May 1, 2016

Open House for Prospective Students at Vista, April 9

Spring Open House - Vista students
Vista Life Innovations, a nationally accredited community-based education program for individuals with disabilities, is hosting an Open House on Saturday, April 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Prospective students, families, school district officials and educational consultants are invited to drop by Vista’s Westbrook Campus, at 1356 Old Clinton Road, to learn about the many programs and services Vista has to offer. Guests will have the opportunity to tour Vista’s dormitory and residence hall, meet Vista staff, and speak with current students and members about their experiences in the program.

Open houses have been an important first step in the admissions process for many current Vista students and their families. To register for this event, visit or contact the admissions office at (860) 399-8080 ext. 106. Guests are asked to register by Tuesday, April 5.

Vista has been providing services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success for over 26 years. Accredited by the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services (NCASES), Vista has campuses in Westbrook, Madison and Guilford. Its population is comprised of individuals with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, seizure disorders, traumatic brain injuries, intellectual disabilities and ADHD. In 2015, Vista provided services to more than 300 individuals and their families. For more information, visit








Essex Library Explores Women as ‘Uncommon Heroes,’ Series Continues in Coming Months

malalaESSEX – The Essex Library kicked off “Uncommon Heroes,” a series of programs exploring the status of women around the world and right at home in Connecticut, on Feb. 27, with a screening of the film “He Named Me Malala.”

The series continues Wednesday, April 6, at 5 p.m., when Christine Palm from the CT General Assembly’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women will speak about the pressing issues facing women in our state currently.

More events will be included in the months to come.

Call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register or for more information. All of these programs are free and open to the public and advance registration is suggested.

The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.


Enjoy a Tour of Private Gardens in Essex, June 4

See this beautiful private garden in Essex on June 4.

See this beautiful private garden in Essex on June 4.

ESSEX – On Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., plan to stroll through eight of the loveliest and most unusual private gardens in Essex. Some are in the heart of Essex Village while others are hidden along lanes most visitors never see.  While exploring, you will find both formal and informal settings, lovely sweeping lawns and panoramic views of the Connecticut River or its coves.  One garden you will visit is considered to be a ‘laboratory’ for cultivation of native plants. Master Gardeners will be available to point out specific features, offer gardening tips, and answer questions.

The garden tour is sponsored by the Friends of the Essex Library. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the Essex Library the day of the event.  Cash, checks, Visa or Master Card will be accepted. Tickets can be reserved by visiting the library or by completing the form included in flyers available at the library and throughout Essex beginning May 2.  Completed forms can be mailed to the library.  Confirmations will be sent to the email addresses on the completed forms.

Your ticket will be a booklet containing a brief description of each garden along with a map of the tour and designated parking. Tickets must be picked up at the library beginning at 9:45 a.m. the day of the event.

Richard Conroy, library director, has said, “The Essex Library receives only about half of its operating revenue from the Town. The financial assistance we receive each year from the Friends is critical.  It enables us to provide important resources such as and museum passes, as well as practical improvements like the automatic front doors that were recently installed.  I urge you to help your Library by helping our Friends make this event a success!  Thank you for your support.”

The tour will take place rain or shine.  For more information, please call 860-767-1560. All proceeds will benefit Friends of the Essex Library.


Deep River Selectmen Make No Decision on First Selectman Vacancy, Town Department Heads Reporting to Democrat Angus McDonald Jr.

DEEP RIVER— The two remaining members of the board of selectmen, Democrat Angus McDonald Jr. and Republican David Oliveria, Thursday made no decision on appointing an interim first selectman to fill the vacancy created by the March 25 death of longtime Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith.

More than 30 residents filled the meeting room at town hall Thursday as the selectmen held their first meeting since Smith’s death. In a prepared statement, Oliveria said he and McDonald would be working together to manage the town until the appointment of an interim first selectman, who would serve the reminder of Smith’s unexpired 14th term ending on Nov. 20, 2017.

Oliveria said they hope to make an appointment “as soon as possible,” while adding that until then town department heads will be reporting to McDonald, who will be keeping late afternoon office hours at town hall beginning Tuesday.  State statute gives the two remaining selectmen 30 days to appoint an interim first selectman, a period that runs through at least April 22.

If Democrat McDonald and Republican Oliveria cannot agree on an appointment, the statute would also give Democratic elected officials, including Selectman McDonald, the tax collector and the registrar of voters, an opportunity to make an appointment.  McDonald said after Thursday’s brief special meeting that he is “interested” in serving as interim first selectman, but has not yet made a final commitment with the Deep River Democratic Town Committee to accept the appointment.

Elected with Smith in 2011, McDonald is a co-owner of the Angus McDonald Associates engineering firm. McDonald said he is discussing with colleagues at the firm whether he would be able to serve as interim first selectman for the next 20 months. McDonald said he is hopeful the selectmen could vote on an appointment at the board’s next regular meeting on April 12. “We have 30 days and we may need 30 days but I hope not,” he said. The appointment of either McDonald or Oliveria as interim first selectman would create a new vacancy on the board that would be filled under the statutory appointment process. Any appointment of an interim first selectman, or even a new member of the board, could be forced to a special election with a petition signed by at least five percent of the town’s total registered voters, or about 158 voter signatures. The petition would have to be filed with the town clerk within 15 days of any appointment.


Public Advisory from the Essex Tree Warden

The emerald ash borer adult beetle

The emerald ash borer adult beetle

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) is advising all residents of Connecticut that the emerald ash borer (EAB – agrilus planipennis) has quickly spread throughout Connecticut, making it now part of the federal EAB quarantine. Residents should be aware of this invasive insect and the threat it poses to all ash trees in our community.

The emerald ash borer is a beetle in the buprestid family that is native to Asia.  First discovered in 2002 in Detroit, it has rapidly spread across the US.  It may have first been introduced via wood-packing materials and continued spreading by humans in everything from firewood to rustic crafts.  Because the beetle is a strong flier, it  can spread on its own as well.

CAES describes the adult beetle as metallic green, about ½ inch long. It feeds exclusively on ash trees in the genus Fraxinus.  Tiny, flat, round 1mm long eggs are laid in the bark crevices.  Seven to 10 days later, the eggs hatch and the young larvae begin to feed on the tree’s conducting tissues.  As they feed and grow, the larvae create distinctive tightly-winding ‘serpentine galleries.’  This process quickly stresses and girdles the ash tree.

The emerald ash borer larva

The emerald ash borer larva

During the winter the mature larvae remain in a pupal chamber and pupate in the spring.  The adult beetles emerge by chewing a distinctive 4mm wide D-shaped exit hole.  The adults feed on the margins of the ash foliage prior to mating.  The lifespan is 4-5 weeks, during which time a single female may lay upwards of 60 eggs.

It has been difficult to survey for this pest because of its small size. Some monitoring and trapping methods have been used including purple panel traps. Another is  “biosurveillance” by scientists and volunteers who monitor the nests of a native wasp that specifically hunts buprestids, including EAB.

The overall effect of the ash borer is the decline of the ash trees.  Infected trees are  attacked by woodpeckers who strip bark while trying to reach the larvae.  The eventual loss of ash trees will have ripple effects on other organisms including butterflies and moths as well as wood duck, bob white, purple finch, pine grosbeak and fox squirrels all of which eat the seeds of the ash tree.

To identify an ash tree look for compound leaves and opposite branching.  Ash trees have diamond patterned bark which provides distinct crevices.  Ash seeds are winged, resembling maple pinwheels.  Ash trees do not produce berries.  The ash tree is valued for its combination of strength and flexibility.  It is used as shovel handles, baseball bats and in construction of guitar bodies.

The D-shaped exit holes of the emerald ash borer in an ash tree

The D-shaped exit holes of the emerald ash borer in an ash tree

According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Connecticut is seeking to slow the spread of EAB by a quarantine to keep any infested ash materials from leaving Ct. and going to an area that is not infested.  The quarantine targets ash logs, hardwood firewood, yard waste and ash nursery stock.  Also, a ban on the importation of firewood into Ct. through New York or Massachusetts – unless it is properly certified as not coming from an infested area – has been instituted.

Individuals can help in the following ways:

  1. Know what an ash tree looks like and monitor the ash trees you are responsible for.
  2. Act quickly to report any ash trees that are declining and may pose a threat to people or structures.
  3. Be careful when moving firewood or young trees. Use locally obtained firewood.
  4. Notify the Tree Warden of concerns about street or park trees.

Private trees are the responsibility of the property owner.  DEEP encourages owners of ash trees to contact an arborist for further help in monitoring the status of your trees and to use the resources available at the CT Agricultural Experiment Station and DEEP.

According to the CAES, ash trees that are still healthy can be treated for and protected against EAB using commercially available pesticides.  Ash trees that are not treated will eventually die and should be preemptively removed.  Please contact your local arborist for expert advice.


The above information has been provided by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. For more information go to the following websites: or or Contact Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden at: with any questions or concerns.


Community Screening of “What Got Me Through,” on June 1

WhatGotMeThroughREGION 4 – Last October, tri-town community members’ stories came to life in a play, “What Got Me Through,” on the stage of the Chester Meeting House. The production was the culmination of a year’s work: training a team of story gatherers, interviewing residents who shared their stories of overcoming challenges, the writing of the play by Jules Corriere, and then the theatrical production, led by Jacqueline Hubbard and performed and staged with local cast and crew, all with input also from Community Performance International.

The play was a means of raising awareness about building developmental assets for youth and families in Chester, Deep River and Essex. Many lives were touched by the project.

One performance was recorded. The screening of the video will take place on Wednesday, June 1, at 7 p.m. in the Valley Regional High School auditorium. It will be an opportunity to “see the play again” or, to see it for the first time if you missed it last October.  For further information contact Tri-Town Youth Services at 860-526-3600.

