January 31, 2023

Archives for July 2011

Local Congressman Courtney Busy Voting “No’, and “Yes,” on Federal Debt Ceiling Measures

Congressman Joe Courtney, who represents most of the eastern half of Connecticut, including the towns of Old Lyme, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River and Chester, is in the thick of the nation’s current debt ceiling crisis.

First, on July 29 he voted “no” on House Speaker John Boehner’s bill to address federal debt ceiling crisis and related issues. Courtney charged that the Boehner bill “is no solution at all,” and is no more than “a short term patch that provides no certainty to the American people or to the financial markets.” Also, the Congressman said that the legislation “sets the stage for a repeat of this divisive, unnecessary debate just a few months from now.”

Courtney also attacked the Speaker’s bill in that it would impose “a grotesque requirement that Congress deface the Constitution with an amendment that would cripple the country’s ability to meet the challenges it faces” by requiring a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Next, on July 30 Courtney cast a “Yes” vote in favor of Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “compromise bill to end the default crisis.” The Congressman said, “Like any compromise that includes Democratic and Republican ideas, Senator Reid’s bill is not perfect.” However, he said that the Reid bill “accomplishes what Speaker Boehner’s plan would not,” in that “it protects seniors, Social Security and Medicare,” among other federal programs. Most importantly, the Connecticut Congressman said, the Reid bill is “the only bipartisan option before Congress.”

A big bone of contention for Democrats is that the Boehner bill would require that the nation’s debt ceiling limit be renegotiated again in just six months. However, there is agreement under both the Boehner and Reid bills in that there are no tax increases in either measure.

Smith Uncontested for 12th First Selectman Term, Democratic Caucus Nominates Angus McDonald Jr. Over Russ Marth for Selectman

DEEP RIVER— Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith will be uncontested by town Republicans for a record 12th term, but an upset vote at the July 20 Democratic caucus has set the stage for a possible Democratic primary to determine Smith’s running-mate for board of selectmen.

The caucus nominated Angus McDonald Jr., a member of the planning and zoning commission who was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for first selectman of Westbrook in 1999, over former Selectman Russell Marth on an 18-15 paper ballot vote. Marth, who served on the board of selectmen from 2007-2009 after winning election on the Deep River Independent Party ticket that challenged Smith in the 2007 election, had been recommended for the selectman position by the Deep River Democratic Town Committee.

McDonald, who is on the town committee, had also been interviewed by the town committee’s nominating committee. McDonald, who was nominated at the caucus by board of finance vice-chairman and former Speaker of the House Richard Balducci, said he was urged by some town Democrats to bring his candidacy to the caucus. “Some people thought it was appropriate,” he said.

McDonald, a partner and land surveyor in the Old Saybrook-based McDonald-Sharpe Associates engineering firm that was founded by his father, Angus McDonald Sr., moved from Westbrook to Deep River in 2005.

Smith said Thursday he has no objections to McDonald as his Democratic running-mate. Smith and Arthur Thompson, the current Democratic selectman who is also Democratic town chairman, said they do not expect Marth to force a primary for the selectman nomination, while acknowledging he has the right to challenge the caucus endorsement. Marth could not be reached for comment. To force a Sept. 13 Democratic primary, Marth would have to file petitions signed by five percent of the town’s Democratic voters by an Aug. 10 deadline.

The contest at the caucus between McDonald and Marth may be one of the few contests in this year’s town election. Town Republicans, meeting in caucus Monday, did not nominate a challenger for first selectman. Republicans nominated incumbent Republican Selectman David Oliveria for a second term on the board of selectmen.

Republicans did not nominate a candidate for tax collector to challenge first term Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani. Democratic did not nominate candidates to challenge long-time Republican Town Treasurer Thomas Lindner, or first term Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell. Winchell won the town clerk seat in 2009, defeating Democratic candidate Nancy Talbot by two votes.

Democrats did not nominate candidates for board of finance because the party already holds four of the six seats on the board. Republicans nominated incumbent board Chairman John Bauer for a new six-year term, along with William Ballsieper.
Democrats nominated incumbent Duane Gates for a new term on the Region 4 Board of Education. Gates had been elected in 2005 as an unaffiliated voter with Republican support, but later joined the Democratic Party. Republicans nominated Lauri Wichtowski, a former member of the elementary school board of education, to contest Gates for the Region 4 seat.

Democrats nominated incumbents Christine Daniels and David Berardis and new candidate Miriam Morrissey for the Deep River Board of Education. Republicans nominated incumbent James Olson and Julia Grabowski for the local board of education.

Republicans nominated Darlene Pollock for a new term on the board of assessment appeals. Democrats nominated Patricia Risnit for library board of trustees, with Republicans nominating Louise Cowen and Rolf Peterson for full terms on the library board of trustees, and Donald Routh for a two-year vacancy term.

Developer gives up appeal of Zoning Commission’s rejection of a new Rite Aid super store in Essex

Heavy traffic, Route 153 and Bokum Road

The deep pocket developer, who wanted to build a new Rite Aid superstore on Rte. 153 and Bokum Rd., across from the Colonial Shopping Center in Essex, has given up. Initially, after the Essex Zoning Commission last year rejected permission by a vote of 4 to 1 to build a new 14,673 sq. ft. Rite Aid in Essex, developer Robert Landino had appealed the local zoning commission’s decision in state district court.

Landino, Chief Executive Officer of Centerplan Companies in Middletown, had spent thousands of dollars on attorneys, environmental and traffic consultants and architects in trying to convince the commission to approve the deal.

Now, however, Landino has withdrawn his appeal, which leaves in place the Essex Zoning Commission’s rejection of the project.  Confirming the withdrawal of the appeal, Landino said, “The only location that we are currently committed to is a relocation of the East Hartford [Rite Aid] store, which is approved and will break ground this fall.”

The proposal to build a new Rite Aid superstore in Essex across from the busy Colonial Shopping Plaza sparked much public opposition, when it was first proposed early last year. There were four widely attended public hearings, 100 people at one of them, before the zoning commission under the chairmanship of Alvin Wolfgram strongly rejected the new development. Wolfgram said that the developers did not adequately address the safety concerns of a new pedestrian crossing over Rte. 153, nor the dangers of having a new, two-way vehicular traffic entrance onto Rte. 153 from the giant new store.  Other commission members raised objections to the cookie cutter design of the proposal’s architecture and unimaginative landscaping.

Entrance to the Oliver's Taverne

The effect of the abandonment of the appeal not only leaves in place the Commission’s original decision, but also the present 12,180 sq. ft. Oliver’s Taverne. (The primary owner of the Taverne had spoken out strongly in favor of the Rite Aid proposal during the public hearings.)

In a recent interview, a Taverne spokesman said that there had been some confusion as to whether Oliver’s Taverne was still open. “We are still here,” John Sousa said emphatically, “and doing more business than ever.” He also joked, “You can’t get a prescription filled here, but you can get a great martini.”  The Taverne also offers a “Lobster Madness” special every Wednesday.

A possible question of Zoning Commission Chairman Wolfgram’s “objectivity” in considering the Rite Aid application was also put to rest by the his vote against the Rite Aid proposal. Wolfgram is by occupation a professional engineer, and in this capacity he had worked with Rite Aid developer Landino on the Preserve project in Old Saybrook, a fact acknowledged by Landino.

However, it was clear through Wolfgram’s strong opposition to the proposal at the Essex Zoning Commission that Wolfgram and Landino were not working together on creating a new Rite Aid in Essex.

Memories and Memorabilia Requested to Mark Centenary of First Highway Bridge Across Lower CT River

This August will mark the 100th anniversary of the first highway bridge to link Old Lyme and Old Saybrook across the Connecticut River.

To mark this event, the Old Lyme Historical Society is seeking personal recollections of the bridge—commonly described as a low-level, two lane drawbridge—which was demolished in 1949 following construction of the first Baldwin Bridge.

These recollections could include crossing the bridge, waiting in the interminable traffic tie-ups that resulted when the bridge opened for boats, buying ice cream from the Good Humor man who took advantage of these tie-ups, attending the opening ceremonies for the successor Baldwin Bridge in December ’48 or watching the demolition of the 1911 bridge in 1949.

Memorabilia that the Society could borrow or even photograph would be greatly appreciated.

If readers have memories or memorabilia to share, contact Society member Mark Lander at 860-434-2671, or care of The Old Lyme Historical Society, PO Box 352, Old Lyme, CT 06371.

Depending on what is collected, the results may be published in the Society’s newsletter, posted on their website or shared with their colleagues at the Old Saybrook Historical Society.

Unless respondents request otherwise, their names will be included at the end of the Society’s report.

Republican Candidate for Essex First Selectman Announces Web Site Launch

Bruce MacMillian the republican candidate for First Selectman of Essex is pleased to announce the launch of his campaign web site: www.BruceforEssex.com.

The site went live on Wednesday July 27, 2011 and already has generated a great deal of interest. The intent of the site is for voters to be able to learn more about Bruce; see the issues at hand, and how Bruce and the Republican platform plan to address them.  In addition voters can view an online schedule of events where Bruce will be available to meet them in person, or they can even schedule a one on one meeting time and place if that is more convenient. There is also a tab to become more involved in the campaign either financially or as a volunteer.

Bruce a 30 year resident of Essex seeks the First Selectman’s seat in order to make Essex a safe,comfortable, affordable, business friendly and educational minded town, and strive to promote an environment that embraces a free exchange of ideas. Visit: www.BruceforEssex.com  today!

Shoreline Bus Ridership Up 19%

Soaring gas prices combined with several other factors to boost ridership on the shoreline’s 9 Town Transit bus service by 19% during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011.

9 Town Transit Executive Director Joseph Comerford contributes the growth to expanded service hours and improved awareness of the service. “I think we’ve really gotten the word out that our service is not just for seniors, and we’ve expanded our hours to make commuting to work a real possibility.”

Since 2009, 9 Town Transit has also expanded the reach of its services. Public bus service is now available from Old Saybrook to New Haven, New London, Middletown and Hartford. And with a fare of just $1.25, many commuters have been lured in by the cost savings over near $4 per gallon gasoline prices. “Our growth has primarily been amongst riders ages 5 – 59, who have grown to 80% of our ridership from about 30% just two years ago, and most of those are commuting to work or school,” says Comerford.

All of these factors contributed to a total annual ridership of over 73,000 passenger trips, the highest in 9TT’s 30 year history, and a two year increase of 40%.

Additional information, route maps and schedules are available online at www.9towntransit.com or by calling 9 Town Transit at 860-510-0429.

Chester Democrats Nominate Edmund Meehan for First Selectman, Common Ground Party Nominates Andrew Landsman for Challenge

CHESTER— Democrats gave an enthusiastic endorsement to Edmund Meehan for first selectman at the party nominating caucus Tuesday, with Andrew Landsman emerging as a challenger for the top job on the Chester Common Ground Party ticket. Town Republicans did not nominate a candidate for first selectman at the party caucus Monday.

Meehan, 64, is a 30-year town resident who currently works as town planner for Newington. Meehan, a married father of four, began his career in the 1970s as assistant director for the Old Saybrook-based Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency and staffer for the regional Connecticut River Gateway Commission. He began working as a planner for the City of Hartford in 1982 before taking the Newington job in 1987.

Meehan served as a member of the Chester Planning and Zoning Commission from 1984 to 1991, and as chairman of the panel from 1985-1987. He served on the Chester Board of Finance from 1993 to 2002, and as chairman from 1999 to 2002.

Meehan said he decided to run for first selectman earlier this month, after three-term Republican-turned Independent First Selectman Tom Marsh announced in June that he would resign August 1 to become town manager in Windsor, Vt. Meehan said he is not in a position to take on the role of interim first selectman next month because of commitments to his 23-year job in Newington.

