December 7, 2022

Archives for March 2011

Chester Zoning Board of Appeals Denies Most Variances for Route 154 Market

CHESTER— In a split decision, the zoning board of appeals had denied most of the variances required for a proposed market in a vacant building at 56 Middlesex Avenue, also known as Route 154.

The board acted unanimously at a March 21 session on two motions after a public hearing where local resident Peter Kehayias and Deep River architect John Kennedy presented plans for the proposed market with a 10-seat cafe area. The plans require a small expansion of the building for a walk in cooler.  The building, located on Route 154 near the intersection with Main Street, has been vacant for more than two years.

Kehayias, a former owner of the Patticonk Restaurant in the downtown village, has been trying for nearly a year to win zoning approval to convert the building into a market. The planning and zoning commission denied a special permit for the market last November, leading Kehayias to file a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court appealing the decision.
Eight residents, including former Selectman Peter Zanardi and Edward Ward, chairman of the water pollution control authority, spoke in support of the variances at the March 21 hearing. Kehayias said the market would be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. He said the market would have four full-time employees, and four to six part-time workers.  No one spoke against the plans at the ZBA hearing, where Kennedy noted the building has always had a commercial or retail use.

The board acted on a two-part motion by member Mark Borton, approving an extension or expansion of a non-conforming structure to re-fit the structure, while denying all of the other variances requested by Kehayias. Borton’s motion said the other variances, including a change of use and variances of minimum setback and non-conforming characteristics requirements of zoning regulations, were issues for the planning and zoning commission to decide.
The ZBA decision leaves Kehayias’s lawsuit pending. The planning and zoning commission discussed the case with commission attorney David Royston and First Selectman Tom Marsh in closed sessions on Feb. 17 and March 3. After conferring with Royston, the commission decided not to send a representative to oppose the variance appeals at the March 21 ZBA meeting.

ECCoLoV Annual Meeting and Seed Swap

The Earth Charter Community of the Lower Valley, Inc. (ECCoLoV) will be holding its annual meeting at The Sanctuary at Shepardfields, in the Yurt, on April 10, 2011. The meeting will start promptly at 2 p.m. and will be followed be a seed swap. The Sanctuary is located at 59 Bogel Road in East Haddam. 

The annual meeting offers a brief financial review of the previous year of operation, and the budget and plan for the new year. ECCoLoV is a 501c3 non-profit educational organization offering a framework for sustainability. The meeting is also the kick-off of this year’s annual fund drive. 

The seed swap is open to anyone wishing to trade, barter or otherwise obtain smaller quantities of vegetable and flower seeds for their local food garden. More information can be found at

ECCoLoV also announced two upcoming Awakening the Dreamer/Changing the Dream (ATD) events, a program of the Pachamama Alliance, in collaboration with the Connecticut ATD Community. On  April 9, 2011, an Awakening the Dreamer/Changing the Dream Symposium will be held at the South Kingston Neighborhood Guild in Wakefield, Rhode Island from noon to 4 p.m. A weekend training for new symposium facilitators is being offered in Watch Hill, RI on May 13, 14 & 15. New facilitators are required to attend a symposium to qualify for this training. More information is available at

ECCoLoV is located in Deep River at the new ECCoLoV Earth Wellness Center on Elm Street, and is also the hub for Earth Charter-Related activities throughout the state. More information can be obtained by calling 860-873-8989.

Employment Workshops Offered in Old Saybrook

In February Old Saybrook Social Services held its first Employment Workshop attended by 20 residents who were unemployed.  The speaker was Lewis Slotnick, MS, LADC of the United Labor Agency who discussed help with job search assistance and career counseling services as well as rehabilitation services that are free to residents needing help in getting back to work. 

Workshop attendees are able to take advantage of free services that are offered in three half day seminars in a week in the months of March, April, May and June at the United Labor Agency in Middletown.

Topics and services provided include Career Counseling, Career Exploration, Labor Market Information, Interview Techniques, Professional Resume Preparation and Job Search Assistance.

The next Employment Workshop in Old Saybrook is scheduled on Thursday, April 14, 2011, at 9:30 am in the first floor conference room at the Town Hall.

In May Social Services is also planning an Employment Resource and Job Fair at a date to be announced soon.  If you are an employer in Old Saybrook or in the Middlesex County or Shoreline area who would like to participate in the job fair please call for more information.

If you are unemployed and would like more information on this or to register for the next Employment Workshop, please call Susan Consoli, LPC, Social Services Coordinator at 860-395-3188 or by email at

Deep River Craft Fair Vendor Spaces Available Now!

The Fifth Annual Mother’s Day Craft Fair will take place on Saturday, May 7  from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Deep River, 1 Church Street. 

There will be inside and outside spaces available for a cost of $25.00 per space.  The inside spaces are limited and will be filled on a first requested, first served basis.  A limited number of tables for inside use are also available, for an additional $5.00.  

In addition to the numerous vendors, there will be a silent auction, garden plant and bake sale, as well as a luncheon.   Please come and enjoy the day!  You may contact the church office at 860-526-5045 or check our church web site, for an application or further information.

Madhatters Theatre Company 101 Dalmations

Madhatters Theatre Company  will perform Disney’s 101 Dalmations on Friday April 20 at  7 p.m., Saturday April 30 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and  Sunday May 1 at 2pm, at the Andrews Memorial Town Hall, Main Street, Clinton, Connecticut.

Tickets:  (860) 395-1861

Prices: $15.00 Adults   $8 Children 12yrs and under

Essex Community Fund Distibutes $42,000 to 37 Local Charities and Organizations

Darwyn Azzinaro, President of the fund board of directors, introduces award recipients

ESSEX— The Essex Community Fund Wednesday distributed $42,000 in donations to 37 local and area charities and non-profit organizations. Funds for the donations were contributed by local residents last year.

For the first time, Essex Community Fund held a public ceremony announcing the donations, awarding checks to representatives of the organizations in the event held at the community room of the Essex Meadows retirement community.

Darwyn Azzinaro, president of the fund board of directors, said the ten-member board of directors reviewed applications for funding and decided how much to contribute to each charity or organization. Though the specific amount of each donation was not announced, Azzinaro said “we try our best to give each of them as much as we can.”

Charities and organizations receiving donations include American Red Cross, Bushy Hill Nature Center, the Chester-based Camp Hazen-YMCA, CDE Cooperative Nursery School, the areawide Child and Family Agency, Community Music School, Connecticut Audubon Society, Connecticut River Museum, and the Early Childhood Council of Essex, Deep River and Chester.

Also  Essex Ambulance Association Inc. Essex Art Association, Essex Boy Scouts Troop 12-Cub Scouts Troop 4, Essex Elementary School Camperships, Essex Elementary School Foundation, Essex Fire Engine Company No. 1, Essex Fuel Assistance program, Essex Historical Society Inc. Essex Housing Authority, Essex Land Trust, Essex Library Association, Essex Police Union Fund, Essex Tree Committee, Essex Veterans Memorial Hall Inc., FISH (Friends In Service Here), Estuary Council of Seniors Inc., and Gilead Community Services.

Also Ivoryton Library Association, Ivoryton Playhouse, Literacy Volunteers, New Horizons Domestic Violence Community Health Center Service, Region 4 Education Foundation Inc. Rushford Foundation, Shoreline Soup Kitchens, Tri-Town Youth Services, Valley Shore YMCA, Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, and the Valley Regional High School Safe Graduation Committee.

Board members include Azzinaro, vice president Jacqueline Doane, secretary Stacia Libby, treasurer Jean Schneider, past president Rick Stebbins, Mark Bombaci, Betsy Martinez, Chris Rodriguez, Anthony Chirico, and Cara Palagonia.

The Essex Community Fund, Inc. is organized for the purpose of soliciting and collecting monies through the their annual drive for contributions. The monies collected are used for the benefit of organizations, both local and national, as may be decided upon from time to time by the Board of Governors. Their mission is to assist organizations that are providing services to the villages of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton.

For more details of their activities visit

Community Music School Offers Summer Programs

CENTERBROOK – Make this your summer of music! Community Music School offers a wide array of programming during the summer months – private lessons, group classes, and ensembles for all ages – including favorites such as Kindermusik, Broadway Beginners, Broadway Bound, Summer Band, Rock Week and Jazz in July. Plus, there are terrific new programs this summer, too:

  • Acting 101 for pre-teens and teens
  • Summer Sinfonia orchestra
  • Music for Children with Special Needs
  • Guitar & Strings Workshop

This year, “Refer a friend” for select group classes and ensembles and receive a 10% discount. Visit or call 860-767-0026 for additional information. Registration is now open.

