July 4, 2022

Archives for March 2011

Bike Decorating Contest at ‘Essex go Bragh’ Irish Parade & Festival, Saturday

Essex Park and Recreation is teaming up with Essex Savings Bank to bring a free bicycle decorating contest to the children of the area for the Saturday, March 19, Essex go Bragh Irish Parade, which begins at 12 noon.   The parade and festival are sponsored by Ivoryton Playhouse and Tower Labs.

There will be three age groups – children ages 5 to 7 (must be accompanied by an adult), 8 to 11 and 12 to 14 are eligible for prizes made possible by Essex Savings Bank.  Registration will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Essex Town Hall parking lot with judging taking place at 11 a.m. anyone coming late will not be judged or eligible for prizes, but may ride in the parade.  Winners will receive their prizes following judging and will be publicly announced at the bandstand stage after the parade. (Location TBA)

Registration forms signed by a parent or guardian are required and must be turned in during registration. The forms are available online at www.essexct.gov.  Forms also will be available at registration.

Rules for the contest are as follows:

  • For prizes, judges will look most at those entries that use the theme of “Essex go Bragh,” (Essex Forever) and the use of the color green, creativity and originality.
  • There will be one winner from each age group. Each winner will receive a $100 Savings Bond from Essex Savings Bank.
  • Costumes may be worn but must not interfere with rider’s vision (all must be appropriate for family atmosphere).
  • Decorations must be completed before arrival to parade, and attached firmly.
  • Decorations must not interfere with safe operation of the bike.
  • Bikes can be two or three wheels (training wheels are permitted). No motorized bikes/cars are permitted for this contest.
  • Bikes must be in safe, operating condition.
  • Bike riders must wear bicycle helmets at all times. Other safety equipment is optional. All equipment is to be provided from home.
  • Entrants must ride their bike or walk along with it.  All contest participates are expected to march in the parade.


March 22 Town Meeting to Consider Deep River Cell Tower Buyout Offer

DEEP RIVER—Voters at a March 22 town meeting will be asked to consider a $320,000 buyout offer for ground rights to a cellular communications tower on town property, or whether to open the buyout process to offers from other cellular communications companies.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the town has received at least one other ground rights buyout offer since the board of selectmen discussed a buyout offer from Tower Co. at a Feb. 8 meeting. He said an inquiry from AP Wireless Infrastructure Partners indicated it would be willing to improve on the offer from Tower Co., a North Carolina firm that is affiliated with the current user of the cell tower.

The tower, located on town property near the solid waste transfer station on Route 80, was erected in 1998. The town, which does not use the tower for communications, has been receiving payments of $25,000 per year on a 25-year lease that expires in 2023. Tower Co. is now seeking to buyout ground rights for the tower for a lump sum payment of $320,000.

Smith said all information on the Tower Co. offer, and any other offers, would be presented to voters at the town meeting. Voters would then be asked to approve a resolution exempting the cell tower buyout process from town competitive bidding requirements. If this resolution is approved, voters would be asked to approve the $320,000 offer from Tower Co.

Smith said he favors accepting the $320,000 offer from Tower Co., noting that it is currently the best formal offer available to the town to provide an infusion of cash in a tough budget year where the town experienced a drop in the grand list of taxable property. “Tower Co. has been upfront with us and they are the ones we’ve has an agreement with for the past 13 years,” Smith said, adding “I’m not sure we want to get into a bidding war over it.”

Eastern CT Ballet’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra Strikes a Chord with Children and Adults!

Eastern Connecticut Ballet will the well known Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra at the Katherine Hepburn Theater on Saturday May 7 at 1.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m.

Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is one of the most well known orchestral pieces written especially for young listeners.  Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s fanciful adventure brings music and dance together to guide young people through the wonders of the symphony orchestra.  The ballet taps into children’s natural ability to envision images suggested by music.  Dancing brass, string, woodwind, and percussion instruments are brought to life on stage and are used to teach children how the four sections of the orchestra are woven together to create musical magic!

This delightful family program also includes lively selections for young audiences choreographed to the music of Gershwin, Gottschalk, Mendelssohn and R. Strauss.

Saturday, May 7 at 1:00 and 4:00 p.m.

The Katharine Hepburn Theater
300 Main Street
Old Saybrook, CT 06475

For tickets call (877) 503-1286 or online at www.thekate.org

Eastern Connecticut Ballet is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization in E. Lyme * www.easternctballet.com.

Parishioners at St. John’s Episcopal Church to Vote on Selling Church Rectory House

ESSEX— Parishioners at St. John’s Episcopal Church will vote Sunday on a resolution authorizing the sale of the church rectory house at 40 Main Street in Essex village.

The issue will be presented for discussion and a vote at a special meeting of the congregation set for Sunday at 2 p.m. at the church on Main Street. Sources in the church say the issue has generated mixed opinions among church members, with some favoring the sale and others strongly opposed.

The church vestry committee, which had studied the issue for several months, voted  unanimously last month to endorse the proposed sale, citing “the current state” of the house, “the congregation’s  history in being able to make timely repairs, the congregation’s ability to afford the rectory’s future repairs, and all financial costs involved.”

According to information presented on the church website, Rev. Jonathan Folts and his wife, Kim, had asked the congregation to consider selling the rectory house to create a fund that would assist them in purchasing their own home in Essex or a nearby town. Folts, a father of three children, has served as the minister at St. John’s for about five years. Funds from the sale would also be directed toward maintenance of the main church building.

The two-story brick house near the end of Main Street was constructed in 1807, and donated to the church by Mary Hayden Thayer in 1896. It has served as the church rectory, and pastor’s residence, for the past 115 years.

While the church-owned property is tax exempt, the house had an assessment of $643,800 on the October 2010 grand list, a figure that represents about 70 percent of estimated fair market value. The property could return to the tax rolls if it is sold as a private residence.  The church also needs approval of the sale from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Connecticut.  The sale process would be coordinated by a committee of the vestry.

Persons eligible to vote at Sunday’s meeting must be at least 16 years old, and “faithful in worship attendance and activities of the church,” for at least six months.  Voting members must also be a “contributor of record,” to the financial support of the church. Members must be present for the vote, there are no proxy or absentee ballots.

Community Music School Welcomes New Trustees

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School is pleased to announce two newly elected members to its Board of Trustees, Linda Grossman and Ed Gumbrecht.

Linda Grossman is executive manager of Grossman Chevrolet Nissan in Old Saybrook where she has assisted with running the family business since 1992. She brings a keen business sense and creativity to the CMS Board. Linda resides in Essex with her husband and 3 children.

Ed Gumbrecht is partner, principal, and Chief Operating Officer of the Gowrie Group in Westbrook. He is a member of the International Business Council and the U.S. Sailing Association. When not managing the largest marine insurance group in the U.S., Ed enjoys playing guitar and writing songs. He resides in Madison with his wife and two daughters.

