January 23, 2020

Archives for July 2011

Low Bidder Chosen for Essex Court Elderly Housing Improvements

ESSEX— An Uncasville company has been chosen to complete the latest round of grant-funded improvements at the Essex Court elderly housing complex.

First Selectman Phil Miller announced this week that T.M. Builders LLC is expected to be picked to complete the improvements at the 36-unit elderly housing complex in the Centerbrook section.

The company submitted the lowest of eight bids received for the project, with a price of $322,060. The project is funded by a $500,000 federal Small Cities Program grant awarded to the Essex Housing Authority last year. The bids ranged to a high of $717,550.

The latest round of improvements include new walk-in showers for all units , new insulation and vinyl siding for all units, new floors in all units, and an electric generator for the complex community room. The showers will replace existing bath tubs that are difficult for some elderly residents to get in and out of. Work on the improvements is expected to begin in August.

This is the latest of four grants received over the past nine years for improvements at the elderly housing complex that was constructed in 1985. The most recent grant in 2008 paid for new roofs and windows for the units, and a new driveway and sidewalks for the complex.



Community Participation Solicited at Chester Sunday Market for Upcoming Municipal Elections

This is an open letter to Chester residents from citizens who are looking to encourage participation on local boards and commissions.
We all know that community participation and representation is a value that we hold very dear.  What makes Chester so special is that all residents, regardless of party, understand that to preserve what we have, we must participate in governance and in administration of our community.
This year’s elections are coming quickly and we are faced with the daunting task of finding residents to run for office.  This is a small town and the ability of our residents to participate is often impacted by other demands.  We can no longer count on the same people to stay on the same boards forever.  We need qualified candidates who are willing to serve regardless of their affiliation.
This realization makes it natural and intuitive to all work together for the purpose of finding the right candidates, regardless of party affiliation, so that we have a full complement of citizens engaged to carry on the functions of governance that we all depend upon.
There are critical positions open in Finance, Board of Education, Planning and Zoning and a number of important and quality of life related positions.  In order to increase the awareness of the open positions that the community must fill during this Fall’s election, we invite you to join us toward jointly addressing this need.
To that end, all residents active in all affiliated and nonaffiliated political parties, are invited to join together to staff an informational table at the Sunday Market on July 17th from 10am – 1:00pm  for the purpose of informing our residents about the opportunities to be involved and to encourage a dialog that might lead to candidacy or some form of involvement. There will be a list of open elected positions, descriptions of the responsibilities and functions of these boards and commissions, and also the opportunity to speak to present and past elected officials about community involvement and specific positions.
We are hoping to spread the word to residents in the Market that the Town of Chester welcomes everyone to get involved and we will provide information to help folks understand how they can participate. 
Interested parties should contact mgioco@comcast.net.


Fashionable First Ladies and Their Influence on Fashion and World Affairs

Author L.S. Johnson discusses her new book,"Fashionable First Ladies: First Ladies and their Influence on Fashion and World Affairs" on Thursday, July 28

Author L.S. Johnson will give a lecture about her book, Fashionable First Ladies: First ladies and their influence on fashion and world affairs, at Gather, 104 Main Street, Ivoryton, on Thursday, July 28, noon-1 p.m., hosted by Essex Books.  In the book, Johnson chronicles the historic and dramatic lives of six first ladies and their influence on fashion and world affairs.

America’s first ladies have exhibited creativity, character, and style as they developed from young women to arbiters of fashion throughout American history.  As these women triumphed through political and personal adversity, they carried themselves with dignity and forged new and inspirational roles for women around the world. 

Presented in this book are the lives of six first ladies (Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Mary Todd Lincoln, Nancy Reagan, Harried Lane, Frances Folsom Cleveland, and Mamie Eisenhower) who revered fashion and its transformational power to impact global affairs.  Their rich narratives are accompanied by over 60 rarely seen photographs and illustrations.

Johnson began her studies of history, art, and fashion while in the University of Maine’s European academic program. She has shared her passion for these subjects throughout her life as high school teacher and college professor. 

The $5 admission fee may be put toward the purchase of Fashionable First Ladies.  Please call Essex Books at 860-767-1707 to reserve your space.


TTYS Offers New Britain Rockcats Tickets

Tri-Town Youth Services is inviting local families to enjoy family entertainment at the New Britain Rock Cats’ 7:05 p.m. game on July 18.  The proceeds from the sale of tickets will benefit Connecticut Youth Services Association.

