July 6, 2022

Archives for 2013

Transportation: Slow Orders for Metro-North

Jim CameronNo, it’s not your imagination.  Service is getting even worse on Metro-North. And there’s no sign of short-term improvements.

This has been a terrible year for Metro-North and its 120,000 daily riders in Connecticut:  the May derailment / collision, the death of a track worker and the September “meltdown” because of a failed Con Ed feeder.  But the repercussions of these problems still affect us, months later.

Trains are late on a daily basis, even after the railroad adjusted the timetable in August to reflect longer running times.  What used to be a 48 minute ride from Stamford to GCT is now scheduled for 55 to 60 minutes.  But in reality, with delays, it takes more than an hour most days.

Why?  Because of “slow orders”.

After the May derailments, Metro-North brought in some high-tech rail scanning equipment and checked out every inch of track in the system.  Of immediate concern were the below-grade tracks in the Bronx, long subject to flooding.

Concrete ties installed between 1990 and ’96 needed to be replaced due to deterioration.  Ties and fencing were also replaced in a job so large that, at times, three of the four tracks were taken out of service.

Admittedly, it’s hard to run the busiest commuter railroad in the US with 75% of your tracks out of service, but the work was necessary and commuters were asked to be patient.  At last report, the Bronx work was 80% completed.

So that means train schedules will soon return to “normal”?  Sorry, but no.

It turns out that the Bronx is just one of the causes of the current delays, something Metro-North didn’t tell us.

With new timetables coming out on November 17th, some train runs may be improved by a minute (yes, 60 seconds), at best. It seems that all those high-tech track inspections since May turned up many spots where work is needed.  And until that work can be completed, the trains running over those tracks are operating under system-wide “slow orders”, in effect cutting their speeds from 85 or 90 mph to an average of 60 mph.  Don’t believe me?  Fire up your smart phone’s GPS next ride and see for yourself.

The railroad still blames daily delays on the work in the Bronx and wet leaves, but the truth is far worse.  At recent NTSB hearings on the May derailment, Metro-North admitted they are far behind on track maintenance, inspections and repairs in Connecticut but couldn’t explain why.  Until the tracks are fixed, trains won’t be allowed to run at full speed.

One thing they did acknowledge to investigators is that they don’t have the experienced staff to do the needed welding and repair work, having lost so many veteran workers in recent months to retirement.

The slow orders make sense.  Safety should always come first.  But why can’t railroad executives be honest with us about why we are suffering with these delays, how long they will last and what they are doing to minimize the disruption to our daily commutes?  Remember:  winter is coming, adding another layer of misery and delays to our commutes.

Sadly, my mantra from five years ago has proven correct:  Things are going to get a lot worse on Metro-North before they get better.

 JIM CAMERON has been a Darien resident for 22 years.  He is a member of the CT Rail Commuter Council and the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com  or www.trainweb.org/ct

Introducing a Letter From Paris

Nicole Prévost Logan in Paris.

Nicole Prévost Logan in Paris.

We are delighted to introduce a new columnist to ValleyNewsNow.com today.  Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter.  She will write a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries.  She also will cover a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe.

Logan is the author of Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s thirty Years in the Foreign Service, an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents.  Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

The End of an Era

By Nicole Prévost Logan

The International Herald Tribune – so familiar to American expatriates in Europe – is no more.  After 125 years of existence, the newspaper lost its name, to become the International New York Times , on October 15 of this year.  The change marks the end of an era.

Hemingway’s hero in The sun Also Rises read it and Jean Seberg, the journalist student in Jean Luc Goddard’s 1960 film Breathless, sold it on the Avenue des Champs Elysées.

Sold in 160 countries, the newspaper stood out as the most international of any daily publications.  Being printed in Paris, it was anchored in its local culture.  But at the same time, for we Americans visiting or living in the French capital, it represented a life line to the home country.  Over the years it became the property of the New York Times and later of the Washington Post, allowing its op-ed page to offer a wide spectrum of opinions across partisan lines.

It was an entertaining paper to read.  Some of us would go straight to the last page, looking for the crossword puzzles and the cartoons.  The columns of humorist Art Buchwald were an institution.  Syndicated in hundreds of newspapers, he had a special talent to make people laugh, particularly by poking fun at politicians.  Every year at this time, the readers would look forward to the repeat of his column entitled “Merci Donnant” (literal translation of Thanksgiving).

The Shockingly Unthinkable Has Happened – A Library With No Printed Books …


It’s like going to the moon.  Unthinkable when I was a boy.  But it happened …

Now something else totally unthinkable to me has happened.  A brand-new library has been built but with zero printed books.  It’s filled with digital books– only e-books.  Can you believe it?

This isn’t a science-fiction fantasy.  That e-library is a reality, here on this planet and now, with its doors open to the public as I write.

It’s in Texas, in San Antonio, which is in Bexar County.  It was designed and built just for this radically new purpose, so it’s futuristic looking, of course.  Take a good look at the photo I’ve included.

Read full story on John’s blog

Suicide Can Be Prevented – TTYS Launches Awareness Initiatives


Tri-Town Youth Services Suicide Prevention Workgroup, in conjunction with a Suicide Prevention Mini-Grant for Towns, is installing three billboards, one each in Chester, Deep River and Essex, to create awareness of local and statewide efforts to prevent suicide. The billboards utilize the  prize-winning “1 Word, 1 Voice, 1 Life” logo developed by the Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board  whose priority areas include raising awareness of suicide prevention, developing a Statewide Network linking statewide and grass-roots local  efforts, and promoting evidence-based practices for suicide prevention and response.

“Suicidal thinking, feeling and behavior are not rare,” says Gail Onofrio, Executive Director of Tri-Town Youth Services.  “Suicide is a common psychiatric emergency. In the U.S., one suicide is completed every 17 minutes, and in Connecticut, on average, someone dies by suicide every day of the year. But suicide can be prevented.”

While it is common for people to take a CPR course or learn the Heimlich Maneuver, especially those who regularly come in contact with the public, statistics show that we are “more likely to encounter a friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor or other community member in an emotional or mental health crisis than someone having a heart attack,” Onofrio continued. “The ‘1 Word, 1 Voice, 1 Life’ logo has a tag line: Be the 1 to start the conversation. It’s intended to encourage everyone to act if they see someone in distress; to start the conversation to get the distressed person the help that they need.” The billboard also promotes Connecticut’s 2-1-1 service which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, where callers can reach knowledgeable, multilingual staff and get information, referrals or seek help in a crisis.

Two trainings intended to build the capacity of community members to reach out to someone having an emotional or mental health crisis will be co sponsored by Tri-Town Youth Services for anyone living or working in the tri-town area. Mental Health First Aid, an 8-hour certification course offered on January 7th and January 14th from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., trains participants to utilize a proven effective action plan to provide support to a person experiencing a mental health concern or crisis until professional help can be accessed. A QPR Gateway Training—consisting of three life-saving skills including how to question a person about suicide, persuade the person to get help and refer the person to the appropriate resource—will be offered at a brown bag lunch on January 16 from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m.

For more information about these trainings, or to register, contact Tri-Town Youth Services at 860-526-3600.

Essex Democrat Chris Riley Picked as New Chair of Region 4 Board of Education

REGION 4— Chris Riley, an Essex Democrat, was picked Thursday as the new chairman of the Region 4 Board of education. Riley succeeds Linda Hall, a Deep River Democrat who has held the key leadership position since 2009.

