January 31, 2023

Archives for May 2012

$14.3 Million Budget Plan Approved 147-46 in Lowest Referendum Turnout Yet

DEEP RIVER— In the lowest referendum turnout yet, voters Thursday approved a total $14.3 million town/school spending plan for 2012-2013 on a 147-46 vote.

A total of 190 voters, and three property owners, turned out at the Deep River Public Libray polling place in the 14 hours of balloting that was held from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Turnout was barely half the total from last year’s budget referendum, when 361 voters turned out to approve the current town budget on a 244-120 vote.

Deep River has voted on the total town spending package by referendum since 2001, a contentious budget year when spending plans were rejected by town meeting vote and referendum. The 14-hour referendum is estimated to cost about $2,000.

The total $14,330,825 spending plan generated little controversy or comment at the annual budget hearing on May 8. The plan includes a $3,509,265 town government budget, a $334,000 capital expenditure plan, and a $5,400,787 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. The final component of the spending plan, the town’s $4,304,478 share of the Region 4 education budget, was approved by voters of Deep River, Chester, and Essex in an eight-hour referendum on May 8.

The board of finance is expected to approve a property tax rate of 24.68 mills to support the spending package, an increase of four-tenths of a mill from the current 24.28 mill rate. The new rate represents $24.68 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

First Selectman Richard Smith had said the board of selectmen would review the turnout for this year’s budget referendum before considering whether to reduce the referendum hours next year to 12-noon to 8 p.m., or send the 2013-2014 budget to a town meeting vote for the first time since 2000.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind Open House June 16

Puppy Geb enjoying a shower!

“Summer is almost here!  Time for tank tops, tans… and puppies!  Guiding Eyes for the Blind is looking for volunteers to give their heart and home to raising an adorable future guide dog puppy.  The Southern CT Puppy Raising region is hosting an Open House on Saturday, June 16 , from 6-8 p.m. at the Deep River Congregational Church, 1 Church St , Deep River .  Join us to meet some of our raisers and pups on program – and to learn how you, too, can raise a puppy with a purpose and give a great gift to someone in need.

Our dedicated volunteers receive weekly training and free vet care.  Puppy Raising classes in the Southern CT region are held on Saturday mornings in Guilford , Wallingford and Deep River .  For more information, visit our website at www.guidingeyes.org or call Regional Manager Maria Dunne at (845) 230-6436 or Raiser, Kris Lindner at 860-526-2345.  Do something extraordinary this year – raise a puppy, change a life!”

Deep River to Vote on Proposed $14.28 Million Budget Plan in Day-Long Referendum Thursday

DEEP RIVER— A proposed $14.28 million town budget plan for 2012-1013 goes to the voters Thursday in a full-day referendum. Polls will be open at the Deep River Public Library community room polling place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The total $14,284,323 spending package includes a $3,504,265 town government budget, a $334,000 capital expenditure plan, and a $5,400,787 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. The final component of the spending package, the town’s $4,304,478 share of the Region 4 education budget, was approved by the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 8 referendum.

The board of finance has announced the total spending package would require a four-tenths of a mill increase in the property tax rate. The rate would increase from the current rate of 24.28 mills to a tax rate of 24.68 mills, or $24.68 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Deep River has voted on town budgets by referendum since 2001, though last year only 361 voters or property owners turned out for the 14 hours of balloting, approving the budget on a 244-120 vote.

A Great Night for a Great Cause

Dancers shake a leg to the band in the barn

Friends and fans of the Essex Library gathered recently for a rootin’, tootin’ Western-themed fundraiser, “Round ‘Em Up” that drew a duded-up crowd of book-lovers to Bushnell Farm historic site. There, they sipped cocktails, enjoyed delicious food provided by Catering By Selene, and danced to live music in the barn. A silent auction featured “life experience” items like a catered sunset yacht cruise, in-home dance lessons, and even a personal tour of the celebrated Dr. Henry Lee’s crime lab. Many contributed to the success of the party, especially the hard-working Friends of the Library and the members of the Board, along with Herb and Sherry Clark, Bob’s Discount Furniture, Essex Savings Bank, and Essex Meadows.

Maureen Heher, Barbara Klin, Deb Rutan and Fred Szufnarowski

Donations for silent auction items came from all over the community and beyond, including the Main Street Sweet Shoppe in Deep River, Shore Discount Liquors, Essex Steam Train, The Public Theater, Chamard Vineyards, and Dancealife Productions, as well as AMF Saybrook Lanes, Penny Lane Pub, Kariann Price Designs, Clayhouse, and the Holistic Nine Yards. Other donors included Ashleigh’s Garden, The Kate, El & Ela’s, Village Provision, the Spa of Essex, Homeworks, Johnny Ad’s, Dairy Queen, and Tissa’s Le Souk du Maroc, Andrew Elwood, Dagmar’s Desserts, and Southern Exposure.  The Essex Library thanks all of our supporters; a great evening and a successful fundraiser wouldn’t have been possible without you.

Chester Elementary Students Perform Flamenco Dance for Aaron Manor Residents

Spanish Dance Students from Chester Elementary recently performed the art of Flamenco for the residents of Aaron Manor.

Second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders are members of the Spanish Club which meets every Wednesday after school with Señora Read to practice various styles of Spanish dance. Students perform every year in May for the residents of Aaron Manor and in June at Chester Elementary School as part of a 6th grade school play.

Tip Line/Party Patrols

As part of efforts to keep our youth safe, the resident troopers of Chester, Deep River, and Essex are working with Tri-Town Youth Services through Party Patrols and Party Dispersals.  Residents are asked to report underage drinking, drug use, and other suspicious activities to the Tip Line:  860-767-4340, ext. 130.  All tips are anonymous and go directly to State Police.


Gallery One Announces Group Exhibition Opening June 19

Old Saybrook, CT– Gallery One, located at 665 Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook, will present a Group Exhibition, on view from June 19 through August 12, with a reception to meet the artists on Friday, June 29 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Featured artists include Elizabeth Boyd, Denise Gaffney Hartz, Margaret Kangley, Diana Rogers and guest artists Corina Alvarezdelugo and Hillary Seltzer.

Although Elizabeth Boyd is supremely adept in both representational and abstract work, she is exhibiting acrylic, watercolor and pastel still lifes. She finds that working literally and abstractly reinforces each discipline and benefits the viewer’s experience. She has had work in exhibitions throughout Connecticut, such as the Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme and the Wadsworth Atheneum. Boyd has received numerous awards including several Best in Show and Purchase Prizes.

Denise Gaffney Hartz, who has been an artist for 37 years, creates atmospheric mindscapes inhabited by basic and essential elements.  Her abstractions of the last 20 years have been in exhibitions around New England including group shows in college and university galleries and museums such as the New Britain Museum, Slater Memorial Museum and Lyman Allyn Museum.

Margaret Kangley’s oil paintings are symbolic still lifes on a wide range of themes, often involving a dramatic change in scale. Alongside Kangley’s dedication to her painting, she has pursued an award-winning career in art education, teaching high school art and as an adjunct professor at Wesleyan University.

Diana Rogers’ pastel landscapes arise from a deep respect for nature and concern for the rapid loss of pristine environs. The colorful bounty of nature is reflected in her choice of medium–the pure intense pigments available in pastels. She has exhibited in regional, national and international exhibitions and received awards in several of them, including Best Pastel from the Mystic Art Center. Rogers is also on the board of the Connecticut Pastel Society.

Venezuela-born Branford resident sculptor and mixed media painter, Corina Alvarezdelugo, is a Guest Artist in this exhibition. In her minimalist works, she focuses on the essence of an object, mood, feeling, person or place using the circle and the sphere. Alvarezdelugo has shown her work in Venezuela, the Caribbean, and the United States, specifically Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York City, Massachusetts and Connecticut, receiving a number of awards.

Hillary Seltzer, also a Guest Artist, paints intuitively, exploring the familiar–still life, landscape, the figure and memory–in her layered works on paper incorporating collage and photo transfer. Formal training in both graphic and textile design influence her work. As well as being a fine artist herself, with work in private collections and group exhibitions in Connecticut and Rhode Island, she has been a strong supporter of local and regional artists as the founder and former owner of Central Gallery in Old Saybrook.

Gallery One’s Group Exhibition opens Tuesday, June 19th and runs through August 12th. There will be a reception on Friday, June 29th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday, noon to 5:00 pm. Please call (860) 388-0907 or visit www.galleryonect.com for additional information.

Gallery One, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, is a co-operative gallery showing the work of mid-career artists working in a wide variety of media and styles from representational to abstract in photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture and ceramics.  Gallery One was founded in 2003 and currently shares space with the Clayhouse, Old Saybrook Shopping Center, 665 Boston Post Road at Elm Street.

Penny Lane Pub to Host Party for Middlesex Hospital Fundraiser June 20

Old Saybrook, Ct. — The Penny Lane Pub on Main Street in Old Saybrook will be hosting a special party as part of the Middlesex Hospital’s “Appetite for Life,” program, on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 and include one beer or wine drink and appetizers.

This is the second year for the Hospital’s Appetite for Life dining program during the month of June, which raises funds for the Center for Survivorship and Integrative Medicine (CSIM) at the Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center. Restaurants throughout Middlesex County choose a day during the month to donate a portion of their proceeds from a meal or special event to the CSIM. The CSIM offers services to cancer patients such as Reiki, reflexology, massage, acupuncture, etc., along with survivorship programs.

Tickets to the Penny Lane Pub event can be purchased online at www.middlesexhospital.org/AFL. A complete list of all Appetite for Life participating restaurants can also be found there.

Appetite for Life is sponsored in part by Middletown-ct.patch.com.

Shore Music Presents a Summer Singing Workshop for Teens Starts July 2

Shore Music in Old Saybrook presents a Summer Singing Workshop for Teens & Tweens on Mondays and Wednesdays in July

The classes featuring Broadway show tunes and top ‘pop’ selections will offer vocal coaching, solo and group singing, simple choreography and other performance skills.   Learning these skills will in turn result in increased self confidence, experience of teamwork and collaboration, and the opportunity to make new friends and have fun.

There will be a performance in costume following the final class.

The class, which will be taught by Linda Towne Clifford, will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays,  July 2 -30  from  1:30 to  4 p.m.    The cost is $230 including music and CDs.

Space is limited so prompt registration at 860-767-3240 or shoremusic@att.net is recommended.

Best Historical Building in Essex – Voting Closes Thursday 31 May

First Preservation award winner, the Ivoryton Library

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite – best preserved or well restored building – commercial or residential.  You may vote at any of the 3 post offices in town.  You must vote before Thursday May 31st.  Last year the award went to the Ivoryton Library.

The Essex Historical Society is sponsoring a town wide referendum to determine what local residents consider to be the best preserved, historical building in town.  Voting for a favorite choice will be take place during the month of May, during which time ballot boxes will be made available at the town’s three post offices in Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton for the voting.

The historical building that receives the highest number of votes will receive the Essex Historical Society’s second annual Preservation Award, as well as an accompanying certificate.

Last year’s winning historical building, which received the first annual Preservation Award from the Essex Historical Society was the historic building of the Ivoryton Library, located at 106 Main Street in Ivoryton. The certificate for last year’s award hangs above the fireplace inside the library building.

Eligibility requirements for the Preservation Award   

Either residential or commercial buildings are eligible to receive the Preservation Award.  However, to qualify the building must have been built in 1936, or earlier, and if the structure has been renovated in any manner during its existence, the renovations must have preserved the original style and form of the building, as well be in the style of the time period during which the building was built.

This year’s Preservation Award winner will also be honored at the Essex Historical Society’s Annual Spring Strawberry Social, which will be held on the grounds of the Pratt House on June 25th. The Pratt house is the headquarters of the Essex Historical Society, and it is located at 19  West Avenue in downtown Essex.

Neil Nichols Withdraws from 33rd Senate District Race, Endorses Art Linares

Neil Nichols Steps Aside and Shows Support for Art Linares (Photo courtesy of Kris Seifert)

AREAWIDE—Neil Nichols, the Republican convention endorsed candidate for the open 33rd Senate District seat, Friday withdrew from the race and endorsed Art Linares, his rival at the May 14 GOP nominating session.

Nichols and Linares appeared before a crowd of about 40 supporters at Essex Town Hall. The group included Edward Munster of Haddam, the last Republican to hold the 12-town 33rd District seat from 1991-1993, before Munster began a series of three unsuccessful runs for Congress in the second district. Munster was replaced in 1992 by Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook, who announced on May 15 that she would not seek a new term this year.
Nichols, of Essex, had edged Linares on a close 24-22 vote at the May 14 convention, with Linares declaring that evening that he would contest the nomination in an Aug. 14 primary.
Nichols, the unsuccessful Republican challenger to Daily in 2010, said he began to reconsider the race over the past week before deciding to step aside in favor of the 23 year-old Linares of Westbrook. Nichols said he has had a “long-standing goal of recruiting and electing qualified Republicans,” and decided it would be “in the best interest of the party and the party’s future,” to give Linares a shot at the open senate seat without a primary contest. Nichols said he would actively support Linares in the fall campaign.
Linares, a grandson of Cuban immigrants, praised Nichols and pledged to wage an active campaign.”We will ring every phone and knock on every door,” he said.
Linares, who served as an intern for Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, is the co-founder of Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC, a Middletown-based solar energy company. Linares had formed a candidate committee for the senate race in April.
Democrats have endorsed State Representative Jim Crawford of Westbrook for the senate nomination. Crawford, who has represented Clinton, Killingworth, and Westbrook in the 35th House District seat since 2010, won the endorsement at the May 21 convention over two challengers, former State Rep. Dean Markham of East Hampton and Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam. Both Klinck and Markham received enough delegate support to contest the nomination in a primary. Each has until June 4 to file for a challenge.
Crawford spent more than 30 teachers as a teacher at Westbrook High School before retiring last year. One of his seventh grade students at the start of the last decade was Art Linares, setting up a Nov . 6 contest between a former teacher and a former pupil. Melissa Schlag, a Haddam resident who opposed the now cancelled Connecticut River land swap that was supported by Daily last year, is on the ballot as the Green Party nominee.

