January 31, 2023

Archives for February 2012

Winter Weather Delays Region 4 School Board Budget Vote

REGION 4— Wednesday’s winter weather has led the Region 4 Board of Education to reschedule the meeting where the panel was expected to vote on a proposed district education budget for 2012-2013.

With district schools dismissed early Wednesday because of approaching winter weather, the board meeting planned for Wednesday night has been postponed to Wednesday March 7 at 7 p.m. in the library/media center at John Winthrop Middle School.

At the March 7 meeting, the board is expected to adopt a proposed district education budget of $17,568,043. The education budget approved next week will be presented to the residents of Chester, Deep River, and Essex at the annual budget hearing on April 2.

Essex Republican Neil Nichols Forms 2012 Campaign Exploratory Committee

Mr. Neil Nichols

Essex Republican Neil Nichols has formed a 2012 campaign exploratory committee, signaling his plans to run again for a legislative seat in the November 6 state election.

Nichols Monday declined to confirm which area legislative seat he would be campaigning for this year, either the 33rd Senate District seat held by ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook, or the 36th House District held for the past year by Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller, a former Essex first selectman. Nichols said he would probably make a formal announcement of his 2012 campaign plans by the end of April.

But Nichols choice for the treasurer of his exploratory committee, East Haddam Republican Paul Maxwell, would seem to indicate he has set his sights on a rematch with Daily in the 12-town senate district. East Haddam is in the 33rd District, where Nichols challenged Daily in 2010 and lost on a vote of 21,069 to 17,851. Nichols carried Haddam in 2010, with Daily winning in all of the other district towns.

A retired airline pilot who currently serves on the Essex Planning Commission, Nichols ran unsuccessfully in 2006 for the 36th House District seat, losing to former Democratic State Rep. James Spallone of Essex. Nichols also represents the 33rd Senate District on the Republican State Central Committee.

Daily, a former Westbrook first selectwoman, has already signaled her plans to seek a record 12th term in the 33rd District this year, forming a 2012 campaign committee late last year.

Miller, who served as Essex first selectman from 2003 to last November, is expected to seek election to a full term in the 36th District this year, but as of Monday had not registered a 2012 campaign committee with the State Elections Enforcement Commission. Miller defeated Republican Janet Peckinpaugh, the former television news anchorwoman, in a special election held last February. Spallone, who was re-elected in 2010, had resigned the seat to take a job as deputy secretary of the state.

The 36th House District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam. Democrats and Republicans will pick 2012 legislative candidates at district nominating conventions in May.

Always…P​atsy Cline at the Ivoryton Playhouse

Jacqueline Petroccia as Patsy Cline at the Mac-Haydn Theatre

Ivoryton:  In the town of Winchester in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, there is a gravestone that probably says it best: “Death Cannot Kill What Never Dies: Love.”

It is a tribute to the late, great singer Patsy Cline. Not many singers remain legends so long after their death, especially after a short career of slightly more than five years. Cline died tragically at age 30 on March 5, 1963, which was almost 49 years ago. Her music lives on partly through such wonderful stage tributes as Always… Patsy Cline, which opens the season at the Ivoryton Playhouse on March 14.

 Always…Patsy Cline has enjoyed great success all over the United States, including a successful run off-Broadway. It is more than a tribute to the legendary country singer. The show is based on a true story about Cline’s friendship with a fan from Houston named Louise Seger, who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in l961, and continued a correspondence with Cline until her death.

The musical play, complete with down home country humor, true emotion and even some audience participation, includes many of Patsy’s unforgettable hits such as Crazy, I Fall to Pieces, Sweet Dreams and Walking After Midnight…27 songs in all.  The show’s title was inspired by Cline’s letters to Seger, which were consistently signed “Love ALWAYS… Patsy Cline.”

Playhouse Executive Director, Jacqui Hubbard, who directs this production, says “I grew up listening to my mother sing these songs while cooking dinner. They are part of my DNA and I only have to hear the opening chords of Crazy and I am instantly transported. Even if you are not a country fan, Patsy Cline crosses all the boundaries. Her music has lasted this long because if defies being categorized. It is the music of us all.”

Playing Patsy Cline is Jacqueline Petroccia*, who also played her in a production at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in 2011 with spectacular reviews. “Petroccia looked like Patsy and sang like Patsy” – Gail Burns, Berkshire Theatre Reviews; “Petroccia gives us a near perfect performance of what Patsy Cline would have sounded like in concert. There were times in the show when I really imagined I was watching Patsy Cline at the Opry” – Kevin Richards, DJ 107.7 WGNA

Laurie Dawn*, who will be playing Louise in this production, is no stranger to the Ivoryton Playhouse. Audiences loved her as M’Lin in Steel Magnolias and as Charlotte in Moon Over Buffalo. John DeNicola musical directs this production. Sets designed by William Stark, lights by Doug Harry, costumes by Lisa Marie Harry and hair by Joel Silvestro.

Always…Patsy Cline  opens on March 14 and runs thru April 1 for 3 weeks. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

* Denotes member of Actors Equity

“A Star to Sail Her By” – Book Signing at The Essex Corinthian Yacht Club

The Essex Corinthian Yacht Club is pleased to host a book talk and signing by Alex Ellison, author of “A Star to Sail Her By” on Sunday, March 4,  3 p.m. at the Corinthian, 9 Novelty Lane, Essex.If you don’t think it’s possible for you and your family to live peacefully together in your home, imagine if you had to live peacefully together on a boat…for five years!

When Alex Ellison was 8, he set off from Essex with his parents and his sister, Lara, for a one-year trip on their sailboat. One year became five years, spent on the Caribbean island of Nevis and other remote locations throughout the Caribbean and Pacific. Alex and his family shared adventures as well as challenges — everything from tropical navigation to dangerous waters to tropical storms.

Alex, now 17, and a student at Phillips Exeter Academy, kept a daily journal through all of it and turned that into a rousing memoir entitled “A Star to Sail Her By: A Five-Year Odyssey of Coming of Age at Sea.” According to Meredith Laitos, Editor of Sail Magazine, “In and of itself, this memoir of a 25,000 nautical mile voyage is informative, entertaining and eye-opening. That a high school student wrote it is astounding.”The event and book sales will be a benefit supporting the Valley Regional High School Sailing Team.  Suggested donations are $10.For further information, please contact Elaine Kyle, Manager, Essex Corinthian Yacht Club at 860-767-3239.

Letters: House Bill 5128 and The Constitution

To The Editor:

On February 22, I attended the HB 5128 Hearing at the State Capitol. The Hearing was well attended. Additional Hearing(s) may be scheduled allowing for additional public comment.

The following are the most significant changes to the bill which would affect private property ownership along the shoreline.

House Bill 5128 – an act concerning certain revisions to the coastal zone management statutes would be amended to introduce 3 new and, for private property ownership in CT, devastating concepts to CT state law.

In Section 1 (a) (5)Re “shoreline armouring” (a European concept), this change would work to reduce the necessity of public expenditure and shoreline armouring to protect future development from such hazards as a sea level rise, coastal flooding and erosion patterns.

In Section 1 (b) (K) “strategic retreat” this change would encourage strategic retreat of property ownership over several decades for coastal lands that have a likelihood of being lost due to erosion and coastal lands that contain structures that are subject to repetitive damage.

In section 2 a new subdivision would be added relating to sea level rise.

In Section 3 several changes are made introducing for instance, an assessment, based on the topography of the site, of the impact that a sea level rise will have on the proposed use or structure over the use or structure’s projected life span.

As testified to by Senator Fasano at the 02/22 Environmental Committee hearing, the changes represent a substantive overreach by the Committee. In my opinion, these changes are based on unproven science such as “Global Warming.”

All 3 concepts have been developed and are being pushed by Agenda 21/ICLEI groups. They are promoting strategic retreat as being necessary since they cannot afford to buy these properties and need to have municipalities work to devalue the properties and, once devalued, buy them.

A program enlisting the State of CT, municipalities and private groups to push such an agenda would be, at its worst, in violation of an individual’s constitutional rights.


Neil Nichols

Essex Historical Society Event Brings About Exchange of Burgees by Three Essex Yacht Clubs

On February 8, 2012 the Essex Historical Society hosted “History and Evolution of the Yacht Clubs of Essex.”  The event was held at the Essex Corinthian Yacht club to a packed room.  All six Essex yacht clubs had representation at the event and a special introduction and talk on Essex boating history was made by the Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, Jerry Roberts.

The presenters from the Yacht clubs were:

  • Dan Daniells from the Dauntless Club and founding member of the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club
  • Ed Birch from Frostbite Yacht Club – Vice Commodore of the Frostbite Yacht Club and past Commodore of Pettipaug and the Corinthian.
  • George Graf, Historian of the Essex Yacht Club and past Commodore of the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club
  • Toby Doyle, Historian of the Pettipaug Yacht Club
  • Jim Coer, Immediate Past Commodore of the Essex Boat Club, and
  • Jeff Going, Historian and past Commodore of the Corinthian and Pettipaug.

It was a lively and entertaining event with a lot of yacht club history mixed with some folklore and of course some good boating humor.

But the most exciting portion of the evening was saved for the end of the program for burgee exchange ceremonies.

A burgee is, usually, a triangular flag that identifies the yacht’s owner as a member of a sailing organization.  It is tradition to present ones burgee during the first visit to another yacht club.

A very special occurrence at this event was the exchange of burgees by the Essex Yacht Club and the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club. For the first time in history, the Essex Corinthian represented by Rear Commodore Deb Wallis, and the Essex Yacht Club represented by Vice Commodore Frank Flores exchanged burgees.

Essex Corinthian Rear Commodore Deb Wallis, and the Essex Yacht Club Vice Commodore Frank Flores exchanging burgees with Essex Historical Society President Mark Pratt in the background (Photo courtesy of Susan Malan)

In 1933 the clubs started as one club but in 1980 the clubs split becoming the Essex Yacht Club and the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club. Although these clubs sit side by side, they had never exchanged their burgees.

A  second first was made when an enthusiastic Jim Coer representing the Essex Boat Club exchanged their burgee for the first time ever with the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club.  This too was a monumental moment as this was the very first burgee exchange ever for the Essex Boat Club.

Jim Coer representing the Essex Boat Club and Rear Commodore Deb Wallis of the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club exchanging burgees (photo courtesy of Wini Olson)

The Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps Needs Your Support

Michelle Roise, President of The Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps provided a presentation to The Deep River Rotary Club on Tuesday at their weekly luncheon recently.

Michelle explained the rich history of Fife & Drum Corps and their involvements with military units dating back well before the Revolutionary War with roots in Europe. The Junior Ancients (a 501 c3 Non-Profit) have been invited to attend the first ever International Muster in Basel Switzerland in June – “The land were Fife & Drum began!”. The DRJA members range in age from 7 to 17.  DRJA fosters teamwork and responsibility among the members and teaches them a sense of community, history and patriotism and gives them a firm foundation within the community.

DRJA is looking for support. Your donation can make this trip possible. For more information please visit www.drja.org or email to info@drja.org

TTYS Announces Mini-Grants for Local Non-Profits

Tri-Town Youth Services announces the availability of mini-grants to local nonprofit organizations in Chester, Deep River and Essex. Applications for mini-grants are available at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High Street in Deep River.

