November 21, 2014

Essex Garden Club Announces 2014 Scholarships

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

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

Sarah Watson will be a sophomore at Gettysburg College

Allyson Clark will be a freshman at Drew University

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

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

All Bids for Deep River Sewer Expansion Over Budget

DEEP RIVER— Town officials and engineers will be revisiting a sewer expansion project planned for several streets in the town’s north end after all six bids opened last week were over the $4 million allocated for the project.

First Selectman Richard Smith said he and members of the water pollution control authority will meet with project engineers, with the Meriden firm Cardinal Engineering, to review options for scaling back the project to reduce the cost. Voters at a May 2013 town meeting authorized the project with a funding limit set at $4 million. The project, which would extend sewer service to about 120 properties on and around River Street and Kirtland Street, was to be funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a $1.2 million grant and a $2.8 million loan that would be repaid over 40 years at 2.75 percent annual interest.

All of the bids opened last week were over $4 million, with the lowest bid from Baltazar Contractors Inc. of Ludlow, Mass. coming in at $4,828,958 for a base bid and a bid of $5,5,507,658 that would include all project alternates. The second lowest bid was $5,397,039 and $6,066,954 from C. J Fucci Inc. of New Haven.

Smith said the project would be revised and rebid over the next few weeks. Smith said he is hopeful a revised bid for a scaled back project could be approved by the board of selectmen and WPCA in time for a late summer start of construction for the project.

Deep River Town Meeting Approves Revised $15.27 Million Budget After Initial Referendum Defeat

DEEP RIVER— A slightly reduced $15,277,887 town/schools spending plan for 2014–2015 was approved at a town meeting Monday on a 92-24 paper ballot. The budget, which will require a 0.80 increased in the property tax rate, was initially rejected on a 115-78 vote in a May 27 referendum.

After the referendum defeat, the finance board approved a $25,000 reduction, $12,500 from the town government budget and $12,500 from the appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. But the board was unable to make any changes to the major factor in the tax increase, the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget, after it was approved in a separate referendum on May 6. Voters in Deep River opposed the Region 4 budget, 156-69, but it was approved with support from the voters of Chester and Essex.

With more students attending Valley Regional  High School and John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River faced a steep $442,063 increase in it’s share of the Region 4 budget. The Region 4 increase accounted for all but $56,313 of a total spending increased of $498,376. With declining enrollment, the $5,461,500 appropriation for the elementary school was actually down by $49,658.

Finance board chairman John Bauer said the board was unable to make any reductions in the Region 4 appropriation that could have reduced the tax increase. “Nothing can be done after that budget is approved” in the three-town referendum, he said. Bauer said the town government and elementary school appropriations were already “very tight,” adding the town is unable to transfer any money from an undesignated fund balance that only contains about $500,000.

Richard Balducci, a former speaker of the house who also served on the local board of finance, urged the crowd to approve the revised budget, and then become more involved in the Region 4 budget process and referendum next year. Balducci contended the supervision district budget, which funds shared services in the school system and is then included with the Region 4 and elementary school budgets, can be a major factor in higher education costs even with lower student enrollment.

After about 30 minutes of discussion, voters lined up to cast paper ballots on the budget. The new tax rate of 25.88 mills represents $25.88 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Essex Town Meeting Amends Ordinances, Sanitary Waste Commission Discontinued

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

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

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

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

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

Local Authors Donate to the Chester Chapter American Legion

From left to right; Art Christensen, Bob Sumner, Todd Curry, Christopher Abbott and Jerry LaMark (Photo taken by Bruce Watrous)

From left to right; Art Christensen, Bob Sumner, Todd Curry, Christopher Abbott and Jerry LaMark (Photo taken by Bruce Watrous)

Authors Todd A. Curry and Christopher D. Abbott have donated a portion of their profits from one of their recently released thrillers, to the Chester Chapter American Legion, Post 97. The donation is to offset the cost of flags that Legion members place on the graves of our fallen soldiers.

For more than 200 years, Old Glory has served as a symbol of our Nation’s freedom and as a source of pride for our citizens. On “Flag-day” we recognize our veterans who served to protect the flag. We honor those many soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, in the name of Liberty, Unity, and Justice. The members of the American legion, post 97 in Chester, are just a few of the 800,000 members of the National American Legion, who volunteer millions of hours of their time yearly.

Curry and Abbott wanted to recognize the sacrifices these veterans make, and express their gratitude to the Legion members who volunteer their time. They decided to make the donation to the Legion, in order to help offset the cost of the flags. Curry, a veteran himself, said: “The guys here in Chester are all War heroes who never ask for anything themselves. They simply move forward every day volunteering time to help their brother and sister veterans, and their families.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Chester American Legion can do so by Jerry LaMark or mail a contribution to American Legion, PO Box 54, Chester, Ct 06412

Anyone interested in purchasing “Revolting Tales” can find links to it here: www.cdanabbott.com/ buymybooks.html

“Scouting For Food” Helps Fill Pantry Shelves

Members of the Essex Cub Scouts, Pack 4.

Members of the Essex Cub Scouts, Pack 4.

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

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

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

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

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

Five New Eagle Scouts for Old Saybrook’s Boy Scout Troop 51

Eagles at candles

Old Saybrook’s Boy Scout Troop 51 gathered on April 6, 2014 at Grace Church to celebrate their five newest Eagle Scouts. The five new Eagle Scouts are Jack Frysinger, Daniel Puttre, Cody Walden, Joshua Chang and Timothy Foley. These fine young men received the Eagle Scout award, Boy Scouting’s highest honor that is achieved by just 5% of the Boy Scouts in the nation. Each of these new Eagles have spent years in scouting performing community service, earning merit badges, and helping to teach younger scouts camping and leadership skills. Additionally, each of these young men planned and executed an Eagle project to better the community.

Jack Frysinger chose to rehabilitate the pavilion at Town Park for his Eagle project. With the help of many scout and adult volunteers, he removed the broken supports for the old benches and installed and painted new benches outfitted with sturdy supports. He and his team also repainted the upright roof columns, replaced missing rocks in the stone foundation, and cleaned out years’ worth of trash and debris. Currently a senior at Old Saybrook High School, Jack will attend Northeastern University in the fall to study Computer Science.

Daniel Puttre’s Eagle Project was to refurbish the decking, steps, and ramp entrance to Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services. Dan enlisted the help of scouts and community members to complete his project. It entailed removing and replacing the wooden handrails and several balusters, sanding and staining all the wood surfaces, painting the metal handrails and the caution marks, and replacing the safety striping. Dan will graduate from Old Saybrook High School in June, and will attend Keene State College in the fall to study Sustainable Product Innovation and Design

Joshua Chang renovated the trailhead and restored the fishway near the Crystal Lake dam for his Eagle project. His project involved installing a drainage pipe and filter fabric under the trail, spreading gravel, sand, and round stones and placing large paving stones over the trail. The fishway in the trailhead area, which allows fish swimming upstream to access the lake to spawn, was damaged in the flood of March 2010. The restoration of the fishway included recovery of surge stones that were washed down stream by the flood and rebuilding of several weirs in the fishway. Joshua is completing his freshman year at Old Saybrook High School and plans to remain active in scouting for the remainder of his high school career.

Cody Walden’s Eagle Project was to further protect Long Island Sound by building and installing Fishing String Recyclers to help birds, fish, and turtles remain tangle-free from fishing line disposed of in the Sound. The recyclers were placed at major spots in town: the Causeway, Dock and Dine, Gardiner’s Landing, North Cove, Town Dock and three marinas in the Town of Old Saybrook. Cody is a senior at Old Saybrook High School and will graduate in June. Cody will attend Keene State College in the fall to major in History and Political Science.

Tim Foley’s Eagle Project was to refurbish the seawall, sidewalk and grassy area at Gardiner’s Landing in Old Saybrook. Tim and his team of fellow scouts also received assistance from the Old Saybrook Land Trust and Public Works. The project included filling large crevices and holes with riprap stone; covering the area with stabilizing tarp; adding topsoil and planting grass. Additionally, Tim installed a permanent pole for a fishing line collector. Tim is a senior at Old Saybrook High School, graduating in June. Tim will attend the University of Vermont in the fall to study engineering.

These new Eagle Scouts are grateful to their fellow scouts, leaders, adult volunteers, and family and community members for their assistance and guidance throughout their years in scouting and during their Eagle projects.  Troop 51 extends a heartfelt thank you to Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, for their many years of support and sponsorship.  Old Saybrook is very fortunate to have such a successful program to guide and build independent young leaders. If your son would like to join Troop 51 or if you are interested in supporting this program, please contact Scoutmaster Bill Hart , or Committee Chairman John Puttre at 860-388-6116.