Meehan said maintaining town services and its quality of life in a difficult national economy would be the main challenge for the 2011-2013 selectmen’s term. Democrats nominated incumbent Selectman Lawrence Sypher for a second term as Meehan’s running-mate for board of selectmen in the Nov. 8 town election.

Republicans did not nominate a candidate for first selectman, with incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert nominated Monday for a second term on the board.

Mario Gioco, Republican town chairman, said party members are “still looking and talking to people,” while acknowledging there would probably not be a Republican nominee to succeed Marsh in the top job this year.

A Republican challenger could still petition to the GOP ballot line by submitting petitions signed by five per cent of the town’s registered Republicans, or 23 signatures, by an Aug. 10 deadline. Gioco said the town committee is planning to petition nominees on to other vacant spots on the GOP slate.

With Republicans lacking a candidate, it initially seemed that Meehan would be uncontested for first selectman this year. But the Common Ground Party, which also held a caucus Monday, nominated Andrew Landsman for first selectman, with party-co-founder Glen Reyer as his running mate for board of selectmen. The Common Ground Party formed in 2009, and currently has a 12-member town committee. The new party nominated candidates for some board and commission seats in 2009, but no challenger for first selectman, a step that secured a ballot line for the party this year.

Landsman, 49, is a former executive with CIGNA Corp. who currently works as facilities manager at the local Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility. A town resident for nearly five years, Landsman currently serves on the inland-wetlands commission, and was initially included on the Democratic slate as nominee for a new term on the IWC. Reyer, 64, is an 11-year resident who served previously on the planning and zoning commission. He and Michael Sanders co-founded the Chester Common Ground Party in 2009.

The nominating sessions have set up a contest for first selectman between Meehan and Landsman, and a contest for the other two seats on the board of selectmen between Sypher, Englert, and Reyer.

Contests have emerged for other positions on the town’s lengthy municipal election ballot. Democrats nominated incumbent Virginia Carmany and  new candidate Robert Gorman for full six-year terms on the board of finance, with Lori Ann Clymas nominated for board of finance alternate. Republicans nominated Charles Park and Reyer for board of finance, creating a possible vacancy on the slate for Reyer’s spot that could be filled by petition. Common Ground nominated Susan Wright, a registered Democrat who had expressed interest in the first selectman nomination, for board of finance and Richard Nygard for board of finance alternate.

Democrats nominated incumbent Elaine Fitzgibbons for a new term on the Region 4 Board of Education, with Common Ground nominating Michael Hotkowski for the seat. Republicans, who hold the town’s other two seats on the Region 4 board, did not nominate a candidate.

Democrats nominated incumbent Laurie Rubionow and David Fitzgibbons for the Chester Board of Education, with Nicole Sypher nominated for a two-year vacancy term. Republicans nominated incumbent board chairwoman Wendy King and Lisa Tollefson for the local board of education, with King, Tollefson and James Gordon nominated for the local school board by the Common Ground Party.

Seats on the planning and zoning commission are contested. Democrats nominated incumbents Jon Mark Lavy, Sally Murray, and Peter Keheyias for full six-year terms, with longtime commission Chairman Michael Joplin nominated for a two-year vacancy term. Republicans nominated incumbent Melvin Seifert for planning and zoning commission, with Doreen Joslow nominated to contest Joplin for the two-year vacancy term. Joslow, who is also endorsed by the Common Ground Party for the vacancy term, was briefly a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 36th House District special election last winter. Common Ground endorsed Murray and Seifert for PZC.

Democrats nominated Henry Krempel for a full-term as planning and zoning commission alternate, with Sarah Jansen nominated for a four-year vacancy as PZC alternate. Common Ground nominated Patricia Visacky for the full term as PZC alternate.

Democrats nominated incumbent Mark Borton and Caryl Horner for full terms on the zoning board of appeals, with Common Ground nominating Al Visacky for a full-term on ZBA and Lisa Tollesfson for ZBA alternate.

Democrats nominated incumbents Sally Sanders and Kim Senay for inland-wetlands commission, with Republicans nominating Kris Seifert for IWC. Common Ground nominated Democratic incumbent Sanders and Al Visacky.

Republican incumbent Bruce Watrous, a former selectman, is uncontested for board of assessment appeals. Incumbent Democrat James Pease is uncontested for a new term on the water pollution control authority. Democrats nominated incumbents Edith Prisloe and Margaret Carter-Ward for library board of trustees, with Matthew Sanders nominated by Common Ground for library board of trustees.

Don’t Miss the Celebration – Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s 20th Anniversary and 10th Anniversary Nutcracker

This is a very special season for Eastern Connecticut Ballet and there is much to celebrate.  The year marks the 20th anniversary of the school and the 10th anniversary of The Nutcracker.

There has never been a better time to be an ECB student.  It will be a year packed with exciting events and innovative programming.  In October, Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s Youth Ballet Company will perform Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra at the Garde with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra.  In December, over 120 talented dancers from the school will be joined at the Garde Arts Center in New London by superb guest artists from Pennsylvania Ballet for ECB’s spectacular, beloved holiday tradition, The Nutcracker.

In March, Eastern Connecticut Ballet will host a Gala birthday celebration at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook entitled A Taste of Ballet.  The event will feature fine food, fine wine, fine art, and of course, fine dance.  Money raised from an art auction will benefit the ECB Scholarship Fund.  An all school spring concert will be held in May, including special repertory danced by ECB’s Youth Ballet Company.  The year will conclude with ECB’s premiere summer camps and intensives, engaging and challenging dancers of all ages.

Dynamic NEW fall classes include:  Mommy and Me, Dance/Sculpt/Tone, Tap, additional Modern and Jazz offerings, additional Teen/Adult Dance classes, and interesting new works by the 2011 World Champion Street Elite Hip-Hop Teams.  These classes complement ECB’s well-established and celebrated children’s and pre-professional ballet training programs.  Artistic Director, Gloria Govrin, former soloist with New York City Ballet, leads a superb faculty, and over twenty years ECB has earned high praise and respect from dance professionals across the country.

To accommodate these growing programs and a flourishing student body, ECB has made dramatic renovations to its state of the art facility.  New and returning students will enjoy the addition of a fourth large dance studio, additional dressing rooms, handicapped accessible bathrooms, costume and scenery storage space, new offices and central air conditioning.

For full details about the upcoming season and the school, call (860) 739-7899, visit the website at www.easternctballet.com, follow us on Facebook, or visit the school at 435 Boston Post Road in East Lyme.

ECB is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and offers equal employment and educational opportunities in accordance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws against discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age, or sexual orientation. Photo credit: Thomas Giroir

Courtney speech on default crisis; “Downgrade is as bad as default”

Congressman Courtney spoke yesterday on the House floor in favor of a balanced solution to address our default crisis and prevent economic catastrophe. Citing a CNN report prior to Speaker Boehner’s speech the night before, Congressman Courtney highlighted that even if the Speaker’s plan passes, ratings agencies still may downgrade U.S. Treasury bonds from their current AAA rating, driving up lending costs and damaging a fragile economy.


Ring of Fire at the Ivoryton Playhouse

Ivoryton:  What happens when you give the gritty and rustic lyrics of Johnny Cash to highly trained, technically proficient, powerful Broadway vocalists? The result is a stunning, moving, uplifting musical that has played to sold-out houses across the country and is opening at the Ivoryton Playhouse on August 10.

The musical takes for its marquee the title of one of the hit tunes of American singer-songwriter Cash. But the show, conceived by William Meade and created by Richard Maltby Jr., drawing on a cache of Cash songs, is not a biography of The Man in Black.

In 38 musical numbers, a mosaic of American experience is pieced together in Ring of Fire, the creators say. There’s a scene about keeping the love fires burning in middle age (“While I’ve Got It On My Mind”), there’s a scene with generations of a family sharing a meal (and sharing music) in “Daddy Sang Bass,” there’s the second-act opener about life travels (“I’ve Been Everywhere”), even a section with a chain gang (“Folsom Prison Blues”).

Richard Maltby said, “It’s about home and family and getting together and loving somebody and having a backyard and generations living together, it’s about what holds you together in the face of a hard life, it’s about the really basic family values.” The show’s song list includes Cash’s “Country Boy,” “A Thing Called Love,” “Five Feet High and Rising,” “Daddy Sang Bass,” “Ring of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “I’ve Been Everywhere,” “The Man in Black,” and his final hit, “Hurt.”

David Lutken* , just back from London’s West End where he had a terrific run with his new show Woody Sez, about the legendary Woody Guthrie, directs and appears in this production. David was a member of the original Broadway company of Ring of Fire. Staging and choreography is by Sherry Stregack and musical direction by Eric Anthony*. Cast includes John Rochette*, who was seen last summer at the Playhouse in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story and Finian’s Rainbow, Scott Sowers*, Helen Russell*, Deb Lyons*, Megan Loomis*, Michael Hicks*, Jon Brown* and Eric Anthony*.

Ring of Fire  opens on August 10  and runs thru September 4  for 4 weeks. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*member of Actors Equity

Exciting Summer Programs From Deep River Park & Rec.

Summer Camp is underway!  Deep River Park & Rec are offering morning programs that run from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the elementary school with field trip days on Wednesdays,  a trip to Plattwood Park on Fridays and a quest entertainer on Tuesdays.  The field trip for week 5 of the camp, which runs August 1-5, is to bowling in Old Saybrook.  There is a magic show on Tuesday of that week.  Week six of camp, from August 8-12 features a trip to Laser Tag and a visit by Mad Science of Southeastern Connecticut.

New this summer are afternoon workshops that are taught by professionals in their field. The classes are held at the elementary school  from 12:30 p.m. -2:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday.   Workshop #4 runs from August 1-4 and is a nature experience called Barking Frog Farm.  It is taught by Ann Courey.  Workshop #5 is a class by the Valley Shore Martial Arts staff.  This workshop runs from August 8-11.

Cost of the morning program is $35-$45 per child; while the cost of the afternoon program is $45-$55 depending on the week.  A discount is given for siblings registering for the same class.  There is still space available in the remaining sessions.

Parks and Recreation is also sponsoring a Safe Boating Class on Sunday, August 14th at the Deep River library located on Main Street.  This DEP approved, one day class, is a single session, 8-hour course taught by Professional Marine Education. Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to apply for their Certificate of Personal Watercraft operation  which allows operation of motorized recreational vessels up to 65’ and sailboats 19 ½ feet in length and longer.  The class runs from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with a cost of $65 per person.

The annual Deep River Run, is a 5K race that is held on Saturday morning during Deep River Family Day.  The date of the 5K Run and 1 mile fun run/walk is Saturday,  September 17th.  This is the 17th year of this event here in Deep River.

More information can be obtained by visiting the Town of Deep River web site or by calling Deep River Parks and Recreation @ 860-526-6036.

Needleman and Libby Win Essex Democratic Town Committee Endorsement for Board of Selectmen, Challengers Say No Primary

ESSEX— Selectman Norman Needleman and newly-minted Democratic running-mate Stacia Libby Monday won the Essex Democratic Town Committee endorsement for first selectman and board of selectman, with challengers Anthony Chirico and Linda Savitsky indicating they would not challenge the nominations in a primary.

Needleman and Libby, who was a member of the Essex Republican Town Committee until earlier this month, received support from about four-fifths of the 25 town committee members present and voting on the endorsements, with Chirico and Savitsky receiving only a handful of votes.

