December 7, 2022

Archives for January 2012

Take Your Child to the Library Day

Children’s Book Author and Illustrator Jane Manning Will be reading tales and helping children learn to draw 1pm on Saturday February 4 at Deep River Public Library.

Plus there will be many  other fun things to do.  Imagine….all that the Library has to offer you. Get a Library Card, borrow materials, download e-books & audios, attend programs, meet new friends, become a volunteer … and…

Visit Deep River Public Library, 150 Main Street, Deep River.

“Fine Line Tattoo Parlour” Adds a Certain Class and Character to the Town of Deep River

Deep River tattoo parlor on Main Street

Mark Roberts of Marlborough is the owner of the busy tattoo shop located at 160-B on Main Street in Deep River. His many tattoos on his own hands and arms make it obvious that Roberts is sold on tattooing; even though when he points to his own tattoos, he does so, a bit self consciously.

Owner Mark Roberts in his "parlour"

Tattooing these days is no longer an activity catering only to sailors on leave and the working class. Now having a tattoo is almost preppy. Also, many women, young and old, these days adorn various parts of their bodies with tattoos.

On a recent Sunday afternoon at the “Fine Line Tattoo Parlour,” three tattooing artists were busy at work. Roberts, himself, was tattooing an intricate design of waves of water along the sides of a young woman’s feet.

Roberts gives woman client a retouch

In a second chair in the shop, tattoo artist Jay Kelly of East Windsor was also busy. Kelly, who has spent 17 years in the trade, will soon be working full time in Roberts’ new tattoo parlor in West Hartford.

In the third tattooing chair in the shop, tattoo artist Melissa Stolzmman was updating and enhancing an existing tattoo on the chest of former Marine Corps Sergeant Jeff Beno of Westbrook. Stolzman has 15 years of experience in the tattoo trade.

Marine Corps veteran gets a new design

Talkative and friendly, the shirtless Beno served in Iraq with the Marines, and Stolzman is adding an American flag backdrop to one of Beno’s existing tattoos. Another of Beno’s tattoos paid tribute to his former wife, and Beno says he is going to have it removed.

The kinds of tattoos which are popular these days  

“These days everyone wants a custom designed tattoo,” says shop owner Roberts. “It used to be that people wanted eagles, hearts, daggers, and other traditional designs,” such as the American flag. “Now everyone wants something different,” he says, although tattoos of Jesus remain popular.

There are even “photo reality” tattoos these days, which are tattoos of a portrait of an actual person. As for the clientele of a tattoo shop, Roberts says, “We do lawyers, judges, policemen, and we did a tattoo for a dentist the other day of a smiling tooth.”

One tattoo that Roberts cautions against is having a tattoo with the name of a current girlfriend or boyfriend. “It might change,” he says. “We tattoo names, only if the name involved is a blood relative,” he says.

As for tattooing young people under the age of 18, Roberts says that “parental consent is always requested.” Though he adds, “I am not the morality police,” as to whether people should get a tattoo, and, “I don’t get paid to say no.”

As for the cost of tattooing at the Fine Line Tattoo Parlour, a small tattoo, or a touch up of an existing tattoo, can cost as little as $60. More complicated designs cost as much as $100 to $150 dollars, and even more.

It is a firm policy at the “Fine Line” shop that the tattoo artist will first tell the customer exactly how much his or her tattoo is going to cost, before the work begins.

As for who is getting tattoos these days, according to Roberts and Kelly, roughly 25% of their customers are women, and the remaining 75% are men. Also, three quarters of the people getting tattoos are retouching their original tattoos, or adding new ones.

There are also times when tattoos can serve a very worthy purpose. After a woman has had a mastectomy, drawing a nipple appearing tattoo on her breast can be very important. “These tattooed nipples can be lifesaving,” Roberts says.

The micro-dermal, tattooing process

Roberts describes a tattoo as a permanent cosmetic, or a “design sketched into the skin.” More technically he says that a tattoo is, “a micro-dermal pigmentation that is injected into the skin.”

In applying a tattoo, first, the spot on the body where the tattoo is going to be placed is washed thoroughly with soap and water. Next, an outline of the desired design of the tattoo is sketched by the tattoo artist on to the customer’s skin.

After this pen outline is finished and has dried, a sterilized tattooing needle is injected into the skin with “single use” ink, and the actual tattoo is put into place in the skin. It takes roughly a week for a new tattoo to heal. During the healing process it is important to keep the tattoo clean. According to Roberts, there are rarely any infections caused by tattooing.

Removing at tattoo is difficult

A major characteristic of a tattoo, which adds to its sense of daring, is that tattoos are designed to be in the skin forever. They are extremely difficult to remove. Touch ups consisting of more tattooing can be done again and again, but removal of a tattoo is very different story.

Two kinds of techniques are used to remove tattoos. (1) An existing tattoo can be covered over with another tattoo of a darker color, or (2) a tattoo can be removed by a plastic surgeon using a laser treatment. However, Roberts belittles this treatment, saying, “You can still see it,” or at least the outline as to where the tattoo once was.

To become a fully competent tattoo artist can be a long process. Roberts said that he spend five years as an apprentice in the trade, and his colleagues in the shop served many years of apprenticeship as well.

As for the ambiance of a modern tattoo parlor, It reminds one of a friendly bar or an old fashion barber shop with everyone chatting away. Also, Roberts emphasizes getting to know his customers, “and establishing a relationship of trust.” As for how the tattoo artist feels, Roberts says, “Giving a tattoo to a person is a performance for the tattoo artist,” he says.

Artists at work inside the tattoo parlor

The tattoo shop in Deep River, which was founded in 1980, is the oldest tattoo parlor in the state. As for its present Deep River location, Roberts says, “We will always be here.”

Finally, although “not a piercing shop,” Fine Line Tattoo Parlour does some skin piecing. The most common is piercing the navel and attaching a tiny barbell.

Deep River Grand List up 0.73% From 2010 Total

DEEP RIVER— The increase is small, but it’s a lot better than last year. That was the feeling at town hall Tuesday as Assessor Robin Loughlin filed an Oct0ber 2011 grand list of taxable property that totals $482.25 million.

The net grand list total of $482,257,864 is up by $3,522,462, or 0.73 percent, from a 2010 total of $478,735,422. The increase would generate about $86,000 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 24.28 mills.

It was 2010 when a required revaluation update conducted during an ongoing economic recession and a down real estate market brought a drop in the grand list of $39.6 million, or about 8 percent from the 2009 total. There were decreases in all three categories, real estate, personal property and motor vehicles that resulted in a loss of about $816,000 in tax revenue.

The totals were better in 2011, with increases in for each of the categories. The town’s 2,182 real estate accounts show an assessment total of $434,769,290, an increase of $1,008,580 from 2010. The town’s 419 personal property accounts show an assessment total of $14,239,694, up by $448,622 from 2010. The town’s 4,830 motor vehicle accounts show an assessment total of $33,248,900, up by $2,065,260 from 2010.

Loughlin said there were few new homes constructed, and no major commercial or industrial projects, completed last year. She said home renovations and additions account for most of the jump in the real estate total, while purchases of new vehicles accounted for the increase in the motor vehicles totals.

First Selectman Richard Smith said he was pleased to see an increase that would generate some new tax revenue. “In this kind of an economy any increase is good,” Smith said, adding “every little bit helps.”

The list of the town’s top ten taxpayers remained unchanged from 2010. The top ten taxpayers with the 2011 assessment totals are Connecticut Light & Power Co. 5,047,273, BDRM Inc. (Brewer’s Deep River Marina) $4,298,969, Mislick Family Limited Partnership $3,137,190, Silgan Plastics Corp. $2,997,506, and Deep River Associates LLC $2,605,680.

Also Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur $2,430,610, 180 Main Street Partners LLC $2,277,450, Jerome and Marlene Scharr $1,923,180, Virginia Linburg $1,881,950, and Alberto & Raffaella Cribiore 41823,430.  Dernocoeur, Scharr, Linberg, and Cribiore are all high value residential properties located on or near the Connecticut river.

A Swashbuckling Party Promised at Connecticut River Museum’s Privateers’ Bash

Free Men of the Sea will lend their voice to the Connecticut River Museum’s Privateers’ Bash on March 2.

Essex, CT– AARRGH! If you are looking for a fun and lively way to let off a bit of winter steam, gather your crew and make plans to head out to the Privateers’ Bash on Friday, March 2 at the Connecticut River Museum.  All are invited to come in costume and relive Riverfront history at the sixth annual Bash, a playful nod to the privateers who made their wealth by relieving foreign ships of their valuable cargo during the War of 1812.  Grog, grub, music and dancing will fill the exhibit galleries from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm.  The Sun Kings, a Caribbean party band, will create the vibe while Free Men of the Sea will sing chanteys and banter about. Savory bites will be provided by Culinary Concerts, David Alan Catering, Gourmet Galley, Cloud Nine Catering, La Cuisine Café & Market, and Coffee’s Country Market. Great treasure can be found with great prizes up for raffle plus booty awarded for best costumes.   Supporting Sponsors for the event are Bogaert Construction Co., Caulfield & Ridgway, Inc., Clark Group, Marwin Mechanical Services, Reynolds’ Garage & Marine. Patron Sponsors include All Pro Automotive, Brown & Brown of CT/McCutcheon Burr & Sons, Drs. McAraw, Canter & Canter, Pages, Inc., Rachel Thomas Associates, and Sweitzer Waste Management.

A $50 Privateer ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, grog and one complimentary drink. Or take advantage of a two-ticket purchase deal and buy two Privateer tickets for just $80.  A $75 Commodore ticket also includes hors d’oeuvres and grog plus an open bar. Net proceeds benefit the Connecticut River Museum’s major new exhibits project.  Tickets may be purchased by calling 860-767-8269, online at, or at the door on the evening of the event.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront.  It is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to lead in the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley.

Well-known Actor will Perform the Gospel of Mark, Old Saybrook Feb 19

Frank Runyeon, will present “Afraid” Sunday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m. during worship service, First Church of Christ in Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK – Professional actor, Frank Runyeon, will present “Afraid” Sunday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m. during  worship service, First Church of Christ in Saybrook, 366 Main Street. Start your Lenten journey with Runyeon’s spell-binding performance of the Gospel of Mark. A free-will offering will be collected. For more information visit, or call the church, 860-388-3008.

Frank Runyeon has won national acclaim for his work as a translator and performer of Biblical texts over the past 20 years. He has performed the gospel for hundreds of thousands of people in almost every state in America, earning rave reviews from critics, scholars, and church leaders of every denomination. He is regularly reviewed as “the best speaker we have ever heard” by students and faculty at private and public schools across the nation.

He is perhaps still best known, however, for his many roles on television. He starred for seven years as Steve Andropoulos on As the World Turns opposite Meg Ryan, a storyline that garnered the second highest ratings in the history of daytime television.

He next appeared for four years as Father Michael Donnelly on the Emmy award winning Santa Barbara, and as tycoon Simon Romero on General Hospital, opposite Emma Samms. Frank has also guest-starred in recurring roles on L.A. LAW as talkshow host Brooks Tapman, on Falcon Crest as chess genius Jovan Dmytryk, on Melrose Place as Father Tom, and on All My Children as Forrest Williams. Frank starred as Detective Marty Lowery in the feature film Sudden Death and as Pierre Lyon in Bolero. He appeared to rave reviews on the New York stage as Hercules in Aristophanes’ The Birds, and in regional theater as Clifford in Deathtrap and Oliver Costello in The Spider’s Web.

On the radio, he has hosted his own comedy talk show on the top-rated L.A. station, KFI, and on WCNN in Atlanta, and co-hosted Charles McPhee’s nationally syndicated show, The Dream Doctor.

Frank is a graduate of Princeton University with a degree in Religion. After studying acting in New York and Los Angeles for 15 years, he attended Fuller Seminary in preparation for the writing and performance of his first one-man play, AFRAID!: The Gospel of Mark. He continued his studies at Yale Divinity School and General Theological Seminary, from which he received his Masters, with honors, in l994. He work shopped his first productions in cooperation with the faculty of Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA, and the University of Dayton. Frank has now translated and adapted six Biblical texts for performance as one-man dramas.

He and his wife Annie, live in Los Angeles with their three children.