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



Literacy Volunteers Celebrate Spring in April Book Promotion

WESTBROOK – Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) is celebrating Spring, Easter and all things new during its April book promotion. This month’s promotion features quarter, dime, nickel pricing. Selected hardcovers are a quarter, select paperbacks a dime and puzzles only a nickel!

Also this month, all LVVS cookbooks with international student recipes are half price. LVVS is always accepting gently used books from 2006 and newer. Look for new promotions each month.

Stop in at the book sale Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. LVVS is located on the lower level of the Westbrook Library, 61 Goodspeed Dr., Westbrook. More information at 860-399-0280.


Area Residents Pack Dick Smith Funeral Service at Chester Church


St. Joseph RC Church, Chester, where hundreds of area residents turned out to participate in the funeral service for the late, longtime Deep River First Selectman Richard H. “Smitty” Smith.

CHESTER — St. Joseph RC Church was packed Thursday as hundreds of area residents turned out to participate in the funeral service for the late, longtime Deep River First Selectman Richard H. “Smitty” Smith.

The mass of Christian burial followed a three-hour wake and viewing Tuesday evening at Deep River Town Hall where more than 1,000 citizens turned out to file through the second floor auditorium to pay final respects to Smith, who died suddenly on March 25 at age 65. Smith, a Democrat first elected in 1989, was the longest serving chief elected official in Middlesex County, and one of the longest serving municipal elected leaders in the entire state.

Representatives of various organizations, including the police and Deep River Fife & Drum Corps., stand somberly outside Chester RC Church prior to the funeral service for Richard "Smitty" Smith. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Representatives of various organizations, including the police and Deep River Fife & Drum Corps., stand somberly outside Chester RC Church prior to the funeral service for Richard “Smitty” Smith. Photo by Kim Tyler.

The hour-long service had much of the pageantry of a state funeral, with a squad of Connecticut state troopers in full dress uniform and a police bagpiper, along with dozens of uniformed volunteer firefighters with the large ladder trucks from both the Deep River and Essex volunteer fire departments. Smith had also served as a part-time town police officer since 1973.

The sad task of removing the coffin from the hearse.  Photo by Kim Tyler.

The sad task of removing the coffin from the hearse. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Present were many of the current selectmen from area towns, but the crowd also included former first selectmen from towns such as Essex, Killingworth, and Old Lyme, who worked with Smith on regional issues during his long 26-year tenure. Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman was one of the speakers, describing Smith as a “cheerleader for economic development and a relentless advocate for small towns.” Wyman said Smith’s legacy would be, “Serve your community proudly.”


Photo by Kim Tyler

Grieving town hall employees filled the front seats of the church, with Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani and selectmen’s assistant Gina Sopneski speaking about their fond memories of Smith. Bibbiani said Smith was an elected leader, who was always “approachable to everyone,” adding, “Dick Smith was sincere, he was honest, he was loyal, and he was funny.”

After the service, with the bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace,” Smith was laid to rest in a plot at the cemetery that is part of the church property on Rte. 154.



Farewell, Dick ... farewell.

Farewell, Dick … farewell.


Linares Welcomes Essex Historical Society to Capitol

Senator em

Essex Historical Society Director Melissa Josefiak and Sen. Art Linares

ESSEX – Historical societies and preservationists from across the state gathered at the State Capitol on March 23 to raise awareness about their organizations’ dedication to promoting Connecticut’s heritage for present and future generations.

The Essex Historical Society ( was among the groups that traveled to Hartford to speak with Sen. Art Linares and other state lawmakers.

Sen. Linares ( represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.



Photo Gallery by Kim Tyler of Monday Night’s Vigil for Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith

DEEP RIVER — Deep River resident and professional photographer Kim Tyler, who graciously supplied all of the photos published with Charles Stannard’s story on, has also generously agreed to make many of the photos that she took at the vigil available to our readers at no charge.

We applaud her wonderful act of public service and the photos are now published below.

For more information about Kim Tyler Photography, visit



Linares Hosts Town Hall Meeting in Chester

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

Sen. Art Linares hosted a Town Hall Meeting yesterday evening at the Chester Town Hall Community Room.

Linares had invited the public to hear the latest update from the State Capitol and to have their questions answered.



Essex’s Popular Village Provision Store Closes Doors, March 31

 Village Provision co-proprietor, Claudia Odekerken, stands outside the store.

Village Provision co-proprietor, Claudia Odekerken, stands outside the store. Photos by Jerome Wilson.

Essex’s popular Village Provision store closed its doors on Thursday, March 31. Village Provision has been operating at 6 Main Street in the heart of downtown Essex for the past fifteen and a half years, according to Claudia Odekerken, who with her husband, Jeff, has managed the unique and popular store. 

A regular customer of Village Provision for many years, Barry Fulford, said that the closing of the store was, “Absolutely dreadful.” Fulford like many of the store’s customers begins his day with a coffee, and perhaps a bagel on the side. The store also carries a full line of daily newspapers.

Village Provision’s owners in a written statement wrote, “It is with deep sadness that we announce the closing of Village Provision Company this Thursday, March 31, 2016. Due to the owner’s desire to sell the property, our lease was not renewed this year. We have been asked to vacate the property by April 1 in order for the new owner to take possession. This development has been very hard on our family, after more than 15 years of service and growth in the community, and with little time we must pack our little store and move on to a new adventure.”

The statement continued, “We would like to thank you all for your continued support through the years and for becoming more than just customers but friends. We will truly miss seeing you all every day, but our time here is not forgotten and we will look back to it with happiness, and at the many memories that we have share with you all. We will still be at Marley’s Café this summer, and we hope to see you there.”

We would also like to invite you to join us for a farewell lunch on Thursday March 31 at the Provision Store. Sincerely, Jeff, Claudia, Dylan, Michele, Patrick, Katherine and Milkey.” 

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 3.40.01 PM

Owner Claudia Odekerken relaxes briefly inside the store.

As to what Claudia and Jeff are going to do after the closing of Marley’s, Claudia said in an interview that she and her husband would continue to operate Marley’s restaurant on the island of the Essex Island Marina. The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner from May to September. “After that,” Claudia said, “we are just going to have to figure it out.”

Claudia also noted that she and her husband were still, “going to cater weddings, funerals and birthday parties.” Claudia noted that they also will continued to do, “plates for special occasions.” As for the rest of their future, Claudia and Jeff, remain undecided.


John Winthrop MS Presents “Xanadu Jr.”

Xanadu Jr. JWMSAREAWIDE — Region 4’s John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River presents “Xanadu Jr.” on Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2.  Both performances are at 7 p.m.

With over 60 students involved, “Xanadu Jr.” promises to be an energetic, family-friendly performance.  The plot follows Greek muse Kira as she helps surfer Sonny with his dream to create a roller disco in 1980 Venice Beach, Calif.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and seniors.  Tickets are available by calling the John Winthrop Middle School main office at (860) 526-9546.


Courtney, Linares Pay Tribute to Dick Smith, Services Announced

Dick Smith: A man for all seasons, for all reasons ... and for every job in town.

Dick Smith: A man for all seasons, for all reasons … and for every job in town.

DEEP RIVER — Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) issued the following statement after the passing of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick was the iconic small town First Selectman who did everything from running town meetings, to plowing snow, to cleaning up storm damage with public works, as well as crowd control at the Deep River Muster, and attending every community event in town. Deep River is one of Connecticut’s jewels because it had a leader like Dick, who was always there to help those in need and help the town grow smartly. Dick was a friend whose support I will always remember and treasure, and he should live on as an example of a citizen-public servant to all who hold elected office.”

State Senator Art Linares (D-33rd), who represents Deep River, issued the following statement on the passing of First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick Smith epitomized Deep River. He was a friend to all and his advice was valued by Democrats and Republicans throughout the Connecticut River Valley. Dick was a role model public official who dedicated himself to serving his town and its residents. His loss is deeply saddening and our thoughts and prayers are with Dick’s family and the people of Deep River.”

Services for Dick Smith have now been announced as follows:

There will be a Candlelight Vigil on Monday, March 28, at Deep River Town Hall at dark (about 7:30 p.m.)

Calling hours will also be at the Town Hall on Tuesday, March 29, from5 to 8 p.m.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 30, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Chester at 11 a.m.

Deep River Town Hall Closings

Deep River Town Hall will close at noon on Tuesday and remain closed on Wednesday.  Normal business hours will resume on Thursday.


Town of Deep River Announces Death of First Selectman Dick Smith

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

DEEP RIVER — The Town of Deep River has announced the passing yesterday afternoon (Friday, March 25) of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith. An announcement on the town’s website states, “The Town of Deep River has suffered a terrible loss in the passing of Dick Smith. The town has lost a leader of over 26 years, the community has lost a friend, and we are saddened beyond words, but its immediate thoughts are with Dick’s family, who has lost a father and a grandfather.” The statement adds, “Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

Details of services have not yet been announced.

Our reporter Charles Stannard wrote in an article published July 28, 2015, on that Smith, then 64, was, “one of the longest serving municipal elected officials in Connecticut.”  The article also noted that Smith said he, “never considered stepping aside this year,” adding, “I love what I do, it’s like my extended family.” Smith told Stannard during the interview that his priorities for the next two years were, “Keeping taxes down as much as we can,” along with a firehouse renovation and expansion project.

Stannard also reported, “Smith’s last challenge for the top job came in 2007 from the now defunct Deep River Independent Party. He was uncontested for re-election in 2009, 2011, and 2013. Town Republicans have not nominated a candidate for first selectman since 2005.”

We extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Smith’s family.