Community Music School, located in the Centerbrook section of Essex, CT, is a not-for-profit arts education organization offering instrumental and vocal students of all ages outstanding private and group instruction. In addition to long-running programs such as Kindermusik and Jazz and String Ensembles, CMS offers special programs for homeschool students and a full menu of summer offerings. Additionally, a certified music therapist is on faculty offering individual and group Music Therapy services, using music as a tool to reach individualized therapeutic goals for people of all ages and skill levels. For additional information on programs or performances, please call 860-767-0026 or visit


Region 4 School Board Approves Contracts for Secretaries and School Nurses

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education has approved a new three-year contract for secretaries and school nurses working at Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School.

The contract with Local 13030-419 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 4 is retroactive to July 1, 2010. It covers eight secretaries and two nurses working at the two schools. The agreement provides a one percent wage increase in the current year that is retroactive to last July, a 1.5 percent pay increase in 2011-2012, and a 2.5 percent wage increase in 2012-2013.

The agreement also calls for a small increase in the employee share of annual health insurance premium costs. Employees currently pay 13 percent of annual premium costs, and amount that will increase to 14 percent in July, and 15 percent in July 2012.

In a related development, the Supervision District Board of Education, comprised of elected members of the Region 4 and Chester, Deep River, and Essex school boards, has approved a new three year contract for cafeteria workers at the high school, middle school, and the three elementary schools in each town. The 19 cafeteria personnel are represented by AFSCME Council 4 Local 13-3-098.

The contract includes a 0.5 percent wage increase that is retroactive to July 1, 2010, a one percent wage increase for 2011-2012, and a 1.5 percent wage increase for 2012-2013. As with the agreement with school secretaries and nurses, the employee share of annual health insurance premium costs will increase from the current 13 percent to 14 percent in July, and 15 percent on July 1, 2012.

High Renaissance Artist, Architect Bernini Explored

The Essex Library presents historian, architect, and educator Chuck Benson, who explores the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, leading figure in Roman Baroque architecture and art in the 17th century, as part of  their continuing Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series. This program will be presented on Friday, April 22 at 7 P.M. in the Essex Meadows Auditorium. Dr. Benson’s talk includes a humorous look at some of Bernini’s sculpture, which can be bawdy and is not often a topic of scholarly rumination. Admission is free; please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 to register.

“Gian Lorenzo Bernini was one of the greatest of Roman Baroque artists, architects, and certainly sculptors,” Dr. Benson says.  “It could be argued that his mastery of marble even exceeded that of his esteemed predecessor of the High Renaissance, Michelangelo.  Without question, Bernini exploded on the art scene of the 1600’s in Rome as a luminous, transcendent talent.”

Dr. Benson has been teaching Art and Architectural History for more than twenty five years at various universities and colleges across the United States, and has led groups to explore and visit a variety of sites to Italy, England, Scotland, France, Spain, Austria, Germany, Greece and Turkey.  He also has led art and architecture trips to New York City, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

His lecture credits include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, MOMA, the Whitney Museum, the Getty in Los Angeles, the Art Institute in Chicago, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  He studied the history of art and architecture at Yale as an undergraduate, and holds advanced degrees from Columbia University.  He also has studied at Cambridge and Oxford, as well as the University of Goettingen in Germany.

Dr. Benson currently serves as the Director of Colorado Operations, and Head of Design for a Group that specializes in the architecture and engineering of Satellite Operations Centers and Mission Control Stations.  He currently teaches as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and has taught at the Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

Spring Play and Parent Support Groups in Deep River

Tri-Town Youth Services, at 56 High Street in Deep River, will be sponsoring  Spring Play and Parenting Support groups led by new Parent Resource Coordinator, Meredith Adler. Both groups will run on Wednesdays from April 6 through June 15.

Outstanding Ones, for ages 12 months to 24 months, will meet from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. with a cost of $45 for tri-town residents and $55 for non-residents.

Terrific Twos, for children 24 months to 36 months, will meet from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. with a cost of $60 for tri-town residents and $70 for non-residents.

Please call 860-526-3600 for more information and to register.

Antique Appraisal Day at the Estuary

Marilyn Maynard and Paula Ferrara (ECSI Director) both from Westbrook with their items appraised last year at the Estuary.

The Estuary Council of Seniors, located at 220 Main St. in Old Saybrook, is hosting its annual Antique Appraisal Day on Saturday April 8, from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  This years appraisers are Norman and Linda Legassie, Judith Shea, Kirt Wendler, Tom Medlin, John Newman and Peggy Marchiello.

Last year Marilyn Maynard from Westbrook and Paula Ferrara, Estuary Executive Director, brought their “treasures” to be appraised.  Marilyn brought her husband’s grandfather’s coal carrier that has been handed down through the family.  It is actually a carved tree root that has been painted to resemble a snake.  It was used when his grandfather worked on the railroad to carry a large chunk of coal over his shoulder to the trains.  The carved snake is a fine example of early American folk art and was appraised for $2,400.  Marilyn has decided not to let her grandchildren play with it anymore.

Paula bought the left handed mustache cup for her husband in 1974 on their honeymoon in an antique shop in Kentucky for about $10.  It was appraised at $75.

You can bring your own books, fine arts and period furnishings, glass and pottery, or any other treasure to have it appraised at $5 for one item or $10 for three items.
For further information please call 860-388-1611.

Connecticut River Museum’s April Vacation Adventures Invite Art and River Exploration

April Vacation Adventures at the Connecticut River Museum offer an opportunity for kids to create a large scale mural of the Connecticut River Valley.

Essex, CT – If you’re looking for a different kind of school vacation getaway for your children or grandchildren, the Connecticut River Museum’s “Mural Mayhem: River Explorations & Art Adventures” just may be the ticket.  Starting on Monday, April 18 and running daily through Friday, April 22, CRM staff and Anna Sanko, Executive Director of the Architecture Resource Center and a Connecticut Commission on Culture Master Teaching Artist, will lead a mix-it-up program of art, design, nature and history.

 Children ages 7 -12 will learn how to design and build a mural that illustrates the animals, plants, birds, fish, trees, buildings, bridges and more found along the River while also exploring the Museum’s exhibits, taking a nature hike, or heading out into Essex Village for an architecture scavenger hunt. Themes for each adventure workshop include Eco Explorer; Boats, Planes, Trains & Automobile; Construction Crew; Design Discover; and Mural Masterpiece.

Flexible scheduling allows you to sign up for individual days or the entire week, whichever fits your family needs.    The fee is $25 per day, $110 for all five days with sessions running from 9 am to 12 noon.  Museum members pay $20 per day or $90 for all five days.   The program is funded in part by a grant from the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism.

 To register, call the Education Department at 860-767-8269 x13 or email  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront.  For more information on these and other programs, exhibits and special events, go to

Monday, April 18: Eco Explorers
Join us for a spring hike and a shape-shifting scavenger hunt as we search for geometry in nature and find out about the plants and animals that live around the River.  Start the Mural project by laying out the landscape and creating plants and animals to live in it.

Tuesday, April 19: Boats, Planes, Trains & Automobiles!
Explore the Museum in search of cool ways to travel. Hear exciting stories about explorers, sea captains and famous wrecks on the River. Mural Mayhem continues as we design the cars, trucks, boats, trains and planes that travel in and along the River.

Wednesday, April 20: Construction Crew
Explore Essex in a scavenger hunt of geometric proportions! Search for shapes, hunt for important buildings, and discover how the town is designed. Head back to the Museum to your own River town and create the buildings.

Thursday, April 21: Design Discovery
Conduct design experiments to see how inventors test ideas. Use the Turtle submarine as inspiration to design your own invention. Mural Mayhem continues as we work on finishing the projects and organizing our ideas to build our giant artwork!

Friday, April 22: Mural Masterpiece
Play the Mural discovery challenge searching the Museum’s murals for clues to solve geography puzzles and history mysteries. Work as a team to assemble everyone’s artwork and finally put the pieces together to create a Mural Masterpiece.

Local Land Conservation Trusts Announce Winners of their Sixth Annual Photo Contest

The Lyme, Old Lyme, Salem, Essex and East Haddam land conservation trusts announced today the winners of their jointly sponsored amateur photo contest. The purpose of the contest was to focus on the celebrated and scenic countryside in those towns and its diversified wildlife. There were over 350 photos submitted from 85 photographers all over Connecticut. The ages of the photographers were from 7 to 91.

This contest was made possible by the generous financial support provided by Lorensen Toyota, Oakley/Wing Group at Smith Barney, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Essex Savings Bank, ChelseaGroton Bank, Ballek Garden Center and Murtha Cullina LLP.
“There were so many wonderful pictures submitted that the judges had a difficult time selecting the winners” said Tony Sullivan, spokesperson for the conservation trusts.