Neil Nichols Steps Aside as Republican Candidate in 33rd District Senate Race; Endorses Art Linares as Republican Candidate

Neil Nichols, the endorsed Republican candidate for the 33rd District Senatorial race, has announced that he is stepping aside to allow Art Linares to run as the Republican candidate for the seat.  Nichols made the announcement at a joint press conference with Linares outside Essex Town Hall on Friday, May 25th.

Nichols told the crowd that when he entered this race he informed his committee and his family that he would step aside if another talented and capable candidate decided to run for the seat. Nichols has been involved in Republican politics for a long time with a goal of recruiting and electing qualified young Republicans who hold fiscal conservative views.

“Art Linares has the innovative spirit, common sense, intelligence and conservative focus we need in our state government.” said Nichols. “In addition, he has proven that he is a stellar campaigner and capable of capturing the imagination of all voters throughout our district.”

During his many years of dedicated service to the Republican Party, Nichols’ efforts have encouraged greater participation in the party and the political process.  Through his efforts many qualified Republicans have become more involved and run for office.  “Art is one of those Republicans,” said Nichols.  “He is a wonderful representative of a rejuvenated Republican Party in Connecticut.”

Nichols pledged to actively support Art throughout the campaign.  He urged all voters to get to know Art saying, “Once you do, you’ll want to support to his candidacy.”

Region 4 Hopes to Hire New Assistant Superindendent of Schools by July

REGION 4— Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said Thursday the Chester-Deep River-Essex district hopes to hire a new assistant superintendent of schools by July to replace departing Assistant Superintendent Ian Neviaser.

Levy praised Neviaser, who was hired Tuesday as the next superintendent of Schools for Region 18 (Lyme-Old Lyme). “Ian has been preparing for this role and Lyme-Old Lyme are lucky to have him,” she said, adding that Region 4 and Region 18 would continue a “close relationship” that would be enhanced by the fact she and Neviaser had worked together in Region 4.

Levy said she learned of Neviaser’s selection and pending departure Tuesday night, while acknowledging that she was also aware that he “was ready for the next step.”

Neviaser, an Essex resident, has served as assistant superintendent for Region 4 since 2010 after working previously since 2008 as the principal at Valley Regional High School. He had worked previously as an acting principal, assistant principal, and teacher in the Guilford school district. Neviaser received his superintendent’s certification from the University of Connecticut.

Levy, who served as assistant superintendent in Region 4 before assuming the superintendent position in 2009, said the job duties of the position would remain unchanged with the transition. She said details of the search process are still being finalized, while adding the district hopes to hire a new assistant superintendent by July “and certainly before the start of the next school year.”

Native American Adventure Added to CRM Summer Camp Program

Aspiring archaeologists search for signs of the past at Nott Island during the Connecticut River Museum’s summer adventure camp Digging in the Past.

Essex, CT – Every year the Connecticut River Museum’s Summer Adventure Camps offer children age 7 to 12 the opportunity to get hands-on in history and have some fun learning about the Connecticut River Valley at two historic locations, Bushnell Farm in Old Saybrook and the Museum’s riverfront campus in Essex.   This year, the widely popular, week-long programs kick off on July 9 with Finding the First Americans, a newly created session for children age 9-12 where Bushnell Farm’s wigwam is the base for exploration of Connecticut Native American life in the 1600s.  Campers will help prepare a tree to be a dugout canoe, make a wigwam model, create pottery, and cook on an open fire.  On July 16, traveling back in time at Bushnell Farm continues with Colonial Survival Camp for ages 6-9.  The week’s activities include building a timber frame barn, learning to weave, playing colonial games and working in a heritage garden.  For those 9-12 year olds who prefer on-water adventure, Life At Sea is scheduled for the week of July 23 with learning to survive on the high seas as a Privateer and sailing on a historic wooden schooner.   For those 9-12 year old aspiring archaeologists, Digging into the Past is a sure bet for discovery at Nott Island and other mysterious sites during the week of July 30.  The final two camp sessions focus on the natural habitats of the Connecticut River and plenty of hands-on exploration with Wild River for ages 6-9 running during the week of August 6 and River Rangers for ages 9-12 wrapping up the summer from August 13-17.

Each program runs Monday –Friday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm with after care available until 3:00 pm.  A simple snack is provided, or kids can bring their own. The non-member fee is $185 per week.  The member fee is $170 for each week.  Advance registration is required.  To reserve a space, download and mail in the registration form from www.ctrivermuseum.org or contact the education department at 860-767-8269 extension 113 or jwhitedobbs@ctrivermuseum.org.  The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street.

TTYS Substance Abuse Prevention Council Meeting May 30

The next meeting of the Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council will be held at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High Street in Deep River at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 30.  This meeting will include a presentation on the effects of alcohol and other drugs on the developing teen brain.

Membership on this Council is open to all who live or work in the tri-town area who are concerned about substance abuse and interested in its prevention.  In addition to ongoing prevention programming in our schools and communities, the tri-town area is currently involved with Healthy Communities • Healthy Youth, an initiative funded through Middlesex United Way, as well as environmental prevention strategies funded through the Drug Free Communities Support Program.

For further information, call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.


54th Annual Essex Rotary Shad Bake June 2

54th Annual Essex Rotary Shad Bake will be held on June 2 at the Essex Elementary School, Main Street, Centerbrook. At this quintessential New England event, you’ll enjoy a cookout that includes:

Fresh Fire Roasted CT River Shad or BBQ Chicken or Hot Dogs, Potato Salad, Green Salad, Lyman Orchard’s Apple Pie and Fresh Brewed Coffee. (Soda/Bottled Water will also be available for purchase)

Shucked Clams & Oysters with all the fixin’s (available for an additional fee).

There will also be:
Live Music,
Antique Cars, and
Firetruck/Moon Bounces, Face Painting, Cotton Candy, Popcorn and Sno
Cones for the kids! (All kids activities are included in ticket
Ticket Prices for this fundraiser are:

$20 per Adult, $10 for Kids (12-18) – FREE for Kids (0-12)Event is held rain or shine, tickets are non-refundable. Indoor, covered, and lawn seating is available.

Essex Elementary School
108 Main Street
Centerbrook, CT 06409

For more details visit http://www.essexrotaryshadbake.com

Essex Art Association, New Gallery Show, Explorations, Opens June 1


Fish Market by Chipp Davis Wells

The Essex Art Association is opening a new gallery show “Explorations” featuring work by Elected Artists Members. Continuing the tradition of showing art from the traditional to cutting edge the show promises to be exciting and thought provoking.

Featured in the Exit Gallery“, “A New Englander’s Palette” works by Chipp Davis Wells, who has studios in Eastern Point, Gloucester, MA and Westerly, R.I. Chipp Davis Wells started his art training early in the studio of his maternal grandmother, marine  artist, Amee Davis. He continued his training in Rome, Italy, the Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia. His subjects are New England coastal scenes, rivers, lighthouses, beaches, and groups of people he calls PEOPLESCAPES TM.

The reception and show are open to the public free of charge. Essex Art Association is a non profit serving the shoreline since 1946.

Reception June 1from 6-8 pm

Show open daily Wednesday through Monday 1-5 pm June 2. Through June 23.



Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Ends With Past Versus Future June 1

The battle between gentrification and historic preservation in developing nations like China will be the topic of the Essex Library’s Centerbrook Architects Lecture by Tom Howorth, June 1st at Essex Town Hall. Pictured here, a Tianjin highrise against traditional, historic Hutongs in China.

The Essex Library’s popular Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series comes to a close with a talk by Tom Howorth FAIA, who’ll speak on “Gentrification Versus Historical Identity” Friday June 1 at 7 p.m., at Essex Town Hall. Especially relevant to towns debating the creation of historic districts, Mr. Howorth will discuss the challenges communities face with the conflict between gentrification and the loss of cultural identity in historic areas.  He will focus on his recent research, conducted over the last two years on behalf of Virginia Technical Institute, using examples from his travels to developing nations including Cuba and China.

Tom Howorth was a founder of Mockbee Coker Howorth Architects in Jackson, Mississippi, which won critical national acclaim for projects that were innovative yet built on the values and culture of established communities.   Many of these communities were in rural areas and often economically depressed.  Mr. Howorth then founded Howorth & Associate Architects, located off the historic courthouse square in Oxford, Mississippi where he continues to design new construction, historic preservation, and residences, that are of our time and that connect our past with the future.

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

Region 4’s Neviaser Named New Superintendent for Lyme-Old Lyme D18

Ian Neviaser

The Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education has selected Ian Neviaser, pictured left, to be the new superintendent of schools. Neviaser comes to Lyme-Old Lyme from Region #4 (Essex, Chester, Deep River) where he has been the assistant superintendent since 2010.

Twenty-four candidates applied for the position of superintendent of schools. The search committee selected seven candidates for interviews based on desirable characteristics and attributes of a new superintendent that were identified in the Lyme-Old Lyme Community Profile Assessment Report that was developed through focus group and online survey research conducted in March.

Jim Witkins, Chairman of the Board of Education, commented, “We are fortunate to have Ian Neviaser as our next superintendent of schools. The Board’s search committee is delighted to secure a top-flight educational leader with demonstrated management skills to guide our District after Betty Osga’s departure in July.”

He continued, “The Lyme and Old Lyme communities have benefitted immensely from having world-class talent in the Superintendent’s Office, and Ian brings those professional and personal qualities that simply turned our heads in unison. We are delighted Ian has agreed to join us.”

Neviaser is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Southern Connecticut State University. He received his superintendent certification through the executive leadership program at the University of Connecticut. He began teaching in the social studies department at Career Magnet High School in New Haven in 1997. He moved to Riverside Education Academy in 1998, and then to Guilford High School in 2000.

Neviaser accepted an assistant principal position in Guilford in 2004 and was appointed acting principal in 2007. He served as principal of Valley Regional High School in Deep River in 2008 before becoming assistant superintendent of the district in 2010.

Democrats Nominate State Rep. Phil Miller for Second Term in 36th House District

AREAWIDE— Democrats Tuesday renominated State Representative Phil Miller of Essex for a second term in the 36th House District. The 15 delegates from the district towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam, along with other supporters, jammed the small Whistlestop restaurant on Route 154 in Deep River for the nominating session.

As the group enjoyed apple pie provided by the restaurant for the occasion, Miller said the Whistlestop is the kind of “homemade and homegrown business” he hopes to support as a legislator. Miller was nominated by Deputy Secretary of the State James Spallone, who held the 36th House seat from 2000 until he resigned in January 2011 to assume the state job. Spallone said Miller “hit the ground running and he’s just beginning.”

Miller, the former director of the Bushy Hill Nature Center in the Ivoryton section of Essex, served as first selectman of Essex from 2003 to 2011. Miller won the House seat in a February 2011 special election, defeating Republican Janet Peckinpaugh, the former television news anchorwoman, by about 220 votes.

Miller praised the administration of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, noting the current state budget has nearly eliminated a $3.5 billion deficit while preserving state aid to cities and towns. “I think we are really poised for sustained recovery and growth,” he said.

Republicans have nominated former Essex Selectman Vince Pacileo to challenge Miller’s bid for a second and full term. Pacileo served as the minority selectman on the Essex Board of Selectmen while Miller held the top job.

Miller acknowledged he “has an opponent who I know very well,” adding “I think it’s going to be a very clear choice for the voters in our district,” in the Nov. 6 election.

Mississippi Architect to Argue that Historical Identity is Key Goal in Architecture

Glowing sunset over Old Havana, Cuba, shows the country's preservation challenge (Photo by Howorth)

A noted southern architect is coming north to Essex, Connecticut, to urge that his profession, as well as its clients, should not forget preservation, or as he calls it “historical identity,” in architectural design.

Tom Howorth, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, will make the case for preservation in architecture at the Essex Town Hall on June 1 at 7:00 p.m. His talk is a program of the Essex Library, and it is sponsored by Essex-based Centerbrook Architects.  Attendance at the program is free.

As those attending Howorth’s talk will learn, he decidedly does not belong to the “tear down and build it new” school in architecture. In fact, he is a stalwart in preserving “cultural identity” in our modern era of gentrification.