Needleman, a 59-year-old businessman who has lived in Essex since the late 1980s, was first elected in 2003 with Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller, who is not seeking a new term this year after winning the 36th House District seat in a February special election. Needleman had been widely expected to run for the top job this year. He presented Libby, who has served on the park and recreation commission and the Essex Community Fund Board, as his favored running-mate on July 18, only days after she changed her voter registration from Republican to Democrat.

The challenge from Chirico and Savitsky emerged earlier this month. Chirico, 58, has lived in town since the late 1990s, and was the unsuccessful Republican nominee against Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook in the 33rd Senate District in 2000 and 2002. He became a Democrat in 2004, and later joined the Democratic Town Committee. Chirico, who ran a business related to trade with China, is a former member of the zoning commission and currently serves as the town’s representative on the regional Connecticut River Gateway Commission.

Savitsky also served on the zoning commission, and worked previously as director of municipal finance services for the state Office of Policy and Management. She is married to former Democratic Selectman Alvin Wolfgram, the current chairman of the zoning commission.

The four candidates were allowed to make a brief presentation and answer questions from committee members before the vote, which was conducted by show-of-hands despite a request from Chirico for a secret ballot vote.

Needleman said he has the management and town government experience needed to succeed Miller. Chirico said he became a candidate to offer local Democrats “options”, and pledged to improve communications with residents and develop an economic development plan for the town. Libby said her change of political parties was “not a difficult choice for me” and described herself as a “moderate” ready to support Needleman. Savitsky noted she was a “lifelong Democrat,” and cited her experience in municipal and state government.

But in response to a question from committee member Lon Seidman, all four candidates, including challengers Chirico and Savitsky, said they would not force a Sept. 13 Democratic primary if they did not receive the committee’s nomination. Chirico repeated the no primary pledge after the vote. A prospective challenger would have to file petitions signed by five percent of the town registered Democrats, about 60 signatures, by Aug. 10 to force a primary.

Democrats did not nominate candidates for board of finance because the party currently holds four of the six seats on the board. Acting on a motion from Finance Board Chairman Jim Francis, the committee cross-endorsed incumbent Republicans Keith Crehan and Jeff Woods for new six-year terms on the board.

Democrats renominated incumbent Chris Riley for a new six-year term on the Region 4 Board of Education. Riley has also been cross-endorsed by town Republicans, meaning there will be no contest for the regional school board seat this year. Democrats nominated Loretta McClusky for the Essex Board of Education, and incumbent Richard Helmecki for a new term on the board of assessment appeals.

Barring a challenge that now appears unlikely, the Needleman-Libby ticket will face off with Republican first selectman nominee Bruce MacMillian and his running-mate, Republican Selectman Joel Marzi, in the Nov. 8 town election.


TTYS Receives Funding from Middlesex United Way

Middlesex County, CT – Middlesex United Way Board of Directors recently approved fund distributions in the amount of $964,304 for fiscal year 2011-12. This amount is $45,000 more than was allocated in 2010-11.  Tri-Town Youth Services was awarded $17,550, which includes funds to support the Healthy Communities Healthy Youth program and funds to support the School Readiness Initiatives.

This funding includes support to 49 programs in Middlesex County, the installation of multiple Born Learning Trails on Day of Caring on September 7, two future requests for proposal in Education and Housing, and $30,000 for new opportunities this fall that will help United Way reach its Five Year Goals for the Common Good.

The breakdown of fund distributions by focus area is: $148,156 for education; $141,350 for income; $498,080 for health; and $130,433 for housing. Visit www.middlesexunitedway.org/distributions for a complete list of distributions.

One of United Way’s partners in the Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth & School Readiness initiatives is Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services. Heather McNeil, Director, says “Partnering with United Way helped us add a significant component to our ‘Community Service’ project.” says Heather McNeil, Director of OS Youth and Family Services.  “Students from grades 7- 12 have the opportunity to engage in a project that identifies need within our community and the ‘Hunger Project’ students chose to combine the recent United Way Diaper Drive with their efforts to gather resources for the local food pantry.  Not only did they make a significant contribution to the pantry of both food and much needed diapers, but the students commented on how they gained a greater awareness of health risks associated with families not having enough resources for diapering supplies for their children.”

In addition to these distributions and included in the overall amount, United Way 2-1-1 was allocated $16,285. 2-1-1 is a 24-hour information and referral helpline that is available free of charge to anyone in Connecticut. 2-1-1 is a partnership between Connecticut United Ways and the State of Connecticut.

Leading the program review and fund distribution each year are Community Impact volunteers who bring experience and expertise in health and human services. Four volunteer teams, based on the four focus areas meet regularly throughout the year, evaluate program performance and financial health, and analyze program results. United Way’s Community Impact Council then makes funding recommendations to the full board of directors for final approval.

Kevin Wilhelm, Middlesex United Way Executive Director, notes “This hard work is done by dedicated individuals who volunteer their time to make important decisions. They have a passion for giving back and strengthening our community.”

If you are interested in becoming a Community Impact volunteer or would like to volunteer on Day of Caring on September 7, please contact Middlesex United Way at (860) 346-8695 or visit www.middlesexunitedway.org and click on ‘Volunteer.’

Middlesex United Way advances the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Our focus is on education, income, health and housing – the building blocks for a good quality of life. United Way recruits people and organizations who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. You are invited to be part of the change by giving, advocating and volunteering.

Middlesex United Way serves the towns of Chester, Clinton, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Middlefield, Middletown, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Protecting the promise of Social Security and Medicare – a Message from Congressman Joe Courtney

As Congress considers proposals to get our fiscal house in order, I have heard from and spoken to hundreds of constituents from across the district who, like you, are concerned that the Social Security and Medicare programs they rely on will suffer major cuts. I share your concerns about reckless cuts to these programs, and I want you to know: I consider it my sacred duty to protect these programs that are the bedrock of middle class retirement security.

Click to watch Congressman Courtney vow to protect Medicare on the House floor.


Seniors have paid into Social Security and Medicare over the course of their lifetime. Cutting promised benefits is not only wrong, but it would have grave economic consequences for millions of older Americans who are faced with increased financial hardship and erosion of their retirement savings. As a member of the Congressional Seniors Task Force, I cosigned a letter to the President last week, raising these and other strong objections about proposed changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Preserving and improving a system that works

While it is necessary to address thoughtful modifications to Social Security and Medicare to preserve the programs for decades to come, recent projections by the Trustees confirm that drastic changes to both programs are unnecessary. The 2011 Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees projected that Social Security will remain completely intact until 2036 even if no changes are made today. For Medicare, the program is expected to meet all benefit obligations until 2024 – and 90 percent of obligations between then and 2045. Considering a majority of seniors currently rely on these programs to meet basic life necessities, like groceries and medical care, there is no reason to drastically change benefits.

There is no doubt that raising the debt ceiling and addressing deficit reduction are serious issues that deserve thoughtful and long-term bipartisan solutions. However, the promise of Social Security and Medicare should not be undermined in these negotiations, and I will continue to oppose efforts to scale back benefits in these talks.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me about this subject, or if I may be of assistance in any other way.


Joe Courtney
Member of Congress

Con Brio Choral Society Auditions

The Con Brio Choral Society, the shoreline chorus under the direction of Stephen D. Bruce, will hold auditions for new members this evening, Tuesday,  Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 56 Great Hammock Rd., Old Saybrook.

All parts are invited and an accompanist will be provided.

The 50-member chorus, now in its 14th year, presents two major concerts in spring and winter as well as a special children’s concert in Old Lyme.

For more details, contact Susan Saltus at 860-767-0090 or visit www.conbrio.org

Dick Smith, on his way to a 12th term as Deep River’s First Selectman

Dick Smith by 1905 water fountain in front of Town Hall

Deep River’s Democratic Town Committee made it unanimous the other evening (July 20), when it nominated Dick Smith to serve a 12th term as the town’s First Selectman. Also, rumor has it, that the Deep River Republican Town Committee, when it meets next Tuesday evening, will not even nominate a candidate to run against him.

In simplest terms Richard H. Smith, who has served for 22 years as Deep River’s First Selectman, will add two more years in office, if he is elected again in November.

At the Democrat’s town committee meeting the other evening, as if to demonstrate that there was still a modicum of competition for public office, two candidates vied for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the job of Selectman. After a painfully polite debate by the two candidates, the party nominated Angus McDonald over Russell Marth by a vote of 19 to 15.

After this mini contest, the Democrats got down to a roll call of unanimous nominations for the offices of Tax Collector, members of the Boards of Education of the Deep River Elementary School and of the Region 4 High School and a member of the Board of Directors of the Deep River Library. Leading this list of unanimities was of course the First Selectman nominee, Dick Smith.

New expanded Adams supermarket in Deep River

What makes Deep River so different from other river towns, where the changing of First Selectman is done with regularity? Why does Deep River want the same First Selectman that it has had for the past two decades to serve another two more years?

One hint might be that Smith knows what the first priority of every voter is. It is “keeping taxes stable.” With this singular precept firmly in place, Smith has then gone about encouraging a commercial building spree that has structurally changed the town of Deep River. It has also increased tax revenues.

Although Smith is still tinkering with the town’s appearance by installing new sidewalks and street lamps on Main Street, most of the major developments in this effort have been completed. They include an enormous expansion and modernization of the Adams supermarket across Main Street from Town Hall, as well as a new Walgreens pharmacy superstore that shares its parking lot with neighboring Town Hall.

New Walgreens pharmacy superstore in Deep River

Attempting a visual similarity of Walgreens and Town Hall, the exterior bricks of the new Walgreens “sort of” match the old bricks of Town Hall. Also, both structures, symbolically, share a single bright red sign, which features “Town Hall” and “Walgreens” in equal sized lettering.

A third major downtown commercial development is a rearward facing complex (to permit parking in front of tenant businesses), which has as tenants Dunkin’ Donuts, Deep River Cleaners and a consignment business. From the street the building has been given a New England look.

Next on the roster of Dick Smith’s commercial improvements is Deep River’s Plattwood Industrial Park, which Smith proudly states is “100% occupied.”  In fact, Smith claims that “people are calling all the time,” wanting to move into the town’s industrial park.” “I wish we had more space,” he says, and he is working on ways to expand the facility.

The businesses in the Industrial Park are the kind of small business that fit into small towns, Smith says. Also, tenants at the facility contribute helpfully to the Deep River town revenues. Present tenants in the park include: Interpro, Withrop Tool and a German based company called Colanar, which offers “innovative solutions to the Pharma and Biotech industries, “to quote its mission statement.

New complex with Dunkin' Donuts and other tenants

Then, there is a privately owned group of properties which also bring revenue to the town. These are the impressive string of “McMansions” along the west bank of the Connecticut River within the boundaries of Deep River.

“There are sometimes only two people living in some of these homes,” Smith says. Also, he points out that the residents in these huge houses generally make very little use of the town’s public services, such as sending their children to the town’s elementary school, which saves money for the town.

In addition, Smith takes pride in the fact that his administration has upgraded virtually all of the Town’s public buildings, including the town library and the elementary school. More improvements are underway for Town Hall as well.

“We are doing good,” Smith says with satisfaction, and, “We have no outstanding bond issues that the town has to pay off.”  Also, he feels that the new businesses at the Town Hall core attract foot traffic for the rest of the shops along Main Street, even including the town’s iconic tattoo parlor.

“I am always concerned about the tax base,” says Smith, repeating his mantra. “We keep taxes stable … and try to save money.”

Looking ahead to his next term, Smith says, “There is still plenty to do, but I have built a network of people, and that helps me.”  Also, he has had a lot of on-the-job training as First Selectman over the years.