The three independent judges are William Burt, a naturalist who has won acclaim for his books of wildlife photography: Rare and Elusive Birds of North America, Shadowbirds, and his recently released Marshes: The Disappearing Edens. Amy Kurtz Lansing, Curator at the Florence Griswold Museum and a Yale University doctoral candidate in the History of Art. She is also the author of Historical Fictions: Edward Lamson Henry’s Paintings of Past and Present and Rudy Wood-Muller, a photographic illustrator and designer. His first large exhibition was at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and was followed by numerous other shows, including a one-man show at the Rochester Institute of Technology. A group of his photographs have been selected to be part of the Permanent Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“This year an additional award was given out to honor one of our prior judges, John G. Mitchell, who passed away” said Sullivan. “John, who was one of the editors at National Geographic, dedicated his career to writing about the environment and conservation, so the award was for the best picture reflecting that subject.”

The categories and names of the winners are:

JOHN G. MITCHELL – Environmental Conservation Award
         Mark Bailey, Essex

   First Place:  Gerry Graves, Old Lyme

  Second Place:  Susan Spang, Salem
   Third Place:  Brendan Donovan, Old Lyme
   Honorable Mentions:  Cheryl Philopena, Salem
       Jean Callan King, East Haddam
       Jeanie Wantz, Essex

   First Place:   Skip Broom, Hadlyme

  Second Place:   Linda Waters, Salem
   Third Place:   Cheryl Philopena, Salem
   Honorable Mentions:   Diana Atwood Johnson, Old Lyme
       Tammy Marselli, Rocky Hill
       Tanya Bourgoin, East Haddam

   First Place:   Jean Callan King, East Haddam

   Second Place:   Mark Bailey, Essex
   Third Place:   Brendan Donovan, Old Lyme
   Honorable Mentions:   Hank Golet, Old Lyme
       Jeff Sims, Waterford
       Stephanie Clayton, Old Lyme

   First Place:   Jean Callan King, East Haddan

   Second Place:   Skip Broom, Hadlyme
   Third Place:   Cheryl Philopena, Salem
   Honorable Mentions:   Emily Maroni, Hadlyme
       David Wantz, Essex
       Tony Sullivan, Lyme

   First Place:   Courtney Fiala, East Haddam

   Second Place:   Julia Danielle Ellman, Guilford
   Third Place:   Courtney Fiala, East Haddam
   Honorable Mentions:   Tara Kielty, East Lyme
       Phoebe Petrovic, Centerbrook
       Tara Kielty, East Lyme

All the winning photographs will be available for public viewing at Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library at 2 Library Lane in Old Lyme during the month of May and during the following months at the public libraries of Lyme, Salem and Essex. The photos can also be seen at or on the web sites of each of the sponsoring conservation trusts.

The Seventh Annual Photo Contest is starting this Spring and any amateur photographer who is interested should contact for a copy of the rules and entry form.

John Winthrop Middle School Receives New England Recognition Award

John Winthrop Middle School has again been recognized by The New England League of Middle Schools as a “NELMS Spotlight School”.  John Winthrop is one of 41 middle schools in the 6 New England States to receive this prestigious award. 11 middle schools in Connecticut have obtained this award.

The Spotlight School Award validates that JWMS provides an exceptional educational program anchored in the following best practices:

  • Rigorous curriculum that is appropriate to the concerns of adolescents.
  • Instructional practices planned to meet the needs of students.
  • Supportive educators who are skilled at teaching young adolescents.
  • A caring climate that supports a shared educational purpose and intellectual development.
  • Parents and communities that support student learning and healthy development.
  • Safe and Healthy environment developing caring and ethical citizens.

A visiting committee of middle school educators visited the school in December to observe and validate the NELMS standards demonstrated at the school. They reviewed curriculum, procedures, practices, met with parents and students and observed classrooms.

This is the second time John Winthrop Middle School has received the Spotlight School Award. In her letter of congratulations, NELMS Executive Director Barbara Needham stated “John Winthrop Middle School Continues to exemplify an excellent learning community for young adolescents and uphold the best practices for middle level education.”

Deep River Town Meeting Approves $320,000 Cell Phone Tower Lease Buyout

DEEP RIVER— Residents at a town meeting Tuesday quickly approved a $320,000 buyout of ground rights for the cellular communications tower located on town property off Route 80.

Only a handful of residents turned out for the town meeting, unanimously approving a waiver of competitive bid requirements for the cell tower negotiations and the buyout offer from Tower Co. after less than a half-hour of discussion.

The tower was erected in 1998 by Nextel Communications on town land near the solid waste transfer station. The town has been receiving payments of $25,000 each year on a 25-year lease that ends in 2023. Under the $320,000 offer, Tower Co., a North Carolina-based firm affiliated with Nextel, would buyout ground rights for the tower site in a lump sum payment. Tower Co. would be required to remove the tower at no cost to the town if it was no longer being used for cellular communications.

First Selectman Richard Smith said another cellular communications company had submitted a buyout offer that was $1,000 higher than the Tower Co. offer after the original offer was announced in January. But Smith said he was not in favor of the town embarking on an “auction” for the ground rights.

Town attorney Jane Marsh, who was present for the meeting, said opening the process to other offers would “prolong the negotiating process,” and possibly result in a loss of the original offer from Tower Co. “It would not be in the best interest of the town to get a contract by that method,” she said.

Smith said the board of finance would have the final decision on how to use the $320,000 cash payment. Smith said some of the money could be placed in a capital and non-recurring projects fund to pay for various capital projects that would otherwise be funded through the annual town budget. The town is expected to receive the payment by July, the first month of the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Company of Fifers and Drummers Tag Sale Fundraiser

The Company of Fifers and Drummers, Ivoryton is hosting their 1st Annual Town Wide Tag Sale on Saturday, 30 April from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fifers and Drummers Museum in Ivoryton.

Spaces can be rented on their grounds for folks to sell theior own items.  The museum will be open for tours and the Fife and Drum Corps will be playing ancient fife and drum music throughout the day.

Come and enjoy a fun filled day and help support a long standing non-profit organization in your neighborhood!

For pricing on space or with any questions please contact Sara Brown at . We look forward to seeing you there

Free Photography Class at Essex Library

Professional photographer Steve Nadler offers a free four-session photography class for beginners at the Essex Library starting in April.

Essex library will be offering  a free, four session program on Beginning Photography starting Thursday April 7 at 7 p.m.

 If you want to learn how to get the best out of the new digital technology and make your photos look like a pro’s, this is the class for you. Instructor Steve Nadler is a professional fine art photographer living in Essex, whose passion for photography started 36 years ago.

 A graduate of the Digital Photography Certificate program at the Rhode Island School of Design, his  work has been exhibited in New York City, Cranston, Newport, Portsmouth, and Warwick, Rhode Island, as well as Chester, Clinton, Essex, and Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register, and bring your camera and questions to the first session.

Joel Barlow: American Citizen in a Revolutionary World – Meet the Author

Author and scholar Richard Buel will speak at the Essex Library on Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m. about his newest book, Joel Barlow: American Citizen in a Revolutionary World.  

Professor Emeritus at Wesleyan University, Buel has spent the last five years researching this fascinating but little-known figure from America’s founding: Connecticut poet turned entrepreneur, diplomat, and international revolutionary, whose circle included Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Tom Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, Lafayette, and Yale classmates Noah Webster and Oliver Wolcott.       

Hear about how Barlow, born in humble circumstances, made a name for himself in a revolutionary era; his experiences during America’s war of independence (1775-1783); his efforts to sell Ohio lands to the French at the beginning of their Revolution; his revolutionary writing in England that made him persona non grata there, while the French granted him citizenship and asked him to run for the National Assembly(he lost); his response to the Terror and subsequent assignment by Pres. Washington to free American sailors from the Barbary Pirates; his eventual return to America and his purchase of an estate (at Jefferson’s suggestion) that he named Kalorama (just north of DuPont Circle in DC); and his last diplomatic appointment (by Pres. Madison) as ambassador to Napoleonic France. Also his secret marriage to Ruth Baldwin, their unusual relationship, and later their intimate friendship with Robert Fulton.

 Books will be available for sale and signing, and refreshments will be served. Please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register. The program is free and open to all.

Landscape Oil Paintings in the Hudson River School Style

Lilac Pond by John O'Keefe

John O’Keefe, of Wallingford CT will be presenting his show entitled “Landscape Oil Paintings in the Hudson River School Style” at the Gallery at The Mill House in Chester CT.    The show runs from April 1 – 30 and his artist Reception is on Saturday, April 9: 2-5pm. 

 John’s art career began in 2007 and he quickly gained recognition in prestigious galleries such as Lyme Art Gallery and the Salmagundi Club in New York City.  He is also a member of Oil Painters of America. 

Websites for John are:  and

Rep. Phil Miller Calls For Labelling of Genetically Modified Food

State Representative Phil Miller (Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam) announced that consumer friendly legislation that would label products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) passed the state legislature’s Environment Committee.

“Connecticut consumers deserve to know what they are buying,” said Miller. “I have heard from many folks, especially parents, who are concerned because we just don’t know what the long term effects from GMOs might be. This bill simply provides consumers with information so they may make an informed purchase.”