High Kicking in Old Saybrook – Irish Dance Teacher Joins Dance School

Riverdance: Photo Credit Jack Hartin reproduced courtesy of Riverdance

Riverdance: Photo Credit Jack Hartin reproduced courtesy of Riverdance

The Gray School, Old Saybrook is delighted to announce that Craig Ashurst, TCRG will be joining their faculty this summer.

“Craig brings with him enormous talent, impressive experience, and immense passion for Irish dance. We could not be more excited to officially welcome him into our Gray School family!” said Iris Gray, principal of the Gray School of Irish Dance.

Craig Ashurst,  TCRG (Photo courtesy of Christina Dozall)

Craig Ashurst, TCRG (Photo courtesy of Christina Dozall)

Craig started dancing in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia at the age of 5. By the end of his competitive career, he held 10 Regional titles and 9 Australian National titles, in addition to winning the British National, Great Britain, and North American Championships.  Craig also had the honor of winning the much-coveted All Ireland title while dancing with the prestigious Danny Doherty Academy in England.

Upon making the switch to performing in shows, he danced along side Michael Flatley during the filming of the Lord of the Dance 3D movie. Craig performed as a principle dancer in Riverdance for most of his 6 and a half years with the show and was also awarded his Irish dancing teachers certificate (T.C.R.G) from the Irish dancing commission in Dublin Ireland. Craig has instructed Irish dance at the Camp Rince Ceol Irish Dance Camp for five summers and has conducted various workshops in different parts of the world.

“In addition to his international career, Craig is well known to this part of New England through his performances as dance soloist and choir member with the show, Celtic Woman and is featured on their PBS special, DVD and in concerts at the Radio City Music Hall, NYC,” said Maura Gray, joint principal of the Gray School. “We are very pleased announce that Craig will be joining our  faculty.  Craig will be with us at our July camps and we look forward to more exciting times at the Gray School as we continue to grow.”

Irish Dance is a great sport no matter what direction you choose to take. It is fantastic exercise that builds both confidence and discipline and offers students the opportunity to participate both individually and as part of a team.  The Gray School of Irish Dance, is the premier School of Irish Step Dance in Connecticut, with over 35 years of experience teaching dance to children from all over Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.  They offer introductory or recreational dance class for fun and exercise, as well as competitive classes for those who wish to compete in the USA and Internationally. They offer classes and graded exams in Traditional Irish Dance taught to the standards of An Coimisiùn, Ireland for children and adults.

For more information about Craig and the Gray School of Irish Dance please visit:

http://www.grayschool.com/ pages/main/faculty.html or email Iris Gray Sharnick: iris@grayschool.com

Deep River Finance Board Approves $25,000 Cut, June 9 Town Meeting to Vote on Revised Budget

DEEP RIVER— The board of finance has approved a $25,000 cut in the $15.3 million budget plan that was rejected by voters in a referendum this week, with a June 9 town meeting vote scheduled on a revised budget for 2014-2015. The town meeting will convene at 7:30 p.m. in the town hall auditorium.

The finance board, meeting jointly with the board of selectmen Thursday, approved a reduction of $12,500 in the town government budget, and a $12,500 reduction in the appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. The cut will allow for a small reduction in a planned 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate that had generated some controversy in this year’s budget process and set the stage for Tuesday’s 115-78 referendum defeat for the budge, the first rejection of a budget in Deep River since 2001.
The new tax rate would be 25.88 mills, a 0.80 mill increase from the current tax rate. The spending plan defeated in the referendum called for a tax rate of 25.93 mills. The new rate would represent $25.88 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

First Selectman Richard Smith said finance board reviewed various budget accounts during Thursday’s special meeting, often considering cuts of only $500. But after discussion with the selectmen, the board approved only a $25,000 reduction. He noted the review confirmed that most of the town budget accounts are “very tight,” with reductions possibly leading to budget overruns at the end of the next fiscal year.

Smith said the $12,500 cut in the town government budget would come from an additional $25,000 that was included for storm clean up in 2014-2015, an addition that was made in response to the harsher than usual past two winter seasons. The  $12,500 reduction in the elementary school appropriation will be determined by the local board of education.

There could be no changes in the town’s $5.6 million share of the Region 4 education budget that had been approved on a 319-253 vote in a May 6 referendum. Chester and Essex voters had supported the Region 4 budget, though voters in Deep River opposed the budget 156-69. With more students attending Valley Regional High School and john Winthrop Middle School, Deep River had a $442,063 increase in its Region 4 budget share that accounted for much of the total $523,376 spending increase that led to the proposed 0.85 mill tax increase.

Smith said selectmen and the finance board are prepared to publicly oppose the Region 4 budget before the 2015 referendum if it includes a large increase in the Deep River share that would require a tax increase for 2015-2016.

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

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

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

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

Girl Scout Volunteer Receives Local Honor

Left to right: GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, Maureen, and GSOFCT Board President Caroline Sloat. (Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of Connecticut.)

Left to right: GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, Maureen, and GSOFCT Board President Caroline Sloat. (Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of Connecticut.)

OLD SAYBROOK — Girl Scouts of Connecticut is proud to announce that Maureen Francescon of the Marsh Service Unit (Old Saybrook/Westbrook) was awarded the prestigious Girl Scouts of Connecticut Pin at the organization’s Annual Meeting on May 28.

The Girl Scouts of Connecticut pin was developed exclusively by Girl Scouts of Connecticut and is the highest award given to adults on behalf of the Council. The Girl Scouts of Connecticut Pin recognizes any registered Adult Girl Scout giving outstanding service to a Council-wide assignment, or whose service and dedication impacts the success and development of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience for Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

Maureen Francescon has been the leader of Travel Troop #3 for 35 years, leading 45 girls in numerous opportunities abroad, including Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. She has also taken groups of girls to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. In addition, she ensures the troop participates in two community service trips per year.

The photo attached, from left to right: GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, Maureen, and GSOFCT Board President Caroline Sloat. Photo credit is Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

For more information, visit www.gsofct.org.

About Girl Scouts of Connecticut

Girl Scouts of Connecticut is the largest girl-empowerment organization in the state, serving nearly 44,000 girls and more than 18,000 adult members. Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

For further information, visit www.gsofct.org or call 1 (800) 922-2770.

New Principal Appointed for Deep River Elementary School

The Deep River Elementary School Board of Education is pleased to announce the  appointment of Mr. Christian Strickland to the position of Principal at Deep River Elementary School. Christian Strickland has most recently served as the Assistant Principal at Griswold Elementary School in Berlin, Connecticut for the past four
years.

Strickland replaces an interim principal who has directed the school since January, Nancy Haslam of East Haddam. Haslam, who had worked previously as principal at an elementary school in Waterford, was hired by the local school board at the end of last year to replace Jennifer Byars.

A local resident who was hired in 2012, Byars left to accept a position as assistant superintendent of schools for the Ledyard school district. The previous principal was Jack Pietrick, who held the job for 13 years before retiring in 2012.

Prior to his experience as Assistant Principal, Strickland was a Math Instructional Specialist for two years. Strickland began his career in education as a third and fourth grade teacher in Maryland and then in the Berlin Public Schools. Strickland has been recognized as a Teacher of the Year, and nominated for the CAS Assistant Principal of the year. Outside of school, Christian is an avid swimmer and enjoys participating in Spartan Races.

Strickland completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary education, his Master of Science Degree and his Sixth Year Degree in Educational Leadership, all from Central Connecticut State University.

The Deep River Board of Education and Search Committee were very impressed with Strickland’s knowledge, commitment to excellence, integrity, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for elementary school students, families, and the Deep River community. The Board of Education unanimously endorsed Strickland on Thursday May 15th, at their Board of Education meeting. We are confident that Strickland will provide excellent leadership for the students at Deep River Elementary School.

Strickland resides in Middletown with his family. He will begin his tenure in the Deep River Public Schools on July 1st, 2014.

Proposed $15.3 Million Deep River Budget Plan Fails in Low Turnout Referendum

DEEP RIVER— A proposed $15,302,887 budget plan for 2014-2015 was rejected Tuesday on a 115-78 vote after an eight hour referendum. The board of selectmen and board of finance will hold a special joint meeting Thursday to consider any possible changes to the spending plan, which would then be submitted for a second vote at a town meeting expected in the second week of June.