Only five of the nine elected board members from Chester, Deep River, and Essex were present for the vote on electing officers Thursday evening. Riley, who had been serving as vice-chairman, was supported by the other members present, including Jennifer Clark of Essex, Laurie Tomlinson of Deep River, Ann Monaghan of Chester, and newly elected member Leigh Rankin of Essex. Absent were members Duane Gates of Deep River, Elaine Fitzgibbons and Mario Gioco of Chester, and newly elected member Jane Cavavaugh of Deep River. Monaghan, who was first elected at a December 2011 Chester town meeting to fill a vacancy term, was picked for vice-chairman, with Clark named as board secretary and Gioco continuing in the treasurer position.

Riley, who works as director of media relations for Citizens Bank, was elected to fill a vacancy in 2009, and re-elected with support from both political parties for a full six-year term in 2001. He currently has two children attending Essex Elementary School. Riley, in brief remarks after the vote, said he would do his best “to listen and learn,” from other board members and school staff while serving as chairman. “We have a wonderful school system and if we continue to work together we can make it go forward,” he said.

In other business, the board approved a new four-year labor contract for secretaries and school nurses at Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. The eight secretaries and two nurses are represented by Local 1303-419 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. The four-year contract, running from July 1 to June 30,2017,provides a total 9.25 percent pay increase over the four years, including increases of 3.1 percent in the current year, 2 percent in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, and 2.25 percent in the final year.

The contract includes a change in retirement plans for employees hired after July 1. New employees will be offered a 403(b) deferred compensation plan, where the school district will match employees up to five percent of base pay. Current employees will be allowed to remain in the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement Fund. The agreement also includes gradual increases in co-pays for employee health insurance.

New Chester Pewter Ornament for 2013

Chester Ornament 2013Chester has a new pewter ornament for 2013. It was created by Peter Good, of Cummings & Good in Chester, and features his tractor seat design from the 2013 Chester Carnivale. The ornaments are being sold at stores throughout Chester Center for $15 each. Profits will benefit Chester Merchants activities such as the 2014 Chester Carnivale.

Proposed Anti-Blight Ordinance Draws Mixed Response at Essex Public Hearing

"Blighted" property at on North Main Street at New City Street (photo by Jerome Wilson)

“Blighted” property at on North Main Street at New City Street (photo by Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— A proposed anti-blight ordinance drew a mixed response from the crowd at a public hearing Wednesday, with the board of selectmen now facing a decision on how to proceed with the ordinance. About 80 residents filled the auditorium at town hall for the hearing, providing the selectmen with nearly two hours of public comment on the ordinance.

The ordinance drafted by town attorney David Royston, with some instructions from First Selectman Norman Needleman, defines blight conditions on properties, and provides for the establishment of a three-member appointed anti-blight board to receive and review complaints. But the draft ordinance would require that a residential property be vacant and unoccupied for at least 30 days to trigger town enforcement action for blight conditions. In the event of a continuing violation, the ordinance would allow the town to impose fines and take action to remediate blight conditions while billing the property owner or imposing a tax lien on the property to recover the cost of any clean up expense.

Needleman, who was against a blight ordinance when the board of selectmen last considered the idea in 2011, said he was presenting the draft ordinance now to receive input from residents. Needleman said he asked Royston to make abandonment and vacancy a trigger for enforcement to avoid a broader ordinance that could draw the town in to neighborhood disputes over conditions on particular properties. “I have concerns about administering it,” he said, adding “blight in one person’s mind may not be blight in another persons.”

But several residents expressed support for a stricter ordinance that would not use vacancy as a trigger for enforcement, with much of the comment focusing on handful of confirmed blighted structures in town that include 63 North Main St., 2 Prospect St., and an abandoned structure on Route 153 south of the intersection with Mares Hill Road. William Reichenbach, who lives near the North Main St. property, said vacancy should not be the only trigger for enforcement action. “A house is blighted or it is not blighted whether someone is living in it or not,” he said. Reichenbach and others contended blighted properties quickly reduce property values for homes in the surrounding neighborhood.

Several residents urged Needleman to use existing public health, fire safety, and building codes to pursue enforcement action against blighted structures. Needleman said the town is taking action on certain properties, with former Building Official Keith Nolin issuing demolition orders for two structures before he retired from the job last month. Needleman said acting Building Official David Deleeuw would be conducting new inspections in the coming days at some properties based on complaints filed with the town.

Other residents contended a blight ordinance may be unnecessary if the town pursues aggressive enforcement action on other code violations. Some residents said the proposed ordinance is “an overreach” that could expose the town to additional legal expenses, and problems recovering the costs incurred in taking action to remediate blighted properties.

Needleman advised the crowd the board of selectmen may not take any immediate action on a blight ordinance because the General Assembly is expected to consider proposed statewide anti-blight standards in the 2014 legislative session that begins in February. The board of selectmen is expected to discuss the input received at the public hearing at an upcoming meeting.

When the discussion resumes, there will be a new member of the board of selectmen. New Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac, who served previously as first selectman from 1991-1995, will take office on Tuesday. Glowac was present for the hearing Wednesday.

Essex’s Downtown Enhancement Project Is Well on Its Way to Completion

The Town of Essex’s, downtown enhancement project is taking major strides towards completion. For the record the formal name for the project is, “The Essex Civic Campus Enhancement Project.”

There are three distinct parts of the enhancement project. They are: 1) a major resurfacing of the Town Hall parking lot, 2) a total rebuilding and reformation of the tennis courts, next to the parking lot, and 3) an extensive reconfiguration of the playground with new play equipment,  next to the tennis courts. The fancy new name for the playground is a “Playscape.”

The New Town Hall Parking Lot

The parking lot, which abuts the rear entrance of Town Hall, will receive a final, top coat of asphalt on Friday, November 8, or Saturday, November 9, depending on the weather. After the final coat of asphalt has been put in place, the parking lot will be re-lined for general parking and for handicap parking.

The New Tennis Courts

The new tennis courts, located behind the town parking lot, are still a work in progress.  Presently, new subsurface materials are being brought in, and being compacted and graded. Also, a new drainage system is being installed, and a new asphalt surface will be put in place as a final step. In addition, the new tennis courts will have brand new fencing.

The cleared and packed site, awaiting the new tennis courts

The cleared and packed site, awaiting the new tennis courts

To conform to the accepted installation practices, new tennis courts should not be painted after October 1. Therefore, the expected date, as to when new courts will be ready for play, will not be until late April, or even early May, of 2014.

The New Playscape (Playground)

A certified installer of the Landscape Structures product line has been retained, and under its direction site preparation and the installation of the borders of the new playground has begun.  When complete, the new playground will have: 1) a new, two to five year old, play section, and 2) a new, five to twelve year old play section.

Excavating a new drainage pipe on the new playground

Excavating a new drainage pipe on the new playground

Also, the finished playground will feature a crawl tunnel, a balancing beam, a climbing boulder, a Supernova spinner and a springing up and down, and back and forth, riding structure. Active work on the playground is presently underway, and the playground should be completed by the end of November, or early December.

Assembled site materials for the new playground

Assembled site materials for the new playground

All of the estimates of work completion noted above are dependent on weather conditions and any necessary changes that the work requires.

The total dollar amount of the STEEP grant to the Town of Essex for these improvements is $471,500.

An Autumn Parade, As the Leaves Turn

The leaves of autumn are a progression. They go from splendid color to the skeletal forms of leafless branches. Here, is what this progression looks like, courtesy of the trees on North Main Street in Essex.