Essex Republicans Nominate Bruce Macmillian for First Selectman After Caucus Challenge

ESSEX— Town Republicans nominated Bruce MacMillian, a retired business executive and former vice-chairman of the Essex Housing Authority, for first selectman Wednesday after a caucus challenge that is not expected to lead to a September primary for the party nomination.

MacMillian outpolled Leigh Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer, on a 36-24 paper ballot vote at the caucus. Both MacMillian and Rankin had declared before the result was announced that they would support the caucus winner without a primary contest, and Rankin joined in a standing ovation for MacMillian and other members of the Nov. 8 municipal election slate.

MacMillian, 64, is a former executive with the Traveler’s Insurance Company. A 25-year town resident, he served as a member and vice-chairman of the Essex Housing Authority from 2004-2007. MacMillian was recommended by the party nominating committee and endorsed for the first selectman nomination by the Essex Republican Town Committee last week.

Rankin, a mother and resident of the Centerbrook section, had joined the town committee earlier this year, and also serves as an appointed member of the park and recreation commission and the water pollution control authority/sanitary waste commission. Rankin had indicated at the July 13 town committee meeting that she would not contest MacMillian at the caucus, but told the crowd Wednesday she wanted to offer party members a choice for the top position on the slate. “I am here because I’ve been asked to be here,” said Rankin, who was nominated by resident Kenneth Bombaci.

MacMillian, in remarks to the caucus, said the town needs a change from the administration of Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller and Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman that was first elected in 2003. MacMillian contended the “Miller-Needleman team” has “mismanaged” town hall, and shown a “lack of focus” on controlling expenditures and improving the business climate in Essex. He said the Democratic administration has demonstrated a “lack of transparency” on various issues in recent years, adding “their complacent attitude to me is an insult.” MacMillian said he would serve as a full-time first selectman if elected in November.

Republicans nominated incumbent Selectman Joel Marzi for a second term on the board of selectmen. A former member of the zoning commission and board of finance, Marzi had lost the 2009 first selectman race to Miller by about 400 votes, but later decided not to run for the top job again this year.

Republicans nominated two incumbents, Keith Crehan, an accountant, and Jeff Woods, a retired businessman, for new six-year terms on the board of finance. Judy McCann, a children’s librarian, was nominated for a six-year term on the Essex Board of Education, with Adam Conrad nominated for a two-year term on the local school board. The caucus accepted the nominating committee’s recommendation to cross-endorse incumbent Democrat Chris Riley for a new six-year term on the Region 4 Board of Education.

Miller, who was elected state representative for the 36th House District in a February special election, is not seeking re-election as first selectman. Needleman is seeking the Democratic nomination for first selectman with Stacia Libby, a former Republican who serves on the park and recreation commission, as his preferred running-mate for board of selectmen.

Needleman and Libby are expected to face a challenge for the nominations at the Essex Democratic Town Committee endorsement session Monday from Anthony Chirico, running for first selectman, and Linda Savitsky, running for board of selectmen. The contest for the nominations could lead to a Sept. 13 Democratic primary.


Summer Cooking Class for Kids at Deep River Library

Deep River Public Library will be hosting a Summer Cooking Class for Kids at the library on Thursday July 28 at 11 a.m.

Children will experience hands-on cooking activities.  For ages 9 and up.  Registration is required and is limited. Please call 860-526-6039 for more information.

Teddy Bear Picnic – Deep River

The annual summer tradition in Deep River continues with the Teddy Bear Picnic which  will be held at the Town Landing Gazebo on Tuesday August 23 at 11 a.m.

Lunch will be provided and RSVP to 860-526-6039 by August 20. BYO Teddy Bear.

Essex Republicans Nominate Candidates for Selectmen

Essex Republicans at their July 20 Caucus, endorsed  local businessmen Bruce MacMillian as the republican party’s candidate for First Selectman, and incumbent Joel Marzi for Selectman.

MacMillian, an Essex resident since 1986, has over 40 years of local and international business experience in both large as well as small company settings. MacMillan’s large company and international experience came as the President of Travelers International Operations then following his retirement from the Travelers; he ran a small locally based company CEU.com as its President and CEO. MacMillian is active in the community and has served on the Middlesex Hospital’s Board of Directors since 2005.In addition; MacMillian has served the town as the Vice Chairman of The Essex Housing Authority Board as well as serving as a member of Essex’s Park and Recreation Commission.

Marzi, a small business owner, is a 34 year resident of Essex. Currently he is serving his first term on the Board of Selectman,   previously serving Essex on the Board of Finance, the Inland Wetlands Commission, and as the Chairman of the Zoning Commission as well as the Expansion and Renovations Committee at the Elementary School.

MacMillian and Marzi’s will work to make Essex a safe, comfortable, affordable, business friendly and educational minded town, and strive to promote an environment that embraces a free exchange of ideas.

Essex Lions Club Lobster Bake

Essex Lions Club will be holding a Lobster Bake on Saturday August 6 from 3.30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Green to raise funds for local charities.

Jim Clark from Essex Detailing is the Chair for the event- all hands are on deck for this- including Lions club members, spouses, children and friends Cooking, serving etc  There will be a raffle with many generously given gifts from area merchants, and live music will be provided by The Shiny Lapel Trio to make it a special day!

The menu will offer a choice of lobster or steak, potato, tossed salad, corn on the cob, ice cream and beverages. Shrimp, steamers and broth, and clam chowder will also be available at an extra charge.

All proceeds from the Lobster Bake will be distributed to local charities – primarily to those in need of eye care – the Lions Club original cause.

Tickets will be $28 in advance ($30 at the door) and can be purchased at That’s The Spirit Shoppe, Bogaert Construction, Bob’s Centerbrook Package Store, Essex Detailing, Essex Hardware, or from any Essex Lion Member.

For more details contact Jim Clark 860-767-1561 or email him at essexdetailing@gmail.com

Chester Democrats Expected to Nominate Edmund Meehan for First Selectman

CHESTER— Town Democrats are expected to nominate Edmund Meehan, a former member and chairman of the board of finance who works as town planner in Newington, for first selectman at the party caucus next week.

Peter Zanardi, chairman of the Chester Democratic Town Committee, said the committee has endorsed Meehan for the open first selectman seat, with incumbent Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher seeking a second term as his running-mate for board of selectmen. Zanardi said five people had expressed interest in the first selectman nomination, while adding that he does not expect Meehan to face a challenge for the nomination at the party caucus set for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

Meehan is seeking the seat now held by First Selectman Tom Marsh, a Republican-turned-unaffiliated voter who has held the top job since 2005. Marsh is resigning effective August 1 to relocate and become town manager in Windsor, Vermont. Zanardi said he does not expect Meehan, who currently works full-time in Newington, to be in a position to accept the position of interim first selectman next month to complete the remainder of Marsh’s term that ends on Nov. 22.

Meehan, a long-time town resident, worked as a staffer for the Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency and the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, before taking the planner job in Newington. He has served previously as a member and chairman of the board of finance.

Town Republicans have not announced a prospective candidate for first selectman, or an interim replacement for Marsh.  Mario Gioco, chairman of the Chester Republican Town committee, said the committee is seeking a candidate for first selectman, but “does not have a definite yes from anyone yet.” Incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert, who was elected with Marsh in 2009, is seeking a second term on the board of selectmen, but is not interested in running for the top spot. The Republican nominating caucus is set for Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

The decision on appointment of an interim first selectman rests with Sypher and Englert, who cannot make the appointment until Marsh’s resignation is effective on Aug. 1. Under state law, if the two selectmen are unable to reach agreement on the interim appointment within 30 days, the appointment is made by a committee of Republican office holders because Marsh had been re-elected to his third term as a Republican in 2009. The GOP committee would be comprised of Englert and Marsh’s wife, Kathy, who serves as the town’s Republican registrar of voters. Gioco said town Republicans hope to announce a choice for the interim position before Marsh’s resignation is effective.

Local Swimmers Place Well in Long Course Regional Championships

Liam Leavy placed in the top 10 in all 6 of his events in the 2011 Long Course Regional Championships. (Photo courtesy of Carol Himsel Daly)

The Valley-Shore Y Marlins competed in the 2011 Long Course Regional Championships July 9-11 at pools in Middletown and East Hartford.

Fifteen swimmers in the 12 and under age group swam at Odessa pool in East Hartford.

Local swimmers placing among the top finishers were:

  • Kim Berardis of Deep River (7th place female 10/under, 50 meter butterfly, 48.27, and 10th place 50 meter backstroke, 47.68)
  • Liam Leavy of Ivoryton (2nd place in the male 200 meter individual medley, 4:00.86, 7th place in the 10/under 50 meter freestyle, 41.46, 8th place in both the 10/under 100 meter freestyle, 1:32.40, and 200 meter freestyle, 3:18.56, and 9th place in the 10/under 50 meter backstroke, 50.37)
  • Erin-Katherine Daly of Ivoryton (8th place female 15-18, 200 meter backstroke, 2:48.77)
  • Amelia Haney of Essex (6th place female 15-15, 100 meter butterfly, 1:16.67)

Other local swimmers also among the top 10 finishers were Sam Fuchs of Old Lyme (3rd place in 3 events: male 10/under 50 meter breaststroke, 53.07, 10/under, 100 meter backstroke, 1:42.07, 10/under 50 meter backstroke, 48.64, 6th place in the 10/under 200 meter freestyle, 3:15.74, and 7th place in the 10/under 100 meter freestyle, 1:32.08), Daniel Chen of Madison (1st place male 10/under 100 meter butterfly, 1:49.18, 10/under 50meter butterfly, 53.09, 10th place 10/under 200 meter freestyle, 3:27.09),  Daniel Griffith of Old Saybrook (10th place in the male 10/under 50 meter butterfly, 1:02.90), , Kayla Mendonca of Madison, (1st place female 10/under 100 meter butterfly, 1:37.01, 3rd place in both the 10/under 200 meter freestyle, 3:05.15, and 200 meter individual medley, 3:30.74 and 8th place in the 10/under 100 meter breaststroke, 1:58.98) Hannah Smyth of Madison (9th place in the female 12/under 200 meter freestyle, 2:45.78).

Also competing were Guilford brothers Robert and Bill May, Gabriella Wira of Madison, Liam Ber and Christine Gallagher from Westbrook, and Anna Daly of Ivoryton.

Daniel Chen’s and Kayla Mendonca’s performances in their 100 meter butterfly qualified them to swim in the Connecticut Long Course Age Group Championships later this month. Kayla, age 8, now holds the team record in the 10/under girls 100 meter butterfly .

Thirteen swimmers in the 13-18 age group swam at the Freeman Athletic Center at Wesleyan University. Among those placing in the top ten was Peter Fuchs of Old Lyme (8th place, male 14/under, 100 meter backstroke, 1:18.08, and 9th place 14/under, 200 meter individual medley, 2:46.43).

Other top ten finishers were:

Alexis Henry of Old Saybrook (8th place female 15-18, 100 meter freestyle, 1:07.25), and Nick Husted also of Old Saybrook (1st place male 13-14, 800 meter freestyle, 10:21.00, 3rd place 14/under, 200 meter freestyle. 2:19.25 and 8th place, 14/under, 100 meter freestyle, 1:06.71).

Jessica Lee of Old Lyme also competed at Wesleyan.  Other local swimmers also competing were Kerry Brock and Danielle LaMay of Old Saybrook; Stephanie Gallagher of Westbrook;  and Davide Mendonca, Alexis Valentin and Callie Weiler, all of Madison.

Swimming in the male 15-18, 100 meter backstroke, high school sophomore Michael Iranpour of Guilford achieved a best time of 1:14.97, and now holds the team record for this event.