Community Music School, located in the Centerbrook section of Essex, 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 www.community-music-school.org.

“A Few Good Men” – Womanless Beauty Pageant!

Paul Indorf (Nancy-boy Sinatra) - Photo courtesy of Petru Bester

Chester Rotary will presenting their 1st Annual Womanless Beauty Pageant, “A few Good Men”, on Saturday, March 12, at 7 p.m. at Chester Meeting House, in support of the Chester Community Fund.

The Chester Community fund supports many of our neighbors in need, supplying fuel to heat homes, food for their tables and many other necessities.  The requests for fuel and food are already surpassing this time last year, which makes this an important event.
Plan now to enjoy a time of hilarity and laughter!  See “the celebrities” of our community decked out in their finest, all in good fun, to support a cause that does so much for our Chester residents.
Please check the Rotary website at www.chesterrotary.org for more information.  Tickets are available at The Package Store, The Hammered Edge and The Villager in downtown Chester.

St. John School, Old Saybrook Enrollment

St. John School in Old Saybrook is currently holding registration for their fall 2011 Pre-K and Kindergarten Program.  Pre-K 3 year old and 4 year old programs offer options of 2, 3, and 5 days, including a full day option too.  Kindergarten is full day with a structured, nurturing program including academics, creativity, and religion. 

St. John School at 42 Maynard Road, houses students from Pre-K up to eighth grade.  Tours and a shadow program can be arranged by personal appointment through the office all year long.  The school is fully accredited with certified teachers, has a tournament winning sports program, and many clubs and activities for all ages. 

Information can be obtained by calling the office at 860-388-0849.

Vista Starlight Benefit

Vista Starlight Benefit
April 8, 6pm – 10pm
Water’s Edge Resort & Spa
Information contact:
Susan Bradley
203-318-5240 ext. 228

2011 Essex Winter Series Final Concert

Artists pictured clockwise from top left: Ani Kavafian, violinist; Ettore Causa, violist; Carter Brey, cellist; Katie Hyun, violin; Wei-Yang Andy Lin, viola; and Mihai Marica, cello

The 2011 Essex Winter Series will hold their final concert on 27 March at 4 p.m. at the John Winthrop Junior High School in Deep River. 

Closing the thirty-third season is a very special event has been titled Stringfest, a new concept for Essex Winter Series that brings young talent together with world-renowned artists.

This unique concert will feature returning violinist Ani Kavafian, Italian violist Ettore Causa, and New York Philharmonic’s Principal Cellist Carter Brey with three exciting emerging artists: Katie Hyun, violin; Wei-Yang Andy Lin, viola; and Mihai Marica, cello.

This talented ensemble will perform Tchaikovsky’s sensational string sextet Souvenir de Florence and Mozart’s beloved Viola Quintet in C Major. Stringfest will be a spectacular concert that you will not want to miss.

Ticket prices:  Adults $25, Seniors $20, Children and students $6.  Group prices can be arranged.

Please call 860-391-5578 for more information and reservations, visit www.essexwinterseries.com.  Winter Series, P.O. Box 383, Essex, Ct. 06426

It’s Friday Night, Do You Know Where Your Teen’s Are?…they should be at Camp Hazen YMCA!

Camp Hazen YMCA welcomes teens in grades 7, 8, and 9 to participate in an all-inclusive weekend from March 25-27, 2011 to learn the secrets behind successful leaders.

Camp Hazen YMCA will be holding an all-inclusive weekend event for teens in grades 7, 8, and 9  on March 25-27, 2011 to learn the secrets behind successful leaders.

Camp Hazen YMCA is dedicated to working with young people in through its camp program, building self-esteem and self-confidence. They invite your teens to spend the weekend with them and sharpen their leadership skills. 

Workshops and sessions will have them actively engaged and asking for more!  In this two night, three day experience, teens will develop their Leadership Intelligence.  Participants will hone their personal leadership style, build trust, raise self-esteem, promote cultural awareness and diversity and learn conflict resolution skills. 

Is your teen a leader in their school, congregation, or community?  Would you like them to be a better leader?  Camp Hazen YMCA welcomes teens in grades 7, 8, and 9 to participate in an all-inclusive weekend from March 25-27, 2011 to learn the secrets behind successful leaders.  Each participant will experience Hazen’s teambuilding course, high ropes course, leadership workshops, recreational activities and a sense of fellowship among friends. 

This weekend program is a great opportunity for teens to meet other teens and begin to build the foundation of skills that will mold them into successful leaders.  Programs and activities will be organized and led by the qualified and highly energetic Hazen staff.  For additional information regarding the Teen Leadership Weekend and other Youth and Family Programs visit www.camphazenymca.org or call the camp office at (800) 248-8244.

Region 4 School Board Approves $17.1 Million Budget for 2011-2012

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of education has approved a proposed $17.1 million budget for 2011-2012 that will be presented to residents of Chester, Deep River, and Essex for discussion at an April 4 public hearing.

The board approved the $17,112,557 budget at it’s regular meeting Thursday after making a final reduction of $11,453 by eliminating a part-time hall monitor position at Valley Regional High School. The budget, which funds the operation of the high school and John Winthrop Middle School, represents a $332,000, or 1.98 percent, over the current Region 4 appropriation.

The budget was approved on a 7-1 vote of the board at its regular meeting on March 3, with board member Richard Strauss of Chester opposed and board member Laurie Tomlinson of Deep River absent from the meeting. Strauss said he declined to endorse the budget because of several outstanding questions where he was unable to obtain requested information from the school administration.

Strauss said he wanted specific information on class sizes for each course offered at the high school, but received only average class size numbers for high school courses. Strauss said he also requested additional information about $70,000 in miscellaneous revenue, and health insurance costs. But Strauss added that he believes the board and school administration “worked very hard,” to hold the spending increase below two percent.

Health insurance benefits for district staff represented one of the larger cost increases in the budget, rising by about $126,000. The budget includes $68,639 to fund three new positions recommended by Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy, including $66,561 in salary and benefits for two new special education teaching assistants, and $3,078 for an assistant baseball coach and an assistant softball coach.

Board Chairwoman Linda Hall of Deep River said Monday she believes the board has prepared “a responsible budget” for presentation at the public hearing.”We looked at every line item over the course of four budget workshops,” Hall said, adding the board had honored a suggestion by some town officials that increased spending be held under two percent.

