On Friday, Mother Nature gave us a foretaste of her plans for the weekend.  A scant couple of inches fell over the Tri-Town area, but sufficient to turn everything white and offer some wonderful winter photography opportunities, as the beautiful photo above demonstrates.

View of today’s snow-covered landscape in Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

Yesterday (Saturday, Jan. 7) the weather was a different story.  Winter Storm Helena arrived bringing with her steadily falling snow from around 10 a.m.  and when she was done, more than eight inches had settled, causing slippery conditions and slow-moving traffic.

It is light, fluffy snow so when you step outside to shovel, it should not be too back-breaking … but nevertheless, please take care!

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‘The Chester Show’ at Maple & Main Benefits Town’s Emergency Fuel Fund, on View Through Jan. 22

‘Yellow Chester Barn’ by Rachel Carson of Deep River is one of the signature paintings of ‘The Chester Show.’

CHESTER — ‘The Chester Show,’ an exhibition devoted to paintings of Chester, is currently on view at Maple and Main Gallery through Sunday, Jan. 22. The show, depicting paintings of the downtown as well as creeks, barns, the riverfront and houses, is in the Stone Gallery.

A portion of all the sales will be given to Chester’s Emergency Fuel Fund, which is dependent on donations and which helps cover heating costs for residents who are unable to meet their fuel bills.

 

Maple and Main Gallery, at One Maple Street, is open Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, visit mapleandmaingallery.com; 860-526-6065; visit the gallery on Facebook and Instagram.

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Letter to the Editor: Thanks to Many From Literacy Volunteers & Retiring LVVS Executive Director

To the Editor:

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) celebrates a successful year with its Holiday Social each year. During the course of the festivities the organization recognizes one volunteer who, through their efforts embodies the values of the agency and who has made an impact on the success of the organization each year. This year LVVS recognized Barbara Erni of Deep River as its “Unsung Hero.”

We are especially grateful to Alex Foulkes and Wilson Castaneda of the Penny Lane Pub for hosting the event, their generosity in providing the facilities, food and servers and for making our guests feel at home for the holidays.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Steffen who again provided a bounty of delicious desserts along with her helper Paula Ferrara. Special gratitude to Joanne Argersinger, the LVVS Board of Directors, our tutors and all those who made the evening special and who helped celebrate my upcoming retirement. I am so grateful and feel privileged to have been the recipient of their guidance, help and good wishes over the years. I am also humbled by their heartfelt gift and recognition.   

Finally, thanks to State Representative Devin Carney, and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna for taking their time out to share the evening with us. And special thanks to State Senators Art Linares and Paul Formica and to the Connecticut Legislature for their recognition and steadfast support for the cause of literacy.   

John J. Ferrara

Editor’s Note: The author is the Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc.

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Season’s Greetings to All Our Readers


Merry Christmas to all our readers! We hope you enjoy a wonderful day with friends and family.

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Acton Library Hosts Two Movie Series, See “Constitution USA,” Feb. 24

OLD SAYBROOK  — The Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook will be hosting two film series on Fridays beginning this January and running through May of 2017 using new film projection equipment and a new 12 ft. movie screen in the Grady Thomas Room.  All are welcome to both series. Admission is free.

“Explore the World Through Arts and Adventure” will run second Fridays at 1 p.m. and will include films that explore other countries and cultures through various art forms such as dance and music, and through adventure. Details of the series are as follows:

Jan. 13: An American in Paris
Feb. 10: Seven Years in Tibet
March 10: White Nights
April 7: Out of Africa (first Friday due to April 14th closing)
May 12: to be a announced on the APL website and in the library.

“The School Series” will run fourth Fridays also at 1 p.m. and will include artistically and historically educational films. Local school groups will be invited to join for these films at Acton. Details of the series are as follows:

Jan. 27: Fantasia
Feb. 24: Constitution USA with Peter Sagal
March 24: O. Henry’s Full House
April 28: Selma
May 26: to be announced on the APL website and in the library.

For more information, call The Acton Library at 860-395-3184, or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10am – 8:00pm, Friday and Saturday 9am – 5pm or visit on-line at www.actonlibrary.org .

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Deep River Public Library Hosts Calligraphy Class, Feb. 22

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Public Library will be hosting a calligraphy class on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m.

Calligraphy is the art of writing beautifully. Come learn how to draw letters and transform your writing into a work of art. Calligraphy is a great way to add flair to cards, personal correspondence and special notes.  The way you hold your pen and touch it to paper makes each alphabet uniquely your own.

In this fun class you will learn the technique for one of the calligraphic alphabets and become familiar with the instruments of calligraphy including felt-tip calligraphy pens, template sheets and calligraphy paper.  You will leave knowing the fundamentals of calligraphy and you will have a beautiful interpretation of your name by your own hand.

Ned Farrell will be instructing the course.  He is the co-owner of the Bee Company of Clinton, Conn. and has been doing calligraphy for years.  There is a $5 fee for supplies, including a pen, template and calligraphy paper, which will be yours to keep.

To register, call the library at 860-526-6039 or visit the library’s Sign Up Genius at http://www.signupgenius.com/go/409044fabaf29a6fa7-learn1.

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SECoast, CT Trust for Historic Preservation Request 60-Day Extension to NRA Waiting Period

We have just received the text of a letter sent by SECoast and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation to the Federal Railroad Administration requesting an extension of the 30-day waiting period to 60 days. It reads as follows::

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and SECoast, our regional partner on high-speed rail planning issues, are writing to ask for your assistance to extend the current 30-day waiting period for the NEC Future Final Environmental Impact Statement by 60 days. Given the enormous size of the planning document, its release just one week before end-of-year holidays and the extreme concern for the preferred alternative route now expressed in communities throughout Connecticut (and additionally Rhode Island) we believe there is a strong argument that such an extension is in the public interest.

The current deadline of January 31, 2016 marks the end of the Tier 1 planning process for the Northeast Corridor (NEC), an early but critical step in the overall implementation of a master plan for the corridor. Finalization of this document will commit the plan to a single corridor through Connecticut rather than from the three corridors under study in the DEIS. Finalization of this document will replace the corridor’s current master plan, dating to 1978,  for rail travel and investment along the Northeast Corridor with a new Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (P-EIS) with a 25-year horizon of 2040.

To be clear, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this right. Both the public and the NEC Future plan deserve the benefit of a thorough final public review and opportunity to comment. We believe an extended comment period would also offer the best opportunity to avoid unnecessary legal action by providing the Federal Railroad Administration an opportunity to correct evident errors in the planning process and resulting NEC Future plan.

Such an extension is both a commonsense and commonplace. Indeed, a similar extension was granted to review much less extensive plans for the “All Aboard Florida” high speed rail planning initiative in Florida. The Federal Railroad Administration has enjoyed flexible deadlines throughout the planning process, most recently missing an intended late summer/early fall release date of the Preferred Alternative and FEIS documentation. Surely, the people of Connecticut deserve an equivalent opportunity to provide informed and meaningful comment before this critical document is finalized.

We appreciate, in advance, your continuing efforts to advocate for communities in the state of Connecticut and for our joint efforts to develop rail-travel along the Northeast Corridor in a way that recognizes and respects the unique historical, cultural and environmental attributes of Connecticut communities.

More to come.

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FRA Endorses High Speed Rail Route Through Old Lyme, But With a Tunnel; Courtney, Malloy, Blumenthal, Murphy Express Strong Opposition to Plan

AREAWIDE — The Federal Rail Authority (FRA) today released the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Final EIS) for NEC FUTURE and it is now available for download at www.necfuture.com.

The preferred route includes the controversial Old Saybrook to Kenyon, R.I., by-pass which runs through Old Lyme, and a tunnel in the same area.

Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released the following statement after the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released their Tier 1 final environmental impact statement for the Northeast Corridors FUTURE plan:

“The FRA’s report released today continues to ignore strong and consistent concerns expressed by the State of Connecticut and local citizens about the eastern shoreline realignment plans. We specifically asked FRA to limit the NEC Future Tier 1 EIS to identify a service and investment strategy to achieve state-of- good repair and maximize the capacity, frequency and speed of existing rail lines.