First, there is an autumn tree in full colored splendor

First, there is an autumn tree in full colored splendor


Next, there come a tree, just beginning its trip to winter’s leaflessness

Next, there come a tree, just beginning its trip to winter’s leaflessness

And, finally, hardly a single leaf remains, and so the trees will stay until next Spring

And, finally, hardly a single leaf remains, and so the trees will stay until next Spring


Democrats Win Contested Finance, Region 4 School Board Seats in Deep River Town Election

DEEP RIVER— Democrats won contested board of finance and region 4 Board of education Seats in Tuesday’s town election where 24-year Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith ran unopposed for a record 13th term.

Democrats Russell Marth, a former selectman, and incumbent Lori Guerette outpolled Republican candidates John Wichtowski and douglas Nagan to win full six-year term seats on the finance board. The vote was Marth-564, Guerette-524, Wichtowski-383, and Nagan-364. Appointed incumbent Democrat Carmella Balducci was uncontested with 721 votes for a two-year vacancy term on the finance board.

Democrat Jane Cavanaugh won a full-six-year term seat on the region 4 Board of Education, outpolling Republican James Olson on a vote of 494-429. Democrat Mark Reyher won the only other contested position on the ballot, outpolling Republican Douglas Dopp for a seat on the board of assessment appeals, 537-351.

Smith received 811 votes for first selectman in the third consecutive town election where the longtime incumbent has run unopposed. Democratic Selectman Angus McDonald was elected to a second term with 554 votes. Republican Selectman David Oliveria was re-elected to a third term on the board with 368 votes. Incumbents were unopposed for three other paid town positions, with Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell winning a third term with 709 votes, Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani winning a third term with 777 votes, and longtime Republican Town Treasurer Thomas Lindner winning a new term with 727 votes.

All four candidates were elected to serve on the local board of education that supervises the operation of Deep River Elementary School. They are Democrats Hadley Kornacki-469 and Augusta Ferretti-471, along with Republicans Nelle Andrews-401 and Michelle Grow-414. All three candidates were elected for the library board of trustees, including Democrats Michelle Emfinger-631 and Roy Jefferson-696, and Republican Patricia Unan-505.

Democrats Hudson and Pollo Win Contested Essex Board of Finance Race

ESSEX— Democrats won two seats on the board of finance Tuesday in the only contests for a town election where incumbent Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman was unopposed for a second term. Incumbent Campbell Hudson and Mary Louise Pollo, both Democrats, outpolled Republican candidates Peter Decker and James Palegonia to win full six-year terms seats on the board. The vote was Hduson, 957, Pollo-914, Decker-717, Palegonia-706.

Needleman was re-elected for a second two-year term, receiving 1,247 votes on the Democratic line. The other two seats on the board of finance were also uncontested, though Republican Bruce Glowac outpolled incumbent Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby, with 848 votes for Glowac and 784 votes for Libby. Glowac, who served previously as first selectman from 1991-1995, replaces two-term Republican Joel Marzi in the minority party seat on the three-member board.

Marzi was elected to the open position of town clerk with support from both political parties, receiving 721 votes on the Republican line and 841 votes on the Democratic line for a total 1,562 votes. Incumbent Democratic Tax collector Megan Haskins was re-elected, receiving 674 votes on the Republican line and 905 votes on the Democratic line for a total 1,579 votes. Democrat Jim Francis, the current chairman of the board of finance, was elected to the open position of town treasurer with 1,192 votes on the Democratic line.

Both candidates were elected to the Essex Board of Education that supervises the operation of Essex Elementary School. Incumbent republican Adam Conrad had 730 votes, with 872 votes for Democrat Carolyn Rotella. Incumbent Republican Coral Rawn was re-elected to the board of assessment appeals, with 706 votes ion the Republican line and 820 votes on the Democratic line for a total 1,526 votes. Leigh Rankin was elected to an open seat on the Region 4 Board of Education, with 706 votes on the Republican line and 847 votes on the Democratic line for a total 1,553 votes.

New Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum Appointed

Chris Dobbs will take the helm as Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum on November 18th.

Chris Dobbs will take the helm as Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum on November 18th.

ESSEX, CT — Christopher I. Dobbs has been named Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum. For the past nine years, Dobbs has been the Executive Director of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society in West Hartford. During his tenure, Dobbs led efforts to restore the Webster House, which is a National Landmark building, and reinvigorate its exhibits. He also developed many innovative public programs, including “Tavern Nights”, “Webster’s War of the Words” a word game show featuring Connecticut celebrities, and “West Hartford Hauntings,” a popular historical program that was held in cemeteries. Under his leadership, the Webster House won several awards for its exhibits, and the museum received several significant grants. The museum’s attendance and its number of volunteers increased, and membership grew by 40 percent. Dobbs also helped lead a capital campaign that raised $1.2 million, 20 percent more than its goal.

“Chris Dobbs is a seasoned and innovative museum professional who has a proven track record as a museum leader who can inspire community engagement,” said Peter Prichard, chair of the Connecticut River Museum. “He is also a very versatile and talented manager. We were fortunate to be able to hire him and we expect great things under his leadership.”

Brenda Milkofsky, the founding director of the Museum who has served as interim director since July, said: “Next year is the Museum’s 40th Birthday so this is the perfect time for fresh ideas and renewed energy and Chris Dobbs brings both to this maturing institution. He’s an experienced museum professional, well-grounded in history who will help us recommit to the public service and educational standards of our mission.”

Dobbs said “I am looking forward to taking the helm of the Connecticut River Museum and working with its Board, staff, and community to expand the museum’s reach and cultural impact.” He went on to say that “The museum has a critical mission to preserve, document, and engage thousands of visitors each year with New England’s most significant, and in my opinion, most beautiful inland waterway.”

Dobbs, 42, has a bachelor’s degree in American history from Indiana University and a Master’s Degree in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, which is a joint project of the State University College of New York and the New York Historical Society. He now serves on the board of the Cooperstown Alumni Association. Dobbs began his career in history museums as an intern when he was still in college in the mid-1990s. In 1998 he joined Mystic Seaport, where he served as Supervisor of Special Interpretative Programs, including the Lantern Light Tours, before being promoted to Associate Director of Education. For the past six years, he has also served as a Peer Advisor to museum and non-profit leaders for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, assisting non-profits around the state with strategic planning, development and program creation.

In his spare time, Dobbs enjoys woodworking and recently restored an antique boat. He is married to Jennifer White-Dobbs, Director of Education of the Connecticut River Museum. The couple has two children and they live in Deep River.

Essex Town Meeting Wednesday Includes Preliminary School Project Resolutions

ESSEX— Voters will be asked at a town meeting Wednesday to approve three preliminary resolutions for a planned building project at Essex Elementary School, and three additional appropriations that include $40,000 for a new boiler and heating system improvements at town hall. The meeting convenes at 4:45 p.m. in town hall.

Voters will be asked to authorize the Essex Board of Education to accept any state funding available for a building project at the school that would include replacement of sections of the school roof. Two other resolutions confirm the board of selectmen appointment of a three-member 2013-2014 Capital Projects Building Committee, and authorize the town and the building committee to prepare preliminary schematic drawings for a school building project.

Voters will be asked to approve a $40,000 expenditure to replace the aging oil boiler at town hall. The board of finance approved the appropriation last month, with a directive the funds should be transferred from the contingency fund in the current town budget. Voters will also be asked to approve two additional appropriations to cover overruns in the 2012-2013 fiscal year that concluded on June 30, including $30,700 for police services, and $57,148 for the highway department.