Essex Zoning Commission Continues Hearings on Cumberland Farms Rebuild, Plains Rd. Apartments to April 18

ESSEX — The zoning commission has continued to April 18 the public hearings on separate applications for a rebuild and expansion of the Cumberland Farms store at 82 Main St. in the Centerbrook section, and a 52-unit apartment complex with an affordable housing component on Plains Rd.

Both applicants agreed at public hearings Monday to extend the legal deadline for closure of the public hearings on the two applications.  Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the extensions will require the commission to vote on April 18 on the site plan review application from Signature Contracting Group LLC of Westport for the apartments, while the panel will have until June to act on the Cumberland Farms application.

The Cumberland Farms application includes a demolition, rebuild, and expansion of the existing store to include three gasoline pumping stations under an canopy.  The new 4,250-square-foot store would include a public restroom, a new septic system, and lighting.  The size of the canopy, along with the need for a third pumping station, generated the most discussion, and some objections, Monday.

Nearby residents  Robert and Laurie Hernandez objected to the size of the canopy, which would be about 80-feet long, and the third pumping station.  Laurie Hernandez said the applicants were ‘trying to jam and prototype onto a very small lot,” to build “something that would be at an I-95 off ramp.”

Joel Marzi, the town clerk who is an abutting property owner at 21 Westbrook Rd., said he has concerns about the size of the canopy, but would also appreciate an upgrade of the site.

Joan Wallace, who lives on the opposite side of Westbrook Rd., said she has concerns about the canopy, lighting, and also traffic flow, contending there are already traffic backups for vehicles heading north to the Centerbrook traffic light.  Wallace asked if Cumberland Farms would be willing to proceed with an expansion and upgrade of the store without a third fuel pumping station.

Joseph Williams, an attorney for Cumberland Farms with the firm of Shipman & Goodwin, said an additional fueling station was key to the company’s plan to pursue an estimated $3 million expansion and upgrade of the store.  Two residents, Kenneth Bombaci and Strickland Hyde, spoke in support of the project.

With several issues still under discussion, and approval of the new septic system still pending from the town health department, Williams agreed to continue the hearing to April 18.

The site plan for the apartment complex on a 3.7-acre parcel that would combine parcels at 21, 27, and 29 Plains Rd., including the long vacant Iron Chef restaurant property, has been filed under state statute 8-30g, which is intended to encourage additional affordable housing in Connecticut.  The proposed 52 units in three separate buildings would include 16 units designated as moderate income housing.  Each building would have a septic system, which requires approval from the state Department of Public Health.

One new development Monday came when lawyer John Bennet announced that he has been designated an intervener in the application process for Northbound 9 LLC, which owns the commercial building on the opposite side of Plains Rd.  The building contains the office of Bennet’s law firm, and a local construction company.

Bennet said the objections to the project focus on the potential for “environmental damage.”  Under the 8-30g law, the commission could reject the application only for public health and safety reasons.


Invasive Species Explored at CT River Museum’s Featured 2016 Exhibit Opening April 1

invaders pic 2

The “Invaders” exhibit features original artwork by Michael DiGiorgio and explores the issues related to invasive species in the River Valley and local region.

ESSEX – The Connecticut River Museum unveils its 2016 featured exhibit Invaders: They Come by Air, Land & Water! on Friday, April 1. Invaders examines the threat of invasive species to the Connecticut River Valley, a region celebrated for its ecological and biological diversity. As the exhibit notes: “In many cases, the invasion resembles a classic monster movie that unfortunately has serious, real-life consequences.”

The museum commissioned accomplished illustrator Michael DiGiorgio to create original movie poster artwork that uses invasives in place of the classic monsters. The museum also collaborated with Channel 3 Eyewitness News to create fascinating “Orson Wells style” in-the-field interviews with invasive species experts.

Experts include Cynthia Boettner from Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, David Molnar from the Connecticut DEEP Marine Fisheries Division, Judy Preston from the Long Island Sound Study, and the museum’s own environmental specialist William Yule.

Invaders explores current threats through the themes of air, land and water. William Yule said, “Over the past four centuries of European and global contact, humans have intentionally and inadvertently introduced non-native life forms to this fragile ecosystem.” Of the dozens of invasive species explored in the exhibit, some of the highlights include Asiatic bittersweet that people often use in holiday decorations, and the beautiful purple loosestrife.

Also featured is didymo, known as “rock snot” which is often spread via fishing equipment. This asexual single cell organism likes cool, fresh water and can quickly multiply creating a thick mat on the bottom of riverbeds, destroying trout habitats.

There is also a laboratory that will allow children and adults to explore and identify invasive species through microscopes, specimens and fun activities. The exhibit closes with a “Call to Action” on the many ways the public can make a difference.  As the Museum Curator Amy Trout noted, “Once visitors can identify and understand these invasive species better, they can take action through prevention and activism.”

Executive Director Christopher Dobbs said, “The museum has a mission and a responsibility to lead in the preservation of the Valley’s cultural and natural heritage.” Dobbs was quick to note that the exhibit would not have been possible without the support from presenting sponsor, the Long Island Sound Study, and other dedicated sponsors that include Channel 3 Eyewitness News; the William and Alice Mortensen Foundation; the Rockfall Foundation; the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of Tourism; the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; Saybrook Point Inn & Spa; the Edgard & Geraldine Feder Foundation; and the many supporters of the Connecticut River Museum.

The exhibit will be on view at the Museum in Essex until Oct. 10, when it will begin to travel to libraries, schools, museums and nature centers. Dobbs said, “We want it to be an ambassador of the museum and help spotlight this important issue.”

For more information on the exhibit, related programs, or to arrange a tour destination, contact the Connecticut River Museum (860-767-8269) or visit the website,

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

Photo Credit: The Connecticut River Museum’s 2016 exhibit Invaders: They Come by Air, Land and Water! features original artwork by Michael DiGiorgio and explores the issues related to invasive species in the River Valley and local region.




Public Invited to Opioid Addiction Awareness, Education Forum in Old Saybrook This Evening

carney_posterState Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) along with State Senators Art Linares (R- 33rd) and Paul Formica (R-20th) are hosting an Opioid Addiction Awareness and Education Forum in Old Saybrook Wednesday, March 23, at Acton Public Library from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

A panel of experts including local representatives and the state officials will discuss addiction and the current heroin and opioid crisis.

All are welcome at this important event.

The library is located at 60 Old Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook.


AAUW Presents Program Tonight on ‘Empowering Afghan Women and Girls’ at Essex Library

UNAMA School in Afghanistan

UNAMA School in Afghanistan

AREAWIDE – There are contingents of Afghan women who, with incredible courage and determination, are making a difference in this war-weary country. They are desperate for an education, to have a salaried job, to have influence in their family, to have a say in government and at peace tables, and to hold up at least some of the Afghan sky. They seek to bring peace and stability to their homeland.

On Wednesday, March 23 at 7 p.m., Hally Siddons will present an illustrated talk at the Essex Library on how members of the Canadian Federation of University Women have worked to understand the plight of these women, to advocate for them, and to provide support in Afghanistan and in Ottawa.

Hally Siddons, the past president of the Canadian Federation of University Women, Ottawa, is instrumental in developing a project to support education and a school for women in Afghanistan. She is coming to Essex after attending the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, where she has also presented.

This program, sponsored by the AAUW Lower Connecticut Valley, is free and open to the public. Please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 to register or for more information. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.



Essex Library’s Career Series for High Schoolers Continues Through May

Essex Public Library where the Career Series is being held.

Essex Public Library where the Career Series is being held.

ESSEX — As the middle of the winter season drags on and springtime can be just vaguely made out in the distance, many are looking forward to the exciting prospects that the new season will bring. For some, it is merely the release from Connecticut’s raw winter weather and the enticement of warm weather activities; while for a body of young people, the anxious wait for college application decisions has begun.

Selecting a college major, along with a career path, may appear to be a perplexing ordeal to those who have not yet found their niche. As a member of the restless class of teenagers who are anticipating the decision that will become the foundation for their future careers, I empathize with others who are in the same boat as I am and have not yet chosen a designated career path.

logoThankfully, the Essex Library has teamed up with Education Solutions of Essex to lend a helping hand to students who freeze up when that all-too-familiar, “What do you want to major in?” question strikes.

The Essex Library is a professionally-run, free public library that encourages all visitors to explore all that is offered. The youth and teen program, headed by Jessica Branciforte, is especially vibrant.

Branciforte is the smiling face behind the wonderful programs that are offered at the library for adolescents ranging from toddlers to teens. Education Solutions is a consulting firm that helps students and families identify and navigate through the process of selecting a school or career pathway.

Exterior_brick&sign_213KBA career series entitled “Demystifying the Future” has been created for students aged 12 and older who are searching for the career path that will suit them best. During each session, the Essex Library hosts a professional from a wide variety of areas ranging from communications to engineering, robotics, business and beyond. These informational sessions give students the opportunity to learn about classes required, industry trends, job prospects, degree information, salary ranges, and additional principal information regarding the career path.

Branciforte is co-heading the project along with Teal Reamer at Education Solutions, and discusses the motive behind creating the program. Branciforte comments, “Students are entering into a world where the options are overwhelming, and the pressure is on. Seeing a career description on paper is quite different from immersing oneself in the field, so it is both thrilling and reassuring to bring in experts who are willing to share their passion.”

The series runs through May 2016. The third session in this series is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, from 6 to 7 p.m. and will feature keynote speaker Jeff Reamer who will share his experience with business and finance. The program is an opportune time to interact with people who have had first-hand experience in career areas that gives invaluable insight into a career field that may be of interest.  

To register for the session or for more information, contact the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560.