Essex Planning Commission Approves Three-Lot Resubdivision on Toby Hill Road

ESSEX— The planning commission has approved a three-lot resubdivision of a 12.38-acre parcel off Toby Hill Road in the Ivoryton section, a step that could lead to a connection from Ivoryton to a heavily developed section of the road in Westbrook.

The commission approved the resubdivision on Jan. 12 after a two-part public hearing that began in November. The plan by developer Paul Vumbaco of Meriden calls for three building lots on 5.94 acres, and a donation of the Essex Land Trust of 6.38 acres of open space land. The lots in Essex would receive access from a common driveway off Joseph Circle, a new subdivision road extending off Toby Hill Road in Westbrook. Joseph Circle would end at a cul-de-sac in Essex.

Toby Hill Road is an old town roadway that extends from Pond Meadow Road in Ivoryton north to intersect with McVeagh Road in Westbrook. The larger section of Toby Hill Road in Westbrook has been heavily developed in recent years, with numerous homes and new roads extending off it.

Vumbaco has already received approval for a seven-lot subdivision of about 22 acres located off Toby Hill Road in Westbrook. These lots would also be served by Joseph Circle.

Concerns about a possible connector road from the development off Toby Hill Road in Westbrook leading to the difficult intersection of Toby Hill Road and Pond Meadow Road in  Ivoryton led the planning commission last winter to recommend abandonment of the small section of Toby Hill Road in Ivoryton. John Guszkowski, the town’s consulting planner, had noted in a memo the intersection has “a steep approach from Toby Hill Road, poor sight lines and unfavorable topography.”

The board of selectmen discussed the commission’s recommendation last March, but took no action on a process that would have required approval from voters at a town meeting.

Guszkowski said Friday the developer has agreed to pay for improvements to Toby Hill Road in the vicinity of the planned Joseph Circle, but has not pledged to help pay for improvements to the intersection of Toby Hill Road and Pond Meadow Road in Ivoryton. Guszkowski said it remains an “open question” whether the intersection of the two roads requires improvements, and whether Essex town funds would be needed to pay for improving the intersection.

The section of Joseph Circle in Ivoryton would include a small parking area providing access to the 6.38 acres of open space land, which abuts other undeveloped open space land in Ivoryton and Westbrook. The developer would also be required to pay for a 30,000-gallon underground water storage tank to provide fire protection for the subdivision.

Falls River Preserve and Jean’s Island Winter Walk

Naturalist Phil Miller and Chet Arnold, former president of the Essex Land Trust, will lead groups through the spectacular Falls River Preserve on February 4, at 10 a.m. starting at the Preserve.

Walk to Jean’s Island if the ice is thick. Falls River Preserve is a 40-acre peninsula of forest and ledge projecting into Mill Pond on the Falls River. The lowlands walk is easy for all ages. More challenging trails cross over ledges of 800-million-year-old metamorphic schist forming the peninsula’s spine.

This walk is the year’s kick off for the Essex Great Outdoors Pursuit, co-sponsored with the Essex Land Trust and the Essex Park & Recreation Department. Park at the end of Falls River Drive in Ivoryton. Only really bad weather (blizzard or torrential rain) cancels. Admission is free and open to the general public. Cocoa and donuts served before the hike.

Bingo Night Hosted by Deep River Elementary School PTO

Deep River Elementary School PTO will be hosting their annual BINGO Fundraiser at John Winthrop Middle School on Friday,  February 10, from 6-8 p.m.

Doors Open at 5:30 p.m. Lots of prizes, pizza and goodies as well as a great raffle. Bingo will have guest MC – Dr. Jack Pietrich, Principal of DRES. Please come and support your local PTO.

Any questions or if you care to make a donation, please call Jimmy DeLano (860)227-1159.

History and Evolution of the Six Yacht Clubs of Essex – A Pictorial Event Hosted by Essex Historical Society

Boating and Essex just go together. Essex has one of the prettiest harbors anywhere in the United States. Just ask any one of the boaters in the six yacht clubs in Essex or any of the transient boaters who come here annually.

The “History and Evolution of the Six Yacht Clubs of Essex” will be the topic of the February 8th meeting of the Essex Historical Society to be held at the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, 9 Novelty Lane, at 7 p.m.

Representatives of each club will present short pictorial histories in the order of their club’s founding.  Starting off will be Tom (Danny) Daniells representing the Dauntless Club. The Frostbite Yacht Club,follows next with speaker Ed Birch.  Essex Yacht Club has George Graf as speaker. Toby Doyle speaks for Pettipaug Yacht Club. Next, the Essex Boat Club by Jim Core, and finishing with Essex Corinthian Yacht Club by Jeff Going.

Jerry Roberts, Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, will start with a summary of how Essex evolved from a commercial shipping port into a world renown yachting hub supporting multiple recreational boating organizations that are each unique, yet interconnected through tradition and joint activities.

The presentation is open to the public.  Seating will be limited.  For further information, contact Lynn Herlihy, (860) 767-3373 of the Essex Historical Society.

Shoreline Bus Usage Grows by 34%

Improved service hours and increased connections combined to boost ridership on the shoreline’s 9 Town Transit bus service by 34% during 2011, the largest single year increase in the agencies history.

Since 2009, 9 Town Transit has greatly expanded the reach and hours of its services.  Public bus service is now available from the shoreline to New Haven, New London, Middletown and Hartford, all for a fare of $1.25.   Most services now begin around 6:00 AM and end at 7:00 PM or later.  Connections are offered to four neighboring transit systems.

These factors contributed to a total annual ridership of just under 86,000 passenger trips, the highest in 9TT’s 30 year history, and a two year increase of 60%.  About half of all trips are work related.  All services are open to the general public.

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

Deep River Firehouse Planning Put on Hold

DEEP RIVER— First Selectman Richard Smith said Thursday that planning for a new or expanded firehouse would be put on hold after a study committee provided a split report to the board of selectmen in a report submitted late last year.

Smith said the board of selectmen discussed firehouse options with two members of the Firehouse Study Committee, John Koller and David Barardis, at a Jan. 12 special meeting, but reached no conclusions. “It’s undecided at this point,” Smith said, adding that the dual recommendation had left “unanswered questions.”

The final report from the eight-member committee established by the board of selectmen in December 2010 recommended a renovation and expansion of the existing firehouse on the corner of Union and West Elm streets, or an alternative option of constructing a new firehouse on a 14-acre parcel on the north side of Route 80, near the Plattwood Park Recreation Area. We are considering using external companies to enhance the property at the time of build. Certain home renos are being considered and will be pitched to the committee before we engage contractors. The cost of a new firehouse was estimated at $1.8 million, an amount that does not include the expense of land acquisition.

Smith said that, like the report’s recommendations, the study committee is “split,” with some members favoring a new firehouse, and others supporting a renovation and expansion of the existing firehouse.

The study committee, comprised of members of the Deep River Volunteer Fire Department and resident volunteers, was established after a proposed $2.4 million renovation and expansion of the existing firehouse was rejected on a 347-312 vote in a July 2010 bonding referendum. A more costly firehouse renovation and expansion project was rejected by a wide margin in a November 2007 referendum. The existing firehouse, which opened in 1961, totals 5,084 square-feet.

Under the option of building a new firehouse, the existing firehouse, which is closer to the downtown area, would become a satellite station. A small existing satellite station located on Route 80 in the Winthrop section would be closed, with the property put up for sale.

Smith said he is not sold on the idea of building a new firehouse, partly because the 50-year old existing firehouse would still require some improvements for continued use as a satellite station. He said the option of buying land to build a new firehouse requires further study. Smith added that he is not willing to bring another firehouse building project back to the town’s voters in a referendum “unless it is something that everybody feels comfortable with.”

Smith said the study committee would hold at least one more meeting to review and possibly revise its report. But he added the board of selectmen would not discuss firehouse options further until possibly this summer, after approval of a town budget plan for 2012-2013.

“House, Form and Culture” With Architect Joeb Moore

The Essex Library’s ongoing Centerbrook Architects Lectures Series presents architect Joeb Moore, who will speak on “House, Form and Culture” on Friday February 3rd at 7 PM at Essex Meadows Auditorium.

The Essex Library’s ongoing Centerbrook Architects Lectures Series presents architect Joeb Moore, who will speak on “House, Form and Culture” on Friday February 3 at 7 p.m. at Essex Meadows Auditorium. In architecture, designing houses is often where the best young architectural talent has the opportunity to push the art of architecture forward.  Frank Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright started their careers by designing houses that changed the way we think about home.  For adventuresome clients, their house is an opportunity to try something new.

Architect Joeb Moore has provided a decade of inspiration in how to design comfortable houses that also excite us about what is possible. Joeb will discuss how these houses were designed and built and will inspire us to think about our homes in a different way.

Mr. Moore is principal of Joeb Moore + Partners, Architects, an architecture and design firm in Greenwich, Connecticut, and is the recipient of more than twenty-five AIA New England, AIA CT, and AIA NY Design Awards since founding his practice in 1993.  Before joining the Yale faculty in 2007, Mr. Moore taught at Catholic University and Columbia University.

The program is free and open to all, and a wine and cheese reception will precede the program at 6:30 p.m.  Essex Meadows is at 30 Bokum Road in Essex. For more information or to register for this talk, please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560.

Winter Frolic at the Lyme Art Association

In the tradition of their founding members, the lively Lyme Impressionists, The Lyme Art Association is once again inviting you to a magical Winter Frolic Saturday, February 4 from 8:00 p.m. to  midnight.  This year the historic gallery will transport you to a Tyrolean winter wonderland – a scene straight from the Alps!  Once again, the galleries have been transformed under the design direction of artist Camomile Hixon – a scene sure to delight.  Join the fun for an unforgettable evening of dancing and merriment, featuring the sound of  String Theory.

Come inside to warm up against the chill and enjoy an array of delectable hors d’oeuvres, desserts and drinks, all with a European flair. Special thanks to our in-kind sponsors: Dagmar’s Desserts, Fromage Fine Foods, Restaurant L&E and French 75 Bar, and The Chocolate Shell.

A stunning selection of paintings by our very own Elected Artists will be available for bid during the evening’s Silent Auction.  Catch a sneak preview of Auction items on our website, beginning January 25th.

The Winter Frolic is a benefit for the Charles A. Platt Restoration Fund, established in 2008 to repair and refurbish our historic building.

Friends tickets are $75 per person in advance; $95 at the door.  Patrons tickets are $250, which includes two tickets and a listing on the Charles A. Platt Restoration Fund plaque.

The suggested attire is après-ski chic.

About the Lyme Art Association

The Lyme Art Association is a vibrant art center with a gallery where professional as well as developing artists mount major exhibitions throughout the year.

They also have a busy schedule of affordable art classes and workshops.  Visit the historic Lyme Art Association on your next visit to Old Lyme CT where art lives!

Dina Varano Unveils New Jewelry Collection and Inspirational Watercolors

A brushed sterling silver pendant with pink sapphires and rubies from Dina Varano's Amore Collection, featuring the watercolor that inspired her design. Photo by Dina Varano.

To help you find that special something for your special someone on Valentine’s Day, this February, Dina Varano will unveil her new Amore collection, sure to capture the hearts of many.  This special collection will feature a complimentary autographed watercolor card by Dina, which demonstrates her inspiration behind the collection.  Visit the Dina Varano Gallery in Chester from Friday, February 10, through Sunday, February 12, to be among the first to select from her beautiful jewelry and to receive your personally autographed watercolor by Dina.  Shop the collection through Valentine’s Day, February 14.

A visit to Dina’s working studio features a floor to ceiling wall of drawings and sketches that are the beginning stages of the inspirations behind each one of Dina’s jewelry designs.  “People have always commented to me how they enjoy seeing the inspiration behind each piece of jewelry.” said Dina.  So this winter, Dina decided she would create watercolors on handmade paper to illustrate her vision behind the limited edition, one-of-a-kind, Amore collection.  The autographed watercolors will depict Dina’s creative thought process.  “I am always looking for ways to show the process and demonstrate the meaning of my study and exploration behind each piece, and I hope these watercolor gifts will help depict the essence of what I’ve captured in metal.”  said Dina.