If you are interested in purchasing tickets for this game, please call the Tri-Town office: 860-526-3600.  Tickets are $8; a limited number of tickets are available.


No Announcements Yet For Chester First Selectman Vacancy or Fall Municipal Election

CHESTER— While the dates for this month’s party nominating caucuses have been set, there have been no announcements yet of candidates for first selectman or a possible interim replacement for departing First Selectman Tom Marsh.

The board of selectmen discussed Marsh’s pending August 1 resignation briefly at a regular meeting Tuesday, but there has been no announcement from town Republicans on an interim first selectman who would serve through the end of the current two-year term on November 22. Marsh, who has held the town’s top job since 2005, announced last month that he would resign effective August 1 to assume the position of town manager inWindsor,Vermont.

Marsh was elected as a Republican, and changed his voter registration to unaffiliated last year to pursue a long-shot campaign for governor on the Connecticut Independent Party line. But because he was re-elected to a third term as a Republican in 2009, town Republicans hold the advantage on naming an interim replacement.

Under state law, the other two members of the board of selectmen, Republican Tom Englert and Democrat Lawrence Sypher have 30 days from the Aug. 1 resignation date to appoint an interim first selectman for the remainder of the term. Englert and Sypher, each first elected in 2009, have indicated plans to seek re-election to the board of selectmen, but have declined to serve as interim first selectman or run for the top office in the Nov. 8 town election.

Englert and Sypher have said they hope to reach agreement on the appointment of an interim first selectman. But if the two selectmen fail to agree on an appointment by the end of August, the appointment would fall to a committee of Republican town elected officials. The member’s of the committee would be Englert, and Marsh’s wife, Kathy, who serves as Republican registrar of voters.

Mario Gioco, chairman of the Chester Republican Town Committee, said Tuesday he and other committee members have interviewed two potential candidates for the interim appointment, and the Republican first selectman nomination for the fall election. Gioco said neither potential candidate is ready to formally announce, though an announcement could be made before the Republican nominating caucus that is set for July 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

Sypher said at Tuesday’s meeting he was advised that four individuals have “expressed some interest’’ in the Democratic nomination for first selectman. Democrats will nominate a 2011 election slate at a caucus set for July 26 at the Chester Meeting House.

One of the prospective candidates, who was present for Tuesday’s meeting, is Susan Wright . A Democrat, Wright is a 33-year town resident who currently serves on the appointed economic development commission. She works in town as a massage therapist.


Susan Coppejans and Sharol Stewart at Marshview Gallery During July

Marshview Gallery will be hosting two local artists for their July exhibit.  Susan Coppejans and Sharol Stewart will be displaying their artwork for the month of July.

Susan worked for many years as a computer analyst/programmer US, England, and the Netherlands. Susan learned the art of painting on silk in the Netherlands and is an accomplished silk painter, producing beautiful scarves, silk jewelry, greeting cards, bookmarks, and ties. Painting with water colors was more or less an automatic development after the silk painting.

Sharol regained her love of watercolor painting after many years of creative endeavors. She currently has some of her work also on display at the Acton Public Library. Sharol resides in Niantic.

Susan and Sharol both currently work with the Shoreline Watercolor Workshop in Old Lyme  Under the direction of Elin Larson.

Please join us at 220 Main Street, Old Saybrook to meet Susan and Sharol at the Marshview Gallery Artist reception. All ages are welcome to join us for this free event. Refreshments are provided.


Offspring of Historic Elm Planted on Old Saybrook Town Green

On July 4, 1876, a committee of Old Saybrook citizens arranged for the planting of 56 American Elms to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence 100 years before. Two hundred thirty-five years after the signing (give or take a couple of days) a group from the Old Saybrook Garden Club, plus Selectman Bill Peace, gathered on the Town Green to plant a seedling of one of those “Centennial Trees.”

Only five of the orignial 56 elms have survived hurricanes, ice storms, development, and the dreaded Dutch elm disease. One of the survivors is on Main Street near Boston Post Road, where it drops its seeds into the garden club’s Constitution Garden, in front of Saybrook Country Barn. Garden-club member, Judy Grover, has dug and potted up several of the successful seedlings in recent years and gave one over to the care of Barbara Maynard, another garden club member and a former First Selectman. This little elm, now about three feet tall, was deemed ready for transplanting and a spot was arranged on the Town Green.