A workshop about asset development and the application process will be held at Tri-Town Youth Services, 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. This workshop is required for all first-time applicants. Nonprofit organizations who have previously applied are not required to attend the workshop. Completed applications must be received by Tri-Town by noon on March 21, 2012.

Programs eligible for funding will  build youth assets and will take place between May 1 and August 31, 2012.

These mini-grants are part of the Healthy Communities · Healthy Youth of Chester, Deep River, and Essex initiative that is funded through Middlesex United Way. For additional information, please call Gail Onofrio at Tri-Town Youth Services: 860-526-3600.

The Ice Man Cometh & the Public is Invited!

Please join us on Thursday, March 15 at 7.30 p.m.  at the Ivoryton Congregational Church, 57 Main Street, Ivoryton,
for an interesting slide-show presentation on “Ice Harvesting in New England” by Arthur Howe.  Arthur has been harvesting
ice for over seventy years for a family camp his grand mother started over 100 years ago at Squam Lake in New Hampshire
(the site of the movie “On Golden Pond”).

Through several up-grades in the harvesting technology “Ice Harvesting” goes on to this day on the lake and provides campers
who come for the summer months with a source of refrigeration.

You will be fascinated to see how it is done and share in this rare look at history that takes us back before the time of
ice making refrigerators in our homes.

A free-will offering to the Church’s Music Fund will be made.

Middlesex Hospital Moves Ahead with Plans to Move Essex’s Shoreline Clinic to Westbrook

New Westbrook location of Clinic will be on road to Tanger Outlet Center

Middlesex Hospital is moving, full speed ahead, to move the present Shoreline Emergency Clinic in Essex to a new location just off I-95 in Westbrook. The move could take place as early as October 2013, according to the hospital’s Senior Vice President, Henry Evert.

Evert said of the present Essex facility, “We are totally out of space.” The new Westbrook location will be on Flat Rock Place, just down from the Tanger Outlets. It will be on the left hand side of the road, when approaching the shopping mall.  Presently, the site is just woods.

According to Evert a “purchase and sales” agreement has already been signed for the new 40,000 square foot site, which is double the size of the present Essex facility. The hospital’ senior vice president also said that Westbrook town authorities view the new development “very favorably,” and that there will be a meeting about the project at a Westbrook Planning and Zoning Commission on February 28.

Evert has also spoken before the Westbrook Chamber of Commerce about the new medical facility coming to Westbrook. He declined to say what the hospital paid for its new property, other than to say it was “a lot of money.”

The Shoreline Medical Center leaving Essex in 2013

Evert said that the new emergency clinic, off I-95 at Exit 65, “would provide better access to medical care for the shoreline communities.” He said that a picture of the new facility is not yet available. “We are still working on it,” he said.

He added that “as the population has grown in surrounding towns over the last 40 years, it made more sense to relocate the facility off I-95 to improve access to healthcare services for a rapidly increasing number of people in the shoreline area.”

Introduction to Indian Cooking at Essex Library

The techniques of creating flavorful Indian dishes will be demonstrated by Madhu Gupta at the Essex Library on Saturday March 10 at 1 p.m.

In the mood for something spicy? Take a “tasting tour” of India at the Essex Library with Madhu Gupta, who will prepare a variety of delicious Indian dishes from appetizers to desserts Saturday, March 10 at 1 p.m.

Madhu will introduce Indian cooking techniques, highlighting the regional differences in regards to spicing, flavors and recipes.  Indian-born, she’s traveled extensively across India, experiencing many different cultures, and learned to cook from her mother. Her love of spices is always at the heart of her cooking, and Madhu will demonstrate that Indian cooking is not always hot and spicy but that the flavor is determined by balancing the ingredients.

The program is free and open to all, but seating is limited. Please call the Essex Library to register for this program at 860-767-1560


Marshview Gallery Artist of the Month, Mimi Chiang

Mimi Chiang has been selected as the Estuary Council of Seniors March Artist of the Month.  The walls of our Marshview Gallery will be brightened with Mimi’s watercolor paintings.  Her love for art bloomed later in life, though her study began in high school with her art teacher and future husband, Chien Fei Chiang.  Over the years, as she watched and admired her husband’s art evolve, her own interest grew.  Mimi earned a 2011 first prize award from the Essex Art Association.

Chiang resides in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.  It is with great pride that she exhibits her art locally, trusting that her husband and long time instructor continues to observe in spirit.

A reception to honor Mimi and feature her work will be held on Friday, March 9, from 5-7:00 pm.  Everyone is welcome.

Essex Town Hall Nature Program

Potapaug Audubon will present “Journey of the Universe” on Thursday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall. The format will be  a film presentation followed by a live discussion with Dr. Don Rankin. This film tells the story of cosmic and Earth evolution, drawing on the latest scientific knowledge. For more info call 860-767-9763.

Deep River Rotary Presents Student of the Month Award

left to right: Gail Onofrio, Rotarian; Kathleen Bergman, Math Teacher; Jordan Saintil; Mr. Arrigoni, History Teacher

Deep River Rotary presented 2 Valley Regional High School Students with awards for Student of The Month for January & February to Jordan Saintil and Trevor Dinwoodie. Recipients received a certificate and a gift card for $20. Students were nominated by staff members at Valley.

Chester Company Receives Turnaround Performance Award

Chris Dimou, CEO/President of Roto Frank of America receives the coveted “Turnaround Performance Award” from Parent Company Roto Frank AG and the Executive Board Members. (From left to right: Mr. Leonhard Braig, Chief Technical Officer, Michael Stangier, Chief Financial Officer, Chris Dimou CEO/President of Roto Frank of America, and Dr. Eckhard Keill, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Roto Frank AG

CHESTER, CT— February 19, 2012 — Roto Frank of America, Inc. was recently recognized with a special “Turnaround Performance Award” from its parent company Roto Frank AG. The ceremony took place beginning of February during the Group’s Leadership Conference in Berlin, Germany. Mr. Chris Dimou, Roto Frank of America CEO and President accepted the award from the Executive Board on the company’s behalf.

The Turnaround Performance Award, which is given by Roto Frank AG on the occasion that a Roto Group Company makes dramatic improvements. The Executive Board recognized significant progress in the areas of strategy, market approach, sales, cost structure, inventory, and change management. “The decision to honor Roto Frank of America with this award derived also from the fact that Roto has been dramatically reversing the negative trend which was in place up until 2009,” concludes Dr. Eckhard Keill, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board for Roto Frank AG.

According to Chris Dimou, Chief Executive Officer of Roto Frank of America, “Despite the downturn in the building and construction industry and such difficult economic times, the Roto team here in the United States and Canada has persevered and made tremendous strides over the past two years. By growing our Sales by almost 40% the last couple of years, we have gained important market share and prepared the ground for future growth. We are deeply honored by this unique Performance Award, appreciative of the Group’s continued support, as well as our employees’ dedication and hard work.”

About Roto Frank of America

Founded in 1979, Roto Frank of America is a Connecticut-based manufacturer of window and door hardware. The company, which offers solutions for North American and European hardware applications, has an extensive product line including its renowned  X-DRIVE™  casement and awning hardware, NT Tilt & Turn, TITAN sliding patio door, Flip Lock positive action lock, DR10 adjustable hinge, Patio Life lift & slide, and 6080 fold & slide, among others.

About Roto Frank AG

Roto Frank AG was founded in Stuttgart, Germany in 1935 by the inventor of tilt & turn hardware, Wilhelm Frank. In 1950, the company moved to a facility in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, a suburb of Stuttgart where it is still headquartered today. Two divisions comprise the Roto Group: Hardware Technology for Windows and Doors and Roof Windows and Solar Technology.  As one of the world’s largest OEM suppliers, Roto Frank AG employs more than 4,000 people and currently operates twelve manufacturing facilities as well as 40 sales subsidiaries and sales partners worldwide.

For more information about Roto’s services or products please contact:  Roto Frank of America, Inc., 14 Inspiration Lane, Chester, CT 06412.  1-800-243-0893 or visit www.rotohardware.com

Photo caption: Chris Dimou, CEO/President of Roto Frank of America receives the coveted “Turnaround Performance Award” from Parent Company Roto Frank AG and the Executive Board Members. (From left to right: Mr. Leonhard Braig, Chief Technical Officer, Michael Stangier, Chief Financial Officer, Chris Dimou CEO/President of Roto Frank of America, and Dr. Eckhard Keill, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Roto Frank AG.

Essex Zoning Sets March 19 Hearing on Request to Remove Age Restriction From Bokum Road Cluster Housing

ESSEX— The zoning commission has scheduled a March 19 public hearing on a petition to remove an over-55 age restriction on a planned 55-unit housing complex  on Bokum Road that was approved in 2007 but never built.

Essex Glen LLC, the partnership that was the applicant in 2007, has asked the commission to revise the permit for the project, eliminating the description “active adult community”, and a restriction specifying the units would be sold to buyers age 55 or older. The proposed new language refers to a “targeted adult community,” and specifies the residential community would be “targeted for but not limited to” occupancy by persons age 55 or older.

The zoning commission approved permits in 2007 for the 55-unit complex on an 11-acre parcel located on the south side of Bokum Road, east of the Valley Railroad tracks. The parcel is located in a residential life care district, near the Essex Meadows retirement community and health care complex that was built in the 1980s and is now the town’s largest taxpayer

But just over a year after the Glen at Essex project was approved, the nationwide economic crash and recession that began in the fall of 2008 discouraged the partnership from pursuing development of the complex, though the 2007 approval remains in effect. The March 19 public hearing convenes at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

A St. Patrick’s Celebration With Michael McDermott and friends

“A St. Patrick’s Celebration” with Michael McDermott and friends will be held at the Centerbrook Meeting House on Saturday March 10, at 7 p.m. to benefit the Ivoryton Playhouse.

Tickets $50 (including food and beverage). Call 860-767-7318 for more details.

North Cove Outfitters Going “Out of Business” After Almost a Quarter Century in Old Saybrook

No secret, North Cove Outfitters going out of business

North Cove Outfitters in Old Saybrook has been a landmark store on Main Street for hunters, fisherman and campers for nearly a quarter century. Now, it is closing its doors with one big final sale.

“I’m very sad, I will miss a lot of my friends,” said Kathy Fowler, who has worked at the store for 23 years. Closing the store she said “will be a big loss for the town, especially Main Street.”

However, in its final “going out of business” sale, the store is not exactly giving things away. In fact, on a recent visit it appeared that most items were a modest 10% off, or at most 30% off.  As one bargain hunter who was looking around noted, “Ten percent is nothing.”

"Ten percent is nothing," said one shopper

Store owner Norman Cavallaro, who owns the store with his partner, Edward Carney, was asked about the prevalence of sale items that were only 10% off. In response he promised that as the “going out business” sale progresses, prices will get lower and lower, “even as low as 50%.”

Sweaters for 30% to 50% off

Cavallaro said that one alternative to the extended “going out of business” sale, which could last as long as six to eight weeks, could have been to close the doors immediately, and sell all of the store’s merchandize “to a jobber.”

“But we did not want to go away in the middle of the night,” he said, “That is not the legacy that we want to leave. We did not want to do that,” Cavallaro said. We wanted “to try to keep employees on the store’s payroll as long as possible.”“It is not about me,” he said.