Inspired by nature, Dina Varano’s work has great sculptural integrity. Succeeding as a self-contained object of art, each piece is the full expression of her intuitive process.  Her jewelry comes to life in a new way when worn, carefully articulated to create a harmonious balance with the body it adorns.  Her artist’s hand is deliberate, creating a rhythm of grace and movement. Dina’s jewelry captures the essence and gesture of nature. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Dina spent many years studying in Rome.  She continues to be passionate about travel and escapes to summer programs to further her artistic enlightenment and curious spirit.

Dina enjoys collaborating with other local artisans, and this year, she will be helping customers indulge their Valentine sweet tooth.  With every purchase of Dina Varano jewelry, customers will receive two handmade specialty chocolates from River Chocolates in Essex.

Dina Varano is not only a boutique, but also an artist who searches the world to gather a collection she has curated and wants to share in her inspiring shop in Chester, Connecticut.  The spirited shop features her own jewelry designs, accompanied by a collection of innovative gifts designed by fellow artists, as well as finely crafted artware for the home and for the soul, including gorgeous accessories.

Dina Varano is located in the artistic village of Chester, Connecticut at 27 Main Street.  To learn more and to read Dina’s blog, visit her website at or find her on Facebook.

Chester Democrats and Republicans Select Town Committees for 2012-2014

CHESTER— Town Democrats and Republicans have selected new town committees for the 2012-2014 term at recent party caucuses.

Democrats selected a 24-member town committee with ten new members. Incumbents returning to the town committee include Samuel Chorches, Lori Ann Clymas, Lawrence DiBernardo, Robert Gorman, Charlene Janecek, Henry Krempel, Justin Kronholm, James Miller, Isaac Ruiz, Sandra Senior-Dauer, Selectman Lawrence Sypher, John Yrchik, former Selectman Peter Zanardi, and Kurt Ziemann.

New members include First Selectman Edmund Meehan, who was elected to the town’s top job last November. Meehan’s election ended six years of Republican control of town hall that began with the election of former First Selectman Tom Marsh in 2005. Marsh resigned in August to take a job as town manager in Windsor, Vt.

Other new members are Robert Bibbiani, Joe Cohen, David Fitzgibbons, Errol Horner, Arthur Henick, Pantelis Kehayias, Suzane Levine, Margaret Meehan, and James Ready.

Incumbents leaving the town committee include former First Selectman Martin Heft, who was unseated by Marsh in 2005 after serving 12 years in the top job. Heft, an aide to Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, moved to West Hartford last fall. Also leaving the town committee are Charles Della Rocco, Kristina Finnerty, Region 4 Board of Education member Elaine Fitzgibbons, Emily Maste4rs, Michael Peck, and Priscilla Robinson.

Town Republicans selected a 25-member town committee that includes five new members. Incumbents returning to the town committee include Joyce Aley, David Clark, Selectman Tom Englert, Terri Englert, Region 4 Board of Education member and current town chairman Mario Gioco, Laura Gioco, Victor Hoehnebart, John Huston, Alexa Jamieson, Joni Malcynski, Darolina Marguez-Sterling, Ashley Marsh, Karl Ohaus, Maria Ruberto, Kristian Seifert, Melvin Seifert, former Selectman Bruce Watrous, and Beverly Watrous.

New members are Jamie Grabowski, Jon Joslow, Tracy Ohaus, Jill Sakidovitch, and Brian Sakidovitch. Leaving the town committee are Marsh, Kathy Marsh, Frank Palka, and Betty Palka. The new town committees are seated in March, when the panels will elect officers for the 2012-2014 term.

Wild Winter Programs Planned For February Vacation Week at Connecticut River Museum

Ice formation (shown here on the Connecticut River in Essex Harbor) is just one of the many topics to be explored during February vacation week at the Connecticut River Museum.

Essex, CT — The Connecticut River Museum children’s adventure programs are all about winter during the February school vacation week.   Children age 7 through 12 are invited to embrace the cold with science and art projects featuring ice, snow and the big birds of winter.  On Tuesday, February 21 the Winter Wonderland program will include a winter hike through town and a search for clues about what plants and animals do to survive the cold and snow.  Back inside the Museum, adventurers will create winter landscape paintings and conduct snow and ice experiments. On Wednesday, February 22, the Raptors program will explore the big birds of winter that live in the River Valley with bird-watching activities using binoculars and spotting scopes and a design-your-own raptor art project.  Snow Science is the topic of the program on Thursday, February 23 featuring experiments, a magic trick and amazing art projects like making a glow-in-the-dark snowflake and hot ice sculpture.  Friday, February 24 is Eagle Adventure day where kids will learn how an eagle wing works, why eagles come to the lower River Valley and how to identify these amazing birds.  They’ll also draw eagles, create origami sculpture and take an EagleWatch boat cruise up the River on the 65-foot modern research vessel  Enviro-lab III.

Plan to come for a day or two, or join in the fun for all four days.  Each program runs from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon.  A simple snack is provided, or kids can bring their own. The non-member fee is $30 per day for Tuesday – Thursday, $40 for Friday and $110 for the week.  The member fee is $25 per day for the Tuesday – Thursday sessions, $35 for Friday and $95 for the weekAdvance registration is required.  To reserve a space, download and mail in the registration form from the website, or contact the education department at 860-767-8269 x113 or  The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street.

Chaos Reigns, and the Ladies Love it, at Deep River Store on Main Street

The grand view of Chaos

Joann Hourigan refers to her store, Chaos, as “my therapy,” when she is talking about her truly unique enterprise at 114 Main Street in Deep River. Then, when asked why she named her store “Chaos,” she says, “Because that’s my life.”

In addition to owning Chaos, in real life so to speak, Hourigan is also Executive Director of the Deep River Housing Authority, where she has worked for 19 years. The Authority operates Kirtland Commons, which is a home for 31 elderly and disabled residents. “I love my residents and their families,” she says.  One of the residents is 102 years old.

Chaos owner Joanne Hourigan in mirror

“It’s social work,” is what she calls her work at the Commons, and it   gives her a lot of satisfaction to help people in need. At Chaos on the other hand it’s “another story.” “There, I have a chance to create, and that is what I really enjoy.”

Because of her schedule at the Commons, Hourigan frequently leaves running Chaos to Caroline Lemley, a 19 year old U-Conn sophomore. Hourigan calls Lemley, “My main girl.  She runs the place. People love her, and she is awesome at picking things out for customers.”

Chaos staffer Caroline Lemley

Regardless of who is in charge at a particular time, don’t think for a minute that the operation of Chaos is in any way “chaotic.” In fact, it is a tightly run and very successful enterprise, one that by offering an apparent jumble of goods, arouses a customer’s curiosity to find just the right thing; and then once found the customer buys it, even though they didn’t know they wanted it in the first place.

The floor space at Chaos is 300 square feet, allowing only a fifteen by twenty foot sales area. If the clutter of items was spread out in a normal manner, the floor space would have to be twice the size.

Above all, Hourigan wants Chaos to be “a fun place to come into.” “There are treasurers everywhere,” she says, “even stuff in birdcages.” “I love it that it is so packed in here,” she continues, “That is part of its charm.”

Looking about carefully cluttered Chaos, one sees practically every kind of feminine accessory known to man. “We are selling scarves, handbags and jewelry, and a lot of custom jewelry,” Hourigan says.

Crowded table top at Chaos

Also, partially open draws at Chaos bulge with cascades of objects, and every open space on tables are piled high with a profusion of necklaces, clasps, pins, bracelets and many other ornaments that intrigue and enhance the feminine taste.

Turnover is very quickly,” says Hourigan. Quick turnover means that even if a customer was in the store just a few days before, when she returns to the store a few days later, she can find new things to buy on her return visit.

The recent Christmas holiday was a boom at Chaos. “Christmas was fabulous,” says Hourigan. Racks of women’s clothing were sold, “and we even ran out of boots,” she says.

Chaos’ reasonable prices also encourage a quick turnover of goods for sale. At Chaos earrings cost $18, necklaces $20, and dresses and tops $28. Some of the necklaces sold at Chaos can be mistaken for heirlooms, according to at least one regular shopper at the store.

Bottle caps from Chaos

Also, when it’s warm enough, Chaos offers a running sequence of appealing sidewalk sales. One item of particular popularity is the “buck bowl.” Everything in the bowl costs a buck, i.e. a dollar, no matter what its original price.

When asked, how she selects the items that go into the “buck bowl,” Hourigan says, “I throw in things that I am tired of, or have only one left.” Fishing in the “buck bowl” is a very popular pastime for shopping anglers.

Store hours at Chaos are: Wednesday thru Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are some stores in our area, when at times you cannot find what you are looking for. However, most of the time at Chaos, you’ll find it.

Guest House Retreat and Conference Center Announces Free Yoga Classes

Chester, CT – Guest House Retreat and Conference Center in Chester, Connecticut, will offer a series of public events. The outreach programs will kick off with “Gentle Yoga for Every Body”, an all-inclusive gentle yoga class designed for all levels of experience, taught by Lisa Uihlein, owner and operator of Turning Point Yoga. These classes will run on Wednesday mornings, from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m., from February 1 to March 21.  Additionally on Wednesday evenings, Guest House will resume its year-long series of free meditation classes, titled  “Meditation in the World.”

About Guest House: Guest House is a delightful retreat and conference center in the scenic Connecticut River Valley. Founded in 2008, the not-for-profit educational facility rents out its conference rooms and provides accommodations to organizations and teachers who wish to present their own programs.  In addition, programs generated by Guest House aim to support the development of the human potential of individuals. Located in the town of Chester, Connecticut, the structure is a beautifully renovated country inn situated on private wooded land, adjacent to a state forest.  For additional information about Guest House and its programs, visit

Connecticut River Museum has Spent $500,000 to Restore Historic Landmark After Fire

Destroyed East face, roof and decking of CT River Museum after August 2010 fire

The Connecticut River Museum, located at 67 Main Street in downtown Essex, had two choices in the wake of the devastating fire that took place on August 11, 2010, a fire which caused enormous damage to the Museum’s building, as well as to its decking.

One approach would have been to repair the damage, essentially, to the extent that the insurance money would cover the costs, and then hope for the best that other repairs, some very necessary, could be deferred until another day.

The second approach would address every single item that needed to be repaired, and in the process restore the museum not only to the condition of what it was before the fire, but perhaps even improve it from what it was. This full restoration plus choice, obviously, would cost a lot more money than the first, bare bones scenario.

The Board of Trustees of the Connecticut River Museum never blinked. They whole heartedly adopted the second alternative of fully repairing and restoring the Museum. In doing so, the Board chose to address every single item that required repair and the full restoration of the Museum.

Executive Director Jerry Roberts pridefully shows off restored Connectiuc River Museum

Furthermore, in adopting the full restoration plan the Board implicitly accepted the responsibility to raise the necessary money.

Board of Directors Chairman Maureen Wiltsie-O’Grady in a recent interview said, “The Museum had to be restored, because of the love that the community has for the Museum.” She added, “It is just a jewel. The fire made people think what Essex would be like without the Museum.”

Board Chairman Maureen Wilsie-O'Grady points to announcements at new Museum portal

These observations by the Chairman underscored the fact that the increased public attention and sympathy that was generated by the fire could be converted into a unique fundraising opportunity to pay for the level of restoration needed to ensure that the Museum would withstand the next 100 years.

With the stars thus aligned, the Museum Board, led by former Chairman Timothy Boyd, and the staff, led by the energetic Executive Director Jerry Roberts, went ahead and successfully raised the funds needed to repair the fire damage, and enhance generally the Museum’s building and grounds.

The fundraising steps included the establishment of the CMT Fire Fund for donations from Museum trustees, members and the public at large, as well as a successful effort to attract new government grants for the Museum’s restoration. Both these steps were in addition to achieving the Museum’s already established fundraising goals for the Annual Fund Appeal, Fall Ball, RIVERFARE and Privateers’ Bash.

These aggressive, and breathtakingly successful, fundraising steps has allowed the Museum, to date, to expend over a half million dollars, $565,500 to be exact, to repair and restore the Museum to a point where it is in even better condition than it was before the fire.

For example, with the funds raised the entire east face of the Museum building, which was destroyed by the fire, has been fully repaired and restored.

Similarly, large portions of the roof and the decking, which were destroyed by the fire, have been restored, as has the third floor gallery, which suffered water damage, and the Museum building, which experienced smoke damage.

Also included in this roster of fully paid for items was the installation of 29 new, energy efficient, museum-quality windows, as well as the installation of 70 new pilings under the decking of the Museum.

