August 14, 2022

Archives for 2011

Letters: Thank You Essex Automobile Club

To The Editor:

Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut is grateful to the members of the Essex Automobile Club whose fall car show benefits the children served by Child & Family Agency. The weather didn’t cooperate this fall and therefore the Car Show had to be cancelled. The Essex Automobile Club planned to return the registration fees to the participants but many asked that their contributions still be given to Child & Family. The Agency is grateful for this wide community support which allowed us to provide needed services to over 17,100 children and their families last year.

Thank you Essex Automobile Club and participants for your continued support!
With deep appreciation

Judy Lovelace

Director of Resource Development
& Community Relations

Child & Family Agency of SE CT


Obituary: Ruth Elizabeth Byrne 11/6/2011

Ruth Elizabeth Byrne, 53, of Old Lyme, beloved mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend died unexpectedly on Selden Island in Lyme on Sunday, November 6th; the eve of the 25th anniversary of her Selden Island Thanksgiving Celebration.

Ruth was born on January 2, 1958; the daughter of Harriet “Betty” and the late Ross “Bud” L. Byrne of Old Saybrook. She grew up in the Ayers Point neighborhood of Old Saybrook where she enjoyed many outdoor adventures with her friends. Ruth graduated from Old Saybrook High School and Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO where she earned a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology. Ruth’s love of the river, which was inspired by her father, led her to pursue a lengthy career in hydrographic surveying with her sister Nancy. Ruth’s feisty spirit and generous nature was always present in the community. Her greatest joy in life was sharing travel and adventures with her daughter Lisa whom she adored. Whether it was hiking, biking, dancing, or learning the fiddle Ruth always lived life to the fullest.

Ruth is survived by her loving daughter Lisa Weigle of Old Lyme, her loving partner Mark Benedict of Essex, her mother Harriet Byrne of Old Saybrook, brother Ross Byrne and his wife Gosia Holszanska of Lyme, sister Nancy Byrne and her partner Julie Flagg of Chester, niece Alina Byrne and nephew Devin Byrne of Lyme as well as her beloved dogs Sadie and Daisy. Her loving spirit will continue through her family and many friends.

A memorial service will take place Friday November 11th at 4 PM at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 2 Ferry Rd in Old Lyme. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to The Lisa Weigle College Fund, c/o Essex Savings Bank, PO Box 529, Old Lyme, CT 06371 or Lisa Weigle c/o First Niagara Bank, 9 Water St., Chester, CT 06412. To share a memory or leave a condolence for the family please visit Arrangements by Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home in Centerbrook.

Democrat Duane Gates Wins Region 4 School Board Seat in Only Contested Local Race

DEEP RIVER— Incumbent Democrat Duane Gates won a second term on the Region 4 Board of Education Tuesday in the only contested race on the town election ballot. Gates defeated Republican Lauri Wichtowski on a 480-365 vote.

Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith received 746 votes as he ran unopposed for a record 12th term in the town’s top job. Smith, who also ran unopposed in 2009, faced his last election challenge in 2007, defeating John Kennedy running on the Deep River Independent Party line. Town Republicans have not run a candidate for first selectman since 2005.

There was no contest for the other two seats on the board of selectmen, but the make-up of the board will change when the new terms begin on Nov. 22. Democrat Arthur Thompson, the former tax collector who replaced long-time Selectman Richard Daniels as Smith’s running-mate in 2009, did not seek a new term.

Angus McDonald Jr. won the Democratic nomination for selectman at the July nominating caucus, defeating former Selectman Russell Marth, who had served a single term on the board after running with Kennedy in 2007. Marth later became a member of the Deep River Democratic Town Committee. McDonald received 488 votes Tuesday. Republican Selectman David Oliveria was elected to a second term with 359 votes.

Two incumbents elected to town jobs in 2009, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, won second terms after running unopposed. Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell, who won the then open position by a two-vote margin in 2009, received 689 votes. Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani was elected to a second term with 725 votes.

Democrats did not nominate candidates for board of finance because the party already holds four seats on the board. Incumbent Republican John Bauer, the board’s chairman, was re-elected with 639 votes. New Republican candidate William Ballsieper was elected with 611 votes.

Letters: Moving On

To The Editor:

Another Essex election has come and gone with an outcome that would have and should have been very different.  It is now up to our residents to attend meetings, ask questions and hold these elected officials, who work for us, accountable.

With that stated, let us say that we are both very proud of Bruce MacMillian for running a squeeky clean campaign.  He has more integrity in one finger than most people have in their entire body.

Thanks Bruce and thank you Jerri, his wife and most ardent supporter.

A clear conscience makes a soft bed pillow.

We were happy to support you and Joel Marzi.


Melanie and Paul Phoenix

Essex, CT

Democrat Edmund Meehan Elected First Selectman by a Wide Margin, Democrat Larry Sypher and Republican Tom Englert Re-elected

CHESTER— The town will have a new first selectman serving with two returning selectmen as Democrat Edmund Meehan won the top job by a wide margin in Tuesday’s election.

Meehan, who currently works as the town planner for Newington, received 706 votes, defeating Chester Common Ground Party candidate Andrew Landsman with 180 votes. Incumbent Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher won a second term with 498 votes. Incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert won a second term with 317 votes. Common Ground candidate Glen Reyer has 115 votes.

Englert has been serving as interim first selectman since August, when former three-term Republican First Selectman Tom Marsh left to become town manager in Windsor, Vt.

Meehan said he was pleased with the outcome of the election, particularly with Sypher and Englert winning new terms. “Having two incumbent selectmen coming back to the board is a great help to me,” he said.

Meehan said he will discuss his departure date with Newington officials this week, and hopes to use accumulated vacation and sick days to begin working full-time in Chester soon after the Thanksgiving holiday. “I’m looking forward to this new adventure in life,” he said. The new terms for board of selectmen begin on Nov. 22.

Reyer, a founder of the Common Ground Party, said the group was pleased to have given “Chester voters a choice and to ensure that we have a contest that is truly decided by the voters.” Reyer said the Chester Common Ground Party would continue, noting the party had achieved ballot status for all contested positions in future town elections.

In a major upset in the election, the longtime planning and zoning commission chairman, Democrat Michael Joplin, was defeated for a two-year vacancy term by Republican Doreen Joslow. Joplin had 413 votes, while Joslow polled 488 votes, including 279 on the Republican line and 157 on the Common Ground line. Joplin has chaired the commission for nearly a decade.

Democrats won two seats on the board of finance, with incumbent Virginia Carmany receiving 487 votes and Robert Gorman 494 votes. Reyer had 269 votes running on the Republican line, with 292 votes for Republican Charles Park and 205 votes for Common Ground candidate Susan Wright. Democrat Lori Ann Clymas was elected board of finance alternate with 558 votes to 268 votes for Common Ground candidate Richard Nygard.

Incumbent Democrat Elaine Fitzgibbons won a second term on the Region 4 Board of Education, with 603 votes to 252 votes for Common Ground candidate Michael Hotkowski.

Democrats David Fitzgibbons and Laurie Rubinow were elected to the Chester Board of Education, with 529 and 481 votes respectively. Also elected was incumbent Wendy King with 446 votes, 292 on the Republican line and 154 on the Common Ground line. Lisa Tollefson, running on the Republican and Common Ground lines, had 331 votes. Incumbent Nicole Sypher was elected for a two-year vacancy term on the local school board, with 598 votes to 223 votes for Common Ground candidate James Gordon.

Elected for full terms on the planning and zoning commission were incumbent Democrats Peter Kehayias with 577 votes, Jon Lavy with 613 votes, and Sally Murray with 506 votes. Murray also has 193 votes on the Common Ground line. Republican and Common Ground endorsed candidate Mel Seifert has 436 votes. Democrat Henry Krempel was elected for a full term as planning and zoning commission alternate with 528 votes to 295 votes for Common Ground candidate Patricia Bisacky. Democrat Sarah Jensen was unopposed for a four-year vacancy on the commission.

Democrats Margaret Carter-Ward and Edith Prisloe were elected library trustees, with 617 and 627 votes respectively. Common Ground candidate Mathew Sanders had 311 votes.

Other uncontested candidates include Incumbent Democrats Carol Horner and Mark Borton, and Common Ground candidate Al Bisacky ,for zoning board of appeals, Common Ground candidate Lisa Tollsfson was elected ZBA alternate. Democrats Sally Sanders and Kim Senay, along with Republican Kris Seifert and Bisacky were uncontested for inland-wetlands commission. Democrat James Pease was uncontested for water pollution control authority. Republican Bruce Watrous, a former selectman, was uncontested for board of assessmen5t appeals.

Democrat Norman Needleman Elected First Selectman with Democrat Stacia Libby and Republican Joel Marzi Elected to Board

Essex Election Moderator Ted Bliss reads the election results to the crowd in Essex Town Hall (Photo Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman was elected first selectman Tuesday, defeating Republican nominee Bruce MacMillian by 399 votes. The result was 1,344 votes for Needleman to 945 votes for MacMillian.

Needleman’s Democratic running-mate, Stacia Libby, was elected to the board with 1,135 votes. Republican Selectman Joel  Marzi was re-elected to a second term with 1,030 votes. A total of 2,289 of the town’s 4,530 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday for a turnout of just over 50 percent. Needleman, a selectman since 2003, succeeds four-term Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller to continue eight years of Democratic control of town hall.

The Essex winning team, Democrats First Selectman Norman Needleman and Selectman Stacia Rice-Libby at Essex Town Hall (Photo Jerome Wilson)

Needleman and MacMillian shook hands after the result was announced before a crowd in the auditorium of town hall, but MacMillian and his wife, Jerri, then quickly left the building. MacMillian declined to comment on the result.

Needleman said he was pleased with the outcome. “It was a good race,” he said, adding “now is the time to move forward and work for the interest of the town as a group.” The new board of selectmen takes office for the 2011-2012 term on Nov. 16.