Lots of people looking for bargains

When asked which were the most popular items being sold at the “going out of business” sale, Cavallaro mentioned clothing and even some canoes. Also, the store has “always been selling a lot of firearms,” he said. The store’s extensive inventory includes, “guns, rifles, shot guns and pistols, and it has always been a strong line,” he noted.

North Cove Outfitters received many awards

Cavallaro also mentioned with pride the many awards that North Cove Outfitters had received over the years. He said the store was judged as the “Best Outdoor Store in the Country” by Backpacker Magazine. Also, it was considered the “Best Retailer of the Year” by Canoe & Kayak Magazine. In addition, the store received a “Recognition” plaque from the Old Saybrook Land Trust.

The store owner then brought up again the store’s employees, some forty of them in all, who will be losing their jobs because of the store’s closing. “I love their professionalism,” he said, noting the number of employees who have worked for many years at North Cove Outfitters, which is still located for awhile longer at 75 Main Street in Old Saybrook.

As for what has been the store’s secret of success over the years, Cavallaro had this to say, “As an owner you yourself don’t have to be smart, you just have to hire smart people.”

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna had this to say about the closing of North Cove Outfitters, “The residents of Old Saybrook are truly sorry to see North Cove Outfitters close its doors. The store has made a wonderfully iconic contribution to our community over more than two decades. Our town is now going to strive very hard to find a replace of equal quality.”

Deep River Close to Obtaining Funds of Former Town Hall Restoration Association

DEEP RIVER– The town is close to obtaining control of about $261,000 that was held by the now disbanded Deep River Town Hall Restoration Association Inc.

That was the message last week from former Selectman Arthur Thompson as he briefed the board of selectmen on the activities of the Deep River Town Hall Auditorium Restoration Committee. Thompson is on the 11-member volunteer committee that was established in December to replace the restoration association, and complete long-planned improvements to the second-floor auditorium at town hall.

The former restoration association held the $261,000 that was donated over several years by residents to support the renovation of the town hall auditorium. The town meeting resolution that established the new committee included a provision specifying that funds held by the former association would be placed in a separate town fund dedicated to completing work on the town hall auditorium.

Thompson said the funds have been taken out of stock market investment accounts, and placed in a single account at Essex Savings Bank. Thompson also reported the town would not need a probate court ruling to secure control of the funds because the 1979 incorporation documents for the town hall restoration association had specified that any funds held by the association would revert to the town if the association was disbanded.

But the final transfer of the funds to the town requires a review by the state Attorney General’s office, which reviews final disbursements of charitable funds. Thompson said the committee expects a report from the attorney general soon.

Thompson said the funds would then be used to pay for improvements to the town hall auditorium, including work needed to allow full use of the balcony, and create a suitable entrance to the auditorium from a side door to the 1892 town hall building. He said the committee is working to prepare a specific improvement plan for the auditorium, along with cost estimates, to be presented to the selectmen.

Thompson also announced the committee would handle any bookings for use of the town hall auditorium, ending the services of Linalynn Schmelzer, a local resident who was hired last year by the association to coordinate bookings of the auditorium. “There are not a lot of bookings right now and we believe committee members can handle it,” he said.

Have a Heart for Haiti

The Sister Cities Essex Haiti will be holding a celebration of support of Hospital Albert Schweitzer and our community projects in Deschapelles on Friday, March 2, between 5:30 and 8:00 at the Left Bank Gallery, Main Street, Essex.

To learn more about it, please click here Have a Heart for Haiti Fundraiser.  You may purchase tickets at the door or on-line by clicking here.

Essex Land Trust Event – Saving Central Park

The Essex Garden Club and the Essex Land Trust are pleased to invite the general public to attend a program on Saving Central Park. Lane Addonizio, an Associate Vice President for Planning at the Central Park Conservancy, will discuss the various scientific and technological practices to maintain and restore Central Park, a man-made landscape. Some topics to be touched on are the Soil, Water and Ecology Lab’s role in maintaining the Park’s water bodies for its wildlife (mainly birds and fish) and its soil for the plantings and trees. Many technological innovations will be illustrated and discussed that have helped to restore the Park’s seemingly natural landscape, focusing on such high-tech sites such as the Great Lawn and the Lake and our three woodlands

The first public space of its kind, Central Park was conceived as a reprieve from the city for the benefit of all New Yorkers. The massive undertaking represented by its construction produced an idealized rurallandscape replete with meadows, lakes, and woodlands, all carefully orchestrated to transport urban dwellers from the reality of their daily lives. Frederick Law Olmsted suggested that the Park would be for working people—many of whom were destined to live their entire lives on the island of Manhattan—what a trip to the White Mountains or the Adirondacks was to those of greater means. It would provide what Olmsted referred to as the “sense of enlarged freedom” that comes from contact with nature. But the Park is not a naturally-occurring landscape. It is a man-made construct: a product of 19th century ingenuity designed to replicate the experience of nature at the heart of a great metropolis. As such, it has been subjected throughout its history not only to the pressures of encroachment and development that motivate efforts to conserve natural landscapes, but to the forces of deterioration, impacts of intense use, and periodic cycles of resource deprivation and management neglect.

Today, after thirty years of restoration and stewardship by the Central Park Conservancy, the Park is experiencing the longest period of sustained management in its 150-year history. The story of its creation, checkered past, and remarkable recovery supports the important idea that, as stewards, we can partner with nature’s improvisational energy to shape the character and nurture the intrinsic value of ever-evolving places that hold meaning for us.

Lane Addonizio oversees research and analysis for park wide and project planning, and collaborates with the Vice President for Planning, Design & Construction on the development and management of the program of the Park’s ongoing restoration and reconstruction. Ms. Addonizio is the author of the Report on the Public Use of Central Park, the most comprehensive study of the Park’s use in its more than 150-year history, which was published by the Conservancy in 2011.

The event is free and takes place at Essex Town Hall on Monday, March 5 at 2 p.m. Refreshments served. Parking behind Town Hall, 29 West Avenue, Essex.

Essex Corinthian Yacht Club Spring Commissioning Seminar

Essex Corinthian Yacht Club will be holding a Spring Commissioning Seminar with Captain Mark Bancroft from Wild Oats Marine Services, on Saturday March 3, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

Captain Mark Bancroft has been sailing for over thirty-five years and been involved in the marine industry for over twenty years. After completing a successful career in the United States Navy as a Chief Petty Officer he retired in 1989. He started Bottoms Up Boat Service providing a wide variety of services including mooring placement & inspection, bottom cleaning and hull damage inspections. Mark has been the delivery captain for over 100 boats to various ports from Boston to Norfolk. His experience includes installation and repair of equipment/electronics, spring commissioning and winterization of yachts.

In 1999, after two years of cruising the Inter-coastal Waterway from Connecticut to the West Coast of Florida, including the Bahamas, he joined the staff of Hellier Yacht Sales in the Service Department to coordinate spring commissioning and provide for all warranty work. After another cruise to the Florida Keys and west coast, Mark joined Yachting Services of Mystic as the Fleet Captain for the charter fleet, providing all facets of the charter industry from check-out/check-in, training and maintenance.

Mark started Wildoats Marine Service, LLC in April 2007 to serve the desires of the boating public in need of marine related services at a reasonable cost.

Please register for this no cost seminar.  Contact the ECYC office at 860-767-3239 or email  ecyc@essexcyc.org

Essex Historical Society Needs Volunteer Pratt House Tour Guides

Essex Historical Society is Looking for Volunteers to Become Pratt House Tour Guides this Summer

Essex Historical Society is looking for volunteers with an interest in local history to become Pratt House tour guides.

Interested in learning more about the history of Essex, the earliest settler’s and the town’s varied  architecture?  If so, please consider being a Pratt House tour guide this summer.  The Pratt House will be open for tours beginning June 1st, and continuing through the end of September. A fondness for history and an interest in meeting people are the only skills need to become a good Docent.

All Docents will work in pairs.  Those who sign up to become Docents guides will receive free training about the home, its furnishing, and the general history of the area. New Docents, of all ages, are always welcome.

For more information, please call Mary Ann Pleva at 860-767-8560 or Bette Taylor at 860-581-3365


Letters: Proposed Bill Would Impact Shoreline Property Rights

To The Editor:

Shoreline residents need to be informed about a new Legislative bill which, if passed, could heavily impact their property rights. A public hearing will be held at the State Capitol on Wednesday Feb 22 at 11:00 a.m.

For information go to:



Neil Nichols,
Essex, CT


Two Killed in Sunday Crash on Route 9 in Essex

ESSEX— Two New London County residents were killed early Sunday in a two-car collision on Route 9 northbound between exits 2 and 3.  Afzaal Muhammod, of 8 Orchard Street, New London, and Eunni Yoon, of 207 North Stonington Road, Mystic, were pronounced dead at the scene after a state trooper came upon the accident around 4:47 a.m. Sunday. Police believe one of the operators may have been driving in the wrong direction on the highway.

Muhammod was operating a 2009 Nisson Altima. Yoon, a woman, was driving a 2002 Chrysler. The accident remains under investigation by state police at the Troop F barracks in Westbrook.

Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission has no Objections to Foxboro Point Development

Windmill at Foxboro Point will remain undeveloped in the new proposal

The Essex Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission at a public hearing on February 14 voted unanimously that a plan by a New York City developer to subdivide eleven acres of waterfront land at Foxboro Point will not adversely impact the town’s inland wetlands, or its watercourses.

The New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr., did not personally appear before the Commission at the hearing; however, he was represented by Essex private attorney Terrance Lomme and Joe Wren, PE of Indigo Land Design of Old Saybrook. A representative of the developer, John Randolph, monitored the hearing but did not speak.

The subdivision would consist of seven separate lots, including the property of the existing Croft house, and sites for six new houses. Each of the sites in the development plan would have frontage on North Cove.

The Croft house, presently the only house on the proposed new subdivision at Foxboro Point

One unique feature of the development, according to Wren, is a proposed 150-foot wide conservation easement, extending landward from the edge of the river along the entire river frontage of the property. The proposed conservation easement will preserve that area and protect it from any development in perpetuity.

The total acreage of the conservation easement is 2.43 acres, or 22% of the 11.03- acre property.

In his presentation before the Commission, Wren stated that no new roadways would be required, because all seven lots have adequate frontage along Riverview Street or Foxboro Road.

As for the fate of the iconic Windmill on the northern portion of the proposed subdivision, Wren said in an interview after the hearing, “In my opinion it will not be destroyed but will stay a windmill.” However, he pointed out that, although the windmill would be on land owned by the developer, it is a separate lot and is not part of the proposed subdivision.

Seventy five foot visual corridor to North Cove in plan

Another unique feature of the proposed Foxboro Point subdivision would be the creation a 75- foot wide, open visual corridor protected with a view easement from Foxboro Road down to the waters of North Cove.  The windmill is not within this visual corridor, but it could be seen, obliquely, from the road after the homes have been built, Wren said.

Wren noted that the creation of the visual corridor from the Foxboro Road to the waters of North Cove was the idea of the developer, who wished to preserve a visual open space to the waters of North Cove.

Another issue that was discussed at the hearing was the question of whether docks would be allowed to extend out into North Cove.  Wren said that the water is very shallow in front of the properties of the proposed subdivision and that any proposed dock would be subject to full D.E.E.P. permitting requirements.