A further breakdown of the fully paid for repairs and restoration in the wake of the fire are as follows:

Building restoration and repair

This $300,000 item paid for by insurance monies and private donations, included a smoke and water clean-up; roof and siding repairs; window replacement of four fire destroyed windows and the upgrade of 25 other gallery windows; replacement of the building sign; repair of indoor mural; removal of carpets and restoration of the original wood flooring on the second and third floors.

Decking replacement and repair

This $185,000 item, which was funded from grants, donations and insurance, as well as funds from the Museum’s own historic building maintenance fund, provided money to replace the substructure pilings and decking surrounding the Museum building.

Grant funds for this project included $73,955 from the Connecticut Commission on Cultural and Tourism’s Historic Preservation Office.

Perimeter and Security/Grounds

In this category, $80,000 of private donations funded a new Museum perimeter security project, coupled with a grounds’ renovation plan. This initiative included new lights, a new portal at the entrance of the property, new walkways and the refurbishment of plantings. This project is now in its final stage of completion.

As for the new portal, according to Roberts, it will serve two purposes: 1) to establish a demarcation line between town property and Museum property, so that Museum property can be gated after hours, or whenever necessary, and 2) to provide information about Museum exhibits, programs and events.

The items regarding the perimeter and the security of the Museum property, obviously, go beyond simply repairing the Museum’s fire damages. Also, one of the items in this initiative has been objected to by a few Essex residents.

Specifically, the new portal structure, a few residents charge, takes away from the sense of openness of the Museum’s grounds that existed previously. Museum officials acknowledge that there have been a few objections to the portal structure; however, they assert that the objections are far from general, and that the upsides of the portal far outweigh the downsides, particularly from the standpoint of the Museum’s security.

Also, this very minor ruffle should in no way take away from the monumental achievement of the Museum’s Board and staff, who on their watch brilliantly restored the Connecticut River Museum to a condition that is even better than it was before the fire. In so doing they have preserved this historic asset for the edification and enjoyment of generations to come.

Michael Hart, I Never Heard of him – but he has Changed my Life

John LaPlante enjoying his brand-new ebook reader

After saying no, no, no time and again,  I have given in. I finally own an electronic book reader, or e-book reader, as it’s called, or even just e-reader. Those are new words to be included in any good dictionary.  They deserve to be. The e-book reader is such a ground-breaking and popular device.

Most of you know what an e-reader is, I’m sure. You may own one. If you/re drawing a blank, an e-reader permits you to read electronic, meaning digital,  books—books coming to you  by computer.  Not only e-books. Also electronic versions of magazines and  newspapers. In fact, you are reading this on an electronic newspaper. An e-newspaper!

How I got an e-reader beautifully with a big bow on it under the Christmas tree is a long story.  I’ll just give you the short version.

In early December, as usual, my daughter Monique asked me to make a Santa’s list for her.  I have never, never done that for anybody.  My attitude has always been, Let Santa decide if I’ve been a good boy. If yes, he can bring down the chimney anything  for me  that he chooses to and I’ll say a sincere thank you.

But too often one of his presents hasn’t been quite right. At times absolutely wrong.  Necessitating an exchange.  Monique had had enough of that. She told me,  “Dad, a list, please!!!!” Notice all those exclamation marks.I recognized her problem and finally acquiesced. ”Okay!”

I prepared a short list suitably mixed. I need very little, lucky me.But I put down small things and bigger ones. You understand, I’m sure. The biggest was an e-book reader.

For the record, I’ll tell you that I have never read an e-book in my life. I have never felt an urge or a need to read one.  I’m perfectly happy with old-fashioned print books. I’m amazed to use that adjective here, “old-fashioned.”  But I recognize that  millions of people are reading e-books. And thousands of books are being published as e-books as well. It’s an avalanche.  It does look as if print books are on the way out.  I hope not.

I love print books. Paper books! I have read hundreds…perhaps thousands….of them.  I have books all through my home. By my desk. By my bed. By my favorite chair. On shelves big and small. On the floor.  I’m continually moving books in and moving books out. I cannot live without books. I don’t want to live without books. One of the great tragedies for me would be going blind.

So why did I put an e-reader on my list? Glad you’re wondering.

I have friends who love books as much as I do who have bought one, and love it.  That has impressed me. At airports and other places where you have to wait, and on planes and trains and long-distance buses, I see more and more people using them. They make sense.  E-readers are small devices…you can tuck one in your pocket. yet you can stock them with thousands of titles.

Which is kind of crazy, well, to my thinking.  How many can you get around to reading? And as mentioned, also magazines and newspapers and computer docs, your own and from others. You can make notes on whatever you read!  You can quickly look up things through the magic of a computer’s  Find  function.

And I had a more practical reason. I am the author of three books. And at this very moment they are bing converted into e-books!

Some people like e-books so much that they buy only e-books. It’s true. Like every author, I write books because I hope they will be read. That’s the whole point. So I felt that I had to join the growing crowd.  From now I will be the author of books and e-books!

I have come to realize that e-books have distinct advantages. You can make the type bigger or smaller, as you please…can change even the font.

They cost less. Many e-books are free—and this will lead me to tell you about an enormously important man in a few minutes. I didn’t even know his name. I’ll bet you never heard of him either.

But I had another  reason to want an e-reader.. A terrific reason. All my books have many photos.  My Around the World book has scores of them.  My Around Asia book more than300.  My latest, my Peace Corps book, has more than 140.  Know what? They look sharper, better in my e-book versions than  my print books.

I used to think that it would be uncomfortable, even impossible, to read a book on a screen, which is what an e-book has.  I can’t use that argument any more.  Why?

Every day I read newspapers online. Magazine pieces, too. I look up articles in digital encyclopedias, wikipedia being one. Every day I look up something  on Google  or Bing or Yahoo, and they lead me to an incredible variety of websites. .Reading all this is not a problem. It’s so easy. Saves so much time. My eyes don’t seem to mind. In fact, it’s wonderful. I love it.

I have friends of my age or nearly my age who refuse to learn how to use a computer.  They’re intimidated by it. What an awful mistake not to give it a try. Well, my opinion. . I plead with then, cajole them. “It’s not that hard. You can do it. It will change your life.” I mean every word.

Bottom line, I asked Santa for an e-book because I had to get with it!  And I got one.  It turned out to be one of the new Kindle Fires.   The Fire is more than an e-reader. It’s a digital “tablet.”  And that’s a word that must be added to the dictionary, too–well, that new meaning of tablet.

A tablet is a super e-book.  For some people it’s a full, powerful computer. Can do much more than an e-reader…bring you movies…music…photos…permit you to surf the web and send and receive email…type on it quite easily…do other amazing things. The supreme example of a tablet so far is the Apple  iPad. But the iPad is a big thing.  No way can you tuck it in your pocket.

You can a Fire.  It doesn’t do everything the iPad does, but it’s the closest thing to it.  And it’s half the price, even less than half for some models of the iPad.

I was delighted with my Fire. But ….  I realized I  would never use some of those fantastic features.  So again an exchange. Poor Monique!  What I now have is a Kindle Touch. It’s called that because you do just about everything on it with just a touch of your finger. I’m experimenting with it and I must say I like it.

It’s only fair to mention there are a plethora of e-readers on the market, with more coming. And “smart” phones can also read e-books. But I can’t ever see myself doing serious reading on a tiny phone!

So I have joined the e-reader enthusiasts. It’s a new adventure.  How nice when you’ve gotten into thinking that your adventures are all over.

Now an incredible,  astounding coincidence.  Just as I was  unwrapping this beautiful gift, so to speak, I heard of the death of a man who has had an enormous impact on me—on millions of people like me….a man I had never heard of and whose name, if ever I got to hear it, would have meant nothing.

That man is Michael Hart, age 64, of Urbana, Ill.  He is the man who invented the e-book!  Notice, please, that I said the e-book and not the e-reader. Until quite recently, until the e-reader, you read e-books on your computer monitor. Not  difficult.

Michael Hart

Michael Hart devoted his life to making the e-book the the technical and marketing sensation that it is.. More than that,  he envisaged his invention of the e-book  as something that would  better serve anybody who likes to read, anywhere in the world that has computer service…potentially all of humanity.

It was his ambition to make books so available and so cheap that anybody could afford them.To make then free, if possible!

Here is what Wikipedia has written about him, as it wrote it. I also gleaned some from other online sources in the public domain.

Michael Hart’s father was an accountant,  and his mother, a former cryptanalyst during World War II, was a business manager at a retail store. In 1958 his family relocated to Urbana, Illinois, and his father and mother became college professors in Shakespearean studies and mathematics education, respectively.

Hart attended the University of Illinois, graduating in just two years. He then attended but did not complete graduate school. He was also, briefly, a street musician.

During Hart’s time there, the University of Illinois computer center gave Hart a user’s account on its computer system: Hart’s brother’s best friend was the mainframe operator. Although the focus of computer use there tended to be data processing, Hart was aware that it was connected to a network (part of what would become the Internet) and chose to use his computer time for information distribution.

Hart related that after his account was created on July 4, 1971, he had been trying to think of what to do with it and had seized upon a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence, which he had been given at a grocery store on his way home from watching fireworks that evening.

He typed the text into the computer but was told that it would be unacceptable to transmit it to numerous people at once via e-mail. It might crash  the system. To avoid that, he made the text available for people to download instead.

This was the beginning of what is now known world-wide as Project Gutenberg. Hart began posting text copies of such classics as the Bible and the works of Homer, Shakespeare, and Mark Twain. As of 1987 he had typed in a total of 313 books in this fashion.

Then, through being involved in the University of Illinois PC User Group and with assistance from Mark Zinzow, a programmer at the school, Hart was able to recruit volunteers and set up an infrastructure of mirror sites and mailing lists for the project. With this the project was able to grow much more rapidly.

The mission statements for the project were:

“Encourage the Creation and Distribution of e-books.”

“Help Break Down the Bars of Ignorance and Illiteracy.”

“Give As Many e-books to As Many People As Possible.”

His overall outlook in the project was to develop in the least demanding format possible: as worded in the journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, to him, open access meant “open access without proprietary displays, without the need for special software, without the requirement for anything but the simplest of connections. ”

Hart was an author and his works are available free of charge on the Project Gutenberg server.

He supported himself by doing odd jobs and used an unpaid appointment at Illinois Benedictine College to solicit donations for the project. He said, “I know that sounds odd to most people, but I just never bought into the money system all that much. I never spent it when I got it. It’s all a matter of perspective”.

Hart glided through life with many possessions and friends, but very few expenses. He used home remedies rather than seeing doctors, fixed his own house and car. He built many computers, stereos, and other gear, often from discarded components sacrificing personal luxury to fight for literacy, and for preservation of public domain rights and resources, towards the greater good.

The man who spent a lifetime digitizing literature lived amidst the hard copies in his house in Urbana stacked, floor to eye-height, with pillars of books. He led a life of near poverty, and “basically lived off of cans of beans.” He cobbled together a living with the money he earned as an adjunct professor and with grants and donations to Project Gutenberg.

Now volunteers around the world digitize books for Project Gutenberg in their spare time. Some  digitize many. That is how the inventory of free e-books is steadily being expanded.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Now why is it called Project Gutenberg?

Johannes Gutenberg, as we learned in school, invented moveable type—one of the world’s most important inventions.  Before that, documents and books were printed from hand-carved woodblocks. Yes, with the letters carved in relief  on wood so they would stand out.

Johannes Gutenberg 1398 – 1468 His technological break-through radically changed the world ... the way Michael Hart’s is.

Imagine the labor of doing that. Ink was applied to the surface of the letters and words, and these were impressed onto sheets of paper.

What he did was make individual letters and numbers, and these could be assembled into words and sentences and paragraphs. Then broken apart and, re-used to form new words and sentences.. A new technology which transformed not only printing, but society.

So, with more things being published, more people were encouraged to learn to read.

His technique was adopted everywhere. And with more people reading, more things were published. It was explosive. Reading had been an exclusive skill reserved for very few. Now reading was a skill  available to anybody interested in putting in the time to learn it..

His first efforts were crude but got better. He became so adept that he printed the massive Gutenberg Bible,  a crowning achievement not only of great skill but great beauty.

Here are some gleanings about  him, again from Wikipedia:

Gutenberg was a blacksmith, goldsmith, printer and publisher. The key year was 1439.  It has been said that he started the Printing Revolution, the event which ushered in the modern period.