Nothing left but an Old Havana building facade, which perhaps could be preserved (Photo by Howorth)

Of particular interest to the audience will be Howorth’s photographs of the “historical identity” challenges that will be confront the country of Cuba, if and when Cuba is open to trade with U.S. architectural firms.  Under the present U.S. embargo, an architectural firm, such as, Howorth & Associates Architects, could not even draft construction plans, much less supervise their effectuation, in a preservation/ historical identity project in Old Havana.

Some have noted that many U.S. architects are “salivating” to engage in historical building and reconstruction projects in Old Havana and in other areas of Cuba. For the present, however, it is not to be.

Howorth has not only studied candidates for preservation on site in Cuba, he also has as an interest in preservation/gentrification possibilities in China, which he has also visited.

The coordinator of the Essex Library’s architectural programs is the Library’s Head of Adult Services, Ann Thompson.

A high rise in Hutong, China, with the new and the old together (Photo by Howorth)

Letter: Follow-up to “Are Libraries Doomed?”

To The Editor:

I just finished your article, “Are Libraries Doomed?“, and I wanted to say thank you.  It gave me pause to think that our new town library may never be built.  We have an aging, dilapidated Andrew Carnegie Library in our town that is not handicap accessible.  After a year of struggling to help raise funds to build a new library we find that we are up against those who believe a library will become obsolete.

I have a Kindle that I rarely use.  I have Kindle on my PC, eBooks on my iPad and have proofread for Gutenberg.  Nothing can replace the interaction of people at a public library.  A library is a place where you know you have something in common with the others there without even speaking a word to them.  It is comforting.  Nothing can replace a librarian who will direct you to what you are looking for in a matter of minutes.  A library is community.  I’ve never had anyone leaf through my coffee table picture book via my Kindle.

Recently, I searched the internet to make the case for why we still need libraries and I am so impressed that you have visited so many.  If we don’t need a library because of advances in technology and eBooks, then I ask, do we really need a tennis court in our park when citizens can go home and play tennis on their Wii?  And why should the citizens of our town go to city council meetings to make a case for a new library, when we can sit at home and attend via GoToMeeting.com?  Is this the type of community of the future where we will all further isolate ourselves and truly be a virtual community?  Technology is great, but is it good?

A baby shower was given for my daughter-in-law when my granddaughter was 4 months old.  It was a book shower to build her library.  The gift was to be one book that was your favorite as a child.  What a creative idea.  What could be more beautiful than a child pulling the books out of a cubby and having them strewn about on the floor around them? Then, crawling through them, selecting that one favorite book and opening it up to the colorful page while their eyes are wide with discovery.  One of my granddaughter’s favorites is, “The Monster at the End of this Book.”  I can’t imagine reading to her, “The Monster at the End of this Digital Reading Device”.  Yes!  There is one book that will have to stay in print,

“But for those against libraries, they do have a point.  Why waste ten minutes doing research in a library when you can spend three hours searching for the information on the internet?”  (I read this comment somewhere when searching the internet.  It is difficult to cite the origin, as you would cite a publication.  It may have been gray square, white male, silhouette, Anonymous.)

I didn’t find much when doing my search for making the case for a new library until I found your article.  We will continue to pursue our dreams of a new library and I am thankful I am able to share your insight on our library Facebook page.


Lisa Klein

Plainview, NE

Essex Winter Series Board Elects New President and Board Members

The board of the Essex Winter Series, at their Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 15, elected Peter Amos as the fourth President of the Board of Trustees.   Janice Atkeson, Barbara Zernike and Elise Piquet were also voted-in as the newest members of the Board.

Residing in Essex since 1986, Peter Amos has been actively involved in supporting the musical life of the community.  A former Treasurer of the Community Music School, Peter played a key role relocating the School to its now permanent home at Spencer’s Corner.   Peter is a former President of Cappella Cantorum and was a Founding Member of the Con Brio Choral Society, serving twice as its President.

As the newly elected President of the Essex Winter Series, Peter said: “I am honored and excited to serve the Essex Winter Series and our town in this way.  Essex is a truly special place with wonderful people who strongly support local culture and the Arts. Essex Winter Series plays a central role in the musical life of Essex and our neighboring towns, providing the opportunity to hear and meet world-class performers. This will be our 35th season!”  Outgoing President, ConstanceConnie” O’Brien was very enthusiastic about Peter’s appointment saying “With his experience and dedication, I think Peter will be a terrific president.”  Artistic Director Mihae Lee, also present for the annual meeting, said that she is “so excited to work with Peter Amos who is a passionate music lover and supporter of the arts, and I am grateful that he is assuming the role of President. His enthusiasm, knowledge and leadership will be essential to our success as we plan for the future of EWS.”

Peter Amos, a Physicist and former Vice-President of the Lee Company, is currently Senior Vice-President of Warner Power, LLC. In 2009 Peter was appointed by the Governor of New Hampshire to serve on the ‘Green Launching Pad’ Commission, working to help finance emerging new companies in the field of energy efficiency and renewable/alternative energy. Peter also currently serves on the Board of the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum.

Bringing world-class classical and jazz music to the shoreline area was the dream of the founders of the Essex Winter Series, established in 1979. Fenton Brown, Trustee Emeritus, became involved early on and devoted many years to expanding the series and ultimately brought Mihae Lee in as Artistic Director.  The “Fenton Brown Emerging Artists Concert” series was begun to honor Brown’s years as President.  Each year, the Essex Winter Series presents a series of concert performances by top-rated musicians from around the world. These concerts, held at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, are presented on Sunday afternoons in January, February and March.  A single season may include a mix of such performances as instrumental soloists, opera singers, chamber orchestras, and jazz bands.

More information, including details for the 2012-2013 season, can be found at www.essexwinterseries.org.

State Rep. Jim Crawford Wins Endorsement at Democrats Nominating Convention

AREAWIDE— State Rep. Jim Crawford of Westbrook won the Democratic Party endorsement for the 33rd Senate District at the district nominating convention held Monday at Essex Town Hall.

Crawford won the endorsement on a third ballot of the 58 delegates from the 12-town district, out-polling Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam and former state Rep. Dean Markham of East Hampton. The final vote was 31 for Crawford to 27 for Klinck, with Markham eliminated from the roll call after the third ballot.

A long-time social studies teacher at Westbrook High School, Crawford was elected in 2010 in the 35th House District covering Clinton, Killingworth, and most of Westbrook. He had served previously on the Westbrook Board of Selectmen.

Crawford is hoping to succeed ten-term State Senator Eileen Daily, who attended the convention Monday and received a warm standing ovation from the delegates. Until last week, Crawford had been set to accept renomination this week for a second term in the 35th House District. But Daily’s May 15 announcement that she would not seek a new term this year led him shift to a run for the senate seat.

Crawford, Klinck, and Markham confirmed their plans to run over the weekend, and met informally with many delegates in an informal gathering Sunday at Deep River Town Hall. The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Crawford was nominated by former state Rep. Brian O’Connor of Clinton, who held the 35th House District seat from 20000 to 2010. O’Connor said Crawford has “proven himself an effective and pragmatic legislator after only one term.” In his own remarks to the convention, Crawford said he has the best experience for the position, adding “I am currently able to tell you where the battle lines are.”

Klinck, a realtor, former restauranteur and party activist who served as the first commissioner of the state Department on Aging during the 1980s, was described in a seconding speech from former East Haddam First Selectman Brad Parker as “the ultimate Democrat for our region.” Klinck told the crowd she had wanted to run for the seat in 1992, but deferred to Daily.

Markham, a realtor and certified public accountant who represented the East Hampton-based 34th House District from 1979-1993, was nominated by East Hampton Councilwoman Barbara Moore. Markham told the delegates he “has a great insight in to the process and will be able to hit the ground running,” with a focus on boosting the area economy.

The vote on the first ballot was 24 for Crawford, 19 for Klinck, and 15 for Markham. Crawford had all or most of the delegates from Clinton, Essex, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, while Klinck’s support was centered around East Haddam and Colchester. The vote on the second ballot was 29 for Crawford, one vote short of the 30 delegates required for a majority endorsement, with 17 for Klinck and 12 for Markham. Most of Markham’s support, which was centered around East Hampton, shifted to Klinck on the third ballot.

Crawford said after the vote he believes district Democrats would “stay united” moving toward the Nov. 6 election, though Klinck and Markham each said they would consider contesting Crawford for the nomination in an Aug 14 primary. District Republicans are expected to have a primary for the senate nomination after Neil Nichols of Essex edged Art Linares of Westbrook for the endorsement at the May 14 GOP nominating session. Klinck and Markham have until June 4 to formally file for a primary with Crawford, who as the convention-endorsed candidate would have the top line on the ballot.


Talking Transportation: Is This Any Way to Run The State?

Usually, I have a lot of respect for our elected officials in Hartford. But what happened in the final hours of the legislative session in recent weeks is just shocking.  You probably didn’t hear about it because there are no reporters left covering the state house for what passes for newspapers and TV news in our state, but that’s another story.

Lawmakers know they aren’t being watched and are, therefore, not accountable.  (I do commend veteran reporter Ken Dixon’s blog for the gory details of what they pulled off.)

Working late into the night, in their final hours in session, our elected officials wheeled and dealed on dozens of bills, painstakingly crafted and considered in recent months.  By 3 am they were voting on bundles of bills they had not read, some introduced at the last minute, acting like bleary-eyed college students pulling an all-nighter.  This is the government we deserve?

Amidst this annual frenzy, the Malloy administration was also trying to plug a $200 million gap in the current budget.  Unwilling to raise taxes any further, they turned to rail commuters and motorists and picked our pockets instead.  But the session had started on a better note.

Thanks to State Rep Kim Fawcett (D-Fairfield), a previously announced 4% rail fare hike to take effect 1/1/13 had gone away during the writing of the new budget.  But at the 11th hour, Malloy’s budget team put it back… not to raise money to fix our trains, but to raise funds to close the deficit.  This was less a fare increase than a tax on commuters.  And it was Governor Malloy’s idea, rubber stamped by the Democratic majority.

But worse yet, lawmakers stole $70 million from the Special Transportation Fund, also to plug that deficit hole.  That takes money raised by gasoline taxes, which was supposed to be used to fix highways and bridges, and uses it to pay for everything but those efforts.

As I have written before, the Special Transportation Fund (STF) is less a “lock box” than a slush-fund, dipped into regularly by Democrats and Republicans looking for money but reticent to raise taxes.

When he was running for office, candidate Dannel Malloy decried such moves.  He said he would call for a constitutional amendment to safeguard the STF from such pilfering.  Not only did he not introduce such an amendment, he did the same as past governors, raiding the STP and making commuters pay for his budgeting mistakes.  In my book, that makes him a hypocrite.

Months earlier, we discovered that this past January’s 4% fare increase wasn’t going to be spent on the trains, but was going into the STF.  When State Rep Gal Lavielle (R – Wilton) tried, along with 20+ lawmakers, to get introduce a bill requiring fare hikes to be spent on mass transit, she couldn’t even get it out of committee.

Commuters:  the fix is in.  Your fares (the highest of any commuter railroad in the US) are going higher.  But the money won’t be spent on improving rail service.  Those millions will just go into the STF slush-fund.  And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Of course, this is an election year.  So you might ask those running for State Representative and State Senator who want to represent you, why they allow rail fares to be used as yet another tax on commuters.

JIM CAMERON has been a commuter out of Darien for 21 years.  He is Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, and a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com or www.trainweb.org/ct .  For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, see www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Grants for Mature Women

The Lower Connecticut Valley Branch of AAUW is offering educational grants to mature women who are pursuing an associate, bachelor, or graduate degree. The grant is a minimum of $500 per semester. Applicants must be 21 or older, have a high school diploma or equivalent, be enrolled or anticipating being enrolled in an accredited degree granting college or university program and be residents of the towns served by our branch (Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook).

Recipients will be chosen on the basis of goals, performance and financial need. All awards are conditional on proof of registration. Applications must be postmarked by June 30 and decisions will be announced by August 15th.

Applications and information may be requested from Jane Kelly (860)581-8256 or Rose Petersen (860)434-432 or by email to aauwlcv@gmail.com.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. AAUW has a nationwide network of more than 100,000 members and donors, 1,000 branches, and 500 college/university institutional partners. Since its founding 130 years ago, members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political. AAUW’s commitment to educational equity is reflected in its public policy advocacy, community programs, leadership development, conventions and conferences, national partnerships, and international connections.  For membership information about the Lower Connecticut Valley branch, contact Liz Wessoleck (860)399-9615 or Deb Rie (860)399-0664.

VRHS Titanic Nominated for 14 Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards

TITANIC cast members from l-r: Andrew Goehring, Kevin Alvord, Parker Wallace and Paul Myers.

Deep River, CT – The nominees for the 2012 Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards have been announced and Valley Regional’s Titanic came up big with a total of 14 out of 20 category nominations,  the most received of the 20 high school productions entered in the statewide competition.

Specifically, Valley’s production of TITANIC, The Musical performed in March of this year is a contender for top award honors  for Achievement in the Arts, Outstanding Production of the Year, Scenic Achievement, Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Leading Male: Kevin Alvord and Andrew Goehring, Outstanding Supporting Female: Tori Chiappa, Outstanding Supporting Male: Sam Kneeland, Outstanding Chorus, Hair and Makeup Achievement, Costume Achievement, Lighting Achievement and Outstanding Lobby Display.