The legislation (SB 1116) would require products containing GMOs to be labeled if sold in Connecticut. The Commissioner of Environmental Protection and Commissioner of Consumer Protection would be responsible for label content and form.

Miller noted that five countries in the European Union currently ban GMOs.

GMOs are products that have been genetically modified at the cellular level to increase yields and resist disease.  DNA molecules from different sources are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified genes.

The bill will make its way to the full legislature for a vote in the coming weeks.

Miller, a Democrat, is the newest member of the Environment Committee. He was elected on February 22nd in a special election to represent the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam.

Shoreline Bike and Pedestrian Coalition Holds Inaugural Meeting

Representatives from more than a dozen local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups and regional planning representatives, met in Old Saybrook on Tuesday 15 March in a first-ever attempt to bring multiple stakeholders together in a single room to discuss the topic of shoreline regional planning for non-motorized travel.

Kathy Connolly, leader of new Shoreline Bike/Pedestrian Coalition

The new group, called the Shoreline Bike and Pedestrian Coalition, is lead by Kathy Connolly who was the previous chair of the Old Saybrook Bikeways Committee.  The new coalition’s objective will be to develop a high level, regional vision and strategies for bicycle and pedestrian resources over the next 5-10 years.  “We want to see what it would take to develop end-to-end connectivity across the eastern Connecticut shoreline without a car,” said Connolly.

The meeting was attended by cycling advocacy group representatives from most shoreline towns between the Rhode Island line and New Haven, including Stonington, Mystic, Groton, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Madison, Branford and East Haven, and Haddam from the CT River Valley.  Also attending were Jim Butler from the South Eastern Regional Council of Governments, Jean Davis from CREPA, Meg Parulis, Town Planner from Westbrook and Katherine Rattan, CT DOT Non-motorized Transportation Coordinator.

The coalition is being formed in the hope that having a regional forum in which bike and pedestrian plans from individual towns can be shared and coordinated will increase the liklihood of securing support and funding.

Some of the early initiatives the group hopes to address will include developing an inventory of on-the-road assets and challenges that currently exist in the region, looking at interconnectivity with trains and buses, and participating in the national bike/pedestrian count days in September.

Anyone interested in getting more information about the coalition should contact Kathy Connolly at

State Police Lieutenant Expected as New Essex Police Hire

ESSEX— First Selectman Phil Miller has confirmed that State Police Lt. Paul Kenefick, the current commander at the Troop F barracks in Westbrook, will be hired for an open position on the town police force.

Miller said last week Kenefick is retiring from a 21-year career with the state police, and was one of nearly 40 applicants for the town police position that opened up when former officer April Pawlow became a state trooper.  He said Kenefick was recommended by a law enforcement panel that screened the applications and interviewed four finalists. “The decision has been made,” Miller said, adding that he expects to introduce Kenefick at the April 6 meeting of the board of selectmen.

The decision to hire Kenefick comes amid a public effort opposing the hire being waged by former town officer John Orr, and unresolved questions about the status of another town officer, Corp. Marc Pisciotti, who was placed on administrative leave by Miller on Feb. 28 after he had been cleared by doctors to return to work following medical leave for a shoulder injury.

Orr resigned his position with the Essex police in August 2005 for reasons that have not been fully explained. In a six-page written statement that was left at post offices last week and distributed by Orr at the March 16 meeting of the board of selectmen, Orr claims Kenefick had mishandled an internal affairs investigation of him that was begun in September 2005 after he had left town service. Kenefick was a sergeant at the Westbrook barracks at the time. The statement also alleges favoritism in the handling of personnel matters, including citizen complaints, involving town police officers. Orr and another resident, Paul Goodwin, appeared at the March 16 meeting to question the plans to hire Kenefick.

Miller, at the meeting and in comments later in the week, dismissed as “ridiculous” the concerns raised by Orr.”He has no facts, no relevance, and no validity whatsoever,” Miller said.

Pisciotti said this week he was placed on paid administrative leave by Miller on Feb. 28, just as he was cleared to return to duty after several months on medical leave. Pisciotti said Miller had cited a state police internal affairs investigation involving him that Pisciotti believed had already been concluded.

Pisciotti, a town officer for more than a dozen years who also serves as the local representative to the International Brotherhood of Police Officers union, said he wants to return to work. Miller last week declined to comment on Pisciotti’s situation.

When he begins duty in Essex, a step that will require a period of training for service as a municipal police officer, Kenefick will join with Corporal Russell  Gingras as on-duty town officers under the supervision of Resident State trooper Kerry Taylor. The town has been paying for a second resident state trooper for some patrol duties since last fall because of short staffing among the town officers. Another officer, Salvatore Bevilacqua, has been on medical leave since last fall.

Region 4 to Hire New Valley Regional High School Principal by Mid-April

REGION 4— Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy has announced a process that is expected to lead to the hiring of a new principal for Valley Regional High School by mid-April.

Levy said Monday the process would have a “different structure” than many previous principal search efforts in the district, with a “much more extensive interview process,” that will conclude with a presentation of two finalists to a public meeting on April 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Residents of the district towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex would have an opportunity to ask questions of the finalists at the meeting.

Levy said “feedback forms” and input received at the meeting would lead to the recommendation of a single candidate for an interview with the Region 4 Board of Education at an April 12 meeting. She said a hiring decision would be made at the April 12 meeting or soon afterwards. The new principal is expected to be on the job by July.

The search effort, which is being aided by a facilitator from the Project Learn regional education consortium, comes in the wake of a controversy in the district over the abrupt departure of Eric Rice from the principal job last fall. Rice, a Chester resident, who was hired last summer, resigned in October after only weeks on the job amid reports that he had been given a resign-or-be-fired ultimatum from Levy.

The situation involving Rice, which has never been fully explained by Levy or school board members, led to a support rally for Rice by some residents and students in September and questions from residents at several heavily-attended board meetings during the fall. Kristina Martineau, who had served as assistant principal for about three years, has been serving as acting principal at the high school since mid-October.

Levy said the position was advertised over the past month with the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, the Hartford Courant, and an in-state education website called CT. REAP. She said more than a dozen applications were received by the March 18 deadline. She said applicants would be “telephone screened,” by a group comprised of herself, the Project Learn consultant, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Ian Neviaser, and Board of Education Chairwoman Linda Hall. Neviaser had preceded Rice as principal, holding the job from 2008-2010.

Levy said an undetermined number of candidates would then proceed to a series of interviews with groups of district residents, parents, students, and teachers and other district staff, other administrators, and school board members. She said about 30 people would be involved in this interview process that would lead to the recommendation of two finalists for the April 5 public meeting.

Deep River Democrats Spring Fling!

The Deep River Democratic Party will be holding its Spring Fling 2011 on Friday April 8, from 6.30 p.m. until 10.00 p.m. at the Carriage House, Deep River Historical Society, 245 Main Street, Deep River.

Music will be provided by the Shiny Lapel Trio and there will be food, cold beer, wine and soft drinks and dancing, as well as a silent auction and raffle.

Tickets are $20 per person.  Call AnnMarie Joy for information at 860-526-1320 or Lisa Bibbiani at 860-526-4589.


US Power Squadron Basic Boating Class

The Saybrook Sail & Power Squadron will be offering a basic boating class on March 29 starting at 6.30 p.m.

 The cource covers finding your way, handling in bad weather, laws & requirements, unseen hazards, and lots of practical information.  Passage qualifies the individual for any State’s safe boater’s certificate.  Thus course istaught nationwide to thousands sailors and is “strongly recommended” by the Connecticut D.E.P. as one of the best. 

 A bargain for $45.00, which includes an excellent manual. For more info contact Capt. John McCarthy, 1-860-399-2439 (

The Saybrook Sail & Power Squadron, which is an affiliate of the national U.S. Power Squadrons, is a non-profit organization dedicated to education toward safer boating.   More information about their activities can be found at

Local Swimmers Make Major Contribution to YMCA Marlins Championship Success

Taking a well-earned moment of rest are Marlins coach Patrick Callahan (standing) with his four senior swimmers (clockwise from front), Caius Mergy, Jessica Lee, Peter Fuchs and Michael Iranpour.

The Valley Shore YMCA Marlins swim team qualified six athletes ranging from age 9 to 15 to compete in the USS Age Group Championships held in Middletown this past weekend.

Representing the 9-10 age group, Taylor Gray of Old Lyme competed in the 100 yard individual medley (IM), the 50 yard breaststroke and the 100 yard breaststroke.  She set new personal best times in the two breaststroke events.

In the 11-12 age group, Michael Healey of Madison qualified for the championship event in six events; two IMs, two freestyle events , the 50Y butterfly and the 50Y breaststroke.  He set personal records in the 200 yard freestyle, the 50 yard butterfly and the 100 yard IM.  By placing 12th in the 200 yard freestyle and 16th in the 50 yard butterfly, Healey advanced to the consolation finals in both events.