Thus with Bill Peace wielding the shovel, Barbara Maynard steadying the tree, and half a dozen members of the Old Saybrook Garden Club looking on, this handsome little sapling was planted, mulched, and watered in. “It remains to be seen whether the ‘mother tree’ passed on its resistance to Dutch elm disease,” noted Judy Grover, “and the strength to stand up to hurricanes.” But maybe, just maybe another stately elm will one day grace Old Saybrook.


A Cabaret Performance by Michael Cartwright At The Ivoryton Playhouse Ivoryton

Michael Cartwright will be performing in I Hear Music at the Ivoryton Playhouse on July 18

Guilford resident Michael P. Cartwright will entertain audiences with his cabaret revue I Hear Music on Monday, July 18, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at the Ivoryton Playhouse. 

Take a performer with a magnificent vocal range and a gift for storytelling, then add a songbook filled by such composers as Joe Raposo, Frank Loesser, George/Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, as well as several contemporary composers.  It’s the right combination for Mike Cartwright’s “I Hear Music”, an entertaining evening that examines how music shapes and influences lives.  Joining Mike will be pianist Paul Feyer and special guest Sheri Ziccardi.  

Local audiences have enjoyed his performances at Goodspeed Musicals, River Rep, Summer Theatre of New Canaan, and Ivoryton Playhouse.  Cartwright has also appeared in productions at Arden Theatre in Philadelphia and Delaware Theatre Company.  He made his New York debut in 2003 at the famous cabaret landmark Don’t Tell Mama, and studied at the Cabaret Conference at Yale University.

Cartwright will be joined by pianist Paul Feyer of Manchester.  Feyer was the Conductor and Pianist for the Producing Guild in Hartford for 12 years, and has worked at the Gateway Playhouse in Long Island, Monomoy Theatre in Massachusetts, Goodspeed Musicals, and the River Rep in Ivoryton. He is a faculty member at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford.  

Admission is $20. For more information or tickets, contact the Ivoryton Playhouse at (860) 767-7318 or visit our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.


Squeezing Every Possible Mile Out of a Tankful of Gas

No wonder John is shocked! He remembers buying gas for 26.9 a gallon (Photo by John Ely)

I’ve set a new record for myself on the road. I achieved 24.8 miles per gallon of gas in my Hyundi Sonata in a test!

I’m sure this does not sound like much for you in your Prius. But for me, not bad. I’m accustomed to lower mileage.

I obtained my driver’s license at 18 and I looked forward to this test last week-a feat to cap my 64 years at the wheel. I was excited when I started the final arithmetic. But I admit I was disappointed with the 24.8 result. I had been driving with such constant care throughout the test of nearly 400 miles that I expected a more dramatic score. After all, I had used every trick I knew to maximize that result.

That 24.8 was for my mileage over 13 days. I re-did the arithmetic to make sure my answer was correct.  It was. I had been hoping for 30 miles per gallon. I had gone online. My Sonata is a four-door 2010. For it the Hyundai website claims 24 city/35 highway miles per gallon.

My driving was a combo, in fact leaning toward the highway driving. My heaviest driving was in New London on two visits, but I also made a round trip to Hartford.

I have the highest regard for Hyundai, but I believe reaching that claimed 35 mpg is as realistic as breaking the sound barrier. I’d love to talk to anybody who has ever gotten more than 30!

I have owned some 30 cars. I have driven hundreds of thousands of miles—more than a million, I figure. This is my best mileage ever, I believe, as modest as it is. It comes when gas prices are the highest I’ve ever coughed up. More than $4 per gallon!

I paid 27 cents a gallon when I got my first car in 1950 and that hurt my pocketbook so bad that I remember it to this day.

That was a snappy Terraplane coupe, by the way. Vintage ’38. Two doors; a single bench. I was a junior in college. It cost $100. My father gave me $50 and I scrounged the other $50 from my Aunt Bernadette. What a nice memory.

I remember when the price dropped to a wonderful 17.9 in a gas station war. Those wars sprang up like wild fire. They were wonderful for us consumers. Hated to see them end. I haven’t seen a real gas war in years. It makes me think there may be collusion now. How does it happen that gas stations in a whole neighborhood seem to display basically the same prices every day?

Anyway, I have become a careful driver and frugal. I consider it dumb not to be. I admit that during these stratospherically spiraling gas prices I’ve been even more watchful.