While the spending plan presented Tuesday included a proposed $3.78 million town government budget, a $5.47 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s $5.6 million share of the Region 4 budget, only the town and elementary school portions of the total spending plan are still subject to revision by the board of finance. The Region 4 budget was already approved on a 319-253 vote in a May 6 referendum, with Chester and Essex votes supporting the budget over a 156-69 opposing vote in Deep River.

The total spending plan rejected Tuesday would have required a 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate, for a new rate of 25.93 mills. Of a total spending increase of $523,376, $442,063 is for the town’s share of the Region 4 budget that is determined by the number of students from Deep River attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. A higher than anticipated increase in the Deep River average daily membership at the two schools made the town’s taxpayers responsible for a larger share of the Region 4 budget.

First Selectman Richard Smith noted that with the Region 4 amount locked in, there is little the selectmen and finance board can do to reduce the increase in the tax rate. “You’ve got to get close to $100,000 in cuts to have any real impact on the mill rate,” he said, adding that both the town and elementary school budgets are already “very tight.”
But Finance Board Chairman John Bauer said the board should make a final review of the town and elementary school budgets for any possible cuts, even with the understanding that cuts in these appropriations would bring little change to the tax rate. Bauer said the second vote on any revised budget should be done by voters at a town meeting, not a referendum. “It’s a waste of money for the amount of people who showed up today,” he said.

Eyesore No More, Essex Slum House Is Taken Down

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

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

The pile of debris gets larger

The pile of debris gets larger

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

The trip to the dump is next

The trip to the dump is next

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

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

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

Deep River Referendum Tuesday on Proposed $15.3 Million Town and Schools Budget

DEEP RIVER— Polls will be open from 12 noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the library community room for a referendum vote on the proposed $15,302,887 town and schools budget plan for 2014-2015.

The total spending package, which is up by $523,376 from the current amount,  includes a $3,826,230 town government budget and capital expenditure plan, $384,670 for debt service, a proposed $5,474,000 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s $5,602,987 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 total was already approved in a May 6 referendum, with voters of Chester and Essex supporting the budget and Deep River opposed on a 156-69 vote.

With more students attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River is paying a larger share of the Region 4 budget this year. The town’s share of the budget is up by $442,063, or 8.57 percent, an increase that accounts for nearly all of a planned .085-mill hike in the property tax rate that is required to fund the spending total.

The proposed tax rate of 25.93 mills represents $25.93 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value, a 3.4 percent increase in the tax rate. The amount of the tax increase led the board of selectmen to decide to send the spending plan directly to a referendum vote. After more than a decade of  budget referendums with ever decreasing vote turnout, the town last year approved the budget by a town meeting vote for the first time since 2000.

Chester Town Meeting Approves $12.5 Million Town/Schools Budget Plan for 2014-2015

CHESTER— The spring budget season ended quietly Thursday night as voters at the annual budget meeting approved a $12,507,736 budget plan for 2014-2015. About 40 residents turned out for the meeting, with the budget and a related $350,000 transfer of funds for capital projects approved on unanimous voice votes.

The spending package includes a $3,649,681 town government budget, a $342,670 capital expenditure plan, a $4,150,677 appropriation for Chester Elementary School, and the town’s $4,364,508 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 budget was approved by voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 6 referendum.

The spending plan that won quick approval Thursday will require a property tax rate of 24.82 mills, an increase of 2.87 mills from the current tax rate of 21.95 mills. The new rate represents $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. The hike in the mill rate was driven by a 12 percent decrease in the grand list of taxable property that resulted from the townwide property revaluation completed last year.

But the drop in assessed values for residential property that came with the revaluation is also expected to cover or limit any increase in tax bills resulting from the new and higher mill rate. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said 57 percent of all property owners will have a decrease in their tax bill, while some total bills will remain the same or have a small increase.

Meehan said the selectmen and board of finance endorsed two transfers from the town undesignated fund balance to limit the need for additional tax revenue and calculate the tax rate at 24.82 mills. There was a direct transfer of $13,287, and an additional transfer of $350,000 to prefund capital projects for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 budget years
The transfer for capital projects, which was approved on a unanimous voice vote, includes $300,000 for road and sidewalk repairs, $150,000 in 2014-2015 and $150,000 in 2015-2016, and $50,000 for repairs and code compliance improvements at town buildings. The transfer is expected to leave about $1.8 million in the fund balance on June 30, 2015.

State Rep. Giuliano Supports STEAP Grant for Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK – State Rep. Marilyn Giuliano petitioned the Small Town Economic Assistance Program for a grant of $500,000 to fund the town of Old Saybrook’s creation of the Main Street Connections Park and Parking Lot Project.

“This grant will improve our Main Street business district with much needed downtown parking and a recreational park for people to enjoy our downtown attractions,” said Giuliano.

The town will use the grant funding for capital improvements including redeveloping the irreparably storm-damaged Police Department property.  Additional downtown parking and a park with a canopied pathway and seating area are planned.

Giuliano said, “Old Saybrook has made an outstanding effort to redesign our downtown area. I am thankful to all those who assisted with this project and I look forward to seeing the progress.”

Valley Regional’s Production ‘Secret Garden’ Receives 12 Nominations for Music Theater Awards

Valley Regional Musical Productions’ newest cast member(s), Mr. Robin, arrives at rehearsal of THE SECRET GARDEN at Valley Regional High School.  (Back, left to right): VRMP cast members Megan Ryan, Shelby Talbot, Kristen Kilby and Annie Brown. (Front): Puppet artist Linda Wingerter

Valley Regional Musical Productions’ newest cast member(s), Mr. Robin, arrives at rehearsal of THE SECRET GARDEN at Valley Regional High School. (Back, left to right): VRMP cast members Megan Ryan, Shelby Talbot, Kristen Kilby and Annie Brown. (Front): Puppet artist Linda Wingerter

Valley Regional High School’s 2014 Production of The Secret Garden received 12 nominations for Connecticut High School Music Theater Award this year. The Award ceremony will take place at the black tie gala on Monday June 2, at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. Good luck to all our nominees!

OUTSTANDING HAIR & MAKE UP ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING COSTUMING ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY

OUTSTANDING MUSIC DIRECTION

OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTRESS, Maggie Walsh -MARY LENNOX

OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTOR, Andrew Goehring -ARCHIBALD CRAVEN

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR, Casey McKeon – DICKON SOWERBY

OUTSTANDING CHORUS

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR

Carney Cruises to Victory in 23rd District Republican Convention

Devin Carney

Devin Carney

Devin Carney, Republican candidate for State Representative, won the 23rd District Convention by a vote of 10-4. His campaign was able to earn unanimous support from Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. This included votes from the Lyme First Selectman, Ralph Eno, the Old Saybrook First Selectman, Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., and the current State Representative for the 23rd District, Marilyn Giuliano, who also gave Carney his nominating speech and has endorsed him.

In a statement, Giuliano said, “I believe Devin will work for all of us with energy and integrity, and with an interest not in politics, but public service.” Giuliano lost her convention in 2002 by onlytwo votes on a second ballot vote after the first vote failed to determine a winner by majority, but defeated her opponent in a primary due to her showing in her hometown of Old Saybrook.

In addition to the support at convention, Carney has received support from each town – which can be seen through his strong fundraising effort. He collected 95 donations from Old Saybrook, 57 from Old Lyme, 35 from Westbrook, and 18 from Lyme.

Carney stated, “The results at convention were a testament to the hard work I’ve put in these past few months and to the confidence the delegates have in me to win in November. I bring new, fresh ideas to the table and can’t wait to get up to Hartford to offer some much-needed common sense. I am not your typical politician, but rather a regular person just trying to fix our economy, get jobs back in Connecticut, and help rejuvenate the Republican Party in this state.”

He continued, “Most importantly, I believe the people of the 23rd District deserve a representative who understands the unique issues in each of the four towns. While I live in Old Saybrook, my family is from Westbrook, my mother lives in Lyme, and my longtime girlfriend lives in Old Lyme with her children. I have a personal stake in each town and will be a representative for all; the people of the 23rd deserve nothing less.”

For more information about Carney’s campaign, contact Melissa Bonner at carneyfor23pr@gmail.com.