The net $17.1 million budget is assessed the towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex based on the number of students from each town attending the high school and middle school. Essex, with an average daily membership of 425 students for a 43.28 percent share of the budget, would have a 2011-2012 assessment of $7,411,276. Deep River, with an average daily membership of 286 students for a 29.12 percent share of the budget, would have an assessment of $4,986,515. Chester, with an average daily membership of 271 students for a 27.6 percent share of the budget, would have an assessment of $4,726,229

The Essex assessment is up by $272,839, or 3.82 percent, from the assessment in the current budget, while the Chester assessment is up by $109,905, or 2.38 percent, from the current amount. With a drop of nine students, the Deep River assessment is down by $39,254, or .78 percent.

After considering any input received from residents at the April 4 public hearing, the Region 4 board will adopt a final proposed spending plan for 2011-2012 that will go to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex for approval in a May 3 referendum.

Nature Photography Along the Airline Trail at CT Valley Camera Club Meeting

The Air Line Trail was once a railroad renowned for its relatively straight course from Boston to New York. Stan Malcolm will give a presentation on "Nature Photography Along the Air Line Trail" at the CT Valley Camera Club's meeting March 28.

This month’s CT Valley Camera Club’s meeting will be on Monday, March 28, 2011 at the Deep River Library at 7:00 p.m.  and the guest speaker, Stan Malcolm, will give a presentation on “Nature Photography Along the Air Line Trail”.

The Air Line was once a railroad renowned for its relatively straight course from Boston to New York – “as if by a line drawn through the air.” You can still find lumps of coal left over from the steam era.  Today the rail bed has been converted to a Connecticut linear park and hiking trail. 

Award-winning photographer Stan Malcolm has been documenting the trail for over nine years.  His “Along the Air Line…” web site offers over 4,000 photos and serves as a guide to what can be seen on the trail, as well as encouragement to experience nature firsthand.

The program will highlight the scenic beauty, flora, and fauna of the Air Line Trail, including advice on the best photo locations.  Stan will also provide basic tips for budding nature photographers, including discussions of shooting conditions, composition, negative space, depth of field, macro photography, and the relationships between shutter speed, aperture and ISO. 

To preview Stan’s work, visit www.performance-vision.com/airline/  The general public is invited to attend.

Cut-A-Thon to Benefit Teen Zone

The hair stylists at Salon Massimo, will be hosting a Cut-A-Thon to benefit the Teenzone program, on Sunday March 27 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Teenzone is a self esteem program for teen girls between 13-17 years of age.  It is an 8 week program with sessions including hair care, etiquette, skin care, nutrition, mindfulness, fitness etc.

Salon Massimo is located in The Shops At Waters Edge.  Cut and blow dry will cost $20 (walk-ins welcome). Men will be able to get hot shaves. 

For more information visit www.teenzonect.com or contact Stephanie Liguori 860 399 1782

Town of Essex Seeking Commission Members

The Town of Essex is looking for registered voter citizen volunteers to serve. There are available vacant positions for the following Commissions:

  • Two Alternates on the Conservation Commission – 3 year term
  • An Alternate on the Park and Recreation Commission – 3 year term
  • Regular and Alternate Member of the (dual) Sanitary Waste Commission and Water Pollution Control Authority – 2 year term
  • An Alternate on Zoning Board of Appeals – 3 year term
  • A Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency Member – 2 year term 

Commitments vary, as some are filling vacancies with tenure limits.  These Commissions meet monthly, and the recent posted agendas and minutes may be viewed at www.essexct.gov under Meeting Information.

Please send letter of interest to the Selectmen’s Office, 29 West Avenue , Essex , CT 06426 or by email to pmiller@essexct.gov

 Maria P. Lucarelli
Administrative Assistant to the Board of Selectmen
Town of Essex
(860) 767-4340 x112
(860) 767-8509 Fax

Doggie Costume and Bike Decorating at Essex go Bragh Irish Parade

Essex Park and Recreation is teaming up with Essex Savings Bank to bring a Free Bicycle Decorating Contest to the children of the area for the  Saturday, March 19  Essex go Bragh Irish Parade, which is being sponsored by the Ivoryton Playhouse & Tower Labs.  They will also teaming up with Pawsitive Teach to bring a Free Doggie Costume Contest for the Parade.  The parade will begin at 12 noon and the rain date will be March 20.

There will be three age groups for the bike decorating contest – children ages 5 to 7 (must be accompanied by an adult), 8 to 11 and 12 to 14.  All are eligible for prizes made possible by Essex Savings Bank.

Registration will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Essex Town Hall parking lot with judging taking place at 11 a.m. anyone coming late will not be judged or eligible for prizes, but may ride in the parade. Winners will receive their prizes following judging and will be publicly announced at the bandstand stage after the parade.

Registration forms signed by a parent or guardian are required and must be turned in during registration. The forms are available online at www.essexct.gov.

Essex Park and Recreation are also teaming up with Pawsitive Teach to bring a Free Doggie Costume Contest for the Parade.

There will be three doggie divisions: Toy – up to 15lbs. Miniature – 15-30 lbs. and Standard – Over 30 lbs.  Prizes made possible by Essex Park and Recreation.

Registration will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Essex Town Hall parking lot with judging taking place at 11 a.m. anyone coming late will not be judged or eligible for prizes, but may walk in the parade. Winners will receive their prizes following judging and will be publicly announced at the bandstand stage after the parade.

For prizes, judges will look most at those entries that use the theme of “Essex go Bragh,” (Essex Forever) and the use of the color green, creativity and originality. There will be one winner from each group. Each Winner will receive a $25.00 Gift Card from Essex Village’s “Gracie’s Corner.”

Registration forms signed by the pooches’ parent are required along with a copy of rabies vaccination must be turned in during registration. The forms are available online at www.essexct.gov.

“Landscaping and Ferns” by Bill Harris From Acer Gardens

Bill Harris of Acer Gardens, Deep River, will present  a lecture at The Old Saybrook Garden Club on “Landscaping with Ferns,” at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 4 at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook.

Harris has a  degree in agronomy and soil science and has operated Acer  Gardens since 1983. The presentation will take at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main  Street, Old Saybrook.

Light refreshments will be served after; there  is no charge. A garden-club business meeting for members will begin at  12:30.

Democrat Courtney decries “a disconnect” with Republicans in Congress

Publisher of ValleyNewsNow.com, Olwen Logan greets Congressman Joe Courtney at Essex Library

Congressman Joe Courtney (2nd CD – CT) decried what he termed “a disconnect” between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, since the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the last election. Courtney made the observation in an exclusive interview with ValleyNewsNow.com at the Essex Library on March 6.

Courtney cited as an example of this disconnect, the widely divergent views on President Obama’s proposal to build a national high speed rail network. “There is such a chasm between the two sides on this issue,” he said. Courtney is a strong advocate of the President’s high speed rail proposal, noting that the New York to Boston corridor, which encompasses his district, has a greater need for high speed rail service “than any other region in country.”