It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.

He was the first European to print successfully, on a commercial basis, and was the first to print a book outside the Orient. Gutenberg’s printing technology spread rapidly throughout Europe, and of  course was refined and perfected by others. The process quickly replaced most of the manuscript methods of book-production throughout the world.

You see why Johannes Gutenberg was such a great man.  I believe that Michael Hart’s invention of the electronic book reader is an equally great invention.  It will usher in a new age. Transform the world.  He deserves to be as famous.  There should be statues of him. He is the Gutenberg of our epoch.

My print books are the results of Gutenberg’s genius. My e-books the results of Michael Hart’s. How fortunate am I as the author of both types.  How fortunate are all of us who read books.

Winter 2012 Zumba Program!

Essex Park and Recreation are offering a new Zumba Aerobics program beginning on January 23 with instructor Colette Mercier. Colette is a fantastic instructor and the auxiliary gym at the middle school is a great program space …

Zumba Aerobics

Zumba! A Latin inspired aerobic dance class that incorporates Latin and International music and dance. Zumba is exercise in disguise that is fun, different, easy and effective. This popular workout will provide full body toning while having a lot of fun. You do not have to know how to dance to take a Zumba class. We create a non-competitive party atmosphere where students can interpret the dance rhythms in their own way.

Ages                16 & up

Dates               Jan 23-Mar 19 (skip Feb 20)

Day                  Mon

Time                6-7pm

Fee                  $90 (8 week session)

Location          John Winthrop Middle School Auxiliary Gym

Class Size       Min 8 / Max 24

Instructor        Colette Mercier


Essex Winter Series Presents Jon Kimura Parker, Pianist on Jan 29

Internationally acclaimed virtuoso pianist John Kimura Parker’s career has taken him from Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House to the Canadian Arctic and war-torn Sarajevo. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian honor, and a Gold Medal Laureate of the Leeds International Piano Competition. He has collaborated with such artists as Joshua Bell, Bobby McFerrin and Pinchas Zukerman. Command performances have been given for Queen Elizabeth II, the US Supreme Court and the prime ministers of Canada and Japan. Gracing our stage for the first time, Mr. Parker will perform an extraordinary program, titled Postcards from Russia, featuring Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Stravinsky’s Petrouchka.

All concerts are held on Sundays at 3:00 p.m. at Valley Regional High School located at 256 Kelsey Hill Road, Deep River, CT. Individual ticket prices for each concert are $30 for Adults; $25 for Senior Citizens; $12 for Children/Students.

Subscriptions for all concerts are also available at a cost of $110 for Adults and $90 for Senior Citizens. For more information, please visit or call 860-391-5578.

Civil War Talks at the Essex Library

Civil War history buff John Proctor will give two illustrated talks at the Essex Library on the War Between the States, on two Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. On January 26, the topic will be Lincoln and the Problem of Fort Sumter, and Jefferson Davis will be the subject of Feb. 2’s talk. Both programs are free and open to all. The Essex Library is at 33 West Avenue. Please call us at 860-767-1560 for more information or to register.

Essex Library Launches Diamonds and Purls

Are you a knitter, or interested in learning how to knit? The Essex Library is launching a new knitting group this winter called Diamonds and Purls, appropriate for knitters of all experience levels. No preregistration is required; drop-ins are welcome. Librarian Anna Cierocki will demonstrate the skills necessary to get you started. Bring size 10 needles to learn on, and we will provide yarn for beginners. Experienced knitters are encouraged to bring a work-in-progress.

The group will meet at 4 p.m. on alternate Tuesdays, starting January 24, 2012. For information on this and other upcoming events at Essex Library, please visit our web site at For more info, call us at (860) 767-1560 or drop by during regular hours.

Community Music School Now Accepting New Registrations for Spring

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School, located at 90 Main Street, Centerbrook, is now enrolling students for the Spring 2012 semester. Private lessons, group classes, Kindermusik, and music therapy services begin the week of January 30. In addition, Cabaret Singers with Karli Gilbertson, Adult Beginning Group Piano, and Introduction to Singing for ages 8 to 11 are offered. Financial aid is available for private instruction and most group classes. A complete list of programs is available online at, by calling 860-767-0026 or visiting Community Music School Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Deep River Democrats and Republicans Pick Town Committees for 2012-2014

DEEP RIVER— Town Democrats and Republicans selected town committees for 2012-2014 at party caucuses held over the past week.

Democrats selected a 25-member town committee that includes seven new members, including Stella Beaudoin, who waged an unsuccessful primary challenge in 2009 to the town committee endorsed candidate for town clerk, Nancy Talbot. The open town clerk seat was won that year by Republican Amy Winchell, who was unopposed for a second term in the town election last November.

The Deep River Democratic Town committee for 2012-2014 includes incumbents John Bairos, Leigh Balducci, former Speaker of the House Richard Balducci, Carmela Balducci, Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani, former Selectman Richard Daniels Jr., Bruce Edgarton, Nancy Fischbach, Joanne Grabek, George Howard, Ann Joy, Jonathan Kastner, former Selectman Russell Marth, Mary Maraschiello, newly elected Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., Valerie Nucci, Mark Reyher, and First Selectman Richard Smith. Balducci had represented Newington when her served as speaker of the house from 1989 to 1993.

New members include Beaudoin, Cindy Cosme, Dorothy DeMichael, Carol Jones. Alan Miezejeski, Roy Monte, and Carol Smith. Members leaving the town committee include Sarah Adams, Mary Jane Daniels, John Dickson Jr., former Town Clerk Jeanne Nickse, Alice Proctor, Jean Ressler, Donald Sampson, Patricia Strange, David Talbot, Nancy Talbot, and former Selectman Arthur Thompson, who is currently serving as Democratic town chairman.

Town Republicans, who have not nominated a candidate for first selectman since 2005, selected a 17 member town committee that includes one new member. The Deep River Republican Town committee for 2012-2014 includes incumbents Gregory Alexander, Mary Brownlee, Louise Cowen, Douglas Dopp, Robert Edgeworth, Margot Gamerdinger, William Harris, Alice Johnson, Town Treasurer Thomas Lindner, Selectman David Oliveria, Rolf Peterson, Donald Routh, Grace Stalsburg, Cynthia Stannard, Rosemary Unan, Winchell, and new member Joyce Winterstein. Departing from the committee that served from 2010-2012 are Janice Kmetz, Joyce Metz, Cleon Springer,and John Townsend.

The new town committees are seated in March, when the panels will elect officers for 2012-2014.

Essex Savings Bank to Contribute $255,700 to Charity

Essex Savings Bank President & CEO Gregory R. Shook

Essex, CT, January 17, 2012 – Gregory R. Shook, President & Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank announced today, “We are extremely proud to report available contributions of $255,700 from our Community Investment Program in our 161st year.”  The Bank annually commits 10% of its after tax net income to qualifying organizations within the immediate market area consisting of  Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.  This program provides financial support to over 200 non-profit organizations who offer outstanding services to the ever-increasing needs of our communities.  By year end, a total of $3,416,700 will have been distributed since inception in 1996.  Essex Savings Bank customers determine 30% of the fund allocations each year by voting directly for three of their favorite causes, charities or organizations who have submitted applications to participate.  Ballots will be available at all Essex Savings Bank Offices between February 1 and March 15 to determine an allocation of $76,710.  The Bank’s Directors, Senior Officers and Branch Managers distribute the remaining 70%, or $178,990.

Organizations (94) qualifying to appear on the 2012 ballot include:

Act II Thrift Shop, Inc. ▪ Adams World Foundation for Dyslexic Children ▪ Brazilian and American Youth Cultural Exchange (BRAYCE) ▪ Bushy Hill Nature Center ▪ Call to Care Uganda, Inc. ▪ Camp Hazen YMCA ▪ Center School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) ▪ Chester Historical Society ▪ Chester Land Trust, Inc. ▪ Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, Inc. ▪ Community Music School ▪ The Company of Fifers and Drummers ▪ Con Brio Choral Society, Inc. ▪ Connecticut Audubon Society Eco Travel ▪ The Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock ▪ The Country School, Inc. ▪ Deacon John-Grave Foundation, Inc. ▪ Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc. ▪ The Deep River Ancient Muster Scholarship Trust ▪ Deep River Fire Department ▪ Deep River Historical Society, Inc. ▪ Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, Inc. ▪ Deep River Land Trust, Inc. ▪ Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc. ▪ Essex Ambulance Association, Inc. ▪ Essex Community Fund, Inc. ▪ Essex Elementary School Foundation, Inc. ▪ Essex Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, Inc. ▪ Essex Fire Engine Company No. 1 ▪ Essex Garden Club, Inc. ▪ Essex Historical Society, Inc. ▪ Essex Land Trust, Inc. ▪ Essex Library Association ▪ Essex Winter Series, Inc. ▪ Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Meals on Wheels ▪ Florence Griswold Museum ▪ Forgotten Felines, Inc. ▪ Friends of Hammonasset, Inc. ▪ Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) ▪ Friends of the Acton Public Library ▪ Graduation Night, Inc. – Old Saybrook ▪ High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. ▪ Hope Partnership, Inc. ▪ Ivoryton Library Association ▪ Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, Inc. ▪ The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Inc. ▪ Literacy Volunteers – Valley Shore, CT, Inc. ▪ Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts ▪ Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc. ▪ Lyme Art Association, Inc. ▪ Lyme Consolidated School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) ▪ The Lyme Fire Company, Inc. ▪ Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc. ▪ Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation ▪ Lyme-Old Lyme Safe Graduation Party, Inc. ▪ Lyme Public Hall Association, Inc. ▪ Lyme Public Library, Inc. ▪ Lymes’ Elderly Housing, Inc. (Lymewood) ▪ Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau ▪ Madison Ambulance Association, Inc. ▪ Madison Community Services, Inc. ▪ The Madison Foundation, Inc. ▪ Madison Historical Society, Inc. ▪ Madison Land Conservation, Inc. ▪ Maritime Education Network, Inc. ▪ Musical Masterworks, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme Land Trust, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association ▪ Old Lyme Rowing Association, Inc. ▪ Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association, Inc. ▪ Old Saybrook Education Foundation ▪ Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc. ▪ Old Saybrook Historical Society ▪ Old Saybrook Land Trust, Inc. ▪ Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services Foundation, Inc. ▪ The Region 4 Education Foundation, Inc. (R4EF) ▪ Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation ▪ Ryerson School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) ▪ Scranton Library, Madison (E.C. Scranton Memorial Library) ▪ The Shoreline Soup Kitchens ▪ Strong Center at the Surf Club, Inc. ▪ Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM) ▪ The Touchdown Club, Inc. (Valley Regional High School/Old Lyme Football) ▪ Tracy Art Center, Inc. ▪ Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc. ▪ Valley Shore Animal Welfare League ▪ Valley-Shore YMCA ▪ Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, Inc. (VNLV) ▪ Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc. ▪ Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc. ▪ The Woman’s Exchange of Old Lyme, Inc.

 Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851.  The Bank serves the Lower Connecticut River Valley with five offices in Essex (2), Madison, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme.  Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.  Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value, are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

Two New Gallery Exhibits at Acton Library

Saybrook Lighthouse: Watercolor by Betsy Evarts

The Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook, announces two gallery exhibits for the coming weeks:

The first floor gallery features New England shoreline watercolors by Betsey Evarts through February 18, 2012.

The second floor gallery hosts the photographs and mixed media work of artist Robyn Arrieche through February 6, 2012.

For further information, please call 860-395-3184, or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10–8:30, Friday and Saturday 9—5, and Sunday 1—5.

Sands of Time: Photograph by Robyn Arrieche

Camp Hazen YMCA Summer Camp Open House Jan 29

On Sunday, January 29, Camp Hazen YMCA will host an Open House from 2-4 p.m.   Families are encouraged to attend to learn more about summer opportunities for children as young as Kindergartners to High School Freshman.  Camp Hazen YMCA, located at 204 West Main Street on Cedar Lake in Chester, offers one and two week session of both day and resident camp.

Now is the time to plan your summer to ensure that sessions are available and to research the right camp for your child.  Camp Director, Kath Davies, states “Attending an Open House provides a valuable opportunity for families to meet the Camp Directors and see the facilities to determine if Camp Hazen is the right choice for their family.”