By continuing to include plans to bypass the current route, the FRA has enflamed impacted communities stretching from Fairfield County to Stonington where the proposed alignment will eviscerate neighborhoods, historic landmarks, and real estate values.

As the FRA itself has confirmed, this new proposed alignment cannot ultimately receive the permits, rights of way and other critical elements without the support and approval of the State of Connecticut.

To this end, we will continue to do all we can to remove this bypass from the final FRA plan in order to provide our communities with the certainty they deserve. Should the FRA continue in its pursuit of its proposed alignment, we will work to ensure that Connecticut exercises every tool at its disposal at the state and federal levels to stop any effort to move forward with this misguided plan.”

A press conference will be held at 2 p.m. this afternoon at which Rep. Joe Courtney, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker, and Old Lyme First Seletwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder will discuss the announcement by the FRA.

Greg Stroud, Executive Director of SECoast.org, has released the following statement:

“We have been working full-time on this issue since January, and we have yet to find a single resident, local, state or federal representative, or group, actively supporting the idea of a tunnel under the Connecticut river and Old Lyme.

Why? Even if a tunnel could better preserve the immediate historic downtown of Old Lyme,  it would no doubt be much worse for the environment, and would simply shift the historic and economic impacts onto the communities to the east, whether East Lyme, New London, Mystic, Stonington or Westerly. We find that unacceptable.

A tunnel does nothing to remedy the impacts to the broader region. And as was obvious at the August 31 meeting in Old Lyme, the entire region really is adamantly opposed to the Kenyon to Old Saybrook bypass. Every single town official from Old Saybrook to Westerly, Rhode Island is on record opposing the plan. That doesn’t happen very often.

At some point, you would hope that the federal government would realize this isn’t NIMBY, this is roughly 1/4 of a state, for good reason, refusing to bear the burdens of plan, without the benefits (if there are any to speak of). In the case of Old Lyme, this is a question of survival, and I believe that Mayor Passero in New London, feels almost as strongly.

On an environmental level, a tunnel would very likely require extensive “dewatering” given the routing, the extensive marshes, the lack of bedrock, and a local geology characterized by glacial drift.  In a community of wells, surrounded by marshes, at the mouth of the Connecticut river — one of the only major rivers in the hemisphere lacking an industrialized mouth and port — we believe a tunnel is a nonstarter.

And frankly, given past history, and private discussions with transportation officials, I’d go further and question the seriousness of the offer. When pressed in public and by the press, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has repeatedly refused to rule out a return to a much-less-expensive bridge option through Old Lyme.

If you recall, the FRA was forced to issue three or so clarifications and retractions when questioned by the press on this issue just after the meeting on August 31 —
ctmirror.org/2016/08/31/federal-rail-official-no-elevated-track-in-old-lyme-spokesman-backpedals/

The FRA still hasn’t responded to straightforward Freedom of Information requests filed on April 4, 2016. The FRA claims that these requests are filled on a “first come first served” basis, and refuses to explain the delay. That’s no way to win support in the region for a tunnel, or any other plan.”

Don Stacom of The Hartford Courant published a piece titled, “Railroad Officials Full Speed Ahead on Controversial New Amtrak Northeast Corridor Bypass“a short time ago, in which he states, “Old Lyme is the center of opposition: Critics fear hulking, industrial-looking elevated tracks ruining the New England charm of their village. Museums, schools, environmentalists and historic preservationists all denounced the idea this summer.”

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‘Advent in Essex’ Continues Sunday with ‘Blue Christmas Community Service’ at Congregational Church

Advent in Essex celebrations take place at the churches in the Essex Villages, including The First Congregational Church in Essex, UCC.

Advent in Essex celebrations take place at the churches in the Essex Villages, including The First Congregational Church in Essex, UCC.

ESSEX — The churches of the Essex Villages have jointly coordinated some special celebrations  throughout the Advent season  (Nov. 27 – Dec. 18) at their respective houses of worship.

Every Tuesday in Advent, a Potluck Dinner and Compline (Night Prayers) will take place at Trinity Lutheran Church in Centerbrook at 6:15 p.m. Bring a dish and come for a time of conversation, followed by a prayer service at 7 p.m.

On Dec. 18, at 3:30 p.m., The First Congregational Church in Essex, UCC hosts a “Blue Christmas Community Service” of grieving, praying and healing for all who are missing loved ones during the holiday season.

All programs are free, with the exception of the Christmas Soiree.

For more information, visit www.adventinessex.org.

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Haynes Materials is Site for State Police Annual Toy Drive, Collection Runs Through Dec. 22

toy-drive-imageDEEP RIVER — Haynes Materials, located at 24 Woodbury Rd., Deep River (in cooperation with the Deep River Resident State Troopers) is collecting new and unwrapped toys as part of the Connecticut State Police Annual Toy Drive benefiting local children in need.

During this holiday season, donations of new and unwrapped toys, stuffed animals, games and books for children of all ages may be dropped off at Haynes Materials Deep River Quarry.

Donations for teens are especially needed and items such as Word search, crossword or Sudoku puzzle books are suggested as well as Head phones or ear buds, journals, and craft kits are highly recommended as well as Gift Cards in small denominations ($5 to $10).

“We are very excited to participate as a collection center for this worthy cause” said Patrick Haynes, VP of Haynes Materials, Collection boxes are conveniently set up and we are here to help.”

In addition, for every toy donated, Haynes Group will be donating $2 to the local food bank to ensure they have added funds during this holiday season.  “We are fortunate to be able to give back to the community that has supported us all these years” said Tom Haynes, President.  “The local food bank provides such a wonderful service and we want to support them in their efforts.”

The toy drive will run daily right up until Dec. 22 to ensure plenty of time for items to be distributed before the holiday weekend.  For your convenience Haynes Materials is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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She’s Back! Nicole Logan is Here Again With Another ‘Letter From Paris’

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

We are absolutely delighted to welcome back Nicole Prévost Logan and her Letter From Paris column!  Nicole stayed longer than usual in Essex this year in order to see the outcome of the election and celebrate Thanksgiving.  She has now returned to Paris and here is her first column of the 2016-17 series.  We know this will please the many readers who have been asking about Nicole’s welfare and (perhaps even more intensely) the future of her column — it also pleases us greatly. Welcome back, Nicole!

In the Wake of Election Surprises Everywhere, Where is France’s 2016-17 ‘Saison’ Headed?

Debates, elections, referendums, reshuffling of governments- the political landscape of the European Union (EU) is shifting.  It would be a mistake however to place the events under the simplistic label of “populism,” a trend following the startling votes supporting both Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.  It is more accurate to describe the ongoing turbulence in the EU as a stand taken by its members toward the future of Europe.

Au revoir, Francois

Au revoir, Francois Hollande

On Dec. 1, the decision of president Francois Hollande not to run again in next May elections, caught everyone in France by surprise.  After many months of tergiversation, Hollande, with the abysmal 7.5 percent score in the polls, made the logical — but still wrenching — announcement during an unprepared TV news hour.

It was an unprecedented move in the fifth Republic, creating , a “lame duck” a la française situation for the next five months.  What a contrast with May 2012, when, on Bastille Square, I had watched the euphoria of the population when Hollande was elected!  The new president made a point of arriving by train instead of flying, like an ordinary citizen.  A delirious crowd was celebrating the end of eight years of Nicolas Sarkozy’s rule.

What went wrong with this “ordinary” president?

Specialists pondered over the assessment of his policies.  Many of his reforms, particularly to boost the economy like  the CICE (Credit d’Impot de Croissance et d’Emploi) or the Macron law, will survive him.   His mandate was highlighted by the signing of the Paris accords on climate change, the armed forces deployment against Islamist radicals on  the African continent, and the firm measures taken to protect the country from terrorist attacks.

But Hollande’s  political management was a disaster, commented Thierry Pech, director of the Terra Nova foundation.  Although intelligent and highly educated, the president lacked a visionary plan and the ability to give a direction to his programs.  He wanted to carry out reforms but never explained them in advance.