2013 Community Music School Champions Honored

(l-r) Rolf Peterson, CMS student; Karli Gilbertson, CMS Artist-in-Residence; Sue Sweeney, CMS Champion; Ginny Lewis, CMS student; John Newman, CMS student. Photo Credit Joan Levy Hepburn

(l-r) Rolf Peterson, CMS student; Karli Gilbertson, CMS Artist-in-Residence; Sue Sweeney, CMS Champion; Ginny Lewis, CMS student; John Newman, CMS student. Photo Credit Joan Levy Hepburn

Community Music School recently recognized longtime supporters at its 2013 CMS Champions Award Breakfast held at Water’s Edge Resort & Spa on October 30. Nearly 100 guests gathered to honor this year’s Champions, including: Pam and Gerard Ciccarello of Covenant Kitchens & Baths, Inc. in Westbrook; pianist and recital accompanist Susan Sweeney of Deep River; and proprietors of the Centerbrook Meetinghouse Herb Clark and Norman Needleman of Essex. Community Music School presents the Champions Awards annually to those who have supported the School and its mission over the past 30 years and who strive to improve our community through the arts.

(l-r) Herb Clark, CMS Champion; Robin Andreoli, CMS executive director; Tom Briggs, CMS music director. Photo Credit Joan Levy Hepburn.

(l-r) Herb Clark, CMS Champion; Robin Andreoli, CMS executive director; Tom Briggs, CMS music director. Photo Credit Joan Levy Hepburn.

The 2013 CMS Champions event was sponsored by Essex Financial Services, Essex Savings Bank, and Landscape Specialties. Since 1983, CMS has offered innovative music programming for infants through adults, creating a tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. The Music School offers financial assistance through a scholarship fund and provides arts education and music therapy outreach programs in the public schools and other community organizations.

Polls Open Tuesday from 6 A.M. to 8 P.M. for Mostly Uncontested Municipal Elections in Chester, Deep River and Essex

AREAWIDE-— The regular election polling places in Chester, Deep River, and Essex will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the biannual town elections. But for the first time in the modern era all three first selectmen for the towns are running unopposed for new two-year terms. Other paid, full-time elections positions, such as town clerk and tax collector, are also uncontested in the towns.

There have been uncontested first selectman races in each town over the past two decades. In Chester, former Democratic First Selectman Martin Heft ran unopposed in 1997, 1999 and 2003. In Deep River, 24-year Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith ran unopposed in 1995, 1999, 2009 and 2011 In Essex, former Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller was unopposed by town Republicans in 2007. This year the three incumbent Democrats, Smith in Deep River, Norman Needleman in Essex, and Edmund Meehan in Chester, are uncontested for new terms.

Meehan, a former municipal planner, was elected first selectman of Chester in 2011. He will serve through November 2015 with the two incumbent selectmen, Democrat Larry Sypher, seeking a third term, and Republican Tom Englert, also seeking a third term. All of the other positions on the town’s lengthy ballot are uncontested. Voting is on the second floor of the town hall 203 Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

Smith is running unopposed for first selectman of Deep River for the third straight election. Incumbent Democratic Selectman Angus Mcdonald Jr. is seeking a second term, with incumbent Republican Selectman David Oliveria seeking a third term. There are contests for two full-term seats on the board of finance, with Democrats Russell Marth and incumbent Lori Guerette competing with Republican candidates John Wichtowski and Douglas Nagan. There is also a contest for the seat on the Region 4 Board of Education that has been held since 2001 by the current board chairwoman, Democrat Linda Hall. The candidates are Republican James Olson and Democrat Jane Cavanaugh. Voting is at the lower level of the Deep River Public Library.

Needleman was elected first selectman of Essex in 2011 after serving on the board of selectmen since 2003. Incumbent Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby is seeking a second term, with Republican Bruce Glowac, who served as first selectmen from 1991-1995, is running for the third seat on the board. He will replace two-term Republican Selectman Joel Marzi, who is running for the open position of town clerk with support from both political parties. Democrat James Francis is uncontested for the open position of town treasurer.

The only contests on the ballot are for two full-term seats on the board of finance. democrats Mary Louise Pollo and incumbent Campbell Hudson are competing with Republican candidates Peter Decker and Jim Palagonia. Voting is in the auditorium at town hall. The town hall parking lot, which has been closed in recent weeks for repaving, is expected to be open Tuesday.

Rough Seas Cancel Pettipaug Rowing Event

Taking the shells into the water shortly after 7 a.m.

Taking the shells into the water shortly after 7 a.m.

It was just too “doggone” rough on the Connecticut River last Sunday to hold the annual race of rowing shells (or sculls, if you prefer), sponsored by Essex’s Pettipaug Yacht Club. The river had a vicious chop, caused by a strong wind blowing down from the north, and a strong tide coming up from the south.

It was a “perfect storm” scenario for swamping the competing rowing shells. After all, racing shells have only three inches of freeboard above the water line, and on Sunday the waves were up to five and six inches. Clearly, the river was an unsafe place for shells to be.

Taking the shells out of the water shortly thereafter.

Taking the shells out of the water shortly thereafter.

In fact, some the boats that had gone out into the river before the start, where the wind was gusting up to 15 knots, were now coming back swamped to their gunnels. Race Director Paul Fuchs had had enough, and just before the scheduled eight o’clock start, he called off the race.

The would be racers gather for a photo of the race that wasn't.

The would be racers gather for a photo of the race that wasn’t.

After all, John Kennedy, Chairman of Pettipaug Yacht Club’s Races and Regattas Committee, had taken out a U.S. Coast Guard permit to hold the race. Most certainly, this permit had been offered with the understanding that a permitted race should not go forward under unsafe conditions.

Pettipaug Race Ended Shell’s Racing Season

The cancelled regatta at the Pettipaug Yacht Club last Sunday was the last race of a series of races held by a regional shell racing organization. The organization has members from all over New England and Connecticut, including shell rowers from Boston, New Haven and New York.

Thirty-three racing shells with their owners had shown up to participate in the canceled regatta last Sunday. If the race had gone forward, the crews would have rowed two kinds of shells: 1) a two-person shell of 34 feet in length, and 2) a one person shells of 27 feet.

The larger two person shells, if they had raced, would have had been manned by all male crews, all female crews and mixed male and female crews. The smaller, one person shells had both men and women crews. When new, a 34 foot long, racing shell can cost as much as $18,000, and the 27 foot shell, as much as $13,000.

As a footnote to the cancelled Sunday regatta, the Pettipaug Yacht Club had no less than eight, rescue powerboats in the water, ready to fish out swamped shells, if it had become necessary.

As for the race course of the race that was not, it would have stretched over a ten miles. The race would have begun at a starting line, just off the Pettipaug Yacht Club. Then, it would have run north up the Connecticut River, before turning into Selden Creek. The course would have continued around Selden Island, and back into the river. To finish the competing shells would have rowed south down the river to the starting line, where the race began.

LVVS Wine and Brew’s Fine Food and Festive Crowd Warmed Chilly Night

LVVS WineBrew '13-1

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore held its Third Annual Wine & Brew Tasting and Silent Auction on Friday October 25th, 2013 at Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Road, Essex, CT. The event was sponsored by Essex Meadows and Centerbrook Package Store as well as Bailey, Murphy & Scarano LLC and Aztec Technology People and drew a crowd of 60 who enjoyed scrumptious food, a wide variety of wines and micro brews and bid on a selection of over 45 auction items during the course of the evening. LVVS Executive Director, John Ferrara noted, “This event was, by far, the most fun and biggest success in our history.” He added, “Thanks so much to our wine vendors, David Reynolds of Essex Meadows and Bob Grillo of Centerbrook Package Store who made this night possible.”

