December 6, 2019

Deep River Town Meeting Confirms Membership of Community Health Board

DEEP RIVER—Voters at a town meeting Tuesday confirmed the eight members appointed by the board of selectmen to the town’s new community health board.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the appointments were confirmed on a unanimous vote of the handful of residents at the town meeting. The new panel was created under an ordinance approved by voters at a Sept. 28 town meeting. It is charged with serving as a liaison to the Centerbrook-based Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley that is now providing visiting nurse services in Deep River, coordinate other public health efforts in town, and manage a charitable fund that was held by the now disbanded Deep River Visiting Nurses.

The members include former Selectman Russell Marth, former Town Clerk Jeanne Nickse, Dr. Kristin Zarfos, former nurse Carl Olson, visiting nurse Diane Recchia, former Connecticut State Police Col. Peter Terenzi, Nancy Howard, and Maura Carver.

While the new community health board is preparing to hold its first meeting later this month, the status of the charitable fund, called the Memorial Fund, held by the former local visiting nurse agency remains unresolved.  The Deep River Visiting Nurses Agency was disbanded on July 1 after voters decided in a May 18 referendum to discontinue town funding for the separate visiting nurse agency.

Smith said local Probate Judge Patricia Damon, who held an initial hearing on the status of the fund in July, has recused herself from the case after Richard Daniels, a former selectman who was president of the former Deep River Visiting Nurses board of directors, questioned her role at the July 22 probate court session that led to the plan to have the appointed community health board manage the Memorial Fund as a separate town fund for charitable purposes. Smith said Daniels is seeking to be named a trustee for the fund, while the board of selectmen want the fund to be managed by the community health board.

Smith said Lyme Probate Judge William Koch, who is also a former first selectman of Lyme, has taken over the case. Koch is scheduled to come to Deep River on Nov. 22 for another probate court hearing on the status of the fund.

The Memorial Fund, which currently contains about $72,000, is held by the local Liberty Bank branch in accounts that have been frozen pending a resolution of the dispute over the future status of the fund.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.