The battle to pass the el Khomry labor law was emblematic of his shortcomings.  His objectives were sound:- facilitate the laying off of workers, reject the rigid 35 hours per week Socialist taboo, and relax the rules concerning work on evenings and Sundays.  Unfortunately he presented the law proposal as a done deal and resorted to “49-3” or executive orders, which irritated the deputies in the National Assembly.  He frequently kowtowed to the anger of the street.  When the el Khomry law was finally voted on, it had been gutted of much of its content.  The scourge of high unemployment remained throughout  his mandate.

The campaign toward the May elections started with the primaries of the right and center parties.  Francois Fillon was catapulted into the lead of Les Republicains (LR) with 66 percent of the votes versus 23 percent for Alain Juppe who had been expected to win.  Nicolas Sarkozy , coming in third position, was eliminated.

Bienvenue, Francois Fillon

Bienvenue, Francois Fillon

Fillon, several times a minister and prime minister under Sarkozy, conducted a discreet but intensive campaign for three years, using social networks rather that the traditional media.  His program is quite conservative: reduce the number of civil servants by 500,000, decrease unemployment allowances, complement the social security benefits by increasing the share of private health insurance.  He advocates a free market economy.  In foreign policy, he has a pragmatic attitude to relations with Putin, wants a strong Europe and to control the flow of migrants.  By preempting part of the program of Marine Le Pen of the far right Front National , he may be in a good position to beat her.

Fillon’s victory represented only 40 percent of the total electorate, so there is still plenty of ground to cover. Next will come the Socialist primaries.

Emmanuel Macron, former minister of the economy in the cabinet of Manuel Valls, is running as an independent.  Only 38, he is a brilliant  young man who had had a versatile career, including one year with the Rothschild investment bank.  On Dec. 9, the boisterous gathering of 16,000 supporters marked the start of the movement he is calling, “En marche,” under which he promises to modernize the labor market in order to create jobs and eliminate the old divide between right and left.

The battle has just began.

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

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

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All Welcome at Christmas Eve Service at Ivoryton Congregational Church

IVORYTON — All are invited to join with the Ivoryton Congregational Church at 57 Main St., Ivoryton,
in its celebration of Christmas Eve Candlelight and Carols on Saturday, Dec. 24, at 5 p.m.

Pastor John Van Epps will lead the celebration.

The Meditation will be “Poetry of Christmas” and the organist will be Donna Stamm.

Special Music will be provided by Cooper Kendall, tenor soloist, who will sing “O Holy Night”

The service will conclude with the candle lighting service and “Silent Night”

All are welcome

The church is handicapped accessible.

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‘Con Brio’ Turns 20, Gives Christmas Concerts This Afternoon

Terence Fay

Terence Fay

OLD LYME — On Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m., Con Brio Choral Society will produce two Christmas concerts with full orchestra in Old Lyme at Christ the King Church, 1 McCurdy Lane.

Con Brio, the shoreline’s renowned all-auditioned chorus, is celebrating its 20th birthday!  This year Con Brio remembers its past with much loved pieces and looks forward with new ones to the years to come. 

The opening chorus of the Christmas Concert’s featured work, J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, includes the words: Cease to be fearful, forget lamentation, Haste with thanksgiving to greet this glad morn!  And indeed Con Brio will … 

Directed by Dr. Stephen Bruce, the Con Brio Choral Society, Con Brio Festival Orchestra, soloists: Terrence Fay, tenor and Christopher Grundy, bass, promise a memorable concert. In the beautiful sanctuary of Christ the King Church in Old Lyme on Friday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m., Con Brio’s chorus, orchestra and soloists will fill the church with Christmas music. 

Christopher Grundy

Christopher Grundy

Con Brio opens this year’s concert with one of the most celebrated Christmas pieces, performing portions of J. S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, first performed over the six weeks of the Christmas season in 1734. Con Brio will present several of the well-known choruses; several chorales, (prototype of the Lutheran hymn); as well as the famous aria, Mighty Lord.

Among the variety of familiar and new pieces celebrating the season is Mark Reise’s arrangement of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen followed by its companion piece, I Saw Three Ships. Con Brio’s by now traditional practice of singing “in the round” will this year feature the Gloria from Rheinberger’s Mass in E-flat, the Kyrie of which moved audiences several years ago.

Two of the Sechs Sprüche of Mendelssohn will be followed by three new arrangements of familiar melodies: Forrest’s He is Born, Halley’s What Child is This? and Wilberg’s Masters in This Hall. Z. Randall Stroope’s powerfully moving Winter, first introduced to audiences a few years ago, is followed by Courtney’s highly entertaining and witty Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas.

As always there will be familiar Christmas carols for the audience to sing: We Three Kings and Joy to the World.

In addition to Con Brio’s two Christmas performances, the Spring Concert offers the opportunity to hear the magnificent Beethoven Mass in C and Patricia Schuman sing, once again, perhaps Con Brio’s most popular piece: The Easter Hymn.

Con Brio thanks its loyal audience members, sponsors and advertisers, for faithful support over 20 years.

The 70-member audition-only Con Brio Choral Society draws its members from Connecticut shoreline towns extending from Mystic to Guilford and north along the Connecticut River including Essex, Deep River and Chester, East Haddam and Moodus.  The group rehearses in Old Saybrook Tuesday evenings at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and performs at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme.
Of the regional group’s 70 members, 11 come from Essex, 5 from Deep River, 4 from Chester; 7 from Old Saybrook, 4 from Westbrook, 2 from Clinton; 7 from Madison  and 8 from Guilford. From across the Connecticut River, members are drawn from Old Lyme (1), Niantic (1), Mystic (3), East Haddam (2), Groton (2), and Moodus (1).
For more information about Con Brio’s concerts visit www.conbrio.org  or email dramy2000@yahoo.com.
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Madhatters Present Final Performance of ‘Nutcracker, the Musical Comedy’ at Chester Meeting House This Evening

CHESTER — Madhatters Theatre Company presents ‘Nutcracker, the Musical Comedy’ at Chester Meeting House 4 Liberty Street, Chester.

Performances are Friday, Dec. 9, at 6pm, Saturday, Dec. 10, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20, adults and $15, children 12 and under.  To purchase tickets, call (860) 395-1861 or email: madhattersctc@aol.com    www.ctkidsonstage.com/madhatterstheatrecompany

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Nilsson Hosts a “Concert in the Garden” Today Featuring ‘The Kenn Morr Band’

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CHESTER —
 Leif Nilsson hosts another ‘Concert in the Garden’, Sunday, Dec. 11, from 4 to 6 p.m., this time featuring The Kenn Morr Band: World Class Music From a Town You Haven’t Heard Of at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery at 1 Spring St, Chester Center. This monthly concert series highlights eclectic international singer/songwriter artists from cool jazz to blue grass.

The Kenn Morr Band is on a roll in 2016, pleased to be touring in support of its latest release, the double-disc set “Afterimage.” Recorded live at Sandy Brook Studios in Colebrook, CT, it’s a project that was in the works for some time, featuring fresh interpretations of material from eight previous releases. Kenn and his band revisited the songs to capture the group as it sounds live, with crisp studio sound and minimal overdubs.

The result is an organic collection of lush three-part vocal harmonies and sparkling acoustic instruments—real musicians playing soulful music in real time. (It’s the kind of recording you may have thought nobody makes any more.)

Growing up on Long Island, Kenn was inspired by such lyric and melody-minded acts as Gordon Lightfoot, Simon and Garfunkel, Graham Nash, and Jackson Browne. Rex Fowler of Aztec Two-Step became his friend and supporter. When a college baseball scholarship didn’t work out, he turned—appropriately—to Communications, a field for which he is well-suited. He’s got a radio announcer’s rich baritone and the kind of humor and charisma that enthralls audiences of all sizes, from intimate coffeehouses to the stages of venues as demanding as the famed Bitter End in New York City and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas on the New Haven Green.

Kenn trusts the universe to bring him what he needs: parking spots, dry weather, you name it. He left Long Island and found in Connecticut a home, new friends, and—eventually–the band that brings his music to life. He calls it his best band ever. First up was master percussionist Dr. Bob Gaspar, known for making one drum sound like four. Then the universe sent violin virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist Tom Hagymasi. (Kenn calls him “an animal.”) The final piece in the puzzle was melodic bassist “Magic” Pat Ryan, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music.