Editor’s Note: Essex Library Association is located at 33 West Avenue, Essex, CT 06426. Opening hours are Monday and Wednesday, 10am – 6pm; Tuesday and Thursday, 10am -7pm; Friday, 10am – 5pm; and Saturday, 10am – 4pm. The library is closed on Sundays. For more information, visit or call (860) 767-1560


Artists Invited to Take Chester Historical Society’s Creative Challenge Before April 9

The Chester Historical Society invites you to take its Sticks Challenge based on these “orange sticks” made by the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works around 1950. More information at the Chester Gallery, 860-526-9822. Photo by Skip Hubbard

The Chester Historical Society invites you to take its Sticks Challenge based on these “orange sticks” made by the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works around 1950. More information at the Chester Gallery, 860-526-9822. Photo by Skip Hubbard

AREAWIDE – The Chester Historical Society is inviting anyone who likes a challenge to participate in its sixth Creative Challenge linking Chester history and art.

This spring, those accepting the 2016 Sticks Challenge will be given a bagful of short wooden manicure sticks, made from Florida citrus trees and shaped at the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works on Maple Street around 1950.

As with last year’s Hooked Again! Challenge based on hooks from Chester’s M.S. Brooks factory, this spring’s Sticks Challenge is for area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelry designers, and all others with a creative mind.

The sticks are available at Chester Gallery in Chester Center (860-526-9822). The artists’ entrance fee of $30 includes a bagful of the sticks and two tickets to the Sticks Challenge Silent Auction & Reception on Saturday, April 9, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

Those who do not wish to take the Challenge can purchase tickets now at the Chester Gallery. All proceeds from the evening help the Chester Historical Society preserve Chester history and maintain the Chester Museum at The Mill.

For more information on the Historical Society and this year’s Creative Challenge, visit or




Friends of Essex Library Spring Book Sale, May 21

Peggy Tuttle is new sales coordinator for Essex Library book sales.

Peggy Tuttle is new sales coordinator for Essex Library book sales.

ESSEX – A face that has become very familiar around the Essex Library is that of Peggy Tuttle. Peggy is the recently appointed Sales Coordinator for the Friends of the Essex Library.  Though she has been a volunteer for the Friends for many years, including being named “Volunteer of the Year” for 2015, she stepped into the newly named position that was vacated when Dee Grover “retired.”  She has been working closely with Dee for months learning the ins and outs of conducting a successful book sale, and has put in many hours learning techniques and procedures.  She has recruited a small army of volunteers whose job is to sort through the literally thousands of donated books.  Each book is examined to determine age, condition, first edition or signed by author status.  Books suspected of having “special value” can then be scanned by the computer program recently donated by the Friends.

Peggy has brought many innovative ideas to the position.  Ongoing sales continue to provide quality books for sale all year.  New are “Focused Sales” where a particular era or topic is highlighted.  In February, American History and Valentine themed books were displayed for purchase at very attractive prices.  March was “Music Month” where shoppers browsed through an extensive collection donated CDs.  June will feature “Beach Read” books suitable for summer reading.  Other featured sales are planned throughout the year.

Peggy and her team of volunteers are preparing for this year’s Friends of Essex Library Spring Book Sale to be held Saturday, May 21, in the library at 33 West Ave. in Essex. The doors will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  From 3 to 4 p.m., books will sell for half price; “fill your bag for $10” will run from 4 to 5 p.m.  Customers are encouraged to bring their own bags for the latter event.

Specific information about the sale, including signed books, will be on the Essex Library’s website two weeks prior to the sale. Go to, click on “Friends” and then the “Book Sale” page.

The annual sale will provide funds to support the library’s special programs and activities, as well as practical improvements to the building.





‘Spay It Forward’ Fundraiser in Ivoryton Tonight Benefits Local Animal Shelters

AREAWIDE – Homeward Bound CT and CT Animal House want to help local animal shelters get their dogs spayed and neutered.

The organizations are co-hosting a Spay it Forward beer, wine and silent auction fundraiser at the Blue Hound Taproom at 107 Main Street in Ivoryton on Monday, March 21, from 6 to 9 p.m.  The evening will feature local craft beers at a cash bar, free appetizers and a terrific silent auction.

“Spay/neuter saves pets’ lives while lessening the burden on animal shelters and taxpayers,” said Chris Lamb, founder and president of CT Animal House in Waterford. “We are happy to partner with Homeward Bound Adoption events to create a fund dedicated to sponsoring or subsidizing Connecticut dogs in honor of World Spay Day 2016. Each time a dog or cat is spay/neutered, its chances at adoption increase, and the animal no longer contributes to the cycle of abandoned, neglected or abused homelessness.”

Local veterinary practices, including Chester Veterinary Clinic, Higganum Veterinary Clinic, Powder Ridge Veterinary Hospital and Shoreline Veterinary Hospital, have offered free or discounted surgeries through this program.  Others, including Dr. Suzanne Magruder of Saybrook Veterinary Hospital and Dr. Virginia Nunes Olson of Pieper Memorial Veterinary Center, have provided program administrators with free vouchers towards spay/neuter surgery.  All services will be provided on a need-based system and the project will continue until funds are depleted.

Sue Hotkowski, Homeward Bound president and a resident of Chester, said, “We are overwhelmed by the support of our local veterinarians in our first ever effort to ‘spay it forward.’ Connecticut is blessed to have such wonderful community support for helping its abandoned dogs.”

Local merchants that have donated to the spay/neuter project evening on March 21 include the fundraiser hosts, Blue Hound Cookery and Taproom, Two Roads Brewery, Steady Habits, Outer Light Brewery, 30 Mile Brewery, Willimantic Brewery, Bishops Orchards, Essex Steam Train, Love the Dog, East River Oil, Asterisk, and Sweet Luna’s.

Tickets for the March 21 fundraiser cost $25 each and can be purchased online or at the door.  All direct donations are tax deductible.  All money raised will go towards the spay/neuter fund to be administered by Homeward Bound.

Editor’s note: CT Animal House provides the services necessary to get abandoned Connecticut dogs into safe and permanent homes.  They remove high risk dogs from municipal pounds and provide the veterinary and behavioral care needed to increase the chances of adoption.  Homeward Bound helps dog rescue groups by hosting adoption events, and sponsoring and promoting rescue dogs. More information can be found on the websites, and

Sue Hotkowski gets a kiss from Bart, an abandoned Connecticut dog, after being spayed on World Spay Day in February at Chester Veterinary Hospital. Bart has since been adopted.

Sue Hotkowski gets a kiss from Bart, an abandoned Connecticut dog, after being spayed on World Spay Day in February at Chester Veterinary Hospital. Bart has since been adopted.


Essex Zoning Commission Resumes Public Hearings Monday on Apartment Complex and Centerbrook Cumberland Farms Rebuild

ESSEX — The zoning commission will resume public hearings Monday on two large-scale development proposals, a proposed 52-unit apartment complex on Plains Rd., and a rebuild and expansion of the Cumberland Farms store at 82 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. The hearings reconvene at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

Public hearings on both proposals opened on Feb. 22. Signature Contracting Group LLC of Westport is seeking site plan approval for 52 apartment units in three buildings on a 3.7-acre parcel that would combine properties at 21, 27, and 29 Plains Road. The parcel at 21 Plains Rd. was the site of the former Iron Chef restaurant, and was previously the location of a bowling alley and the Essex Junction restaurant and movie theatre. Now owned by Treuhold Essex LLC of Scarsdale, N.Y. it has been vacant for about nine years. The properties at 27 and 29 Plains Rd. are residential properties owned by the local Costa family.

The plans for the Essex Station Luxury Apartments call for 52 units in three buildings, including two buildings with three floors and one two-story structure. Thirty percent of the units, or16 units, would be designated as moderate income housing under state statute 8-30g, which was adopted more than a decade ago to promote low and moderate income housing in Connecticut. The maximum rent for these units would be about $1,800 per month.

Because the site plan review application is filed as a proposed 8-30g project, the commission faces some limits on its authority to reject or demand major changes in the plans. Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the panel has been advised by legal counsel that it could only reject the project for reasons directly related to safety and public health. Budrow said the plans drew a generally mild reaction at the Feb. 22 hearing , with “questions but not a lot of vocal opposition.”

The Cumberland Farms project calls for demolition of the 1,800-square-foot existing store that opened in the 1990s, replacing it with a 4,200-square-foot store with three gasoline pump islands, one more than the two currently on site. The pumping stations would be under a 24-foot by 55-foot canopy. The plan drew some objections at the Feb. 22 hearing, mostly focused on traffic flow and the size of the canopy.

Budrow said legal timelines require the commission to close the public hearing on the Plains Rd. apartment complex, and vote on the application Monday, unless the applicant approves an extension that would push the deadline for a decision to April 18. He said the panel also faces an April deadline for action on the Cumberland Farms project.

Another public hearing on a new application scheduled to open Monday is for a proposed take-out pizza shop in a section of the former Ivoryton Store building at 104 Main St. in the Ivoryton section. The applicant is Paul Cappazone.


New Trustees Join the Board at The Kate

kate logoOLD SAYBROOK – The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (the Kate) has welcomed three new members to the Board of Trustees that oversees the Kate – Devin Carney, Thomas Gezo and Anne Barosewicz-Mele.

Devin Carney is the Connecticut State Representative for the 23rd District, which includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.   For several years he has been involved with the Kate’s Oscar Party, where he proudly contributes his grandfather Art Carney’s Oscar to the festivities.

A business coach and consultant, Thomas Gezo has previously managed projects and contracts in his corporate career for high-tech software companies. He is a certified SCORE business mentor and the AVP of the Southern New England Chapter of PMI, responsible for programming in the New London region.  He and his wife, Evelyn, are current volunteers with the Kate.