As an accredited affiliate of ProLiteracy America, LVVS is in its third decade of helping people in Valley Shore towns learn to read, write, and speak better English to improve their work and life. These services are free of charge to the student and completely confidential. For further information contact the Literacy Volunteers office by calling (860) 399-0280, email info@vsliteracy.org or visit our website at www.vsliteracy.org.


Jim Schneider the Super School Traffic Cop

IMG_0165Old Saybrook, CT– It’s a nice, sunny afternoon. I stand on the corner in amazement. Jim Schneider is the traffic cop here.The school day is over and the loaded school buses are filing out from the Goodwin School, one after another. Also parents who have picked up their kids. Soon teachers and staff will be driving out. It will be a hectic 40 minutes or so.

I say in amazement because Officer Jim is doing his thing. Right out there in the middle of the intersection, mind you. And nobody does it better. He’s 72 but as agile as an Old Saybrook High varsity tennis player. And just as determined and energetic.

I’m one of his fans. I stop by the town library on many afternoons. It’s just up the street. I like to stroll over at 3:15 now and then to watch him. He is really something to behold.

Read the full story here

Deep River Considers New Ordinance Allowing Fees for Late Paid Motor Vehicle Taxes

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has decided to present a proposed new ordinance for town meeting approval that would allow the town to impose a fee for delinquent motor vehicle taxes. The ordinance, endorsed by the selectmen last week, will be presented to voters for approval at the next town meeting.

First Selectmen Richard Smith said the ordinance was recommended by Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani as a way to recover some of fees the town is now charged by the state Department of Motor Vehicles for administering the statewide motor vehicle registration monitoring program. The program enables the DMV to block renewals of required motor vehicle registrations for vehicles with unpaid property tax due to cities and towns. Bibbiani advised the amount the town is paying for this service has increased, totaling $1,112 in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The ordinance, which has been enacted in many other Connecticut towns, would allow the town to charge an additional fee of $2 for each delinquent motor vehicle tax payment, and 50 cents per page for any printing expenses incurred. The fee would be levied when the delinquent motor tax is paid by the vehicle owner.

Local Firm Wins Design Award for Biomass Heating Facility

Biomass Heating Facility at The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville CT

Biomass Heating Facility at The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville CT

ESSEX  –– A local firm has won several design awards for the Biomass Heating Facility at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, which recently earned the top design awards from both the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New England and from AIA Connecticut, as well as the Alexion Award of Excellence, the top “Green Architecture” award of the Connecticut Green Building Council.

The awards went to Centerbrook Architects, the Essex firm that designed the building.

The biomass plant heats the independent school’s campus, with its 600 residents and 85 buildings, by burning sustainably harvested woodchips. The 16,500-square-foot building is part of Hotchkiss’ commitment to becoming carbon-neutral by 2020. The locally sourced woodchips replace some 150,000 gallons of imported fuel oil per year and cut emissions overall, most dramatically sulfur dioxide by 90 percent.

According to the school, the cost benefit in switching from fuel oil to woodchips has been impressive; it expects to save nearly $900,000 for the current fiscal year.

Aesthetically, the building design meets seemingly contradictory goals: creating an iconic campus presence while blending into the natural setting. It is capped by a rolling, vegetated roof that changes color, chameleon like, with each season. The facility also is designed to do double duty as an ancillary classroom, with a mezzanine that affords a view of the plant in operation and that houses an exhibit about the biomass process.

Centerbrook Partner Jefferson B. Riley, FAIA, led a design team that included Project Manager Alan Paradis, Mark A. Herter, Peter Cornell and Erik Lübeck.

Centerbrook’s portfolio (www.centerbrook.com) includes academic, commercial, residential, religious, and civic projects. It has worked on 70 campuses nationwide, including Quinnipiac University, Yale University, and Southern Connecticut State University.

Essex Elementary School Talent Showcase Big Success!

40 Essex Elementary School students were all winners in the talent showcase!

40 Essex Elementary School students were all winners in the talent showcase! (Photo courtesy of EESF)

It was “standing room only” at the first-ever Essex Elementary School Talent Showcase last Wednesday. The crowd cheered as students sang, danced and juggled while others performed amazing gymnastics stunts and hoola-hoop maneuvers!

This special night was sponsored by the Essex Elementary School Foundation, a not-for-profit, volunteer organization that provides independent financial resources for worthy educational projects and enrichment programs, such as a historian-in-residence and a rolling iPad lab.

Students walked away equal winners in this non-competitive talent show, judged by EES Principal, Scott Jeffrey and Region 4 Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Ruth Levy.

5th Grader Addison Marchese sings "Rockin' Robin" while performing stunts, as Principal Jeffrey and Superintendent Levy observe

5th Grader Addison Marchese sings “Rockin’ Robin” while performing stunts, as Principal Jeffrey and Superintendent Levy observe (Photo courtesy of EESF)

Lead by EESF board member Cathy Poulin, the showcase utilized the skills of local volunteers, such as Patty Carver, of the Connecticut Children’s Theatre.

For more information about the Essex Elementary School Foundation, log onto www.essexelementaryschoolfoundation.org. Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to Essex Elementary School Foundation, PO Box 882, Essex CT 06426.

Grant Award to The Nature Conservancy to Help Fund Essex Fish Passage Project

The Nature Conservancy announced an $85,000 grant award from Long Island Sound Futures Fund that will support important fish passage and river connectivity work in Connecticut and on Long Island, including the Tiley-Pratt dam on the Falls River in Essex.

The award will support work at three priority dams. In Connecticut, the dams are the Coleytown dam on the Aspetuck River in Westport and the Tiley-Pratt dam on the Falls River in Essex. In New York, the dam is on Beaver Brook in Oyster Bay, Long Island.

A fish ladder will be constructed at each of the two Connecticut dams. Work could start as early as summer 2014. The dam in Oyster Bay will undergo a feasibility and design alternatives study to determine the best design for fish passage.

“This work will open up more than five miles of critical freshwater spawning habitat for alewife and blueback herring, two species whose populations are in a serious state of decline, and we are hopeful that additional future projects upstream of these dams will allow even more miles of stream to be opened to improve river health,” said Sally Harold, director of migratory fish projects for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “The Nature Conservancy is extremely grateful for support from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund and the many other partners who are making this work possible.”

This grant was among 23 awarded totaling almost $1.3 million that were announced today in Norwalk, Conn. Top federal and state environmental officials joined the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Long Island Sound Study to announce the grants, which were awarded to local government and community groups in Connecticut and New York under the Long Island Sound Futures Fund.

The grants are for projects that improve water quality, restore habitat, enhance living resources, and educate and involve the public with the ultimate goal of protecting and restoring the Long Island Sound.

This public-private grant program pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and corporate partners.

The Conservancy’s grant requires a match of almost $60,000, which will be secured through donor support and in-kind contributions.