Known for its close three-part vocal harmonies and fiery instrumental interplay, the group has been together for several years, becoming fast favorites on the outdoor festival scene. They’ve paid dues of every kind and played gigs of every stripe, along the way sharing the stage with artists like John Sebastian, Al Kooper, Eric Burdon, and John Wesley Harding.

With airplay across the country and in Europe (where KMB music gets played in England, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands, among other countries), “Afterimage” is set to bring the Kenn Morr sound to many new listeners.

Gates open half hour before the show — first come, first seated. BYOB and picnic – indoor Bistro- style seating offered in the Gallery.

Sorry, no pets allowed.

A $20 donation is appreciated.  The event is BYOB – buy your own wine or beer at the Chester Package Store across the street, which is open until 8 p.m.

For more information, call 860-526-2077 or log on www.nilssonstudio.com

 

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Reynolds Subaru Presents NADA ‘Ambassadors Grant’ to Estuary’s MOW Program in Memory of Gary Reynolds

Kathryn Wayland, Owner Reynolds Subaru, is pictured presenting Paul Doyle, Estuary Council Executive Director, with a check for $1,000. Standing to the left is G. Hayden Reynolds, Owner Reynolds Subaru.

Kathryn Wayland, Reynolds Subaru owner, is pictured presenting Paul Doyle, Estuary Council Executive Director, with a check for $1,000. Standing to the left is G. Hayden Reynolds, Reynolds Subaru owner.

AREAWIDE — The Estuary Council of Seniors recently received, through Reynolds Subaru, the Ambassadors Grant from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) in memory of Gary Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Garage & Marine Inc. in Lyme, CT.  Gary Reynolds was well known for his distinguished career in the automotive retail industry and his generosity in our local communities.  He served on the board of directors of the NADA, representing franchised new car and truck dealers in Connecticut until his passing in 2013.

The Reynolds family designated the Estuary Council of Seniors to be the recipient of the Ambassadors Grant in memory of Gary and in addition to the award of $500, the Reynolds family matched the grant with an additional $500.

The Estuary is pleased to accept this wonderful grant from the NADA and gift from the Reynolds family in memory of Gary Reynolds in continuing support of the Estuary’s Meals on Wheels program.  This past fiscal year the Estuary delivered over 70,000 meals to Meals on Wheels recipients in the nine town Estuary region including Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook & Westbrook.

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Deep River’s Barb Erni Honored as Literacy Volunteers “Unsung Hero”

Barb Erni

Barb Erni

DEEP RIVER — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore has announced that Barb Erni of Deep River has been awarded this year’s “Unsung Hero” award at the LVVS annual Holiday Social on Dec. 13.  Her many contributions throughout the years have helped both tutors and students to improving English language skills and the quality of life in our shoreline communities.

Erni is an active board member, chairman of the membership committee and coordinates a number of fundraising and program events for the organization.

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore wishes to express its sincere gratitude for her dedication and service and for always going the extra mile in the cause of literacy.

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Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Continues Tonight

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This image shows a painting by Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s wife’s (Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh) titled, ‘The May Queen’, which was used in one of the tearooms Charles designed in Glasgow, Scotland.

Although until the end of the twentieth century there were relatively few women architects, women have long played an important role in the shaping of the built environment.  This lecture, on Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects, will focus upon four women who were committed to innovative design, which they championed in civic and commercial as well as domestic settings.  

  • Candace Wheeler contributed to the decoration of the Mark Twain House in Hartford and was responsible for the interior of the Women’s Building at the world’s fair held in Chicago in 1893.  
  • Catherine Cranston, the most successful Scottish businesswoman of her day, hired Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret MacDonald to assist in the design of her chain of tearooms.  
  • The second woman to graduate with an architecture degree from MIT, and the first licensed to practice in Illinois, Marion Mahony Griffin made crucial contributions to the career of her first employer, Frank Lloyd Wright, and to the design of the Australian capital of Canberra.  
  • The Irish designer Eileen Gray designed and furnished E1027, a house in the south of France that is now widely acknowledged as one of the most important European dwellings of the interwar years.  

These women stretched the boundaries of convention to create some of the most modern places of their time in ways that continue to inspire today.

Kathleen James-Chakraborty is the Vincent Scully Visiting Professor of Architectural History at the Yale School of Architecture and Professor of Art History at University College Dublin.  She was educated at Yale and at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her books include India in Art in Ireland (Routledge, 2016), Architecture since 1400 (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), Bauhaus Culture from Weimar to the Cold War (University of Minnesota Press, 2006), and German Architecture for a Mass Audience (Routledge, 2000).

This program is free and open to the public. Call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 for more information or to register. The program will be held in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects, 67 Main St. in Centerbrook.

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Essex Land Trust Hosts Canfield Woods Hike Tomorrow

EEssex Land Trust members and friends enjoy a recent hike.

Essex Land Trust members and friends enjoy a recent hike.

ESSEX — Hike the Land Trust’s largest preserve and explore its trails on Saturday, Dec. 10. Meet at 9 a.m. at Book Hill Woods Rd. entrance, off Book Hill Rd., Essex.

Shared by Deep River and Essex, Canfield/Meadow Woods Nature Preserve is made up of more than 300 acres of hilly, forested land with a wide variety of terrain. Moderate hike of up to 1 1/2 hours. All welcome. Bad weather cancels.

Seventeen trails wind through mixed old and new growth forest, and the preserve’s many rocky outcroppings are a highlight. Much of the property is former farmland and the old fields are still delineated by a network of stonewalls and roads. The remains of an old stone quarry can be found in the Deep River section. Most of the original land was acquired through donation from Mr. and Mrs. Earl Canfield.

The preserve abounds with white-tailed deer and grey and red fox as well as flocks of wild turkeys. A population of small rodents attracts hawks and owls, too.

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Dogs on the Docks Proceeds Benefit Local Rescue, Homeward Bound CT

Pictured in the photo are, left to right: Joan Meek, CRM business manager and her dog Lyddie, Sue Hotkowski of Homeward Bound CT, Connie Connors, Essex Board of Trade, Jennifer White-Dobbs, CRM Education Director, Chris Dobbs, CRM Executive Director and Toby.  Both dogs are Homeward Bound CT rescues.

Pictured in the photo are, left to right: Joan Meek, CRM business manager and her dog Lyddie, Sue Hotkowski of Homeward Bound CT, Connie Connors, Essex Board of Trade, Jennifer White-Dobbs, CRM Education Director, Chris Dobbs, CRM Executive Director and Toby.  Both dogs are Homeward Bound CT rescues.

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum and Essex Board of Trade are pleased to award Homeward Bound CT $100. The money was raised from the proceeds of the 2016 Dogs on the Dock event.  Each year the proceeds from the event are donated to a local shelter or rescue organization.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 860.767.8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

For more information about Homeward Bound CT,

visit www.homewardboundct.org. The Essex Board of Trade supports area businesses and events at http://essexct.com.

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Essex, Old Lyme Churches State Clearly That All Parishioners are Welcome

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 ESSEX and OLD LYME — A new sign (see above) in front of the First Congregational Church of Essex, a member church of the United Church of Christ, includes the usual notation for the church with its name, year of formation — in this case — 1852, and then these words, “An Open and Affirming Church.”

The final words on the church’s new sign indicate that the church welcomes all parishioners, regardless of their age, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme goes a little further in its signage, as can be seen in the photo below right.affirming_sign

Our unscientific poll suggests there have been a few objections in both churches to the signs, but most parishioners seem comfortable with them.

It is interesting that both churches have chosen to present their respective new signs at a similar time.

We can only speculate on the catalyst for the timing since we have not investigated it.

Whether or not these “open and affirming” statements made by two Congregational churches in relatively close proximity with one another will now be adopted by other Congregational churches across the country remains to seen.

Dear readers, as always, we welcome your thoughts …

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Essex Garden Club Decorates the Town for the Holidays

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ESSEX — In preparation for the holidays, the Essex Garden club members decorated merchant window boxes, the “silent Policeman” and  tubs of the villages of Essex .  Using a variety of evergreen cuttings from members and other generous donors from the community, the Garden Club helped the town put on a festive face for the “Trees in the Rigging” held Nov. 27,  and the Holiday Stroll, Dec. 9 and  10.