Anne Bartosewicz-Mele is an energy infrastructure expert, having worked with Northeast Utilities and currently Burns & McDonnell. She has also served on various nonprofit boards, including the Bushnell Park Foundation and Leadership Greater Hartford.

“The staff and the Board of Trustees of the Kate are delighted to welcome the new trustees into the organization,” said the Kate’s executive director, Brett Elliott. “We look forward to combining backgrounds and talents on behalf of the Kate for its long-term mission.”


Essex Has New, More Readable Street Signs

Essex street sign
ESSEX — The old and largely unreadable street signs in Essex have now been almost completely replaced. The new street signs have larger letters and are more readable than were the old ones. To date 250 new street signs have been delivered, and most have now been installed. The new signs are nine inches high, and can accommodate street names with letters six inches high. The total cost of the new street signs is approximately $13,330.

Essex Street sign

According to the office of Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, the main reason for installing the new street signs is safety. Also, the old signs were barely readable under limited light conditions, and they posed a particular problem for visitors to Essex. In addition the old signs received numerous complaints from Essex residents. Also, one of the most urgent needs for the new Essex street signs was to assist the vehicles of emergency responders, such as hospital ambulances and fire trucks, trying to find street addresses in Essex.

Essex Street sign

The new signs conform to new traffic code requirements, which specify the letter size of road signs, based on an individual road’s speed limits. Also, there are new retro reflective backgrounds on the new street signs, making them easier to read under limited light conditions. The roll out of the new street signs started with state roads, then next came the town roads in Ivoryton and Centerbrook, then the town roads surrounding Essex Village, and finally the town roads in the village itself. The final instillation of the new roads should be finished in the next few weeks.

A spokesperson in Needleman office noted, “The new road signs have been very well received.” As for what to do with the town’s old street signs, a charity auction of some kind is under discussion at Essex Town Hall. .


Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Meeting, May 18

TTYS New Logo

REGION 4 – The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will hold its last meeting of the 2015-16 school year at Tri-Town Youth Services in Deep River on Wednesday, May 18, at 9 a.m.

The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a grassroots organization whose membership is open to all who live or work in the tri-town area who are concerned about substance abuse and committed to its prevention.  Many “sectors” of the community are represented on this council: schools, youth serving organizations, law enforcement, government, civic groups, parents, students, the faith community and health care to name a few.

The May meeting will sum up activities of this year.  For further information, call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.

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


New Rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek

Rabbi Marci Bellows

Rabbi Marci Bellows

CHESTER – Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester has announced that Rabbi Marci Bellows will take over religious leadership of the synagogue on July 1, 2016. Members voted unanimously to ratify the decision on Thursday evening, March 17.

“Rabbi Bellows will bring song, courage, excitement and wisdom to our community,” said Congregation President Stephen Davis. “We are delighted to welcome another great leader to follow Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg.”

Rabbi Goldenberg has successfully led the congregation for the past nine years. She will be establishing a new congregation in the New York metropolitan area focused on innovative styles of worship to involve young, unaffiliated Jews.

“As I begin a new chapter in my rabbinate, and as our family moves to a new community, I’m filled with gratitude for the time we have had here in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley,” Rabbi Goldenberg said. “Our time at CBSRZ has been filled with meaningful moments of learning, celebration and connections. And we have treasured the small town experience, living in Deep River and sending our kids to Deep River Elementary School. We will miss the wonderful people we’ve met, and hope to stay in touch. We won’t be too far!”

Rabbi Bellows has been for seven years the spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Torah in Wantagh, New York, a synagogue with some 400 families. Prior to that, she was an assistant rabbi and director of Adult Programs at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York. Beyond her synagogue responsibilities, she has written for New York Jewish Week and for the Union for Reform Judaism’s 10 Minutes of Torah and has been a faculty member at URJ’s Crane Lake Camp and a participant in various URJ programs. Rabbi Bellows’ mother was cantorial soloist for 27 years at the family’s synagogue in Skokie, Illinois, where Rabbi Bellows grew up. Rabbi Bellows is a graduate of Brandeis University and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.

“It is truly an honor and pleasure to be selected as the next rabbi at CBSRZ. The congregation, known for its warmth, wisdom, and wide variety of programming, is beautiful inside and out. I look forward to being part of its distinguished legacy and impact on the area,” Rabbi Bellows said.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek—Hebrew for ‘House of Peace, Pursuers of Justice’—last year marked its one hundredth birthday. Congregants come from 36 towns, from Hartford to Westbrook, Norwich to New Haven. Its sanctuary, situated near the Connecticut River, is renowned in the international art world as the only public building ever designed by 20th-century master artist Sol LeWitt. It was the subject of a film called “We Built This House.” Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is a home for both traditional ritual and pioneering spirituality, earning it the tagline “ancient and cool. ”It also regularly hosts music and learning programs open to the community. More information may be found on the new website


Republican Robert Siegrist Announces Second Run for 36th House District Seat

Flanked by Devin Carney (R-24th) to his left and Senator Art Linares (R- 33rd) to his right, Bob Siegrist announces his intention to run for the 30th District seat in November.

Flanked by State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) to his left and State Senator Art Linares (R- 33rd) to his right, Republican Bob Siegrist (center) announced his intention to run for the 36th House District seat in November.  Photo used with permission of Rep. D. Carney.

AREAWIDE — Republican Robert Siegrist of Haddam  formally announced a second run for the 36th House District seat Monday, setting up a likely November rematch with incumbent Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex.

About 70 supporters from the district towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam filled two rooms at the Brush Mill Restaurant in Chester to cheer Seigrist’s declaration of candidacy. The restaurant off Rte. 148 is where Seigrist had worked as a bartender before becoming a candidate in 2014. Siegrist, who entered the 2014 race in June after the withdrawal of a candidate nominated by Republicans at the May convention, lost to Miller on a 5,522 – 4,701 vote.

Siegrist, 32, carried his hometown of Haddam by about 300 votes, while losing to Miller in Chester, Deep River and Essex. Miller served four terms as first selectman of Essex before winning the seat in a February 2011 special election. Miller was elected to a full term in 2012 over Essex Republican Vincent Pacileo.

There were indications Republicans have targeted the 36th District seat, as several area Republican legislators, along with former legislators and municipal elected officials, turned out Monday to pledge active support for Siegrist’s campaign. On hand were 33rd District State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook, and representatives Melissa Ziobron of the 34th District (East Haddam-East Hampton), Devin Carney of the 23rd District (Old Saybrook-Old Lyme), and Jesse MacLachan of the 35th District (Clinton-Killingworth and Westbrook). Carney and MacLachlan were elected in 2014, with MacLachan unseating an incumbent Democratic legislator, Tom Vicino of Clinton.

Ziobron said she would campaign door-to-door with Siegrist to help elect “another partner at the capitol”, while Carney described Miller as “one of the most liberal members of the House of Representatives.” Siegrist said Connecticut is “at a crossroads,” adding, “We desperately need a representative, a leader that listens, truly listens. to this district and votes for their concerns, issues, and pocketbooks.” Siegrist said he is ready to “knock on every door” in the four -town district to end “one party rule in Hartford.”

Siegrist, who formed a candidate committee last month and is participating in the Citizens Elections Program for most of his campaign funding, said he is currently working for a Haddam landscaping business, In Full Bloom LLC. Siegrist, a member of the Haddam Republican Town Committee, said he was active in last fall’s municipal election in Haddam, where Republican Liz Milardo unseated former Democratic First Selectwoman Melissa Schlag by a close 25-vote margin. Milardo was on hand Monday to stand with Siegrist.

Miller has not yet formed a candidate committee or declared as a candidate, but he is expected to seek a third full term this year. State House and Senate candidates for the Nov. 8 election will be formally nominated at district conventions in May.


Beer, Music, History and Pizza at CT River Museum


ESSEX – The Connecticut River Museum will host “A Glass of Beer History” on Friday, March 18 at 7 p.m.

This multimedia program will feature the sights, sounds and tastes of 6,000 years of brewing history. Presented by the Museum’s executive director Christopher Dobbs and folk musician Rick Spencer, the program will explore the origins of beer, its growth as a popular beverage, and its evolving place in American society. From ancient civilizations to the modern microbrew craze of today, tastings will reflect beer’s evolution.

Five beers will be tasted throughout the night. These include a barleywine, which Dobbs notes is “considered to be the world’s first beer.” Other beers being tasted are a German-American lager, a classic English-style porter, an India Pale Ale (IPA) and a featured local beer.

Steady Habit Brewing Company will be featured as one of Connecticut River Valley’s newest microbreweries. Based out of Haddam, owner and brewmaster Jon Peterson will join Dobbs and Spencer during the tasting with one of his handcrafted beers.

In addition to the tastings and history, Spencer will join Dobbs with rousing drinking songs that support the program’s themes. They will be accompanied by signer Dawn Indermuehle. Spencer, an accomplished folk musician, said that “these songs do more than just support the night’s themes; they expand the audience’s understanding and dive into the social customs and concerns around drink.” Both Dobbs and Spencer noted that you cannot just reflect on beer’s history without also discussing temperance and vice.

Deep River’s Pizzeria DaVinci is donating food that will complement the assorted beers. Dobbs stated that this is the “perfect way to enjoy a beer tasting. Pizzeria DaVinci is known in the area for their high quality New Haven style pizza and wonderful breads and desserts.”

The event is open to the public; however, reservations are required due to limited space. Participants must be 21 or over and show valid ID at the door. Tickets include the program with beer and food tastings. Prices are $10 for Museum members and $16 for the general public.

For more information and to register, visit or call 860-767-8269.