Marzi, who lost the 2009 first selectman race to Miller by 376 votes, said MacMillian was “a great running-mate,” adding that both he and MacMillian “want the board to work together and that is exactly what we’re going to do.” In the only other contested race on the ballot, Republican John Ackerman outpolled Democrat Richard Helmecki by 31 votes, 1,098 to 1,067, to win a seat on the board of assessment appeals. Town Democrats had cross-endorsed incumbent Republicans Keith Crehan and Jeffrey Woods for new terms on the board of finance, while town Republicans had cross-endorsed incumbent Democrat Chris Riley for a new term on the Region 4 Board of Education.

All three candidates for the Essex Board of Education will be seated on the board. Republican Adam Conrad received the highest number of votes for a two-year vacancy term, 1,486 votes, with Republican Judie McCann receiving 1,235 votes and 978 votes for Democrat Loretta McCluskey.

State Senator Eileen Daily congratulates Norman Needleman on his victory as First Selectman in Essex Town Hall (Photo Jerome Wilson)

Early Birds go to the Polls in Chester and Essex

Even though the polls in Chester and Essex had been open only a couple of hours, the candidates and their supporters were at their respective polling places in force.

In Chester, Democratic candidate for First Selectman Ed Meehan posted himself across from the polls in the Chester Town Hall parking lot beneath a Democratic Party banner. Meehan was joined by Mike Meehan, the candidate’s brother, who came down from Massachusetts to lend a hand, and Peg Meehan, who identified herself as Meehan’s Campaign Manager (all pictured in photo).

The Meehans in Chester come out in force

Down in the Essex Town Hall parking lot, a respectful 75 feet from the actual polls, were the Republican Essex Town Chairman Ed Cook; Republican candidate for First Selectman Bruce MacMillian; Democratic candidate for First Selectman Norman Needleman; Essex Board of Education candidate Adam Conroy; Board of Education candidate Loretta McCluskey; and Democratic candidate for Selectman Stacia Rice-Libby (all pictured in photo below). Missing but not forgotten was Republican candidate for Selectman Joel Marzi.

The gangs all here at the Essex Town Hall parking lot

Asked for an Election Day comment, Republican First Selectman candidate Bruce MacMilian limited himself to saying, “It’s a beautiful day.” A bit more loquacious, Democratic candidate for First Selectman Norman Needleman said, “We’ll all work together for the best interests of the town.”

The Essex Board of Selectman is a three person body, and there are four candidates running, two from each party. Therefore, this guarantees that there will be two winners from one party and one winner from the other. Which party comes out on top, we shall not know until the results are in.

As for Deep River, First Selectman Richard Smith is running unopposed.

CT Superior Court Judge Guest at Deep River Rotary Luncheon

Judge Jim Abrams

Judge Jim Abrams from the Connecticut Superior Court, Middlesex Judicial District, will be the guest speaker at the Deep River Rotary Club weekly luncheon at 12 noon on November 15, 2011, at the Ivory Rest in Deep River.

Jim Abrams is a resident of Meriden and serves as a Judge of the Connecticut Superior Court, where he has presided over civil, criminal, family, foreclosure, and housing matters. Jim is an honors graduate of UConn School of Law, received his BA degree from TrinityCollege, and is an Adjunct Professor at Quinnipiac University. Prior to being appointed to the bench, he had a civil litigation practice and was Corporation Counsel for the City of Meriden. He also served ten years as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives.

Deep River Rotary Club meets weekly every Tuesday at 12 p.m. at The Ivory Rest in Deep River.  If you are interested please call Jimmy DeLano (860)227-1159 for more info.

Letters: He said – He Said

To The Editor:

At the most recent budget hearings in the spring, numerous elected officials and town residents advocated using a scalpel rather than an axe when addressing required budget adjustments following a failed budget vote. It appears that Mr. MacMillian is advocating just that. Rather than simply cutting certain line items, he is insisting on justifying their existence and funding them at an appropriate level. Requiring non-profit organizations to justify their contribution to the municipality which provides the funding is sound governance. This level of accountability is a must at all levels of government. Meals on wheels and visiting nurses are just a couple of the line items discussed in various letters and articles and identified as being “in jeopardy”. Arguably these two non-profits provide a service to Essex and will continue to be funded. Many of the other line items may also be justified. Some may not. Mr. MacMillian simply requires that justification.

With respect to the most recent “he-said – he-said” political mailing, this discourse serves two non-productive ends. First, it is a disservice to the voters. Playing on emotions of fear and threatening unjustified cuts by an opponent, although an excellent political move, leaves voters misinformed. Second, this sets a poor tone for the next board of selectmen. These two individuals, more likely than not, will be serving together for the next two years. The level of trust on that board is now shattered due to the misleading out-of-context references.

For those that have attended some of the board and commission meetings discussing critical issues in the past, we have seen some very polarizing discussions, accusations, and behavior. I fear that this polarization is about to continue.


Phil Beckman

Letters: What’s wrong with questioning non-profit funding?

To The Editor:

It strikes me as odd that Mr. Needleman does not want to question some of the funding provided to non-profits from taxpayer funds.  For example, why does Essex provide $33,000 to Tri Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc., when our neighboring town, one of the Tri Town area, Deep River only provides $5,000?  Essex has 20% more children under age 17, but why such a large difference?  While I am sure Tri Town Youth Services does a great job, this annual difference, in just this one non-profit, has been going on for many years, resulting in a significant outlay of taxpayer funds.  Perhaps there is a good reason, however, one would expect a better answer than that given by Mr. Needleman who describes hundreds of thousands of dollars as a mere pittance.  It is definitely time to start asking tough questions of the people who are distributing taxpayers money!


John Ackermann

Letters: We need to put Selectmen in office who have their priorities in order

To The Editor:

Mr. Wilson’s article provided plenty of Norm Needleman responses to questions during a telephone interview but precious little information on what Bruce MacMillian’s stand is on the issues. We know Bruce has denied the three points brought up in the hit piece that went out, but what exactly did he say during the telephone interview and during the debate?

Mr. Wilson, were you at the debate when Bruce said the libraries of Essex and Ivoryton would continue to get funding from the town because they do provide a return to the town? That was unequivocal. Did you hear him say he absolutely supports the fire department and emergency services because, with the police department, they are the most important services the town provides? At no time has funding for the library or essential services ever been a question. Did you hear Bruce talk about the fact we have two working constables when we’re paying for four? I believe that was one of the things he was referring to when talking about a professional police department. What’s professional about having half a force?

It bothers me greatly that Norm, as a current Selectman, has a very cavalier attitude about the tax money the hard working citizens of our town entrust to the Selectmen by using it to fund non-profit organizations that are best supported by individuals. Bruce is correct to want to carefully consider where our money goes. We need someone who is capable of saying “no.” With the likelihood State tax money given back to the town is going to be cut, we need someone who will be a tough protector of our treasury so we can afford to maintain our lovely town even if faced with less money, and not have it siphoned off to groups that do nothing to maintain our infrastructure or benefit our schools. It is not the town’s responsibility to provide money to non-profits.

Tomorrow’s vote is very important. We need to put Selectmen in office who have their priorities in order and who will be careful with the monies entrusted to them and not spend them on unnecessary expenditures. We need Bruce MacMillian and Joel Marzi to rein in the increasing town budget.


Adrienne Forrest

Polls Open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Today for Town Elections in Chester, Deep River and Essex

CHESTER— Voting in Chester will be on the second floor of the town Hall on Route 154. Democrat Edmund Meehan is facing a challenge from Common Ground Party candidate Andrew Landsman for the open first selectman seat. Incumbent Democrat Larry Sypher, incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert, and Common Ground Party candidate Glen Reyer are running for seats on the three-member board of selectmen. Englert has served as interim first selectman since the resignation in August of former First Selectman Tom Marsh.

Chester votes will also elect two members of the board of finance, a board of finance alternate, a member of the Region 4 Board of Education and members of the Chester Board of Education, four members of the planning and zoning commission, two planning and zoning commission alternates, and two library trustees. Positions on the zoning board of appeals, inland-wetlands commission, water pollution control authority, and board of assessment appeals are uncontested.

DEEP RIVER— Voting is at the ground floor of the Deep River Public Library. There is no contest for first selectman, with incumbent Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith unopposed for a record 12th term. There is no contest for the board of selectmen, but the makeup of the three-member board will change. Democratic selectman candidate Angus McDonald Jr. will replace incumbent Democratic Selectman Arthur Thompson, a former tax collector who was elected to the board in 2009. Incumbent Republican Selectman David Oliveria is on the ballot for a second term.

Town Democrats have not challenged Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell, who was elected by a tight two-vote margin in 2009. Republicans are not challenging Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani, who was also elected in 2009. The only contested position on the ballot is the seat on the Region 4 Board of Education, where incumbent Democratic member Duane Gates is challenged by Republican Lauri Wichtowski.

ESSEX— Voting is at town hall. Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman is competing with Republican candidate Bruce MacMillian for the first selectman seat left open by the departure of four-term Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller. Incumbent Republican Selectman Joel Marzi is seeking a second term with Democratic candidate Stacia Libby also in the running for board of selectmen.

With Democrats cross-endorsing Republican board of finance members Keith Crehan and Jeffrey Woods, and Republicans cross-endorsing incumbent Region 4 Board of Education member Chris Riley, the only other contested position on the ballot is a seat on the board of assessment appeals.

Letters: Leadership that makes Essex a great place to call home

To The Editor:

I have had the pleasure of calling the Town of Essex home for the past 8 years.  My husband and I chose it for many reasons but, first and foremost, we sought a safe place to raise our family.  We have found that and more in Essex.   It is a place where the schools have exceeded our expectations, have made improvements when needed and are recognized on the national level.  To say that we love it here would be a very large understatement.

We know that we are fortunate to live in a community that has had town leadership that has consistently supported our educational programs, our non-profit libraries and the beauty of the preserved open spaces all around us.  That they have also done this while looking out for our seniors and our most vunerable citizens speaks to their commitment to all.  I have had the pleasure to get to know both Norm Needleman and Stacia Libby through my volunteer efforts and cannot think of a better team to lead our community.  There is not a doubt in my mind that Norm and Stacia will continue to provide the leadership that helps to make our town a great place to call home.


Loretta T. McCluskey

Needleman Charges that his Opponent Would Cut Funding for Town Libraries and Meals on Wheels. “Totally false,” MacMillian says.