The award winners will be announced at the Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards Gala to be held on June 4 at the Palace Theater in Waterbury.

Region 4 Hires William Duffy as New Principal at John Winthrop Middle School

REGION 4—  The Region 4 Board of Education has hired William Duffy, the current assistant principal at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury, as the new principal at John Winthrop Middle School.

The board approved the appointment at a special meeting last week. Duffy, who now becomes the third principal in the 40-year history of the grades 7-8 middle school in Deep River, replaces David Russell. An industrial arts teacher when the school opened in 1971, Russell has served as principal since 1995.

Duffy has held the position at the Glastonbury middle school for the past five years. He had previously taught language arts and math at the middle school level. Duffy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Central Connecticut State University, along with a Master of Science degree in educational technology and a sixth year certificate in educational leadership from CCSU.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said the board and the interview committee were impressed with Duffy’s knowledge and understanding of middle school philosophy, along with his “commitment to excellence and passion for educating middle school students.”

“The committee found Mr. Duffy to be child centered and collegial, and focused on continued improvement while building strong positive relationships within the school and community,” Levy said.

Duffy resides in Rocky Hill with his wife and three children. He is expected to begin working at the school in July. Duffy is the second new principal hired in Region 4 over the past two months. Jennifer Byars, a Deep River native and current town resident, was hired as the new principal at Deep River Elementary School after the retirement of 13-year Principal Jack Pietrick.


Pettipaug Yacht Club Opens “jam packed” Sailing Season with First Race on May 20

Boats jockey for position at the starting line of the race

Sailing regattas, sailboat racing clinics, U.S. Sailing Association courses, powerboat instruction and “learn to sail” courses are all on the agenda at the legendary Pettipaug Yacht Club’s 62nd year season. The club, which is located on the Great Meadows along the Connecticut River, is one of the nation’s premier sailing organizations dedicated to small boat sailing, especially for young people.

The club presently has some 325 active members, including a small group of members whose sailing days are over. They use the club’s private grounds, with its elegant new stainless steel grill, for evening cookouts, when the busy club is not engaged in other activities.

Pettipaug Yacht Club officially opened on May 20

The first official event of the club’s 2012 sailing season was the Forty-Second Annual Commodore’s Trophy race held on Sunday, May 20.  The race was designed for small, racing sailboats, either personally owned by club members or owned by the club.

Race Chairman John Kennedy briefing skippers and crew before the race

When the Trophy race began the wind was blowing a strong 15 knots or more, and it was coming upriver from the south. The tide was also running up from the south. This meant that the upriver legs of the course would be easy, whereas the sail downstream against the tide and the wind would be long and hard.

One boat capsized even before the race began, and another floundered at the end of the race. Both were retrieved by the club’s crash boats, two of which were on duty.

Two sailboats getting ready to sail. The one on the left lost its rig before the race

After the race was over and the boats put away, there was an after the race cocktail party for the club members. This in turn was to be followed by a formal Commissioning ceremony. However, the formalities got mixed up a bit with the American flag being lowered before the club’s trumpeter was ready to play the appropriate bugle call.

However, Pettipaug Yacht Club Commodore Chis Manero kept the proceedings moving, and before the gathered crowd knew what was happening, the club’s Chairman of Races and Regattas, John Kennedy, was reading off the results for the afternoon race. The results were read with a reverse order of their finishes, and even the skipper of the tenth place “winning” sailboat received appropriate applause.

Race Chairman John Kennedy, First Place winner Chris Moore, Club Commodore Chis Manero, Third Place Winner Ed Birch. (Second Place winners, Will and Bill Platt, not pictured)

The top three winners of race received silver platters, with the first place winner receiving the largest in size. The winner of the first place trophy was Chris Moore. The second place winners were Will and Bill Platt, and the third place winner was Ed Birch. Birch is not infrequently in the winning circle in local sailboat races.

The tacking duel at the end of the race between Moore and Birch, both in Lasers, was something to see, and Race Chairman Kennedy made a point at the award ceremony that the official times of the three winners were in a matter of nine seconds apart.

Former Club Commodore Sandy Sanstrom next to the "like new" stainless steel cooking grill that he retrieved from the Essex town dump

Even before the club’s official opening on May 20, in April and early May there have been a number of preview sailing contests held by local high school sailing teams. Specifically, the sailing clubs of Xavier High School, Valley Regional High School and Madison’s Daniel Hand High School have engaged in vigorous sailing contests, when sailing can be a brisk affair, especially when the boat capsizes. However, these high school sailing team activities were completely finished before the club’s official sailing season began.

Teaching would-be teachers how to teach sailing

One of the major sailing courses given at the club, after the official sailing season begins, is those sponsored by the U.S. Sailing Association.  These two and four day courses are designed to teach the teachers at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy how to teach their students how to sail in various sailing situations.

Level 1 of these sailing courses is designed to teach the teachers how to instruct their students in the general principles of how to sail. This course will run on June 9, 10, 16 and 17. Level 2 will concentrate on teaching teachers how to teach the racing of sailboats, and this course will be on June 14 and 15. Finally, a windsurfer course will train teachers on how to teach wind surfing, and this course will be on June 18 and 19.

Tuition for these specialized “how to teach” sailing courses is free, that is if the student teacher stays on the job throughout the sailing season at the club. However, should the teacher stop teaching at the club during the summer, she or he will be charged the full tuition for taking these courses. The charges for dropping out are steep: they are $350 for Level 1, $200 for Level 2, and $100 for the windsurfing course.

Also, on the roster of the club’s learn-to-sail programs is the club’s special sailboat racing course for young people. This course runs from Monday thru Friday, June 25 to June 29. The course is taught by Paul Risseeuw, Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, and 30 students are expected to take the course.

Powerboat courses throughout the sailing season

In addition to a raft of sailing courses at the club, there will be nine powerboat courses sprinkled throughout the sailing season. The courses will feature an intensive, one day, in the boat, on the water, course of powerboat instruction.

The tuition for the powerboat course is $175, and over 150 students are anticipated throughout the season.  The fact that the club has a powerboat course during its sailing season has also meant that the U.S. Coast Guard has given the club a grant of $13,000 to purchase powerboat vessels for use in the courses. The Coast Guard very much wants local powerboats operators to be well trained in safe boating techniques before they go out on the water.

The first date of the powerboat course of April 29, May 6 and May 13 have However, the remaining six of the one day courses will be held on June 2 and 24, July 8 and 22, and August 5 and September 8. The courses begin at 8:30 a.m. and run to 6:00 p.m., and they are rigorously taught by Pettipaug Sailing Academy Director Paul Risseeuw.

Pettipaug Sailing Academy, the club’s crown jewel

The crown jewel of the club’s commitment to teaching young people how to sail is without doubt the Pettipaug Sailing Academy. Directed by Sailing Academy Director, Paul Risseeuw. The purpose of the Academy is to introduce and instruct young student to the fundamentals of how to sail. Not infrequently the Academy teaches its students to love sailing as well. This in turn can lead to a lifetime of loving to sail, whether in small sailboats, or on larger sailboats as well.

The Academy teaches sailing at both morning and afternoon sessions. The first morning session at the Academy will run on weekdays from July 2 to July 24. Presently, 40 students are enrolled in this morning session, and the session is considered full.  The afternoon session is on the same dates as the morning session, and it will have 60 students, and it is considered full as well.

There will also be a second round of morning and afternoon sessions of the Sailing Academy, which will begin on July 26 and will run on week days to August 17. Both of these sessions are full, and in fact, there are 30 would be students of the waiting list to attend sailing courses at the Academy.

To address the sailing needs of those young people who wish to learn to sail, but are stuck on the waiting list, the Academy is planning to offer a series of evening sailing courses during the summer. The club’s web site will announce when these evening courses will be given, and this information will also be posted on the bulletin board down at the club.

Graduation Day for all of the graduating students at the Sailing Academy will be held August 17.  Also, on the heels of the Academy’s graduation ceremonies is the Pettipaug Junior Sailing Regatta to be held on August 19. The regatta will give recent graduates of the Sailing Academy a chance to test their new skills in sailing and racing in the familiar waters in front of the club.

Other official sailing regattas to be held at the club include an open one-design regatta on September 15. Also, on September 22 there are two races, the Charles Birch Memorial Race at 11:00 a.m., and the Robin Starr Handicap Race at 1:30 p.m.

Following the races on September 22, there will be a Decommissioning ceremony at the club, which will officially end the club’s 2012 sailing season.

After that in subsequent weekends, club members will take the docks at the club out of the water and stack them safely on land.  Also, club boats will be stored on the deck of the club, hopefully high enough to keep them safe from the Connecticut River’s  off season, high waters.

Even the club’s new stainless steel grill, in its new life as a gleaming cooking ornament and out of the dump, will be brought up on the club’s deck for safe keeping. After that there begins the long wait until next year’s spring.

Letters: Thank You, from Essex Garden Club

To The Editor:

On Saturday May 12 in Town Park the Essex Garden Club held its 60th May Market.  This year featured a relatively new addition to the Market:  a Silent Auction.  Thanks to the incredible generosity of our area merchants and artists it was a great success.

As May Market is the Club’s only fund-raiser, we depend on its proceeds to support our civic projects in Essex Village, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton.  These range from helping to maintain the town parks, to providing scholarships to college students and camperships to elementary students, planting trees in town, organizing horticultural activities with elementary and junior high school students, and decorating throughout town with greens for the holidays.

The Garden Club would like to thank the following merchants and artists most sincerely for their wonderful donations:

Acer Gardens, Ashleigh’s Garden, Boatique USA, Bob’s Centerbrook Package Store, Bombaci Tree Experts, Dee Dee and Jeff Charnok, The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook, Cottage Whimsey, De Paula Jewelers, Decorative Interiors, English Accents Antiques, Essex Books, Essex Winter Series, The French Hen, Hortus Perennials, The Ivoryton Playhouse, The Kate, Matilda, Claire Matthews Yoga, Mimi Merton Photography, Charlotte Meyer Designs, Musical Masterworks, New Earth Acupuncture, The Note Nest, Saybrook Country Barn, Society’s Scissors, The Spa of Essex, Weekend Kitchen, Weltner’s Antiques and Art, and Wertheimer & Associates.

With thanks,

Dawn Boulanger, Genie Devine, Marily MacKinnon

The Essex Garden Club
May Market Silent Auction Committee

RiverFare 2012 Returns for 19th Year of Delicious Fun On The Essex Waterfront

Organizers, sponsors and participants gather to toast the 19th Annual RiverFare happening on May 31 at the Connecticut River Museum. Left to right: CRM Development Manager Phyllis Stillman of the Connecticut River Museum, RiverFare Committee Member Joanne Masin, Essex Savings Bank Vice President Thomas Lindner, Olive Oyl’s Owner and Chef Kevin Kendall, Wells Fargo Advisors Branch Manager Philip Reynolds, and CRM Executive Director Jerry Roberts.

Essex, CT – On Thursday, May 31 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, the waterfront lawn of the Connecticut River Museum will be the scenic setting for RiverFare 2012, the unofficial kick off of summer on the shoreline, featuring savory bites, fine spirits and silent auction overlooking scenic Essex Harbor.  This year’s lineup of Connecticut’s leading restaurants and food purveyors includes Chamard Bistro, Culinary Concerts, Inc., El & Ela’s Fine Foods, Essex Coffee & Tea Co., Fromage Fine Foods, Gabrielle’s, Gourmet Galley Catering, Griswold Inn, Olive Oyl’s, Saybrook Point Inn, Seaflour Foods, Selene’s Sweet Shoppe, and others.  RiverFarers can sample signature dishes and drinks while perusing and bidding on a diverse array of fine gifts, services, and entertainment experiences up for silent auction.  Of special note is a 12-foot 1989 Butterfly scow sailboat with trailer and ready to launch by the lucky bidder.

Wells Fargo Advisors is this year’s Presenting Sponsor. Other sponsors include C. Sherman Johnson Co., Inc., Centerbrook Architects and Planners, Clark Group, North Sails Group, LLC, Essex Savings Bank/Essex Financial Services, Bogaert Construction, Reynolds’ Garage & Marine, Inc., Essex Boat Works Inc., Caulfield & Ridgway, Inc., blp Enterprises, Rachel Thomas Associates, Connected Systems, Brown & Knapp, Point One Architects, Landscape Specialties, Essex Printing, Rhode Van Gessel Design, Sperry Tents, and Shore Publishing.

Event admission is $60 per person in advance and $65 on the day of the event.  Patron tickets may be purchased for $150 and include a premium bar and $100 tax deduction.  Net proceeds will help support the Connecticut River Museum’s mission to increase public awareness and access to the heritage, culture, and natural beauty of New England’s Great River.  For more information or to make advance reservations, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860.767.8269.    The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street in Essex.

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PHOTO CAPTION (l-r): Organizers, sponsors and participants gather to toast the 19th Annual RiverFare happening on May 31 at the Connecticut River Museum. CRM Development Manager Phyllis Stillman of the Connecticut River Museum, RiverFare Committee Member Joanne Masin, Essex Savings Bank Vice President Thomas Lindner, Olive Oyl’s Owner and Chef Kevin Kendall, Wells Fargo Advisors Branch Manager Philip Reynolds, and CRM Executive Director Jerry Roberts.