Three athletes competed in the 13-14 age group — Michael Iranpour of Madison,  Jessica Lee of Old Lyme, and Peter Fuchs, also of Old Lyme.

Iranpour set personal records and advanced to the finals in all four events that he swam (50Y freestyle, 100Y freestyle, 100Y backstroke and 200Y backstroke). 

Jessica Lee started the weekend with the highest place finish of the team: 4th in the 50 freestyle and she participated in the championship final.  This performance was a personal record, a team record, and 0.17 seconds shy of qualification for YMCA National Championships.

Peter Fuchs swam personal records in both the breaststroke events, and set a new team record in the 200 breaststroke.

Finally, Caius Mergy, of Old Lyme filled out the 15-18 age group, swimming in the 100Y and 200Y breaststroke.  He broke his own team record when he swam a personal record in the 200 breaststroke.

With three team records broken this weekend, the Marlins are swimming faster than ever.  Eighteen Marlins athletes will compete in Cambridge on March 26-27 at the Y – New England Championships. 

The Marlins are currently accepting new team members to join the Long Course season.  Call the Valley-Shore YMCA at 860 399-9622 for more information, or contact head coach Pat Callahan at

Color in Architecture: Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series

Color in Architecture - Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series, Friday April 1, 7 p.m.

Award-winning architect Bill Grover, F.A.I.A., presents a brilliantly illustrated talk on “Color in Architecture” in all its glorious shades and applications, presented by the Essex Library as part of the Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 1 at the Essex Meadows Auditorium.   

Mr. Grover is a founding partner of Centerbrook Architects and now partner emeritus, and his portfolio includes more than 45 projects at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York under the directorship of Nobel Laureate Dr. James D. Watson. Mr. Grover has also been the architect for houses, academic buildings, and research and teaching laboratories for clients such as the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Neurogen, Alexion, Vion, Dekalb, and Phillips Exeter Academy. In 1984 he was invested into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. In addition to architecture he also practices at painting watercolors, sailboat racing, and playing jazz on the cornet. 

Admission is free and open to all; please register by calling the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560.

Cappella Cantorum to Present Bach’s “Mass in B Minor” Concert at VRHS, Sunday

Music Director/Conductor and co-founder of Cappella Cantorum, Barry B. Asch

The one hundred voice Cappella Cantorum will present J.S. Bach’s “Mass in B Minor” on Sunday, April 3 at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Road, Deep River, CT with a professional Chamber Orchestra and Soloists.  The chorus is conducted by its co-founder Barry B. Asch.

Bach’s “Mass in B Minor” is widely regarded as one of the supreme achievements of classical music.  He loved God and music with all of his heart, soul, and mind.  This man of few words said nothing about himself or his feelings.  The work was one of his last, although much of it was made of music that Bach had composed earlier.  He assembled the Mass in its present form in 1749, just before his death in 1750.  He never heard the “Mass in B Minor” performed in its entirety.  In terms of its origin, the B Minor Mass is an enigma—a Latin work by a Protestant that is impracticable in both the Roman and Lutheran liturgies.

Tickets are $20.00 for adults, $18.00 for seniors and students at the door.  Advance sales are reduced.  Call 860-767-8452 for tickets and information.

Meet the Chef at Essex Library

Chef Silvio Suppa will be at Essex Library April 2

The Essex Library is delighted to welcome renowned local chef, Silvio Suppa, who will be talking about his new book, “Cooking with Chef Silvio: Stories and Authentic recipes from Campania,” co-authored by Anthony Riccio, on Saturday April 2 at 11 a.m.  The cookbook highlights the social history and old world lifestyle of Campania through oral history stories recounted by Chef Silvio, owner of Cafe Allegre in Madison, who is not only a master chef but also a masterful storyteller.

Beyond its authentic recipes, the book is a culinary memoir that documents “Il linguaggio delle nostre ricette”, the language of our recipes, and illustrates how food reflects the cultural influences of Arabs, Germans, French and Spanish who invaded Campania and left their cultural imprints.  The story of Italian women who by their ingenuity and creativity formed the basis of Campanian cuisine is told in detail, a heritage learned by Silvio Suppa from his grandmother as a young boy on the family farm in southern Italy. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signature (a great gift for Mother’s day!) Admission is free. Registration is requested, but not required; please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560.

Community Music School Presents Four April Concerts

Community Music School’s Sinfonia under the direction of Martha Herrle

The  faculty and students of Community Music School will present a number of public concerts in April, as follow:

 Jazz Concert

Friday, April 8, 7:30 p.m., Centerbrook Meetinghouse, 51 Main Street, Centerbrook

Presented by members of the jazz faculty including Russ Becker, alto saxophone; Tom Briggs, percussion; Joni Gage, vocals; Matt McCauley, double bass; Bill McIntosh, trombone; Kevin O’Neil, guitar; Stephen Roane, guitar; and Andy Sherwood, clarinet. The concert will include performances of jazz standards and original compositions, including a medley of Benny Goodman songs. Suggested donation is $10.

Russ Becker and Stephen Roane

Sunday, April 10, 2 p.m, Studio 15 @ Community Music School, 90 Main St., Centerbrook

An afternoon concert of original music performed on various woodwind and string instruments. A prominent instrumentalist, composer and teacher, Russ Becker (saxophone, clarinet) has been an active musician on the Connecticut music scene for many years. Stephen Roane (guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin) is an active performer both locally and internationally appearing at thousands of venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to The Bottom Line. FREE

Sinfonia & String Ensemble in Concert

Tuesday, April 12, 7 p.m., Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Road, Deep River

Each of these multi-generational performing ensembles is directed by Martha Herrle. Music to be performed includes Ode to Joy, Over the Rainbow, the Brandenburg Concerto, and Lord of the Rings. Guest musicians from the Old Saybrook High School Band will join in for the finale. FREE!

CMS Flute Ensemble

Tuesday, April 26, 7 p.m., Essex Library, West Avenue, Essex

Under the direction of Pamela Dubey Allen, this multi-generational ensemble with flute players spanning 5 decades in age, will perform a variety of music featuring classical composers such as Tchaikovsky, Edvard Grieg, Cecile Chaminade, J.S. Bach, Dvorak, and Mozart. The concert will also include familiar American folk tunes arranged for flute ensemble (e.g., “Shenandoah,” “Amazing Grace”). FREE!

Community Music School, located in the Centerbrook section of Essex, CT, is a not-for-profit arts education organization offering instrumental and vocal students of all ages outstanding private and group instruction. In addition to long-running programs such as Kindermusik and Jazz and String Ensembles, CMS offers special programs for homeschool students and a full menu of summer offerings. Additionally, a certified music therapist is on faculty offering individual and group Music Therapy services, using music as a tool to reach individualized therapeutic goals for people of all ages and skill levels. For additional information on programs or performances, please call 860-767-0026 or visit

Haddam First Selectman Supports Land Transfer Calls on State Lawmakers to Approve the Exchange

Riverhouse Properties has announced the support of Haddam First Selectman Paul DeStefano for the transfer of 17 acres of state-owned land in Haddam in exchange for an 87-acre tract adjacent to the Cockaponset State Forest in Higganum.

“It will result in much needed tourism, which will translate into more jobs and more environmental comprehension and awareness,” DeStefano said, adding, “It will also provide a synergy of opportunity with the neighboring Town of East Haddam and bolster the economy of both towns as we seek to strengthen our infrastructure to deal with the challenges of the future.”

The land exchange with Riverhouse Properties was approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2009.  According to Riverhouse Properties, the 17 acres owned by DEP in Haddam is surrounded by fully developed industrial and commercial land, a sprawling DOT complex and Eagle Landing State Park.  Additionally, Riverhouse Properties claims that the 87-acre forest property is ideal for preservation while the DEP land is better suited for tourism-related economic development, as called for in the Haddam Economic Development Plan for this specific property.

“The land exchange offers Haddam a reason to stimulate its lagging regulation and zoning reform for the Tylerville Village so that our foundation can support the type of future development that will be consistent with the environmental, cultural, and business goals that are a part of our Conservation and Development Plan,” DeStefano said.

A public hearing on the property conveyance bill will be held in the near future by the General Assembly’s Government Administration and Elections Committee.  First Selectman DeStefano will be testifying in support of the bill.

“Passage will insure that the major parcel of land in Higganum that adjoins the state forest will not be developed in such a manner that would saddle the town with future educational expenses — costs that would only continue to hurt our attempts to survive in this weak, punishing economy,” Destefano noted.

Valley Regional HS Boys Basketball Win Class S State Championship

Mitch King had 13 points and 7 rebounds

Valley Regional High School boys basketball team won the Class S State Chamiopnship at Mohegan Sun Arena yesterday by 70-46 against Classical Magnet.