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

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

Essex Democrats, Republicans Pick Town Committees for 2012-2014

ESSEX— Town Democrats and Republicans selected new town committees for the 2012-2014 term at party caucuses held over the past week.

Democrats picked a 29 member town committee at a caucus Tuesday. All of the members are incumbents, with the exception of Selectwoman Stacia Libby. A Republican until last July, Libby joined the Democrats when she was picked by Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman as his running-mate for board of selectmen in the 2001 town election Both Needleman and Libby were elected to the board.

The only departure from the 2010-2012 Democratic Town Committee was Anthony Chirico. A former Republican who ran unsuccessfully for the 33rd Senate District seat in 2000 and 2002, Chirico later became a Democrat and joined the town committee in 2004. Chirico had challenged Needleman for the party endorsement for first selectman last summer, but did not force a primary for the nomination after the town committee backed Needleman. Sources said Chirico had declined an opportunity to remain on the town committee.

The Essex Democratic Town Committee for 2012-2014 includes Alvin Wolfgram, Brian Cournayer, Campbell Hudson, former First Selectman Carl Ellison, Cathy Bishop, Claire Tiernan, Earl Fowler, Frederick Vollono, Geraldine Ficarra, James Spallone, James Francis, Jonathan James, Kay Tucker, Lawrence Shipman, Lee Rowley, Lois Ely, Lon Seidman, Louisa Ketron, Mary Ann Plevca, Matthew Cooper, Mark Bombaci, Tax Collector Megan Haskins, Needleman, former first selectman and 36th District State Rep. Phill Miller, Frank Hall, Stan Sheppard, John Stannard, William Doane, and Libby. Vollono is the current Democratic town chairman.

Republicans picked a 27-member town committee at the caucus last week. Committee membership is down from the 31 members that served form 2010-2012, with two new members. Seven incumbents did not continue on the town committee, including George Antone, Gary Baier, former First Selectman Bruce Glowac, Roger Kern, Janet Peckinpaugh, Mark Pratt and Jeff Woods. Peckinpaugh, a former television news anchorwoman, had run unsuccessfully for the 2nd Congressional District seat in 2010, and was Miller’s Republican opponent in the 36th House District special election last February.

The Essex Republican Town Committee for 2012-2014 includes John Ackerman, Susie Beckman, Kenneth Bombaci, Herb Clark, Edward Cook, Alexander Daddona, Ann Dixon, Lynn Faulstick, ED. G. Fitton, Adrienne Forrest, John Heiser, James Hill, Donna Hyde, Jerri MacMillian, Selectman Joel Marzi, Republican State Central Committeeman Neil Nichols, Leigh Rankin, Brabara Ryan, Elizabeth Schellens, David Sousa, Terry Stewart, Alice Van Duersen, Gary Van Duersen, and Jane Willson. New members are Peter Decker and Robert Fisher. Cook is the current Republican Town Chairman.

Chester Planning and Zoning Continues Hearing on Proposed Main St. Restaurant

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has continued the public hearing for a new vegetarian restaurant at 6 Main St. in the downtown village to Feb. 2. The hearing will reopen at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House on Liberty St.

The commission on Jan. 5 opened the public hearing on the application of Chester Properties LLC of Old Lyme for a restaurant in the former Chester Savings Bank building at 6 Main St. The proposed restaurant would have 40 to 50 seats, with a liquor license and bar. It would serve organic vegetarian cuisine.

The site plan for the building also calls for a 700-square-foot retail space with a separate entrance, and two residential apartments on the second floor. The project also requires a permit from the inland-wetlands commission because of the proximity of the building to the Pattaconk Brook. The IWC is expected to review the permit application at a Jan. 30 meeting.

The planning and zoning commission elected new officers last month, with Jon Lavy named as chairman. Lavy, a Democrat, has served on the commission since 2005. Lavy replaces Michael Joplin, a Democrat who had served as chairman of the panel for more than a decade before losing his seat in last November’s town election.

Michael Sanders was named as vice-chairman. Sanders, a leader of the Chester Common Ground Party, was elected to the commission in 2007.

“Trendy” or Not, a Successful Men’s Store is Adding Class to Downtown Deep River

Front windows of Anchor & Compass, "A Store for Guys"

“I really don’t like to be classified as trendy,” says owner Sage Novak,  referring to her very successful men’s store, Anchor & Compass, located at 163 Main Street in heart of Deep River. “I feel I am anything but,” she says, terming the clothing theme in her store as “conservative and traditional New England.”

Also, she says, “A large portion of my guy customers are working class folk that come in for the Carhartt brand, T-shirts,” and “I work hard to convey an ‘every man’s’ image.”

To burnish this image she even holds “beer tastings” at the store. Also, the store’s slogan is, “A Store for Guys.”

Inside, it is easy to navigate Anchor & Compass. Each name-brand line of clothing has its own discreet sales area. Among the most popular, especially for the over 50-years-old set, is the “Old Guys Rule” line.

"Old Guys Rule" T-shirts are a best seller

These T-shirts carry sayings on their fronts that poke fun about getting old, and remembering the glory days of youth. Some customers have whole collections of the shirts, saying such things as, “The older I Get, The Better I Was.” “Old Guys Rule” shirts are $24 for a T-shirt, and $28 for long sleeves.

Another popular brand, which features shirts displaying fishing humor, comes from the “Fish On!” company, located in Chester, Connecticut. These shirts cost $24 for T-shirts and $29 for long sleeves.

Yet another popular men’s clothing line, carried by Anchor & Compass, is the Old Harbor Outfitters from Block Island, New York. Old Harbor makes outdoor apparel, as well as fishing gear. One specialty is a wide selection of fishing knifes. The knives sell for $10 to $24 a piece, and Novak says, “We sell tons of them. They make great gifts.”

“We also sell tons of flannels every Christmas season,” she says, “and flannels never go out of style.” Over the past Christmas season, Novak reports, the store sold close to 200 flannel shirts. Their price range is from $49 to $59.

Selling the “layered look” for Guys

Speaking of flannels the savvy shopkeeper suggests to her customers that they might like the “layered look.” This look consists of first putting on an ordinary shirt, then covering it with a flannel, and then over them both a shirt jacket.  There are other layered look combinations as well. Shirt jackets go for $79 at “A Store for Guys.”

Store owner Novak shows off some outer wear

At one point while touring the store, a fashionably dressed woman came in and asked, if she could make a few returns. It turned out that the woman did not have just a few returns, but seven of them. All of the items were still in their original boxes, and some had not even been unwrapped.

It turned out that the woman’s husband, before the big holiday, had explicitly told his wife, “Do not buy me any clothes for Christmas.” However, the wife, thinking she knew best, blithely ignored this instruction, and bought lots of them. Now she was forced to return them.

While this was going on, the woman tried to make conversation. “Maybe I should exchange my husband rather than the shirts,” she said, attempting humor.

With no sign of displeasure whatsoever, store owner Novak removed the seven items from their boxes, and went ahead and restored their full cost to the woman’s credit card.

After the woman left, Novak pointed out that many stores offer only “store credit” for returns. However, at Anchor & Compass the policy is to give a full refund, as long as the purchaser has a receipt.

“Most people exchange stuff,” Novak says, but getting full credit for an unwanted purchase is still an option at the store.

Among her favorite items in the store, Novak calls attention to the Leathermen Limited line. The company is based in Essex, Connecticut, and offers a variety of canvas belts, flip-flops and key chains. Featured in the store as well are rows of men’s pants, a wide variety of sweaters and lots of T-shirts.

Adding a good citizenship quality to the store, Anchor & Compass offers a 10% discount on all merchandize purchased by volunteer firefighters and emergency rescue volunteers, whether they come from Deep River or beyond.

All for men, a colorful collection of T-shirts, caps and mugs

Not only are sales on the increase generally at the store, Novak is particularly pleased that more and more men are purchasing clothing.  The present gender breakdown at the store is that about 60 percent of the buyers are women, buying clothes for men; and 40 percent are men, buying clothes for themselves or for their best buddies.

If this ratio could even out to 50-50, Novak would be a very happy. As an inducement to get more men into the store, she has built a large, man sized fitting room. Also, she may give men shoppers just a little extra attention in making their purchases. After all it is, “A Store for Guys.”

The overall growth in sales at Anchor & Compass is truly impressive. Sales in the month of January, to date, are running 56 percent higher than they were over the same period last year.

Big Selling Seasons, Christmas and Father’s Day

As a general rule the store has two big selling seasons each year. One is during the run up to Christmas, and the other are the shopping days before Father’s Day. Since Anchor & Compass focuses on men’s clothing, it has an especially big boost in sales before Father’s Day. It is so big that Novak calls Father’s Day “a second Christmas.”

As for staff at the store, Novak pretty much runs the place on her own, although she has two part time helpers, both from Deep River.

Novak feels anchored in Deep River, and she has, if you will, found her compass in the town. In starting up her venture a year and a half ago, she received encouragement from Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, and both Smith and his son are customers. Also, in remodeling the store Novak is proud that she used exclusively local labor.

Owner Sage Novak in front of her Deep River store

Among the things that she likes about Deep River is that her kids can walk to school, and, “I love the quality of life in the town.” Beyond that, “I want people to enjoy the store. I love just love it, when people run into other people that they know, while they are shopping here.”

Novak is a native of Deep River, and sometimes refers to herself as “a river rat.” Not only did she grow up in town, her family used to own the Deep River Marina.

Not that Sage Novak has always had happy times in her life. In June of 2008 her husband, who was a college sweetheart, died in a car accident, leaving her with two daughters, aged four and one. “I took off a year to heal,” she says. “Still, I don’t believe in wallowing. You have to go on and enjoy life in the time that you have.”

Finally, the name of her store, Anchor & Compass, has a special meaning for Sage Novak as a person.  As you get to know her, she just might share it with you.


“Essex Ed” Comes Out of Hibernation on January 29 at Groundhog Parade

In previous year’s, Essex Ed has been a Beatle, Elvis and Birthday Boy. His 2012 identity will be revealed on Sunday, January 29 at 2 pm on Main Street in Essex Village.

Essex, CT– Grab your pots and pans and head to Essex Village on Sunday, January 29 at 2 p.m. for one of the most popular parades of the year.  “Essex Ed”, a larger-than-life ground hog, will make his annual pilgrimage from Essex Boat Works on Ferry Street up to the top of Main Street leading a parade of antique cars, fire trucks, residents, and visitors.  All are invited to join in and encouraged to bring their own noisemakers and ground hog gear to celebrate the day.  Each year, Essex Ed is dressed in special attire to acknowledge a special occasion or person.  Past years have seen Ed dressed as historical figures, athletes, thespians, and musical performers.  As always, this year’s costume is a secret but organizers guarantee that it will be a “huge hit” when Ed makes his appearance.

Hundreds of people turn out for this annual tradition that was started over 30 years ago by a group of local citizens to wake up the town during the post-holiday doldrums.  Today, the parade is organized by the Essex Board of Trade and is the first of many winter celebrations that include EagleWatch boat tours and programs in February and March and the Essex Go Bragh Parade and Festival on March 17.  For more information, go to



Lyme Art Association Presents Two New Exhibitions: “20th Annual Associate Artist Exhibition” and “A Contemporary Look”

The Anniversary, 48 x 60” oil on canvas by invited artist Jaclyn Conley

Lyme Art Association’s 20th Annual Associate Artist Exhibition of landscape, portrait and still life paintings by Associate Artist members will be on view in the Association’s Cooper/Ferry, South and Cole galleries from January 13 – February 25, 2012.  “Associate Artist members make up the core community of the Lyme Art Association, and we are proud to highlight their work in this special exhibition each winter,” states Susan Ballek, the LAA’s Executive Director.In addition, the Association is pleased to present the 3rd Annual “A Contemporary Look,” a special invitation-only exhibition of progressive representational artwork by regional artists.  This exhibition will be on view in the Goodman Gallery from January 20 – February 25.  This year’s featured artists include painters Jaclyn Conley, Karen Sorenson, and Deirdre Kline.  Equestrian sculpture fabricated in steel by Marcia Spivak will also be displayed.

The opening reception for both exhibitions is free to the public, and will be held on Friday, January 20, from 5pm to 7pm at the LAA, 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Connecticut.