Thanks to both Liz Fowler and Suzanne Tweed for their efforts in coordinating the day of decorating.

Finally, The Essex Garden Club would like to thank the Essex community for its continued support, especially during our spring May Market and extends best wishes to all the resident of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton for a Healthy and Happy New Year.

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See ‘The Bells of Dublin Part III’ at Ivoryton Through Dec. 18

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Michael Hotkowski and Maggie McGlone Jennings in “The Bells of Dublin Part III” Photo by Anne Hudson.

If you have loved following the escapades and adventures of Paddy Bell and his family in The Bells of Dublin at the Ivoryton Playhouse, then you won’t want to miss the third play in the trilogy. And even if you are new to the story, you will enjoy their exploits as Paddy brings the whole family to New York for Christmas. Carols and Irish songs and even a little vaudeville to warm your heart and get you in the spirit of the season.

It’s Christmas Eve in O’Lunney’s Pub in New York. Maggie, the bag lady who roams the neighborhood around 50th and Broadway, settles into O’Lunney’s doorway to weave a story with a cast of characters from here and across the ocean. The Bells of Dublin has become an Ivoryton tradition and has garnered rave reviews from our patrons. Here is one of the many comments received –

“The Bells of Dublin – Part II is truly one of Ivoryton’s most entertaining, fun, and meaningful Christmas play we’ve seen in a long time!  It had every facet and emotions of Life and Family!  Laughter galore, yet moving and truthful. I can’t wait for Part III!”

The Bells of Dublin, Parts I, II & III  were conceived and directed by Playhouse Executive/Artistic Director, Jacqueline Hubbard. “For 345 days a year, we work around the clock here – maintaining this beautiful building and producing 7 amazing professional shows. The holiday show is our chance to have some fun! I wanted to put together a show with some great music – traditional Irish and American – a little bit of magic and a lot of laughs. So – here ‘tis!”

This funny and fantastic tale is filled with songs you know and songs you wish you did – with a wonderful band of local musicians beautifully directed by Melanie Guerin, who also arranged much of the music. Cast includes many Playhouse favorites – R. Bruce Connelly*, Michael McDermott*, Maggie McGlone Jennings, Vanessa Vradenburgh, Ted Philips and Norm Rutty from the local band Save the Train, Jenna Berloni, Nancy and David Cardone, Emma Hunt, Olivia Harry, Alec Bandzes, Vickie Blake, Larry Lewis, Michael Hotkowski, Dylan Vallier and Celeste Cumming. The set for this production is designed by Dan Nischan, costumes by Elizabeth Cipollina and lights by Marcus Abbott.

Come and experience the true magic of the season Ivoryton style with this original Christmas musical – for two weeks only.

The Bells of Dublin Part III: A New York Fairytale runs through Dec. 18, for two weeks. Performance times are Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. There is also a Wednesday matinee on Dec. 14.

Tickets are $35 for adults, $32 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

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Essex Library Hosts ‘Huck Finn’ Five-Week Seminar Series, Concludes Feb. 7

ESSEX — The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is the quintessentially American novel. It has also become one of the most controversial works in the American literary canon. Indeed, many, many schools do not assign it any longer.

In this seminar with Professor Chuck Timlin, we will do a close reading of the novel over five meetings on Tuesdays beginning Jan. 10, at 6:30 p.m. Its many themes will be discussed along with its humor and biting social criticism; the group will also face head on the problems many Americans have with reading it today.

University of New Haven, SCSU faculty member and former English teacher at Choate Rosemary Hall, Chuck Timlin, has already brought his excellent teaching skills to the Essex Library community on topics such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Beowulf, American poets and short story writers. Now, back by popular demand, he turns his talents to an examination of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This seminar will be conducted on five consecutive Tuesday evenings (Jan. 10, 17, 24, 31 and Feb. 7) from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

This program is free and open to the public. Call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 for more information or to register in advance.  The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Valley/Old Lyme Warriors Take on St. Joe’s Tonight in Class M Championship Semi-final

Warrior football action from the team's victory over H-K. File photo by Laura Matesky.

Warrior football action from the team’s victory over H-K. File photo by Laura Matesky.

Tonight at 6:30 p.m. on their home field at Deep River, the top-seeded Valley/Old Lyme Warriors face Saint Joseph’s in the semi-finals of the CIAC Class M football championship.

Go Warriors!

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An Evening for Women: Discussion Tonight on Living with Uncertainty in Times of Change, Division

CHESTER — Has the election left you with uncomfortable emotions and questions about the future? Feel that you are on unsteady ground?

Such stress can affect our daily lives and our health. Come together in a safe space to express your feelings, and begin to process them in a supportive environment.

Chester resident Pamela Lape MS,LP, LMHC, of Integrated Perspectives Psychotherapy, will facilitate an evening of support, Monday, Dec. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Chester Library.

Lape has been leading women’s groups for 35 years and feels that women can benefit greatly by reaching out to one another in these trying times. There is no charge to attend.

Email pamelalape@aol.com to attend

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Ivoryton Hosts Sixth Annual Illuminations Extravaganza Tonight

Tree4IVORYTON — Looking for a different way to celebrate Christmas? Then head down to Ivoryton for the Seventh Annual Ivoryton Illuminations on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The entire village of Ivoryton will be participating in this Holiday Extravaganza with carol singing, Santa’s Grotto, Holiday Bazaar, and culminating with the arrival of Santa and the lighting of the states’ largest living Christmas Tree at 6 p.m.  Ivoryton will be lighting up the holiday with over 300,000 lights throughout the village.

Family activities from 5 p.m. include writing letters to Santa and cards to our soldiers which is taking place at the Ivoryton Library; Christmas Craft making and visits with Santa in the Playhouse (bring your camera if you want a picture!); a Holiday Bazaar featuring community and local church groups in the Fire House; an Elf Scavenger Hunt, open auditions at iCRV Radio, a Petting Zoo provided by Circle K Farm, fine art for gift giving at Six Summit Gallery as well as special events at The Ivoryton Tavern and Cafe, Blue Hound Cookery and Taproom, The Copper Beech Inn, Elephant Crossing, The Ivoryton Inn and Porky Pete’s BBQ & Brew.

Music will be provided by local musicians playing at various locations throughout the village.  There will also be Stuff a Cruiser to support Shoreline Soup Kitchens and bring a new, unwrapped toy to Ivoryton Library to benefit the Child and Family Agency of SECT.

Free parking will be available at the First Congregational Church and The Copper Beech Inn with a shuttle bus service to the village. The Illuminations will shine brightly through Jan. 5, and visitors can tune their car radios to 101.5FM and watch as the lights dance to the music.

This event is supported entirely by volunteers and sponsors including Essex Lions, Essex Savings Bank, Valley Courier, Riggio & Sons General Contractors, Wilcox Tree Service and Essex Rotary Club.

If you would like to experience some real Christmas cheer, then come and join the party in Ivoryton, the brightest village in Connecticut!

For more information, visit www.ivorytonalliance.org

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Deep River Congregational Church Hosts 50th Annual Ye Olde English Christmas Faire This Weekend

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DEEP RIVER — Help Deep River Congregational Church, 1 Church Street, Deep River, celebrate its 50th Annual Ye Olde English Christmas Faire!
Festivities begin this evening, Friday, Dec. 2, with Dessert by Candlelight – enjoy homemade desserts and beverage in a delightful atmosphere for only $5.00 a plate!  Two seatings are available at 5:30 and 7 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at the church office.
Tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 3 is the Big Event!  Ye Olde English Christmas Faire is open from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., where you can shop for unique gift baskets, homemade pies and sweets, live wreaths, home décor, handcrafted ornaments, knitted and crocheted items, as well as, specialty & gently used treasures.  Don’t forget to take home some homemade soup or chili and homemade bread!  Santa will be paying a visit, plus we have crafts for kids and a restaurant service breakfast and lunch.
The festivities continue on Sunday, Dec. 4, with a wonderful Christmas Concert at 3 p.m., featuring Bil Groth – tickets for the concert are; adults $10, children (6-12) $5 and children under 5 – free.  Tickets can be purchased in the church office.  If you have questions, visit www.deeprivercc.org or call the church office at (860) 526-5045.
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Enjoy Trees, Trains & Traditions at Deep River Historical Society Today

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-1-41-33-pm
screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-1-41-57-pmDEEP RIVER — The Deep River Historical Society (DRHS) at 245 Main Street presents the 4th Annual Festival of Trees Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-3, from 5 to 8 p.m. daily.