Rioux scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds and King scored 13 points and 7 rebounds.  VRHS were the #1 seeds in the tournament with only two losses in the season

Ivoryton Opera Series Opens With Success

James Kuslan and Joyce Fideor During Ivoryton Library Opera Series on Macbeth

The Ivoryton Library opera series, Great Works of Literature and Opera, had an enthusiastic launch of the first of its series at the Ivoryton Congregational Church on Thursday with a study of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

A large audience at the Congregational Church listened with interest to an introduction from international opera singer Susan von Reichenbach followed by a fascinating lecture from guide and main speaker James Kuslan, who discussed the ways in which Shakespeare and his interpreters make choices that affect our understanding of the meaning of play. Kuslan, who is a respected expert in his field, reviews operas in New York City publications and writes introductions for Deutsche Grammophone, whose business is largely opera recordings.

Kuslan’s message was exemplified in an extraordinary performance by actress Joyce Fideor, who rendered a speech by Lady Macbeth in three different ways to illustrate the influence of actor interpretation.  Fideor concluded her performed with two emotionally charged soliloquies from Lady Macbeth which left the audience in awe.

Joyce Fideor performs an emotional soliloquy by Lady Macbeth

Fideor has played Lady Macbeth in Nicole Williamson’s production of the play at New York’s Circle-in-the-Square Theater.

The nine part series, entitled “Great Works of Literature and Music: Read, Hear, See” is funded by a grant from the Middlesex County Community Foundation, and will continue through May, 2011.

The next performance in the series will be on March 24, at the Ivoryton Congregational Church, when Kuslan will discuss how Verdi and his librettist, Piave, adapted the play Macbeth so that its elements might be amplified by music.

Poets Celebrate National Poetry Month at Chester Public Library

“In Our Words:  Four Local Poets” celebrates the power, beauty, and fun of poetry with a reading at Chester Public Library on Monday, April 4 at 7:00 p.m.

The poets, all with ties to Chester, include Barbara Earle, Tim Napier, Pam Nomura, and Hannah Watkins.  Barbara Earle, who received a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin at age 68, has been writing poetry that reflects her marvelous sense of humor all her life.  She has been known to write more serious poems, as well and takes great joy in both writing and reciting poetry.   

Tim Napier credits his mentor and friend, poet William Meredith, with igniting his love of words when he was a graduate student at Connecticut College.  The fire has continued to burn as Napier, an award-winning poet, taught creative writing at the high school level throughout his career.  He has been published on numerous occasions and is pleased to be at a point in his life where he can devote as much time as he likes to writing.

Pamela Nomura has lived most of her life in Connecticut and Hawaii, places that appear again and again in her poems.  Nomura has been published in a number of journals and magazines and her chapbook, Water and Land by Turns, was published in 2001.  She has given workshops and readings at prisons, shelters, convalescent homes, libraries, museums and universities, and has been in residence at Soul Mountain Retreat, the Blue Mountain Center, and, most recently, in Cape Town, South Africa, where she partnered with U.S. and South African performing artists to work with youth-at-risk.

Hannah Watkins, a sophomore at Middlesex Community College, is one of only five 2011 Connecticut Student Poets recognized by the Connecticut Poetry Circuit.   As part of this elite group, Watkins is on tour reading her original poetry at various colleges in the state and at the Sunken Garden at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Conn. Watkins’ work has been published in Freshwater, The Bethel Bulletin, and her college’s publications: The Flying Horse and Pegasus and will appear in the fall issue of the prestigious creative arts publication, Connecticut Review.

Following their readings, the poets will welcome questions and refreshments will be served.  Register for the program by calling the Library at 860-526-0018.  Chester Library is located at 21 W. Main Street in Chester, CT.

Decorate a Drywall Screw to Help Victims of Katrina

A group of 35 committed, caring teenage volunteers from the Deep River Congregational Church Disaster Relief Team are holding a fundraising campaign at Essex Hardware on Saturday, March 26, 2011 between 10 a.m.- 1 p.m., during which  donors will be invited to decorate a drywall screw.

The decorated screws will be taken down to New Orleans and used by the youths on July 16 – 23, 2011 when they will be participating in a week of rebuilding homes and spirits of victims of Katrina which occurred 5 years ago. Often, after the spotlight and the media have left a natural disaster site the need for help continues for years.

Please come and support the group.  Drywall screws were generously donated by Essex Hardware for the cause. If you can’t attend our event, please consider a donation to help the teens purchase supplies needed for their trip to New Orleans.

Donations can be mailed to DRCC, P.O. Box 246, Deep River, CT 06417. Checks should be made payable to DRCC; please indicate “NOLA” on the memo line. DRCC is a 503 (3) organization and your donation is tax deductible.

Essex Conservation Commission Authorizes Lethal Trapping of Beavers at Viney Hill Brook Park

Library image courtesy of J Schmidt - NPS Photo

ESSEX— The conservation commission has authorized the lethal trapping of beavers in one of the ponds at Viney Hill Brook Park. First Selectman Phil Miller announced the trapping at a meeting of the board of selectmen Wednesday where a handful of residents objected to the plan.

Miller said beavers have been constructing dams in the smaller of the two ponds at the 900-acre park located off Cedar Grove Terrace, flooding a trail. He said the conservation commission, which supervises a large portion of the park set aside for passive recreation, is concerned the beavers may move to the larger pond that is used as a public swimming area. “There is a potential for more problems,” he said.

Miller said the commission has retained a private trapper, who would do the trapping at no charge in exchange for the beaver pelts that have increased in value in recent years. A permit for the trapping requires the activity be completed during March.

Several residents objected to the trapping, where the beavers are held under water to drown Residents also contended the traps were laid last week, before all nearby property owners were notified of the plan.

Jim Richmond noted the commission’s own regulations prohibit trapping and hunting in the portion of the park that is set aside as an open space nature preserve. Other residents said their dogs often enter the smaller pond, and could have been caught in one of the traps and harmed.

Miller said the traps have been set up, but have not yet been armed to catch the beavers. “I wish we were not in this situation” he said.

Selectman Joel Marzi said he would prefer an alternative method of trapping that allows for a relocation of the beavers without killing the animals, though Miller said that live trapping would require an expense of town funds. Miller maintained that most of the property owners abutting the park favor the trapping.

Boston Fed Names Essex Savings Bank Exec. to New Advisory Board

Greg R. Shook, President & Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has appointed 12 members, including  local bank executive Greg R. Shook, President & Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank, to an adisory council formed in response to new regulations.

Each Federal Reserve Bank across the country is establishing a First District Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council (CDIAC) in response to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The councils will represent the perspective of smaller financial institutions and provide input on the economy and lending conditions, among other issues, according to a statement.

The First District’s 12 CDIAC members represent commercial banks, thrift institutions and credit unions with assets less than $10 billion. Members, which are from each of the six New England states, will meet three times annually.

The following members were appointed:

  • Gregory Shook, president/CEO, Essex Savings Bank, Essex
  • James W. Blake, president/CEO, HarborOne Credit Union; Brockton, Mass.
  • Tom Caron, president/CEO, Bank of Easton; North Easton, Mass.
  • Christopher Oddleifson, president/CEO, Rockland Trust Co.; Rockland, Mass.
  • Bill Stapleton, president/CEO, Northampton Co-Operative Bank; Northampton, Mass.
  • Jane Walsh, president/CEO, Northmark Bank; North Andover, Mass.
  • John J. Dwyer, Jr., president/CEO, New England Federal Credit Union (NEFCU); Williston, Vt.
  • Michael L’Ecuyer, president/CEO, Bellwether Community Credit Union; Manchester, N.H.
  • Gregg R. Tewksbury, president/CEO, Savings Bank of Walpole; Walpole, N.H.
  • Peter Judkins, president/CEO, Franklin Savings Bank; Farmington, Maine
  • Joseph J MarcAurele, president/CEO, Washington Trust; Westerly, R.I.
  • Merrill Sherman, president/CEO, Bank Rhode Island; Providence, R.I.

Stapleton will serve as District One’s representative to the national CDIAC, which will meet twice a year to advise the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., according to a statement. The Federal Reserve Board announced in October it was forming the CDIAC to replace the Thrift Institutions Advisory Council.

The first meeting of the District One CDIAC was held on March 1.

Camp Hazen YMCA Summer Camp Open House March 27

Skate Park Instruction at Camp Hazen YMCA

Do you know what your children are doing this summer?  On Sunday, March 27, Camp Hazen YMCA will host an Open House from 2-4 p.m.   Families are encouraged to attend to learn more about summer opportunities for their children.  Camp Hazen YMCA, located at 204 West Main Street on Cedar Lake in Chester, offers one and two week session of both day and resident camp. 