About the Lyme Art Association    

The Lyme Art Association was founded in 1914 by the American Impressionists and continues the tradition of exhibiting and selling representational artwork by its members and invited artists, as well as offering art instruction and lectures to the community. The Lyme Art Association is located at 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, in a building designed by Charles Adams Platt and located within an historic district. Admission is free with contributions appreciated. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm, Sunday 1 to 5pm. For more information on exhibitions, purchase of art, art classes, or becoming a member, call 860-434-7802.

Talking Transportation – Congress Tells Commuters…“Drop Dead”

Jim Cameron - Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council

Back in 1975 when New York City was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, then- President Ford declined to offer help and the NY Daily News’ headlinescreamed “Ford to City: Drop Dead”.

Well, last month the US Congress said about the same thing to us users of mass transit.  In their quagmire of inaction, bickering and partisanship, they let expire an important tax benefit to commuters:  whether you drove or took mass transit, you used to be able to spend up to $230 a month in pre-tax dollars to fund your commute.  But by not acting to extend the law, that benefit dropped to $125 a month for riders of mass transit but increased to $240 a month for drivers’ parking expenses.

What?  Commuters who ride the train / bus /subway get screwed but drivers get a benefits hike?  Yes, friends, it’s all true and you have Congress to thank.

This isn’t a red-state / blue-state issue.  I see it as a “gray state” victory, the gray states being those paved with asphalt that have scorned mass transit.  Meanwhile, big city riders of the rails get penalized.

There’s something egalitarian about mass transit… millionaires riding in the same smelly Metro-North cars as blue collar workers.  People of color actually mingling with white folks!  It’s like we’re all in this together, sharing space, giving up our individual liberties (smoking, singing, traveling exactly when we want) for the greater good (less highway congestion, air pollution, saving money).

People in the gray states don’t understand that.  Theirs is a culture of selfishness:  my car, my space, my right to travel where I want and when, to heck with you.  Oh yeah, and the right to have free parking (or at least subsidized, as under this bill).

Connecticut commuters welcomed the New Year with a 5.25% fare hike on Metro-North (with similar fare hikes to come the next two years), thanks to the Malloy administration seeing rail riders as an easy target for “revenue enhancement”.  So losing this federal tax benefit is just adding insult to injury.

The Federal government doesn’t do much in terms of our commuter rail.  They didn’t pay a penny for the new M8 cars.  They don’t set the fares, determine the station parking rules or set the timetable.  All of those are state functions.

Sure, the feds did kick some Tiger III grant money to Stamford for station work, but aside from that, nada.

That’s why Senators Blumenthal and Lieberman are trying to restore this federal tax benefit, the one thing they can do to help us commuters.  They’ve been flooded with angry letters.  Their bill (S-1034) has 10 co-sponsors but so far hasn’t won support from their colleagues who matter, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).  Not a lot of commuter rail in Montana and Utah, eh?

Time will tell if Congress can fix this mess.  I’m not optimistic, despite the best efforts of our Connecticut delegation.


JIM CAMERON has been a commuter out of Darien for 21 years.  He is Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, and a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM.  You can reach him at or

Tri-Town Youth Services Hires New Prevention Coordinator

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc. has recently welcomed Cate Bourke to their staff. Hired as the new Prevention Coordinator, Cate will be working under the Drug Free Communities Grant to strengthen the Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council’s efforts to prevent youth substance abuse.

The Drug Free Communities Program (DFC), directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), provides grants of up to $125,000 to community coalitions that encourage citizens to prevent youth substance abuse. Entering year two of a five year award, the Tri Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council involves representatives from 12 community sectors (including youth, parents, business, media, schools, health care, civic clubs, law enforcement, religious organizations and organizations serving youth and families) working collaboratively to develop and implement a long-term plan to reduce and prevent substance abuse in our communities. Among 169 grantees selected nationally from 521 applicants, Tri-Town will also participate in a national evaluation of the Drug Free Communities Program.

Cate graduated from Trinity College with a BA in English and Vermont College of Fine Art with an MFA focused on collaborative/community-based art practices. She has served communities statewide as a positive youth and community development professional for 15+ years at the Governor’s Prevention Partnership, the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and the Connecticut Assets Network.


Tri-Town looks forward to Cate’s joining the continuing prevention efforts here in our communities.

Maple and Main Gallery Winter Show

CHESTER – Maple and Main Gallery is planting “Summer Dreams” in its downstairs gallery during the new Winter Show, opening  Wednesday, February 1.

Visitors can shake off the winter doldrums in the lower gallery where all the art will be devoted to the theme of flowers, gardens and bright, beautiful summertime.

Over 200 paintings, in a variety of mediums and all new to the gallery, will be on display during the Winter Show. Please come to the opening party Friday, Feb. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. when food and drink will be offered and the artists will be on hand.

Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery is located at the corner of Maple and Main streets in Chester. The web site is and the phone number is 860-526-6065.

CMS To Present Cabaret Singers with Karli Gilbertson in Chester

Karli Gilbertson

CHESTER – Join Community Music School for an entertaining performance by members of Cabaret Singers On Thursday, January 26 at 7:45 p.m. at Chester Village West, 317 West Main Street, Chester.

Under the direction of Karli Gilbertson and accompanied by Sue Sweeney, the group of ten adult students will perform favorite ballads, Broadway hits and toe-tapping pop rock standards of the 1950’s. A selection of titles to be performed include: Standing on the Corner, Baby It’s Cold Outside, I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, Hymn L’amour, Bella Notte, There’s No You, Secret Love, Lipstick on Your Collar, Sixteen Candles, and Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.

Karli Gilbertson, CMS Artist-in-Residence,  is a graduate in vocal performance of the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Minnesota. Her esteemed vocal teachers have included Doris Yarick-Cross, Susan Fischer-Clickner, and Donna Pegors. Ms. Gilbertson was previously a Resident Artist with the Connecticut Opera Company.

The concert is free and open to the public. Please call 860-767-0026 or visit for additional information.

Saint John School to Hold Winter Open House

Fall in front of Saint John School, Old Saybrook.

Old Saybrook, CT – The Saint John School PreK to 8th Grade Open House will be Sunday, January 29 from 1:00 p.m. -3:00 p.m.  The school principal, teachers, parents and students will be available to provide tours and answer questions.  The school is now accepting admissions registrations for the 2012-2013 school year.  Personal tours, registration, and classroom visits are also available by appointment.  For more information, please call 860-388-0849, email or visit our website

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

Region 4 Community Dinner and Strategic Planning Meeting

On Wednesday January 18, Regional School District #4 will be hosting a community dinner and strategic planning input event at the John Winthrop Middle School, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (with complimentary dinner served until 8 p.m.).  All  are welcome to join the event and enjoy meatloaf and mashed potatoes (with vegetarian option available).

  • Share your ideas for goals for Chester, Deep River, Essex and Region 4 Schools
  • Support our 5 school effort to foster early childhood education in Deschapelle, Haiti – Donations Welcomed
  • Bake sale items for purchase

Special Meeting of the Chester Board of Selectmen with a Budget Forum for the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year

CHESTER, CT— A Special Board of Selectmen Meeting with a Budget Forum for the 2012-2013 fiscal year will be held at the Chester Meeting House  on January 17 at 7 p.m.

The Public is invited to share their ideas, concerns and solutions for preparing the 2012-2013 budget that maintains the quality of services and controls spending. The Board of Selectmen will hold a special meeting immediately following the budget forum.

Do you have any Budget Saving Ideas? If you have any budget saving ideas, please fill out this form available on the website and send it along to the First Selectman’s Office in the Town Hall. We would love to hear from you!



Last Chance – Essex Park and Recreation – Boating Certificat​ion Course

The US Power Squadron’s America’s Boating Course. Successful completion of the examination at the end of the course meets the requirements for the Connecticut Safe Boating Certificate and Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation which will be issued by the CT DEEP. There is a separate $50 fee payable to the State of CT for issuance of this Certificate.  Many boat insurance companies will offer discounts on boating insurance to boaters who successfully complete this program. An optional, two additional two-hour sessions are offered at the end of the course to introduce participants to the basics of coastal navigation. The course fee includes a Student Manual, America’s Boating Course 3rd Edition – which is a full-color 244-page boating safety course manual. For participants desiring to take the extended two weeks navigation sessions, there is an additional charge of $15 for a 4×15 plotter and dividers.

Ages: 14 & up
Jan 17, 19, 24, 26 (course), Jan 31 (exam), Feb 2, 7 (optional coastal navigation component)
Days: Tue/Thu
Time: 7-9pm
Fee: $45
Location: Essex Elementary School Media Center
Class Size: Min 5 / Max 25
Instructor: John McCarthy, Education Officer, Saybrook Sail and Power Squadron

Registration Information

There are three ways to register for a program, online, in-person, mail-in.

  1. Most programs allow for online registration. Visit our website and Login as a Member, or Register as a New Member.
  2. You will input your information, choose all the programs you wish to register for, and will be able to pay by credit card.
  3. You may mail in a registration form (available on our website) and payment to our office.
  4. You may register in-person at the office during business hours.
  5. Phone registrations are not accepted for any programs.    If the session you wish to register for is filled, you will be placed on a waiting list and notified immediately if and when an opening occurs.
  6. Children must be the proper age before the program begins.
  7. Only those enrolled in the program may attend. Sorry, but “visitors/family” will not be permitted in the program unless specified.
  8. Registration is accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis and class sizes are limited. Programs will be canceled if registration does not meet the minimum.

Essex Wetlands Commission Takes “Site Walk” of Potential Foxboro Point Development

Commission members gather in front of the Croft house

On an extremely cold, sunny Saturday, members of Essex’s Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission took a “site walk” of 11 presently vacant acres on Foxboro Point. The purpose of the wintry visit was to give members of the Commission a first-hand look at property on which a private developer has filed an application to build seven new houses.

The 11 acres subject to this development are located on arguably one of the most scenic points in all of Essex, namely Foxboro Point. The site offers a sweeping view of North Cove and, in the distance, the Connecticut River.

Commission members set off on the "site walk" of the proposed development.

The application to develop the property was filed on Jan. 3 of this year by Frank J. Sciame, the Wall Street businessman, who bought and updated the Katharine Hepburn home in Old Saybrook a few years ago. He also owns a private home next to the Hepburn estate.

The sellers of the targeted property are members of the Croft family and their associates, who have owned the property for many years. The Croft house at the entrance to Foxboro Point is a familiar town landmark, and will not be demolished, according the developer’s present plan. Under the proposed plan, the famous windmill will also stay in place.

The Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed development on Feb. 14, which will be held at Town Hall. According to the Commission’s web sites it has the following powers that could be relevant to the proposed new development. The Commission:

          “Hears, consider[s] and decide[s] upon applications for regulated activities involving inland wetlands and water courses and/or the regulated upland area to a wetland. Determine[s] whether proposed activities are exempt from, or otherwise not subject to, the regulations. In Essex, the commission reviews the activities that are within 60’ [feet] of a designated wetland and within 100’ [feet] of a water body or water course.”

The Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission Chairman's gloved hand seeks to prevent his picture being taken.

ValleyNewsNow contributor Jerome Wilson joined the site walk since it was an official activity of the Inland Wetlands  &  Watercourses  Commission, which is a governmental body.

His presence did not seem entirely welcome, although, as a general rule, such activities would as a matter of course be open to the public and press, unless some extraordinary circumstances are demonstrated.


Julie Andrews Returns to Goodspeed to Direct New Musical

EAST HADDAM, CONN., January 14, 2012:  This afternoon at Goodspeed’s 7th Annual Festival of New Artists, the two-time Tony Award-winning theatre announced plans for the production of a new musical, The Great American Mousical,  to be directed by Julie Andrews. The musical is based on the best-selling book authored by Ms. Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, with illustrations by Tony Walton. This developmental production will run November 8 – December 2, 2012 at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Connecticut. Season tickets will be available beginning January 16 through the Goodspeed Opera House Box Office. The Great American Mousical will be sponsored by Essex Meadows.

Below the bright lights of Broadway, in the depths of the historic Sovereign Theatre, a troupe of musical-making mice rehearse a new show.  When the theatre is threatened by demolition and their diva Adelaide disappears, it will take all paws on deck to fulfill the time-honored tradition: the show must go on! Filled with singing, dancing, and show biz lore, The Great American Mousical is a tribute to life in the theatre and celebrates the two most glorious words in the English language: musical comedy!