Courtney also commented on a number of national issues. As to whether the Democrats should nominate Obama for President for re-election in 2012, Courtney said simply, “He’s our man.”  However, Courtney faulted the President for not shutting down the American prison in Guantanamo for terrorism suspects. He termed it “a big disappointment” that the President had not kept his campaign promise on this issue. “How long would it have taken U.S. civilian courts to try some 170 cases,” he asked rhetorically.

On the other hand, Courtney said that the Obama Administration was on schedule in pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. However, he said that the U.S. pull out  in Afghanistan was being extended to 2016, a different date than the one given in the last campaign.

As for the Tea Party movement that was such a significant factor in the 2010 elections, Courtney felt that the party “had overreached,” and that it would be less of a political factor in the future.

As for his own Committee assignments, Courtney, who is now a Minority Member, said that he was “squeezed out” of his spot on the Education Committee. However, he has been named as a Member of the House Agricultural Committee, an assignment which he feels could be relevant to the agricultural areas in his district and other wider issues as well.

Valley Basketball Team Upset by Old Lyme in Shoreline Finals

Photo by Chase Smith. To see more photos and to purchase photos, visit Chase's website at www.chasesmith.smugmug.com/Sports/

In a thrilling Shoreline Conference tournament final on Friday night, the top-seeded Valley Regional High School basketball team were beaten 63-61 in overtime by the #6 seeded Old Lyme High School team.

After trailing by 17 points in the first half  and down 11 points at half time, Old Lyme came out in the 3rd  quarter and put on a spirited display of skill and determination to pull back to within a point at the start of the 4th quarter.

Sophomore George Logan scored a 3 pointer with 15 seconds left in regulation time and Old Lyme tied the score at 56-56 forcing overtime.   Logan scored a game-high 28 points, Nick Carlson 15 and Colin Devlin 12.

Old Lyme, who two weeks ago looked like they would not qualify for the Shoreline Tournament, had to beat Hyde (#3 seed) and Cromwell (#2 seed) before facing Valley.  “It’s been an extraordinary run” said Old Lyme coach, Kirk Kaczor.

Prior to this defeat, Valley were unbeaten in conference games.

Read full match report by Jimmy Zanor courtesy of the Shoreline Times

See more pictures at www.chasesmith.smugmug.com/sports

Region 4 Board Approves Statement Supporting Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy

Dr. Ruth Levy, Superintendent of Schools, Region 4

REGION 4– Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy has the full support of the Region 4 Board of Education as she approaches her third year in the top job for the Chester-Deep River-Essex school district.

That was the message from Thursday night’s board meeting, where a nearly unanimous board approved a statement formally acknowledging Levy’s “ongoing leadership and professionalism” during the current school year. The vote comes amid lingering local controversy over the abrupt departure last October of former Valley Regional High School Principal Eric Rice after barely two months on the job, and an ongoing U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights investigation of a 10-day suspension that was imposed on an Essex high school student of Laotian descent for distributing information on a rally supporting Rice that was held by some students and district residents on Sept. 23, 2010. The statement endorsed by the board refers to “the many challenges and distractions” faced by Levy during the current school year.

Board Chairwoman Linda Hall of Deep River said the idea of adopting a formal statement supporting Levy emerged during recent closed door evaluations of her performance by the board. The superintendent’s job performance is also being reviewed and evaluated by the local school boards of Chester, Deep River, and Essex that supervise the elementary schools in each town. Levy assumed the district’s top job in June 2009 after two years as assistant superintendent.

The statement was drafted by board member Christopher Riley of Essex. Riley said the statement was “completely appropriate and a nice way to say we appreciate what you do.” The statement concludes that Levy has “proven herself to be a very strong administrator, educator, and leader” who “continues to work tirelessly to make Region 4 an even stronger district.”

The board approved the statement after a brief discussion. Board member Richard Strauss of Chester, a long-time member who serves as board treasurer, recused himself from the discussion and left the meeting room. Strauss, who also did not vote on approval of the statement, is the father-in-law of former Principal Rice, a Chester resident. Neither Levy nor Rice has commented on the reasons for the former principal’s October resignation, a move that included a $62,150 severance payment and extended health insurance coverage for Rice.

Strauss said Friday he did not participate in the discussion and vote because he had not attended the board’s evaluation sessions with Levy. Strauss said he recused himself from the sessions because he believed much of the discussion would focus on “how she handled all of the issues last fall,”  including the departure of Rice and the Sept. 23 rally. Strauss declined to comment on his own evaluation of how Levy handled the events last fall.

Board member Laurie Tomlinson of Deep River was absent from Thursday’s meeting. No parents or residents attended the meeting to comment on the statement supporting Levy.

Essex Selectmen Defer Action on Abandoning Toby Hill Road

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has deferred action on abandoning a portion of Toby Hill Road after a public hearing where a representative of the developer of a planned subdivision objected to the proposed move.

Selectmen held a public hearing Wednesday on the option of discontinuing a 300-feet section of the unimproved town road that extends from Westbrook north to an intersection with East Pond Meadow Road in the Ivoryton section. The planning commission, after learning of a proposed 10-lot subdivision that would straddle the Essex-Westbrook town line, last year urged the board to pursue abandoning the segment of road in Essex.

The abandonment could prevent the creation of a through road between the larger section of Toby Hill Road in Westbrook, which now serves dozens of homes, and the intersection with East Pond Meadow Road in Ivoryton. John Guszkowski, the town’s consulting planner, had advised selectmen in a written memo that the intersection is dangerous, with a steep approach from Toby Hill Road, poor sight lines, and unfavorable topography.

Guszkowski noted that recent court decisions have limited the ability of towns to require a prospective developer to pay the full cost of off-site improvements, such as upgrading an intersection serving a proposed subdivision. The cost of upgrading the intersection could exceed $250,000. “The vast majority of traffic and roadway will belong to Westbrook, but the intersection burden will fall on Essex,” Guszkowski wrote.

The segment of Toby Hill Road in Ivoryton currently serves three homes, one in Essex and two in Westbrook. If the abandonment was approved by the board and voters at a town meeting, ownership and maintenance responsibilities for the road right-of-way would fall to the property owners on the road.

Paul Vumbacco, a local resident, owns a 37-acre parcel that straddles the Essex-Westbrook town line. Local engineer Robert Doane said Vumbacco is planning a 10-lot subdivision with seven lots in Westbrook, and three lots in Essex. The Westbrook lots would be served by a new road extending off Toby Hill Road to bypass a particularly steep and rocky section of the old unimproved road in Westbrook, but the lots in Essex would access the intersection with East Pond Meadow Road.