An Evening at The Ivoryton Playhouse Fundraiser June 8

The Essex Community Fund invites you to opening night of Last of the Red Hot Lovers by Neil Simon on June 8.

The evening begins at 7 p.m. under the tent with wine and Hors D’oeuvres.  Then it is inside for the show at 8 pm with dessert and coffee after the show.  Join us for a fun filled evening and help support the Fund as well as the Playhouse.

Tickets are $50 each and can be obtained by calling Mark Bombaci at 860-304-2751.

Filmmaker Alexandra Isles Reveals Hidden Treasures May 24

Rembrant Self-Portrait,1660

Every year millions of people visit the Metropolitan Museum to admire its treasures– but behind the scenes, Museum staff have their own personal, often surprising, relationships with the works of art Documentary filmmaker Alexandra Isles, who’ll screen her film “Hidden Treasures”  at the Essex Library on Thursday May 24 at 7 PM, takes us “backstage” at the Museum, and introduces us to the odd, moving, even mystical stories of Museum staff, who spend their days, and sometimes their nights, restoring, guarding, moving, cleaning and teaching about the art. Their stories include a wish-granting statue, a sword with a secret compartment, a time traveling melody, a portrait that has become a trusted mentor, a famous landscape with an unexpected population, and rooms and objects that brought joy to a dying woman.

This rare opportunity to meet the filmmaker kicks off the Essex Library’s series of documentary films; all very different, idiosyncratic, and powerful in their own ways.  Some will make you laugh, some may make you cry; all will inform and enlighten you.  Screenings are on Thursdays and begin at 6:30: May 31st,THE INTERRUPTERS focuses on community volunteers trying to break the deadly cycle of gang violence in Chicago that they themselves were once part of: JUNE 7th, HELL AND BACK AGAIN follows a wounded Iraqi war vet as he returns home and readjusts to a changed life: JUNE 14th, A MAN CALLED PEARL tells the inspiring story of self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar, who fought prejudice by creating beauty: JUNE 21st: INTO THE ABYSS by Werner Hertzog, whose conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people – and the state – kill: JUNE 28th, VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR is an intimate portrait of a volatile fashion icon at the spectacular end of his career. All films are free; to register for the programs or for more information, please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. The Library is located at 33 West Avenue.

PHOTO CAPTION: A museum employee who’s “consulted” this Rembrandt self-portrait before every major decision in his adult life is one of the fascinating people presented in the film “HIDDEN TREASURES”, to be presented at Essex Library by its director Alexandra Isles on Thursday May 24th at 7 PM.

Essex Finance Board Sets Tax Rate 0.49 Mills Up from the Current Rate

ESSEX— The board of finance has set the property tax rate for 2012-2013 at 18.47 mills, an increase of .49 mills from the current tax rate of 17.98 mills. The new rate represents $18.47 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

The board approved the new rate Thursday on a unanimous vote. The tax rate will pay for the total $22 million town/schools spending plan that was approved on a voice vote at the annual budget meeting Monday.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said in settling on the 18.47 mill rate, the board agreed to use about $50,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance if necessary to cover expenditures. Needleman said the town anticipates additional revenue in the coming weeks, including final reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency from Tropical Storm Irene last August. He said the additional revenue is expected to cover all, or most, of any transfer from the fund balance. The fund balance currently contains about $2.4 million.

Last year, the tax rate jumped by .25 mills after a more contentious budget process that included a town meeting rejection of the initial proposed budget and approval of a revised and reduced budget in a June referendum. Last year, the finance board used $182,000 from the fund balance and anticipated revenue to set the tax rate at 17.98 mills.

Essex Memorial Day Parade May 28

Memorial Day offers an opportunity to reflect on our freedoms and the price of those freedoms. Without rhetoric or dissertation, men and women gave their lives to secure and protect those freedoms.  In recognition of these fallen heroes, the Essex Memorial Day Parade will provide a reverent celebration winding through the streets of Essex.

The parade will commence on Monday May 28 at 9:00 a.m. All veterans are welcome; wear your uniform of choice or collared shirt/slacks and join your fellow military comrades. Assemble at the Foot of Main Street in downtown Essex at 8:45 a.m.

The parade will follow a three mile route as it makes the following stops to pay respects: Riverview Cemetery, First Baptist Church, Town Hall, Centerbrook Cemetery, and the Essex Veteran’s Memorial Hall. There will be a short ceremony at the Veteran’s Hall at the conclusion of the parade (approximately 11:00 a.m).

If weather precludes a parade, ceremonies will be held at Essex Town Hall at 9:30 a.m. and at the Essex Veteran’s Memorial Hall at 11:00 a.m. All interested parties may contact Phil Beckman at 860.767.9755 or philipbeckman@yahoo.com with questions. Please come out to pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

Republicans Nominate Former Essex Selectman Vince Pacileo for 36th House Seat

AREAWIDE— Republicans Wednesday nominated former Essex Selectman Vince Pacileo for state representative after a brief convention contest with another Essex Republican, Gerry MacMillian.

Pacileo, who served as the minority Republican on the Essex Board of Selectmen from 2003 to 2009, was endorsed over MacMillian on a 7-4 delegate vote in the convention held at Essex Town Hall. The district includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.

Pacileo was nominated by Margot Gamerdinger of Deep River, who cited his experience in town government and in running a legislative campaign. Pacileo was the unsuccessful Republican challenger to Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily in the 12-town 33rd District in 2008, losing to the long-time incumbent on a vote of 30,320-17,624.

MacMillian, wife of Bruce MacMillian, the unsuccessful Republican nominee for Essex first selectman last year, was nominated by Martha Dean, the Avon resident who was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for attorney general in 2006 and 2010. Allowing Dean, who was not a delegate or resident of the district, to make a nominating speech required a rules change that was approved by the 11 delegates. Dean said MacMillian “understands freedom,” and is ready to challenge a “one party legislature” controlled by Democrats.

In the roll call, MacMillian was supported by three of the four delegates from Essex, and one delegate from Haddam. Pacileo had the delegates from Chester, Deep River, two of three from Haddam, and Essex delegate Jim Hill, a former chairman of the Essex Republican Town Committee.

Pacileo, in remarks to the convention, said his campaign themes would be reform and renewal. “It is about time we returned to citizen representation and away from the career politicians that dominate Hartford,” he said.

A former human resources manager at Pfizer in Groton, Pacileo has worked for the past 18 months as the director of administrative services in Stonington, handling human resources, labor relations and grants administration among other duties. Pacileo said his boss, Stonington Democratic First Selectman Edward Haberek, has given him the go-ahead to run for the legislative seat.

MacMillian said after the vote she supports Pacileo, and would not contest the nomination in a primary. “I am ready to be a foot soldier for Vin’s campaign,” she said.

The 36th District seat is currently held by Democrat Phil Miller, a former first selectman of Essex who led the board while Pacileo served as the minority party selectman. Miller won the seat in a February 2011 special election, defeating Republican Janet Peckinpaugh, the former television anchorwoman and unsuccessful 2010 congressional candidate. The seat had been held for a decade by Democrat James Spallone, who resigned after winning re-election in 2010 to take the job of deputy secretary of the state.

Miller had been expected to seek a full term as state representative in the Nov. 6 election, but has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the 33rd State Senate District seat that was opened up earlier this week when ten-term incumbent Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook announced she would not seek re-election this year. Democrats are scheduled to nominate a candidate for state senate in a convention Monday at Essex Town Hall. The Democrats nominating session for the 36th House District is Tuesday May 22 at the Whistlestop restaurant in Deep River.


Are Libraries Doomed?

John Guy LaPlante

I read something startling the other day.  Amazon.com, among other things, is our biggest retailer of books.  Bigger than Barnes & Noble even.  But last year it sold more e-books than print books.  Wow!

A recent report by the Pew Foundation said that 19 percent of adults in the U.S.have read an e-book.  I’m amazed the percentage is so high.

Some of you may already be buying e-books.  Some of you – even as passionate readers of  books as we know them, meaning books printed on paper – may not have a clue about e-books.

E-books are shorthand for electronic books, also known as digital book.  They are books meant to be read not on paper, but on a computer screen.  Or more recently, on specialized devices called e-book readers (e-readers).  In fact, these have become a rage.

E-books have been around for a decade, maybe two decades.  In fact, undoubtedly since the beginning of word processing programs.  Microsoft Word, notably.

If you could write a letter or a report or an article on your computer with Microsoft Word, why not a book? Sure.  But such a book wasn’t called an e-book back then.  It was just a long Microsoft Word document (.doc).  You saved it on your computer.

If you wanted to send it to somebody, you did it with a floppy disk and later, a CD.   The widespread arrival of the Internet and email made it possible to send it even thousands of miles in a minute or two.

Then Adobe developed the pdf—the portable digital format.   Very important because it preserved your document or article–whatever you created—exactly as you wrote it.  With the same typeface, same type size, same formatting (italics, paragraphing, and so on), the same everything in every detail.  A remarkable and wonderful breakthrough.

But—this just occurred to me—if you are reading this, you know a lot about this already.  After all, you are reading this as a digital file.  Suddenly I feel very dumb.

Well, it’s less than five years ago—Nov. 19, 2007,  that the first e-book reader appeared.  The Kindle.  That was an invention by Amazon.com.  It sold for $399.  It was sensational.  It  sold out practically overnight.

It was also wonderful.  It fit in your pocket.  You could store more books on it than you could read in a lifetime.  You could buy them fron Amazon and receive them on your Kindle in just a couple of minutes.

It was as significant an invention as that of movable, reusable type by Gutenberg in 1447.  The Kindle and the e-book changed our reading habits forever.  It turned the book world topsy-turvy.

Today there are six Kindle models, varying in features and price.  The lowest-price is $79 and the top of the line  $199.  Incredible how the  prices have dropped.

In fact, there are numerous e-book makers and there are more than 30 different brands on the market. There is even the extraordinary kind called a tablet.  So-called because it is considerably bigger and lets you access not only e-books, music, photos. movies and connect to the Internet and perform other miracles,

The most sophisticated is Apple’s Ipad—a groundbreaking invention by itself.  A full-fledged computer.  It, too, has been selling like hotcakes.  The price keep changing—about $500 on up depending on features. Amazon selling for $600 and considerably more, depending.

In fact, Amazon’s $199 unit – the Kindle Fire – is a tablet, designed to cut into Apple’s market.  It has been said that Amazon prices its units even below cost.  All to stimulate sales of e-books.

As some of you know, in the last six years I have written three books.  Print books.  I also wrote one 50 years ago, but let’s forget that.  I would have written more books, I think, but life interfered.

And in the spirit of full disclosure I want to tell you all three will soon be e-books.  Why?  It’s absolutely essential if I want to make them available to the greatest number of readers possible.   And like all writers, I write to be read.

I never, never thought I would  own an e-book reader.  No need.  Now I  own two.  Use them hardly at all. Was intrigued by the technology, I guess..

Now back to my main topic today.  Public libraries.  I think they are imperiled.  I say this although I’m aware public libraries have more users than ever.  Yes, it’s true.  Even in this digital age.

National Library Week came and passed just recently.  April 7 to 13.  I missed it somehow.  What a shame.  National Library Week?  Hey,who notices?  Who cares?  Well, I do.  Libraries mean so much to me.

I’m worried about their future.  Not for myself.  The day will come before long when I’ll no longer need my library card.  But I’m worried for library lovers everywhere.

This is why I have gone on at length about  e-books.  Because I realize that if this e-book phenomenon continues … and certainly it will … it will kill public libraries.  Yes, kill them.

Well, certainly libraries as we know them.  Just as Amazon.com is killing off neighborhood bookstores as we know them.  Even giant bookstores.  Just consider that the giant chain Borders just went under.  For sure, a casualty of Amazon.com and the e-book revolution.  What a loss.

Just consider also: not only are books becoming digital.  So are newspapers—and look at how our newspapers have declined— because they began producing e-newspapers as well.  And then did the stupid thing of making them available free.  Now the papers are smartening up and beginning to charge for their electronic editions.

The changes are beyond belief.  Even textbooks are becoming e-textbooks.  Tablets like the Ipad are becoming standard everyday necessities for just about any man or woman who has to read and write in order to earn their living.

In fact, look at what just happened to the venerable, absolutely wonderful Encyclopedia Britannica.  Its 30 or so hefty volumes take up whole shelves on a bookcase.  Britannica just printed its last edition.  It, too, is going digital.

I gave my son Mark a set when he married just seven or eight years ago.  I love to see it on display in his living room when I visit.

But I don’t think he’s ever used it, and he is a university professor and a lover of books.  Why?  Because it’s so much easier for him to access this wealth of information online.  He does this online every day.

Still I’m glad he has the big set.  I consider it a sort of statue that attests to one of his core values.

The impending doom of our public libraries saddens me beyond words.  I love libraries.

What’s the problem?  Well, now libraries are providing e-books.  You can download one for two weeks, say. Free.  The libraries are even teaching people how to do this.

Aren’t they making the same terrible mistake that the newspapers did—committing suicide by being so generous?