Democratic First Selectman candidate Norman Needleman has leveled three charges in a recent campaign mailing against his Republican opponent, Bruce MacMillian.  Each of the charges, MacMillian counters, “Is  totally false.”

The three charges made by Needleman in his recent mailing are that MacMillian:

  1. “would cut funding to 17 non-profits, among them Meals on Wheels,”
  2.  “proposes cutting town support to the Essex and Ivoryton libraries,”
  3. “proposes the creation of a ‘professional police force’ – a plan that will dramatically increase the size and cost of town government.”

In response, MacMillian told ValleyNewsNow in a telephone interview it is, “Totally false,” that he would cut funding of Meals on Wheels and would not continue town support for the Essex and Ivoryton libraries.  As for establishing a costly professional police force, MacMillian says that rather he wants to create an advisory body of volunteers, who had worked in law enforcement, to monitor the town’s police force and its effectiveness.

In response Needleman, also in a telephone interview with ValleyNewsNow, says MacMillian originally had advocated an expensive professional police force, but had backed away from it.  “We are unable to keep up with him,” Needleman comments.

In response to MacMillian’s denials that he would not cut town funding of Meals on Wheels nor of the Essex and Ivoryton libraries, Needleman maintains that not only would these three non-profits be at risk,  but so would all of the other non-profits supported by the town, if MacMillian were elected.

To substantiate this view Needleman refers to MacMillian’s comments in the Oct. 12 edition of the Valley Courier, where MacMillian said, “I don’t like to see 17 non-profit organizations funded through tax dollars.  Certainly, funds for the fire department and ambulance association – public safety concerns – would be funded, but I question the need for us to fund the others … I am very much an advocate of small government,” which he describes as a government that, “Provides for need, not extras.”

In the same vein on Nov. 3 on ValleyNewsNow, MacMillian said, “Non-profits that receive our taxes dollars need to show us that they are providing a return on our investment.  No return.  No future funding.”

Needleman tells ValleyNewsNow, “Those non-profits are the very organizations that help those most in need for our town.  I feel the small amount of money we spend on helping our most vulnerable through these partnerships is important, and this is a significant contrast in how we [he and MacMillian] approach running the town.”

Needleman also noted in his telephone interview that, in his (Needleman’s) opinion, MacMillian has, “A right-wing approach to dealing with every issue.”

For his part, MacMillian was particularly critical that at the Nov. 1 debate at Town Hall, Needleman said, in MacMillian words, “All sorts of nice things about the campaign.  But even then he (Needleman) had in the queue, this latest mailing.

Letters: Things are out of control

To The Editor:

Most residents in Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton are unaware of a few issues that need to be addressed prior to elections on Tuesday, November 8th.

Stacia Rice-Libby devoted much of this past year as a member of the Essex Republican Town Committee until April, when she left not only the RTC but also her position on the Park & Rec committee.  The reason given was that she was too busy. However, she then quickly became the Democrat that is now Norm Needleman’s running mate.

Mr. Needleman, himself, told us that he was running because, “I looked at the history of first selectmen in Essex and they had all been selectmen prior to becoming a first selectman.”  Not true Norman and certainly not a proper reason.   He asked if he could count on our vote and a donation.  He was told the three things he must promise if he expected our vote.  (Adhere to the Constitution, Adhere to Connecticut’s Constitution and Not Lie).

Mr. Needleman stated during a board of selectmen’s meeting this year, after some heated concerns from residents about the hiring of a police officer for Essex who apparently was still under investigation, that he would prefer that future meetings not be audio taped. This is outrageous!  Deep River not only records, they video tape their meetings for local TV.  Joel Marzi, our present 3rd selectman, opposed Norm’s idea and explained that the audio recordings protected everyone.  We need that kind of transparency.  Joel stated his objection and asked that it be permanently placed on the record.  Thank you Joel.

Additionally, are you aware that Essex has been involved in several lawsuits over the past year and a paid police officer now attends Board of Selectmen’s meetings?

We believe most suits could have been avoided if another team was in place.  Hopefully, most have been addressed but without a doubt may have cost you increased tax dollars.  Some may still be active.  Police services two months into the new budget have increased to $158,000 compared to $83,000 this same time last year.  Reasons given were legal services, DUIs etc.

A very respectable resident was told this year that if he spoke or asked a question prior to the budget vote during public Q & A he would be removed from the auditorium.  This happened after hours of his research found years of budget discrepancies which he kindly shared with Norm Needleman one afternoon just before the Board of Finance public hearing and vote.

Another resident, who came to selectmen’s meetings this past winter with his concerns, was told that he should leave and that he came with “baggage” of his own.  What kind of local government do we have if this is allowed to continue?  This kind of treatment to our taxpaying citizens during public comment time opens the possibility of additional lawsuits.

We shall not be told to “shut up.”  We are a Constitutional Republic, and each and every individual, that is, one by one by one, has unalienable rights, i.e., natural and inherent.  We are not a Democracy or any other form of government.

From a concerned citizen – Essex has 3 times the per capita debt we had when Phil and Norm took over, increased property taxes 60%, and I believe that our town’s indebtedness as a % of expenditures is almost 130% of the state average, a massive increase from 2002, the year before Phil and Norm took over, when that % of the state average was only 53.5%!

Budget revisions have added $2.3 million to the Selectmen’s budget from 2004 to 2010.

We understand that foreclosures have greatly risen in Essex in two years.   The crime rate in Essex doubled that of Westbrook.  We maintain four police vehicles, two not being used.

Norm Needleman touts that he has been a selectman since 2003 and has a successful business in town.  Norm has three businesses, one in Essex, one in Clinton, one in Montague, MI. if, in fact, the info online is correct regarding Tower Labs, his company.  We are happy that Norm has been very successful with his businesses but we need a full time first selectman not a first selectman who previously told several residents he would consider hiring a Town Manager but then switched during the debate.   Norm also sits on boards of organizations that receive YOUR tax dollars.   Is it ethical that anyone handling the board of selectmen’s budget should also sit on boards of organizations to which those tax dollars are given?  We don’t believe so.

People are out of work and having financial difficulties.   Many in Essex have to pay their taxes on a budget plan, so stated our Treasurer at the October 20th Board of Finance meeting.  The Essex Elementary School needs a new roof at a cost between one and two million dollars.  Norm and Stacia Rice-Libby have no clue as to what is ahead around the next financial corner or how we are going to address these issues.  We can not afford increased spending or taxing.  Most of us are not better off than a year ago.  If the infrastructure is improved, tell us where.   Inflation is here and rising, and your dollars do not purchase what they did even a year ago.

It is Our Opportunity, Our Responsibility and Our Call as to what the Outcome in Essex will be.

Please, attend Board of Selectmen’s meetings and Board of Finance meetings in the future.  If we attend, they will be more careful with YOUR money and addressing your Rights.  Things are out of control.  Send a message loud and clear on Tuesday, November 8th.

Change the status quo at the town hall.  You will not be sorry.   No more lies.  No more hiding issues.   VOTE FOR BRUCE MACMILLIAN, JOEL MARZI again and their REPUBLICAN TEAM

Thank you very much

Melanie H. Phoenix (lifelong Essex resident 67 years)

Paul F. Phoenix (resident 54 years, member of Essex Fire Dept. for 46 years and Past Fire Chief)


Letters: It is not good for our town

To The Editor:

I wonder if any Independents who received the filthy eleventh hour mailer released by Needleman/Libby have been hoodwinked into believing their pathetic lies. I think we are too smart to fall for the Saul Alinsky type politic that have become business as usual at our Town Hall.

A clash of ideologies is one thing- these blatant lies stink like bile. Unfortunately, false advertising works and Needleman/Libby have descended into this all too familiar cesspool of deception e.g., scare the seniors, the poor and the uninformed. The ugly politics have to stop. Whether it is doctoring debate videos, tarnishing the opponent’s reputation, or downright lies as seen in this mailer, it is up to us, the Independents, to vote the vulgariens, out of local politics. It is not good for our town.


Alison Nichols,

Letters: Late Hit Smacks of Desperation

To The Editor:

I am very distressed to read today’s flyer making outright misstatements about Bruce McMillan. I have lived in Essex for 36 years and have NEVER heard anyone ever call for reduction in funding to our library, fire department or ambulance associations.

Moreover, in the contentious budget meeting this year, the word LIBRARY never came up. Not once! Nor have I ever heard anyone say that they wanted a police department such as Old Saybrooks. There are plenty of issues to discuss – our ongoing legal fees, our constant overspending and coming back for more, etc., but the issues mentioned in Norm’s flyer are not among them.

Although Bruce did say he would look at all NGO contributions (save the library, ambulance and fire department) to ascertain if there was a value to the town, he never mentioned anything about meals-on-wheels (one presumes there is a value to the town if we have participants).

This sort of late hit in the campaign smacks of desperation, particularly when none of it is true.


Linda K. Dwyer,


Letters: In the end it’s about priorities

To the Editor:

Caring for our community also means caring for those who need our help.  Norm Needleman and Stacia Rice-Libby have demonstrated they will continue the partnerships that help our community’s seniors and most vulnerable.  Their opponent, Bruce MacMillian, will not.

In a recent newspaper interview, MacMillian said “I don’t like to see 17 non-profit organizations funded through tax dollars. Certainly, funds for the fire department and ambulance association-public safety concerns-would be funded, but I question the need for us to fund the others.”

Some of those 17 non-profits include organizations like the Visiting Nurses, the Estuary Council of Seniors, and even Meals on Wheels.  These programs help people who need our help the most.  The amount of tax dollars that are contributed to these important efforts is tiny compared to the professional police department Mr. MacMilian wishes to create.

In the end it’s about priorities.  Let’s continue to help those who need it, and elect people who will make it a priority to do so responsibly.  That’s why I hope you’ll join me in voting for Norm Needleman and Stacia Rice-Libby November 8.


Cathy Bishop

Letters: Let’s Not Take Two Steps Back

To The Editor:

I will vote this Thursday for Norm Needleman and Stacia Rice-Libby. Norm already has a proven track record with the town of Essex in budgeting, land preservation, and supporting much needed non-profits in these troubled economic times. And I believe Stacia will bring a fresh, pragmatic perspective to governing.