Commission members were in agreement that if there were any plans to build new docks by property owners in the subdivision, they would have to appear before Wetlands Commission for approval.

The developer’s engineer also said that the new houses on the site would have access to public water, and that each new property owner would have to construct an individual septic system.

Now that the Wetlands Commission has found no objections to the Foxboro Point development, permission to proceed with town approval of the new subdivision will be considered at a public hearing of the Essex Planning Commission on March 8, according to the Essex Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow.

Site plan of seven housing sites, with open space and a visual corridor in shades of green

Click here to view detailed site map



State Officials Outline Downtown Chester Bridge Project set for 2015

CHESTER— State Department of Transportation officials Thursday outlined plans for the replacement of the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook that include a start of construction, and five-month closing of Main Street in the downtown village beginning in January 2015.

About 40 residents turned out for the session at the Chester Meeting House where the plans for a complex construction project were presented by engineers and project managers. The bridge, constructed in 1921, carries the brook through a narrow channel that runs along or near several downtown buildings. Project manager David Stahnke described the construction area as “a very tight site.” The bridge is located just south of the intersection of Main Street and Route 148, also known as Water Street.

DOT project manager David Cutler said the 90-year-old bridge is rated poor, with deterioration to both the substructure and superstructure. He said repairing the bridge is not an option. The existing bridge is 22 feet long and about 65 feet wide. The new bridge would be 32 feet long, with two 12-foot travel lanes and wider shoulders than the existing bridge. The plans also call for improvements to the road approaches and sidewalks around the bridge.

Cutler said preparation work for the estimated $2.5 million project would begin in the fall of 2014. Main Street around the bridge would be closed during the heaviest construction, planned for a five-month period between January and May 2015.  Traffic would be detoured off Route 148 on to Straits Road and Prospect Street to Maple Street and back to Main Street.

Stahnke said a temporary bridge would be set up around the work area to maintain pedestrian access to Main Street. The project will require acquisition of rights of way from at least two downtown property owners, a process that was explained by David Hummel, property agent for the DOT’s Division of Rights of Way.

One of the issues that generated discussion at the meeting is whether there should be no night work during the most active period of construction, or whether residents could accept some night work if it would speed up completion of the project. Michael Joplin, chairman of the town’s Main Street Committee, maintained residents and downtown business owners could live with a 12 or 13 hour workday if that would help ensure the project was finished, and Main Street reopened to traffic, by May 2015.

Cutler said the state is ready to coordinate work on the bridge project with the town’s plans for a reconstruction of Main Street, the locally-funded project that is being directed by the Main Street Committee. The state also plans a replacement of the Water Street bridge over Great Brook, located just east of the Main Street bridge. Work on the Water Street bridge replacement is expected to begin later this year. The Main Street reconstruction is expected to be done around 2013-2014, between completion of the Water Street bridge replacement and the start of work on the Main Street bridge project.

Ivoryton Playhouse Announces 2012 Season

Ivoryton: On March 14th, 2012 The Ivoryton Playhouse opens its doors for a full year of exciting, live theatre. There is something for everyone this season – a season that is funny, upbeat, tasty, toe-tapping and even a little risqué! -you won’t want to miss even one of these shows.

Beginning March 14th through April 1st, the Playhouse will feature some down home country humor and still tug at your heart strings with Always….Patsy Cline. Based on a true story about Cline’s friendship with a fan who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in 1961, and continued a correspondence with her until her untimely death, this production includes many of Patsy’s unforgettable hits such as Crazy, I Fall to Pieces, and Walking After Midnight.

And who can forget the steamy story of Mrs. Robinson and young Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate? From April 18th – May 6th you can see this exciting new stage production in Ivoryton.  On June 6th – June 24th, the Playhouse will welcome R. Bruce Connelly back to Ivoryton to star in Last of the Red Hot Lovers – a classic from the world’s most successful playwright, Neil Simon.

Our three big summer musicals are sure to delight audiences of all ages.  Starting on July 4th, the Playhouse will bring Broadway to Ivoryton with Hairspray – a musical comedy hit that won 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical.  Hairspray will run through July 29th.  Dickens’ timeless characters will be brought to life from August 8th – September 2nd in Oliver!  The ever-popular story of the boy who asked for more, features some of theatre’s most beloved songs, including Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, I’d Do Anything and many more.  Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, featuring a score that includes 18 Neil Sedaka classics, opens September 26th and runs until October 14th.  Set at a Catskills resort in 1960, this is the sweetly comic story of Lois and Marge, two friends from Brooklyn in search of good times and romance over one wild Labor Day weekend.

The Kitchen Witches, running from October 31st– November 18th, ends the 2012 Season.  In this 2003 comedy, Dolly Biddle and Isabelle Lomax – archrivals in life and love – are tricked into appearing on a cooking show together on their local public access channel. Look out as spoons fly and family secrets are aired – it’s Martha Stewart meets Jerry Springer!

Don’t miss some of the most exciting and entertaining theatre on the shoreline!  Subscriptions are on sale now.  Single tickets go on sale February 13, 2012.  Visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org or call (860) 767 7318 for the latest ticket information.

Where’s the Party? Collaborative Initiative to Address Underage Drinking

Resident Troopers from the towns of Essex, Chester, and Deep River, Kerry Taylor, Matt Ewing and Christopher Cope are working collaboratively with Tri-Town Youth Services to identify and intervene in underage drinking situations through Party Patrols and Party Dispersals.

“We want to educate both youth and their families about the serious consequences of underage drinking situations happening right in our backyards,” Gail Onofrio, Executive Director of Tri-Town Youth Services said. “We recognize that through education and prevention, we can prevent a tragedy from happening in our communities.”

The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that over half (55.9%) of current drinkers from ages 12 to 20 had used alcohol in the past month in someone else’s home, with 29.2 percent stating that it had occurred in their own home. Close to 70 percent of those interviewed did not pay for alcohol the last time they drank, but cited unrelated people 21 or older, parents, guardians, and other adult family members as main sources.*

This initiative has been funded through the Drug Free communities Program, directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It provides grants of up to $125,000 to community coalitions that encourage citizens to prevent youth substance abuse. For more information or to report underage drinking, drug use or other suspicious activities anonymously please call the Tri-Town TIPLINE at 860-767-4340 x130.

* Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Volume I. Summary of National Findings.


Explore the Works of Antoni Gaudi

The Sagrada Familia Cathedral of Barcelona by Antoni Gaudi is one of the works that will be covered in a talk by Dr. Chuck Benson on Friday February 24th at 7 PM at Essex Town Hall, part of the Essex Library’s Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series.

Spanish Catalan architect and figurehead of Catalan Modernism Antoni Gaudí will be the topic of a lecture by architect and professor Dr. Chuck Benson, part of the Essex Library’s Centerbrook Architects Lecture series, on Friday, February 24 at 7 p.m., at Essex Town Hall.

Gaudi’s passions – architecture, nature, religion, and love for his native Catalonia  — are woven through his astonishingly detailed, unique, and organic designs. Seven of his works have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Dr. Benson has been teaching Art and Architectural History for more than twenty-five years at various universities and colleges across the United States. His lecture credits include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, MOMA, the Whitney Museum, the Getty in Los Angeles, the Art Institute in Chicago, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  He studied the history of art and architecture at Yale as an undergraduate, and holds advanced degrees from Columbia University. Our Essex Library audiences have enjoyed his lectures on Edward Lutyens and Gian Loernzo Bernini.

The talk is free and open to all. Please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register or for more information. The Essex Town Hall is at 29 West Avenue in Essex.


Salome Unveiled at the Essex Library

The Essex Library presents Richard Strauss’ opera Salome, in a film version starring Teresa Stratas, Monday February 27th at 2 p.m. (Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley)

The Essex Library’s popular series of filmed operas, Monday Afternoon @ the Opera, presents Richard Strauss’ Salome, starring Teresa Stratas, Hans Bierer, and Astrid Varnay, on Monday February 27 at 2 p.m. Stratas, one of the world’s best singing actresses, is at the peak of her powers in the title role of this spine-chilling version of Salome, which is conducted by Strauss’ protégé Karl Böhm and features the Vienna Philharmonic.

The show is free and open to all. The Essex Library is at 33 West Avenue. For more information, please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560.

Essex Expects Payment from Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority

ESSEX– The town is expecting a lump sum payment from the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority to cover a promised benefit that was never provided for serving as the host town for the authority’s regional transfer station.

First Selectman Norman Needleman announced at Wednesday’s meeting of the board of selectmen that he is expecting an answer from the CRRA board of directors next month on the exact amount the town would received for serving as the host town for the regional transfer station that serves nine towns in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. The regional transfer station is located on town property off Route 154, just south of the Deep River town line. The facility compacts trash from area towns that is then hauled to the CRRA Mid-Connecticut incinerator in Hartford.

The regional transfer station has been in full operation since about 1989, with Essex promised a benefit for serving as the host town for the facility. Needleman said he and members of the sanitary waste commission have been negotiating with the authority in recent weeks to secure some of the host town benefits that were promised, but never provided, to the town. The negotiations come as the authority asks area towns to renew long-term contracts for disposal of municipal solid waste that expire in November.

Needleman said Essex was promised two incentives for serving as the host town for the regional transfer station, including a host town payment of .50 for each ton of municipal solid waste that is processed at the facility. Another promised benefit that dates to the formation of the regional trash authority in the mid-1980s calls for an annual payment equal to 20 percent of the annual tax bill for the parcel that contains the regional transfer station.

Needleman said he is prepared to waive the provision for a 20 percent payment because the amount would be less than $30,000, and the town never sent the authority a tax bill for the partial payment. But Needleman said he is insisting on a payment of the host town benefit dating back to 2007. The payment, representing fifty cents on each ton of trash processed at the facility over the past five years, is expected to total more than $100,000.

Needleman said he is also seeking strict requirements that CRRA properly maintain the site of the regional facility, and has rejected offers from CRRA to buy the site from the town. While the town’s contract with CRRA for solid waste disposal expires in November, the lease for the site of the regional transfer station extends to 2015.

Needleman said he would not bring a proposed new long-term disposal contract with CRRA to the board of selectmen and town meeting for approval until the outstanding issues regarding the site and the host town payment are resolved.

Deep River and Chester in December approved new 15-year disposal contracts with CRRA. The new contracts provide for a tip fee of $59.50 per ton for trash processed at the regional transfer station and the Mid-Connecticut incinerator, less than the $70 per ton fee the towns are currently paying to CRRA.

Shoreline Bus Fares Increase March 1st

9 Town Transit will increase its fares on all services beginning March 1, 2012.  The increase will up the regular cash fare to $1.50 on bus routes and $3.00 on the Dial-A-Ride services and off-route trips.

9 Town Transit officials say the increase is necessary to keep up with increasing fuel and maintenance costs, which are rising faster than funding from the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  They point out that the cost of ten ticket books and monthly passes is rising just 2% and 4%, respectively, making prepaid fares a better deal than ever.  Ticket books purchased prior to the fare increase will remain valid for one year after purchase.

For a full listing of the new fare schedule or to purchase passes and tickets, visit www.9towntransit.com. Passes and tickets are also sold at area Stop & Shop and Adams Market stores. For more information, call 9 Town Transit at 860-510-0429.

Concierge Medicine …. What the heck is that?