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




Centerbrook Architects Lecture Features Hugh Ferriss and Lee Lawrie

Hugh Ferriss's rendering of an imaginary city

Hugh Ferriss’s rendering of an imaginary city

ESSEX – Both Hugh Ferriss and Lee Lawrie had an enormous effect upon architectural philosophical thinking and ultimate execution in the early part of the 20th century in America.

Hugh Ferriss became famous for his dark, brooding charcoal renderings of zoning studies for skyscrapers in New York. Lee Lawrie distinguished himself as being the lead designer and lead sculptor for most of the architectural sculptures at Rockefeller Center, as well as work at Yale University on the Sterling Library, the State Capitol of Nebraska, the City & County of Los Angeles Library, and more. He was perhaps most known for his collaboration with the architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue on many of his firms’ projects.

Learn more about these two influential designers in an illustrated talk by architectural historian Dr. Chuck Benson on Friday, March 18, at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall.

Dr. Benson has been teaching Art and Architectural History for more than 25 years at various universities and has led groups to explore iconic places and buildings in America, Italy, England, France, Germany, Greece, Turkey, and elsewhere. His lecture credits include MOMA, Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. He studied the history of art and architecture at Yale, and holds advanced degrees from Columbia University. He also has studied at Cambridge and Oxford.

This Essex Library program is free and open to the public. The Essex Town Hall is located at 29 West Avenue in Essex. Please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 for more information or to register.


Local Essex Realtor’s 2015 Sales Total $24.8 Million

Award-winning Essex realtor Colette Harron stands outside the Sotheby's International office on Main Street in Essex.

Award-winning Essex realtor Colette Harron stands outside the Sotheby’s International office on Main Street in Essex.

ESSEX — Essex resident Colette Harron of Sotheby’s International Realty sold an unprecedented $24.8 million of real estate in the 2015 calendar year.  This record-breaking amount not only placed Harron in the “Top 15 Company Wide Dollar Volume” in sales among Sotheby’s 1,500 realtors but also put in the “Top Producer’s Dollar Volume” in the Sotheby’s sales office in Essex.

The properties that Harron sold last year were located in the towns of Essex, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Deep River and Chester. As for the keys to her success, Harron said in a recent interview, “I work very hard, and even more importantly I always make myself available for my clients.” She also noted, “I know the area very well.”

In addition, Harron has Joanne Tyrol as a full time assistant, who Harron described as, “Just Perfect.”

Harron also noted, “I’m well established in the community, and have been doing this work for the last 15 years,” adding, “I’m always working, and I am always available.” In addition to English, Harron is also in fluent in Spanish and French.  Another secret of her exceptional performance is, in Harron’s words, “I try not to remember the bad times, and just remember the good.” She concluded, “It is a tough business, and the challenges are high,” … but there is no question that she has made the very best of both.


Enjoy a Fish Fry Dinner at St. Joseph Parish Center, March 18

fish fry night
It may have been a bone-chilling evening, but St. Joseph Catholic Church in Chester kicked off its Lenten Season on Friday, Feb. 12, with a good catch at the Third Annual Fish Fry.  Despite having to bundle up against the cold, people came out in a steady stream, proving once again what a great faith/fundraising event it is for the church community.  Salmon was swimming out of the kitchen and onto the plates all evening.  Fish & Chips, Clam Chowder and Macaroni & Cheese were also available, not to mention a wide variety of baked goods for dessert.

The Fish Fry will continue every Friday through March 18 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the parish hall at 48 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 154) in Chester.

The menu includes: $12 for Fish & Chips, Fried Shrimp or Fried Clam Strips with Fries and Wild Caught Salmon over rice; $5 for children 12 & under Macaroni & Cheese and French Fry Dinner. Also available are Lobster Bisque and Clam Chowder Soups ($5) and Mixed Green Dinner Salad ($6).  All meals include bread & butter, drinks and dessert.   Meals are also available for take-out.

Come see for yourself what makes St. Joseph’s a thriving, active, and growing community.  The food is great, the conversation is flowing, the staff enthusiasm is wonderful and you don’t have to cook or clean.  We invite you all to visit.

After all, it’s a great way to treat yourself to a great dinner!


Stand-up Comedy, Acrobatics, Live Music at 7th Annual Karmic Relief, March 19

sanctuary 1AREAWIDE – The Sanctuary’s 7th Annual Karmic Relief fast approaches on Saturday, March 19, at 6 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House. Focusing on the light-hearted side of the Spiritual Path, this event features stand-up comedy, circus acrobatics performance, live music and dancing, plus superfoods, silent auction and, of course, a great community of people.

A silent auction begins the evening at 6 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by SporadiComedy, with four NYC-based comedians, Katie Boyle, Cathy Humes, Kat Burdick, and Rebecca Rush, bringing edgy, uplifting energy from the city.

The OMFLY CircusYoga Troupe, the Sanctuary’s indigenous social circus, will bring antics, partnership and the joy of flight starting at 8 p.m. At 8:30, The Grays, with special guests Christian George and DJ MayoNoize, will play Live Tribal Jazz Dance Music.

Healthy comfort foods (“organic, local, super energy and amazing delicious”) will be provided by Kale Yums.

Tickets are $20 in advance (may be purchased online) and $25 at the door. Kids 13 and under are $5. All proceeds will support The Sanctuary, a non-profit community organization, located in East Haddam. More information about Karmic Relief is at

The Chester Meeting House is at 4 Liberty St., Chester.

Editor’s note: The Community of the Sanctuary at Shepardfields is located in and around a 40-acre land preserve in East Haddam. Its mission is to hold sacred space for personal transformation, healing, enlightenment, intentional community and environmental stewardship. This community is organized and served by Shepardfields, Inc., a spiritual life center and 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.



Donna Martin Performs at Spring Street Gallery, March 20

Donna Martin

Donna Martin

CHESTER — Leif Nilsson hosts another Concert in the Garden on Sunday, March 20, from 4 to 6 p.m., this time featuring singer/songwriter Donna Martin at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery at 1 Spring St., Chester Center. This monthly concert series highlights eclectic international singer/songwriter artists from cool jazz to blue grass.

Donna Martin redefines the boundaries of contemporary folk with her guitar skills that range from finger style to flat picking to groove-oriented rhythms. With her soulful voice and compelling lyrics, she is hailed by Performing Songwriter magazine as “a songwriter whose stories are colored by powers of observation” and the Town Crier Cafe in New York described her as “an exquisite songwriter with a superb voice.”

After two decades of touring the Northeast and sharing the stage with the likes of Charlie Daniels and Nicolette Larson, opening for Alabama and a Lilith Fair performance alongside Bonnie Raitt and Sara McLachlan, Martin has emerged as a well-honed performer. From sitting toe to toe at a picking party with Guy Clark who remarked that if the songs Martin was playing were truly her first, “the rest could be scary,” to being plucked out of the new songwriters showcase at the NY Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in the early ‘90s and placed on the main stage between the Saturday night headliners, there is no doubt that once seen, this songwriter makes a big impression. More about Donna Martin on her website,

Gates open a half hour before the show — first come first seated.  Indoor bistro-style seating in the gallery. Sorry, no pets are allowed.

A $20 donation is appreciated.  The event is BYOB – buy your own wine or beer at the Chester Package Store across the street, which is open until 3 p.m.

For more information, call 860-526-2077 or log on


Chester Library Installs “Computer Bar,” Thanks to Community Collaborative Efforts

joe at computer bar 1CHESTER – The Chester Public Library is always praised for its friendly and personable staff and its historic building.

But it never won any accolades for its computers. Make that “computer,” singular. Yes, for years there has been only one public computer for years at the Chester Library because the building is so small and on such a limited budget, that squeezing in a second computer was out of the question. Library patrons were frustrated. They’d come in to use the computer and find someone else working on it. Or, if working on it, feel they needed to rush to finish for a person who was waiting. The librarians were frustrated too, because their everyday goal is to see that all visitors to the library are able to accomplish their missions.

But last year, Library Director Linda Fox received a $5000 donation from a library patron who said she wanted Linda to go “a little crazy” in spending it – something out of the box.

Linda conceived of the idea of a “computer bar,” a counter-height workspace for two computers, with two stools, and with pullout drawers for audiobooks. Steve and Karen Bradley, owners of the Chester-based Pondside Kitchens and Hearth, said yes indeed, they could custom design it to fit in the present library building and be movable to a future building.

The computer bar was custom designed by Pondside Kitchens to include drawers for the audiobook collection.

The computer bar was custom designed by Pondside Kitchens to include drawers for the audiobook collection.

The Friends of Chester Public Library, a 501c3 nonprofit group, applied for a grant from the Middlesex County Community Foundation for the funds needed to make the computer bar a reality. The grant requested – and won – was for $4687.

Fast forward to this week. The computer bar was installed, the wiring done and the all-in-one computers, purchased through the town’s technology supplier CT/Comp, are operating. Two people have been able to work side by side. And no one has had to wait! And there are even USB charging stations for mobile devices.

The Computer Bar at Chester Library.

The Computer Bar at Chester Library.

“I am absolutely thrilled!” said Linda Fox. “The computer bar will make such an incredible difference for everyone who uses the library. It’s the result of tremendous community collaborative effort – from the anonymous donor to the Community Foundation of Middlesex County/Sherry and Herb Clark Family Fund and River View Cemetery Fund, Pondside Kitchens and Hearth, and the Friends of the Library – everyone was so generous to make this happen.”

Editor’s note: The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of the County, now and in the future, by developing endowments, making grants that have impact and assisting donors in meeting their philanthropic objectives. Since its founding in 1997, the Community Foundation has awarded 1,564 grants totaling more than $4.7 million for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities, environmental improvements and for health and human services. More at


Dedication Day for Yellow Label Mill at Valley Railroad, May 15


The Birch Mill, today rechristened the Yellow Label Mill, was built by E.E. Dickinson, Sr. in 1915. Black Birch has the same chemistry as wintergreen and was chipped and distilled in the same manner as witch hazel until 1926. Today the mill is used to tell the story of witch hazel and to help preserve the Dickinson legacy in Essex.