As a Medical Social Worker, I have seen firsthand the devastation affecting our seniors, the disabled, and the disenfranchised, and yes, right here in Essex! To turn our backs on our own citizens is foolish, divisive and cruel. I for one am supporting the candidates that have already controlled costs, kept our taxes low and have taken a necessary and emphatic approach to much needed programs. Let’s not take two steps back!


Lea Santello, MSW

Democrat Norman Needleman and Republican Bruce MacMillian Compete for Open Essex First Selectman Seat

ESSEX— The contest for the open first selectman seat puts four-term incumbent Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman against Republican Bruce MacMillian, a retired insurance company executive.

The two rivals are competing to succeed incumbent Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller. Miller, who has been the Democratic nominee in every town election since 1999, was elected with Needleman in 2003, but declined to seek a new term after he was elected state representative for the four-town 36th House District in a special election last February.

The candidates share some personal similarities. Both moved to Essex in the 1980s. Needleman, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native, arrived in 1985, while MacMillian, a West Hartford native, arrived in town in 1986. Both are fathers, Needleman, 60, has two grown sons. Now divorced, Needleman’s companion is Jacqueline Hubbard, executive director of the Ivoryton Playhouse. MacMillian, 64, is the married father of three sons.

Both candidates have had successful careers in the private sector, along with varying public service experience. Needleman is the founder of Tower Laboratories, a company that manufactures effervescent products, or as Needleman says, “anything that fizzes.” The company, with a dozen employees when it relocated from Westerly, R. I. to the Essex Industrial Park in 1985, now employs over 150 people. Before winning election as selectman, he served on the zoning board of appeals and the economic development commission.

MacMillian, a former vice-president for Travelers Insurance Company, later founded and sold a company called CEU.Com. MacMillian is on the board of directors for Middlesex Hospital, and after appointment by Miller, was chairman of the Essex Housing Authority from 2005 to 2007.

Both candidates pledge to serve as a full time first selectman. Needleman said his company has a management team of four vice-presidents that would allow him to devote full time to the job of first selectman, adding “I have already been the most active and engaged second selectman in anyone’s memory.” MacMillian said he would be a full-time first selectman with “no other commitments or distractions.”

The candidates share similar views on some town issues, and differing perspectives on others. MacMillian said he would be the town’s “chief salesman,” to push economic development and fill vacant commercial structures. He would consider incentives from the town if that was necessary to bring the right kind of business to Essex. Needleman does not favor incentives, suggesting tax abatements would set a bad precedent in a town that already has a low tax rate.

Neither candidate advocates changes to the structure of town government. MacMillian said a town charter could help clarify some government policies and procedures, but opposes any change to a town manager form of government and has “no interest,” in a four-year term for first selectman. Needleman sees no need for a town charter or a town manager, pointing to efforts by he and Miller to have “well-trained professionals,” in town hall positions. Needleman said he would only raise the option of a four-year term for first selectman if residents asked for the change, adding “it’s not in my mind to bring it up now.”

Essex was one the first town in Middlesex County to consider the option of a four-year term, with voters rejecting the change in a 2000 referendum during the administration of former Republican First Selectman Peter Webster.

Police service has emerged as an issue, though the candidates stated positions are similar. MacMillian said the town should have a resident state trooper and four full-time officers, a staffing level that was established during the last decade. He also suggests forming an advisory police commission to assist the board of selectmen in police hiring, evaluations, and negotiations with the local police union.

The town currently has a resident state trooper and two full-time officers, with a backup state trooper who was retained last year when two other officers were on leave. One senior local officer who was on leave retired in August while another remains on medical leave.

Needleman has suggested that MacMillian favors a full-time town police department. He favors continuing with a resident state trooper, and suggests the exact number of town officers should be decided as part of the town budget for 2012-2013. He said a police commission would only be necessary for a full-time department, adding that selectmen have sought input from law enforcement professionals in all recent police hires.

In commenting on the idea for a police commission, Needleman said MacMillian lacks the town government experience needed to be an effective first selectman. “My opponent doesn’t know what he doesn’t know,” he said, adding “I don’t think somebody should run for first selectman without first being on the board of selectmen.”

MacMillian said he would be “a more effective manager,” and has “more of an open mind,” than Needleman.” I have the advantage of looking at things with a fresh set of eyes,” he said.

Despite active door-to-door campaigning, multiple political mailings, and heavy fundraising, the candidates have avoided personal attacks, with each expressing respect for the other. MacMillian’s campaign has raised and spent slightly more campaign dollars. MacMillian’s campaign committee had raised $9,945 and spent $7,517, according to the October finance report that was filed earlier this week. Needleman’s campaign committee raised $8,312, with expenditures of $6,796 as of Oct. 25.

MacMillian is running with incumbent Republican Selectman Joel Marzi. With past service on the zoning commission and board of finance, Marzi was elected to the board of selectmen in 2009 after losing the first selectman contest to Miller by 376 votes. Needleman is running with Stacia Rice Libby, an insurance agent who has served previously on the park and recreation commission. A former Republican who changed parties to run with Needleman, Libby, if elected, would be the first woman to serve on the board of selectman since the 1980s.

After a winner of the first selectman race is determined, the top two vote-getters among the other candidates, including a possible losing candidate for first selectman, will be elected as the board of selectmen for the 2011-2013 term.


Essex Basketball Jamboree – Nov. 6

The first annual Basketball Jamboree supporting the Essex Basketball Center & Gateway project will be held on Sunday November 6 from 3.30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Valley Regional High School Gymnasium.

The Basketball Jamboree, which is free, will be for grades K-9 and will be a fun filled basketball event for kids featuring a DJ, a Hot Shot competition, basketball games, Youth Rec. League info, Coach Woods skills lesson and much more.

All participants receive a free Jamboree T-shirt while supplies last and a $10 off future Essex Park & Rec. program coupon.


Deep River Library PresentsTellabration! A Celebration of the Oral Tradition

Tellabration is a mammoth storytelling event – and that’s no Tall Tale! It’s a storytelling phenomenon, made up of dozens of storytelling happenings all over the world. Its purpose is to introduce adults, as well as children, to the pleasures of the oral art of storytelling.  It is one of the programs offered by The Connecticut Storytelling Center, based at Connecticut College in New London.

On Wednesday, November 16 at 10:00 a.m. at Deep River Library at 150 Main St. Deep River a Tellabration will be held for preschoolers. Tellers Jeanne Bent and Jeanne Donato will perform. For more information contact Ann Paietta at 860-526-6039 or

Storyteller, children’s librarian and former classroom teacher with over twenty years experience working with children, Jeanne Bent tells folk and fairy tales at festivals, libraries and classrooms throughout Rhode Island and Connecticut.  Her interactive storytelling style delights audiences of all ages. Play & Learn, with Storyteller Jeanne Donato as her presentations are designed to feature Storytelling, Creative Drama, Music, Movement, Writing, Humanities Enrichment, and Enhanced Learning Techniques. She is a Master Word Weaving Instructor, A Certified Master Balloon Artist, Resilient Educator Trainer, Educational Kinesiologist, and Brain Gym Instructor. She is the National Storytelling Network’s Rhode Island State Liaison and co-authored “Storytelling in Emergent Literacy: Fostering Multiple Intelligences,” a rich resource for educators and parents.

A full listing of over 25 Tellabration sites in Connecticut with dates and times can be found by logging onto or by calling The Connecticut Storytelling Center at 860-439-2764.

Letters: We need to elect a new team to guide our town

To The Editor:

I am voting for Norman Needleman for first selectman and Stacia Rice-Libby for the Board of Selectman.  Here’s why:

With Phil Miller deciding not to seek another term as our first selectman, we need to elect a new team to guide our town.  Both Norm and Stacia have the right set of experience as small business owners, managers and community volunteers.

Norm  has served as our selectman since 2003.  He knows the people, the issues and has the right set of management experience having grown a small company from scratch into a major manufacturing company.  His hands-on leadership is needed in town more than ever and his proven ability to bring people together for the common good is well known and respected.

Stacia has run a small business and is now in the insurance industry.  She’s a dedicated community volunteer and a lifelong resident of our region.  She will bring a fresh new perspective and if elected will be the first woman to serve on the Board of Selectman in about two decades.

Together Norm and Stacia will provide an exciting new way forward at a time when we need new ideas.  That’s why I am voting for both of them on Nov. 8.


Claire Tiernan

Land Trust 7th Annual Amateur Photographer Contest

Winner of last year's John G. Mitchell Award by Mark Bailey

Local conservation groups are inviting amateur photographers to focus on the celebrated and scenic countryside of Lyme, Old Lyme, Essex, Salem, and East Haddam and submit their photos to the Seventh Annual Amateur Photo Contest.

The Conservation/Land Trusts from each of those towns are sponsoring the contest. All amateur photographers are welcome to enter the contest regardless of what town they reside in.

This contest is being funded with the generous support of Lorensen Toyota, Oakley/Wing Group at Smith Barney, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Ballek Garden Center, Essex Savings, Bank, Murtha Cullina LLP and ChelseaGroton  Bank.

Judges will award $100, $50 and $25 cash prizes for each of the following categories:

–       Landscapes/Waterscape
–       Plants
–       Wildlife
–       Cultural/Historic
–       Any subject for Young Photographers, below age 15

In addition to the above noted prizes, a special $100 award will be given in memory of our former judge, John G. Mitchell, for the best photograph that promotes and supports our environment and biodiversity. “As a former editor at National Geographic, John dedicated his career to writing about the environment and conservation and so the award is for the best picture reflecting that subject” explained Tony Sullivan, the conservation trusts’ spokesperson.

“We are delighted by the caliber of the judges we have been able to attract for this year’s contest,” said Sullivan.

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

“We’re expecting to see some wonderful photographs from our contestants,” said Sullivan.  “Lyme, Old Lyme, Essex, Salem and East Haddam are among the most beautiful places in Connecticut.  The landscapes and seascapes here turn up repeatedly in the great paintings of the American Impressionist movement.  We think photography is another way to remind ourselves of what we have, and to show how important it is to protect and preserve that heritage.”