Enjoy some holiday fun for the whole family!  This event is free to the public — the DRHS considers it their gift to the community.

Lights will be glowing in the beautiful rooms of the Stone House and Carriage House as it is decorated for the Festival of Trees, Trains & Traditions. A special train layout is being designed by Trustee member Frank Santoro for viewing along with many trees that are decorated with specific themes from different civic organizations in Deep River.  Participants will be able to vote for their favorite themed categories.

Donations of non-perishable food for the Deep River Pantry are much appreciated.
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Christmas Fair to be Held at Ivoryton Congregational Church Today

A Christmas Fair with luncheon will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Ivoryton Congregational Church, 57 Main Street, Ivoryton.

Come for lunch or shop before the Ivoryton Illuminations.  Enjoy soup, sandwiches and dessert for lunch.

This event features an assortment of handcrafted gifts, the church’s famous bean soup, and published cookbook, teacup raffle and silent auction,
A donation to the Mitten Tree is most welcome — mittens, gloves, hats, scarves for children and adults are donated to the Essex Elementary School and Lower Valley Visiting Nurses.
Call Isobel @ 860-767-8167 or the church office @ 860-767-1004 for more information.
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Essex Church Hosts ‘Christmas on the Hill Craft Fair’ Today

ESSEX — The annual Christmas on the Hill Christmas Craft Fair at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 14 Prospect Street, Essex, CT., will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In the parish hall.

There will be a silent auction, raffle baskets, baked goods, hand made Christmas ornaments and knitted items, a Christmas boutique, greenery, and a cafe lunch.

Come to our old-fashioned church fair, catch the spirit of this beautiful season, and enjoy Christmas shopping without the stress.

For more information, call Pat Rivers 860-767-2671

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United Church of Chester Holds Christmas Fair Today

The United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, CT holds its annual Christmas Fair on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come enjoy shopping for hand-crafted items and delicacies, decorations, greens, knitted goods and mouth-watering morsels for holiday giving.

There will also be a silent auction, tea-cup auction and Grandma’s attic to prowl through for Christmas treasurers and charitable gift-giving possibilities.

Lunch will be served between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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Mrs. Claus to Visit Deep River Library Today

DEEP RIVER — Hang on to your icicles!
Mrs. Claus visits the Deep River Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 1:30 p.m. Join the Children’s Library staff for stories and carols and learn about life at the North Pole!
There is no registration for this event. There will be fruit-flavored candy canes or holiday lollipops to hand out to the kids.
This event is intended for children under 9.
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Kick off the Holidays in Chester at Tonight’s Holiday Festival

Chester's holiday tree will be decorated this year with hearts made by Chester children.

Chester’s holiday tree will be decorated this year with hearts made by Chester children.

The annual Starry Night Holiday Festival in Chester Center on Friday, Dec. 2, is a time for celebration, caroling, shopping, eating, and meeting up with friends and neighbors.

The picturesque historic village will be beautifully decorated for the holidays and the streets will be lined with luminaries made by the Boy Scouts. Saint Lucia Girls will walk around offering cookie treats. Carolers will stroll through the village on their way to the town’s Christmas tree, which will be lighted at 6 p.m. while the community gathers for a sing-along. This year’s tree comes from Camp Hazen YMCA property and will be decorated with school children’s ornaments expressing for what they’re grateful.

Selden's Wild Creek garden is one of Leif Nilsson's new paintings which will be on display tonight.

Selden’s Wild Creek garden is one of Leif Nilsson’s new paintings, which will be on display tonight, during an Opening reception at his gallery.

All evening, the shops and galleries will offer light refreshments and beverages while you shop and browse. Arrowhead String Band will be playing at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Gallery, providing holiday entertainment as you enjoy Leif’s recent paintings. The Matt Austin Studio welcomes Hilary Robertson, author of many internationally acclaimed style books such as “The Stuff of Life.” Bring her one interior design question to solve during her visit at the studio, between 6:30 and 9 p.m.

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The long-popular Postcard Show, where all art is 4×6 inches or smaller, will open at the Chester Gallery. Stop in for champagne while perusing the postcard-sized creations by local artists.

The Maple and Main Gallery will be serving wine and cookies during the evening while visitors view the new Holiday Exhibit of over 200 paintings and sculptures by 53 Connecticut artists as well as a solo show in the Stone Gallery of Janine Robertson’s oil paintings.

With all the shops open for the evening, this is an ideal time to shop for gifts for everyone on your list, from your pets at Strut Your Mutt to your aspiring chefs at The Perfect Pear. Sterling silver necklaces for all the women on your holiday list – and you, too! – will be featured at Dina Varano Gallery, while Jan Cummings and Peter Good introduce their 2017 Calendar at C&G while giving away their holiday wrapping paper and “Change Chance” notecards.

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Mandy Carroll-Leiva will introduce Leiva Jewelry’s Holiday Collection at the Lori Warner Studio & Gallery.

This one evening of the year, Nourish Organic Skincare opens its office doors (at the old Chester Bank, 6 Main Street) so you can purchase gift sets of their products, enter a prize drawing and pick up a few samples.  And then, of course, there’s apparel, and accessories, and more jewelry, and stocking stuffers of all types, and so much more available throughout the shops and galleries of Chester. Come and celebrate the holiday with us!

And don’t forget about the Holiday Shopping Extravaganza at the Chester Meeting House from 5 to 9 p.m. How can it get any better than this!

Free parking is available in the Water Street and the Maple Street parking lots, both a short walk to the center. More information about all the Starry Night happenings can be found at  Facebook.com/visitchesterct.

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Hear Cappella Cantorum Sing Handel’s ‘Messiah’ This Weekend

handel-messiah
Come and celebrate the beginning of the Holiday Season with the Cappella Cantorum MasterWorks Chorus performing Handel’s Messiah (Christmas Section), Saturday, Dec. 3, 8 p.m. at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church, 170 Rope Ferry Rd., Waterford CT 06385. The concert will be repeated Sunday, Dec. 4, 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Road, Deep River 06417. 

The chorus will be joined by members of the choir of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme and will be accompanied by a professional orchestra. Simon Holt will conduct at the Waterford concert, and Barry Asch will direct at the Deep River performance.

Messiah is one of the most popular choral works and is a joyous start to the season. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at the door or at www.CappellaCantorum.org

Cappella Cantorum is the lower Connecticut River Valley and Shoreline’s premiere non-auditioned community choral organization whose primary purpose is to learn, perform and enjoy great choral music while striving for excellence and the enrichment of its singers and audience.

For more information, call Barry Asch at 860-388-2871.

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Essex Rotary Club Donates $5,000 to Meals on Wheels

From left to right, Essex Rotary President, Jordan Welles, presents a check to Estuary Council Executive Director, Paul Doyle.

Essex Rotary President, Jordan Welles (left), presents a check to Estuary Council Executive Director, Paul Doyle.

The Essex Rotary Club generously donated $5,000 to the Estuary Council of Seniors Meals on Wheels program at their Oct. 4 Rotary dinner meeting in Essex. The $5,000 donation will help to ensure that Meals on Wheels will continue without any interruption of service to those in need along the shoreline. The Estuary Council, like many providers in the country, has had cuts to their funding.

While other providers have created waiting lists for seniors requesting meals, the Estuary has remained committed to getting meals to anyone from their service area who calls. The Estuary Council of Seniors serves both Meals on Wheels and congregate meals in the nine-town Estuary Region. During the fiscal year October 2015 – September 2016, the Estuary will have served approximately 80,000 home delivered and congregate meals to area seniors in the nine towns that they serve, including Essex.

The Estuary Council expresses their sincerest thanks to the Essex Rotary for their support.

For more information about the many services provided by the Estuary Council of Seniors, please call 860-388-1611.