Essex Eyesore to be Demolished on May 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letters: Senator Linares, Explain Your Voting Record

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

David Harfst
Essex

Region 4 Superintendent Dr. Ruth Levy Wins TTYS Award

Dr. Ruth Levy

Dr. Ruth Levy

Tri-Town Youth Services recently presented its 2014 Generativity Award to Region 4 Superintendent of Schools, Ruth Levy. Dr. Levy has been with Region 4 Schools for eight years. During her initial three years, she served as Assistant Superintendent.

Dr. Levy was chosen for this award because of her leadership of the schools in the tri-town area. Dr. Levy attributes much of the schools’ success to the extensive collaboration that takes place among educators, government, social services, prevention programming. She cites involvement with Whelan, law enforcement, Tri-Town, Camp Hazen and Boards of Selectmen, Boards of Finance and Boards of Education all coming together to benefit the children. As she says, “it’s a wonderful place for children to grow up.”

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. We coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most. Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

 

Chester Selectmen Stand by Main Street Project with North Side Sidewalk

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Wednesday approved plans for the Main Street East project that include a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road that has drawn objections from some residents in recent weeks.

The board accepted the recommendation of the volunteer Main Street Project Committee to direct project engineers to prepare final design plans that would include the north side sidewalk. The decision was unanimous and bipartisan, with Republican Selectman Tom Englert joining Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan and Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher in the vote.

The Main Street East Project, the first phase of a long-planned reconstruction of Main Street through the downtown village, calls for reconstructing 1,800 linear feet of Main Street from the entrance to the Laurel Hill Cemetery east to the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Route 148). The committee’s recommendation for a continuous north side sidewalk, made in March, drew a mixed response from residents at a well-attended April 22 public information meeting

Project engineers with the Mystic firm Kent & Frost Associates presented alternative plans at the session, with most of the discussion focused on the north side sidewalk option that would require some changes to residential properties at 131 and 137 Main Street. Many of the objections focused on the need to remove three mature maple tree in the vicinity of 131 Main St. and the School Lane intersection. But other residents supported the plan for a continuous north side sidewalk and safer and more convenient for pedestrians, particularly with the possibility the town will pursue construction of a new library on a section of North Quarter Park that is located off the north side of the street.

The property owners at 131 Main St., David and Lisa Meade, have expressed a willingness to accept the sidewalk with tree removal and work with the committee and engineers on landscape improvements and replacement of the trees. The property owners at 137 Main St., Jeff and Comer Gates, continue to oppose the project plans.

Comer Gates and three other residents continued to voice objections to the north side sidewalk before the board’s vote Wednesday. Henry Krempel suggested delaying a decision on the north side sidewalk until after plans and funding for a new library at North Quarter park receive approval from town voters.

But Meehan said the Main Street reconstruction is “long overdue,” with the north side sidewalk a much safer long range improvement for pedestrians. He noted all work for the four-foot wide sidewalk would be in the town’s right of way, with no need for taking of any private property for the project. Meehan said the town remains willing to work with both property owners, and pick up the cost for landscaping improvements on their properties.
Englert, who served briefly as acting first selectman in 2011, said he had initial concerns about the north side sidewalk, but was convinced by comments from residents at the April 22 information meeting that it would be a safer long term improvement for the town by reducing the number of crosswalks between the north and south side of the street.

Meehan said there would be no need for a town meeting vote on the project design plans, though a town meeting vote would be required at a future date to transfer any needed town funding for the project. Most of the project would be funded by about $980,000 in state grant funds, though some additional town funding would likely be needed before the project could be put out to bid. Officials hop to being construction of the Main Street East project in the spring of 2015.
In other business Wednesday, selectmen accepted a volunteer committee’s recommendation to hire the Avon firm Richter & Cegan inc. as the consults for drafting a master plan for North Quarter Park that would include a possible library site The other firm interviewed by the committee Wednesday was Kent & Frost.. Officials want the master plan completed by July 15.

Region 4 Budget Wins Referendum Approval on 319-253 Vote

 

REGION 4— Voters of Chester, Deep River and Essex approved the $18.37 million district education budget for 2014-2015 on a 319-253 vote in an eight-hour referendum Tuesday. The budget that funds the operation of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School won voter approval in two of the three district towns, but was rejected by Deep River voters.

The vote in Essex was 191-60 in favor of the budget. Chester voters approved the budget on a 59-37 vote. In Deep River, where a higher share of the budget is expected to lead to a 0.85 mill hike in the tax rate, voters opposed the spending plan on a 156-69 vote. The 66-vote margin for approval was much closer than last year, when the budget was approved on a 274-145 vote.

The $18,377,431 budget represents a $601,431, or 3.38 percent, increased over current spending. The total budget is reduced by $297,447 in anticipated revenue to a net budget of $18,079,984 that is assessed taxpayers in each town depending on the number of students from the town attending the two secondary schools.

The net budget is up by $579,395, or 3.31 percent. Each town had an increase in the Region 4 budget share, but Deep River had the largest increase of $442,063.

Board Chairman Chris Riley of Essex said he was hoping for better turnout, but is pleased the budget was approved. “While the turnout in Essex this year was a bit of a disappointment, I am pleased the Region 4 budget had been approved, he said. “Throughout our process of budget workshops, careful evaluation, and difficult decisions, our board has worked to balance the needs of students with being fiscally responsible to the communities we serve.”‘

Voter turnout for the annual referendum has been low and decreasing in recent years, but the total three-town vote of 572 was up from a turnout of 419 voters last year.  A total of 619 voters participated in the 2012 referendum.

 

Essex Savings Bank Center for Financial Training Certificate Awards

ESSEX —  Essex Savings Bank is pleased to announce that several employees were honored at the 67th Annual Graduation and Awards Ceremony of the Center for Financial Training.  Brenda Kim, Assistant Branch Manager of the Old Lyme Branch, received her Professional Teller Certificate, Advanced Financial Services Diploma and First in Class Certificate for Real Estate Finance.  Isabel Roberge, Senior Teller at the Chester Branch, received her Professional Teller Certificate and Suzanne Schneider, Accounting Representative at the Corporate Office, received a First in Class Certificate for Law and Banking:  Applications, Introduction to Financial Services Certificate and Introduction to Financial Services Operations Certificate.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851.  The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook.   Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc, Member FINRA, SIPC. Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value and are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

Two New Rebud Trees on South Main

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

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

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

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

Chester Town and Elementary School Budgets Head for May 22 Town Vote After Quiet Public Hearing

CHESTER— A proposed $3.64 million town government budget and a $4.15 appropriation for Chester Elementary School head for a town meeting vote on May 22 after a quiet public hearing Monday.

Barely a dozen residents turned out for the budget hearing, with no calls for changes or reductions to the spending plans. The town government budget is up by $132,627 over the current appropriation, while the requested budget for the elementary school has decreased by $31,696. The total $12,507,736 spending package also includes a $342,870 capital expenditure plan, and the town’s $4,364,508 share of the Region 4 education budget.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan explained that a sharp 12 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property resulting from last year’s townwide property revaluation would require an increase in the tax rate, though decreases in assessed values for nearly all residential properties would mean that nearly all property owners would see either a decrease, or no change, in their current tax bills. The recommended tax rate for 2014-2015 is 24.82 mills, an increase of 3.87 mills from the current rate of 21.95 mills, The proposed rate represents $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Meehan said calculations by the assessor and tax collector indicate 57 percent of all property owners would have a decrease in their tax bill, even with the higher mill rate. This total includes 60 percent of all homeowners, 65 percent of all owners of vacant land, and 17 percent of all owners of commercial property. Meehan said the finance board has decided to use about $350,000 in surplus funds to “prepay” for key items in the capital expenditure plan for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. He said this would help limit tax increases for 2014-2015 and subsequent years.

The plan recommended by the board of selectmen and finance board would also transfer $13,287 from the town’s unexpended fund balance to cover spending in the next fiscal year, while leaving an estimated $1.83 million in the fund balance on June 30, 2015. The spending plan also includes $20,000 to fund  architectural design work for a possible new library building in North Quarter Park.

The annual budget meeting to vote on the town government and elementary school budgets is set for Thursday May 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the second floor meeting room at town hall. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on Tuesday May 6.

Regional School District #4 Appoints New Director of Pupil Services

The Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4 Schools are pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Sarah Smalley to the position of Director of Pupil Services.

Ms. Smalley previously served as a special educator, Department Coordinator, and Interim Associate Principal at Valley Regional High School from 2003- through 2011. She served as Director of Pupil Services in New Hartford, CT, a Pre-Kindergarten through grade six school district. Ms. Smalley continued her administrative experience as the Supervisor of Pupil Services in Region 17, Haddam-Killingworth for the past two years.