Doane said Vumbacco is willing to fund some improvements to Toby Hill Road in Essex, though Guszkowski’s memo noted these improvements “will not totally correct the inadequacies of the intersection, nor will it provide for longer-term maintenance of both intersection and roadway.” Doane contended abandoning the section of the road in Essex would be unfair to Vumbacco and the three property owners on the road. “We have a taxpayer that wants to use it now,” he said, describing the proposed abandonment as a “knee-jerk reaction” to the proposed subdivision.
No residents living on the section of road attended the public hearing, though planning commission member Linda Herman said accessing a new development from the Essex portion of the road “could potentially represent a significant burden on the town of Essex.” Doane said the difficult intersection could eventually be bypassed through an abutting parcel that is now owned by an estate, and suggested Essex “will not see any increased expense,” from the development.

Selectman Norman Needleman said he is “not sure abandoning the road is the right thing to do.” Needleman urged Doane to work with the planning commission and land use officials in Westbrook to address the concerns about a through road to the difficult intersection in Ivoryton, including discussions with the owners of the abutting parcel for a possible bypass. Selectman Joel Marzi said he is “on the fence” on the proposed abandonment, and wanted to “wait to see what comes out of the planning commission.”

The seven lots of the proposed development in Westbrook have already received approval from the Westbrook Planning Commission, and the Westbrook Board of selectmen has taken no action to abandon any section of Toby Hill Road. Doane said a subdivision application for the three proposed lots in Ivoryton would be submitted next month.

Preserve hearing poorly attended, Counsel’s non-attendance an issue

Town Engineer John Jacobson at the maps

Only seventeen members of the public attended the March 2 hearing on whether to permit a private developer to modify the town’s original 2005 plan to develop the Preserve. One hint that the hearing might not be too significant was the fact that the Counsel to the town Planning Commission, Mark Branse, did not attend.
In contacting Branse’s office as to why he did not attend the hearing, or even send a back up attorney, Eric Knapp, an attorney at Branse’s firm, said that he himself had been planning to attend the hearing. However, Old Saybrook Town Planner Christine Nelson told him that it was not necessary for him to attend. So, Knapp said, he took the meeting off his calendar.

When questioned, Nelson acknowledged that she had told Knapp that it was not necessary for him to attend the hearing. She also said that she had conferred with Commission Chairman Robert McIntyre, who had said that it was not necessary for an attorney from Branse’s firm to attend the hearing.

Town Planner Christine Nelson (l)and Enviornmental Planner Sandy Prisloe (r)

Nelson also said that on February 25 Attorney Branse had sent a list of outstanding of issues to the Chairman and herself that might be discussed at the March 2 hearing. This February 25 memorandum, evidently, was not sent to the other members of the Commission. It turned out that Branse was vacationing in Florida.
Even without its counsel guidance, the Commission did decide that the nine lots of housing sites, contained in the developer’s proposed modifications, were “reasonably likely” to be approved as a conventional land use development. That was it; the Commission decided little else, after close to three hours of deliberations.

Still, the Commission should be credited with undertaking an exhaustive examination of the developer’s proposed, new nine lots from virtually every angle. Discussed were the impact on the vernal pools, roadway accessibility, roadway improvements, flood prevention, adequate septic and water systems, and other impacts on the original general plan for the development of the Preserve.

One member of the Commissioner, Robert D. Missel, however, was restive. He complained that he had not heard from the Commission’s counsel, since a memorandum by Attorney Branse dated January 13. Most especially, Missel said, “We need additional information on the February 16 memorandum of the developer’s counsel.”

In that February 16 memorandum, the developer’s counsel, David Royston, dramatically withdrew from the developer’s original modification proposal the plan to construct over 200 new homes on the site. Missel wanted to take up this overarching issue before going into the details of other land use questions.

Commissioner Robert Missel

Commission Chairman Robert McIntyre tried to sooth the dissident member. McIntyre said that perhaps the dramatic withdrawal of the new houses from the proposed modification should have been the first question considered at the hearing.  The Chairman went on to assure Commissioner Missel that Attorney Branse would be present at the next Commission hearing. He also told Missel that there were other questions that could the resolved by the Commission without the attendance of counsel.

The Commission concluded the hearing with a discussion of when and where to hold the next meeting. It will be on Tuesday, March 8, in the first floor conference room in the Old Saybrook Town Hall. 

Chairman McIntyre said that the Commission must complete its deliberations by April 22, adding that if possible he would like to schedule committee meetings once a week, so as to make this deadline.

There was one final point that was made a number of times by Chairman McIntyre at the hearing. He said that when the Commission approves a particular element of the developer’s proposed modifications based on a condition, the Commission will rigorously demand that these conditions be met before final approval of the modifications will be granted.

The First Congregational Church in Essex, UCC Declares as an Open and Affirming Congregation

The Open and Affirming team of The First Congregational Church in Essex gathered for a recent meeting in the church’s Sanctuary. Front row (l to r) Joanna Bentley, Jane Fuller, Mary-Lawrence Bickford, Delcie McGrath; Second row (l to r) Anne Easton, Rev. George Easton, Emily Williams, Richard McGrath; Back row (l to r) William Nelson, Sharyn Nelson, Sarah LaBell. Missing from the photo are Judy Bibbiani, Paula Welch, Rev. Mitzi Eilts and Rev. Kenneth Peterkin. (Photo by Richard McGrath)

Essex — During 2009 and 2010, members of The First Congregational Church in Essex undertook a lengthy process of discussion and education with the goal of reaching an Open and Affirming (ONA) declaration. The formal declaration is one made by a member church of the United Church of Christ to advise visitors and members of an attitude and policy of non-discrimination in entrance, worship and membership, under which all persons are welcome.

The culmination of the educational  process was the recent vote by the congregation to become an Open and Affirming church and adopt a declaration that members and friends “believe that God calls us to welcome and affirm all people. We rejoice that all persons, people of every race, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, marital standing, economic status and family configuration are welcome in God’s church as members and to serve as leaders.”
The ONA study was led by the church’s ministers, Rev. Kenneth Peterkin and Rev. Mitzi Eilts and a committee of church members. Essex residents Mary-Lawrence Bickford, Judy Bibbiani, Rev. George and Anne Easton, Richard and Delcie McGrath, and William and Sharyn Nelson were part of the committee that also included ; Chester residents Jane Fuller and Paula Welch; Emily Williams of Old Saybrook; and Lyme residents Joanna Bentley and Sarah Labell.

Rev. Peterkin commented, “The Open and Affirming process attempted to explore whether we truly practice non-discrimination. Our discussions and activities took many forms from one-on-one conversations to church-wide deliberation. Most importantly, we want the people of Essex and all who enter our doors to know that no matter who they are, they are affirmed and welcome to worship faithfully with us.”

Essex Rotary Scrabble Scramble

Essex Rotary Club will be holding its rescheduled Scrabble Scramble at Essex Meadows on Tuesday, March 8 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The scrabble tournament will be a fundraiser for the Worldwide Eradication of Polio in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

There will be prizes and refreshments will be offered.  Make a family memory and join the Fun while supporting a worthy cause!