Deep River Selectmen to Pursue Sale of Industrial Building, Purchase of Industrial Land

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen agreed Tuesday to investigate the possible sale of a town-owned industrial building at the Plattwood Industrial Area, with the proceeds to be used to acquire land for development in the same industrial area.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the deal, still in its early stages, would involve the sale of a town owned industrial building on Industrial Park Road that was constructed with the help of state grant funds about six years ago. The 9,000-square-foot building is currently occupied by four businesses. Smith said the proceeds from the sale would then be used to purchase four acres of industrial land located near the end of Industrial Park Road from local businessman Gary Mislick.

Smith said the parcel could then become the site for two or three new industrial buildings, helping to create jobs and boost the town’s industrial tax base. “We would control the site and there is no doubt in my mind we could have new industrial buildings back there,” he said.

Smith said the town would hire an appraiser to establish a value for both the town-owned building, which is now occupied by four businesses, and Mislick’s four-acre parcel. Smith said the board of selectmen would use the appraisals to negotiate a sale of the building, and a purchase of the Mislick parcel. He said the proceeds from sale of the building would be used to buy the additional industrial land at no direct cost to town taxpayers. He said state rules would allow the town to sell the building if the proceeds from the sale were used for additional job-creating industrial development.

The other two selectmen, Democrat Angus Mcdonald Jr. and Republican David Oliveria, expressed support for the plan presented by Smith. “It’s worth continuing to explore,” McDonald said. Both the sale of the building and any purchase of additional industrial land would also require approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting.

In other business, the selectmen agreed to pursue the sale of a one-acre parcel at 73 Kirtland St. that was acquired by the town in lieu of unpaid back taxes. The parcel, which has steep terrain and ledge, would not support an on-site septic system. But the parcel has access to a public water line, and after completion of a sewer expansion that was approved by a town meeting last May, could support a small single-family residence. The selectmen set the minimum bid for the parcel at $14,000, which is the current assessed value of the property.

Letters: Supporting Doug Nagan for the Deep River Board of Finance

To the Editor:

I confidently recommend Doug Nagan for the Deep River Board of Finance.  Doug, a longtime resident of Deep River is an experienced businessman and understands finance and the need to balance budgets.  He is a past Treasurer of the Old Lyme Country Club.

The purpose of the Board of Finance, in Doug’s view, is not to micromanage the daily operations of Deep River, but rather to make sure the department’s budgets reflect the community’s objectives and resources.  Doug realizes every budget reflects a balancing of desires and resources and compromise is necessary as part of the process.  He only wishes that this view was held in Washington, D.C.

Doug’s commitment to responsible town government will help promote financial stability.  If you want thoughtful people serving in town government, join me in supporting Doug Nagan for the Deep River Board of Finance.


Thomas W. Lindner
Deep River

5th Annual Vista Tour de Shore Reaches New Heights

Vista 2013

On Sunday, October 20, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center held the 5th Annual Vista Tour de Shore cycling event. This year’s Vista Tour de Shore featured more than 270 riders on a beautiful fall day and raised significantly more funds than in previous years. Total funds raised exceeded $90,000. The event was sponsored by Essex Printing, Zane’s Cycles, Shore Publishing, Thomson Tours, Wells Fargo, Wilcox Energy, WebNow1, The Tolland Fund, Essex Savings Bank and Gowrie Group.

Starting and ending at the Westbrook Elks Lodge, The Vista Tour de Shore featured rides of 5, 25, 40 and 60 miles throughout the Connecticut shoreline communities. Big names in the world of cycling in attendance at this year’s event included Olympian Tim Duggan as well as USA Cycling’s CEO and President Steve Johnson and Director of Development Steve McCauley.

Net proceeds from the Vista Tour de Shore benefit the Endowment Fund of Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc.

Based in Westbrook and Madison, CT, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources on an individualized basis to assist adults with disabilities to live independent and successful lives.

For more information regarding Vista, please visit www.vistavocational.org

Revitalizing Historic Main Streets and Village Centers – Essex Town Presentation

The Town of Essex invites you to a presentation & discussion by  Connecticut Main Street Center on Tuesday, October 29 at 7 p.m. at the Essex Elementary School Cafeteria.

The most successful downtowns and village centers encourage citizens to be engaged in helping to determine the future of their communities.  Over 2,000 communities throughout the United States utilize the Main Street Approach™ to create revitalization strategies – engaging citizens in creating and implementing their visions.

CT Main Street Center staff will present the history of the Main Street program and how it works in Connecticut, and will share common issues encountered by many CT Main Street Communities – as well as success stories from across the state.  A generous Q & A session will follow.  Together, we will learn how to take this proven approach and make it work in our historic Village Centers.

We encourage you to be part of this community conversation!

For more information, contact:

Susan Malan, Essex Economic Development Consultant – smalan@essexct.gov   860-767-4340 x 220

John Guszkowski, Essex Planning Consultant – planner@essexct.gov

Susan Westa, Community Engagement Director, CT Main Street Center – susan.westa@nu.com

Dock and Dine Closing, Reopening Next Year at New Elevation, Public Plank Signing

The famous view through the windows of the Dock & Dine restaurant.

The famous view through the windows of the Dock & Dine restaurant.

Dock & Dine Restaurant at Saybrook Point is celebrating their “last hurrah” at an elevation 4.5 ft. above sea-level. Now through Oct. 30, this family-owned restaurant is open every day at 11:30 a.m. until closing for demolition and construction of a new restaurant at a new elevation of 15 ft. above sea-level. During these final days, friends and fans are invited to help “dock-u-ment history,” by signing pieces of the old dock that will be proudly displayed in the new Dock & Dine, which has plans to reopen for the 2014 season.

“All of our restaurants are comprised of a family of employees, serving customers that feel like family,” explains Jon Kodama, CEO of JTK Management, owners of shoreline restaurants including Dock & Dine, Steak Loft, Ten Clams and Go Fish. “When considering how to celebrate our history, as well as our future, of course we wanted to include the guests who have stood by us through two hurricanes…and more!”

The public is invited to stop by and sign the historic wood planks, every day from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., beginning Monday Oct. 21 through Oct. 30. For more information visit http://www.dockdinect.com/ (more)

For those interested in taking home a piece of Dock & Dine history, an onsite auction will be taking place on Nov. 5. Hosted by Adams Auctioneers & Appraisers, this comprehensive auction will make way for new equipment and décor. A preview of items available will take place in the morning, with the live auction taking place mid day. For more information visit: http://adams-auctions.com/currentauctions.asp

Located at Saybrook Point on 145 College Street in Old Saybrook, Conn., Dock & Dine offers fine cuisine using the freshest local ingredients, paired with spectacular views of Long Island Sound. Taking its name from convenient, dock-side dining, Dock & Dine is one of four local restaurants operated by JTK Management including Go Fish: www.GoFishCT.com; Steak Loft: www.SteakLoftCT.com and Ten Clams: www.TenClamsCT.com, all in Mystic, CT.

Dock & Dine, which dates back to the 1940’s, was purchased by Jon Kodama in 1987 and operated year-in/year-out until back-to-back hurricanes Irene and Sandy caused repeat damages, evoking ordinances requiring that the remaining restaurant be demolished and the new structure built to current codes. Dock & Dine is managed by Mari Kodama, the daughter of Jon Kodama, CEO and Founder of JTK Management.

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Essex Selectmen Seek Funding for Town Hall Boiler Replacement

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has endorsed a special expenditure of $40,000 to replace an aging oil boiler that provides heat for town hall. Selectmen approved the expenditure, which also requires approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting, at the regular meeting last week.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the boiler, which is more than thirty years old, has begun having problems, including excessive smoke, that raise the possibility of a failure. Needleman recommended replacing it with two new, smaller and more efficient oil boilers at a cost of no more than $40,000. He said the smaller boilers would bring a savings on heating oil expenses.