I’m writing this from Newport Beach, CA. I call this neighborhood “Medical Mecca.” One big medical building after another. Hundreds of doctors. All largely feeding off federal and state medical programs and private insurance plans, of course. And everybody involved is interested in his full share. Including our good Dr. Rubinacci

Have you noticed how the practice of medicine is changing? Gosh, I have.

There’s a significant new trend. It started 10 years or so ago. It’s still small, but it’s growing. Controversial, some feel. It comes by various names.

VIP medicine. Platinum practice. Boutique medicine. Retainer medicine.  Executive health care. Concierge medicine. There’s no shortage of imaginative ways in which interested MDs have been choosing to sell it to their patients.

It even has its own professional association. AAPP. That stands for the American Academy of Private Physicians (www.aapp.org).

I heard about it via our mail carrier.  I’m in beautiful Newport Beach, California, as usual waiting out the cold and ice and snow of a Connecticut winter. Well, not too much snow this year. That’s only fair considering last winter’s incredible downfall.

Milady Annabelle showed me a letter.  “What do you think of this?” she said. It came from our esteemed primary care doctor, Thomas A. Rubinacci, M.D.

I looked at the envelope. Letters from him were very rare. Usually only his name and address appeared in the top left corner.

I spotted something very different—the label “Concierge Medical Care.”

What oh what is this, I wondered.

Inside was an attractive two-color folder on nice coated paper. It had his photo on the front. He’s a good-looking guy. But it’s the first time I was seeing him in a suit and white shirt and tie. Usually I see him in the office with slacks and a golf shirt and loafers.

I like that. Sets a tone I appreciate. Casual and relaxed. Never, never with a white jacket and a stethoscope looped around his neck à la TV–the favored style for many docs these days.

With the folder came a letter. A long letter. Single-spaced. It ran all the way down the first page and down half the second page. Dr. Rubinacci had a lot to tell us about, whatever it was. I gave it immediate attention.

By the way, Dr. Rubinacci is not his real name. I’ve changed it. (If there’s a real Dr. Rubinacci somewhere, it’s an extreme coincidence!) Before I get into all the letter’s details, let me tell you a bit about him.

Doctors, doctors everywhere. Most of them trying to maximize their practice. How to do that? Dr. Rubinacci is going about it in a very different way

He’s about 45. To me that’s the perfect age for your doctor. He’s had plenty of experience and is on top of all the marvelous new technology. But he’s not thinking yet about hanging up his stethoscope. He still has plenty of energy and enthusiasm. By the way, “he” could well be “she.” Nowadays half the students in medical school are women.

(As some of you know, two years ago I completed a full hitch in the Peace Corps. I was a university teacher in Ukraine. Ukraine was part of the Soviet world till that fell apart 20 years ago. One thing I saw was that most doctors in those countries were women, even now. Medicine was considered a women’s profession—the way we used to look at teaching school. And still do quite a bit. And it’s similarly poorly paid.)

Dr. Rubinacci has top credentials. Credentials that would be envied by many other doctors. He is a graduate of a fine California state university, and of the highly regarded medical school of another state university. More than that, in college he made Phi Beta Kappa—the prestigious fraternity honoring distinguished academic work–and he graduated summa cum laude—that’s Latin for “ with very highest honors.”

He served his residency at a top-quality hospital, and then a two-year fellowship at another. He began practicing 12 years ago and set up his office nine years ago.  Now he shares office and staff with another internist with significant credentials, Dr. Anna Kraviska. I’ve changed her name, too.

He’s a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine. “The” professional society for that specialty. It doesn’t accept doctors into its ranks until they have passed its very stiff examinations. Not all of them pass it. I saw that for myself when I checked it online. Some doctors take it again and again. He passed it on the first try, and again with top grades.

I go to Dr. Rubinacci while I’m here because Annabelle introduced me to him. She’s had him several years, referred to him by a friend. So in a sense, for several years I’ve had two doctors, one in California during the winter, and one in Connecticut the rest of the year. Truth is, a few times I’ve talked with Dr. Rubinacci while in Connecticut because I wanted his input.

We like him because he’s smart, personable, and we can really have a good chat with him. So important. Some doctors can’t afford the time to chat, I’ve found out. We consider him not only our doctor, but also a friend. Of course, we’ve noticed that his time increasingly is at a premium.

Now about his letter. First, that expression, “Concierge Medicine.” That certainly has uppity overtones. Well, it does to me. Concierge is a new word in our dictionary. (By the way, it’s a French word meaning “building superintendent.”):

What’s a concierge to us Americans? A forever smiling and bowing fellow in a spiffy suit at a mahogany desk at an expensive hotel. He’s there to give you expert advice on anything you approach him about. You may be familiar with concierges.

You go to the concierge with your needs, problems, or concerns, as a guest. He’ll take care of it. Again, maybe she. Buy you tickets to a hit play. Give you sightseeing recommendations. Make a reservation for you at a hairdresser’s. Direct you to a Spanish restaurant if that’s what you want. Do just about anything legal. No fee, but tips are definitely welcome. Fat ones preferably.

To me, “boutique medicine” has similar connotations. Upscale. Luxurious. Expensive. Exclusive.

What did all this have to do with medicine?

Dr. Rubinacci was straightforward.  He was transitioning into a new type of medical practice on March 1. Same office. Same staff. But with a much reduced number of patients. That way he would be able to give more time. He’d be more relaxed with them, and that would be nice. He would continue to accept Medicare and other usual government insurance as well as private insurance and continue to process all those forms and assume the headaches of that whole process and accept those payments.

It was clear this was a difficult decision for him, and he had given it plenty of thought.

Why was he doing this?  His letter explained it in detail. And at the bottom of it, he invited his patients to come and attend a question and answer and session.

Annabelle and I phoned that we were coming. We were four couples in his wafting room at 6 p.m., the announced hour, and to my eye not one of us was under 70.He didn’t appear till 6:20, as he escorted his last patients out—an elderly man and woman, the man leaning on a cane.

He quickly sat down, and smiled, He didn’t apologize. We understood. And he got right down to business. No white jacket. No stethoscope. Again the golf shirt and the slacks. The Dr. Rubinacci we really knew. And oh, no cookies. No soft drinks. Which is what you expect at the very least when somebody is pitching you something.

Here’s what we learned. Right now he had some 3,000 patients. More than half of them were seniors.  And the seniors were the more active patients. Many of them came to him regularly, even often. Younger ones came much less. Sometimes just once every two or three years, for a physical.

His office hours were super-charged. He felt he was running from one patient to the other. He wanted to have a relationship with each of his patients, but in many cases impossible, despite his best efforts.  He was increasingly frustrated.

Medicare and the other government programs and private insurers were making more and more demands and requiring more forms to be filled out. He felt he was running a factory, though he never used that word. And he was making less money.

At one point, he said, “My wife is a dentist. And she makes more money than I do. And far fewer forms to process.”

I had checked some things.  Internists—primary care doctors–even those with the most difficult credentials to achieve, on average make less money than most specialists—cardiologists, radiologists, dermatologists, surgeons, and so on. Their practice is more of a rat race. And I believe that all this rankles.

What was he transitioning to? Concierge medical care.  He would have 250 patients, 350 tops. And they would pay a fee: $2,000 per year for one person, $3,500 for a couple..

He would give each patient all the time required. He would do a better job of handling the inevitable phone calls and emails. Even same-day appointments. And there would be more flexibility in the appointments.

His patients would sign a contract, but they could opt out at any time. They would sign up for a year at the stated price, and pay the annual fee in advance. II necessary he would accept semi-annual and quarterly payments. He said that he had not changed his prices since the start of his practice, and he did not anticipate he’d have to increase these annual fees.

He recognized that many of his patients would drop out. He didn’t say this, but of course they would have to. One of his goals was a much smaller practice. He had lined up another fine internist or two, younger of course, and they had agreed to take on the ones who left, if these agreed to these doctors, of course. Their records would be transferred for them.  One point he made was that older patients require more and more care. That seems natural. And he said he felt a moral obligation to serve his new “members” as long as necessary, always with the same high care.

Numerous questions were asked, and he answered them generously. He said he had had the idea a long time. He had worked under a doctor who was a pioneer in this concept at the very start of his practice.

He said that in the few days since his letter had gone out, his staff had signed up 50 patients. His letter said he had an Enrollment Coordinator. Dr. Rubinacci was confident that his starting goal of 250 would be met. And 350 definitely would be the max.

His letter made a strong point, “The first to respond will be the first to get in.” That sounded ominous. If anyone dilly-dallied, they might find themselves left out.

Afterward I did more research, all of it online, of course. I typed “concierge medicine” in Google’s search window and within a minute I got dozens of hits. Wow! There was plenty to read, plenty to think about.

I found that there are now lawyers who call themselves specialists in “boutique medicine law.” And I found that doctors thinking of this do need legal advice.

Medicare sets up rigid standards for what services can be charged for, and how. Every state has rules and regulations of its own. So does every insurance company.

No way can you charge more for “better quality service,” “better lab services or procedures.” And there are no-discrimination laws. And there’s the Hippocratic Oath—an oath that used to be usual for every new doctor but seems less so now. That oath mandates that the new doctor serve everybody who needs care, and care to the best of the doctor’s ability.

How do such traditional concepts fit in with these new concepts? Frankly, I’m not sure.

Some people find a selective practice like this repulsive. Unfair. They feel everybody is entitled to the same level of care. Others say, “More money can buy you a better car, education, house, retirement. Why not better medical care?”

To realists, this is the situation already, and has always been this way.

Dr. Rubinacci letter was a big surprise to me. I read it, then read it again. I knew immediately that Annabelle and I would be sitting in the front row at his introductory session. As it turned out, not necessary. We were just a small, friendly group. It was all quite relaxed. I sensed we were all there because first and foremost we esteemed Dr. Rubinacci. He was planning a series of these get-togethers.

Later I asked to see the contract we would be asked to sign, and he showed it without hesitation. I quickly noted that the contract was with both Dr. Rubinacci and Dr. Kraviska.  I picked up details. Besides husband and wife, he would include children—between the ages of 12 and 25—for an additional fee of $500 each per year.

People would pay up front. He listed several plastic cards. I paid attention to one stipulation that had not been mentioned: he retained the option of suspending any patient, even during the term of the contract.

If he did this, he would give a pro-rated rebate. He would have no need to explain his decision. I was sure he would not do this lightly. Nevertheless, it disturbed me. Some people might consider it “being dumped.”

And I added up the numbers.  The 50 patients already in hand would provide him nearly $100,000 in fees per year (remember, a spouse would pay $500 less). With his goal of 250, the fees would bring in close to $500,000. Nearly half a million!

Plus he would collect the customary Medicare and private insurance payments plus the co-pays and full fees of any patients without coverage.  And with his significantly reduced patient roll, his office overhead might be substantially cut. Maybe his insurance premiums cut also. On the other hand, for the same reason his various sources of insurance income would be diminished.

It would be interesting to find out how all this would balance out.

One new thought popped up.  Under his present set-up, if he takes a day off for any reason, he loses that day’s “take.” With his new set-up, the collected fees would eliminate this concern.  But if he and his partner, Dr. Anna Kraviska, cover for one another when one takes time off, this would not apply.  This is undoubtedly what they intend to do.