ESSEX – The Essex Historical Society’s 60th anniversary celebration of the E.E. Dickinson Company legacy will come to a close on Sunday, May 15, when the non-profit organization, in partnership with the Valley Railroad Company, officially cuts the ribbon on the newly refurbished Yellow Label Mill, once used as a storefront for the sale of Dickinson Witch Hazel products.

Plans for the Yellow Label Mill Dedication Day, which takes place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on the grounds of the Valley Railroad, include a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. to be followed by public tours of the Yellow Label Mill, the former Dickinson Bottling Plant and Witch Hazel Distillery. The free event is open to the public and will feature live music performed by the Occasional Jazz Ensemble, food and drinks. The Valley Railroad is located at 1 Railroad Avenue, off Middlesex Turnpike/Saybrook Road in Essex.

Just one year ago, May 15 was officially proclaimed “Yellow Label Day” in Essex as the two organizations announced plans for the renovation of the iconic 1915 building, originally a birch mill, that sits on the southern end of the railroad depot property on Plains Road. The Valley Railroad oversaw the replacement of the roof, windows and deteriorated structural elements as well as general cleaning and painting while the Essex Historical Society (EHS) was responsible for the refurbishment of Yellow Label signage and installation of Dickinson history exhibit panels in the newly repaired space.

“We are looking forward to a great day of activities that cap off and celebrate our milestone anniversary and our partnership with the Valley Railroad in honoring the Dickinson company’s history,” commented EHS President Sherry Clark, “We have enjoyed tremendous community interest and support at the various Dickinson programs held this past year, and we hope to see everyone come out for the big finale.”

For more information on the Dedication Day and other Essex Historical Society events or membership, go to or call 860-767-0681. The Essex Historical Society is a non-profit, member organization.


Explore the Artistry of Bosch at Essex Library, May 14

boschESSEX – This year marks the 500th anniversary of Hieronymus Bosch’s death, which brings renewed interest in his extraordinary creativity.

Join Connecticut College Art History Professor Robert Baldwin on Saturday, May 14, at 11 a.m. at the Essex Library for an entertaining examination of Bosch’s work.

Bosch revolutionized early Renaissance art by turning away from traditional Christian images such as Madonnas and saints. In the Garden of Earthly Delights, the Haywain and the Seven Deadly Sins, Bosch painted secular, encyclopedic scenes of everyday life (framed with moral allegory) and fantastic scenes of sexual fantasy and hellish punishment. Although seemingly poles apart, his naturalism and fantasy were both part of a secular, Renaissance aesthetic that understood artistic seeing as both empirical and playful, as a process rooted in the study of the natural world and in the display of visual interpretation and artistic mind.  In the Renaissance world of art, seeing was ultimately connected to artistic invention. Among the ironies, Bosch’s artistry allowed him to convert medieval sin and hellish punishment into visually appealing luxury objects for pleasure-loving aristocrats while bringing the artist fame and fortune.

The Essex Library program is free and open to the public. Please call the library at 860-767-1560 for more information or to register. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.


Birding and Nature Walk in Essex, May 14


#5-Essex Meadows Walk - 2013

ESSEX – May is the optimal time to see and hear the many birds that have returned from wintering in points south. Many will be singing and claiming nesting territories.

On Saturday, May 14, at 9 a.m., come explore the grounds of Essex Meadows and the adjacent Preserve where 70 acres belong to the Essex Land Trust. ELT Board Member and birder Jim Denham will lead a casual 1 1/2 hour stroll that coincides with the peak of spring bird migration. Easy to moderate walking on trails.

All levels of knowledge are welcome. Essex Meadows will provide refreshments at the conclusion of the walk.  Bad weather cancels. Meet at Essex Meadows Main Building Entrance.


Public Invited to Opiate Abuse Forum for Shoreline Communities, 5pm Tonight


AREAWIDE – A free public forum and panel discussion on the growing problem of opiate abuse in Middlesex County will be held at Westbrook Library on Monday, March 14 at 5 p.m., sponsored by the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC).

Connecticut loses hundreds of citizens every year to opiate overdoses. Thousands more are addicted and still more are in recovery. “Heroin-related overdose deaths zoomed in one year from 174 to 387, a 122 percent increase,” said Betsey Chadwick, director of MCSAAC. “In this public forum we’ll look at who is most vulnerable, and how we can contain, reduce and help prevent the problem.”

Five people will serve on the panel. State’s Attorney Peter McShane and State Trooper Wayne Buck will discuss the sources of excess opiates including doctor-shopping, pill peddling, the diversion of narcotics and heroin sales and what they’re doing about it.

Panelist J. Craig Allen, MD will talk about trends in painkiller use, how it can lead to addiction and heroin, and doctors’ response to the crisis.

CT Department of Mental Health & Addiction Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon will speak about resources for treatment at the state level.

Rounding out the panel will be a young person in recovery from opioid addiction (Aware Recovery Care), describing the slow journey back from addiction.

The event is free and open to the public but seating is limited. The Westbrook Library is at 61 Goodspeed Dr., in Westbrook. Use the rear entrance. For more information contact Betsey Chadwick at MCSAAC by calling 860-347-5959 or via email at

Editor’s note: MCSAAC is recognized by the State of Connecticut as a Regional Action Council, devoted to the prevention and reduction of alcohol and drug abuse, especially among youth. It is a Council of the Middlesex County Business Industry Foundation, Inc., an affiliate of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.



They’re Creepy, They’re Kooky…Last Chance to see ‘The Addams Family’ This Afternoon at Valley HS

Joseph’s Photography, show photographer, provided this photo to give an idea of what to expect from this award winning program. Front row left to right: Jonny Leffingwell, Miranda Holland, Nathan Russo, Maggie Walsh; Back row left to right: James D’Amico, Zane Bouregy, Mitch Conrad and Annie Brown.

Starring in The Addams Family at Valley Regional: front row (L-R): Jonny Leffingwell, Miranda Holland, Nathan Russo and Maggie Walsh; back: James D’Amico, Zane Bouregy, Mitch Conrad and Annie Brown. Photo by Joseph’s Photography.

REGION 4 — The countdown to show time has begun. This year’s musical at Valley Regional High School in Deep River is The Addams Family and it will open for the weekend from Friday, March 11, through Sunday, March 13, .

The cast, crew and pit are putting the finishing touches on staging, lights, and songs as they prepare for opening night. Ingrid Walsh, director, comments, “I’m just speechless and so proud of how much and how far the cast has dared to go to join The Addams Family.

This is one show that is not to be missed from the dancing and singing to the elaborate scenery, props, makeup and costumes. There are sure to be feelings of nostalgia for those who grew up watching this iconic show. 

Performances are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 1 p.m. Tickets are $12 each for all shows, except the Saturday matinee, which are $10 each. Tickets can be purchased at Celebrations, The Wheatmarket, Elephant Crossing, Toys Ahoy and at the high school.

For further information, call the school at 860 526-5328 and ask for Tina Stoddard.


CT Beer From a “Beer Snob” Angle at Chester Museum at the Mill, 2pm Today

Will Siss, 'The Beer Snob'

Will Siss, ‘The Beer Snob’

CHESTER – “Ever since it was a British colony, Connecticut has loved beer.”

So writes Will Siss, Connecticut’s “Beer Snob,” in his recent book, Connecticut Beer: A History of Nutmeg State Brewing (The History Press).

When he’s not teaching at a middle school, Will tastes and reviews and talks about beer. (Not a bad life!) He has been writing the “Beer Snob” column for the Republican-American in Waterbury since 2005, so he has seen the latest resurgence in Connecticut craft brewing up close.

“The Beer Snob” will be in Chester on Sunday, March 13, at 2 p.m. for a free program, followed by a tasting of several Connecticut beers.

After his recent presentation at the West Haven Public Library, librarian Amanda Gilbertie said, “Will Siss gave a fascinating presentation on the history of Connecticut brewing. He was warm, funny, and engaging. He brought three absolutely delicious beers for tasting and offered some really interesting tidbits about the history of those beers and the art of beer tasting.”

His program, which is for ages 21 and up, will be at the Chester Museum at The Mill, 9 West Main St., hosted by the Friends of Chester Public Library.

Will’s book, which focuses on the many ups and downs of Connecticut 7930-CONN-cvr.inddbrewing history, from the lows of Prohibition to the highs of the 2012 breakthrough that brought many wonderful breweries to the state, will be available for purchase after the program.

Parking is limited at the Chester Museum, so park at the Chester Library at 16 West Main Street or in the town’s public parking lot at 20 Water Street.

For more information, contact the Chester Library at 860-526-0018 or

To learn more about Will Siss, visit or @BeerSnobWrites.


A Right to Aid in Dying? CBSRZ Hosts Forum This Morning to Examine Issues, All Welcome

AREAWIDE – It’s been called the Right to Die, Aid in Dying, Death with Dignity, Assisted Suicide – it’s sometimes called murder. To what extent does a terminally ill person, possibly facing pain and suffering for the rest of a short life, have the right to receive assistance from doctors and others to end his/her life? What does religion say about the issue? Five states now have protection for doctors assisting terminally ill patients to die in such circumstances, and it is under discussion in the Connecticut legislature.

On Sunday, March 13, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, the Social Action Committee of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek will sponsor a forum to examine these issues.

Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg of CBSRZ and retired Reverend Kathy Peters, formerly of the United Church of Chester, will discuss religious perspectives on the issue.