Under the direction of theatre icon Julie Andrews, The Great American Mousical features an enchanting new score with Music by Zina Goldrich and Lyrics by Marcy Heisler, a book by Tony nominee Hunter Bell, choreography by Tony nominee Christopher Gattelli, and sets and costumes designed by Oscar, Emmy and Tony-Award winner Tony Walton. With boundless appeal, The Great American Mousical will entertain adults with its wit and musical theatre history while kids will fall in love with the wonderful characters that inhabit the Sovereign Theatre.

“Emma, Tony and I had so much fun working on this book and are now overjoyed that it will come alive on the stage,” said Julie Andrews.  “I’m so blessed to be working with this creative team in adapting our book for the theatre.”

Michael Price, Executive Director of Goodspeed Musicals, adds “Julie Andrews and Tony Walton have been part of the Goodspeed family for several years and we are thrilled to have them back with us to work on this delightful musical.   Adding Zina, Marcy and Hunter to the creative team makes the project even more exciting.”

About the Artists:

Julie Andrews is one of the most recognized and beloved figures in the entertainment industry. Her legendary career encompasses the Broadway and London stages, blockbuster Hollywood films, award-winning television shows, multiple albums and concert tours.  She is also a best-selling author in the world of children’s and adult publishing. Ms. Andrews has directed productions for Bay Street Theatre and Goodspeed Musicals including The Boy Friend and its National Tour.

Emma Walton Hamilton is a best-selling children’s book author, professional editor and arts educator.  She co-founded the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York where she served in numerous capacities through 2008, and is currently a faculty member for Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA in Writing and Literature Program.

Zina Goldrich, along with longtime lyricist Marcy Heisler, is currently working on the musical adaptation of Ever After with director Kathleen Marshall. She earned a Drama Desk Nomination for Best Music for the off-Broadway show Dear Edwina. She composed the scores for Junie B. Jones (Lucille Lortel Award nomination) and Snow White, Rose Red (and Fred) ( three Helen Hayes Awards nominations)  Honors include the Fred Ebb Award, ASCAP’s Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, Seldes-Kanin Fellowship, and a Jonathan Larson grant.

Marcy Heisler, with composer Zina Goldrich, was named the 2009 winner of the Fred Ebb Award for outstanding songwriting.   Off-Broadway credits include Dear Edwina (Drama Desk Nomination, Lyrics) and Junie B Jones, (Lucille Lortel Nomination, Best Musical).  Her many lyric projects include work for Disney Channel, Disney Toon Studios, Disney Interactive and adaptations for Disney Theatricals.  Songwriting awards include the Richard Rodgers New Horizons Theatre Award and Jamie De Roy and Friends Award (ASCAP), a Seldes-Kanin Fellowship, and others.

Hunter Bell earned an OBIE Award, Drama League nomination, and Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical all for the original Broadway musical [title of show]. Other credits include the books for Silence! The Musical; Bellobration! (Ringling Bros. Circus); Now. Here. This; and Villains Tonight! (Disney Cruise Lines.) As an actor, he has appeared on and off Broadway and in numerous regional theatres, including the Goodspeed Opera House and The Norma Terris Theatre. He is a distinguished alumnus of Webster University and a MacDowell Fellow.

Christopher Gattelli’s Broadway credits include the current revival of Godspell and the upcoming Newsies; South Pacific (Tony, Outer Critics Circle nominations); Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown; Sunday in the Park with George; 13: The Musical; High Fidelity and off-Broadway’s Altar Boyz (Lucille Lortel Award, Callaway Award, Drama Desk nomination); Bat Boy: The Musical (Lucille Lortel Award); tick, tick . . . BOOM!; and more. As director he helmed Silence! The Musical, the world premiere of Jim Henson’s first musical, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, and the world premiere of Radio Girl, both with Goodspeed Musicals.

Tony Walton is an Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award-winning set and costume designer who in recent years   has added directing to his long list of credits.  He has been honored with Tony Awards for Pippin, House of Blue Leaves, and Guys and Dolls.   Walton directed and designed the triumphant Goodspeed production of Where’s Charley?, designed sets and costumes for the Goodspeed production and National Tour of The Boy Friend, and has received acclaim for his productions at the Irish Repertory Theatre, The York Theatre, Old Globe Theatre and Bay Street Theatre.

The Great American Mousical will be produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price.

The Norma Terris Theatre is located at 33 North Main Street in Chester which was recently voted “Best Small Town in Connecticut” by Connecticut Magazine. Season Tickets will go on sale January 16 for Goodspeed Members through the Goodspeed Opera House Box Office.  Individual tickets will go on sale to the general public on March 25, 2012. For more information call the Goodspeed Box Office at 860.873.8668 or visit

Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, Goodspeed Musicals produces three musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn., and additional productions at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals.  The first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed also maintains the Scherer Library

Rep. Phil Miller Joins State Leaders to Support National Healthcare Act

State Representative Phil Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam) joined with other lawmakers at the state capitol in support of a U.S. Supreme Court filing defending the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The case will be heard by the high court in March.

In conjunction with the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform, hundreds of lawmakers from across the nation joined forces to announce and demonstrate their support of the Amicus Brief. The legislators’ brief argues that the Constitution gives broad power to the federal government to act in cases where a national solution is necessary. The ACA capitalizes on state innovations by setting a minimum coverage floor and giving states considerable policy flexibility.

“I’m proud to stand here today supporting the Affordable Care Act which has already helped many state residents by preventing insurers from dropping people from coverage when they get really sick and denying children with pre-existing conditions health insurance,” said Rep. Phil Miller.

The ACA has already provided benefits to children with pre-existing conditions, who can no longer be denied health insurance; individuals who cannot be kicked off their policies when they get sick; and young adults who can stay on their parents’ policies until age 26. More residents will save money on their health care when the law is fully implemented in 2014.

The show of support for the Affordable Care Act in Connecticut was part of a larger demonstration of support for the law across the nation this week, as over 500 state legislators representing all 50 states signed on to the Amicus Brief defending the law. The brief will be filed this Friday and was prepared in conjunction with the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform (a national group of state legislators working to advance health reform and implement the Affordable Care Act), Progressive States Network, and the Constitutional Accountability Center.The full text of the Amicus Brief will be available at:

Phil Miller is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He is Vice Chair of the legislature’s Environment Committee.

Congressman Lauds Chester Aerospace Firm for Receiving Federal Award for Export Sales

AeroCision CEO Andrew Gibson accepting award from Congressman Courtney and trade rep. Evans

Congressman Joe Courtney visited the headquarters of the Chester based aerospace manufacturer, AeroCision, recently to attend a ceremony at which AeroCision received the United States, “Export Achievement Award.” The award was presented to the company for its success in achieving a total of $1 million in exports in the year 2011.

The award was personally presented to the firm by Anne S. Evans, Director of the Connecticut District Office of the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce and eastern Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney. It was accepted by Andrew J. Gibson, CEO of AeroCision.

“Here is a company that is absolutely competing and winning in export markets,” said Director Evans in presenting the award.

A statement issued by Congressman Courtney office provided background about the award:

“Last year Rep. Courtney and Anne Evans of the U.S. Department of Congress joined AeroCision representatives on a trade mission to the United Kingdom. During the trip, the company was able to solidify the international relationships and expand markets, boosting their overall exports from $300,000 in 2010 to $1 million in 2011.”

In the statement AeroCision CEO Andrew Gibson was quoted as saying, “When we were in the UK with Congressman Courtney, we were at a crucial point with Rolls Royce.”

Gibson continued, “The fact that I was in the UK with a member of the Armed Services Committee seeking global opportunities within the UK demonstrated our sincere commitment as a global supplier. The timing was perfect. The supply chain people at Rolls were impressed. In sum, the trip and our association with Department of Commerce added prestige and credibility at a critical time.”

AeroCision workers attended the ceremony enjoyed the lunch

The award ceremony was followed by a sandwich luncheon with many of the 60 AeroCision employees that work at the aerospace plant in Chester.

Congressman Courtney chows down with AeroCision workers

An AeroCision spokesman said that in connection with the trade mission to the UK, the company paid for all of the travel expenses of its employees in connection with the trip.

Region 4 Returns $36,843 Surplus to Chester, Deep River and Essex

REGION 4— Regional School District 4 has returned a $36,843 surplus from the 2010-2011 education budget to the member towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex.

Garth Sawyer, district finance director, said the towns received checks this week, splitting the amount based on the number of students from each town attending John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School. Essex, with the most students, received $15,673, Deep River received $11,034, and Chester received $10,136. The unexpended surplus is from the $16,780,520 education budget approved by voters of the three towns in a referendum last May.

The move comes as the Region 4 Board of Education budget begins work on a proposed budget for 2012-2013. Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy has presented a proposed Region 4 budget of $17.8 million, an increase of about $706,000 over current spending. The board will hold budget review workshops on Jan. 24 and continuing in February before voting on a proposed 2012-2013 education budget in early March. The public hearing on the Region 4 budget will be held on Monday April 2, with the annual budget referendum to be held in the three towns on May 8.

Decisions Still Pending on Chester Main Street Project

CHESTER— Main Street in the downtown village will be improved and reconstructed around the same time as two state funded bridge replacement projects, but decisions are still pending on the exact scope and cost of the town funded work on Main Street.

That was the message Wednesday as about 40 residents turned out at the Chester Meeting House for the first public information meeting held by the Main Street Committee, an 11-member group appointed by the board of selectmen last fall to coordinate the Main Street improvement project. Committee Chairman Michael Joplin and other members presented the latest information on the project. The committee recently conducted a mail-in survey to help gather opinions from residents on the extent of the town-funded project.

While noting the bridge replacements and the Main Street reconstruction are separate projects, Joplin said the goal is to begin the Main Street work around the same time as the bridge projects. Joplin said the state Department of Transportation will hold a public information meeting on the first project, replacement of the Water Street bridge, on Thursday Feb. 16 at the Chester Meeting House.

Work on the Water Street bridge project is expected to begin this summer, with a temporary closing of Water Street expected to begin this fall. Replacement of the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook is expected to begin in 2014.

Committee member Chuck Mueller said the committee and board of selectmen, along with the town as a whole, must decide on the extent of the Main Street reconstruction. Mueller said options include focusing on Main Street in the immediate downtown area, near the bridge and intersection with West Main Street (Route 148), or extending the improvements east on Main Street to the intersection with Route 154, and up sections of Water Street, and North Main Street to the location of the Norma Terrace Theatre.

Mueller said the town currently has $440,000 set aside for the project, including a state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant. The cost of the project could be significantly higher depending on the extent of the improvements. Committee member Steve Tiezzi said the town could apply for additional state grants after the extent of the project is determined.

Residents at the meeting also discussed the option of relocating electric power lines underground, instead of overhead, for a portion of the project area. Joplin said relocating the power lines underground would cost at least $3 million.

Industrial History of the Falls River at Ivoryton Library

Comstock Cheney ivory factory c. 1870, courtesy of the Connecticut River Museum

Bill Grover, longtime town resident and past Essex Land Trust President, will give an illustrated talk about how the Falls River became important in the industrialization and growth of Essex, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton on Sunday, January 22, 2012 – 2 p.m. at Ivoryton Library.

Bill is a graduate of the Yale School of Architecture and one of the founding partners of Centerbrook Architects, which occupies an early industrial building on the Falls River.  He has been a resident of Ivoryton and Centerbrook, along the Falls River, since 1970. The talk will be downstairs in the Library building and folks can come in the back entrance more easily than the front. This event is co-sponsored by the Essex Land Trust and the Ivoryton Library. Parking available on nearby streets. Admission is free and open to the public. Refreshments provided.



TTYS Parent and Child Play and Support Groups

Tri-Town Youth Services, at 56 High Street in Deep River, will hold two parent/child play and support groups led by Parent Resource Coordinator, Meredith Adler.  During each session, children and their parents will play with age appropriate toys, experiment with art materials, and enjoy music and movement activities.  Parents will also receive parenting resources.

Both groups will run on Wednesdays from January 11 through March 21, Outstanding Ones, for ages 12 months to 24 months, will meet from 11:00 to11:30 a.m. with a cost of $45 for tri-town residents and $55 for non-residents.  Terrific Twos, for children 24 months to 36 months, will meet from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. with a cost of $60 for tri-town residents and $70 for non-residents.  Please call 860-526-3600 or email for more information and to register.