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Musical Masterworks Concerts Feature ‘Brooklyn Rider’ This Weekend

Brooklyn Rider will perform at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme in the next Musical Masterworks concert on Dec. 3.

Brooklyn Rider will perform at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme in the next Musical Masterworks concerts on Dec. 3 and 4

OLD LYME — In December, Musical Masterworks welcomes back the popular ensemble Brooklyn Rider, performing works by Boccherini, and pairing Beethoven’s pivotal “Serioso” String Quartet with a new work by their own violinist/composer Colin Jacobsen. The musicians will also perform a set of folk-inspired works by four exceptional composers of our time.

The December performances are Saturday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, an acoustically rich and beautiful venue for chamber music.

Musical Masterworks’ season runs from October 2016 through May 2017.  To purchase a series subscription ($150 each) or individual tickets ($35 individual; $5 student), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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Literacy Volunteers Announce Graduation of Fall Training Class of Tutuors

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore is pleased to announce the graduation of the Fall training class of tutors.  Tutors are trained through comprehensive nationally accredited workshop sessions held by Literacy Volunteers. On completion of workshop sessions, trainees receive certification as a tutor and are assigned a mentor for support and guidance.

Trained volunteer tutors are matched with students in English as a Second Language or Basic Reading. Tutors carry out our mission of providing one-on-one tutoring to anyone seeking to improve their English skills.

Through our services, students become acclimated to our culture and language resulting in becoming productive, happy, members of our community. There is no cost to the student.

The 2016 Fall class of tutors consisted of Joseph Hines of Branford, Sara Davis and Peg Reyer of Chester, Muriel Moore and Dr. Susan Seider of Clinton, Chip Lowery, Michele Millham and Ron Repetti of Guilford, Susan Hosack of Essex, Sheila Meyers of Ivoryton, Jeanette Kehoe Allen, Beth Baird, Paul Diwik, Dan Mulvey and Susan Graves of Madison, Kathy Lee of Old Saybrook and Brian Clampet of Westbrook.

Tutor training is underwritten by grants from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and the Westbrook Foundation.

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Literacy Volunteers Offer Original, Affordable Holiday Gift Idea

bag-of_booksAREAWIDE — In the spirit of affordable giving, Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. is having a “Bring a Bag and Fill it for $5” December book promotion on specially selected books. The LVVS bookstore has a large variety of hardcover, paperback, and children’s books that include selections by well-known authors and topics such as gardening, crafts, as well as popular fiction.

Buy a bag full and fill a basket or stocking for a special reader or favorite teacher in your life.  Also, this month, all children and young adults can select a book for free! Encourage your youngster to read with this free book promotion only at Literacy Volunteers.

LVVS is located on the lower level of the Westbrook Library, 61 Goodspeed Drive. Book sale hours are Monday-Thursday, 9-2:00 and the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, 10 am-noon.

Visit www.vsliteracy.org or call at 860-399-0280.  All book sales, promotion or otherwise, benefit the LVVS tutoring programs in English as a Second Language or Basic Reading.

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Two New Shows on View at Maple & Main Through April 2

‘Cool’ by Deb Munson is the signature painting for the Winter Exhibition at Maple & Main. Munson is also the juror for the Juried Show running concurrently.

CHESTER – The Seventh Annual Winter Exhibit and the Second Annual Juried Show are on view at Maple and Main Gallery through April 2.

Both exhibits will showcase newly created art by over 100 artists in a vast variety of styles and medium from classic still lifes to impressionistic landscapes to large, vivid abstracts.

The Winter Exhibit will be hung on the ground floor of the gallery and in the Small Works room while the Juried Show will be in the lower level in the Stone and Joslow galleries.

Maple and Main is open Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 6 p.m.; Friday, noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 860-526-6065; mapleandmain@att.net.

Visit mapleandmaingallery.com where there is a selection of works in both shows as well and on Facebook as well.

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January Children’s Programs at Deep River Public Library

Thursdays are Terrific at the Deep River Public Library!

Join us for BABY BOUNCE, a lap sit program for babies up to 24 months and their caregivers, followed by open play and social time. Older siblings may attend. No registration is required. Dates for this program will be on the following Thursday mornings: 1/26. Starts at 10:30 am.

Don’t forget our FUN FRIDAY on 1/27! Join us for Preschool Power Hour with stories and songs in an interactive setting, followed by open play. Starts at 10:30 am; open to all ages. Special Guest, ABC Amigos will be here for a Spanish themed story time on 1/27.

Additional Children’s Programs

Jan. 26 : Brick Bunch meets from 3:45 – 4:45 pm for open Lego construction. This is a drop-in program. We now have large blocks for the younger kids!!

For more information on any of these programs, please call 860-526-6039 or email at drplchildrensdept@gmail.com

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Acton Library Hosts Exhibition by Daniel Dahlstrom Through Jan. 25

Dan Dahlstrom demonstrates his painting techniques at the library.

The Acton Public Library at 60 Old Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, presents an exhibit of oil paintings by Daniel Dahlstrom of Chester. Dahlstrom brings his works to the library gallery and the second floor Grady Thomas room through Wednesday, Jan. 25.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, at 11 a.m., Dahlstrom will host a meet and greet featuring a demonstration of his painting.

For further information, call 860-395-3184 or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10 – 8, Friday and Saturday 10 – 5.

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‘Trees in the Rigging’ Held Sunday in Essex

Boats in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade are decorated with holiday lights. Photo by Jody Dole.

Boats in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade are decorated with holiday lights. Photo by Jody Dole.

ESSEX –- Kick off the holiday season Sunday, Nov. 27 in Essex with the annual Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Lighted Boat Parade.   The Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Board of Trade, and the Essex Historical Society combine to present this annual event that includes a traditional, lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street where spectators are invited to bring their own lanterns or flashlights and join in with the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars. 

Participants can gather at the Essex Town Hall at 4 p.m. The stroll steps off at 4:30 p.m. beginning on West Ave. and ending at the Connecticut River Museum with a parade of vessels dressed out in holiday lights and passing in review along the Connecticut River.  Santa and his elves will arrive by one of the parade boats for visits with children on the lawn of the Connecticut River Museum.

The Connecticut River Museum will also be open that evening for all to attend the 23rd Annual Holiday Train Show at a reduced admission of $6.

Register Your Boat for the Lighted Boat Parade

A critical and crowd-pleasing part of this free community event is the parade of boats dressed in holiday lights that sail along Essex’s waterfront. The decorated boats are part of a friendly competition.  A modest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize will be awarded to the best dressed boats. Winners will be invited to receive their prize and participate in a photo-op on Monday, Nov. 28, at 4:30 p.m. at the Connecticut River Museum.  

Registration is required to participate in the boat parade that usually begins around 5:15 p.m. from the south end of Essex Harbor. To register, send emails to: kperkins@ctrivermuseum.org. Information should include: vessel name; type of boat and description; owner(s) name; contact information (phone and preferred email); decorating scheme (if known at time of registration). registration must be received by Monday, Nov. 21 at 4:30 p.m.  

Make your Own Parade Lantern

Carolers can come to the Essex Historical Society for a free, family activity.  A tin lantern making workshop will be held at the Pratt House, 19 West Ave, Essex from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Contact the Essex Historical Society for workshop information at ehs@essexhistory.org or 860-767-0681.

To make your own lanterns at home: 

  • Step 1: fill an empty aluminum can with water and freeze. This will make it easier to punch holes for the design in the can.
  • Step 2: using a hammer and nail, punch holes in the can to make a connect-the-dots style picture of a holiday design. Use plenty of holes to allow the light to shine through.
  • Step 3: punch two holes near the rim to attach a wire handle.
  • Step 4: after the ice is melted, attach a votive or other small candle to the inside bottom of the can.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information, call 860.767.8269 or visit www.ctrivermuseum.org.

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SECWAC Presents Talk by Former Defense Department Official on ‘Start, End & Aftermath of Cold War,’ Jan. 24

Former US Department of Defense official Dick Shriver will speak at the next SECWAC meeting, scheduled for Jan. 24 at the Old Lyme Country Club.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) has announced that resident local author and former U.S. Department of Defense official Dick Shriver will deliver remarks based on his upcoming book, “Glimpses of an Uncharted Life,” at Old Lyme Country Club on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Shriver’s address will provide a compelling review of the Cold War – highlighting its start, end, aftermath and relevance to today.  His presentation is expected to be particularly timely, given the resurgence of Russian nationalism under Vladimir Putin and other recent international developments.