The deadline for submitting photographs is January 31, 2012. For questions, entry forms and a copy of the contest rules, send an e-mail to To see last year’s winning photos, go to

1st prize in the Cultural-Historic category by Jean Callan King

The Connecticut River, a National Treasure – Nov.15 Essex Library

Join Steve Gephard, Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection Supervising Fisheries Biologist for his review of significant past and ongoing Connecticut River conservation efforts on November 15 at 7.30 p.m. at the Essex Library.

The talk will provide updates on fish restoration programs but will go beyond that to highlight the many attributes of the Connecticut River.  Steve will share his knowledge of the river, natural history facts, and perspectives on the future.

Steve Gephard

Steve Gephard has been on the Connecticut River for over 50 years, beginning as a child swimming in the river at a time when no one really should have been swimming in the river.  He has spent the last 30 years working as a fisheries biologist for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, where he currently supervises the Diadromous Fish Program within the Inland Fisheries Division.  Throughout his career, he has been involved with the program to restore Atlantic salmon to the river and enhance runs of shad, river herring, eels, and other species. He serves on many regional committees and is appointed as one of three U.S. Commissioners to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, which regulates harvest of salmon in international waters.  In addition to his fish-related duties, Steve is an ardent land conservationist, founder and past-president of the East Haddam Land Trust, and boater on the river.

Community Music School Faculty Concert

Samantha Talmadge

ESSEX – On Sunday, November 13, members of the Community Music School faculty come together to perform an array of chamber music and other works at 4 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 6 Methodist Hill, Essex.

This annual concert offers the community a unique glimpse into the wealth of talent and experience held behind the Music School’s doors, as faculty members collaborate on a wide variety of chamber ensemble pieces and original compositions. Traditionally, audience members have offered at-will donations for this free concert and this year, proceeds will benefit a friend and colleague of the faculty. The School’s executive administrative assistant, Dawn Swope, was recently diagnosed with cancer and will be undergoing treatment for several months.

“We are all so grateful for the support that Dawn provides to each of us throughout the year and we felt strongly about being able to support her during this challenging time,” said faculty member Samantha Talmadge, a soprano who will be performing Handel’s “Let the Bright Seraphim”. Other performers include Pamela Dubey Allen, Russ Becker, Tom Briggs, Audrey Estelle, Joni Gage, Lisa Gray, Patricia Hurley, Bruce Larkin, Oxana Lauria, Marilyn Lazare, Matthew McCauley, Bill McIntosh, Nathan Pawelek, Steve Roane, and Nancy Thomas.

Please call 860-767-0026 or visit for additional information.

Letters: Ten Questions and Answers from MacMillian

To The Editor:

We would like very much if you would print our questions to Bruce MacMillian and his answers he gave to us.

Our questions to Bruce MacMillian, if he is elected first selectman for the town of Essex, and his responses are as follows;

1. Have you or are you considering or planning to hire a Town Manager for Essex ?  No

2. Will you or are you considering holding all Board of Selectmen’s meetings after 6pm or at a time when more residents are home from work and able to attend ?  Yes and perhaps on Saturdays so residents can attend

3. Are you willing to acquire a line item expense report from organizations both within Essex limits and outside Essex limits to which our tax dollars are donated no matter what the amount given, i.e., Essex Library or Rushford ?  Yes, non-profits that receive our taxes dollars need to show us that they are providing a return on our investment. No return, no future funding

4. Will you remove yourself from donating Essex tax dollars to companies or organizations both within and outside Essex limits if you sit on the Board of Directors of same entity or are you willing to step down from that position ? Yes

5. Would you consider first and foremost sending out bid announcements for impending jobs to Essex residents who own businesses before doing so or contracting with those outside the Town of Essex ?  Yes

6. When hiring town employees both for inside town hall and outside employment, would you make it a priority to hire a local Essex resident if qualifications meet with the job description ? Yes

7. Would you promise not to hire anyone, who would be paid with tax dollars from Essex residents if that proposed employee was or is under legal investigation at the time of the hire?  Town residents came to several Board of Selectmen’s meetings this year to oppose exactly this matter. Yes

8. Do you consider these three basic descriptions as top priority and responsibility for holding the position of first selectman,  Emergency Preparedness, Health and Roads ?  I agree with your three but my highest priority is public safety which includes police, fire department and emergency preparedness.

Also, volunteer is not an ugly word. Being a volunteer gives people, especially if they have the time, a sense of worth, and a volunteer could lead to a part time or full time employee for Essex or, in the future, perhaps another selectman. 

9. Would you seriously consider allowing residents to volunteer their service or time, at no charge to our town, if the opportunity arises ?  Yes, we need more volunteers.

10. With regard to transparency, are you willing to keep all topics of importance on the table so that citizens do not find out after the fact that something was handled secretly, such as drowning of the beaver, no bid contracts and many more topics that outraged residents particularly this past year ?  Yes, transparency is very important to me.

Good luck with your campaign.  We hope you win.  We need you and your team.  It is time.


Melanie and Paul Phoenix,

Essex, CT.

A one-two punch from winter weather – Message from Congressman Joe Courtney

Connecticut was hit hard by its second massive storm last weekend – a one-two punch from Tropical Storm Irene, then Winter Storm Alfred. With thousands of families still waiting for power to be restored, including my own, I wanted to update you on what I have been doing over the past few days.

Congressman Courtney joined other members of the Connecticut Congressional delegation and Gov. Malloy yesterday in Hartford to discuss federal aid that will help with storm cleanup.


After the storm hit and the lights went out, my office immediately arranged for a conference call with CL&P and town leaders from across eastern Connecticut. We learned in Irene that communication is key in this process, and connecting CL&P directly with town leaders is the fastest way to get resources where they are needed to deploy town work crews for “clear and cutting.” Despite that initial effort, the allocation of utility line crews has been excruciatingly slow and uneven. One thing that has been flawless though is the effort of countless volunteers and first responders across the district who have come together to keep us safe and warm.

Since the storm hit, I have visited Emergency Operations Centers in Vernon, Stafford, Suffield, Somers, Enfield, and Tolland, as well as emergency shelters. The professionalism and care on display in these town has been inspiring. The good nature of residents at shelters at Vernon Middle School, Suffield High and others was really impressive.

Federal resources to get the lights back on

At the end of the day though, Connecticut needs more crews and we need to get the lights back on. The Connecticut Congressional Delegation has worked with the Department of Energy to get CL&P the resources they need to accelerate the recovery process, turn the lights back on and reheat homes. As a result, the Department sent Bill Bryan, their Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration to Connecticut to help ensure that the federal government is doing everything possible to respond. Still, the onus is on CL&P to take advantage of the assistance they have secured so they can meet their projected Sunday restoration times.

As I write this, my own town of Vernon is still over 90 percent without power, and most of us know people who are struggling. The most immediate priority is getting the power back on, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Connecticut Congressional Delegation and federal officials to help coordinate additional resources, like work crews, to help speed up the process of restoring power.

With nighttime temperatures hovering around freezing, getting to shelters is critical. If your friends or family are still without power, 2-1-1 has a list of shelters and warming centers across eastern Connecticut. Help get the word out and share this valuable information.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office and me if we can be of any assistance.


Joe Courtney
Member of Congress

Essex Selectmen Candidates Hold Cordial Debate Before Large Crowd

Large crowd gathered for Essex Selectman candidate debate (photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— The competing candidates for first selectman and board of selectmen held a cordial campaign debate Tuesday before a large crowd of residents.

About 250 residents packed the auditorium at town hall to watch Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman, the party’s candidate for first selectman and Republican nominee Bruce MacMillian debate local issues and priorities. Also participating were Republican Selectman Joel Marzi and Democratic Selectman nominee Stacia Rice Libby. The first selectman seat is open this year with the departure of four term Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller, who was elected state representative in a February special election.

The candidates responded to written questions posed by Essex Librarian Richard Conroy during the 75-minute debate. The questions were submitted by residents in advance, with no questions from the audience. The candidates remained cordial throughout the debate, with all participants shaking hands at the end.

Bruce MacMillian (photo courtesy Jenny Tripp)

But despite the friendly tone, differences emerged on some issues. MacMillian, a former Travelers Insurance Company executive who chaired the Essex Housing Authority from 2005-2007, said he would use the powers of persuasion that go with the first selectman position to attract new businesses to vacant store fronts and commercial buildings in town. “I want to be the chief salesman for the town,” MacMillian said, adding that he would consider offering incentives for the right kind of business development.

Needleman, the founder of the Tower Laboratories manufacturing business who served on the economic development commission before being elected selectman in 2003, maintained Essex is “still faring very well,” despite some commercial vacancies because it is a “well maintained” town with “excellent education, reasonable services, and low taxes.” He suggested filling some large commercial spaces would be a challenge in the continuing slow national economy.

Neither candidate advocated quick action to adopt a blight ordinance, an option that was considered by the board of selectmen last year but never brought to a town meeting vote. MacMillian said he would make personal appeals to owners of unsightly properties, including long vacant commercial structures, before bringing a blight ordinance to the voters for approval.

Norman Needleman (Photo courtesy Jenny Tripp)

Needleman said two of three vacant residential properties that prompted calls for a blight ordinance last year have now been sold and improved. He also favored talking to property owners first, noting “talk is what we need to do before considering the sledgehammer of a blight ordinance.”

The candidates also differed on police services, with Needleman suggesting MacMillian favors a full time police department, something Needleman described as a slippery slope” towards higher costs for the town. Needleman said the town should continue with the resident state trooper program supplemented by some full-time officers. He said the exact number of town officers working with the resident state trooper should be a subject for discussion between town officials and residents.

The town currently has two full-time officers, with one officer on medical leave and another position opened up by the retirement of a senior officer in August.

MacMillian said he “thought we already had a full-time police department,” with four full-time police positions funded in recent town budgets. MacMillian said he would favor having “the current force fully staffed,” with four officers serving under one resident state trooper.

MacMillian also advocated establishing a police commission to provide advice and guidance “one the whole police issue,” including hiring, evaluations, and negotiations with the police union. He maintained there are retired law enforcement professionals living in Essex who would be willing to serve on a police commission.

Both candidates agreed Essex does not need to switch to a town manager form of government, a step that would first require drafting and adoption of a town charter. Needleman said the “first selectman model works very well,” and allows “greater accountability” to the voters. Needleman said as a selectman he has strived to have “competent professionals,” working in town hall jobs to “insure continuity,” even with changes in the elected board of selectmen.