I know that when doctors and such retire, they often find another doctor to sell their practice to.  Dr. Rubinacci would be transferring hundreds of patients to one or more other doctors. Would he collect a fee for each? Nothing wrong with this, of course. But interesting to speculate about, don’t you think?

Of course, Dr. Kraviska will be doing the same thing. In fact, I believe she’s had a head start. So whatever I say here about Dr. Rubinacci applies to her also, it seems.

If Concierge Medicine can succeed anywhere, it’s right here. This is a very affluent community, by and large. One of the most affluent in the U.S. (Also one of the most Republican, not surprisingly.)

Many people here make tons of money. Many wealthy people retire here. Driving around and seeing some of the houses—thousands of them—many built high on the landscaped slopes with gorgeous views of the Pacific, can be a startling experience. Many are in gated communities—something in Connecticut that we are not really familiar with. Yet.

And there are numerous country and yacht clubs, so the concept of paying annual membership fees for such is well accepted. What’s one more membership? Especially one that will assure you more attention from your doctor!

I have seen a lot of changes in medicine over the years. When I was a little boy, I remember our family doctor making a house call to see my ailing grandpa. He walked into his bedroom with his scuffed black doctor’s bag. He had bandages and ointments and scissors in there. He took out a thermometer and a stethoscope. And those were the two high-tech instruments of those times! Oh, yes, I believe our little hospital did have an X-ray machine.

I was still in grammar school when I had to have an operation. A small one. I think it was to have my tonsils removed. I do have a bad memory of the doctor putting a paper cone over my nose and dripping ether onto it.  What a terrible experience! That awful smell. But I didn’t get to feel any pain. That was the height of anesthesiology back then.

Forty years ago I had to have my gall bladder removed. I was in the hospital more than a week. Good experience. No complaints. Today I’d be there two or three days, if that long.

A year ago I made a frantic visit to hospital emergency. I had called Dr. Rubinacci and he commanded me to do that. I had symptoms that made me think–and him!–of a possible heart attack. That’s when I encountered my first “hospitalist” ever.

Do you know what a hospitalist is? I didn’t. A hospitalist is an MD who is a credentialed primary care doctor who works in the hospital. Just the hospital. Your doctor orders you to the hospital, and at that point he the hospitalist (or again, maybe she) takes over. Makes all the decisions. Orders everything you need. Supervises every step. All while reporting back to your own doctor. When you leave the hospital, you return to your own doctor’s care.

That’s a new trend, too, far more advanced than that of concierge care, however. But like everything else, a trend that has plus and minus features.

I thought I had a good hospitalist.  But not many years ago, it’s Dr. Rubinacci who would be visiting me in the hospital, during rounds after his hours in the office. I remember when doctors made rounds twice a day. Sometimes seven days a week. That’s something that has just about totally disappeared.

Oh, my heart problem turned out to be a false alarm. My heart seems to be fine.

With the goings-on in Washington, plus new developments in the healthcare industry, we can expect many more changes, of various kinds, despite the loud protests of many groups. And now word is that our economy is improving. Wonderful. More people will have better incomes Maybe this Concierge Medicine will really catch on.

This is all encouraged by our American free-enterprise spirit. Some people get rewarded for being innovative and taking chances. And we admire that. But it hurts others, Can leave them behind. Squeeze them out.

I know you’re wondering, “What are Annabelle and you going to decide?”

All I can tell you right now is, “We’re still mulling this over. But for sure we would hate to lose Dr. Rubinacci?”

Eagles put on a Show at the River Museum’s “Eagle Watch Boat Tour” on the Connecticut River

Boat tour vessel, the 65 foot "Project Oceanology"

The eagles must have known we were coming! Soaring in the sky high above the decks of Project Oceanology’s 65 foot research vessel, was a solitary bald eagle, circling slowly, already in view. So began, on a recent Friday afternoon, another Connecticut River Museum “Eagle Watch Boat Tour,” pulling away from the museum’s Essex docks on the Connecticut River.

Soon after departure the passengers on board began to spot even more eagles. Some were in pairs and others were single eagles drifting lazily in the sky above. Later in the tour, there would be a final triumphal sighting on Nott Island of a female bald eagle, peeking out of her nest, patiently waiting for her eggs to hatch into baby eaglets.

This afternoon was made for eagle watching, with an unclouded sky, and unseasonably warm temperatures. However, once the vessel got underway, and out into the middle of the river, it was pretty chilly, notwithstanding the warmth on the land.

Passage ways are safe for passengers

39 paying passengers were on board for the tour, designed to spend an hour and a half in search of bald eagles. Even at a ticket cost of forty dollars per person, all those on board truly got their monies worth.

At the microphone the museum’s Naturalist and Educator Bill Yule was at first apologetic that there might be too few eagles to see during the tour. It had been such a warm winter, so perhaps the eagles might not have needed to fly south to find ice free, fishing waters. However, he had no need to apologize. There were plenty of bald eagles to be seen in the sky on this bright, bright day.

Bill Yule, master spotter of the eagles               

Bill Yule is the “Eagle Watch Boat Tour,” Master of Ceremonies. At times he is assisted by Project Oceanology’s Chris Dodge and Allyce Irwin, but Yule handles most of the speaking chores himself.

Boat Tour Moderator Bill Yule at the mike

Early on in the trip, Yule set out an eagle spotting system to help the passengers on board find the eagles in the sky. If an eagle were spotted dead ahead, off the bow of the boat, Yule would call this location “twelve o’clock.” If an eagle was spotted dead astern, it would be “six o’clock.”

Similarly, if an eagle was spotted mid ships at the right side of the vessel, it would be “three o’clock,” and mid ships on the left side of the ship, it would be “nine o’clock.” It was a simple system, but throughout the voyage, it helped guide the on-board eagle watchers to find their visual prey.

Although a few of the passengers needed only the naked eye to enjoy the sight of the eagles, most of the passengers made use of long range cameras, or powerful binoculars, to see the birds. Binoculars, incidentally, were provided at no extra charge to passengers.

DDT and the survival of the eagles

At about midpoint of the boat tour, Yule became very serious. He said that not too many years ago, “the eagles were almost gone from the river.” The reason was that that back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, DDT was widely used as a pesticide, and this pesticide in turn made its way into the waters of the Connecticut River.

The DDT was then ingested by the fish in the river, the very fish that was the staple of the eagle’s diet. DDT’s effect on the eagles turned out to be severe. It made the shells of the eggs of the female eagles too brittle to sheath properly embryonic baby eaglets. Unable to reproduce live birds, the eagle population declined rapidly, even to the point where eagles were put on the nation’s endangered species list.

However, in 1972 DDT was banned, and as a result no longer was DDT in the diet of the fish that the eagles consumed in the river. Able to reproduce again, the eagle population increased along the river; the shells of the mothers now strong enough to hold baby eaglets until their normal birth.

Ultimately, it reached the point where Bill Yule could say the other day, “The eagles have now come back to the river in abundance.”

“It is truly an environmental success story,” he said with a tone of triumph in his voice.

Also a bit of sightseeing on the boat tour

Yule occasionally diverted his attention from eagle spotting to becoming a Connecticut River tour guide.  “We are now passing Selden Island,” he said at one point. “It is the largest island in the State of Connecticut. There are four campsites on the island, and there is an old forge there as well.” He also told the stories of Joshua Rock, the Mount St. John School for Boys and the Gillette Castle.

While the eagle spotting by the passengers was still in full force, Yule mentioned a few eagle statistics. For one, they can fly as high as 12,000 feet in the sky. To reach these heights they take advantage of rising, warm air currents from the land. Also, according to Yule, eagles can fly at up to 50 miles an hour.

Continuing, Yule said that it is only after it reaches the age of four that an eagle’s tail turns white. Also, eagles are not particularly friendly to other birds, and they have been known to take fish out of the mouths of sea gulls.

In addition, eagles mate for life, although if one of the pair dies they quickly find a replacement. Also, a mother eagle sits on her eggs for 35 days before the eggs hatch, and while she is nesting, her mate brings fish for her to eat.

After they are born, the eagle mother will feed her young for several months, and ten weeks after birth the young eagles will learn to fly.  However, eagles are not genetically born to know how to fish, Yule said. It is a skill that they must learn on their own during their first year of life.

Since many young eagles cannot learn to fend for themselves, as many as 50 percent die in their first year of their lives, according to Yule.

The egg-laying season for eagles in the Essex area, this year is from February 2 to 23, Yule said. By June all of the eagles will be gone from our part of the river, having left for cooler waters up north.

                    Eagle watchers were well pleased with the tour

Among the passengers on this “Eagle Watch Boat Tour,” not a single one said they were disappointed with the tour.

Lee Bradley of Newington said, “I thoroughly enjoyed it,” and “the narration was very, very good.” For her part Sandy Clark of Manchester found the trip, “very interesting,” and “it was very good at showing us everything.” Lorraine Trinks of East Hartford simply called the boat tour, “fabulous.”

Close up of a Bald Eagle watcher

The Eagle Watch Boat Tours, sail only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and they began the 2012 season on February 3. The Friday boat tours will continue sailing until March 9, and the Saturday and Sunday boat tours, will continue sailing until March 10 and 11, respectively.

As for departure times, the Friday boat tours cast off from the museum’s docks at 1:00 p.m., and the Saturday and Sunday boat tours depart on both days at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

We shall give Bill Yule the final word on the Eagle Watch Boat Tour. As he puts it, “It is better than any other method to get up close and personal with our national symbol, the Bald Eagle.”

Bill Yule enjoying the ride home

Talking Transportation: Next Stop Penn Station?

There’s discussion again about bringing some Metro-North trains directly from Connecticut into New York City’s Penn Station.  But will it happen?

As with many good ideas that seem so easy, this one also has been studied thoroughly and found to be problematic in a number of respects.  Governor Rell floated the idea in 2007 but it went nowhere, aside from an experiment by NJ Transit to run trains from New Haven to the Meadowlands.

Here are the reasons that daily commuter service isn’t yet possible:

INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT:  As any commuter on Metro-North can tell you, we don’t have enough seats for existing service to Grand Central let alone expansion to new stations.  It’s standing room only in rush hour and on weekends.

ELECTRICITY:  Our existing fleet of MU cars cannot take a left turn at New Rochelle and head over the Hells Gate Bridge onto Long Island, then hang a right, in through the tunnels into Penn Station.  The old cars’ overhead power catenary system operates under a different voltage than Amtrak.  And in third rail territory on Long Island, even our new M8 cars use a different kind of shoe to contact the third-rail power source.  The 2009 experimental direct train from Connecticut to Giants Stadium in New Jersey was actually run with New Jersey transit railroad equipment which was only available because it was on weekends.

CAPACITY:  Even if we had the cars with the right electrical equipment to make it over the Hells Gate Bridge and through the tunnels to Penn Station, there’s no room in the station… that the station is full-up serving Amtrak, the Long Island Railroad and NJ transit.  If and when the $6.3 billion East Side Access project bringing some Long Island Railroad trains into Grand Central is completed (many years from now), says the MTA, there might be room for Metro-North trains to access Penn Station.

CUT LIRR SERVICE?        Recently the MTA has hinted they might run some Metro-North trains into Penn Station, but it would have to cut Long Island RR service.  You can imagine the push-back that got, pitting one set of commuters against another.  (See more on our Facebook page).