The Marlins are ending their summer long course season this month with swimmers qualified for both the Long Course Connecticut Senior Championships July 15-18 and the Age Group Championships on July 23-25. Both meets will be swum at Wesleyan.

Saint John School Summer Open House

Old Saybrook, CT – From 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, an Open House will be held for families with Pre-K three year olds through students in Grade 8, interested in attending Saint John School. Meet school principal, parents and students for tours and Q & A. Personal tours during the summer are also available by appointment.

Saint John School is fully accredited with certified teachers, and is known for its excellent academics. A comprehensive 6th to 8th grade Middle School program, including science lab and Spanish language instruction, prepares students to excel in high school and beyond. Full day Pre-K and Kindergarten is offered, including structured academics and creative play. A secure, modern facility, close-knit family atmosphere, and adherence to Christian values, provides the ideal environment for “educating the whole child.” In addition to regular classroom instruction, the school offers a before and aftercare program, a tournament-winning sports program, instrument lessons and band, and many clubs and activities for all ages.

Saint John School serves all children in grades Pre-K3 through Grade 8 and is now accepting admission registrations for the 2011-2012 school year. For more information, please call 860-388-0849.

Norman Needleman Declares for Democratic First Selectman Nomination with Stacia Libby, Former Republican, as Running-Mate

ESSEX— Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman formally declared as a candidate for the open first selectman nomination Monday, announcing Stacia Rice Libby, a former Republican, as his running-mate for board of selectmen.

About 35 Democrats turned out for the announcement on the front steps of town hall. Needleman was introduced by Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller, who has served on the board with Needleman since their first election in 2003. Miller, who was elected state representative for the 36th House District in a February special election, said Needleman and Libby would be a “strong team” for the town.

The Essex Democratic Town Committee will hold an endorsement session for the 2011 election slate Monday at 6:30 p.m. in town hall. The Needleman-Libby ticket is facing a challenge for the party nominations from Anthony Chirico, running for first selectman, and Linda Savitsky, running for board of selectmen. Chirico, a former Republican, was the unsuccessful GOP challenger to Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook in 2000 and 2002. Chirico, who became a Democrat in 2004, served previously on the zoning commission with Savitsky, a former employee of the state Office of Policy and Management.

Needleman, 59, moved to Essex in 1987, founding Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing company located at the Essex Industrial Park. Before running with Miller in 2003, he served on the zoning board of appeals and the economic development commission. Needleman said he asked Libby, who currently serves on the park and recreation commission, to change her party registration and become his running-mate.

Libby, 38, is a 14-year town resident who has also been active on the board of the Essex Community Fund. Until last week, Libby was a member of the Essex Republican Town Committee. Town Republicans accepted her letter of resignation from the committee on July 13, and Libby changed her registration from Republican to Democrat the following day. She is married and the mother of two children.

Needleman said he has the experience needed for the position of first selectman. Needleman said “the role of first selectman would be the first priority to me,” noting that he has “an experienced, capable management team in place,” to run his company.

Needleman said he is prepared for a possible challenge from Chirico, which could lead to a Sept. 13 Democratic primary to determine the party nominees. “I am going to work very hard to get us elected as a team,” he said.

Candidates who do not receive the town committee endorsement could force a primary by submitting petition signatures signed by five percent of the town’s registered Democratic voters, or about 60 signatures, by an early August deadline. Town Republicans are expected to nominate Bruce MacMillian, a former member of the Essex Housing Authority, for first selectman, and incumbent Republican Selectman Joel Marzi as the running-mate at the party caucus Wednesday evening.

Towns Agree to Explore Legal Route to “Save The Ferries”

The towns of Lyme, Chester and East Haddam have agreed to explore whether to seek a court injunction to bar the state Department of Transportation (DOT) from closing the Connecticut River ferries.

The inter-town agreement was announced by Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno and East Haddam First Selectman Mark Walter Sunday evening at a “Save the Ferries” meeting at Hadlyme Public Hall.

About 125 local supporters of the Chester-Hadlyme and Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferries cheered the announcement and went on to work on plans to galvanize public opinion to convince the state to keep the ferries running.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) has scheduled the closing of the ferries for next month.  All eight employees of both ferries received termination notices from DOT last week as part of Governor Malloy’s lay-off of more than 6,000 employees in order to balance the state budget after pubic employee unions rejected a revised contract designed to save the state $1.6 billion.

Eno explained that the DOT will be violating two state laws by following through on its plans to shutter the ferry service.

The first is a section of the state Transportation Law that requires DOT to “maintain and operate” both of the ferries, he said. ( See Sec. 13a-252 detailed below.)

The second is the section of the Transportation Law regarding sections of the state highways officially designated as “scenic roadways.” The Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is part of Rte. 148, and the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry is part of Rte. 160.  The routes of both ferries are incorporated into sections of both highways designated by the state DOT as “scenic roads.”  (See Sec. 13b-31d  detailed below.)

Eno pointed out that Transportation Law prohibits any alternation of a state highway designated as a “scenic road” without publication of notice of such changes and providing a period for the public to “comment” on the proposed changes.

Eno and Walter said their plan is to team up with other towns – Chester, Glastonbury and Rocky Hill – to seek a court order barring the DOT from closing the ferries based on these two state statutes.

Eno said the Lyme Board of Selectmen will meet today (July 18) with the town attorney to decide whether to seek such a court order.

Both State Senator Eileen Daily (D-33rd) and State Representative Philip Miller(D-36th) told the ferry supporters that they hope the state employee unions will reconsider their rejection of the contract changes so that the Governor can rescind the lay-off notices.  Both urged the ferry supporters to continue their efforts to convince the Malloy administration to maintain ferry service.

The meeting was sponsored by Hadlyme Public Hall.  The organizers outlined plans to reach out to ferry users and others locally and across the state to communicate support for the ferries to the Malloy administration.

Those who would like to help can contact the organizers at hadlymehall@gmail.com or call Humphrey Tyler at 518-253-4844 .

Sec. 13a-252. Certain ferries to be operated by state. Fees. Rocky Hill ferry deemed a state historic structure. (a) The ferries crossing the Connecticut River, known as the Rocky Hill ferry and the Chester and Hadlyme ferry, shall be maintained and operated by the Commissioner of Transportation at the expense of the state. The rates of toll or the charges to be made for travel upon said ferries shall be fixed by the commissioner with the approval of the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. The commissioner may establish a discounted commuter rate for travel upon said ferries.

      (b) All expense of maintenance, repairs and operation of said ferries shall be paid by the Comptroller on vouchers of the commissioner. The commissioner shall include in his report to the General Assembly a report of the receipts and expenditures incidental to the control and maintenance of said ferries. Said Rocky Hill ferry shall be maintained as a state historic structure and shall be so marked with an appropriate plaque by the commissioner in cooperation with the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.

Sec. 13b-31d. Alteration or improvement of scenic road. Prior to altering or improving a state highway or portion thereof that has been designated a scenic road, pursuant to section 13b-31c, the Commissioner of Transportation shall cause to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality or municipalities in which such scenic road is located, a notice describing the alteration or improvement. There shall be a comment period following the public notice during which interested persons may submit written comments.

Deep River Democratic Town Committee Annual BBQ

The Deep River Democratic Town Committee will be holding their annual chicken BBQ at Plattwood Park on July 30,  from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Meet and greet the slate of candidates for the upcoming election as well as other special guests who will be stopping by.

As well as great food there will be raffle prizes and music provided by the Brian Shepley Band.

Tickets: Adults $10, seniors $8, children aged 5-12 $6.  Contact Lisa Bibbiani for further details 860-227-1697.






ARTFARM announces musical lineup for Shakespeare in the Grove, July 14 -24

ARTFARM, Middletown’s only professional theater company, is celebrating its tenth birthday and the sixth season of Shakespeare in the Grove with the original piece Shakespeare’s Argument.  The piece will be staged July 14 – 17 and 21 – 24 at 7 pm in the beautiful grove overlooking the Connecticut River valley on the campus of Middlesex Community College.

The fast-paced piece features four characters – an Actor, a Professor, a Producer and a Groundling, or audience member — arguing about what makes Shakespeare so special. As the debate heats up they perform scenes, songs and soliloquies from over a dozen Shakespeare plays.

Each performance of Shakespeare’s Argument will be preceded by live music at 6 pm. Audience is encouraged to arrival early and enjoy a picnic in the Grove while enjoying some of the region’s top musical acts. ARTFARM Artistic Director Marcella Trowbridge, who is both directing and acting in Shakespeare’s Argument, has just announced the schedule of musical artists for this season.

“We have a great collection of new and returning musical artists,” says Trowbridge. “Everyone will find something to their taste, and some folks will want to come multiple times simply for the fabulous music. Just be sure to stay for the Shakespeare!”

The trio Sirius Coyote opens the run on July 14 with a program of original, traditional and contemporary World Music. July 15 will feature folk legend Phil Rosenthal, former member of the Seldom Scene, on mandolin, guitar and banjo. On July 16 State Troubador Chuck Costa will deliver original contemporary folk music, and the first weekend will close on July 17 with classical, Spanish and Latin American guitar by Lorena Garay.

Weekend two opens July 21 with the unique Gypsy Jazz-influenced sound of the Vermont-based father-son duo They Might Be Gypsies. July 22 Nancy Tucker returns with her arsenal of poignant and comic original music and storytelling, and The BC3 makes their first appearance in the Grove on July 23. This funky jazz trio features Bill Carbone on drums, Gabe Gordon on keys and Peter Aleksi on guitar. Closing the run on July 24 is Connecticut’s first State Troubador and iconic folk musician and environmentalist Tom Callinan.

This family-friendly Shakespearean Feast will be served at 6 pm on July 14 – 17 and 21 – 24 in the Grove at Middlesex Community College, 100 Training Hill Road, Middletown. Live music starts at 6 pm. Shakespeare’s Argument at 7 pm.

ARTFARM is a non-profit organization, founded in 2001, which cultivates high-quality theater with a commitment to simple living, environmental sustainability and social justice. In addition to its annual Shakespeare productions, ARTFARM’s Circus for a Fragile Planet, a touring environmental educational circus, reaches over 4000 students throughout the northeast every year, and ARTFARM artists teach in schools and after school programs throughout the state.

Shakespeare in the Grove is a pay if you can event. Suggested donation is $20 per person.

Shakespeare in the Grove is co-sponsored by the Humanities and Arts Division of MxCC and is supported by the Middletown Commission on the Arts, the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism and Pratt & Whitney.

For information call (860) 346-4390, email info@art-farm.org or go to www.art-farm.org.

One World with Chris Merwin at Deep River Library

Children of all ages are invited to join the fun at Deep River Public Library for a concert with popular children’s musician Chris Merwin on August 11 at 4.15 p.m.  Chris will share songs from around the world in an interactive format that is sure to be fun for all. Come down and dance, sing, laugh, and play!

One World’s program is a fun, educational, and highly interactive program. Chris Merwin has traveled the globe to study indigenous music and collect exotic instruments and experiences. Chris’ philosophy is one of cultural harmony and diversity, which always shines through in his music.

Please call the library for more information at 860-526-6039.

Chester Resident Honored at Hartford Hospital

Chester resident, Dr. Sharon Diamen, was among six exceptional physicians recognized by Hartford Hospital at its annual medical staff award ceremony.  Also receiving accolades were Drs. John F. D’Avella, Jeffrey Kluger, Robert S. Rosson, Steven J. Shichman and Detlef Wencker.

Dr. Diamen, of the department of medicine, received the John K. Springer Humanitarian Award. She was honored for her compassion, civility, vision and integrity. She resides in Chester.