Local Collectors Strut Their Stuff

A Southwest Pottery Collection that will be on display at the "Strut Your Stuff" event on March 9

Essex Historical Society will host a fun, informal evening with local collectors displaying select items from their collections on Wednesday, March 9 at the Essex Town Hall. 

Everything from French faience pottery and Connecticut River decoys to early 19th century tools and vintage tennis rackets will be on hand for this ultimate show and tell event.

The urge to collect is almost as old as mankind itself, and has been called everything from a bug to a mania to an unruly passion. The fascinating topic of how and what we collect will be the topic of guest speaker and historian Brenda Milkofsky. Then the audience will be free to circulate among the display tables and look at various collections.

Please plan to join us at Essex Historical Society for a unique peak at how the collecting bug has struck locally!

The program starts at 7:30 p.m. at Essex Town Hall auditorium. Admission is free.

“Pyrotechnic” Gardener Digs Formalism

Landscape designer Louis Raymond - March 18 at Essex Meadows

Landscape designer Louis Raymond conducts an illustrated and animated presentation on that perennial horticultural question “To be Formal – or Not to be Formal” as part of the Essex Library’s Centerbrook Architecture Series.

Raymond’s exposition, which is formally titled “Putting Everything in Perspective: Formality in Your Garden,” is on Friday March 18 at the Essex Meadows Auditorium from 7 to 8 p.m.  Admission is free; please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 to register.

Raymond and his exuberant garden designs have appeared in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, House & Garden, Metropolitan Home, and Design New England.  His broad plant palette ensures that his gardens go from peak to peak Spring through Fall, while his acute sense of space combines with a keen interest in foliage and form, bark and berry, to ensure that his landscapes maintain their interest right through the Winter. 

A flower lover at the core, he’s nonetheless unafraid to speak plainly about the impracticality of relying on flowers alone for garden interest.  “In New England, it’s a triumph to have even one thing in bloom in any given week, month after month after month.  So it’s best to think of flowers as the icing on the cake.  Delicious indeed, but the heart of your garden’s appeal must be in its plants’ form and foliage, as well as overall layout.”

Raymond served for six years as the design manager of the New England Spring Flower Show, which draws more than 100,000 people a year, and his portfolio includes work from Montreal and Manhattan to the Caribbean.  Favorite projects include New York’s legendary Turtle Bay Gardens, the eye-popping gardens for owners of a rare Gustav Stickley house in Wellesley, MA, and a massive waterfront estate in Narragansett, RI.  For other projects, visit his website, www.RGardening.com

Raymond is not shy about expressing his beliefs: “Naturalism is for wusses.  People use it as an excuse to plant things willy-nilly.”  While he has always had a fondness for plants and gardening, Raymond, who is 56, took the scenic route to his current vocation.  By the time he was 25 he had already earned baccalaureate degrees in chemistry, piano, and voice—and still found time for a couple of years of medical school along the way— before launching successful careers as an opera singer and a freelance writer.   By 30 he had retired from both to take up the trowel as a garden designer.

One reviewer described the riotously-expansive gardens at Raymond’s country home in Rhode Island as “pyrotechnic.”  Many hundreds of varieties of indigenous, exotic, and tropical plants cavort within its strictly-formal layout.  It’s where Raymond celebrates both his successes and failures, learning from each.  “To have a garden of this intensity is freakishly rare,” he said.  “I can only do it because it’s my business, so I don’t have to hire myself.  My gardens are a big lab to figure out every possibility for what we can grow here in New England.”

The Centerbrook Architecture Series is sponsored by Centerbrook Architects (www.centerbrook.com).

“Buy a Wheel” and Support Meals on Wheels

During the month of March, several local markets and businesses will offer customers an opportunity to support the Estuary Council of Seniors’ Meals on Wheels program by “Buying a Wheel.”

At checkout counters, customers will be asked to donate $1 to the MOW “Buy a Wheel” campaign. In return for the $1 donation, the customer will be able to show their support by writing their name on one of the paper wheels, which will be displayed in the store throughout the month. Look for the paper wheels in your local stores and at our café sites!

Local supporting stores include Adams  in Deep River and Colonial Market in Essex, and many other local merchants in the Estuary region.

The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. delivers meals to seniors living in the 9-town Estuary region and Madison. Over 66,000 meals are delivered each year!

Please help support your local Meals on Wheels program!

Daily pleased with new commuter rail cars; commuter advocacy group praises state officials

State Senator Daily and the CT Rail Commuter Council, a state commuter advocacy group, both had words of praise for state officials, who have just put into service a brand new rail car on the New Haven line. 

Acknowledging “sometimes frustrating delays,” Senator Daily said, “We look forward to taking delivery of additional new cars soon, with safe and comfortable rides to and from New York.” She added, “The timetable for running M-8 trains for Shore Line East passengers remains uncertain, but my understanding is that an extra measure of patience will be rewarded, when we’re able to ride these new trains at last.”

CT Rail Commuter Council Chairman Jim Cameron

Commuter Council Chairman Jim Cameron, who rode on the first M-8 train in service from Stamford to Grand Central, said, “I personally congratulate the Metro North and Connecticut Department of Transportation officials … They  deserve a lot of credit for their diligence in testing these cars and finally getting them in service.”

Cameron noted that originally it was hoped that the new cars would be in service in 2009, which then slipped into 2010, and now into early 2011. However, he said, “With the first of eight cars having passed their 4,000 error-free miles of testing, the hope is that more trains sets will be added in coming months.” 

According to the commuter group chairman, the builder of the new rail cars, the Japanese firm, Kawasaki, “is supposed to deliver ten new cars per month, and Metro North estimates that 80 cars will be in service by the end of 2011.” “But it will be three years before all 380 of the new cars are delivered,“ he said.

Accounting for the delay in bringing the new cars into service, Senator Daily said that some of it can be “readily explained by the transition from Governor Rell’s administration to Governor Malloy’s.” Also, she cited as reasons for the delay, the “testing of new M-8 rail cars,” and “ironing out problems of new cars on old tracks.”

View more pictures of new car’s first official train ride below (courtesy of  the CT Rail Commuter Council), including a photo of the new bathroom on the train.

Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council Meets March 2

Pictured are (l-r) Congressman Joe Courtney, Residential Trooper Christopher Cope, Prevention Coordinator Ali Siemianowski, and Tri-Town Executive Director Gail Onofrio.

Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council will hold its next meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High Street in Deep River.

The Council is a grassroots organization whose membership is open to all who live or work in Chester, Deep River, or Essex who are concerned about substance abuse and committed to its prevention.

The Council will address by-laws and a self-assessment as well as the upcoming orientation for September’s freshman class of Valley Regional High School.

For further information, contact Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.