SECWAC meetings are free to members.  Tickets are $20 for the general public and free for area college and high school students; and can be obtained at info@secwac.org. (The ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership.)

The event will take place at 6 p.m. at Old Lyme Country Club in Old Lyme.  It will be preceded by a 5:30 pm reception.  Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC attendees with reservations (made at least 24 hours in advance) will reconvene for dinner ($35) at the country club.

Shriver is a former director of Telecommunications and Command & Control Systems for the Office of the Secretary of the Defense; he is also a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  After the collapse of the U.S.S.R., he began a career in economic and legal development in the newly freed republics of the former Soviet Union, as well as in other countries in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan. He lived in the Soviet Union and Ukraine for eight years.

Shriver has received the U.S. Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s highest award, the Alexander Hamilton Medal.  He is also provost emeritus of Bard College Berlin, a university in Germany.

The presentation is a part of the SECWAC Speaker Series.  SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America.  Its mission is to foster an understanding of issues related to foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate and educational programming.

Through its annual Speaker Series, SECWAC arranges up to 10 presentations a year that provide a public forum for dialogue between its members and experts on foreign relations.  Membership information is available at www.secwac.org.

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VRHS’s Ginny King Honored as Connecticut’s “PE Teacher of the Year”

On Nov. 17, Ginny King of Valley Regional High School was honored with the CTAHPERD High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award.

On Nov. 17, Ginny King of Valley Regional High School was honored with the CTAHPERD High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award.

REGION 4 — The Connecticut Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CTAHPERD) held the Annual Fall Conference on Nov. 17 and 18 and Awards Banquet on Nov. 17, at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, Conn.

Among the honorees was Virginia King, Physical Education teacher at Valley Regional High School (VRHS) in Deep River, who received the CTAHPERD High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award.

A graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University with a B.S. degree in Physical Education with a Health minor, King continued her Education at the University of Connecticut with a M.S. degree in Sport Management and Leisure Studies. She has 24 years of teaching experience at VRHS in Deep River. In addition to her teaching duties, King is the Regional School District #4 Health and Physical Education Department Coordinator for Grades 7-12.

King has deep content knowledge, a fine repertoire of pedagogical skills, and contagious enthusiasm for teaching and learning. She has spearheaded a transformation in curriculum and course offerings that has created a more personalized approach for high school students.

The primary focus of the curriculum is lifelong fitness through lessons that embrace standards in an atmosphere that is fun, engaging and supportive. PE Fit is an elective course characterized by goal setting by students, exposure to a variety of fitness activities, guest instructors, and field trips to local fitness centers. A Recreation and Leisure unit was developed to include lifelong leisure activities that promote 21st century learning skills to help the students better meet academic, social and civic expectations within physical education.

Students are encouraged to participate in and then teach these activities to friends and family outside of school hours to promote a better sense of community. Seniors may take an additional physical education course as a Physical Education Assistant/Student Leader. These students assist with such teaching duties as taking attendance, setting up and distributing equipment, officiate, disseminate handouts and reading materials, run round robin tournaments, and work one on one with students that need help with game skills or weight room techniques. This modern curriculum has fostered a transformation in student attitude.

Since becoming a certified Zumba Fitness and Zumba Toning instructor, King introduced the group exercise program into the Wednesday Cardio Workout Sessions for every block of the day at VRHS. Students are enthusiastically engaged through her excellent presentation skills, sense of humor and abundant energy. She has expanded the Zumba instruction into a cross curricular unit with the Spanish class and held Zumba sessions during halftime at home football games.

King has contributed to the school community in many ways: she was a BEST Portfolio scorer; Assistant Girls’ Basketball Coach; Head Volleyball Coach; Athletic Director; is a TEAM mentor teacher, cooperating teacher; intramural Spring sports director; intramural weight room director; member of NEASC sub-committee; Team Handball Tournament Director for VRHS Heart of a PE Warrior Scholarship.

Her service to the greater community includes: free Zumba session for Camp Hazen’s YMCA Women’s Wellness Weekend Retreat; guest lecturer at CCSU; charity Zumba session Chester Fire Hose Company for a VRHS scholarship fundraiser; Zumbathon for Chester Elementary School PTO; Zumbathon for breast cancer at Ifoundfitness; and community projects with the Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau.

Committed to excellence and developing herself as a professional, she is fully committed to providing students with a rigorous and relevant learning experience. CTAHPERD is highly honored to recognize Virginia “Ginny” Mislick King as High School Teacher of the Year for 2016.

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Donations Needed to Help Provide Thanksgiving Meals for Families at ‘Sunday of Service’

Providing Thanksgiving meals for deserving families in the "Backpack Program" in Essex, Chester and Deep River is the focus of November 20's "Sunday of Service" at The First Congregational Church in Essex. Can you help to sponsor a family's meal?

Providing Thanksgiving meals for deserving families in the “Backpack Program” in Essex, Chester and Deep River is the focus of November 20’s “Sunday of Service” at The First Congregational Church in Essex. Can you help to sponsor a family’s meal?

ESSEX — Can you help to make Thanksgiving possible for a deserving family? Today, Sunday, Nov. 20, The First Congregational Church in Essex, UCC will host its “Making A Difference Sunday of Service” by providing the supplies for a full Thanksgiving meal for the families in the Region 4 School District (Essex, Chester and Deep River) who participate in the “Backpack Program.”

This program provides nutritious food items for students to take home on weekends for families with children who qualify for federal meal assistance at school and has the support of The Connecticut Food Bank. At present, the church, located at 6 Methodist Hill inEssex Village,  hosts the volunteer-run program and supplies space to store and stage the take-home food offerings.

On Nov. 20, members and friends of The First Congregational Church in Essex will attend a brief worship service at 10 a.m., followed by the in-service project. Participants will assemble the donated food items— staples for a Thanksgiving dinner for a family of six—- and ready them for delivery to family homes on Nov. 20 or 21.

Monetary donations are needed to make the event possible. The cost to sponsor one family’s Thanksgiving meal is $55 but any amount is appreciated. Donations should be mailed or delivered to the church at 6 Methodist Hill in Essex Village.

To volunteer to help at the event, come to the church at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20.

For more information, call 860-767-8097.

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Local Opera Star Teaches Vocal Masterclass Today; Registration Open to the Public

Tenor Brian Cheney

Tenor Brian Cheney

CENTERBROOK –- Community Music School presents a masterclass with local opera star Brian Cheney on Sunday, Nov. 20, from 4 to 6 p.m.  Cheney will coach participants on intermediate/advanced vocal technique and performance practices in a wide range of genres, including opera, classical, Broadway, jazz, and even pop.

The masterclass will be hosted at the Centerbrook Meetinghouse and the cost is $15 per person.  This event is open to the public and advance registration is requested.

For additional information and to register, visit www.community-music-school.org/brian or call860-767-0026.

Following Cheney’s debut at Carnegie Hall in 2007, he has been performing concert works and oratorio throughout the country. The Daily Gazette in Albany, NY had this to say about his recent performance of the Messiah, “Tenor Brian Cheney was a revelation. Cheney’s voice was like spun gold. He seemed to dwell on his notes, basking in their loveliness. Each phrase was sculpted, each word was cleanly enunciated. Not just a gorgeous voice, Cheney showed imagination as he altered his colors or use of vibrato.”

Cheney has performed numerous times as a soloist at Carnegie Hall with his most recent performance performing a world premiere and US premiere of Hungarian music with the American Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Leon Botstein.

In 2011, Cheney also made his Lincoln Center debut as tenor soloist for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 at Avery Fisher Hall appearing with acclaimed soprano, Jessye Norman. A now frequent soloist at Lincoln Center, Cheney will return this season for the popular New Year’s Concert, Salute to Vienna.

Engagements in 2016 include Rodolfo in La Boheme with the Windsor Symphony and Norwalk Symphony Opera and Tenor Soloist in Salute to Vienna at Lincoln Center.

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

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

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