Dr. D’Avella, a nephrologist from Farmington, received the Quality and Safety Award. He was honored for his commitment to quality improvement, safety and learning. Through his efforts, he’s helped to enhance the patient experience, improve clinical outcomes and make Hartford Hospital a safer environment.

Drs. Kluger and Rosson received the Distinguished Service Awards, which recognize physicians for consistent, extraordinary contributions to the health and welfare of our community. Dr. Kluger is a cardiologist, residing in Windsor, and Dr. Rosson is a retired gastroenterologist who lives in West Hartford.

Dr. Shichman, a urologist from Avon, received the Physician in Philanthropy Award, which recognizes exceptional leadership in philanthropy. He was honored for helping the community through work, commitment, personal giving and unending care and concern for mankind on behalf of Hartford Hospital.

Dr. Wencker, a heart failure specialist, received the Young Practitioner Award. He was honored for his leadership, excellence in clinical care and research, innovation, teaching, advocacy and activism. He lives in Hamden.

Author Mariana de Saint Phalle Talk at Essex Library

Author Mariana de Saint Phalle and illustrator Linda Low Wolcott will talk about their new book, Mariana’s Letters, at the Essex Library on Thursday, August 18 at 7 p.m. The book, a collection of recipes, reminiscences and stories, sprung from a popular newsletter that Ms. De Saint Phalle started writing for friends some years ago when she lived in Washington D.C. A New York City native, she attended Miss Porters, lived in France and Washington, and continues to cook and write. Linda Low Wolcott lives and paints in Essex, Boca Grande, Florida, and Westport Island, Maine. She too attended Miss Porters, as well as the Sorbonne, Parsons School of Design, and the Lyme Academy. Books will be available for sale and signing. Please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 for reservations or more information.

Martha Graham at Dance @ The Library

Essex Library’s popular Dance @ The Library film series continues on Friday, August 5th at 3 P.M. with Martha Graham; Dance on Film. One of the great artistic forces of the last century, Martha Graham influenced dance worldwide through her work as a performer, choreographer, and teacher.  The first part of the film, a short documentary called A Dancer’s World, is narrated by Graham and shows her at work as a teacher and dance maker. Following it are two short performance films of complete Graham ballets,  Appalachian Spring, and Night Journey, the first set to a soaring score by Aaron Copland, the second a rendering of the Oedipus myth.  This program is free and open to all. Please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 for more information or to register.

Tish Rabe Children’s Book Author at Essex Books

Essex Books will be hosting bestselling children’s book author, Tish Rabe, at Essex Coffee & Tea Company, 51 Main Street, Essex, on Saturday, August 13, 1-3pm.  Please contact Essex Books at 860-767-1707 for more information.

Fighting the Ferry Closure: Meeting Sunday 17 July at Hadlyme Public Hall

Chester-Hadlyme ferry employees received termination notices last Thursday that their final day of work would be Aug. 25.

As public opinion galvanizes against the impending closure by the state of both this ferry and the one at Rocky Hill, a meeting is being held tonight at 7 p.m. at Hadlyme Public Hall to discuss ways in which the planned closure of the Hadlyme-Chester ferry can be fought legally. All are welcome.

The three towns of Lyme, East Haddam and Chester are now combining their efforts to save the ferry arguing that there are numerous reasons why the Hadlyme-Chester ferry should be maintained.

These include tourism and the revenue it brings to local economies, the emergency vehicular access to Middlesex Hospital and the matter of geographical necessity whereby the ferry route represents a continuation of Rte. 148.

Additionally, there is the logistical matter of commuter travel from one side of the river to the other, and finally the subjective issue of historic importance and aesthetic value.

The organizers of tonight’s meeting are hoping for a sizable turnout of supporters.

Click to read a related letter from the East Haddam Board of Selectmen.

DMV Announces Reorganiza​tion of Services – Closure of Old Saybrook Branch

DMV is preparing an extensive reorganization, including the shuttering of some offices, to both meet imposed budget constraints and provide core public services amid these financially difficult times.

Department officials Wednesday notified employees in four full-service branch offices that state services will end by August 11 in those locations.  In addition, the agency is planning sweeping changes to regionalize various services so that fewer employees can help larger numbers of customers.

The agency also will be broadening services provided at the 15 AAA locations around the state. At present AAA does photo license renewals and under the reorganization plan they will do other license services.

“This is the direction we must move because of the very severe fiscal constraints the state faces,” said DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey. “Most definitely there will be affects on customers, but our goal is also to maintain the core services we provide to the millions of people statewide,” she added.

The department’s reductions amount to 123 layoffs, 28 eliminated vacant positions, 10 retirements, 28 positions now paid through emissions funds and 2 positions paid general funds for the boating services.

Under DMV’s reorganization plan, the following changes will occur:

  • By August 11, branch offices in Old Saybrook, Danbury, Enfield and New Britain will close
  • By August 11, the Putnam Satellite office as well as the photo license centers in Derby, Middletown and Milford will close.
  • DMV is planning to regionalize driver license testing that will require people statewide to go to offices.
  • DMV is planning to have large-scale license-permit testing processes where 30 or more people would be tested at once and overseen by agency official.
  • AAA offices, which now do photo-license renewals, are expected to add renewals of DMV-issued identification cards as well as issue duplicate licenses. Time schedules for these additions are under discussion.
  • As part of the nearly 123-person reduction, DMV will streamline its management structure and this will include top-level managers overseeing major customer service and policy areas.
  • DMV is also consolidating services to provide access to online registration services to automobile dealers without it.  Many now bring registration paperwork to branch offices. By September 1 those without online access will be able to take the paperwork to one of 25 “hubs” around the state where online access is available. This will help to redirect resources in branch offices to core customer services.
  • DMV has beginning July 1 started enforcing an existing policy requiring all – both late and current — renewals to be mailed. Although some exceptions were made in the past, the change is related to streamlining service. Customers bringing a registration renewal to an office will be given a pre-addressed envelope for mailing the registration to DMV’s processing uni
  • Beginning July 5 DMV eliminated the second knowledge test required of 16- and 17-year-old drivers after they completed their training.  The first 25-question knowledge test is given at the beginning of the licensing process and the second 25-question test at the end, with more than 90 percent passing it. Eliminating it allows for a reduced work staff to focus on other customers.
  • The Department will be eliminating its mediation services for customers who file a dealer or repairer complaint that does not allege a specific violation of state law or regulations.  These customers will be advised to file their complaint in small-claims court. Layoffs will reduce the complaint staff from 5 people to 1 person.

Commissioner Currey said that department staff is reviewing further ways to streamline and make any quick technological changes to aid efficiency.

Essex Republicans Expected to Nominate Bruce Macmillian for First Selectman with Joel Marzi as Running-Mate

ESSEX— The Essex Republican Town Committee is recommending Bruce MacMillian, a former business executive and member of the Essex Housing Authority, as the party’s candidate for first selectman. Incumbent Selectman Joel Marzi is seeking a second term as his running-mate for board of selectmen in the Nov. 8 town election.

The MacMillian-Marzi ticket will be presented to town Republicans for approval at the party’s 2011 nominating caucus set for Wednesday July 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at the town hall.

MacMillian was presented to the town committee Wednesday as the party’s prospective nominee for the open first selectman seat. MacMillian and one other prospective candidate, former U.S. Coast Guard officer Leigh Rankin, were interviewed in recent weeks by the panel’s nominating committee that was chaired by Terry Stewart, a former chairman of the Region 4 Board of Education. Marzi, who lost to departing Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller by about 400 votes in 2009, had declined a second run for the top spot, choosing instead to seek another term as selectman.

Rankin, who lives in the town’s Centerbrook section, indicated in remarks to the committee that she would accept the nominating committee decision, and not contest MacMillian for the first selectman nomination. Rankin a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, said she would focus on gaining additional experience in town government by serving as an appointed member of the park and recreation commission and water pollution control authority/sanitary waste commission.

MacMillian, 64, is a former executive with the Traveler’s Insurance Company who later founded two smaller companies. He has lived in Essex since 1986. MacMillian was appointed to the Essex Housing Authority by Miller in 2004, serving as vice-chairman and implementing the decision to hire a private management company to run the 36-unit elderly housing complex in the Centerbrook section. MacMillian said he would devote full time to the job of first selectman if elected, and “be at town hall every day.”

Stewart said MacMillian stepped forward as a prospective candidate for first selectman soon after the May 9 annual budget meeting, where a proposed town government budget was defeated by voters for the first time in decades. A reduced budget was later approved in a June 7 referendum.

Other candidates recommended to the July 20 caucus include Keith Crehan and Jeff Wood, both incumbents, for new terms on the board of finance, Judy McCann, a children’s librarian, for a full six-year term on the local board of education, and Adam Conrad for a two-year term on the local board of education. Stewart said the nominating committee is recommending a cross-endorsement of incumbent Democrat Christopher Riley for the Region 4 Board of Education.

Archbishop Elias Chacour, Noted Peace Activist, to Speak in Old Lyme, July 24

Archbishop Elias Chacour, Noted Peace Activist, to Speak in Old Lyme, July 24

At a special interfaith service on Sunday, July 24 at 10:00 a.m., the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme will host a distinguished guest, the Most Rev. Elias Chacour, Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church in Israel.  A lifelong advocate for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Archbishop Chacour will address the topic, “What Are the Things That Make for Peace? Building Peace in the Midst of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”  All are welcome at the service and reception following.  A free-will offering will be received to support the Archbishop’s peace-building initiatives.

An Arab Palestinian Christian and Israeli citizen, Archbishop Chacour was born in 1939 in the Arab Christian village of Biram near Galilee.  When he was eight years old, along with his entire village, he and his family were evicted by Israeli forces, who shortly thereafter demolished the village. The young Chacour was sent to schools in Haifa, Nazareth and St. Sulpice Seminary in Paris.  In 1965, the newly ordained priest returned to Israel, to a parish assignment in Ibillin, convinced that through education, young people of different faiths could learn to live together in harmony.  His vision has been realized in his life’s work, the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Ibillin, where students (from pre-school through college) and faculty include Christians, Muslims, Jews and Druze.  The Archbishop is a three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards for his peace advocacy.  He is the author of two books on the experience of Palestinians living in Israel, Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land.   Both books as well as DVDs on his work will be available at the event.

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme is at Two Ferry Road, at the foot of Lyme Street in Old Lyme.

More information:   Call 860-434-8686, or visit  www.FCCOL.org,  or www.pilgrimsofibillin.org

Local legislators split on state’s new “land swap” law; Daily in favor, Miller against

View of the state land in the swap, which has a river view

The “Haddam land swap” bill, which the Governor approved last Friday (July 8), is now the law of the State of Connecticut. The two local legislators who represent the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester took completely opposite views on the issue.

State Senator Eileen Daily was the enthusiastic sponsor of the new law, whereas State Representative Phillip Miller strongly opposed it, consistent with his reputation as an uncompromising environmentalist.

The new “land swap” law provides that the state can enter into an even swap of 17.4 acres of a state owned, wildlife management area in Haddam, for an 87 acre track of woodlands adjacent to Cockaponset State Forest in Higganum, owned by a private developer.

A big issue is whether this is a fair deal for the state, since the state paid $1.3 million for the property that it is swapping, and the private developer paid only $428,000 for its property in the deal. Furthermore, the purchase dates of the two properties were only six years apart, 2003 in the case of the state, and 2009 for the developer.

There is no money involved in the swap. The entire deal, sanctioned by the new law, is a pure swap, one parcel of land for another.