Some sessions already have waitlists so it is imperative for families to plan their summer now.  Camp Director, Danita Ballantyne, states “Attending an Open House provides a valuable opportunity for families to meet the Camp Directors and see the facilities to determine if Camp Hazen is the right choice for their family.” 

Camp Hazen YMCA is committed to helping youth develop valuable life skills through camping experiences that build healthy bodies, open minds and awakened spirits.    Traditional camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts and campfires – along with more unique programs including a Skate Park, Alpine Tower, Mountain Biking and Windsurfing are available for campers.  All activities are designed to ensure that campers are having fun, making friends and learning valuable life lessons such as independence and leadership which are the core ingredients of the camp experience.

Camp Hazen YMCA believes the summer camp experience is a vital part of a child’s development and offers a tier pricing program to make camp affordable for all.  For more information, contact Danita Ballantyne at 860-526-9529 or visit

Career Column 10: Working in Human Resources

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), job prospects for human resource managers are expected to grow much faster than average, by 22 percent, in the coming years.  Revisions to safety standards, changes in health care regulations, labor relations disputes, and increased training needs due to technological advances are expected to contribute to a healthy demand in the field.   A bachelor’s degree in human resources, industrial-labor relations, or related areas (especially business administration with relevant coursework) along with an internship would be ideal preparation.   A liberal arts degree will need to be supplemented by internship or work experience and a business background.  To advance in the field, a graduate business degree with a concentration in human resources or labor relations, or a master’s degree in human resource management, is essential in some settings. 

To enter the field without a business background or experience, a graduate degree in business or human resources and an internship will be very helpful.   However, counselors could become employee assistance professionals, lawyers could become compliance officers, and accountants could become compensation and benefits analysts without much additional education.  In addition, an employee may be able to transfer into the human resources department of his or her company when there are openings.  

Hiring the right employees, reducing turnover, increasing productivity, and following complex employment laws are challenges for every corporation.  Human resource generalists have a hand in all of these functions in a company and more.  Human resource specialists, usually employed by large corporations, focus on a narrow area such as compensation, benefits, training, development, recruitment, or labor relations.  A third group of human resource professionals work as consultants to firms that outsource their human resource management needs. 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), an important professional organization in the field, has an excellent website (   Among other things, it identifies and describes several disciplines in Human Resource Management, including Leadership, Human Resources Technology, Safety and Security, Compensation, Labor Relations, Benefits, Diversity Management, Ethics and Sustainability (ethics includes a lot of legal and regulatory issues), Employee Relations, and others.  It seems there may be something that interests everyone, making it an exciting field to explore. 

Most human resource positions are a good fit for individuals who are project oriented with an interest in directing, persuading, and helping others and creating and following routines.  Strong oral and written communication skills, good teamwork and leadership capacities, knowledge of human resource functions, a business and finance background, confidence, flexibility, and a high energy level are important for success.   Those who work hard, deal with people well, and show management potential can move up the career ladder.  

Human resource jobs at the management level pay well, about $95,000 annually.  However, they may not pay as well as other, more business oriented, positions in some settings, because they do not generate profits.  Compensation and benefits managers seem to earn a little more than training and development managers. An experienced benefits administrator should earn about $65,000 annually, while an experienced benefits analyst will earn about $95,000.  (A benefits analyst has responsibility for researching and evaluating benefit plans, in addition to administering them.)   Assistants in these fields, who work under managers, earn closer to $50,000 annually.  (All salaries are based on medians in Hartford, Connecticut, as indicated on 

SHRM has a helpful brochure that describes the field and how to position oneself to enter it.  It can be found here: Careers HR Book_final.pdf.  A more complex view, for business students, is offered by the University of Michigan School of Business at

Career  Resource  is the website for the College Board, a not for profit organization that administers SAT’s and other exams.  The website offers extensive college planning tools for free.  You can search for colleges by location, major, cost, size, setting, and other factors.  You can also find all kinds of information about a specific college, from average SAT scores to sports that are offered and housing options.  Take a look!

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at

Registration for Spring programs at the Valley-Shore YMCA Begins March 19.

 Valley-Shore YMCA will begin registration for their spring programs on Saturday March with a new look and a continuing commitment to nurturing the potential of every child and teen, improving the nation’s health and well-being.

YMCA spring programs range from youth sports, to swim lessons – martial arts to music and Childcare – Yoga and Pilates and all things in between. At the Valley-Shore Y it’s not just about an afterschool activity, it’s about nurturing the development of our youths, giving them values and skills that can be used as building blocks later in life.

Youth development is encouraged through programs such as golf lessons, instructional Soccer, youth tennis lessons, gymnastics and cooking classes for kids and adults all on Saturdays. It doesn’t just stop there, the Valley-Shore Y’ offers an extensive Arts & Dance program. These offerings include Acrobatics, Ballet, Hip-Hop and various kinds of music lessons including private lessons.

At the Y, it’s not about the activity you choose as much as it is about the benefits of living healthier on the inside as well as the outside. Healthy Living can be obtained through recreational swimming or swim lessons. Swim lessons at the Valley-Shore Y are still one of the most affordable programs on the shoreline and offer many lessons for different levels of skill. American Red Cross training courses are also available.

Connecticut River Museum Announces Plans for Designating Essex as Historic Battle Site

Public Invited to Community Forum “Battle Site Essex” on April 7 at 5:30 pm

Essex, CT – On the evening of April 7, 1814, British troops rowed up the Connecticut River and launched a historic raid on the village of Essex, destroying 27 American ships in various stages of construction.  As one of the greatest shipping losses during the War of 1812, the raid is a significant event in both state and national history. 

The Connecticut River Museum, located on the banks of the River where the British landed, has announced its plans for getting Essex officially designated as a historic battle site.  Those plans will be presented at a free community forum Battle Site Essex to be held at the Museum on Thursday, April 7 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. 

Connecticut River Museum staff will be joined by representatives from the State of Connecticut Historic Preservation and Museum Division for a full discussion of the process and impact of being recognized on the state and national registers.  Forum attendees will have an opportunity to participate and ask questions.  Admission is free but pre-registration is requested in order to accommodate seating needs. 

To register, call (860)767-8269.  The Connecticut River Museum, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating the cultural and natural history of the Connecticut River, is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront.  For more information on this and other events at the Connecticut River Museum, go to

Phil Miller Takes Office at State Capitol

State Rep. Phil Miller being sworn in at the State Capitol

Newly sworn in State Representative Phil Miller officially took office at the State Capitol as a member of the Connecticut General Assembly.

“I am honored that the residents of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam have put their faith in me to represent them in these challenging times,” said Miller. “I’m looking forward to using my experience balancing municipal budgets as we work together to find balanced solutions that make sense for our state.”

Miller, a Democrat, was elected on February 22nd in a special election to represent the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. James Spallone had represented the district since 2000, but gave up his seat in early January after being named Deputy Secretary of the State.

Miller was named to the Environment, Human Services, and Public Health committees by Speaker of the House Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden).

The Environment Committee is responsible for all issues relating to Connecticut’s environment and agriculture. The Human Services Committee oversees all legislation concerning the Department of Social Services (DSS), the state’s largest agency, and the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The Public Health Committee has authority over all programs and matters relating to health matters, including mental health, emergency medical services,  substance abuse, medical licenses, nursing homes, pure food and drugs, and controlled substances.

“Phil brings a wealth of experience to the Capitol that will be very beneficial as we face the challenges ahead,” said Donovan. “As First Selectman of Essex, Phil provides an important perspective on the relationship between our smaller towns and the state.”

Summer Camp at Essex Park & Recreation Dept.

Correction: Please note that this program will be run by the Essex Park & Rec. Dept., not the Essex Elementary School as previously announced.

Essex Park & Recreation Dept. will be running a Summer Day Camp & new Summer Squirts Camp this year. The Summer Day Camp will be open to ages 6-12 (only campers entering 1st to 7th grade in the fall are eligible to attend). However the Summer Squirts Camp program will be available for those campers entering kindergarten.

Both camps will be held at Essex Park & Rec. and are planned to run for 8 sessions: June 27-Aug. 19. Early Care will be available from 8 a.m.-9 a.m. In addition, Extended Care will be available from 3 p.m.-4 p.m.  for full day campers.

Kindergarten campers will meet Monday—Friday 9 a.m.-12 noon. There is no early drop off/late pickup available for this program.

Mail in registrations from residents will be accepted starting April 1.   Non –Resident registration will begin May 1. Space is limited so please register early.  Please note online registration is not available  for Summer Camps at EES.

Full Day Cost: $115.00 per session (Resident), $125.00 per session (Non-Resident).  Field tripsare  included in the session fees for Full Day Only Camp.

Early Care: $15.00 per session– Extended Care:$15.00 per session. Summer Squirts are not eligible for Early/After Care.