Gradually the libraries will acquire more and more e-book titles.  The more e-books published, the more e-books the libraries will want to stock.  Library users will check out more and more e-books.  The libraries’ budget for e-books will swell.

The process will snowball.  The borrowing of print books will decline.  In time, the books in the stacks will gather dust.  In time, only e-books will be available.

And remember: e-books don’t take up space on shelves. They are stored in a computer. You could put a whole library of e-books in a computer.  Who is going to need a great, big library anymore?

This won’t happen next year.  But it will happen.

Many of you will say, John, how can you be against progress?  I recognize that this is progress.  But frankly, I’m glad I won’t be around to see the demise of the libraries.  That’s such a painful thought.

I consider the public library the most important institution in any community.  The only thing more important to me is the supermarket.  I admit this.  As much as I love books and reading, I love to eat.  But libraries come next.

I have visited hundreds of libraries.  Make that thousands. I’m serious.  All over theUnited States and numerous other countries.  I measure a community by its library.  A good library means this is an enlightened community.

A big thing I like about living here in the Connecticut Estuary is that fine libraries surround me.  My own Deep River Public Library, but also Essex and Ivoryton and Chester and Old Saybrook and Old Lyme and even farther.  And know what?  I get to all of them.  Some more often than others, of course.

Yes, how lucky we are.  Connecticut has one of the best library systems in the country.  I know.  Let me give you one example.

In Connecticut I can go to any library in the state, the Sharon Public Library up in the northwest corner, say, borrow a book by showing by Deep River card, and take it home.  To return it, I don’t have to take it back to Sharon.  I just return it to the Deep River Library.  It will get it returned to Sharon.

I spent much of the winter in Newport Beach, Calif.  Beautiful community.  Beautiful library.  I have a card for it.  One day I was in the Huntington Beach Library, just two towns north.  I saw a book I liked.  I wasn’t sure Newport Beach would have it.  I took it to a librarian and showed my Newport Beach card.  “Oh, we don’t do that here,” she said.

I go to a library just about every day.  Let me rewrite that sentence: I enjoy a library just about every day.  I will go to a library today.  I’m sure you are asking yourself, “What kind of nut is this LaPlante?”

Blame my Maman.  I was 8 or 9.  She was a young immigrant gal, French from Québec and woefully poor in English back then.  Working 44 hours a week in the big brick textile factory down the street as Papa struggled to get his little linoleum store going.  That was in Pawtucket, R.I.  That’s where I was born.

We spoke French at home.  I began to learn English only when I went out to play with the neighbor kids.  Began studying it in first grade, of course.

One day she took me on the bus downtown.  Led me up through the bronze doors of the Pawtucket (Slater) Public Library.  Managed to explain she wanted a card for me.  The nice lady librarian made that happen. then showed us the kids’ section.  I walked out with a book.  I don’t remember its title.  But I remember I didn’t understand all the words.  Maman took me back again.  I took out another book.  I became hooked.  I still am.

That was about the time she also signed me up at the Boy’s Club for swimming lessons.  Swimming also became one of my big interests.  I tell you this only because it tells you so much about my Maman.

Bill Moiles said it perfectly for me back in 1958, I think it was.  I was a rookie reporter at the Worcester Telegram.  He was a star reporter turned columnist.  I feasted on his columns.  One I have never forgotten because I agreed so heartily.

Those were the awful days when we feared the U.S.S.R. would drop an A-bomb on us.  Popular Mechanics and other magazines were telling us how to build underground shelters in our backyard and stock them with canned soups and flash lights and toilet paper.

“The bomb may fall,” Moiles wrote. “Catastrophic for sure.  But if the Public Library survives, we have a chance.”

I knew exactly what he meant. It’s all there, on those shelves.  Everything we need to know.  It holds true for any blast in the future.

The Pawtucket Public Library of my youth provided only two services.  It lent out books and let you come in and read papers and magazines.  Free of charge.  That’s what all libraries did back then.

This is the right moment to tip my hat to the great Andrew Carnegie.  He made his millions in the steel business.  But he went down in history as our greatest philanthropist because he used much of his fortune to get public libraries built all over the country—nearly 3,000 of them, most of which still exist, of course. Free public libraries.  What a sensational idea.

As we know, today libraries don’t provide only books. They specialize in “media”.  This is the new word that covers books, magazines, newspapers, music and movie disks, audio books, maps, and of late, e-books—information in all its forms.

They often have a children’s library, or a genealogical room, or a map collection.  Provide research assistance.  Host meetings.  Provide free computers for us to use, connected to the Internet, mind you. Provide photocopying and scanning services.  Operate used-book stores as a fund-raiser for themselves.  Some serve coffee; even have a cafe or even a restaurant.

Often city libraries have branches, even a library on wheels or a service for the housebound.

In all this, I must mention one more grand thing about public libraries.  They are such wonderful, welcoming places.  As we know, anybody is free to come in, sit down, and enjoy all the goodies.  How wonderful.

But there has been one sad development.  In some big libraries…urban libraries, for instance, even smaller ones such as in New London and New Haven … often you will come in and encounter many street people, homeless folks.

On the one hand, how good it is that they have such a safe and comfortable and interesting refuge.  On the other hand, some of these unfortunates–definitely not all–are slovenly and smelly.  Maybe it’s wonderful to welcome them in.  Maybe bad.  I understand both points of view.  Who will come up with a solution fair to the libraries and these poor folks?

Two months ago I was in Las Vegas.  Of course, I had to visit its municipal library.  Quite big.  Modern.   As I arrived, I noticed half a dozen men hanging around the front door, unkempt, smoking butts.  Inside, so many people that it was hard to find a chair.  Many like those I just mentioned.

Yet many were actually reading books.  I did see some who I thought were just putting on an act, hoping to fool the librarian at the desk.

But I walked down a hall and found a class in session.  Crowded with about 25 people.  The teacher was teaching English as a second language.  Some in there looked down and out, or close to it.  But I studied them through the door window.  All looked intent, studious.  And I had to think, How wonderful, this library…

Two weeks ago I was visiting in Sunrise, Fla.  It’s a very nice suburb of Fort Lauderdale.  Fine, new library.  I walked in at 10:15, shortly after it opened.

I noticed the public computer section.  It had about 20 computers.  Half of them were already being used. More than half by blacks, all adults (schools were in session).  Sunrise is a very predominantly white community.  I assumed most of these folks at the computers did not own one.

As I walked by them, I noticed most were doing serious things—I mean, not playing games or watching porno.  Again I thought, how wonderful this library!

I bless Benjamin Franklin for his brilliant idea of starting a lending library in Philadelphia.  He was the pioneer.  Other communities did the same.  That’s how our public libraries started..

This is the right moment to tip my hat to the great philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1935-1919).  He made his millions in the steel business.  Became the richest man in the world.

But he went down in history as a great man because he used much of his fortune to get libraries built all over the country—nearly 3,000 of them, most of which survive and have prospered.  Free public libraries,  What a sensational idea.

I have a story about another philanthropist for you. I was in the new, beautiful library in Québec City.  I asked a librarian if I could use a computer.  Showed her my passport.

“Obi, Monsieur!” she said with a big smile and pointed to one.  “You are American.  Our computers were made possible by your Monsieur Bill Gates and Madame Gates.  Their Foundation. ”

Bill and Melinda Gates have done this with their Microsoft money in many libraries and in numerous countries, it seems.

I have a bit more to say about them.  As some of you know, until two years or so ago, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine.  I expected to find a few libraries there, but it has thousands.  It’s a civilized country. But most are way behind the times.

While I was over there, I read that the Gates Foundation was providing $27 million over five year to expand the use of Internet in the country.  They were doing this by providing computers and funding Internet services in libraries all over the country.  The first priority: to give instruction.

In essence, libraries are not about books and paper.  They’re about knowledge and information and literature and science and civilization and the life of the mind.   This is their purpose.  They achieve it with the books they lend us for free plus all the other services they provide, nearly all free.

The day when e-books will take over is coming fast.  As you know, Google is attempting to convert every book in the world into an-ebook.  Has already converted millions of print books.

This is 2012. Still 88 years left in this century.  I believe this sweeping change will occur long before 2100. Who is going to need print books?

And no big library will be needed just to store e-books.  They are just digital files.  They can all be saved in a computer.  In fact, they may all be safe on a digital “cloud” somewhere, to use a totally new digital concept.

ii) Librarians as a breed are not only famously caring and generous and serving.  They are very intelligent. They have cleverly adapted and made their libraries better for us since the very first.

Just think – they switched from candles to oil lamps to electric bulbs.  Some are now putting in solar panels. They went from a list of books maintained in a pad to massive card catalogs and the brilliant Dewey Decimal System.  Now even the smallest has a computer on which you can find any book easier and faster—even borrow one from another library.

Our librarians will find a way to make life better for us.  Their working in a library building as we know such is doubtful.  There won’t be a library for us to go to.

We’ll be ordering e-books and other media from them by computer.  They’ll send them to us by computer. Will do everything by computer.  Probably we’ll never see a librarian face to face.  In fact, the process may be automated.

I’m optimistic.  I’m all for progress. But I’m glad I won’t see this progress.  I treasure my memories of my good times in public libraries big and small, near and far.  Good times beyond count.

But do you think I’m wrong in these speculations?

$12.74 Million Chester Budget Plan Approved on Unanimous Town Meeting Vote

CHESTER— Voters Tuesday approved a total $12.74 town/school budget plan for 2012-2013 on a unanimous voice vote at the annual budget meeting.

About 60 residents turned out for the meeting, where the spending plan was approved without discussion. First Selectman Edmund Meehan explained the only change made by the board of finance after the May 1 public hearing, restoring $18,000 to the appropriation for Chester Elementary School while deferring $18,000 in the capital expenditure plan that was to be set aside for roof repairs at the school.

The finance board, citing declining enrollment at the school, had recommended a $20,000 cut in the elementary school budget. The cut drew a mixed response from residents at the public hearing after the local board of education reported it could only find $2,000 in cuts from the proposed budget. The finance board later decided to restore $18,000 for 2012-2013 while deferring the $18,000 for planned roof repairs.

The total $12,748,081 spending package includes a town government budget of $3,411,243, $428,961 in capital expenditures, a $4,223,900 appropriation for the elementary school, and the town’s 4,683,977 share of the Region 4 education budget that was approved by the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 8 referendum.

The board of finance will vote this week to set a tax rate of 22.24 mills to fund the spending plan. The new rate, which represents $22.45 in tax for each $1,000 in assessed property value, is up by .34 mills from the current tax rate. In setting the rate at 22.25 mills, the finance board will approve a transfer of $174,641 from the town’s undesignated fund balance to help cover expenditures. The transfer would leave about $1.34 million in the fund balance as of June 30, 2013.

Voters also unanimously approved several other items on the town meeting agenda, including authorization of two transfers from the capital expenditure plan that are funded in the current budget. Voters approved $40,000 for the Main Street Committee to pay for an engineering consultant for the long-planned Main Street improvement project, and $110,000 for road repairs to be completed this summer. Meehan said the town would be resurfacing a section of North Cedar Lake Road from from the Boy Scouts shack north to the Haddam town line.

Voters also authorized joining the new Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, a regional organization that will replace the existing and more informal Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Elected Officials to coordinate a planned merger of the two regional planning agencies serving area towns.

The organization has already received membership approval from the required two-thirds of the 17 towns in the proposed region, with the vote Tuesday making Chester the 14th town to join the COG. The new council of governments is expected to implement the merger of the Old Saybrook-based Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency and the Middletown-based Midstate Regional Planning Agency this summer.


$22 Million Essex Budget Plan Approved on Voice Vote at Town Hall Meeting

ESSEX— Voters gave quick approval to a $22 million town/schools budget plan for 2012-2013 at the annual budget meeting Monday night. The budget approval, on a nearly unanimous voice vote without discussion, stands in sharp contrast to a local budget battle last year. In 2011, the budget plan was rejected on a paper ballot vote at the annual budget meeting, with a revised and reduced budget later winning approval on a 532-438 referendum vote.

Nearly 100 residents turned out for Monday’s meeting, which had been preceded by talk of a possible paper ballot vote. But the spending plan was approved by voice vote with no request for a paper ballot vote.

The total $22,090,118 budget includes $6,853,591 for town government, $7,535,591 for Essex Elementary School, and the town’s $7,701,887 share of the Region 4 education budget that was approved by the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 8 referendum.

The board of finance will set the tax rate for 2012-2013 at a meeting Thursday. First Selectman Norman Needleman said he is hoping the finance board would hold any increase in the property tax rate to one-half mill or less. The current tax rate is 17.98 mills, or $17.98 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

James Francis, finance board chairman, said the board would discuss various options for the tax rate, including a possible transfer from the town’s undesignated fund balance to limit the tax increase or cover the increase in capital and sinking funds that is part of the approved budget. The town currently has at least $2.3 million in the fund balance.


Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily Announces Retirement

Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook

AREAWIDE–  Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook announced Tuesday that she will not seek a new term in the Nov. 6 election, throwing open the race in the 12-town district Daily has represented for ten terms.