Ms. Smalley attended George Washington University for her Bachelors and Masters Degrees, and Sacred Heart University for her Sixth Year Degree in Educational Leadership.

Ms. Smalley comes to us from a family of educators, and serves her community as a member of the Region 18, Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education. We are pleased to welcome Sarah Smalley back home to our communities in her new position as Director of Pupil Services.

Ms. Smalley will begin her post on July 1, 2014.

May 6 Public Hearing set on Deep River Town and Elementary School Budgets, Referendum Vote Planned for May 27

DEEP RIVER— The public hearing is Tuesday on a proposed $3.78 million town government budget and a requested $5.47 million appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. The hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the board of selectmen has already decided to bring the total $15,302,887 spending package for 2014-2015 to a12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 27 because of the 0.85 mill hike in the property tax rate that would be required to fund the combined town/schools spending plan. After holding referendum votes on budgets since 2000, decreasing voter turnouts for the annual referendums led the board of selectmen last year to hold a town meeting-paper ballot vote on the budget.

Smith said if the required tax increase was less than one-half mill, there would be another town meeting vote on the budget this year. But Smith said the size of the tax increase calls for a referendum vote that could bring wider participation from town voters. The new tax rate would be 25.93 mills, or $25.93 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

The $3,788,230 town government budget that is up by $86,861, or 2.35 percent, from the current total. Smith said the budget includes a two percent wage/salary increase for town employees and elected officials, though the exact amount of the pay increases would be subject to negotiations with the Deep River Municipal Employees Association. The budget also includes $20,000 for a part-time assistant in the accounting office, a move that has been recommended in recent years by auditors. The town spending package also includes a $38,000 capital expenditure plan, and $384,670 for debt service.

The $5,474,000 budget for Deep River Elementary School is down by 37,158, a decrease that is largely driven by decreasing students enrollment at the kindergarten through sixth grade school. But an increase in the number of students from Deep River attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School has led to a sharp increase in the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget.

The $5,602,987 Deep River share is up by $442,063, or 8.57 percent, from the current amount. Smith said the higher share of the Region 4 budget is driving factor for nearly all of the 0.85 mills tax increase. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on Tuesday, the same day as the town budget hearing. Last year, the tax rate increased by 0.40 mills to fund town and school spending in the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

A Smooth Transition from Essex to Westbrook for Middlesex Hospital

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

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

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

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

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

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

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

 Middlesex Hospital President and CEO On Hand

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

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

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

IFoundFitness Weight Loss Challenge Helps Feeds the Hungry

Left to right: Claire Bellerjeau of SSKP, Donna Scott, Owner of IFoundFitness, Jeff Prindle, Store Manager of the Deep River Adams Super Food Store, and the top three winners of the challenge: first place, Sarina Garofalo, second place, “Santa” Dave Puffer, and third place, Deb Garofalo, pictured with the food donation.

Left to right: Claire Bellerjeau of SSKP, Donna Scott, Owner of IFoundFitness, Jeff Prindle, Store Manager of the Deep River Adams Super Food Store, and the top three winners of the challenge: first place, Sarina Garofalo, second place, “Santa” Dave Puffer, and third place, Deb Garofalo, pictured with the food donation.

DEEP RIVER — The 2014 IFoundFitness “Winter River Valley Slim Down” challenge included over 30 people competing for $2,300 in prizes. In addition, the competition raised $478 to purchase a food donation for The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries. The winner, Sarina Garofalo, lost 21% of her body weight in 12 weeks through the challenge.

The total weight of the food donated was equally impressive, resulting in 339 pounds of food for SSKP’s Westbrook Pantry, which distributes over 15,000 pounds of food every month to hundreds of local families in need. When the funds were brought to the Deep River Adams Supermarket, manager Jeff Prindle sold the food “at cost”, making every penny count for the pantry.

Donna Scott, owner of IFoundFitness, repeats this special challenge several times per year. “Getting people of all ages fit, through regular exercise and healthy eating, and then giving back to the community is what it’s about!”, she said.

“On behalf of those we serve, who experience a community that cares deeply each time they attend a pantry, I thank IFoundFitness and all the challenge participants for remembering those in need on the shoreline,” said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP.

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River. Founded 25 years ago, in 1989, at the Baptist Church in Essex, the agency continues in its mission to feed the hungry in body and spirit. Last year with a small staff and over 900 dedicated volunteers, SSKP served over 908,000 meals worth of food to shoreline neighbors in need.

 

Chester Town Government and Elementary School Budgets go to Public Hearing

CHESTER— A proposed $3.64 million town government budget and a proposed $4.15 million appropriation for Chester Elementary School will be presented at the annual budget hearing Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room at town hall.

The $3,649,681 town government budget, which includes a 2.75percent wage/salary increase for town employees and elected officials, is up by $133,626 from the current appropriation. The $4,150,677 budget for Chester Elementary School is down by $31,696 from the current appropriation.

The total $12,507,736 spending package for 2014-2015 also includes a $342,870 capital expenditure plan, and the town’s $4,364,508 share of the Region 4 education budget. The capital plan is down by $30,750. After a sharp drop in the town’s share of the region 4 budget last year because of fewer students from Chester attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, the Chester share of the proposed Region 4 budget is up by $106,915.

Calculations for the property tax rate have been shaped by the ten-year townwide property revaluation that was completed last year. The revaluation resulted in a, 12 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property, reflecting the decline in property values that followed the Great Recession that began in 2008. More than 90 percent of the town’s residential properties had a decrease in assessed values.

The board of selectmen and finance board, in preparing the spending plan over the past two months, had set a goal of avoiding any actual increase in tax bills for homeowners. While the tax rate is recommended to increase by 3.87 mills, to 24.82 mills from the current rate of 21.95 mills, decreases in assessed values are expected to cover the increase and forestall higher tax bills.

The new rate would represent $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. With help from a lower share of the Region 4 budget, the tax rate was dropped by one-half mill last year.to fund current spending.

The town and elementary school budgets go to voters for approval at the annual budget meeting on May 22. The Region 4 budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

Obituary: Gary William Lamothe – April 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Essex Town Elementary School Budgets Unchanged After Public Hearing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gov. Malloy Announces Plan to Seek State Funding to Protect The Preserve

 

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Hartford — Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced today a plan for the state to play a major role in purchasing and protecting as open space a 1,000-acre parcel along Long Island Sound known as The Preserve, which is located in the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook.

“We will take action to make funds available for the state’s participation in the purchase of the property and to address issues concerning joint ownership and stewardship of the land with the Town of Old Saybrook, which will also be making a significant financial contribution,” said Governor Malloy.  “The permanent protection of The Preserve has been a goal of the land conservation community across our state for more than 15 years and it’s time to act to achieve this important goal.”

The Preserve is considered to be the last, large unprotected coastal forest between New York and Boston.  The property is rich in natural resources, wildlife, and habitat areas and will offer hiking and other passive outdoor recreational opportunities.  The Preserve, which also provides an important coastal buffer against storm waters, connects to 500 acres of existing parklands in adjoining towns and miles of hiking trails. (Download map of The Preserve)

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a leader in the effort to protect The Preserve, reached an agreement with River Sound Development LLC to purchase the property in July 2013. Since that time, it has been working to secure funds needed to finalize the purchase, which is now set at $8.09 million.

“The Preserve is one of Connecticut’s special places and this support from the state will allow us to move forward and forever protect from development this land,” said Alicia Sullivan, Connecticut State Director of TPL.  “Our mission is to protect land for people, and I can’t think of a better example of protecting land for all the people who live in Connecticut, and visit here.”

Governor Malloy said that under the agreement, the State of Connecticut would be an owner of The Preserve and intends to contribute $3.3 million toward its purchase and management, consisting of $1.4 million from federal funds for open space acquisition and $1.9 million for acquisition and management pending approval by the State Bond Commission.

Additional funds for the purchase are expected from the Town of Old Saybrook, which plans to contribute $3 million, and from TPL, which will bring private funding in the range of $2 to $3 million for acquisition and management.

“The Town of Old Saybrook is grateful for the state’s support as we move forward to protect The Preserve.  We now have a chance to put to rest once and for all the question of what will happen with The Preserve,” said Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna, Jr.  “I look forward to launching a public process in Old Saybrook that will conclude with a referendum to approve the town’s financial support for this important land acquisition.”