Commission members will do the talking at Preserve public hearing March 2

Where Bokum Road ends within the Preserve

There is another hearing coming up on whether the Old Saybrook Planning Commission should approve a modification of its 2005 development plan for the Preserve. This latest hearing will be held at the Old Saybrook Middle School, on Wednesday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m.

However, unlike the previous four hearings, where the general public and interested parties were invited to testify before the Planning Commission, only the members of the Commission will be allowed to speak at the March 2 hearing.  The general public will be permitted to listen to the Commissioners discussing among themselves whether to approve or disapprove the developer’s proposed modification of the Preserve’s original plan, but the time for a public voicing of opinions in these proceedings is over.

Also, unlike the four previous public hearings, during which many of the general public spoke out against the entire development plan approved back in 2005,  Commission members are expected to concentrate entirely on approving or not the modifications proposed by the developer, and not stray to the larger issue.

The Commission has a number of choices in dealing with the modification application of the developer. First it can give its full approval to the modifications proposed by the developer. This would mean that going forward, the original plan would reflect these changes. Second, the Commission could vote to reject the proposed modifications, which would leave the original plan in place, as it has been since 2005.

Also, should the Commission approve the proposed modifications, it even might  go a step further, and treat the adoption of the modifications as in themselves a first phase of a phased development. This in turn could trigger an obligation by the developer, as part of its first phase, to reserve all the open space in the original plan, as is required by the town’s land use regulations. The result would mean that 483 acres of the present site would be reserved in perpetuity as open space.

The Valley Railroad track within the Preserve

When it first proposed a modification of the original plan, the heart of the developer’s proposal was to build three stand-alone, housing clusters, which it called pods. However, on the day before the last hearing on February 16, the Attorney for the developer, David Royston, withdrew the request for permission to build the three, stand alone clusters of housing units. Attorney Royston also withdrew the developer’s earlier request for a deferral of roadway improvements in the 2005 plan.

However, even with these changes, the developer’s attorney left in place a request for a modification of the Bokum Road parcel so that it could contain 9 lots, as well as a request to install 30,000 gallon cisterns in each developed area for fire protection.

Also, Royston said the developer would assume responsibility for gaining approval for a crossing over the Valley Railroad State Park, even in the face of a written denial by the Department of Environmental Protection of such a crossing. The reason for taking this step, the developer’s attorney said, was because of ongoing discussions regarding the purchase of new property that will make the DEP denial of a park crossing a moot point.

It might be noted that Royston made no mention of gaining approvals by the Town of Westbrook, which the developer must obtain before it can construct a key access road to the project. Past and present First Selectmen of Westbrook have expressed their firm opposition to the entire Preserve project, and it is the developer’s full responsibility and not that of the Commission’s, to turn this attitude around in Westbrook, if indeed it can.

Finally, the developer’s Attorney Royston emphasized in his final memorandum to the Commission that the developer was not pursing a “phased development” by making its modification application. However, it could be argued that the Commission itself has the final say as to whether to characterize modifications requested by a developer as the first phase of a phased development, and not the developer.

In this case saying that the requested modifications do not constitute a first phase of a phased development does not necessarily make it so. Under this scenario the Commission would decide the question, if it chooses to consider it.

However, if the proposed changes in the developer’s modification application were indeed determined to be the first phase in a phased development, the developer might even decide to withdraw its entire modification application. If this were to happen, the original 2005 plan would remain intact, and the developer’s plans for the future would become an open question.

Another possible scenario is this. If the developer maintains that its proposed modifications are not the first phase of a phased development, a position with which the Commission disagrees, then the Commission could simply refuse to grant the developer’s application. Then, once again, it would be back to square one in the development of the Preserve.

State introduces first new rail car on the New Haven line; Sen. Daily hails new commuter rail funding

Exterior of new M-8 commuter rail car.

The first of the long awaited new rail cars for Connecticut commuters has been put into service on the New Haven line on March 1, according to the state Department of Transportation. The new rail cars are called the “M-8”s.

In announcing this development, DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said, “We are purchasing a total of 380 new M-8’s and they will be coming in all the way through 2013.” He added, “Some of the M-8’s will be used on the Shore Line East, but that won’t be until later in the game.” 

In a related development State Senator Eileen Daily praised the state Bond Commission’s recent approval of new funding for the “imminent delivery of new rail cars to improve service for Metro North and Shore Line East passengers.” She also has hailed “approved funding for a new rail maintenance facility in New Haven to ensure that the state protects its investment in these new cars.”

Senator Daily also said that the new bond allocations would provide funds for “the next step toward an overhaul of the Shore Line East station in Westbrook, which has already included property transfers and a lot of improvements.” She also said, “Shore Line East stations in Branford, Guilford and Old Saybrook will also be upgraded as a function of this bond allocation.”

The Senator added that “literally thousands of construction and related jobs are expected to be retained or created as a result of these transportation investments.”

Interior of the new M-8 commuter rail car.

Variance Hearing for Postponed Chester Market Put Off to March 21

CHESTER—The zoning board of appeals has postponed to March 21 the public hearing on a variance appeal for a proposed organic market on Middlesex Avenue that is the subject of a lawsuit after the planning and zoning commission denied the original special permit application last fall.

Board Chairman Mario Gioco said the hearing that had been scheduled for Monday evening has been postponed to the board’s March 21 meeting at the request of applicant Peter Kehayias.

Kehayias, a local resident, has been trying since last summer to win zoning approval for an organic market in a vacant building at 56 Middlesex Avenue, also known as Route 154. The planning and zoning commission rejected a special permit application for the proposed market last November, leading Kehayias to file a lawsuit appealing the commission’s denial to Middlesex Superior Court. In the lawsuit, Kehayias’s lawyer, Middletown attorney Patricia Farrell, contends that some commission members should have recused themselves from hearing the special permit application because they own property or businesses in nearby Chester village that would face competition from the proposed market.

Kehayias is seeking variances of the minimum setback and non-conforming use/change of use provisions of Chester Zoning Regulations to allow an organic market with a ten-seat cafe area in the vacant structure at 56 Middlesex Avenue.

Career Column 9: Helping People in Need (Without Going to Graduate School)

With the recent controversy about public employees and the impending budget cuts for health and mental health care in Arizona, I was thinking that there will always be people who can’t manage well without some extra help, whether it is funded by the state, the private sector, families, or charitable organizations.   Whether they are challenged by developmental or physical disabilities, dementia, or serious mental illness, some people rely on others for a little or a lot of everyday support.  People who help others with everyday tasks are called human service or social service assistants, and according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), the job prospects in this field are not just good, but excellent

OOH notes that social or human services assistants “provide services to clients to help them improve their quality of life. They assess clients’ needs, investigate their eligibility for benefits and services ….arrange for transportation….and provide emotional support.”   As might be expected, they also have to keep records and report to supervisors.  Employees in this field might be called case management aides, social work assistants, community support workers, mental health aides, community outreach workers, client advocates, childcare workers, or similar titles.