Daily’s decision to retire, which comes after she had formed a 2012 candidate committee earlier this year, was confirmed only one week before the Democrats district nominating convention on Monday in Essex. A former first selectwoman of Westbrook, Daily has represented the large district since 1992, defeating a series of Republican challengers by wide margins in each legislative election.

The district currently includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook. During portions of Daily’s tenure, Durham, Killingworth and Marlborough were also in the district.

Lon Seidman, an Essex resident who serves as a Democratic State Central Committee representative for the 33rd  District, said more than one prospective candidate is likely at the nominating convention where he is expected to serve as convention chairman. “We want to make sure it’s a fair and open process,” he said. Seidman, who serves on the Essex Board of Education, said he would not be a candidate for the senate seat.

One likely candidate is 36th District State Representative Phil Miller of Essex. A former first selectman of Essex, Miller won the seat representing Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam, in a February 2011 special election. A longer serving legislator in the district is State Representative Linda Orange of Colchester, who has represented Colchester and abutting towns, including East Haddam, since 1997.

District Republicans have set up a likely Aug. 14 primary contest for the party nomination after Neil Nichols of Essex, the unsuccessful GOP challenger to Daily in 2010, edged 23-year-old newcomer Art Linares of Westbrook on a 24-22 delegate vote at the party nominating convention Monday.  Nichols Tuesday wished Daily well, recalling that he and Daily had each run positive campaigns in their 2010 contest that Daily won by 3,818 votes. “I respected her enough that I concentrated on the issues,” Nichols said.

There will also be a Green Party candidate on the Nov. 6 ballot. Melissa Schlag of Haddam, an opponent of the controversial but now cancelled Connecticut River land swap that Daily supported last year. Schlag has the Green Party ballot line and is currently collecting petition signatures in an effort to qualify for public financing for her third party campaign.

See related Press Release:  Sen. Daily to Retire from Legislature upon Completion of Current Term


Sen. Daily to Retire from Legislature upon Completion of Current Term

Hartford – State Senator Eileen M. Daily (D-Westbrook) today announced her intention to retire from the General Assembly upon completion of her current term. Senator Daily has prepared a letter for political allies, supporters, and delegates to next week’s 33 rd Senatorial District nominating convention explaining she will not stand for re-election this year.

Senator Daily has represented the towns and residents of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook in the state Senate since 1993. Senator Daily is a former First Selectman of Westbrook and prior to that served on its Board of Education.

“Replacement and renewal are integral to the revitalization of any institution,” Senator Daily said. “In the past year holding office has become more physically demanding for me and it would be difficult to initiate a re-election campaign. I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, endured chemotherapy and associated treatment, and am presently recuperating from a broken ankle.”

“During the last weeks of this session I was challenged to maintain the pace required at the Capitol. As I review my 20-year tenure and consider the future I’ve settled on this plan with complete confidence that it’s time for another voice to speak for this district,” Senator Daily said. “I am also literally blessed with a loving husband and family – Jim and I eagerly look forward to spending more time with our children and grandchildren.”

While in office Senator Daily co-authored breakthrough legislation creating the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP), through which grants are available for large-scale public works projects that might be otherwise unaffordable for small towns. Senator Daily also co-authored legislation creating a fund for open space acquisition statewide, and was instrumental in preserving many acres of open space in her district.

Senator Daily identified completion of several short and long-term projects among the many gratifying instances of bringing state resources to bear in her district:

  • Sediment detention and ice control in a federal/state Salmon River Flood Control Project.
  • Inclusion of the beautiful Eight Mile River Watershed within the national Wild and Scenic River program.
  • A comprehensive, federal/state dredging project for the Westbrook harbor, announced earlier this spring, to begin next fall.
  • Acquisition of property in Haddam for new athletic and recreational fields.
  • Grants to 33rd District towns through STEAP for infrastructure improvement.

“Connecticut’s 33rd Senatorial District is home to some of the most beautiful natural treasures our state has to share and its voters have repeatedly given me the distinction and decidedly good fortune to advocate for this area all this time,” Senator Daily said. “Nevertheless the day-to-day opportunity I’ve had to serve and help constituents overshadows successful completion of these public works projects and policy initiatives.”

Senator Daily said her office remains open and available, as always, to help municipal government officials and constituents.

The Side Doors Perform to Support Farm Aid

From left to right are Matt Gyorog accoustic guitar and vocals, Leif Nilsson banjo, Colleen Seymour guitar and vocals, Gary Parrington percussion, Mike Conklin bass and vocals, Todd Schrager electric guitar and vocals (photo courtesy of Caryn B. Davis Photography)

The Side Doors performed for FARM AID, a Benefit Concert for the farm at Bushy Hill Nature Center on Saturday, May 12 to hundreds of supporters and fans.

They play next at the Ivory Pub in Deep River on May 25.

Middlesex Chamber Announces 2012 “Distinguished Citizen” Award Recipients

The Middlesex Chamber proudly announces that the 2012 Distinguished Citizen Award winners are: Robert C. Fusari, Michael “Jay” Polke and John W. Rafal, JD.

About the recipients:

Robert C. Fusari

Robert Fusari is the President of Real Estate Service of CT (RESC), a company he co-founded in 1978.  Over the last 57 years, Bob has developed and built custom homes, single family subdivisions, condominium communities and apartment developments ranging from 10 units to 3,500 units, and he is regarded as a national and regional authority on land use and residential construction.

As President, Bob has earned the respect of his peers, at local, state and national levels in the Home Builders Association.  He has been chosen as Builder of the Year several times in the 90’s, and has served as president of both the State chapter and the Hartford County chapter and one of only seven members to receive its prestigious Charles C. LoDolce Award for outstanding leadership and service.

He currently serves as Chairman of the properties committee for HOPE (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere), a non-profit organization currently building 16 units of affordable housing in Old Saybrook.  He also serves as the Co-Chair of the Middlesex United Way Leadership Council administering the Middlesex County 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Bob is the past president and director of Martin House, a non-profit supportive housing organization; and past president of the Thames River Family Program, serving formerly homeless families of single mothers.

He is a director and past chairman of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, and was a founder and co-chairman of the Environment, Energy and Land Use Committee and the Affordable Housing Committee.  Both of these committees have been instrumental in making change in Middlesex County.

Bob is a life-long resident of Connecticut.  Born and raised in Portland, Connecticut and moved to Old Saybrook in 1958 where he raised a family of two daughters and two sons who have blessed him with ten grandchildren.    He is committed to increasing affordable housing in Connecticut.

Michael “Jay” Polke

Michael “Jay” Polke’s long and distinguished history in Middlesex County began in November of 1960 in Cromwell when he took a job at the third in what was a series of bowling alleys across the state, owned by Joe Cambareri.  Cromwell Lanes opened in the fall of 1960 and joined the other bowling establishments in New Haven and Hamden, Conn. of the same ownership.

Jay developed his interest in this industry as a young boy as a patron in a hometown bowling alley in Port Chester, New York.  From age 10, he took an interest with the automatic pin-setters at the lanes.  Seeing this interest, the owner gave him a part-time job there and Jay advanced in the business’s ranks, becoming the bowling alley’s mechanic in the 1950’s.

From the age of 17, Jay worked at Mr. Cambareri’s establishments, agreeing to retain his position as a mechanic with the understanding that he would be afforded the opportunity to take continuing education courses in order to be certified in the field.  After making his way to Cromwell, Jay found a unique component to the community and elected to remain a resident of the town—which he views as a quiet and beautiful one—as the mechanic at Cromwell Lanes.

Then, in 1964, after acquiring the Middletown Lanes business, Jay entered into service as a member of the United States Army Reserves.  Here, he was on active duty for six months along with another six-and-a-half years of inactive duty.  In the meantime, Cromwell Lanes was closed.  After serving his country, Jay returned to the business community along with his friend, Mr. Cambareri, where the two were asked to manage a bar/restaurant establishment at the then-Edgewood Golf Club in Cromwell (presently the TPC River Highlands).

Jay spent the first year managing the business with Mr. Cambareri, then led it on his own until 1974.  At this time, the opportunity to open a liquor store in Cromwell presented itself.  Seeing a viable opportunity here, Jay and Mr. Cambareri opened Willowbrook Spirit Shoppe in December of 1975.  The two took on several real estate investments along with the Willowbrook property, and the two remain as current owners of several highly-visible business properties in Cromwell.

Joining the Chamber in 1978, Jay has always been the first person to take the lead not only for the business community, but also the community as a whole.  He is an energetic and dedicated member of Cromwell’s Economic Development Commission and keeps a close watch on all zoning issues.  As the owner of a liquor store, Jay has always known his duty to the community to help with the fight against substance abuse.  As a result of this ongoing commitment, the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC) presented Jay with its annual Business Recognition Award in 2004.  In the effort to battle underage drinking, Jay also has collaborated with Cromwell’s Prevention and Awareness Council with many initiatives.

An effective businessman, Jay also led Willowbrook Spirit Shoppe to a Business of the Year accolade from the Middlesex Chamber.  He is also a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Seton church in Rocky Hill.

Jay has been married to his wife, Linda, for 47 years, whom he met at the Cromwell Lanes in 1961.  The couple has two children: Jennifer and Jeff, and also five grandchildren that range from 8 to 17 years old.  The family maintains its strong Cromwell roots as Jay and his son and daughter, along with their respective families, all live in the same subdivision in town—a subdivision that Mr. Cambareri and Jay developed in the 1980’s.

John W. Rafal, JD

John Rafal is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Essex Financial Services, a Connecticut financial services firm with more than $3.4 billion in assets under management.

John has more than 30 years of experience in financial advisory services and has received numerous industry awards in the field of investment management.  Mr. Rafal was named the #1 Independent Financial Advisor in the country by Barron’s Magazine for 2007 and 2008.  John was named as on the “The Best 100 Financial Advisors” in the United States by Barron’s magazine in 2004-2011.  He is a member of the Connecticut and American Bar Associations, the Financial Planning Association and is a Registered Securities Principal.

John received a B.A. in political science from the University of Connecticut in 1971 and a J.D. from Temple University School of Law in 1975.  He serves as a Board member of the Essex Savings Bank, Middlesex Hospital, The UConn Foundation and The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Inc.  He is a past member of the Board of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and The Cove.

John is a 28 year resident of Old Lyme, Connecticut and is married to Dyanne.  He has a son Matthew who is a cum laude graduate of Northeastern University and a daughter Alysia who is a cum laude graduate of Princeton University.

For more information on Chamber events and activities, please contact Jeff Pugliese at jpugliese@middlesexchamber.com.

Primary Expected for Republican 33rd Senate Nomination

AREAWIDE— An Aug. 14 primary is expected to decide the Republican nomination in the 33rd Senate District after Neil Nichols of Essex edged challenger Art Linares Jr. of Westbrook for the party endorsement Monday at the nominating convention in East Haddam.

The primary would pit Linares, 23, against Nichols, a retired airline pilot and self-described senior citizen who unsuccessfully challenged ten-term incumbent Democratic State Sen Eileen Daily of Westbrook in 2010. The Nov. 6 election will also include a Green Party candidate, Melissa Schlag of Haddam, an opponent of the controversial and now cancelled Connecticut River land swap that was supported by Daily last year.

Nichols, who represents the 33rd District on the Republican State Central Committee, edged Linares on a 24-22 delegate vote in the convention at the Old Town Hall in East Haddam. Linares said after the vote that he would contest Nichols for the nomination in an Aug. 14 Republican primary in the 12-town district.

The session began with convention chairman James McCabe of Portland attempting to exclude Valley News Now from direct coverage of the event, a move that was later overruled by the delegates. There was also an effort by some delegates to hold a secret ballot vote, an action not allowed by state law that requires a public role call vote of delegates.

Nichols, who formed an 2012 exploratory committee in March, was nominated by Kenneth Gronbach of Haddam, with seconding remarks by Cindy Varricchio of Portland, a member of the Republican State Central Committee, and Anselmo Delia of Clinton, the unsuccessful GOP nominee for regional judge of probate in 2010. Gronbach called Nichols “a decision maker,” and noted his experience as an airline pilot. Varricchio and Delia recalled Nichols efforts over the past five years supporting Republican candidates for state and municipal office. Varricchio added that Nichols, who lost to Daily on a 21,669-17,851 vote in 2010, had waged the closest race of any previous challenger to the long-time incumbent.

Linares, a co-founder of the Middletown-based Green Skies Renewable Energy LLC, was nominated by state Rep. Marilyn Giuliano of Old Saybrook, with seconding remarks from Thomas Lindner of Deep River. Lindner described Linares, the son of a Cuban immigrant who interned for Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, as “an exciting new face on the Republican scene” who could appeal to unaffiliated voters as well as Republicans.

Nichols said after the vote he is prepared for a possible primary contest with Linares. In remarks to the convention, Nichols pledged to run “a very spirited campaign” that would include “knocking on a lot of doors.”

The 33rd District nominating convention for Democrats is set for Monday at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall. Daily established a candidate committee earlier this year, and is expected to be renominated for an 11th term in the district that includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Public Access, “Not in My Backyard,” say Residents of Foxboro Point at Public Hearing

The scenic landscape in all its splendor the morning after the Planning Commission meeting

The sentiment was loud clear at the Essex Planning Commission’s public hearing on May 10 at Essex Town Hall. The future neighbors of the Foxboro Point development do not want “public access” at the site.