MacMillian said he would not favor a change to the town manager form of government, noting “I thought that’s what I was interviewing for,” by running for first selectman.

Both candidates pledged to serve as a full-time first selectman. Needleman said his company is “on sound footing,” with a management team, allowing him to devote full time to the first selectman position. MacMillian said he is currently retired and would be a full-time first selectman with “no other commitments or distractions.”

The top three vote-getters on Nov. 8, including a possible losing candidate for first selectman, will be elected as the board of selectmen for the 2011-2013 term.

See related story to watch video recordings of debate

Letters: Positive Approach to Government

To The Editor:

I don’t know about you, but our national politics are bad right now.  Name calling and obstruction have gotten in the way of doing what is right for the people.  It is unfortunate.

Thankfully here in Essex things are not that way.  Our town leadership has worked well together to keep our books fiscally sound, transparent, and balanced.  Their accomplishments were made together as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.  We need to continue this positive approach to government and that is why my vote will go to Norm Needleman and Stacia Rice-Libby this Nov. 8.

Whether it’s his work as one of our selectmen, in his successful business, or helping one of the many community organizations serving our town, Norm has always worked to bring people together.  Most important, he doesn’t always think he’s right.  He spends time with people who may have differing ideas to learn more about alternative points of view, and more often than not those discussions lead to very productive outcomes to challenging problems.

Norm has what it takes to lead our community.  I hope your readers will consider joining me in voting for Norm Needleman and Stacia Rice-Libby this Nov. 8.


David C. Bates

Video Clips of Essex Selectmen Candidate Debate at the Town Hall

A large crowd turned out for the Nov. 1 debate at Essex Town Hall between the two candidates for First Selectman of Essex, Republican Bruce MacMillian and Democrat Norman Needleman, and the Republican and Democratic candidates for Selectman, Republican Joel Marzi and Democrat Stacia Rice-Libby.

Richard Conroy, director of the Essex Library posed questions submitted to the library by Essex town residents prior to the debate.  Question included topics such as how they would handle the blighted property issue,  what their business development plan would be for the town, what their views are on supporting non-profit organizations and whether the town should hire a Town Manager.  Each candidate responded to each question alternately and each was given the opportunity to offer some concluding remarks.

The selectmen candidates Marzi and Rice-Libby also gave short introductory comments and short concluding remarks.

Videos clips of opening statements, responses to questions and closing comments are provided below.

Connecticut River Museum Presents 18th Annual Holiday Train Show

Train artist Steve Cryan has created another locomotive extravaganza for the Connecticut River Museum’s 18th Annual Holiday Train show exhibit, open November 18 through February 12.

The Connecticut River Museum will present its Annual Holiday Train Show from November 18 through February 12.

The family-friendly Holiday Train Show exhibit is back at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex for its eighteenth year of fun for all ages.  Train artist Steve Cryan has worked his magic again with more trains, new scenery, and lots of surprises to be found in the fully operational 26-foot model train layout.

Visitors are challenged to find a scavenger list of various objects hidden within the settings while the smaller visitor set can get hands-on at an American Flyer layout designed for toddler size viewing.

The exhibit is a true locomotive extravaganza and a perfect outing for train fans and all who are young at heart.  The exhibit runs through February 12, 2012.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm and closed on Mondays. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children age 6-12, free for children age 5 and under.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to

Chester Zoning Hearing on Propane Storage Resumes Thursday

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission public hearing on a proposed 60,000-gallon propane generators and storage facility at the Airport Industrial Park resumes Thursday after lengthy sessions held in September and on Oct. 6.

DSDM LLC, an affiliate of Uncas Gas Company, is seeking a special permit for two 30,000-gallon propane storage tanks on a parcel at 25 Airport Industrial Park Road. The commission has already approved a separate permit for a 50-foot by 80-foot building on an abutting parcel, but the company has said it would not construct the building unless the propane storage is also approved by the panel. Airport Industrial Park is located on Winthrop Road, also known as Route 145, in the western section of town.

The proposed propane storage has attracted strong opposition, with both a nearby business owner at the industrial park and a nearby resident on Route 145 hiring attorneys to oppose the permit application at public hearings held on Sept. 8 and Oct. 6. A dozen residents spoke in opposition to the proposed propane storage at the Oct. 6 hearing. The problem can a-rise from some establishments not having the correct tank sizing for the property type, they’re either too big or small, this is why the architects need to be more cautions when sizing so each house has the correct size tank to keep demand stable.

William and Susan Sangster, owners of Hull Management LLC at the industrial park, hired Hartford lawyer John Bradley, along with an engineering consultant, to represent them at the public hearings. Keith and Maria Scherber, who live at 70 Winthrop Road about 400 feet from the site, hired Old Saybrook lawyer Michael Cronin. The applicants have been represented by lawyer Harry Heller.

Much of the testimony has focused on safety procedures, along with the record on accidents and releases at other bulk propane storage facilities around the northeast. There are currently 60 bulk propane storage sites in Connecticut. The Sangsters also noted that Airport Industrial Park Road is a dead end road ending in a cul-de-sac, possibly limiting access in an emergency. As part of the storage process, the public hearing will also focus on the issue of fabric vs steel buildings – and which one presents the best option.

The public hearing reconvenes at 7 p.m. in the Chester Meeting House. The commission is expected to vote on the permit application by Nov. 21, when the terms expire for some of the seven members and alternates participating in the public hearings. The make up of the commission could be changed by the results of the Nov. 8 town election.

TTYS Social Norming Campaign

Jessica Ramage is one of several members of VRHS/Tri-Town’s Youth Action Council who tossed out mini-footballs to spectators during Valley’s recent Homecoming Game.

The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council’s Social Norming Committee convened this past spring to design a Social Norming Campaign.  The tossing out of 250 mini-footballs at Valley Regional’s recent Homecoming Game was their latest development.

The campaign began with billboards, one in each of the towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex, thanking parents for keeping our kids safe by monitoring their whereabouts.  The billboards were followed by lawn signs bearing the same message that were scattered throughout the same three towns.

Social Norming is a means of presenting information in a way that is similar to positive reinforcement.  The footballs were imprinted with the following message:

“Think everyone uses alcohol?  Think again!  Over 70% of VRHS students don’t use alcohol.”

The footballs also sport a warrior, Valley’s school mascot.  The statistic used on the footballs was gleaned from student responses on the Search survey, “Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors” that was administered in January of this year.

The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council is in its second year of a Drug Free Communities grant.  Funding is provided through an ONDCP and SAMHSA partnership.  For further information about the Substance Abuse Prevention Council, contact Gail M. Onofrio at Tri-Town Youth Services at 860-526-3600.  The next meeting of the Council will be held at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High Street in Deep River at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 16.


Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council Meeting

The next meeting of the Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council will be held at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High Street in Deep River at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 16.  A guest speaker, John Daviau of John Daviau Consulting, will address various aspects of marijuana including its decriminalization, harmful effects, and its increasing use.

Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council membership is open to all who live or work in Chester, Deep River, or Essex who have an interest in prevention.  For further information, contact Gail Onofrio at Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.


Letters: MacMillian and Marzi will Work Tirelessly for Essex

To The Editor,

The voters of Essex have a great opportunity on 8 November to elect Bruce MacMillian, running for First Selectman, and Joel Marzi, running for Selectman. Both of the candidates have promised an open process, accessibility and positive leadership. After hearing both candidates speak at various events, I am convinced that they will bring positive changes to our town.

Joel is a small business owner in Essex and is currently serving as a Selectman. He has volunteered on Essex Boards and Commissions for a combined twenty-five years.  Known to many of us for his stellar sense of humor and wit, Joel has, over the years, and on a more serious note, become a safe haven for Democrats, Independents and Republicans to voice their concerns about our town. This spotlights his trustworthiness and his accessibility.

Bruce’s broad experience, his business background and his fiscal conservatism guarantee that he will be an excellent steward of our tax funds. His volunteer work for the Essex Housing Authority sets him apart. At the time that Bruce took over the reins, the Housing Authority was mired in problems and complaints from the residents. Within a short period of time, Bruce restructured the management team, improved communication and reformulated the mission. The proof in the pudding is how an organization turnaround can succeed with the right leadership.

For voters who have not had the pleasure of meeting Bruce and Joel, be assured that, when elected, MacMillian and Marzi will work tirelessly for Essex.


Alison Nichols,
Essex, CT, 

Churchill: A Celebration of His Life and Accomplishments

Sir Winston Churchill

The Churchill Society of Connecticut, in association with the Essex Library, will present a talk on Churchill; A Celebration of His Life And His Accomplishments by G.R. Barber, President of the International Churchill Society of Canada, on Wednesday, November 16. The talk will be held at Essex Meadows’ Hamilton Hall at 7 p.m., and a wine and cheese reception will precede it at 6:30, courtesy of Essex Meadows. The talk is free and open to all.

Essex Meadows is at 30 Bokum Road in Essex. For more information or to register for this program, please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560.

Artist Nile Barrett Reception at Marshview Gallery

A reception will be held for the artist Nile Barrett at the Marshview Gallery on November 11 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

All of Nile Barrett’s life’s upbringing and experiences are reflected in her art.  The history, nature, fabrics, texture, patterns, beach and so on. Nile often uses photos for her paintings.  When she tried water color she discovered she was hooked. She earned her Masters in Art Recreation from Southern CT University and retired about five years ago from teaching art at the CT Juvenile Training School inn Middletown. Nile is currently enjoying the water color classes with Stan Carver at the Westbrook Senior Center.

Everyone is welcome to attend the reception. Refreshments provided.

Learn to Speak Spanish at the Ivoryton Library

A new class of beginning Spanish has begun at the Ivoryton Library meeting each week on Thursday at 2:15. New members are welcome. The cost of each class attended is $3 and materials are provided. Each class contains grammar exercises and conversation; English is not spoken in the class. Other classes offered at the library are Advanced Spanish and several intermediate and advanced French classes. Call the library for more information at 860-767-1252.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind is Looking for Volunteers

Autumn is a time to give thanks for all that we have – wouldn’t you like to give back as well?  Guiding Eyes for the Blind is looking for volunteers who want to give the ultimate gift by raising a future guide dog.