Everybody I know is complaining about these astonishing, numbing prices. It’s right near the top as our biggest topic of the day.

Truth is, I hear more about the day’s gas prices at the coffee shop than I do about Iraq and Afghanistan, which are much more serious.

And know what? Despite these incredible prices, I am astounded to see so much dumb driving on the road. Driving that wastes gas and that means money. Crazy!

Yes, I take pride in wrangling my dollar’s worth. It’s this habit that accounts in part for my untroubled financial life these many years.

Oh, I didn’t tune up my Hyundai Sonata for this trial. Didn’t check my tire pressures, which is recommended for top performance. No special preparations of any kind.

The idea to run a test hit me on the morning I paid $4.14 per gallon for a fill-up. Incredible! What American over the age of 30 ever expected to see such prices?

I immediately set my odometer at zero. And I did not use any new-fangled driving tricks. I used the same old tricks I have used for years. Some are known to many savvy drivers. You probably use some. But I think a couple are my own—things I’ve picked up by myself on the road.

Some are more effective than others, of course. But they all wring out more miles per tankful. I believe this although my close friend Woody strongly disagrees. I’ll tell you about him in a minute.

Interested in how I did it? Well, see how my tricks check out against yours.

First, I must tell you about an exciting experience eight years ago. My Uncle Jack—91 at the time—was a patient at the Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol, R.I. I visited him once a month. It was108 miles to Bristol, with two stops on the way. One in Westerly for a quick walk around beautiful Wilcox Park downtown—it’s also a superb arboretum. And a stop for coffee half an hour later down the road.

Oh, I am a shun-piker. Important for you to know this. I drive on our Interstates as little as possible. So to visit my uncle, I traveled on I-95 only to Rte. 234 beyond Mystic. I rode 234 into Westerly. Then Rte. 1 into Rhode Island, turning east on Rte. 138.

Then down the long hill to gorgeous Narragansett Bay and over the two great bridges across it to the eastern shore —the Jamestown Bridge to Conanicut Island, and  then the massive Senator Pell Bridge. Then dense stop and go traffic on 138 for about 15 miles to the old and narrow but graceful Mount Hope Bridge across scenic Mount Hope Bay. Then five miles or so of slow driving to my uncle’s.

So, quite a variety of roads.

It was exciting because I was trying a new game I made up. I got myself two rolls of pennies—100 in all. I wasn’t sure how many I’d need. And I put an empty tin can on the floor to my right. The idea was this: I would drop a penny into the can every time my foot touched the brake pedal. My goal was to get to the hospital with as few pennies in the can as possible.

A wonderful game. A game of skill and anticipation and fun. Yes, fun! My Rule Number One was: no risky chance taking! Do nothing to impede other drivers! Safety first!

Rule Number Two—obey the law. Drive within the posted speed limits—well, reasonably so (who ever respects every limit?) Do not run a red light. Stop at every stop sign. Do not cross a solid white line.

My score that first time for that 108 miles was 38 pennies.  And I was vigilant. It turned out to be so much fun and so instructive that I wrote a column about it. Later several readers told me they tried it. Very gratifying.

I played that game every time I headed to Bristol. My best score was 19. But there was a bigger pay-off. That game sharpened my driving skills. Anticipate and react. Again and again. That was the essence of the game. What’s about to happen and what should I do about it? I now anticipate at the wheel as a regular thing. It’s a wonderful habit.

Here’s an example. I’m coming around a curve and I see a green light a quarter mile ahead. Now, a quick decision! Should I speed up to make sure I’ll cruise through before it turns red? Or should I slow down (naturally, without braking!)  to glide to a halt in front of the light if it does turn red? Other cars going my way complicate the game. Of course, luck is a factor, as it is in so many aspects of life.

That 108 miles to Bristol presented many variations of this challenge.

One helpful trick I learned the hard way many years ago. One evening, backing up in the dark, I hit a lamp post. Just a gash on the pole, but a $500 accident to my car. Lesson learned!

Backing up is a dangerous maneuver even in broad daylight. We all have three rear-view mirrors but it’s impossible to view all three all the time. And the view is limited. Think of the many times you’ve read about a car backing up and hitting a child, for instance.

Besides, backing up is a total waste of energy…gas. I plan my driving for as few back-ups as possible. As we know, nearly every parking spot at every supermarket and shopping plaza in the country makes it necessary for us to pull into it and park. Then back out.