In other business, the selectmen agreed to return to the previous meeting schedule, two meetings per month on the first and third Wednesday, for the remainder of the year. The board had decided during the summer to hold only one regular meeting each month. The selectmen will meet Nov. 6 at 5 p.m, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m., Dec. 4 at 5 p.m, and Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.

Essex Elementary School Raises Funds for Sisters Cities Essex Haiti

From left to right: Jeny Sawar- SCEH Board Member, Majorie Russel; EES Social Development Committee and Event Organizer, Jenifer Grant; SCEH Vice President for Deschapelles Projects, Scott Jeffery; EES Principal, David Evangelisti; SCEH Treasurer, Denise D'Avella; SCEH Development Chair, Sue McCann; SCEH Secretary. (Photo by Essex Elementary School Faculty/Staff)

From left to right: Jeny Sawar- SCEH Board Member, Majorie Russel; EES Social Development Committee and Event Organizer, Jenifer Grant; SCEH Vice President for Deschapelles Projects, Scott Jeffery; EES Principal, David Evangelisti; SCEH Treasurer, Denise D’Avella; SCEH Development Chair, Sue McCann; SCEH Secretary. (Photo by Essex Elementary School Faculty/Staff)

The Essex Elementary School Social Development Committee presented a check on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 for $2,754.25 to Sister Cities Essex Haiti. Inc., a 501C3 Foundation. The funds were raised at the Essex Elementary School’s, “Friends and Family on the Green Community Event” held on June 14, 2013.

This family and community event was part of Essex Elementary School’s ongoing partnership and collaborative relationship with Sister Cities Essex Haiti (SCEH) to benefit the people of the town of Deschapelles.

Essex Elementary School began working to support SCEH in the 2011-2012 school year.  Over the past few years our students have grown in their knowledge and understanding of their “sister city” and have worked to connect with Deshapelles, Haiti through their kindness and support.  Efforts from the Essex Elementary School children have raised funds to help support the construction of a library for the students in Haiti who we have learned, while being from a very different culture, with different lifestyles and opportunities, are no different from our own students in terms of wanting to grow, learn and become their personal best.

Through our partnership with SCEH, the students at Essex Elementary School have embraced this and have taken responsibility to help their community friends in Deschapelles, A special thank you goes out to Majorie Russell, the Essex Elementary School Social Development Core Team, Denise D’Avella, Brenda Floyd and Sister Cities Essex Haiti for their efforts in organizing this wonderful event.

Essex Selectmen to Consider Acquiring Half of Perry Property that Abuts Town Hall

ESSEX— The town will consider a $200,000 purchase of the back section of the Perry property that abuts the town hall property on West Avenue. First Selectman Norman Needleman announced the potential acquisition at the board’s meeting Wednesday, with the selectmen expected to discuss the offer further at a Nov. 6 meeting.

The property at 27 West Avenue is part of the estate of Eileen Perry, a longtime resident who died in June. The front section of the property contains a historic house, while the back section is undeveloped land that abuts the town hall site. Needleman said private discussions with Brad Perry, a son and an executor of the estate, has led to an offer to split the property and sell the town six-to-seven-tenths of an acre from the back section for $200,000. The property also abuts to the east the Pratt House property that is owned by the Essex Historical Society.

The entire property, including the house, is assessed at $623,100 on the current grand list, a figure that represents about 70 percent of fair market value. Needleman said Perry sponsored an appraisal that valued a permanent easement for the back section of the parcel at $200,000.

But Needleman said he was not interested in an easement, and convinced Perry agreed to offer an outright sale of the property for that price. “I think this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to expand the town hall property,” he said, while adding there are no immediate plans for use of the parcel..

The purchase would require approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting, along with a variance from the zoning board of appeals to allow a split of the property. The selectmen deferred a vote on the acquisition Wednesday after Selectman Joel Marzi suggested the full three-member board should be on hand to vote on any land acquisitions. Selectwoman Stacia Libby was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

Essex Board of Appeals Rules on Elderly and Affordable Housing Expansion

ESSEX— The zoning board of appeals Tuesday denied a series of variances requested for a planned 22-unit expansion of elderly and affordable housing at the Essex Court elderly housing complex in the Centerbrook section. The variances were rejected on 4-1 vote, with member Paul Greenberg in favor of approving the variances.

The decision is a setback for the plan by Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., a non-profit group established by the Essex Housing Authority, to complete an expansion on a one-acre town-owned parcel located on the west side of the Essex Court property. The existing Essex Court elderly housing complex has 36 units that opened in 1985 and have been upgraded in recent years.

Essex Elderly and Affordable housing Inc. has received a $250,000 planning grant from the state Department of Housing, and is hoping to apply for grant or loan funding for construction by the end of the year. The group has hired the firm Quisenberry & Arcari Architects LLC of Farming to prepare preliminary plans for the project.

But the three-story building designed by the architects requires 12 variances from current town zoning regulations. Architect Tom Arcari presented the plans at a public hearing Tuesday, explaining the need for each variance. The requested variances include several variances of setback requirements, along with variances of minimum lot size, lot coverage and unit size requirements.

Arcari said most of the 18 one-bedroom units would be 700-square feet, below the 750-foot minimum size requirement of the regulations. The regulations also limit the number of units in one multi-family dwelling to four, and the number of floors to two with a maximum building height of 30-feet.

Arcari said many of the setback variances result from activity on the east side of the property which abuts the existing Essex Court complex. He said the town’s current regulations for multi-family dwellings do not address many of the current development standards for elderly and affordable housing. Arcari said the “physical constraints of the parcel,” and the goal of adding the new units near the existing Essex Court site were hardships related to the application. No one spoke in opposition at the public hearing, with one resident speaking in support of the project.

But board Chairman Doug Demerest said there were just two many variances for the board to approve for a single project. He suggested the applicants confer with the zoning commission about possible changes to the regulations that would reduce the number of variances needed for the project. Greenberg said the need for additional elderly and affordable housing in Essex should outweigh the number of variances, adding that approving the variances would be “the right thing to do.”

Janet Atkeson, chairwoman of the Essex Housing Authority, said proponents of the project would confer with the zoning commission about options, while also exploring a provision of a new state law on affordable housing that could allow the project to move forward without local zoning approval. She said the expansion plan faces a January deadline to apply for the available funding for construction.

Town Meeting Vote, Second Hearing for Requested Revisions to Chester Town Plan

CHESTER-— A town meeting vote, and a second public hearing before the planning and zoning commission, will be required for a requested revision to the town plan of conservation and development that could allow Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to pursue the option of connecting to the town sewer system.

At the commission’s Oct. 10 meeting, Chairman Jon Lavy announced that a second public hearing would be required for the nursing facility’s petition because the full language for the five requested revisions to the 2009 plan had not been provided to the board of selectmen for review a required 65 days before the commission opened it’s public hearing on the petition on Sept. 12. In a related development, First Selectman Edmund Meehan said Tuesday he has confirmed that a town meeting discussion and vote are required before the planning and zoning commission can consider the requested changes to the town plan. The board of selectmen is expected to schedule a mid-November town meeting on the town plan revisions requested by Aaron Manor.