Haddam bridge and Goodspeed Opera House, close to the state land being swapped

The state’s 17.4 acre land in the swap overlooks the Eagle Landing State Park, as well as in the distance the Haddam swings bridge and the Goodspeed Opera House across the river. The private developer’s Higganum land in the swap is 87 acres of woodlands, next to the state’s second largest park. In addition, according to swap sponsor Daily, “as many as 33 new single family homes could be built on the Higganum parcel.”

To still the controversy over the fact that the state paid far more for its land than the private developer, the new law mandates that current appraisals be made of the properties to make sure that they are, presently, of equivalent value.

Also, both parties under the new law must make “all reasonable efforts” to conclude the details of the swap by the end of this year. In addition, the new law provides that the State Properties Review Board must approve the swap deal.

The mission of the Review Board, according to its website, is “to provide oversight of State real estate activities … as proposed by State Executive Branch agencies.”

Furthermore, the Board is directed “to assure that transactions are done in a prudent, business-like manner that costs are reasonable, and that proposals are in compliance with State laws, regulations and procedures.”

This language could address the question as to whether or not the state was getting a good or bad deal in the swap, regardless of disparities in the original costs involved in acquiring the two properties.

State Senator Eileen Daily

Also, of course the Governor’s view of the swap could weigh heavily on what the Review Board ultimately decides. As for the Governor’s take on the deal, the Hartford Courant reported that Governor Malloy visited both parcels last Thursday (July 7), and said, “I came to the conclusion that it is potentially a fair transaction, subject to a process,” which would include valuation of both properties and local zoning approvals.

Swab bill sponsor, Senator Eileen Daily said, “I supported this initiative because it makes good sense to concentrate development in the built-up area of Tylerville and add 87 contiguous acres to what is already Connecticut’s second-largest State Forest.  This plan makes good sense environmentally and in terms of economic development for the area,” she said.

In his comments freshman State Representative Miller was careful to be respectful of Senator Eileen Daily, who is a five term incumbent Senator. He said, “I wish I was not against Senator Daily on this [issue], since her public service is quality.”

Miller then went on to harshly criticize the Governor’s actions in signing the swap bill into law. “I am surprised that Governor Malloy would not recognize the bad public policy and false argument  that this bill represents, ” Miller said.

State Representative Phil Miller

Miller also said the bill “presupposes that the legislature would first convey what is clearly conservation land, as though it were surplus to a private developer.” This precedent undermines the foundation of our conservation [policies] hundreds of years in the making here in Connecticut,” he said.

Miller then took a swipe at the state’s new environmental commissioner, saying, “It is too bad that a world [class] academic like Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Esty would not commit to study this issue.”

“Conservationists, sportspeople and citizens from all walks of life in Connecticut are disappointed with the process,” Miller said. “Some citizens of Haddam feel disenfranchised because not a single Board or Commission has had this subject on their agendas, and no town-sponsored public forum was ever convened.”

The Representative Miller concluded, “I am proud to still stand with citizens who feel as we do about this issue.”

Deep River environmental activist John Kennedy was even more outspoken in his criticisms of the swap law. Kennedy criticized what he called “the shameful way that Governor Malloy and his appointed environmental chief, Dan Esty, dodged and fumbled this matter.”

John Kennedy

Kennedy also criticized swap sponsor Senator Eileen Daily. “Daily clearly has an agenda, whatever it is,” he said, and he added, “She is powerful because no one gets any money for their constituent’s projects without her.”

Furthermore, Kennedy charged that Governor Malloy and Commissioner Esty had “no understanding of the state’s environmental law,” exemplified by the Governor’s signing of the new swap law, which Kennedy called “this scarlet letter.”

As for the new law’s impact on Haddam and East Haddam, Kennedy predicted that it will mean “the death of almost all of their small, local businesses … , suffocated by the new shopping mall and hotel.”

“But – [both towns] will have the wonderful bonus of a new river view of a hotel and shopping center – instead of that horrible and ‘polluted’ wildlife management area,” he said sarcastically.

“My – what a great idea this is. This is a perfect storm of stupidity and greed.”

Selectman Norman Needleman Expected to Seek Democratic First Selectman Nomination in Essex with Possible Challenge

ESSEX— Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman is expected to seek the party nomination for the open seat of first selectman, but Needleman is expected to face a challenge for the position from Anthony Chirico.

Needleman is expected to formally declare his candidacy Monday at 6 p.m. outside the Essex town hall. Needleman said Wednesday he has a prospective running-mate for board of selectmen, a woman who would also formally declare as a candidate Monday. Needleman, a local businessman who owns Tower Laboratories located in the Essex Industrial Park, has served on the board of selectmen since 2003. Needleman is seeking to succeed his former running-mate, Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller, who announced he would not seek re-election to the town’s top job after winning election as state representative for 36th House District in a February special election.

Needleman had been widely expected to run for the top job after Miller’s announcement earlier this year, but a challenge emerged this week when Anthony Chirico announced in an email to members of the Essex Democratic Town Committee that he would seek the party’s nomination with Linda Savitsky as his running-mate for board of selectmen.

Chirico a business consultant, who advises clients in China, is a former Republican who was the unsuccessful Republican nominee against Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook in the 33rd Senate District in 2000 and 2002. Chirico, an Ivoryton resident, became a Democrat in 2004 and later joined the Essex Democratic Town committee.

Chirico served previously on the zoning commission, as has Savitsky. A former state Office of Policy and Management employee, Savitsky is married to Alvin Wolfgram, the current chairman of the zoning commission. Wolfgram served on the board of selectmen from 1995 to 1997 before running unsuccessfully against former Republican First Selectman Peter Webster in the 1997 town election.

The Essex Democratic Town Committee will meet on July at 6:30 p.m. at the town hall to nominate candidates for municipal office.  Candidates who are unsuccessful at the endoresement session could force a Sept. 13 Democratic primary for various ballot positions by submitting petitions signed by five percent of the town’s Democratic voters by an early August deadline.

Town Republicans will nominate candidates for the Nov. 8 town election at a party caucus scheduled for July 20 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall. Republican Selectman Joel Marzi, who had been widely expected to run for first selectman this year after losing to Miller by about 400 votes in 2009, is not seeking the party’s nomination for first selectman.

Needleman to Hold Monday Press Conference About Future Plans

Essex’s Second Selectman, Norman Needleman, has scheduled a press conference outside Essex Town Hall on Monday, July 18 at 6 p.m. At the conference it is anticipated that Needleman will announce his candidacy for First Selectman of the Town of Essex. However, Needleman declined give the subject of the press conference.

The office of First Selectman of Essex is presently held by Phillip Miller, who is in his fourth term. At a special election earlier this year, Miller was elected as a State Representative, and since that time he has held both the offices of State Representative and First Selectman of Essex. However, Miller has said that he would not run for re-election as First Selectman, once his term is completed later this year.

“It’s time to move on,” Miller said in a recent interview. Prior to his election as Essex’s First Selectman, Miller served for two terms as Essex’s Third Selectman.

Community Music School Presents A Concert in the Park July 26

ESSEX – Bring your blanket or lawn chair, and picnic basket and enjoy an entertaining concert presented by the CMS Summer Band on Tuesday, July 26 at 7 p.m. at the Main Street Park Gazebo,Essex.

Under the direction of Patricia Hurley, this multi-generational band will present a concert featuring Broadway favorites, film scores, patriotic music from the American songbook, and a few surprise numbers. The rain location is the Centerbrook Meetinghouse, 51 Main Street, Centerbrook.Please call 860-767-0026 for information.

CommunityMusic 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, Flute, 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.



Estuary Transit District Celebrates Launch of New Hybrid Electric Bus

Richard Cabral, Chairman of ETD, cuts the ribbon to celebrate the launch of two new hybrid electric minibuses.

A small group of elected officials, Estuary Transit District (ETD) Board members and community partners gathered in Old Lyme this morning to take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the launch of 9 Town Transit’s two, new hybrid electric minibuses.  These are the first hybrid minibuses of their size in New England and were purchased with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Connecticut Clean Fuels Grant Program.

The ribbon was cut by ETD Chairman Richard Cabral and the ceremony was attended by several local First Selectmen and by State Senator Andrea Stillman (D-20th) whose district includes East Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, New London, Montville, Salem and Waterford,  and by State Representative Phil Miller (D-36th), whose district includes Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.  Miller also currently serves as Essex First Selectman.

The new minibuses are 22 feet long and hold 14 passengers in a comfortable, air-conditioned environment and are fully accessible to persons with disabilities, safely accommodating two wheelchairs.  They also have on-board security cameras for passenger safety and GPS tracking technology to improve on-time performance.

The vehicles are powered by smaller than usual gasoline engines supplemented by an electric motor.  Below 15 mph the vehicle is powered fully by electricity.  Above 15 mph an on-board computer blends gas and electric power to optimize efficiency.  The result is cleaner emissions, a quieter ride, and a 20% reduction in gas consumption.  “That’s significant,” said John Forbis, ETD Board Member, “since our overall annual gasoline bill for running the fleet is around $250,000.”

Each new bus cost $123,706, part of which was funded by the ARRA ($67,924)  and the remainder funded by the Connecticut Clean Fuels Program ($55,780).  “We have funds for three new hybrid buses next year” said Joe Comerford, Executive Director, ETD, “ I am excited that we at ETD are at the forefront of technology.”  When the entire fleet is converted to hybrid vehicles ETD expects to save more than $60,000/year in operating expenses.

Chairman Cabral paid tribute to Comerford’s contribution to the project saying, “All that has happened with 9 Town Transit is due directly to Joe Comerford – he has brought us eons ahead.”




Smith Seeking 12th Term as Deep River First Selectman, Uncontested Race Considered Likely

DEEP RIVER— The dean of the area first selectmen is ready for one more term in the town’s top job. Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith is expected to be nominated for a record 12th term when town Democrats convene at a nominating caucus next week to select candidates for positions in the Nov. 8 town election.

Smith, who was first elected in 1989 and is one of the longest serving municipal chief elected officials in Connecticut, confirmed Tuesday that he would seek a new term this year. Despite some speculation he would step aside after 22 years in the top job, Smith said he never really considered not running again this year.  “I still love the job,” Smith said, “I enjoy talking to people in town and I get so much satisfaction out of being able to resolve issues and help people.”

Smith will have a new Democratic running-mate for board of selectmen this year, but contests may be few and far between when town voters go to the polls in November.

Smith said Russell Marth is expected to receive the Democratic nomination for board of selectmen at the July 20 caucus. Incumbent Selectman Arthur Thompson, who replaced nine-term former Democratic Selectman Richard Daniels in 2009, is not seeking re-election.

Marth had served as minority member of the board of selectmen from 2007-2009 after winning election in 2007 under the banner of the Deep River Independent Party. The Deep River Independent Party ran a challenge slate in 2007, with local architect John Kennedy unsuccessfully contesting Smith for first selectman. The independent group waged an aggressive campaign, opposing many of Smith’s Main Street economic development initiatives, particularly the construction of a new and larger Cumberland Farms store with gasoline pumps.

But Smith said he is holding no grudges from 2007, describing Marth as an effective member of the board during the two years he served. “He did what he thought was best for the town,” Smith said, noting that Marth is currently the volunteer chairman of the appointed Deep River Community Health Board that has coordinated the town’s public health and charitable efforts since the Deep River Public Health Nurses Association was disbanded in July 2010.

Thompson, who also serves as chairman of the Deep River Democratic Town committee, said Marth has made peace with town Democrats, and joined the town committee in 2010. He was endorsed by the Democratic town committee for the open board of selectmen nomination last month. “We’re glad to have him,” Thompson said. “We believe he really was an effective selectman during those two years he served.”