State funding may increase through a grant to the Essex Land Trust, an applicant for matching funds for the acquisition and protection of 71 acres of The Preserve that is located within the Town of Essex.  This application is pending under the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition program administered by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).  In addition, the Town of Westbrook is discussing options to facilitate the preservation and public use of The Preserve.

Governor Malloy said that he is asking the General Assembly to take action this session to authorize an agreement with TPL that will transfer a vast majority of The Preserve to the state and the Town of Old Saybrook for joint ownership and management of these critical lands.

“We appreciate the strong interest that the residents of Old Saybrook have in protecting this property and the willingness of the town to make funds available to help us accomplish this goal,” Governor Malloy said.  “The agreement we envision will allow for a positive and productive partnership between the state and the town that will provide lasting benefits for everyone.”

Other parties that strongly supported the purchase and protection of The Preserve include the Old Saybrook Land Trust, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound, The Alliance for Sound Area Planning, Audubon Connecticut, and The Nature Conservancy.

Support for Acquisition of The Preserve

“The purchase of The Preserve will ensure that these unique and environmentally valuable and sensitive lands will be protected in perpetuity,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee.  “Connecticut is fortunate to have an active and effective land conservation community that has played a key role in preserving thousands of acres across our state and paved the way for action on The Preserve.”

“For years, this fight was a long and lonely one, a seeming endless uphill battle for citizen activists dedicated to preserving this true treasure,” Senator Richard Blumenthal said.  “Governor Malloy is demonstrating a strong commitment to protecting pristine, environmentally significant land in Connecticut.  I have fought development of The Preserve for many years and commend the state’s aggressive action to permanently stop any development of this unique asset.”

“While walking along The Preserve land yesterday with members of the Old Saybrook community, it couldn’t have been more clear that this breathtaking open space needs to be protected for our future generations,” said Senator Chris Murphy.  “This forest land is the idea place to spend an afternoon hiking, exploring, and observing Connecticut’s natural beauty. I’ve been committed to open space protection issues since my days as a state official and I know how committed the land preservation community has been to protecting The Preserve. Today’s announcement is a huge win for the Old Saybrook community, and I commend all those who worked to make this possible.”

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Co-Chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus, said, “The Long Island Sound is a regional and a national treasure and protecting The Preserve will ensure this pristine and vibrant ecosystem is available for future Americans to enjoy.  I applaud the Town of Old Saybrook and Governor Malloy for prioritizing the future of this beautiful area.”

Attorney General George Jepsen said, “Open space preservation not only conserves critical habitat and environmental features, it also contributes to the character of our state.  The Preserve is an important and unique area of our state, and I commend Governor Malloy and all the partners involved for crafting a proposal to protect it for future generations.”

“After a long battle to protect The Preserve, it’s heartening to see the pieces falling into place to finally conserve this extraordinary resource once and for all,” said Don Strait, President of Connecticut Fund for the Environment.  “An opportunity like this comes along once in a generation.  This state funding will join with support from citizens who value The Preserve’s miles of woodland trail and the habitats it provides to bobcats, hawks, and rare amphibians.  It’s an amazing example of what ordinary people can do when they band together to protect the land they love.”

Bill Arnold, President of the Kent Land Trust, said, “I thank Governor Malloy and commend him for his commitment to protecting The Preserve.  As the Governor well knows, this is a unique natural area with a long list of features which are important to conserve.  Acquiring it for public benefit will help protect habitat and water quality as well as provide excellent outdoor recreation opportunities for all Connecticut residents.”

Background on The Preserve

The Preserve consists of approximately 1,000 acres of land along Long Island Sound in three towns: 926 acres in Old Saybrook; 71 acres in Essex; and four acres in Westbrook.

The Preserve was the subject of development proposals dating back to 1998, including plans to build more than 200 homes and an 18-hole golf course. These plans met with strong opposition and lawsuits from conservation groups and residents. Over the years, multiple attempts were made to acquire the land for conservation, but an agreement was never reached and efforts to develop the property continued.

The Preserve includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, more than 3,100 linear feet of watercourses, high quality coastal forest, and an Atlantic White Cedar swamp.  The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a critical refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles. In all, more than 100 species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds thrive on this property, some of which are state-listed species of special concern and others of which are declining in other areas of the state.

In addition to its recreational and habitat resources, The Preserve provides important water quality benefits to residents.  Surface waters on the property drain to three different watersheds: the Oyster River, Mud River and Trout Brook, as they make their way to Long Island Sound.  The protection of The Preserve will ensure that stormwater on the site is recharged to local aquifers.  An aquifer protection area is located just east of the Preserve and supplies an average of 200,000 gallons per day of drinking water to Old Saybrook and surrounding communities.

The Preserve also offers benefits for coastal resiliency in the face of climate change, and conservation of it will ensure lessened stormwater impacts from hurricanes and other intense storms.  It is located in the area designated by FEMA’s Hurricane Sandy Impact Analysis as having experienced “high impact” from Superstorm Sandy.  The Preserve acts act as a sponge for stormwater, releasing it slowly into the tributaries and rivers that lead to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, protecting downstream property owners from flooding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Essex Savings Bank Supports Essex Garden Club Project

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

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

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

Essex Savings Bank Announces Community Investment Program Balloting Results

ESSEX - Results of the recent voting by Essex Savings Bank customers who participated in the Bank’s Community Investment Program were announced at a meeting of employees, directors and trustees at the Bank’s Plains Road Office on Thursday, April 17, 2014.

The Top Ten Winners in attendance received special recognition.

The customer balloting portion of Essex Savings Bank’s 2014 Community Investment Program began on February 1 and concluded on March 15.  During the first phase of the program, the Bank’s customers were asked to select from a list of 85 qualified non-profit organizations that made application to the Bank.

Gregory R. Shook, President and Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank stated, “At Essex Savings Bank, we believe the way to move the world forward is by giving back.  Our Community Investment Program is designed to provide vital financial support to those organizations that enhance the quality of life in our communities.”

Each year the Bank donates 10% of its after tax net income to non-profit organizations within the immediate market area consisting of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.   According to Thomas Lindner, Vice President and Community Relations Officer for Essex Savings Bank, 8,481 votes were cast this year.  Mr. Lindner stated that $67,013 is to be disbursed during the month of April based on ballot results.  The remaining $156,360 will be distributed over the year by the Directors, Senior Management, Branch Managers and Essex Financial Services.  By year end 2014, $223,373 will have been allocated to over 200 organizations bringing the total distribution since the inception of the program in 1996 to $3,896,917.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851.  The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and Shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook.  Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and subsidiary Essex Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC.  Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value, are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

 

Organization # Votes $Amount
1 The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries 801  $       6,329
2 Forgotten Felines, Inc. 437           3,453
3 Valley Shore Animal Welfare League 294           2,323
4 High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. 287           2,268
5 Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM) 287           2,268
6 Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Meals on Wheels 281           2,220
7 Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc. 261           2,062
8 Pet Connections, Inc. 217           1,715
9 Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc. 210           1,659
10 Essex Fire Engine Company #1 210           1,659
11 Camp Hazen YMCA 191           1,509
12 Bikes for Kids, Inc. 189           1,493
13 Essex Library Association 166           1,312
14 Essex Ambulance Association, Inc. 164           1,296
15 Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, Inc. (VNLV) 158           1,248
16 Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, Inc. 155           1,225
17 Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc. 151           1,193
18 Bushy Hill Nature Center 148           1,169
19 The Lyme Fire Company, Inc. 145           1,146
20 Graduation Night, Inc. – Old Saybrook 128           1,011
21 Valley-Shore YMCA 128           1,011
22 Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association 115              909
23 Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc. 112              885
24 Old Saybrook Land Trust, Inc. 108              853
25 The Deep River Fire Department 102              806
26 Friends of the Acton Public Library 96              759
27 Literacy Volunteers – Valley Shore, CT, Inc. 93              735
28 Chester Historical Society 91              719
29 Community Music School 87              687
30 The Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock 87              687
31 Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc. 85              672
32 Old Saybrook Historical Society 83              656
33 Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc. 82              648
34 Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation 79              624
35 Common Good Gardens, Inc. 77              608
36 Friends of Hammonasset, Inc. 76              601
37 The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Inc. 76              601
38 Essex Elementary School Foundation, Inc. 73              577
39 Essex Community Fund, Inc. 72              569
40 Old Saybrook Education Foundation 72              569
41 The Region 4 Education Foundation, Inc. (R4EF) 72              569
42 Florence Griswold Museum 69              545
43 Lyme Public Library, Inc. 69              545
44 Valley Baseball-Softball Booster Club, Inc. 67              529
45 Lyme Art Association, Inc. 66              521
46 Lyme-Old Lyme Safe Graduation Party, Inc. 64              506
47 Essex Historical Society, Inc. 62              490