Whatever the decision, it won’t be made by us here in Connecticut.  Once again, Connecticut is being told by the New York MTA what our transportation future will be.  Connecticut still has no say in the matter… not even a voting seat at the table, either on the MTA or the Metro-North boards.

Connecticut may be the MTA’s largest customer, hired by CDOT to operate Metro-North trains in our state, but when it comes to important decisions, like expanding rail service to Penn Station, the MTA is clearly in control.

Years ago Governor Rell acknowledged the inequity in this position, and promised to fight for a seat on the MTA board.  But nothing happened.  Nor has Governor Malloy said anything about this unfairness.

So, just why is a New York agency still in charge of Connecticut’s transportation future?

JIM CAMERON has been a Darien resident for 21 years.  He is Chairman of the Metro-North Commuter Council, a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM, but the opinions expressed here are only his own.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com or www.trainweb.org/ct

Chester Planning and Zoning Commission Approves New Downtown Restaurant

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has approved a special permit for a new vegetarian restaurant in the former Chester Savings Bank building at 6 Main St. in the downtown village.

The commission approved the application of Chester Properties LLC of Old Lyme in a unanimous vote at a Feb. 2 meeting. The plans were presented at a two-part public hearing that began in January and continued on Feb. 2. The plans call for a 40 to 50-seat restaurant with a liquor license, along with a separate 857 square-foot retail space and two apartments on the second floor of the building. More than a dozen residents expressed support for the project at the public hearings.

The restaurant, which is expected to open later this year, will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. There will be a parking area with space for 23 vehicles.

VRHS Seeking Hall of Fame Nominations

Nominations and applications are being accepted for the 29th annual VALLEY REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL HALL OF FAME AWARD.  Anyone may nominate a VRHS graduate who has gone on to excel in a particular profession, avocation, business, hobby, sport, etc., and who was graduated from Valley at least five years prior to nomination.

Call the Valley Regional High School office (526-5328) for an application, or write to the principal, Mrs. Kristina Martineau, 256 Kelsey Hill Road, Deep River, CT  06417, listing the name of the candidate, address, telephone number, year of graduation and his/her outstanding accomplishments.  Deadline for submitting applications is April 30, 2012.

The winner of the Hall of Fame Award will be honored at the graduation ceremony at Valley Regional High School on Thursday, June 21, 2012, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

February Vacation Day Programs at Camp Hazen YMCA

Camp Hazen YMCA is offering programs for youth in grades K-6 during the week of February 20-24.  Campers will have a whole lot of fun and learn life skills in a safe, structured environment.  Camp Hazen also provides a delicious, nutritious hot lunch each day.   Daily themes include Eco Challenge, Kid Chefs, Amazing Race, Discovery Camp and Wacky World of Sports.  Families may register for all 5 days or just some of the days.  There is also an opportunity for children in grades 2-6 to try an overnight experience from February 23-24.

For more information, please contact Alex Learned, Program Director at 860-526-9529 or go to www.camphazenymca.org

Obituary: Kim Lanice Beard 02/02/12 Service 02/17/12

Kim Lanice Beard, 54, a resident of Essex, Conn., passed away peacefully in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 surrounded by the love of family, friends, and compassionate caregivers.

Kim fought a courageous 14-month battle with cancer that never touched her amazing spirit.  Born on Dec. 21, 1957 in Odessa, Texas, her early years were spent in Crane, Andrews, and Odessa, Texas, where she was an award-winning twirler, middle school majorette and early high school cheerleader.  She graduated from Odessa High School, class of ’76, where she also enjoyed cheerleading.

Post graduation, Kim traveled around the world before living most of her life in Texas spending many years in Odessa and Sonora where she was a devoted wife and mother.  She later moved to the Dallas area before relocating to Connecticut in 2003.

Professionally, Kim enjoyed careers as a travel agent, an international flight attendant, and in residential real estate, and the mortgage industry.  She most recently worked as part of a wealth management team, The Oakley-Wing Group, at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.  On weekends, she enjoyed helping out at Essex Coffee & Tea.

Kim achieved a level of fulfillment that most only aspire to.  Living among beloved friends and colleagues in picturesque historic New England, she likened it to being on a never-ending vacation.  She cherished spending as much time as possible with family, particularly her son, who was especially dear to her heart.

Kim was a supportive volunteer with the Child and Family Agency and was a dedicated and faithful member of First Church of Christ (Congregational) in Old Saybrook, Conn., where she was a Deacon-elect.  An avid sports fan, Kim also actively enjoyed the outdoors, loving  golf, tennis, fly fishing, kayaking, and most of all, her true a passion for sailing.

Kim was known for her Southern hospitality, always exuding a bright smile and perpetual friendliness that warmed the workplace and lit up the room wherever she went.  Her sweet spirit and easy-going nature truly touched the hearts of everyone who knew her.  Her strength, perseverance, and grace will continue to be an inspiration to all who knew and loved her.
Special thanks to the nurses and staff at Signature Pointe in Dallas, Texas, Odyssey Hospice, and Siobhan Kehoe M.D.  for compassionate care above and beyond, and dear friends, colleagues, and family from Connecticut to Texas for remarkable and unwavering support.

Preceded in death by her step-father, Robert Ward of Argyle, Texas, she is survived by her son Ronnie Hooper of Odessa, Texas, mother Joyce Ward of Argyle, Texas, father Bonnie Beard and wife Tinne of Gun Barrel City, Texas, sister Revis Allcorn and husband Steve of Highland Village, Texas, sister Jennifer Lewis and  husband Kevin of Flower Mound, Texas, brother Robert Ward II and wife Jennifer of McKinney, Texas, and  nieces and nephews Brittany Allcorn of Addison, Texas, Chris Allcorn of Austin, Texas, Lauren, Luke, and Landon Lewis of Flower Mound, Texas, and Lilly, Camille, and Anabelle Ward of McKinney, Texas.

A memorial service was held Monday, Feb. 6, at First Baptist Church of Argyle, Texas.  Arrangements are being handled by Dalton & Son’s Flower Mound Family Funeral Home.  Online condolences may be made at www.daltonandsonfuneralhome.com.
An additional memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at First Church of Christ (Congregational) in Old Saybrook, Conn.

Memorials may be made to American Cancer Society, Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut  www.cfapress.org or to a charity of your choice.

Adult Ballet Dance Classes at Deep River Sports Academy

Adult Ballet at the Deep River Sports Academy (upstairs studio) on Wed. 6:30 – 7:45pm.

No experience need, come ready to move in socks.

Instructor: Linalynn Schmelzer, Linalynnschmelzer@yahoo.com or 860-304-8459

Drop-Ins are welcome.

What’s Next For NASA? Illustrated Talk by Lon Seidman at Essex Library

Lon Seidman and Space Shuttle Atlantis on the launch pad

Connecticut has played an important role throughout the history of the space program, with both space suits and fuel cells manufactured by companies here in the state. Essex resident Lon Seidman and a few colleagues were granted media access to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to learn more about the Connecticut contributions to space exploration and be a part of the final missions of the Space Shuttle program. The Essex Library will host an illustrated talk by Lon Seidman on Thursday, February  16 at 7 p.m.

Over the course of a year the team witnessed and documented the final launches and landings of the three remaining orbiters, had an exclusive tour inside Space Shuttle Discovery, and visited companies working on the next generation of space vehicles that will carry Americans into space.

Lon will show plenty of pictures and video of these unique and up-close experiences and talk about where space exploration is headed next. The program is free and open to all. The Essex Library is at 33 West Avenue; please call 860-767-1560 to register, or for more information.



Essex Winter Series – Boston Chamber Music Society Concert at VRHS

The Essex Winter Series will present a concert by the Boston Chamber Music Society on February 19 at 3 p.m.  at Valley regional High School.

Hailed by Boston Globe as “… vivid, compelling and first rate,” the Boston Chamber Music Society, BCMS, is New England’s preeminent chamber music society, providing audiences with exceptional, impassioned performances of music from the Baroque era to the present day. Founded in 1982, BCMS is an ensemble of superb musicians who come together in different combinations to perform chamber music, expanding the artistic possibilities and allowing individual expression without one personality dominating. The effect is one of the miracles of music — sheer aesthetic beauty. For this concert, our “miracle” showcases violinist Harumi Rhodes, violist Marcus Thompson, cellist Ronald Thomas and pianist Mihae Lee – our artistic director – performing a Mozart duo, a Shostakovich trio and a Brahms quartet.

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 www.essexwinterseries.com or call 860-391-5578.

High Tech, Medical Company to Move from Chester to Deep River; and Deep River is Delighted

Future Deep River Headquarters of PCI Medical

Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith is a happy man. He has convinced a high tech firm, which manufactures disinfectant medical machines, to move from Chester to Deep River. The precise address of the new plant is, 6 Winter Avenue, which is off the north end of Deep River’s Main Street.

Extensive renovations of the former factory building of 36,000 square feet are now 80 percent complete, according PCI Medical, the new company that is coming to town. When finished and operational, an estimated 50 new jobs will have moved into Deep River. Over thirty of them will be employees of PCI Medical, and the rest will be those of a tenant, according to PCI.

Deep River’s Smith said that he was “very excited about PCI’s move back to Deep River.” “Industrial and commercial development is very important to us,” he said, noting that they add new tax revenues to the town. Also, Smith said that the building that PCI is now remodeling was “in tough shape.” It once housed a metal stamping company, and has been vacant for a number of years.

PCI Medical, a national leader in disinfection systems

“Everything we do is related to disinfection,” says Philip Coles, President of PCI Medical, speaking from PCI’s present headquarters in the industrial area of Chester. Coles runs the company with his wife, Cliodhna Coles, who holds the title of Vice President, and who shares an office with her husband.

Philip and Cliodhna Coles, President and VP of PCI Medical

The essence of PCI’s business is manufacturing machines that disinfect heat sensitive, medical devices used by hospitals, health care facilities and medical laboratories throughout the country. Over 6,000 of these health care facilities are currently customers of PCI Medical.

Many of the disinfectant processes that are addressed by PCI machines are mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Joint Commission for Hospital Accreditation.

Coles says that because its disinfectant machines protect health care professionals, the company even receives “thank you” letters from workers in the health care industry.

The PCI disinfectant process

These diagnostic devices in the health care industry that PCI machines disinfect are those that are inserted into to various parts of the human body to determine the health of an individual medical patient. These devices include endoscopes and ultrasound probes.

Philip Coles by a PCI Disinfection Soak System machine

After these medical devices have been used, they are disinfected and “the vapor from the disinfectant can be very dangerous,” says PCI President Coles. To address these dangers PCI manufactures no less than twenty different disinfection soak stations that remove the toxic vapors.

These PCI disinfectant devices fall into two categories. The first are used for endoscopes, and the second are for ultrasound probes.

The endoscope process, according to Coles, “provides an actual medical peek inside a person’s body.”  The ultrasound probe on the other hand generates an ultrasound picture of the probe within the human body to a “live” visual display machine.

PCI’s business consists of manufacturing Disinfection Soak Stations that disinfect the devices that are used in both endoscope and ultrasound medical examinations.

“We provide machines to disinfect these instruments, which also protect the person doing the disinfecting,” Coles points out. The Soak Station machines of PCI are equipped with specially activated carbon filters, which by chemical adsorption protect the user while the medical instruments are disinfected.