I search for a spot to park where I won’t have to do that. Easy. Every such parking lot is designed in double rows with cars parking nose to nose. If possible, I choose a row where two nose-to-nose spots are empty. I drive through the first spot and into the second one and park there. Later, in leaving, I drive out forward. Couldn’t be easier.

It’s essential always to drive with a light foot—light on the gas pedal and light on the brake. Besides, my kind of driving is much kinder to the brakes. Nice and steady; no wild spurts up and no frantic braking.

Another trick is to limit my speed to 60 mph on Interstates. These days only a terrible slowpoke does that. Like me. Very difficult to stick to 60—80 is usual now. Well, I’ll accelerate to 65 if a heavy-footed demon is tailing me.

These roads are designed for faster travel, which means higher speeds. But it’s surprising how fuel efficiency fades at higher speeds. It’s the old law of diminishing returns that comes into play.  Driving at 60 is more economical. And safer for sure.

Another is to make as few trips as possible. This means consolidating errands. Another is to not run the engine a minute longer than usual.  If I’m on my Rte. 154  in Centerbrook and I see our Scenic Steam Train approaching and tooting and the highway gates about to come down, I stop and turn off the ignition. I re-start only once the gates are back up.

Another is to tank up on gas every time and re-fill only when the gauge is approaching Empty. Stops for four or eight gallons at a time are wasteful in time and money. When possible, tank up in cooler temperatures, usually evening—you get more gas for your money. So I’ve read. Never make a special trip just to buy gas.

I practiced all these religiously during my test.  As I said, knowing Hyundai’s boast of 35 mpg on the highway for my car, I expected an even better result.

I told you I’m a shunpiker. I like to enjoy the ride. Like to look around. See everything. Shunpiking is a natural instinct for me. Some 10 years I drove solo to California in my Dodge Ram camping van. But not shunpiking. I used Interstates nearly all the way. So many boring miles!

Getting ready to return home, solo again, I got the idea of making the drive back with as few Interstate Highway miles as possible.

I studied the map and plotted a route.  Getting out of Los Angeles took me more than three hours! And that’s how difficult much of the trip was. In some stretches, everybody uses the Interstates! There seems no reasonable alternative. But I persisted and found my way.

Often I was all alone on narrow old roads for many miles. Through the West and the Midwest and the Great Plains. But I did see some incredible sights. No space here to tell you about all that. Well, I rode all the way across the country into New York State without a single mile on an Interstate! Then, how ironic.

Entering my Connecticut, failure! Without warning and without opportunity to turn off, I was led onto I-84. This happened twice! I succeeded for some 3,600 miles, then my accomplishment faded in the final 150 miles. But it was fun trying. I wrote an article about that also.

Now, about my friend Woody Boynton in Old Say brook. He’s a retiree like me and a fellow former Peace Corps Volunteer. A smart guy…a fount of info about a wide range of things, including mechanical engineering. He astonishes me every time.

I told him about this test of mine. And here is the shocking thing: he told me I was all wet!  He pooh-poohed many of my tricks. He said, “You may save a teeny bit. But all those tricks are largely insignificant. They don’t add up to much. What’s important is steady acceleration. And deceleration.” This part I agreed on. But he said it all with such authority that I was crestfallen.


Hah! I hate to admit it but he may be right. Maybe that’s why my result of 24.9 was not better. If he is right, there was not much point in my being so diligent and fixated. Maybe I was being dumb in my own way.

Please help me. If you are an expert in this big subject of the day, please advise me. Is Woody right? E-mail me at johnguylaplante@yahoo.com. I thank you in advance, and will do so again in a personal reply to you.

If I come up with good info from you and others, I’ll share it with our readers.

There’s one thing I will not change my opinion about. I love my penny game. It has made me a better driver. Kept me more alert. And given me a lot of fun. Try it once. It doesn’t have to be pennies, of course. Many other things will work. Use silver dollars if you like. Let me know. Talk others into trying it.

Maybe together we’ll save a few gallons.


Deep River Rotary Club Hosts Independen​ce Day Celebratio​n

Deep River Rotary Club Host 4th July Celebration

A great crowd turned out Monday at the Gazebo on Keyboard Pond, Main Street in Deep River to celebrate our nation’s 235th birthday.