 

Organization # Votes $Amount
48 Madison Community Services, Inc. 60              474
49 Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc. 60              474
50 Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc. 59              466
51 Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center, Inc. 58              458
52 Chester Land Trust, Inc. 56              442
53 Lyme Public Hall Association, Inc. 54              427
54 Friends of the Chester Public Library, Inc. 51              403
55 Deep River Historical Society, Inc. 49              387
56 Sister Cities Essex Haiti, Inc. 47              371
57 Scranton Library, Madison (aka E.C. Scranton Memorial Library) 45              356
58 CDE (Chester, Deep River, Essex) Cooperative Nursery School 44              348
59 Westbrook Project Graduation, Inc. 43              340
60 Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) 42              332
61 Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc. 41              324
62 The Country School, Inc. 40              316
63 Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, Inc. 39              308
64 Madison Ambulance Association, Inc. 38              300
65 Act II Thrift Shop, Inc. 35              277
66 Essex Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, Inc. 35              277
67 Maritime Education Network, Inc. 35              277
68 Brazilian and American Youth Cultural Exchange (BRAYCE) 34              269
69 Lymes’ Elderly Housing, Inc. (Lymewood) 34              269
70 Camp Claire, Inc. 30              237
71 Hope Partnership, Inc. 30              237
72 Deep River Land Trust, Inc. 27              213
73 The Madison ABC Program, Incorporated (aka Madison A Better Chance, Inc.) 27              213
74 The Touchdown Club, Inc. (Valley Regional High School/    Old Lyme High School Football) 26              205
75 Madison Land Conservation Trust, Inc. 24              190
76 Deep River Elementary PTO, Inc. 23              182
77 Essex Winter Series, Inc. 23              182
78 The Essex Art Association, Incorporated 22              174
79 Musical Masterworks, Inc. 21              166
80 Potapaug Audubon Society 19              150
81 The Woman’s Exchange of Old Lyme 16              126
82 Tracy Art Center, Inc. 15              119
83 The Madison Foundation, Inc. 14              111
84 Madison Historical Society, Inc. 13              103
85 The Deacon John Grave Foundation 9                71

Main Street East Reconstruction Project Draws Mixed Response at Chester Meeting, Location of New Sidewalks an Issue

CHESTER— The Main Street East reconstruction project drew a mixed reaction from residents an a public information meeting Tuesday, with some residents objecting to plans for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road.

About 70- residents turned out for the session held by the town’s volunteer Main Street Project Committee, with residents hearing a presentation by project engineer Kent Frost on two options for a segment of the project that has generated some debate in recent weeks. The project is the first phase of a long-planned project that will later include reconstruction of Main Street in the downtown commercial area. It calls for a reconstruction of 1,800-feet of Main Street from the entrance to the Laurel Hill Cemetery east to the intersection with  Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The committee last month gave a preliminary endorsement to constructing a four-foot wide sidewalk from the entrance to the cemetery east to Route 154, while also retaining and improving sidewalk that runs along portions of the south side of the street, including the area in the vicinity of the Chesterfields Health Care Center. The committee decided a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street would enhance pedestrian safety by reducing the need for crossing the street to use sidewalk, though existing crosswalks at the intersection with School Lane and in front of Chesterfields would be retained and improved. Another factor in the panel’s recommendation is the possibility the town would built a new library at North Quarter Park on the north side of the street, bringing increased pedestrian traffic to this section of Main Street.

But some residents have objected to a proposed removal of three mature Maple trees in the vicinity of School Lane and the residential property at 131 Main St., and plans for sidewalk in front of a residential property at 137 Main St., where the existing house is closer to the roadway. A second option presented Tuesday would include improvements to the sidewalk on the south side of the street, but no continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road.

Frost said the property owners at 131 Main Street where the three trees are located, David and Lisa Meade, have offered qualified support for the plan, and a willingness to work with the committee on replacing the trees with newer trees and possible fencing. He said the property owners at 137 Main Street, Jeffrey and Mary Gates, have objected to the plans because of the proximity of the sidewalk to their house, and the need to remove a privacy hedge in front of a portion of their property.

Several residents at the meeting, and five who submitted written statements, expressed support for the continuous sidewalk ion the north side of the street. Most of the objections expressed at the meeting focused on the removal of the three trees, which are within the town’s road right-of-way.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the hedge in front of 137 Main St. is also located within the town right-of-way, and is a liability for the town because it blocks sight line views in the area of the crosswalk from a staff parking lot to the Chesterfields facility. He said the hedge must be removed even if there is no Main Street East reconstruction project.

Meehan said Wednesday the committee, in discussion after the public comment portion of the meeting, expressed a consensus to stand by the original recommendation for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street. Meehan said the board of selectmen would discuss the committee’s recommendation further at a meeting next month.
But Meehan also confirmed the debate over sidewalks has delayed an initial goal of putting the project out to bid and beginning construction by this fall. He said construction is now expected to begin in the spring of 2015. The estimated $1 million project is funded by a combination of state grants and some town funding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essex Zoning Commission Approves Essex Place Elderly and Affordable Housing Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Middlesex Hospital Holds Well Attended “Open House” at New Medical Center in Westbrook

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in

Middlesex Hospital held a very successful preview of its new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook on Saturday, April 19. The new center is located off I-95 at Exit 65 and has a street address of 250 Flat Rock Place in Westbrook. The four-hour preview event on the 19th, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., attracted a flood of visitors to the new 44,000 square foot medical facility.

The new medical center will open its doors for patients on Monday, April 28. Until then, Middlesex Hospital will continue to provide medical services at its present medical center in Essex. Once the new center opens in Westbrook, the Essex center will be closed down permanently. It should be noted that Middlesex Hospital has been providing emergency medical services at various locations in Essex since the 1970’s.

Middlesex Hospital’s new facility on Flat Rock Place in Westbrook is housed in a single long building, which is divided into two discrete sections. The section on the right, when facing the building coming off Flat Rock Road, houses the Emergency Center. The section on the left houses the Outpatient Center. There is a single walk-in entrance to the Emergency Center. There are two entrances to the Outpatient Center, one facing Flat Rock Place, and the other at the left side of the building.

The Emergency Center

The Emergency Department, named the “Whelen Emergency Pavilion,” offers emergency medical treatment, for things such as a heart attack, or a crushed limb. Also, located at the Emergency Center is an “Express Care” treatment center, which offers treatment for injuries of a non-emergency nature, such as a sprained ankle, or for a minor cut.

Laurel Patt, Director, Radiology Services; Paula Howley, radiologic technologist; and Kim Carey, radiologic technologist

Laurel Patt, Director, Radiology Services; Paula Howley, radiologic technologist; and Kim Carey, radiologic technologist

There is also a separate ambulance entrance to the Whelen Emergency Pavilion, with a helipad located just beyond the ambulance area. To give visitors a little extra excitement during the recent open house, the LifeStar helicopter made a special landing on the helipad and allowed visitors to explore it.

The Outpatient Center

The Outpatient Center is the section of the Medical Center which is to the left of the Emergency Center, when entering from Flat Rock Place. The Outpatient Center has two separate entrances, one at the front of the building, and another on the left side of the building. The services offered at the Outpatient Center are extensive. They include: a Radiology Department, which offers state-of-the-art imaging services, including the latest generation MRI, CT scanning, X-ray, digital fluoroscopy, among other services.

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center

A Women’s Imaging Center is also located in the Outpatient Center. It includes private spaces for digital mammography, ultrasound and bone density examinations.  Also in the Outpatient Center has a new MRI unit, which features the most advanced imaging with a wider and shorter opening aperture.

In addition this is the location of the Medical Center’s laboratory, which is accessible to outpatients and for emergency services. Finally, in the Outpatient Center there is an infusion section with a private area for receiving intravenous (IV) fluids.

On an artistic note there is also a Community Gallery featuring rotating works of art by professional, amateur and student artists. There is also an open area stone garden off the left end of the building.

Entertainments for the Day

At the recent Saturday open house, in addition to tours of the Emergency and Outpatient Centers, there were vehicles on display from the Westbrook and Essex Ambulance Associations, the Middlesex Hospital Paramedic service and neighboring commercial car dealers. Also, there were free blood pressure screenings offered to visitors, and a roving magician to entertain the young. In addition, Connecticut State Police officers distributed child fingerprint ID’s, among other amusements for the young and old.