Coles says that the machines manufactured by PCI Medical used in the disinfecting process are designed (1) to protect the health care professional using the device, (2) to protect the delicate medical instruments that are being disinfected, and (3) to minimize the use of the liquid disinfectant involved in the process. In fact, PCI’s processes use 75% less disinfectant than other systems, according to Coles.

Furthermore, PCI’s disinfection processes are “ductless,” which means that in the disinfecting process, it is not necessary for a PCI customer to construct ducts to the outside air, according to Coles.

In addition, Coles says that PCI Disinfection Soak Stations prevent splashes and spills.

The PCI Medical success story    

According to Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, PCI Medical’s first manufacturing site was a 2,000 square feet space in Deep River’s industrial park.  It was in what the town calls an “incubator space.” At the very first the company had only three employees.

Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, a happy man

However, PCI Medical grew rapidly, and eventually after renting progressively larger sites in town, the company was up to renting a 14,000 square feet space at 12 Bridge Street in Deep River.

But then in 2010 the company had growing pains again. However, this time the amount of rental space that was needed was simply not available in Deep River, so the company moved to a rental property in Chester’s industrial park.

Now, when the extensive reconstruction of its new property on Winter Avenue is complete, PCI will be coming back to Deep River. No one could more pleased by this than Deep River First Selectman, Dick Smith.         

Proposed $17.56 Million Region 4 Education Budget is up by 1.41% as Essex Share of Budget Rises

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education is prepared to approve a proposed $17,568,403 education budget for 2012-2013, with an increasing number of students at the two secondary schools raising the Essex share of the total budget.

The $17,568,403 total budget is reduced by $241,279 in anticipated revenue to a net budget of $17,327,124 to be assessed the taxpayers of Chester, Deep River, and Essex. The net budget, which is up by $217,292, or 1.27 percent from the current net expenditure, is split among the three towns based on the average daily membership of students from each town attending John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School.

The ADM that was established last October is good news for Chester and Deep River, and a hit for Essex, the largest of the three district towns. Chester, with 264 students at the two schools, seven fewer than the previous year, has a 27.13 percent, or $4,700,849 share of the net budget. The Chester share is down by $21,465 from the town’s current assessment for Region 4.

Deep River, with 275 students, 11 fewer than the previous year, has a 28.26 percent, or $4,896,645 share of the net budget. The Deep River share is down by $85,738 from the town’s current assessment for Region 4.

Essex had 434 students at the two secondary in October, an increase of nine students from the previous year. Essex has a 44.61 percent, or $7,729,630, share of the net budget. The Essex share is up by 4.38 percent from the previous year, requiring an additional $324,495 from town taxpayers.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said the Region 4 Board of Education concluded a series of three budget review workshops on Feb. 7, making some changes and reductions to a spending plan she presented in early January. She said the board may make some final revisions before it approved a budget plan for 2012-2013 at a Feb. 29 meeting. The budget adopted on Feb. 29 will be presented to residents of the three towns at the annual budget hearing on April 2. The annual three-town referendum on the Region 4 budget is set for May 8.

Levy said the proposed Region 4 budget is “bare bones,” with no new positions or program initiatives beyond a new teaching assistant for the two schools and a new part-time custodian position.

The Region 4 school boards, including the local boards that supervise the elementary schools in each town, have also approved a proposed $6,269,930 supervision district budget for 2012-2013. The supervision district budget funds programs and services that are shared by all five Region 4 schools, including school transportation.

The proposed budget represents a 4.1 percent increase over the current appropriation for supervision district services.

The proposed supervision district budget includes $45,419 for a new half-time special education teacher to be shared by district schools, and $42,408 for a new unified telephone system for the district schools and central office. Levy said the purchase of the new system would quickly save money on telephone expenses for each building.

After approval by the Region 4, Chester, Deep River, and Essex school boards, the supervision district budget is split among the three towns based on student ADM, and then included in the separate budget plans for Region 4 and the three elementary schools.

Levy said the plan to implement all-day kindergarten at the three elementary schools would be included in the proposed budgets for each elementary school that are now being prepared by the local school boards. Levy said drops in enrollment for the elementary schools would allow the district to implement all-day kindergarten at minimal additional cost.

After approval by the local school boards, the proposed elementary school budgets are subject to review by the finance boards for each town. The elementary school budgets are included as part of the town budgets that are presented to voters for approval at the annual budget meetings in May.

Region 4 Students Star in MATHCOUNTS Competition

Region 4 students star in MATHCOUNTS competition (from left to right) Charlotte Boland, Sean Watson, Marly Toledano, Julia Hammond, Ian Connelly

On Saturday, February 4, ten students (4 team members and 6 individuals) from John Winthrop Middle School competed in the Eastern Regional MATHCOUNTS competition at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.  The top seven teams were invited to attend the State competition, held at the University of Hartford in early March, and John Winthrop is one of them!

Twenty-six teams attended the competition and over 200 students participated. John Winthrop 8th grader, Sean Watson, came in 10th place overall. In addition, Julia Hammond scored high enough to attend the state competition as an individual.

MATHCOUNTS is a nationwide middle school math program run by the National Society of Professional Engineers. Math Counts is providing today’s students with the foundation for success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. Currently in their 29th year, MATHCOUNTS is one of the country’s largest and most successful education partnerships involving volunteers, educators, industry sponsors and students.

President Barack Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald W. Reagan have all recognized MATHCOUNTS in White House ceremonies. The MATHCOUNTS program has also received two White House citations as an outstanding private sector initiative.

Particularly exciting for our Mathletes® were the hour-long ESPN programs on each of the National Competitions from 2003-2005. In 2011 the National Competition returned to ESPN with a live broadcast on ESPN3.

State Department of Transportation Sets Date for Information Meeting on Main Street Bridge Project

CHESTER— The state Department of Transportation will hold a Feb. 16 public information meeting on the planned replacement of the Main Street bridge in the downtown village. The session begins at 7 p.m. in the Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street.

DOT engineers will be present at the meeting to outline and answer questions from residents and downtown business owners about the latest plans to replace the Main Street bridge over the Pattaconk Brook. The bridge replacement project is expected to begin in 2014.

A nearby bridge project, replacement of the bridge on Water Street, is expected to begin this summer. The town is planning a reconstruction of Main Street in the downtown village to be done over the next two years, around the same time as the two bridge replacement projects. The Main Street Committee, a group of volunteers appointed by the board of selectmen, is coordinating and supervising the town’s Main Street project.

Deep River and Chester Residents Elected to Middlesex United Way Board of Directors

At Middlesex United Way’s Annual Meeting on January 24, Deep River resident Philip Coles and Chester resident Allison Dowe were elected to the organization’s board of directors. Coles will serve a two-year term as a director while Dowe will serve as treasurer. The Annual Meeting took place at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam.

Philip Coles is President of PCI Medical, located in Deep River. He is a graduate of Lindisfarne College in the United Kingdom. Coles is a member of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) and the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife Cliodhna reside in Deep River and they have three grown children.

Allison Dowe is Director of Finance and Operations at Middlesex Hospital Homecare and has more than 27 years of experience in finance and operations management. Dowe graduated from Rutgers University in 1983 and earned her MBA in 1988. She spent fifteen years working in the private sector at Marsh & McLennan, a Fortune 500 company, and Sotheby’s. There she specialized in mergers and acquisitions, new business development, and strategic initiatives nationally and internationally. Dowe entered the Healthcare industry as Chief Financial Officer of a stand alone homecare agency and joined Middlesex Hospital in 2008. Dowe is a board member at Boy Scouts of America Troop 13 and Secretary and Youth Ministry Group Core Member at St. Joseph’s Church in Chester. She resides in Chester with her husband, Christian. They have two children.

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

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

Middlesex United Way Young Leaders Society Hold Event with Vin Capece

Middlesex United Way’s Young Leaders Society is to hold a Learn with Leaders event at Middlesex Hospitals Cancer Center hosted by Vin Capece, President and C.E.O. of Middlesex Hospital on Tuesday, February 28 at 8:00 a.m.

Mr. Capece will discuss changes in the health care system, innovation at the hospital, and the characteristics he looks for in young leaders. Following the discussion the group will be allowed a special tour of Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center’s Novalis TX Linear Accelerator.

“The Young Leaders Society is a great opportunity to recognize the potential that those in their 20s and 30s have to contribute while also finding ways to build our capacity to be leaders in the future,” says Young Leader Society Chair Justin Carbonella, Youth Services Coordinator at Middletown Youth Services Bureau. “Learn with Leaders events give community-minded young professionals an opportunity to connect and network with local leaders who know the importance of civic engagement.”

The Young Leaders Society is a unique and dynamic group providing community involvement, personal development and networking for individuals or couples 40 years of age or younger who live and work in Middlesex County. Our mission is to create opportunities for young professionals to get involved with Middlesex United Way, connect with colleagues and community leaders and give back to advance the common good.

The event is sponsored by Middlesex Hospital and a light breakfast will be served. There is a suggested donation of $5.00. Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center is located at 536 Saybrook Road, Middletown.

If you have questions regarding this event, please call Middlesex United Way at 860.346.8695.

To RSVP or for more information about Middlesex United Way’s Young Leaders Society visit www.middlesexunitedway.org/yls or at www.facebook.com/MUWYoungLeadersSociety.

Chester Historical Society Presents Free Program about Chester “Characters”

Shirley Miceli started working in Collins Pharmacy on Main Street (which she later bought and renamed Chester Pharmacy) during her college summers. She remembers the early years of being a pharmacist when many prescriptions (capsules, ointments, suppositories, liquids) were compounded - made by hand, right there in the store. She ran the pharmacy just short of 40 years, closing it in 1989. This photo is from the 1960s. Shirley still remembers when she was held up at knifepoint inside the pharmacy, but the robber got away. Later a TV crew reenacted the burglary on a crime show to see if the man could be identified by any eyewitnesses. (Photo courtesy of Rob Miceli)

What makes Chester the town it is? Many residents would say it’s the people who live or have lived and worked there.

On Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26, at the Chester Meeting House, the Chester Historical Society will present another in its series of programs about the colorful “characters” who have called Chester home for their family and their business.

As Historical Society president Skip Hubbard says, “As much as we often think of buildings and artifacts as history, it’s really about people – what they did, what they experienced, how they adapted and how they succeeded. That’s why we like to offer the ‘Chester Characters’ programs, as an opportunity to hear the stories of the people.”

Robbie's was a Chester Village institution for many years. From the Kate Silliman Scrapbook: "Robbie Collomore, born in Chester and a graduate of Chester High School,

A couple of “characters” who are still living will share how their Chester businesses got started along with interesting stories that happened to them.  Other “characters” will be described by family members or in some cases by their close friends or employees. This winter’s “Characters of Chester” will feature: Harry Archambault, the founder of Archambault Insurance Agency; Shirley Miceli, the pharmacist and owner of Chester Pharmacy; Robbie Collomore, the owner of Robbie’s store; John Dengler, owner of Dengler’s Service Station; Jim Grote, Chester Hose Co. chief and fire marshal; and John Zanardi, the original proprietor of John Zanardi Oil Co., Inc.

Come learn the history of what made Chester such a special place to live and work. As with all Chester Historical Society programs, audience participation is encouraged. We welcome your own stories of these Chester “characters.”

The program will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.




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