Deep River Rotary Club hosted a very special event that included a marching fife and drum corps, a new flag dedication, US Historical Presentation by John LaPlante, short talk by Selectman Dick Smith, prayer by Rev. Tim Haut. Cake and US Flags were given out to everyone.

For more information on Deep River Rotary Club please see www.deepriverrotary.com or call (860)227-1159.


Lori Warner Studio/Gallery features the Denyse Schmidt Mt. Lebanon Series Quilt Exhibit

Denyse Schmidt interprets the raw beauty of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village in upstate New York (Photo courtesy of Denyse Schmidt).

During the month of July, The Lori Warner Studio/Gallery in Chester will feature the sophisticated and contemporary Mt. Lebanon Series quilts of renowned artist and quilter Denyse Schmidt.

Lori Warner has been following Denyse’s work for many years and was struck by the subtle beauty of Denyse’s Mt. Lebanon collection and knew that her gallery was the perfect place to feature Denyse’s modern take on American quilt-making.  “These are not your average quilts. This series is not for the bed, but for the wall. A true piece of art, that is highly collectible and visually stimulating. The aesthetic of the gallery compliments the Mount Lebanon series quilts. The gallery is in a historic building with a natural, raw look and white bead board walls.” says Lori.  “The artwork I’m drawn to and that we showcase is highly refined and minimal, emphasizing process and craft.  Denyse’s quilts are very well suited to the feel and intention of the space.”

Five years ago, Denyse made a pilgrimage to the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village in upstate New York.  “I was struck by the raw beauty in the empty, decaying interiors that were awaiting restoration.” said Denyse.  Inspired by the knocked out doorjambs, random linear gashes in the walls that exposed ribbons of lath, and cream on cream layers of plaster, Denyse visually translated these observations into the minimal piecing design featured in this collection.

“The palette I selected for these quilts suggests a sense of faded beauty and things fallen out of use.” says Denyse.  “I chose a base of parchment, and trimmed it with accents of somber colored fabrics.”  She continues, “I wanted these fabrics to suggest old bits of clothing that one might find folded up and wrapped in tissue paper, tucked away in a hidden trunk.”  These accent fabrics have rich texture and flashes of intense color, such as lace with metallic thread running throughout, or embroidered linen.  Her Mt. Lebanon series was recently exhibited at Ralph Pucci International in NYC.

Denyse draws her quilting lines by eye, not by measure.  The lines are then hand-stitched by women of the Amish community in Minnesota who have been collaborating with Denyse for 15 years.   Denyse studied graphic design at RISD and as been designing and making quilts for over a decade in her studio located in a historic factory building in Bridgeport.  She has been published in hundreds of distinguished magazines and newspapers worldwide including The New York Times Magazine, TIME and People Magazine.

The Lori Warner Studio/Gallery has established a tradition of featuring RISD alumni who are driven to pioneer creativity in their chosen medium in an effort to satisfy their creative spirit.  “My goal is to not just exhibit artist’s work, but rather to foster a collaborative relationship between the gallery and each artist.” said Lori.  “I see this as a platform to experiment with new ideas and to expose our featured artists’ work while teaching about the process involved with creating each piece.”  On Thursday, July 21, 2011 from 6-8 pm, Denyse Schmidt will be at the Lori Warner Studio/Gallery to discuss her work, her inspirations, and the process behind the creation of her quilts. This event is free and open to the public, reservations are suggested.

 Denyse Schmidt’s Mt. Lebanon Series Quilts will be on exhibit at The Lori Warner Studio/Gallery from July 1-September 30, 2011.  The Lori Warner Studio/Gallery is a unique source for artwork and objects that make a lasting impression.  Award winning artwork featured in the gallery includes monotype prints, encaustic paintings, contemporary glass, sculpture and furniture.  The gallery is located at 21 Main Street in Chester, Connecticut.  (860) 322-4265.  www.loriwarner.com


The Circus is Coming to Town

Entertainment at The Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show includes Clowns and a Ringmaster (Photo courtesy of Kim Tyler)

This summer marks Essex Steam Train & Riverboat’s 40th Anniversary, and the highlight of the season-long celebration is The Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show – – Saturday & Sunday, July 23, 24, 30 & 31.   

The Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show begins as soon as families park their cars . . . OFF-SITE, at the The Lee Company parking lot on Bokum Road in Essex. That’s where the Circus Train will arrive with great fanfare to welcome passengers and transport them to the circus grounds at Essex Station.  The vintage Circus Train will be pulled by a Diesel Locomotive and will include 3 Passenger Coaches, a Circus Billboard Car, 2 Flat Cars carrying 6 Circus Wagons, and a Caboose.  The Ringmaster will accompany circus goers on a short train ride to the circus grounds for the thrill of an Acrobat Show in the “Big Top Tent”. The Circus Midway will be bustling with “Punch & Judy” Puppet Shows, Clowns, Carnival Food and Rides.  Imagine how the little ones will delight at the Petting Zoo when they see a real live Camel and Z-Donk (half Zebra/half Donkey)!

“The Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show is one summer event your family won’t want to miss,” says Bob Bell, President of The Valley Railroad Company.  He continues, “Families will have a unique opportunity to actually participate in the circus by riding the Circus Train with the Ringmaster, to and from the event!”

Tickets are $25.00 a person and available in advance at www.essexsteamtrain.com.  There will be 12 Circus Train departures from The Lee Company parking lot every half hour from  9:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.  Trains will also return from the Circus Grounds to parking every half hour.

Directions to OFF-SITE Parking at The Lee Company, 55 Bokum Road are: 

  • Route 9 North to Exit 3 – Left off Ramp. Left at Traffic Light onto Route 153.  Proceed Straight to next Traffic Light and turn Left onto Bokum Road.  Follow signs to Circus Train Parking.
  • Route 9 South to Exit 3 – Straight off Ramp ACROSS Route 154. At Blinking Light, turn Right onto Route 153.   Proceed Straight to next Traffic Light and turn Left onto Bokum Road.  Follow signs to Circus Train Parking.
  • Interstate 95 North to Exit 65 – Left off Ramp at Traffic Light. Proceed straight to THIRD Traffic Light and turn Right onto Bokum Road.  Follow signs to Circus Train Parking.

For more information regarding The Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show, visit www.essexsteamtrain.com, e-mail valley.railroad@snet.net, or call 800-377-3987.

The Valley Railroad Company

Incorporated in 1969, The Valley Railroad Company opened the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat to the public 40 years ago, in 1971.  The only steam train and riverboat connection in the United States, Essex Steam Train & Riverboat continues to flourish as a Connecticut icon and vibrant tourist destination, attracting over 140,000 visitors a year.  Tour goers enjoy a 2.5 hour narrated journey through the scenic Connecticut River Valley.  Special events include:  The Eagle Flyer, Day Out With Thomas, The Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show, Murder Mystery, Fright Train, Santa Special, North Pole Express and Your Hand on the Throttle.


Deep River Rotary Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Deep River Rotary celebrate their 60th anniversary at Alforno's in Old Saybrook

On Tuesday night the Deep River Rotary celebrated their anniversary dinner at Alforno’s in Old Saybrook to have their new officers inducted for the Fiscal Year which started on July 1. 

Rotarians and guests had a great celebration and kicks off their 60th year in existence in the community.  “Our club does an incredible amount with a fairly small group of great people” stated President Hedy Watrous. 

Rotary is always looking for new qualified candidates to join our organization.  Our motto is “Service Above Self” and we are happy to speak to anyone interested in making a difference in the community and across the globe.  For more information see www.deepriverrotary.com or call Jimmy DeLano (860)227-1159.


Two Major Retailers Closing on Main Street in Essex

Left Bank Gallery: CLOSED

Two major retailers, the Left Bank Gallery and The Peddler, are closing their doors on Main Street in Essex. The Left Bank Gallery, which has been leasing 5,000 square foot space has already been vacated.

The Paul brothers, who own the Griswold Inn in Essex, among other properties, own the space on which the Gallery once stood.

The Peddler retires

The second Main Street property shutting its doors is The Peddler, a fixture in Essex since 1964. The current owner of the store, who has owned the business for the past 21 years, is Patricia Stepanski, an Essex resident.

Stepanski says that she will keep her store open through this summer, but will close in the fall. Presently, she is offering 25% off the original price on all merchandize. There are big signs in the windows proclaiming the “Retirement Sale.”

Over the years Stepanski’s business plan has been “to cater to those who live in the area” as well as tourists. Tourists frequently want something “characteristic of New England, such as hand-made pottery and hand-blown glass,” she said.  