Deep River Selectmen Establish New Study Committee for Firehouse Expansion Project

Deep River Fire DeptDEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has established a new study committee to develop a consensus recommendation for a long-planned firehouse renovation  and expansion project.

The committee established earlier this month is comprised of two selectmen, Angus McDonald Jr. and David Oliveria,  two Deep River volunteer Fire Department officers,, Chief Timothy Lee, and assistant chief Timothy Ballantyne, and Susan Watts,a representative of the design advisory board. Selectmen are seeking one additional volunteer at-large member for the committee.

First Selectman Richard Smith said Monday the committee has been asked to prepare a written report by Sept. 1 that would include a review of options and a recommendation for a firehouse expansion project. Town officials and residents have been discussing and debating options for a firehouse expansion project for nearly six years, including two failed referendum votes for a renovation and expansion of the existing 5,084-square foot firehouse at the corner of Union and West Elm streets that was built in 1961.

A proposed $2,.4 million renovation and expansion of the existing firehouse was rejected on 347-312 vote in a July 2010 referendum. A more costly renovation and expansion project was rejected by a wide margin in a November 2007 referendum.

After the 2010 defeat, town officials and representatives of the fire department began considering other possible sites, including the option of building a new firehouse on a parcel on the north side of Route 80 in the vicinity of Plattwood Park. But Smith said Monday there has been no consensus on an alternative site for a new firehouse, with some firefighters and residents contending the Route 80 location is too far from the downtown area, a distance that could lead to increased  rates for fire insurance.

Smith said the committee would focus on a revised renovation and expansion plan for the existing firehouse that may, or may not, utilize portions of an abutting residential property at 57 Union Street that was acquired by the fire department in 2007. “We need to be able to make a decision on what we really need for a firehouse expansion, and how can we make it work” for the existing site, Smith said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chester Selectmen Appoint Committee to Prepare Plans for a New Library for North Quarter State Park

CHESTER— The board of selectmen has appointed a second volunteer committee to prepare preliminary design plans for a new library at North Quarter Park. The board established the committee at its meeting Tuesday, two weeks after appointing a separate volunteer committee to develop a master plan for use of the 22-acre park located off the north side of Main Street.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said Wednesday the committee, which could have up to nine members, would assist in hiring an architectural firm to prepare preliminary design plans for a building that would house the library, and possibly some other secondary municipal use. Meehan said funding for architectural services would be included in the next town budget that takes effect July 1.

Unlike the North Quarter Park Master Plan Study Committee, which included representatives of the board of finance, planning and zoning commission, and Main Street Project Committee, the second committee is comprised mostly of residents involved with the Chester Public Library. Along with Librarian Linda Fox and library board of trustees chairwoman Terry Schreiber, the committee includes Jean Davies, Richard Harrall, Denny Tovie, Lois Nadel, and Patricia Halloway. Davies, Tovie and Nadel are library trustees or were involved with earlier study committees for a library expansion, while Halloway works as a professional librarian in West Hartford.

After two years of considering options for a renovation and expansion of the historic 1907 library building on West Main Street (Route 148), library supporters agreed over the winter to refocus on the option of building a new library at North Quarter Park. Meehan acknowledged the latest committee could evolve in to a building committee if voters approve plans and funding for a new library building.

The North Quarter Park Master Plan Study Committee is expected to hire a consultant by mid-May to complete a master plan for uses of the park by mid-July, while the second committee should be able to hire an architectural firm by July. Library supporters are hoping the town can make a final decision on a library project before a September deadline to apply for available state grant funding for library building projects.

Meehan said meeting the September deadline for making a town decision on a library project “is going to be tough,” while adding that with the two volunteer committees working with the board of selectmen “we’re going to try” to meet the grant application deadline.

The River Valley Slimdown: Winter Winners and New Summer Challenge

Deep River, CT- Participants of the most recent IFoundFitness River Valley Slimdown laughed in the face of the “Polar Vortex” and showed those dreaded winter pounds who’s boss! With a jackpot higher than ever before, the dedicated group of health-seekers brought in cash, prizes, and a generous donation to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen!

The River Valley Slimdown is a fitness challenge regularly held at IFoundFitness in Deep River, CT. Participants contribute towards a jackpot, paying up for pounds gained or weigh-ins missed. They work closely with fitness expert Donna Scott, taking part in group fitness & nutrition classes, while bonding with their weight-loss companions!

Twenty participants saw the challenge through the end this brutal winter, bringing the jackpot total to $2,392. Almost $500 of this went to Shoreline Soup Kitchen, the charity selected by the group. The winner of the challenge, Sarina, lost 21.04% of her body weight! While she takes home 60% of the jackpot, ESSENCE of Old Saybrook will also be treating her to a makeup and hair makeover to match her healthy new glow.

Second place went to “Santa Dave.” This, jolly, bearded fellow dropped his stereotypical belly by losing 35 pounds! Dave takes home 60% of the jackpot and a massage by True of Clinton, CT but the most incredible reward was bringing his Type 2 Diabetes under control.

“This has been an absolutely amazing challenge!” says Donna. “In the face of one of our worst winters, these guys just would not give in! Even those that didn’t finish in the top 3 experienced incredible transformations. They’re STILL not ready to give up!”

Many participants are ready to go for round two already! Registration for the Summer River Valley Slimdown is open now, with the challenge launching on April 26th.  Signing on for the new challenge means participants will have a chance to shed the winter pounds justin time to trade those bulky winter coats for sleek swimsuits!

Registration is currently open for the Summer 2014 River Valley Slimdown. Email Donna at donna@ifoundfitness.com for complete rules and registration forms.

For more information on the River Valley Slimdown, please visit: http://ifoundfitness.com/rv-slim-down/

Chester Elementary School Budget Proposed at $4.12 Million, a Decrease from Current Amount

CHESTER— The local board of education has approved a proposed $4,122,077 budget for Chester Elementary School for 2014-2015, a total that is $67,021 less than the current budget appropriation for the school.

Declining enrollment at the kindergarten through sixth grade school is the major reason for the reduced spending. A current enrollment of 214 students is projected to fall to 200 students by the start of the 2-14-2015 school year. The budget includes savings of $60,430 from staffing changes and $11,693 from a reduction in hours for a physical education teacher position.

But the spending plan include $1,635 for a new part-time extra curricular programs mentor position. There is also $18,000 to replace the sidewalk around the back of the school, and $7,647 for new furnishings, including classroom furniture, library tables, and gymnasium mats. The budget funds 33 full and part- time positions; along with three para-educator positions that are funded by grants.

The budget plan for the elementary school has been reviewed by the board of finance, and will be presented with the proposed town government budget at the annual budget hearing later this month. The elementary school and town government budgets for 2014-2015 will be presented for voter approval at the annual budget meeting in May.

Region 4 School Board Stands by Proposed $18.37 Million Education Budget After Quiet Public Hearing

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education will stand by it’s proposed $18,377,431 education budget for 2014-2015 after a quiet and sparsely attended public hearing Monday.

Only three residents, all of them current or former officials from the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex turned out for the hearing Monday at John Winthrop Middle School. Present were two selectmen, Tom Englert of Chester and Dave Oliveria of Deep River, and former Region 4 board chairman Terry Stewart from Essex. There were no objections to the spending plan, which represents a $601,431, or 3.38 percent increase over the current budget. The budget funds the operations of the middle school and Valley Regional High School.

The $18,377,431 gross budget is reduced by $297,447 in anticipated revenue to a net budget of $18,079,984 that is assessed the taxpayers of the three towns based on the number of students from each town attending the two secondary schools. The net budget is up by $579,395, or 3.31 percent, from the current net billings to the towns.

Each of the towns will have some increase in the Region 4 appropriation. Deep River, with 308 students, will have the largest increase. The Deep River share of the net budget is $5,602,987, up by $442,063.

Chester, with 240 students, will have a budget share of $4,364,508 that is up by $106,615.34 Essex pays the largest share of the Region 4 budget. But 446 students, the town’s Region 4 assessment totals $8,112,489 and is up by only $30717 from the current amount.

Board chairman Chris Riley of Essex said the board, over three budget review sessions, had strived to prepare a budget that “reflects the priorities of the school district in a manner that is very respectful of the tax dollars.”

The budget goes to voters of the three towns in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6. The region 4 budget has won voters approval by clear margins in recent years, but with low voter turnout. The last time a Region 4 budget was defeated in a referendum was in 2001.