Our dedicated puppy raisers take a puppy into their homes for 14-16 months and provide the puppy with a foundation in house manners, socialization, obedience, and of course love in preparation for its future as a guide.

Guiding Eyes provides vet care and training costs. If you love dogs and have been thinking of a way to give back, now is a great time to get started!  Pre-Placement classes in the Southern CT region begin November 5 in Wallingford. Classes for the Southern CT region are also held in Deep River and Guildford.  Call Regional Manager, Maria Dunne, at (845) 230-6436 or visit to fill out an application.

Artists and Chairs Wanted!

The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. is planning a “Painted Chair Auction” for spring.  We are looking for artists and creative people to take a chair and paint it.  We will provide the chair or you may use your own. The chairs will be displayed in the 9 town estuary region communities for about two months, and then auctioned at an event to benefit Meals on Wheels in 10 towns along the shoreline! Artists’ name will accompany the chair and will be listed in the program and on our website! (Lot’s of exposure!)  The Painted Chair Auction will be an Spring evening event with wonderful hors d’Oeurves, wine and music!

At this time we are looking for a couple of people who would like to Co-Chair the event. It’s promised to be lot’s of fun!

Anyone wishing to donate a sturdy, wooden chair can drop it off at the Estuary, 220 Main St., Old Saybrook. Call Sandy for more information and if you would like to paint a chair 860 388-1611

TTYS Sponsors Family Yoga Morning in Deep River

Tri-Town Youth Services, at 56 High Street in Deep River, will sponsor a yoga family fun morning with yoga instructor, Jennifer Ryley-Welsh.  Parents and their children (ages 4 and older) will spend an hour moving, breathing, and laughing together.  No yoga experience is necessary.  The family yoga class will take place at Tri-Town on Saturday, November 5 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.  The cost is $10 per family.  Please call 860-526-3600 to register.

Classical Concert in Killingworth, November 6

"The Little Church in the Wilderness” in Killingworth

A Winter Concert featuring the works of J.S. Bach, Viviani, Cesar Cui and Mendelssohn, among others, will be held at “The Little Church in the Wilderness” in Killingworth on Sunday, November 6 at 4:00 p.m.   Performers will be Susan Paisley on the church’s classic organ, Ronald Moore on the Violin and Viola, and John Holahan on trumpet.

The church is located at 50 Emanuel Road in Killingworth, and following the concert there will be a reception. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children. For information and directions call 860-663-1109, or visit

Frostbite Sailors Brave the Wind and Cold, “all for the love of sailing”

Snow on boats before launching (Photo courtesy of Bob Leary)

In a bright, bright sun, on a cold, cold day, with the wind gusting well over 20 knots, twenty-five hearty sailors raced last Sunday (Oct. 30) for the better part of an afternoon in Essex Harbor.

These Frostbiters, as they call themselves, didn’t seem to mind conditions such as these. For them the more blustery it is, the better. In fact, when it was learned that ten “frostbiting” sailboats had capsized while sailing this afternoon, it was taken as a point of pride, rather than  a demonstration of what some might consider pure foolishness.

Readying the boats in parking lot

There were four kinds of boats in the afternoon’s competition in the cold.  They were: (1) the graceful, 30 foot Etchells, (2) the JY-15’s, (3) the Ideal 18’s, and (4) the one person, single sail Lasers of 13 feet, 9 inches. Most of the boats that capsized during the afternoon races were Lasers, with a few JY-15’s as well.

Single-handed Lasers round a mark

Once a Laser capsizes there is only one person at hand, who can bring the boat back upright, and that is the one man crew. Regular dunking into the water is the primary reason why Laser skippers wear full-bodied wet suits. The wet suit, however, does not keep a capsized sailor’s head from getting wet, and there is always a bit of water leaking down into the wet suit, after the boat and sailor have gone into the drink.

Crew struggles with capsized boat in water (Photo courtesy of Bob Leary)

A Crash Boat, fully motorized, patrols the Frostbite races, manned by  Frostbite Yacht Club Commodore, Scott Baker. If Baker sees that a capsized Laser sailor is having a difficult time righting his vessel, he has the power to send the boat back to the dock, because of the sailor’s evident fatigue. “If they are having trouble, we send them back in,” Baker says.

On this afternoon the Commodore sent three exhausted Laser skippers back to the dock, because of fatigue. In fact, there was such a concern for capsizing Lasers that the crash boat began following them around their course.

The larger Etchells can suffer a variety of breakdowns, such a broken spinnaker pole or traveler, but they are rarely, if ever, ordered back to dock, because of skipper’s fatigue.

As for Sunday’s sailing competition, the Frostbite sailors spoke with real feeling. “It was an awesome, windy day,” said Toby Doyle, who took first place with his Etchells in the afternoon’s races. “We survived,” he added.

An Etchells close-hauled

Other winning skippers were Mathew Wilson, first place of the JY-15’s; Ed Birch, captain of the winning Ideal 18, who is frequently a winning skipper; and Chris Field, the first place Laser skipper, who had only himself to thank for his victory.

As for the weather conditions, Ed Birch said, “It was nasty out there, with big puffs coming up.” A one point Birch said, “We were getting killed out there.”

An Etchells with full spinnaker

For her part Charlotte Posey, who sails an Ideal 18 with her husband, Dennis Posey, she was shocked when her husband said he wanted to go sailing today. They first had to shovel the snow out of their driveway.

The Ideal 18 requires a crew of two, and Charlotte Posey says that she and her husband “are one of the few couples out there who can sail together.”

After the races a former Commodore of the Frostbiters, Rick Harrison, said simply while sipping some hot soup, “It was a day of survival.”

Frostbnite Commodore Scott Baker eating soup after the race

The ultimate arbiter, whenever there is a dispute, is the club’s   Principal Race Officer, Tom Carse. As for the winds this day he termed them, “Very difficult, very puffy.”

Commodore Baker officially termed the day’s weather conditions as, “challenging but not dangerous.” Do the Frostbiters sometimes sail in  “dangerous conditions?” The Commodore answered, “Yes.”

Of the 25 sailboats boats in the races, there were four Etchells, four JY-15’s, 8 Ideals 18’s, and 9 Lasers. After all the boats were pulled out of the water, and stored until next week’s race, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, November 6th, in Essex Harbor, the Frostbiters retired to a local yacht club and some hot soup. Sailing a boat is always a matter of moods, it seems. This past Sunday was one of just pure excitement.

Frostbiters' Race Committee Boat

Democrat Edmund Meehan Faces Common Ground Party Challenge for Open Chester First Selectman Seat

CHESTER— The contest for the open first selectman position puts a longtime public sector employee against a political newcomer running as the first time candidate of a recently formed local third party.

Democrat Edmund Meehan is challenged in the Nov. 8 vote by Andrew Landsman, nominee of the Chester Common Ground Party, a local party established in 2009 that is running its first ticket for board of selectmen this year. Whoever wins, there will be a change in political control at town hall as Chester Republicans are not running a candidate for first selectman after three consecutive municipal elections wins.

The last change occurred in 2005, when Republican Tom Marsh unseated six-term Democratic First Selectman Martin Heft. Marsh, who last year ran for governor as nominee of the Connecticut Independent Party, easily defeated Democratic challengers in 2007 and 2009 before leaving the first selectman seat in August to become town manager in Windsor, Vt. Republican Tom Englert, elected to the board of selectmen with Marsh in 2009, became interim first selectman on Aug. 16, holding the job until the current two-year term ends on Nov. 22. Englert is seeking a second term on the board of selectmen, but no Republicans are running for the top spot.

Democrat candidate Edmund Meehan

Meehan, 66, has been a Chester resident since 1982, but first arrived in the Valley Shore area in the early 1970s as a planner for the Old Saybrook-based Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency. A married father of four sons, Meehan worked as a planner for the City of Hartford before taking his current job as town planner for Newington in 1988. He served as a member and chairman of the town planning and zoning commission in the 1980s and as member and chairman of the board of finance in the 1990s.

Meehan said he was approached by several residents about serving as interim first selectman early last summer, and declined because of his commitment to the Newington job.  But after consulting with his family, Meehan, who was preparing to retire from the Newington job next year, accepted the Democratic nomination for first selectman at the July 27 nominating caucus. Meehan is running with incumbent Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher, who is seeking a second term on the board.

Landsman, 50, arrived in Chester from Burlington in 2007 after 22 years in various sales and management positions with the CIGNA health insurance company. The father of a 20-year-old daughter, Landsman currently works as director of facilities at the local Aaron Manor Skilled Nursing Care Facility. He has served on the inland-wetlands commission and is active with the Chester Rotary Club.

Landsman, an unaffiliated voter, approached town Democrats about running for first selectman, but later agreed to join the Chester Common Ground Party, a local third party established in 2009 that promotes a non-partisan approach to town government. Landsman said he is running for first selectman to bring his “problem solving and leadership skills to the table.” He is running with Glen Reyer, owner of a local information technology company and former member of the planning and zoning commission who helped found the Chester Common Ground Party in 2009. Landsman and Reyer are the party’s first ticket for board of selectmen.

The two rivals agree on the town’s top priority for the 2001-2013 term, and hold similar positions on several potential issues. Meehan and Landsman each said the Main Street Project, a reconstruction of the town’s Main Street to be done in conjunction with two nearby state-funded bridge replacement projects, would be a major focus of the next two years.

Each pledged to work with a recently established volunteer Main Street Committee, contractors, and the state Department of Transportation to make sure the work does not disrupt life and regular business activity in the downtown village.

Neither candidate calls for changes to the structure of town government, such as drafting of a town charter or a four-year term for first selectman and board of selectmen. Meehan said he would always favor the current two-year term , while Landsman said he would consider proposing a four-year term only if residents were calling for the change. “It’s not high on my priority list,” he said.

Both candidates are open to the idea of Chester joining the Connecticut River Area Regional Health District that now serves Clinton, Deep River and Old Saybrook, but only after a detailed study comparing costs and services. Both candidates pledge to be a full time first selectman, while Meehan adds there would be a “transition” from the start of the term next month to the end of the year as he prepares to leave the job in Newington.