The retiring owner also said that she “appreciated everybody’s past patronage and will miss being a part of the village of Essex.” As for closing she said, “It was time.” She added, “The traffic was way down, attributable to the fact that people are not travelling that much.”

Peddler's Stepanski

Also, she blamed a loss of business, “due to the fact that there are more offices in town now, rather than retail spaces.” By “offices” she said she meant “real estate offices.” Presently, there are five real estate offices on Main Street in Essex: Coldwell Banker, William Pitt-Sotheby’s, Prudential, the Mitchel Agency and Page Taft.

“Six or seven years ago, we had three times as many retail spaces,” she said. “It is a crime as to what happened.” She found particularly troubling the departure of the Clipper Ship Book Store, and more recently Essex Books.

She also said that Essex was not getting as many tour buses as it once did, and she blamed that on the national economy.


Ivoryton Talk and Walk – Johnson Farm and the Millrace

Chris Pagliuco leading a walk on the Millrace Preserve in 2009

On Sunday July 10 at 2 p.m. Polly and Murwin Johnson will present an informal talk about the history of the Johnson Farm (for which the Essex Land Trust acquired development rights in 2008), which will be followed by a short walk on the Millrace preserve.

Old and new photos of the farm and a video of the sheep shearing event held in June 2009 will also be shown.  At 3 p.m. join Ivoryton resident and historian Chris Pagliuco who will lead an educational walk on the historic Millrace preserve. This half-mile trail along the Falls River is directly behind the library. Park in the Ivory Street lot or on the street. Refreshments served. Event will take place rain or shine.

Scene of the Johnson farm for which the Essex Land Trust acquired development rights.


Ivoryton 4th July Parade

Title: Ivoryton 4th July Parade
Location: Meet on west side of piano factory at 9.30
Start Time: 10:00
Date: 2011-07-04


2011 Day of Action Drive Brings in 42,000 Disposable Diapers for Middlesex County Families in Need.

Godiva Employees; Denise Arena, Christina Coates, Joan McLaughlin and Karin Nelson volunteer to collect diapers outside of Stop & Shop in Old Saybrook on June 21, 2011

On Tuesday, June 21, 2011 hundreds of people and organizations joined together for Middlesex United Way’s 3rd annual Day of Action. United Way Day of Action is held every year on June 21, the Summer Solstice, and invites individuals to stand up and take action in support of an issue or cause.

Nearly 3,000 babies in Middlesex County live in families too poor to diaper them properly leaving their health and well-being seriously at risk. The Diaper Bank’s yearly supply of diapers to Middlesex County is only enough to assist 200 families.

Teams of volunteers from local companies and civic groups were stationed outside all five Stop & Shop stores in the county to collect donations from company drives, individuals and shoppers. More than 42,000 disposable diapers and $560.00 in cash donations were collected from 8:30 am -2:30 pm. Donations were delivered to the Diaper Bank and will be distributed to Middlesex County families in need through four local programs.

Many businesses and organizations have been running drives since early May including: Pratt & Whitney, Water’s Edge Rehabilitation, Liberty Bank, Wright-Pierce, Godiva, Northeast Utilities, the Middlefield Federated Church, and Tower Laboratories. Employees at Cooper-Atkins of Middlefield were engaged in an exciting drive and successfully collected more than 14,000 diapers alone. FCP Groton contributed a driver and truck to transport the diapers and Enterprise Rent-A-Car donated two vans.

Middlesex United Way is advancing 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 that 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. That’s what it means to Live United.

Middlesex United Way is a locally-based organization serving the towns of Chester, Clinton, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Middlefield, Middletown, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.


“Opera in the Park”- Free Concert Under the Stars

A free concert of opera favorites under the stars, “Opera in the Park,” will be presented by Salt Marsh Opera on Tuesday, July 12 at 6:30 p.m. on the Old Saybrook Town Green adjacent to the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center. 

Bring a blanket or lawn chair and your own picnic. Dine on a boxed dinner by placing an order with Cloud Nine Catering in Old Saybrook at info@cloudninecatering.net or 860-388-9999.

Performers include Soprano, Holly Cole, Tenor, Brian Cheney and Artistic Director Simon Holt as Accompanist and Host.  Featured composers are Verdi, Puccini, Giordano, Bernstein, Gounod, Cilea, Korngold, Weill, and Bizet.    

“Opera in the Park” is sponsored by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, the Old Saybrook Shopping Center, and the Middlesex County Community Foundation.