The group will then watch The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner, a 38-minute film nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary in 2010, which tells the story of how the former governor of the State of Washington, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, led the successful referendum for Washington’s Death with Dignity Act.

“The highlight of the morning,” said the Social Action Committee, “will be breaking into small groups to discuss this intensely personal and important issue, because it is our many personal and family experiences, as well as our diverse backgrounds, which make each of us the expert on this topic.”

This forum is part of an ongoing series of social action forums on embracing diversity of people and ideas. It is open to the public at no charge.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  Please contact the CBSRZ office (860-526-8920) to get background materials in advance of the forum if you wish to attend.


Musical Masterworks Hosts Chamber Music Concert This Afternoon

Edward Arron hosts and performs in this weekend's Musical Masterworks concerts.

Edward Arron hosts and performs in this weekend’s Musical Masterworks concerts.

Musical Masterworks 25th Anniversary Season continues today at 3 p.m. with a repeat of yesterday’s concert.  The versatile and talented pianist, composer, and host of NPR’s acclaimed program “From the Top,” Christopher O’Riley, along with violinist, Tessa Lark, who has delighted Masterworks audiences over the years, will be featured.  O’Riley and Lark will join Edward Arron in a diverse program spanning four centuries — from Bach to Dvorák and Ravel, to Arvo Pärt and O’Riley.

“Our special season will culminate on April 30, and May 1, with Mendelssohn’s ‘Octet for Strings,’ led by Musical Masterworks’ veteran violinist, Chee-Yun,” noted Arron. “I feel extraordinarily privileged to be the curator of this unique concert series. As the years go by, I continue to be inspired by the beauty of the Congregational Church, the art of chamber music, the artistry of my colleagues, and the warmth of our audience.”

The anniversary season will be celebrated with a free gala party after the final concert on May 1, to which all ticket buyers will be invited.

To purchase individual tickets ($35 individual; $5 student) to this 25th season, visit Musical Masterworks’ new website at or call 860.434.2252.


St. Patrick’s Celebration Today Benefits Ivoryton Playhouse


Michael McDermott

IVORYTON – On Sunday, March 13, at 3 p.m. at the Centerbrook Meeting House, join Ivoryton Playhouse favorite Michael McDermott and his group, Cead Mile Failte, to celebrate Celtic culture and heritage through stories and song.

The afternoon will be filled with traditional Irish music including “That’s An Irish Lullaby,” “Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms,” “Star Of The County Down,” “Carrickfergus” and, of course, “Danny Boy.”

irish woman 1

Kathleen Mulready

McDermott will be joined by Kathleen Mulready, an Ivoryton Playhouse favorite who starred in Finian’s Rainbow and shared the stage with McDermott in The Irish… and How They Got That Way.

McDermott has been seen many times at the Playhouse – most recently in The Bells of Dublin: The Carol of the Bells. He has been performing with Cead Mile Failte for several years and says, “‘Cead Mile Failte’ means ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’ in Irish Gaelic.  This has always been a saying that has warmed and inspired my heart and is especially meaningful for me here in Ivoryton, which is like my second home.”

He continues, “For me, the month of March is a time of renewed hope, that feeling of spring just around the corner.  We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and feel the weather change with the old saying, ‘in like a lion out like a lamb’ when strong gusts of wind push out winter and warmer, greener days are joyfully welcomed.  Because of this inspiration from nature, combined with my deep love for Irish music, the group Cead Mile Failte was formed.  As a group, we strive to create that feeling in our concerts – the feeling that all are welcomed to share in the stories and music that the Irish tell so well.  At our concerts you will find friendly hospitality, good conversation, and great music – a hundred thousand welcomes!”

Tickets for the St. Patrick’s Celebration are $30 and include light refreshments after the concert. For tickets and information, call 860-767-7318. Seating is limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

Photos by Michael McDermott


Augie Pampel to lead Essex go Bragh Irish Parade, Saturday

The 5th Annual Essex go Bragh Parade will be held March 12.

The 5th Annual Essex go Bragh Parade will be held March 12.

ESSEX — Many local organizations, led by Grand Marshal Augie Pampel, will be celebrating “All Things Green” at the Fifth Annual Essex go Bragh Irish Parade, on Saturday, March 12.

Mary Ellen Barnes, Park and Recreation Director, said, “Every parade needs a Grand Marshal, and the Essex go Bragh Parade is no exception! We have had some tremendously distinguished individuals serving that honored position in the past. Last year Essex Park and Recreation Commission was proud to announce that Augie Pampel would serve as 2015 Grand Marshal.  However, thanks to a couple of mid-March snow storms, our parade was canceled and Mr. Pampel could not serve.  We are hoping that with a little Irish Luck on March 12, 2016, the parade will return with Augie leading the way!”

Barnes continued, “Mr. Pampel has been living and contributing to the Essex community for many years.  He has worked tirelessly as the Town of Essex Tree Warden since 1994.  He is a proud member of the Essex Garden Club and was instrumental in securing Keep America Beautiful Grants, used for tree restoration throughout the three villages. We are tremendously honored by Augie Pampel’s participation in our 5th Annual Essex go Brag Parade as Grand Marshal.”

The parade steps off from Essex Town Hall at 10:30 a.m. The parade route is down West Avenue to Main Street, turning onto Ferry Street. Marching groups must arrive by 10 a.m. For more information about participating in the parade, contact Mary Ellen Barnes at 860-767-4340 x100 or

In case of severe weather, the parade will be held on March 13.


Chester’s Oldest Home, the Dunk House, on Market

Known locally at the Dunk House, this antique Cape Cod-style home is priced at $595,000.

Known locally at the Dunk House, this antique Cape Cod-style home is priced at $595,000.

CHESTER – The oldest home in Chester, built in 1672, is on the market with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.

Named after the property’s first owner, the Thomas Dunk Homestead is a Cape Cod-style residence that has been thoughtfully restored and expanded over the years.

Located just steps away from Chester’s historic village center, this four-bedroom, three-bath home underwent a complete renovation in 1976 by former owner and retired historian Jean Simmons. The undertaking involved a total rebuild using the structure’s original timbers, beams, floor boards and wall planks. Insulation was also installed throughout the home’s ceilings, walls and floors. The exterior was re-sided with clapboard and a new roof was added, while interior walls were plastered in the authentic, period style and the aging central fireplace was replaced.

Not long after, a local attorney purchased the home, developing plans for a reproduction barn addition based on a 1700s design. The 1,100 square-foot expansion provided space for a two-car garage and an upstairs suite with a full bath, ideal for an office, in-law apartment, guest suite or rental. Utilities were also upgraded, and cedar shake shingles were added on the roof.

The residence is currently home to French-born local artisan and former chef of the popular Simsbury restaurant, Metro Bis. Claude Martin, and his wife, Catrin, have continued the tradition of historically correct improvements and maintenance on the now 340-year-old structure, and have recently completed a kitchen renovation. The space was expanded to include a second rear kitchen area, adding granite counters, locally crafted shelving, pot racks and even subway doors and seating discovered from the early Parisian metros.

Artisans at heart, the Martins additionally transformed the property’s previous barn addition into a studio, which houses the Thomas Dunk gallery. This space serves as Martin’s fine art restoration studio, where he conserves, cleans and restores oil paintings with classic tools and 21st-century technology.

Outside, the property is bordered by a gently flowing stream, as well as a private and peaceful rear patio that is surrounded by English-style gardens complete with perennials, flowering trees and landscape lighting.

The property is represented by Essex agent Tim Boyd, and offered at $595,000. For more information on the property, located at 16 North Main Street, please visit the firm’s website here.

Editor’s note: The information used in this article came from a release from William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.


“Black Bears in Connecticut,” an Essex Library Program on May 11

blackbearESSEX – Black bear sightings are increasing every year, even in Connecticut’s shoreline towns, as their preferred habitat expands as farmlands revert to forest. Master Wildlife Conservationist Paul Colburn will present an illustrated talk on Wednesday, May 11, at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library.

This presentation will focus on the natural history of black bears in our stateand will provide an overview of black bear habitat, diet, behavior, and current research efforts.  Colburn will also provide recommendations for optimum coexistence with our black bear population.

Paul Colburn is a graduate of Master Wildlife Conservationist Program, is a Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) adult education program that trains participants in the fields of wildlife management, natural history and interpretation. The purpose of the program is to develop a volunteer corps capable of providing education, outreach and service for state agencies, environmental organizations, libraries, schools and the general public.

This talk is free and open to the public. Advance registration is recommended; please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560. The library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.





Using Social Media – Free Program for Businesses, at Essex Library, May 10

ESSEX – The Essex Library is presenting a series of programs, “Building a Digital Roadmap for Your Business (or Nonprofit),” with Caitlin Monahan, Alyssa Puzzo and Austin Gray from Julia Balfour, LLC.

The series includes expert advice on website design and maintenance; social media and how to use it; e-mail marketing best practices; and the advantages of digital advertising.

The program on Tuesday, May 10 at 6 p.m. will focus on learning the where, what, when, and how to best use social media for your business or nonprofit, including analyzing the return on investment on your various channels.

This program is free and open to all.

Please call the Essex Library for more information or to register at 860-767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.


Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition to Meet This Morning

tri town ysb
The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, March 9, at 9 a.m. at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High St., Deep River.

The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a grassroots organization whose membership is open to all who live or work in the tri-town area who are concerned about substance abuse and committed to its prevention.  Many “sectors” of the community are represented on this council: schools, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, government, civic groups, parents, students, the faith community and health care, to name a few.

At the March meeting, the Drug Free Communities grant application will be shared.  The next meeting of the Coalition will be on May 18.  For further information, call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.

Editor’s note: Tri-Town Youth Services (TTYS) supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  TTYS coordinates and provides 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