Republican Selectman David Olivera, who outpolled Marth to win the minority seat on the board of selectmen in 2009, is expected to seek a second term this year. No Republicans have announced as candidates to challenge Smith this year. Local Republicans did not contest Smith for first selectman in 2009, or in 2007, when the only challenge was waged by Kennedy and the Deep River Independent party.

The Republican nominating caucus is set for July 25 at 7 p.m. at the Liberty Bank office on Main Street. Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell, who won the open seat over Democrat Nancy Talbot by two votes in 2009, is seeking a second term this year.

Thompson said Tuesday town Democrats are not expected to contest Winchell for the town clerk position. The Democratic nominating caucus convenes on July 20 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.


Old Saybrook 48th Annual Arts and Crafts Festival

Old Saybrook, CT— The Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce is honored to host the 48th Annual Liberty Bank- Old Saybrook Arts and Crafts Festival, July 23 and 24, 2011.

The festival has grown over the years to include many accomplished artisans in the fields of pottery, painting, wood, glass, and jewelry making.  The two-day event, sponsored by Liberty Bank, Estuary Council of Seniors and Penny Lane Pub, will be held on the beautiful Old Saybrook Town Green on Main Street from 10am-5pm, Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday.  Admission is free.  A variety of food and beverages, provided by local civic organizations, will appeal to all ages and tastes.

Over 20,000 visitors attend this annual festival to peruse and partake of the wares brought by over one hundred and forty fine artisans & crafters.  As an added plus, local music organizations will be offering entertainment throughout the two days.  Healthy Communities•Healthy Youth and Youth and Family Services are sponsoring a youth art booth.  Artists ages 7 to 18 will be able to display their art, help “man” the booth, and have the opportunity to talk with the public and other artists about their work.  Young artists from Old Saybrook who are interested in participating in the Youth Booth this year should contact Linda McCall at Youth and Family Services, 860-395-3190 by Friday, July 8, 2011.

Proceeds benefit the multiple programs offered by the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce which include college scholarships, business educational breakfast series, after-hours business connection and networking functions, and keynote luncheons with local Connecticut personalities and state dignitaries.

Last year's 'Best in Show - Art' winner - Tung Lee, from Brooklyn, NY. Also pictured: Gina Calabro, Chairman, OS Arts & Crafts Festival and Judy Sullivan, Executive Director, OS Chamber of Commerce.

Please visit us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter for festival details.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Old-Saybrook-Arts-Crafts-Festival/194286070614733
LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/pub/OSCC-Arts-Crafts-Festival/36/a1/560
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/OldSaybrookACF

About the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce:

The Chamber is a non-profit member organization dedicated to enhancing the economic vitality and quality of life in the greater Old Saybrook area, including the towns commonly known as the Connecticut River Estuary Region – Westbrook, Essex, Clinton, Deep River, Chester, Killingworth, Lyme and Old Lyme.  Through a core of volunteers and a professional staff, the Chamber provides leadership, support, and networking within the business community.  The Chamber hosts community events and serves as a catalyst to promote tourism, to support educational outreach and to act as an information source.

For additional information, please contact:
Judy Sullivan
Executive Director
Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce

Gina Calabro
Chairman, OS Arts & Crafts Festival

Estuary Regional Senior Center and Thrift Shop Open During Renovations

The Estuary Council Regional Senior Center, 220 Main Street, Old Saybrook, is open during their lower level renovation. The Estuary Thrift Shop is operating under normal hours, Monday – Friday from 10 am – 4 pm and Saturdays from 9 am – 1 pm. Donations are accepted up to one hour prior to closing.

Breakfast and lunch are being served and most classes, health screenings, and activities are still meeting at the Estuary, but please call ahead to confirm.

Get our newsletter online and sign up to have it emailed to you each month!
Go to www.ecsenior.org for details! Contact us at 860-388-1611.

Canoe Kayak North Cove and Falls River

Phil Miller

The Essex Land Trust invites you to paddle North Cove into the Falls River with naturalist Phil Miller leading the way on Thursday July 21 at 5.30 p.m. beginning at Bushnell Street shore access in Essex.

North Cove is a 230-acre body of tidal water between the Falls River and the Connecticut River. The cove is formed in part by Great Meadow, a 200-acre “pendant bar”, or levee, along the Connecticut River. North Cove is part of the Connecticut River Estuary Canoe/Kayak Trail.
North Cove was noted for ship building, and the Williams yard turned out sloops and schooners for the commercial trade in the 19th century. On the eastern shore is Great Meadow which was a beehive of activity, too. Cattle were grazed, salt hay harvested and duck hunting blinds once lined the shore. The bar was also a base for the local shad fishing industry. Great Meadow is topped by cat-tails and reeds while wild rice and bulrush grow at the water’s edge. Rare plants include horned pondweed and tidewater arrowhead. A well-known eagle habitat, the area also attracts two species of rail, along with ospreys, hawks, egrets and herons.

Open to paddlers of all ages but basic experience in paddling is required. Park at the shore access lot at the end of Bushnell Street in Essex. Bad weather or strong winds cancels. For more information about the event please contact Peggy Tuttle at 860-767-7916 or e-mail peggytuttle@gmail.com.


Local Sailors Compete in Essex 12 Meter Challenge

Intrepid, crewed by Essex Corinthians, in action during the 2011 Essex 12 Meter Challenge.

Newport’s Museum of Yachting at Fort Adams was the rendezvous point for over 110 sailors from the Essex, Essex  Corinthian, Pettipaug, and Niantic Bay Yacht Clubs for the 2011 Essex 12 Meter Challenge on Saturday, June 18, 2011.

Following a week of rain and questionable forecasts, the conditions were perfect as sailors boarded eight historic 12 Meter yachts for an afternoon of exciting racing in Narragansett Bay.

Wearing team red shirts, crews from the Essex Yacht Club manned Onawa, the oldest 12 Meter in existence, and American Eagle, a 1964 America’s Cup contender raced by Ted Turner to win the World Ocean Racing title in 1970.

Three crews from the Essex Corinthian in blue boarded Intrepid, the legendary two time America’s Cup winner in 1967 and 1970; Weatherly,  America’s Cup Winner in 1962; and Gleam, build in 1937 and used as a trial horse in the 1958 America’s Cup defense.

In black club polo’s, the Pettipaug team crewed Heritage, a contender in the 1970 defense.

Finally, two crews in white shirts from Niantic Bay manned Columbia, winner of the 1958 America’s Cup, and Northern Light, launched in 1938 and used as a trial horse in the 1958, ’62, and ’64 defenses.

As the 12’s headed into Narragansett Bay, the fleet was met not only with a stiff 15 to 20 knot breeze from the south but also by the awesome sight of the J Class regatta of Velsheda and Ranger staging their first competitive race in Newport since the 1937 America’s Cup.

For the Essex 12 Meter Challenge, a windward –leeward race course started at the north end of Gould and rounded a leeward mark just north of the Newport Bridge.

The fleet was divided into three classes, Vintage, Classic, and Modern.

The Vintage Class included Onawa, Gleam, and Northern Light.   The Classic Class consisted of American Eagle, Columbia, and Weatherly.   The Modern Class pitted Heritage against Intrepid.

The fleet engaged in four very competitive races with all eight 12’s crossing the starting line at once.

In the Classic class, following two outstanding starts, Weatherly (Essex Corinthian) suffered a broken outhaul twice, requiring the crew to improvise a solution to compete well in the final two races.   American Eagle and Columbia experienced very close races with American Eagle (Essex) nudging Columbia (Niantic Bay) for first place in the class.

For the Modern class, Heritage and Intrepid (Essex Corinthian) traded first places between the first and second race.  However, Intrepid was ruled over the starting line early on two occasions, giving first places honors to Heritage (Pettipaug).

In the Vintage Class, Onawa (Essex) earned the first place trophy after several very competitive back and forth races, giving the Essex Yacht Club its second first place trophy on the day.

Following the races, boats and crews returned to the Museum of Yachting for a results party and the story telling that naturally follows any sailing event.   Trophies were awarded to the top two finishers in each class.   To top off the event, each club presented their burgee to be added to the Museum’s historic collection.

The 2011 Essex 12 Meter Challenge embodied the best of great fellowship among fellow yachtsmen and women sailing incredible boats in a grand location.

Nine Towns Work Together To Provide Leadership Training For Youth

The Youth Service Bureau of Chester, Deep River, and Essex along with six other communities, has planned a Youth Leadership Conference to be held July 15, 2011 at the Congregational Church Green in Madison. Sponsored by the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Connecticut, participating towns are: East Haven; Branford; Guilford: Madison; Clinton; Westbrook; Old Saybrook; Tri-Town (Chester, Deep River, Essex) and Haddam-Killingworth.

We are proud to be supportive of grassroots efforts to combat underage drinking,” said Peter Berdon, executive director and general counsel of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Connecticut, the trade association for the distribution tier of the wine and spirits industry.

At the conference, teens will learn leadership and community organizing skills and the importance of “assets,” the ingredients a young person needs for success. The more assets a teen has, the less likely he or she will participate in high-risk behavior including substance abuse.

The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers is interested in the responsible use of alcohol by everyone and each year awards a prize to the college student who can produce the best television ad discouraging teen alcohol use.This year’s winner of the contest will air his public service announcement (PSA) for the leadership conference.

“We’re really excited we have an opportunity to showcase our PSA contest,” Berdon said. “We saw the youth leadership conference as a great opportunity to partner on this endeavor and to get additional feedback about the PSA from parents and Connecticut youth.”

In addition to the PSA winner, the conference will include:

  • The Connecticut Camp Guys, who will teach participants about asset
  • The Governors Prevention Partnership, a not-for-profit collaboration between state government and business leaders whose mission is to keep Connecticut’s youth safe, successful, and drug-free
  • A speaker who will discuss the impact of alcohol on the developing teen brain.

For more information about the conference, contact conference coordinators Marcy Beatty, MADE in Madison Coalition, Madison, CT at beattym@madisonct.org or Kristin Brooks, Drug Free Communities Grant Coordinator, Clinton, CT at kbrooks@clintonct.org

Free Community Dinner and Movie Night at Valley-Shore YMCA

The Valley-Shore YMCA will be hosting a free dinner and movie night for the community on Friday, July 15 at 7 p.m. at their location on 201 Spencer Plains Road in Westbrook. A family film will be played on a large screen theater by the Pavilion of the YMCA for that good old outdoor summer family feel. Join the YMCA community and others in creating lasting memories and watching a fun family movie featured. This summer experience will be FREE to the community.

Dinner will include grilled food, refreshments, popcorn and other snacks. “The YMCA cares about its community and we would like to be part of and provide a place where the community can come together. We will create a safe and fun experience for everyone to enjoy” mentions Paul Mohabir, CEO of the Valley-Shore YMCA.

It is also mentioned that live entertainment will be provided to the community to enjoy while eating dinner and participating in games, prizes and free giveaways.

For more information about this event please visit their website at www.vsymca.org or call 860-399-9622. They can also be found on facebook.com/valleyshoreymca.

CT Valley Camera Club Photographs of New London Exhibition

Fort Trumbull, New London by Victor Filepp

The Connecticut Valley Camera Club is having a photography exhibit from Wednesday, August 3 through September 1, 2011 at the Studio 33 Art Gallery located at 140 Bank St., New London.  Everyone is invited to an Artist’s Reception on Saturday, August 6 from 5 – 7 p.m. 

A total of 30 photographs will be on exhibit (and for sale) with the theme “Photographs from New London” and includes colleges, landmarks, waterfront, downtown etc.

The CVCC meets the last Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Community Room (lower level) of the Deep River, CT Library (photographers at all levels are welcome).  For further information please contact Ed McCaffrey at 860-767-3521.