Squirts Summer Camp Cost: $75.00 per session;  85.00 (Non-Resident).  Summer Squirts will not attend field trips & are not eligible for before or after care.

Please visit their web site  and then click on the Summer Camp link on the left.  Weekly Theme, registration forms and general information can be found there.

In addition to the Traditional Day Camp they have many specialty camps available this summer, including:

  • Slamma Jamma – Basetball
  • Between the Lines-Baseball
  • Tennis
  • Running Rams Track & Field
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Sport Squirts-(specifically for pre-schoolers)

Information in also available online along with online registration.

Editor’s Note:  Please note that this program will be run by the Essex Park & Recreation Dept., not Essex Elementary School as previously stated.

Vernal Pool Walk at Bushy Hill Sunday 27 March

Essex Land Trust will be organizing a family vernal pool walk on Sunday 27 March at 1 p.m. at the Bushy Hill Nature Center

Explore the magic of early spring vernal pools at the 700-acre Bushy Hill Nature Center preserve with Director ErikBecker. Families are invited to use nets and other tools to identify flora and fauna. Roast marshmallows over the fire after the walk, which will last about 1-1/2 hours.

Erik Becker the Bushy Hill Nature Center Director has worked at Bushy Hill since 1999. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a B.S. in “Earth Living Education and Therapy.” He has been learning and teaching “woodsy” skills since the early 90’s.  In addition to his teaching, Erik coaches football at Hand High School and works for Madison Youth & Family Services.

This is an Essex Great Outdoor Pursuit event and is supported by a grant from The Rockfall Foundation, Middletown, Connecticut. Park at Bushy Hill Nature Center (at the Incarnation Center). Rain or shine. For more information about the event please contact Peggy Tuttle at 860-767-7916 or e-mail

St. John’s Episcopal Parishioners Approve Sale of Main Street Essex Rectory House

ESSEX— Parishioners at Saint John’s Episcopal Church have approved a possible sale of the church rectory house at 40 Main Street. The sale was approved at a meeting of the congregation Sunday on a 101-19 paper ballot vote after more than an hour of discussion. The church vestry committee had recommended approval of the sale option last month.

The church pastor, Rev. Folts, who is married with three children, had earlier this year expressed an interest in owning his own home. The suggestion from the pastor led the vestry committee to undertake a review of options for the rectory house, including the annual cost of maintaining the house. Proceeds from the sale would be used to create a fund to help Folts purchase his own home in Essex or a nearby town, and for ongoing maintenance of the main church building on Main Street.

The historic house at the lower end of Main Street was built in 1807, and donated to the church in 1896 to serve as the rectory house. The house was assessed at $643,800 on the October 2010 grand list, a figure that represents about 70 percent of estimated fair market value. The sale of the rectory house also requires approval from the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. The sale would be coordinated by a subcommittee of the vestry committee.

Spirits and Riverfront History at Fifth Annual Privateers Bash

Free Men of the Sea will lend their spirited voices to the 5th Annual Privateers Bash at the Connecticut River Museum where music, drinks, food, and fun will served up on Saturday, April 2 from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm. (photo courtesy of Kim Tyler Photography)

Essex, CT – If you’ve always wanted to party like a pirate, look no further than the Privateers Bash happening on Saturday, April 2 from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex.

All are invited to come in costume and relive Riverfront history at the fifth annual Bash, a playful nod to the privateers who made their wealth by relieving foreign ships of their valuable cargo during the War of 1812.  Live music and dancing will fill the exhibit galleries while a pig roast by Big Daddy’s Texas Style Bar-B-Q, hors d’oeuvres provided by local caterers, rum punch, grog, and a premium rum tasting will satisfy the palette. 

There won’t be a shortage of treasure, either, with chances to win products and services donated by local organizations and prizes award for best costumes. Proceeds benefit the Connecticut River Museum.

A $50 Privateer ticket includes food, grog, rum punch, and a $5 coin good toward a cash bar drink, premium rum tasting or treasure chance. A $75 Commodore ticket also includes premium rum tasting and an open bar while a $250 Patron receives two Commodore tickets, 4 treasure chances, and a $100 tax deduction.  Tickets may be purchased by calling 860-767-8269, online at, or at the door on the evening of the event. 

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront.  It is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to lead in the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley.

Forensic Scientist Dr. Henry Lee to Speak in Deep River

Dr. Henry Lee will speak at Valley Regional High School on April 28

World-renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee has been called in to consult  on the highest-profile murder cases of our times, including the O.J. Simpson case, the Martha Moxley murder, and Jon Benet Ramsey, and travels the world as a consultant and speaker. 

The Essex Library is proud to present Dr. Lee for one night only, Thursday April 28 at 7 p.m., at Valley Regional High School’s auditorium.

Forget CSI – this is the real deal. Come and hear the inside scoop on how he cracked some of his most famous cases. A  five dollar donation per person for this program is requested. Valley Regional High School is located on Kelsey Hill Road in Deep River. To register for this program, or for more information, please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560.

Dads, Daughters and Surviving the Teens

Adolescence is tough on everyone – including the dad watching his “little girl” morph into something completely alien, and often infuriating. Dr. William M. Boylin, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist, systems psychotherapist, and author will help fathers come to grips with this challenging phase in their family relationships, in a program at the Essex Library, Thursday March 24 at 7 p.m.

If you’re the father of a teen or tween girl, you won’t want to miss this insightful talk.  The program is free and open to all. Please call the Essex Library to register, or for more information, at 860-767-1560.

Get Set for Spring with Composting 101

Master Gardener Claire Matthews will present a free “how-to” program on getting started with compost, at the Essex Library on Thursday March 31 at 7 p.m.

Learn how to turn your garbage into black “gold”, and make nutrient –rich compost that will help your garden grow.

 This program is co-sponsored by the Essex Garden Club, and is free and open to all. Please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register, or for more information.

Tonight, Join An Evening of H2O-Hope, Happiness, Opportunity- to Benefit Niger, Haiti, April 2

The local Haitian community in Deep River and The Whistle Stop Cafe are joining with the Chester, Deep River and Essex Rotary clubs, along with the Interact Club at Valley Regional High School, to raise funds in an atmosphere of cultural diversity and sharing.  The Dinner and Music evening will be held on Saturday, April 2 from 6-8 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Deep River.

What would you think if someone told you that one meal could change a life forever?  Whether the thirst is for knowledge or simply thirst; poverty, drought, and disease are rampant in areas like Haiti and Niger.

Today’s water crisis is not an issue of scarcity, but of access. More people in the world own cell phones than have access to a toilet. Approximately one in eight people (884 million) lack access to safe water.  More than 3.5 million people die each year from water-related disease.  The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.

Throughout the developing world, everything starts with water.  Nomads in Niger often spend 14 hours a day at the well drawing water for their families and their herds.  Water – or the lack of water – consumes their lives and leaves little room for anything else… and the cycle of poverty continues.  Niger suffers catastrophic famines every few years from recurring droughts.

Rotarians have united to try to break this cycle of catastrophe by digging wells, creating cereal banks, vaccination programs, supporting education and health care.  And progress has been made through a focused program of economic development and vocational training.  The nomads have managed to survive for centuries raising cattle, goats and camels to provide daily milk or to sell for millet.  They love their freedom and are proud of their cultural and artistic traditions but are increasingly threatened by drought, dwindling pasture, global warming and uranium mining. With just a little help – our help – they can make it.

Students studying under street lamps

The need in Haiti, just a short distance (710 miles) from the United States, is overwhelming, particularly in light of the massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck in January 2010. Basic infrastructure such as water delivery, sanitation, housing, transportation, and food supply and delivery were inadequate before the earthquake and are even worse today.  There are so many needs, yet one clear opportunity emerges – education.

Sister Cities Essex Haiti, in partnership with the Rotary Clubs of Chester, Deep River, and Essex, has made a commitment to create a community library in the rural community of Deschapelles.  Despite the fact that all Haitians highly value education, there are few libraries in rural Haiti. The Deschapelles Library could be used as a place for students to study after school particularly after dark since most households do not have electricity.  Even adults who learned to read have few opportunities to read for lack of books, and thus lose their facility for reading.

The Rotary Clubs of Chester, Deep River, and Essex invite you to make a difference by supporting an evening of cultural diversity and sharing.  From authentic Haitian and Nigerian cuisine to the sounds of traditional music, you will enjoy a taste of these unique cultures while providing much needed funding for literacy and water projects in these impoverished regions.  Your donation of a book or consumption of a bottle of water will have a positive impact.  Quench the thirst!

Donations from members of our local community mean that 100% of the proceeds from the benefit will be directed to Haiti and Niger.  Tickets for the event are $25.00 and are available through any Essex, Chester, or Deep River Rotarian or through  A limited number of tickets will also be available at the door.  For more information or tickets, contact Jeff Mehler at (860) 767-9700.