Landsman, while acknowledging Meehan is a “very capable candidate,” said he would bring a “stronger passion” for the job, and sales experience that would help boost economic development. Meehan said he has much broader public sector experience from his role in Newington, particularly for large scale projects like the Main Street Project. Meehan said he has coordinated a four-phase $3.5 million streetscape project and “knows the process,” adding “after doing this for 40 years I’ve done a lot of things.”

Both candidates have campaigned door-to-door over the past six weeks, with Common Ground sponsoring two and Democrats four town-wide campaign mailings. Unlike recent contested town elections, there was no public debate this year. Landsman said his campaign requested a debate, but Meehan said the request “came late” at a time when he was very busy with a controversial development proposal in Newington.

Also campaigning door-to-door is Englert, who notes his service as interim first selectman has given him “great experience and background,” to continue on the board of selectmen. Englert said he has a “personal preference” for the top job, but would probably not make a public endorsement. He also discounted speculation the Common Ground group is linked to town Republicans, with Reyer also on the Republican slate as a candidate for board of finance.

“Glen Reyer is running against me and so for that matter is Andy Landsman,” Englert said, adding there has been no effort by town Republicans to promote the Common Ground Party.

The new board of selectmen will be comprised of the winner for first selectman and the top two vote-getters for board of selectmen, a mix that would include the losing candidate for first selectman.


MacMillian and Marzi Can Provide the Leadership Essex Needs

To the Editor:

I support Bruce MacMillian and Joel Marzi for the November 8th Election.

The recession we’ve been living through has been extraordinary in depth and breadth with consequences that have pushed many of us to our limits both financially and personally.  In Essex we have seen shops close and homes foreclosed.  Driven by economic frustration, last spring we witnessed a critique of our town budget not seen in decades.

Some have said Essex has lost its way and is on a slow spiral down.  I disagree.  We are a strong town with good citizens and we will recover.  However, who we choose in this election may determine how long it takes and at what price.

To move forward we’ll need leaders that are open minded, take initiative and can prioritize the needs over the wants, while communicating to us often and effectively.  Through their experience in building businesses, managing operations, and leading town boards MacMillian and Marzi have the leadership and determination to get Essex going again.  Come November vote for MacMillian and Marzi.



Adam Conrad

Antiques Appraisals at Chester Village West – Nov. 5

You’ve been saving those treasures for a long time, maybe even waiting for the right time to sell them for a lot of money. But how much are they really worth?

Satisfy your curiosity when the Chester Historical Society presents its seventh Antiques Appraisal on Saturday, Nov. 5, at Chester Village West retirement community. Six appraisers will be on hand to give you verbal appraisals of your items.

Your mother’s beloved china soup tureen… An oil portrait of your grandmother… A cherry side table… Letters written by your great-great-grandfather… The family Bible… Silver spoons… Gold bracelets and rings…

If you want to know what something is worth, bring it in during the morning of Nov. 5th, any time from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Bring in your antiques – or photographs of the items if they’re too large (if it’s a table or dresser, bring in a drawer too).

Appraisals will cost $5 for each item; you may bring up to  three separate items. All proceeds will benefit the Chester Historical Society. Chester Village West will serve coffee and treats during the morning. Chester Village West has ample parking and easy access (including an elevator) and is at 317 West Main Street (Rte. 148), just before the Chester / Killingworth town line.

The appraisers will be:

Norman and Linda Legassie have been the proprietors of Stepping Stones Antiques and Collectibles in Old Saybrook since 1976. A professional sculptor, Norman’s knowledge of fine art brings a practiced eye to examine treasures. Linda adds many years of experience as a researcher in the fine and decorative arts. Their knowledge encompasses a wide range of subjects from prehistoric to present, including furniture, jewelry, postcards, tools, silver, pottery, and more.

Marsha Malinowski is a Senior Vice President in the Books and Manuscripts Department at Sotheby’s in New York. With an expertise in letters and documents from the fourteenth century to the present in both the historic and literary fields, Marsha has seen a wide array of extraordinary manuscripts during her twenty-five years at Sotheby’s. Always delighted to look at antiquarian books or inscribed first editions, Marsha is a featured appraiser on the Public Television series Antiques Road Show. 

Peggy Maraschiello of River Wind Antiques  & Appraisals in Deep River offers knowledge of antique quilts, textiles and linens, artful and collectible ceramics and pottery, pedigreed glass, silver items, and much more. Peggy is an accredited appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers and a certified appraiser with the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. She has more than 24 years experience conducting estate and liquidation sales for antiques and residential contents.

Edward Swift, a retired member of the American Society of Appraisers, has extensive knowledge about antique furniture, and his specialty is period 1600 to mid-19th century. Ed had his own preservation and restoration business for more than 10 years in Glastonbury, where he was active in the historical society. Now a resident of Chester Village West, Ed continues to support the Chester Historical Society with his expertise.

Alicia Winalski has been the owner of Nyman Jewelers in Old Saybrook since Oct. 1, 2001. With 20-plus years of experience identifying and designing jewelry and the recent change in the gold market, Alicia keeps busy appraising and evaluating customers’ jewelry.



Laurel Hill Cemetery Walk Cancelled

Chester Historian Rob Miceli (shown) and Cheri Ferrari Habersang will lead a walk through Chester's historical Laurel Hill Cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. The walk, which is sponsored by Chester Historical Society, is free, and refreshments will be served. (Skip Hubbard photo)

The Laurel Hill Cemetery Walk scheduled for Saturday has been cancelled.

It’s a hidden gem! Laurel Hill Cemetery overlooks the Pattaconk Brook and is a beautiful resting place for many of Chester’s past generations, yet many residents have never ventured in.

Do you know when the cemetery was started and how?  Do you know who is there and their importance to Chester’s history?

Chester Historian Rob Miceli and Chester native Cheri Ferrari Habersang, both of whom are longtime members of the Chester Historical Society Board of Trustees, will lead a walk through Laurel Hill Cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m.  They will talk about the history of the cemetery, and how and when it got started.  They plan to discuss different stones and what the symbols mean on many of them.

There is no admission for this family event, which does involve a short walk with inclines to reach the top of the cemetery.

To participate in the cemetery walk, just meet Rob and Cheri at the cemetery entrance on Main Street (opposite the Chester Gallery). Festive refreshments and treats will be served.

Deep River Selectmen Await Meeting With Town Hall Restoration Association

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen is hoping a joint meeting next month with directors of the Deep River Town Hall Restoration Association Inc. will bring consensus on how to complete a long-running restoration of the town hall auditorium and utilize funds donated to the association.

Selectmen met with members of the association board of directors on Sept. 27, urging the association to assist in drafting an updated town meeting resolution and authorization for the association, which was established under a 1981 town meeting resolution and later became a non-profit corporation. Before the joint meeting was held, the board on Oct. 11 adopted a resolution expressing opposition to placing funds held by the association in an irrevocable endowment fund.

Sally Carlson-Crowell told the selectmen at Tuesday’s meeting the group was “a little bit concerned,” about receiving “demands” from the selectmen before the joint session was held. She said directors of the group, including long-time director Ted Mackenzie, had recently discussed dissolving the association based on concern with the direction of the review process.

Selectman Arthur Thompson said the board is not seeking to disband the association, but needs to clarify the future plans of the association and the use of more than $200,000 in donated funds held by the association. The funds were donated by residents to support the restoration of the town hall auditorium, a project that began in the late 1970s.

Most of the funds have been invested on the stock market, with the value shifting in recent weeks based on gains and declines in the market. Thompson said the funds should be held in safer investments, and used to complete all necessary improvements to the town hall auditorium. “I’m not sure the people who donated that money want it to be played on the stock market,” he said.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the board needs to have the association “let us know what you want to do,” to complete all necessary improvements to the auditorium. He suggested the funds held by the association could be combined with some town funding to complete the project. Smith said he has no objections to having a local resident hired by the association continue to coordinate scheduling the use of the auditorium.

Concluding Tuesday’s discussion, Carlson-Crowell said the association directors are “looking forward,” to the joint meeting with the selectmen.


Rep. Miller Votes Yes on Jobs

State Representative Phil Miller is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He sits on the legislature’s Environment, Human Services, and Public Health Committees.

State Representative Phil Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam) voted for bipartisan legislation today that improves Connecticut’s ability to grow and retain jobs.

“Small businesses drive job growth in Connecticut and today’s legislation gives them the state support they need to truly thrive. Investing more money into Connecticut businesses will put more state residents back to work in stable, good-paying jobs,” said Miller.

Miller said one of the key components of today’s Jobs Bill (HB 6801) is the Small Business Express Package making $50 million a year available to small businesses through incentives, grants and loans.

“We shortened the time it takes businesses to get permits and eliminated the bureaucratic red tape which had gotten in the way of business growth in the state,” said Miller. “I’m proud that we have made it easier for businesses without jeopardizing worker safety or weakening our environmental laws.”

The Jobs Bill also contains short and long-term strategies to help ensure Connecticut’s workforce matches business demand by aligning programs at the state’s vocational high schools, community colleges and universities with the needs of employers, including manufacturing and technology companies.

Some of the key provisions of the Jobs Bill include:

  • Cutting the business entity tax
  • Streamlining the business permitting process
  • Consolidating and increasing the tax credit for new hires
  • A second “First Five” program
  • Remediating old industrial sites/brownfields
  • Computer upgrades to foster seamless communication between business and the state
  • Investments in roads and bridges
  • Replenishing the Manufacturing Assistance Act (MAA)
  • Main Street commercial centers improvement initiative

In addition, the legislature today approved the deal with Jackson Labs to build a $1.1 billion, state-of-the-art research facility at the UConn Health Center campus in Farmington. The State of Connecticut will invest $291 million and Jackson Labs will raise the balance of $860 million for the project.

According to the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), the project is expected to create over 660 new positions at Jackson Labs in Farmington within 20 years. DECD estimates more than 4,600 bioscience jobs would be generated through spin-off companies, and another 2,000 would be added to local service and area retail stores. The project would yield more than 840 construction jobs as well. Most importantly, it represents a critical step in establishing Connecticut as a global hub for genomic research, attracting companies and world-class minds dedicated to the pursuit of diagnostic and therapeutic medical breakthroughs.