Specifically, (1) local residents do not want to give the general public the right to walk down a pathway from the road to the water, and (2) they do not want to allow the general public to walk along the water’s edge of the site.

As evidence of the opposition of neighboring property owners to “public access,” every time a speaker attacked it, there was vigorous applause.  By contrast when Essex resident Bill Reichenbach got up to urge the Planning Commission to require “public access” at the site, both to the water and along the water, when he sat down there was nothing but a stony  silence.

Developer offers a little area of “public access”  

In something of a surprise, Judge of Probate Terry Lomme,  acting in his “after hours” capacity as counsel to the Foxboro Point developer, offered a new, very modest “public access” proposal to the Commission.

The essence of the proposal was that the developer would allow a small “pocket park” of “public access” at the site. Also, immediately below this “nice little park,” as Judge Lomme called it, there would be a visual, “public access” easement down to the waters of North Cove. This meant that a visitor to the “pocket park” would have a small viewing area to look down at the waters of North Cove, but not to walk there.

The proposed "pocket park" is shown at the top of a blue vertical strip. The horizontal green strip indicates the shoreline easement.

Planning Commission Chairman Dr. Thomas Danyliw appeared miffed that the developer had come forward with this new “pocket park” plan. He said that he thought that the developer had agreed at the last meeting to formulate a “public access” plan  that would incorporate a pedestrian path to the water from the road, as well as a pedestrian strip along the waterfront.

“I thought there was a general agreement to focus on this,” Chairman Danyliw said.  Instead, Judge Lomme was now ignoring what the Chairman thought the developer had agreed to, and was proposing an entirely new plan of “pocket park” access.

“This is a new proposal, and this is not what we agreed to at the last meeting,” Chairman Danyliw said, heatedly. “I was surprised,” he added.

Planning Commission Chairman Dr. Thomas Danyliw and Vice Chairman Linda Herman

In an attempt to deflect the Chairman’s ire, Judge Lomme said that he had, “listened to the neighbors of the development,” and that the new proposal was closer to what they wanted than what had been discussed at the last meeting. He added, “You can’t make everybody happy.”

“Public access” is not legally valid attorney charges

The next development at the public hearing was an even greater surprise. A resident of the Foxboro area had hired a private lawyer, named John Bennet, to represent him and his wife at the Planning Commission proceedings.

In his appearance before the Commission, Attorney Bennet began by not only attacking the Commission for recognizing “public access,” but also the entire legal authority of “public access” under Connecticut law. He said that if the Commission in any way recognizes a right of “public access” in its deliberations, “We will oppose you.”

“You are wrong to recognize “public access,” Attorney Bennet said, and he added, “It is unfair to foist public access [upon his clients].”

Bennet then cited case after case, which he said demonstrated that “public access” could not be recognized, because it had no legal legitimacy under Connecticut law. Essex subdivision regulations purporting to grant “public access,” he said were wrong.

In response Chairman Danyliw said to Bennet, “You are challenging the very core of our authority.” To which Attorney Bennet responded, “You cannot hold as legitimate a public access easement.”

Interrupting the litany of cases that Bennet was citing to show that no state law in Connecticut legitimizes “public access,” Chairman Danyliw asked Bennet to put his arguments in writing. In a conversation with Attorney Bennet after the hearing, he said that he intended to write a letter to the Commission summarizing his arguments against the validity of “public access.”

Attorney John Bennet seated after his stand up attack on the legal legitimacy of "public access"

A lawsuit could delay the Foxboro project for years

 It remained an open question as to whether Bennet’s arguments before the Planning Commission, questioning the very legitimacy of “public access,” would ultimately lead to a lawsuit against the Planning Commission. This could be the result, if the Commission were to recognize “public access” in its decision approving the Foxboro Point development.

If a lawsuit were brought, the development of Foxboro Point could be set back for years, as the lawsuit made its way through the courts.

After this contretemps over “public access” was finished, the Commission continued its public hearing in a normal fashion, with speaker after speaker stating that they were against applying “public access,” as part of the Foxboro Point development.

The hedging threat to the new development

Another topic mentioned at the public hearing was to note that the developer had promised to establish a perpetual visual easement that would restrict overly large hedges and other visual obstructions at the development in perpetuity.

Just what tall hedges would look like at the site is demonstrated by the dense, nine foot hedges that are presently in place along Foxboro Road on the other side of the road from the development site. Such tall hedges and other tall obstructions could block the view to North Cove, and of course to the windmill, if they were permitted.

Nine foot, visually impenetrable hedges across the street from the site. A foretaste of things to come?

Essex Land Trust favors “public access” at site     

Essex Land Trust President Bob Nussbaum and Land Trust Acquisition Committee Chairman Paul Greenberg made a presentation that essentially endorsed Bill Reichenbach’s view that the Commission should approve “public access” via a new public pathway from the river to the road, coupled with a pathway along the shore.

However, in an interview after the meeting, Greenberg said that he was reaching out to the developer’s counsel, Judge Terrence Lomme, to see if the Land Trust could reach a compromise with the developer that would be satisfactory to both entities.

At the public hearing the Land Trust representatives noted, “We are neighbors of the Foxboro Point property in that the Land Trust’s Great Meadows area is located just across from North Cove.” Mentioned as well was that if a compromise on “public access” failed at the site, the Essex Land Trust was empowered to accept monies from a developer to acquire an equivalent open space property in other areas of Essex.

As the drumbeat of speakers’ rejecting “public access” continued, one member of the audience said, “Our property is our first priority, except possibly our children.”  She continued, “If you let the public in, it is going to be a pig sty out there.”

Another speaker said simply, “Public access, I just don’t get it.”

There followed a brief discussion about installing docks along North Cove by property owners, and it was agreed that any party who wished to install a dock would have to get Planning Commission approval.

Near the end of the public meeting Judge Lomme made the point that in his opinion, “The developer has offered benefits to the community above and beyond those that are required.”

Chairman polls Commissioners for their views

After the public portion of the hearing ended, Commission Danyliw called on Commission members to express informally their views on the developer’s application. The result was that support for “public access” at the site was underwhelming.

With the applicant’s latest “pocket park” proposal before them, the next Planning Commission public hearing on the Foxboro development is June 14.

Howard Fishman Returns to CBSRZ with Tales From the Road May 20

When the Howard Fishman Quartet appears at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) on Sunday,May 20 at 5 pm, the singer-guitarist-composer will not reprise his highly acclaimed performance in Chester last year. He will present an entirely new and different program, “Tales From The Road.” Fishman says the concert will be will be “focused on songs and stories from my own travels inward and out.”

Fishman’s audience will be transported by a collection of music and stories inspired by his far-flung travels from New Orleans, where he spent his formative musical years, to rural Romania, Ukraine and Hungary and influenced by the exciting new music generated in Brooklyn, NY,where he is currently based. His travel experiences engender/give birth to his songs. Fishman says, “I never sit down to write a song. The melody just comes unbidden.”

Fishman’s musical style is difficult to characterize. He has been compared to artists as diverse as Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Cash, but he improvises his own personal take on various musical forms—New Orleans jazz, Brooklyn soul, folk, country,blues, gospel, pop, classical and experimental—creating a sound entirely his own. Backstage wrote that he creates “an irresistible synthesis,” while Downbeat called it“something entirely new.” The New York Times has said that Howard Fishman’s music “transcends time and idiom.”According to The Los Angeles Times, “At a time when performers in virtually every genre are trying to stretch their stylistic boundaries, Fishman refuses to acknowledge that boundaries exist.”

One of the pioneers of the current Brooklyn music scene, Fishman moved to Williams burgin the late 90s and began playing on subway platforms for spare change until he and his band were “discovered” by music insiders. This landed them a two-week engagement at the Algonquin Oak Room, one of NYC’s toniest concert venues. Since then he has headlined in major venues and garnered a devoted following, both here and abroad. Fishman has headlined at the Lincoln Center American Songbook series, The Steppenwolf Theatre, The Pasadena Playhouse, Joe’s Pub, NJPAC, and Le Petit Journal in Paris. In April he played with his New Orleans-style Biting Fish Brass Band at the Garde Arts Theater in New London.

A frequent National Public Radio guest, Fishman has appeared on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross, “World Cafe,” “The Leonard Lopate Show,” “Word of Mouth”and “Sound check” among others. Fishman has performed on bills with such diverse artists as Odetta, Yo Yo Ma, Maceo Parker, Robyn Hitchcock,Madeleine Peyroux and Allen Holdsworth. He has recently released a trilogy of new albums—The World Will Be Different, No Further Instructions and Better Get Right.

The concert is open to the public. Admission is$25 for adults, $20 for CBSRZ members and $10 for children under 16. For reservations and further information, call 860-526-8920 or visit www.cbsrz.org.  

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  

Wells Fargo Advisors Brings A Piece of American History to Essex

See the legendary Wells Fargo Stagecoach at the Essex Memorial Day Parade, May 28

Essex will get a very special delivery on May  28  when the Wells Fargo Stagecoach rolls into town. This American icon will arrive at the Essex Memorial Day Parade and will be available for photos from 9 a.m. -12 p.m. The public is welcome to come and experience this American icon and take pictures.

For more than 150 years, the Wells Fargo Stagecoach provided an important link for communication and business by land between eastern and western states. Today, the Wells Fargo Stagecoach is a recognized, appreciated and enduring corporate symbol.

“The Wells Fargo’s Stagecoach is a unique expression of the company’s rich heritage,” said Philip Reynolds, Branch Manager, “The stagecoach symbolizes how we continue to come through for our customers and the diverse communities in which we serve.”

For more information about the Wells Fargo Stagecoach coming to Essex, contact the local Essex office of Wells Fargo Advisors at 860-767-2681.

About Wells Fargo Advisors

With $1.2 trillion in client assets as of March 31, 2012, Wells Fargo’s brokerage businesses are comprised of 15,134 full-service financial advisors and 3,352 licensed bankers.  This vast network of advisors, one of the nation’s largest, serves clients through offices in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Wells Fargo Advisors is the trade name used by two separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company: Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC (members SIPC).  Statistics include other broker-dealers of Wells Fargo & Company.   www.wellsfargoadvisors.com Investment products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.3 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 stores, 12,000 ATMs, the Internet (wellsfargo.com), and other distribution channels across North America and internationally. With more than 270,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in America.  Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 23 on Fortune’s 2011 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.

No Matter How Big or How Small – We Will Wash Them All May 19

Help 35 committed, caring teenage tri-town volunteers help others by stopping by the Deep River Town Hall on Saturday, May 19 between the hours of 9 a.m. -3 p.m. and get your car washed!  Goodwill donations for a spruced up, shining car will be accepted.  As a way of giving back to our senior and veteran community members, stop by between 8 a.m.- 9 a.m. for a free car wash.

Funds raised from the car wash will help the teens during their week-long humanitarian relief efforts in July 2012. In Appalachia (Pipestem), West Virginia youth will work alongside experienced building professionals to restore dilapidated housing, tutor and mentor children, prepare/serve/deliver meals to the homeless and home-bound, and assist with an urban agriculture program and its greenhouse project. In Las Delicias, El Salvador youth will focus on building homes &community buildings, provide prenatal and child well-check medical visits, complete water supply checks, provide vaccinations and immunizations to dogs and cats, and deliver food/clothing/hygiene items to families and the elderly.

Please come and support this dedicated group of teens.  If you can’t attend our event, please consider a donation to help the teens purchase supplies needed for their humanitarian. Donations can be mailed to DRCC, P.O. Box 246, Deep River, CT 06417.  Checks should be made payable to DRCC; please indicate “2012 YM” on the memo line.  DRCC is a 501(C) 3 organization and your donation is tax deductible.

CMS Presents 2012 Prince and Princess Ball May 19

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School presents an enchanted afternoon for the entire family at the 2012 Prince and Princess Ball to be held on Saturday, May 19th from 3 to 6 pm at Essex Town Hall, West Avenue, Essex. Tickets for the event are $10 per person and proceeds will benefit music therapy programs at the Music School.

Children are encouraged to don their finest princess dresses and jackets and ties. Special guests include Miss Connecticut 2011 Morgan Amarone who will visit from 3 to 4 pm, and Cinderella who will lead a sing-along beginning at 4 pm. Children and their parents can also learn to ballroom dance, take part in arts & crafts activities, and enjoy refreshments.

To purchase tickets or for additional information, please contact Community Music School at (860) 767-0026 or visit  www.community-music-school.org

Chester Land Trust Gardener Round Table May 20

The Chester Land Trust will be holding their 2012 Gardner’s Round Table on Sunday May 20, 4 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street, Chester.

Please join our panel of Master Gardeners for an informative and lively discussion on cultivating raspberries, nutrient dense gardening, growing vegetables, shade plants and much more. Come ask questions of Margot Caldor, Lois Nadel, Janet Nelson and Helene Ferrari. Wine and Cheese will be served.  Most Chester Land Trust education and awareness programs are free, please consider joining us!membership@chesterlandtrust.org. For more information on the Gardener’s event, please contact Deb Dembo: heydebs@gmail.com or phone 860.304.7560