In Connecticut, a job as a social service assistant typically requires an Associate’s Degree in Human Services and experience or a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, although some may be open to individuals with a high school diploma.    

These kinds of positions can be a step towards graduate school and a professional degree in a social service field, such as social work, counseling, or psychology, or they could be a step towards a career in health care administration or a management position for a non-profit.    For some people, though, these positions are long-term and a way to make a living.  Unfortunately, social service jobs don’t pay very well, although some positions have more authority and offer salaries at a higher level and others offer the opportunity for overtime or shift differentials.  The most recent data (2009) indicate that wages in Connecticut for workers in these categories are higher than they are in many other parts of the country, with the median salary listed as $40,000, but job prospects are not projected to be quite as strong as they are elsewhere.   

Clearly, these kinds of jobs are not for everybody.  Some positions are physically demanding and potentially hazardous. (Before taking a job, it would be a good idea to find out, and verify, what steps the employer takes to keep workers safe.)  Some require working long shifts, or evenings, weekends, or nights.  The best candidates will be comfortable doing routine tasks and helping and directing other people.  They will be good communicators as well as responsible, understanding, and patient.  They also may need to pass a background check.

Recent social services assistant job openings in Connecticut include multiple positions in residential treatment, providing support for individuals with developmental or psychiatric disabilities in group homes or supported apartments, and some that are more along the lines of case management, for example, helping clients access medical benefits or advocating for families.  Related jobs include mental health aide in a psychiatric hospital, teaching assistant in special education programs, therapy aide in a behavioral treatment program, or rehabilitation aide in a rehabilitation hospital.       

Careerbuilder.com lists these and related positions under the category of non-profit/social services.  It would be a good place to start a job search.  However, job titles for these positions are quite varied, and you will have to use a number of different key words to do a thorough search.  You can try searching for human service assistant, social service assistant, case manager, therapy aide, mental health worker or for some of the other titles listed in the OOH noted above.  Large social service providers and hospitals also list openings on their own websites.  You might want to do a job search regionally, looking for employment opportunities at all of the social service and treatment facilities within a geographical area.  You could also do a job search with a focus on a particular group of clients, such as the elderly, people with developmental or psychiatric disabilities, or troubled children.  Find out which agencies in your community serve people you are interested in working with and start your search there.  (You can ask for help at locating this information at your local public library.  Also, there is a long but not necessarily up to date list of DCF licensed “child caring agencies and facilities” here:  www.dir.ct.gov/dcf/Licensed_Facilities/listing_CCF.asp.)

For training, most community colleges in Connecticut offer programs in human services.  Make sure that the program you choose provides experience as well as coursework, because experience will be key to getting a job, especially if you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree.   

Career Resource

Idealist.org (www.idealist.org) lists volunteer positions and jobs with non-profits in the United States and abroad.  Its mission is to connect “people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.”  In addition, in the Idealist Career Center (www.idealist.org/info/Careers) you will find free, downloadable, book length information about careers in the non-profit sector, as well as tips and exercises to help you choose a career path. 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 karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Ivoryton Library Opera Series: Great Works of Literature and Music: Macbeth

The Ivoryton Library Opera Series will begin at 4 p.m. on March 17  at the Ivoryton Congregational Church with Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Does there exist, in English, a more impactful study of the folly of coveting political power and its perceived perquisites than Macbeth? The group will discuss the ways in which Shakespeare and his interpreters make choices that affect our understanding of the meaning of the play. They will also consider how Shakespeare limns character to achieve his effects. Illustrating these is actress Joyce Fideor, the memorable Lady Macduff of Nicol Williamson’s production of Macbeth at New York’s Circle-in-the-Square.

Because the Ivoryton Library Association has received a full grant from the Middlesex Community Foundation, during March, April and May it will present a nine part series entitled “Great Works of Literature and Music: Read, Hear, See”.

James Kuslan will present the nine programs in the Ivoryton Library opera series, with presentations by Susan von Reichenbach, at the Ivoryton Congregational Church.

In addition to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the program will include Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Die Walkure.  James Kuslan will host the nine presentations. 

In Goethe’s work the young protagonist passionately adores Charlotte, a married woman, and the author emphasizes the romantic impulse that controls Werther’s life. We watch him through the subjective lens of his letters to Charlotte and yet Goethe still enables us to view it all with some measure of objectivity.

Massenet’s opera of Goethe’s work, Werther, gives us a young, tormented hero whose music elicits rapturous identification and tender concern. His score illustrates how the emotional impact of music can make laughable the notions of objectivity and rational thought.

Wagner’s Ring Cycle’s first two operas, Das Rheingold and Die Walkure are set to the composer’s own libretti. Since libretti are often written by others, these two operas are in a special category.

Along with Mr. Kuslan’s commentary and interpretation there will be performances by actress Joyce Fideor and international opera singer Susan von Reichenbach. All three have credentials in theater and opera. Mr. Kuslan reviews operas in New York City publications and writes introductions for Deutsche Grammophone, whose business is largely opera recordings.

Ms Fideor, who will interpret some of Shakespeare’s lines, has played Lady Macbeth in Nicole Williamson’s production of the play at New York’s Circle-in-the-Square Theater.

Ms. Von Reichenbach will sing Charlotte, Werther’s beloved, and the roles of Sieglinde and Brunnhilde from Wagner’s two operas. She has performed these roles previously at New York’s Town Hall, the Florida Grand Opera, the Seattle Opera, and the Savolinna Festival.

Three years ago the Ivoryton Library received a grant from the Middlesex County Community Foundation and was able to offer a series of programs designed to introduce people to the beauty and accessibility of opera. The programs were in local churches, the Chester Meeting House, and Essex Meadows. Because the attendance was so strong, the decision was made to develop another program that built on the first.

This series is designed for people to experience opera as active participants who not only hear and discuss Mr. Kuslan’s presentations, but also watch live performances in the intimate setting of the Ivoryton Congregational Church. Participants will appreciate the source ideas, the relationship between the ideas and the word, and finally its rendering in the music of opera.

The program also offers the libretti easily downloaded at www.ivoryton.com. Mr. Kuslan is excited about this format because historically people attended operas and read the libretto during the performance. Videos of well-loved performances are also part of the program.

The presentations/performances at the Ivoryton Congregational Church are as follows:

Macbeth: Thursday, March 17; Thursday, March 24, and Friday, March 25.
Werther: Thursday, April 21, Thursday, April 28, and Friday, April 29.
Rheingold and Walkuere: Thursday, May 12, Thursday, May 19, and Friday, May 20.

Suggested donation is $5 per session or $27 for all nine.

Call the Ivoryton Library at 860-767-1252 for further details.