The nursing facility located off Route 148 has been under a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection order for more than two years to upgrade a failing septic system that serves the facility. The town’s inland-wetlands commission earlier this year had asked representatives of Aaron Manor to explore the option of connecting to the town sewer system before pursuing a wetlands permit application for a new and more complex on site sewage disposal system.

Revisions to the town plan are needed for any expansion of the sewer system, which now serves the downtown village and areas running south on Route 154 to the Deep River town line. Alvin Wolfgram, engineer for Aaron Manor, had said at the Sept. 12 public hearing that connecting the nursing facility to the terminus of the existing sewer system, a distance of about 1.5 miles along Route 148, is feasible but very costly. Wolfgram added that constructing a new system on the Aaron Manor property would also be very costly.

Meehan said the town meeting on the requested town plan revisions would include a vote that would be advisory for the planning and zoning commission. If voters at the town meeting reject the requested revisions, it would then require a two-thirds majority, six votes on the nine-member panel, for the commission to further consider the Aaron Manor request. The commission has scheduled a second and “official”” public hearing on the Aaron Manor town plan revisions for Thursday Dec. 12.

DR Planning and Zoning Sets Hearing on Proposed Relocation of Dunkin Donuts

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission has scheduled a Nov. 21 public hearing on a special permit application to relocate the town’s Dunkin Donuts to a vacant commercial building at 246 Main St. The hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall auditorium.

Great American Donut Inc. is seeking approval to relocate Dunkin Donuts from the current location at 190 Main St. to the building at 241 Main St., on the southern gateway to the downtown section of Main Street. The building that formerly housed an Irish gifts shop was purchased in 2011 by Peter Keyhayas of Chester. Two small businesses that opened last year as part of a three-unit development quickly closed, and the building has been vacant in recent months.

Great American Donut Inc., which owns several Dunkin Donuts franchises in the area, is expected to purchase the 241 Main St. property if the relocation is approved. The Dunkin Donuts would be located on the Main Street side of the property, which also has frontage to the west on Union Street. The plans call for one unspecified retail space on the west side of the building. The Dunkin Donuts would not have a drive-through window. The Dunkin Donuts opened at 190 Main St. in 2009.

Essex Savings Bank Rated 5 Stars – Eighteen Consecutive Years

Essex –  Essex Savings Bank has once again earned the highest 5-Star rating for strength and stability from BauerFinancial, Inc. of Coral Gables, Florida, the nation’s leading independent bank rating and research firm.  Bauer Financial has been reporting on and analyzing the performance of U.S. banks since 1983.  No institution can pay BauerFinancial to rate it, nor can an institution choose to be excluded.  Essex Savings Bank has proven its commitment to superiority by earning this top rating for 71 consecutive quarters.  Fewer than 10% of the nation’s banks can claim this distinction.  In order to do so, the Bank has excelled in areas of capital adequacy, delinquent loan levels and profitability to name just a few.  Consistently earning BauerFinancial’s highest rating assures customers and the community that Essex Savings Bank is a strong financial institution that will be able to fulfill their banking needs for years to come.

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

Essex Zoning Board of Appeals Considers Expansion of Essex Court Elderly Housing

ESSEX— The zoning board of appeals has scheduled an Oct. 15 public hearing on an appeal for 12 variances needed for a planned 22-unit expansion of the Essex Court elderly housing complex in the Centerbrook section. The board will convene at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The applicant for the variances is Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., a subgroup formed by the Essex Housing Authority to pursue a long-planned expansion of the existing 36 unit elderly housing complex at 16 Main St. The group received a $250,000 state Department of Housing grant over the summer for planning and design of the proposed development that would be located on a one-acre town-owned parcel in the back area of the complex. The plans call for 22 units on three floors, similar to the design of the Kirtland Commons elderly housing in Deep River.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the current design plan would require 12 variances of zoning regulations, beginning with a variance of a height requirement that limits new multi-dwelling structures in Essex to two floors. The project also needs variances for the minimum acreage, minimum unit size, and storage requirements of the regulations, along with variances of setback requirements.

Budrow said the project would also need approval from the zoning commission, though the commission will not schedule a public hearing on a special permit application until after the wastewater disposal system for the development receives approval from the health department.

Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc. is currently seeking federal and state funding for construction of the new units, with local zoning approvals expected to aid in the effort to secure funding. The existing 36-unit Essex Court elderly housing complex opened in 1985, with several grant-funded upgrades and improvements completed at the complex in recent years.

Essex’s Needlemen of Two Minds About a Blight Ordinance, Opposes a Neighbor’s Role

"Blighted" property at on North Main Street at New City Street

“Blighted” property at on North Main Street at New City Street

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, in a recent written statement, says in effect that he is ambivalent about Essex adopting a Blight ordinance.  On the other hand he is inequitably opposed to any town ordinance that would permit a neighbor to bring a formal complaint against a neighbor, whose property is “blighted.”

In his statement the First Selectman said, “Blight” speaks to a town, city, or neighborhood, and not an individual property.”  Furthermore, he said, “This ordinance in no way would impact occupied properties and would not be a vehicle where neighbor could complain about neighbors.”

These views by the First Selectman, among others, will be the subject of a public hearing at Essex Town Hall on Wednesday, November 6 at 7:00 p.m.

Continuing in expressing his views as to whether or not Essex should adopt a Blight ordinance, the First Selectman said, “I understand both sides of the issue. My libertarian side feels that these situations come up occasionally and then are resolved in the course of time, so imposing an ordinance might be an overreach. I feel strongly that the rights of property owners should be respected.”

“On the other hand,” he continues, “I understand how people who have been forced to live next door to these long term, dilapidated properties feel, and I understand how the value of their property has been affected.”

Blight Ordinance Not to Affect Existing Situations

In addition in his statement Needleman said, “Unfortunately, a new ordinance would not likely be able to be used for an existing situation.  It would generally affect those situations that occur after the ordinance goes into effect.”

Concluding, the First Selectman said, “I am anxious to hear how the public feels, so I want to encourage as many people as possible to come to the hearing.”

He added, “I suspect that I will have to set some ground rules at the hearing, like giving each person 2 or 3 minutes to speak their mind.”

Essex Top Three Blighted Properties

There is a general consensus that there are three existing properties in Essex that on a reasonable basis could be considered as “blighted.” The most well known of these properties is the one located on North Main Street at the corner of New City Street. A second “blighted” property is located on the left side of Prospect Street, as it comes into North Main Street, and the third such property is located at the end of Captain’s Walk facing the Old Saybrook Turnpike (Route 154).

Side of Captain's Walk property on Old Saybrook Turnpike (Route 154)

Side of Captain’s Walk property on Old Saybrook Turnpike (Route 154)

It appears that the Town of Essex by some small measure has tried to touch up at least two of the “blighted” properties in Essex. The grass appears to have been mowed, although the sidewalk has not been raked of leaves, at the North Main Street/New City Street property.  Also, the grass appears to have been mowed, perhaps by the town, at the “blighted” property located at Captain’s Walk on the Old Saybrook Turnpike.

Entrance to blighted property on Prospect Street at North Main Street

Entrance to blighted property on Prospect Street at North Main Street

Letters: ECSI – Thanks to Our Community and Supporters

To the Editor:

small logoThe Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. (ECSI) is the sole provider of Meals On Wheels to homebound seniors in the nine Estuary towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Killingworth, Chester, Deep River, and Essex, and the Town of Madison.  We also provide noon meals for active seniors in four café sites.  Just about every family on the Shoreline knows someone who is either receiving Meals On Wheels or enjoys meals at our café sites.

Like so many other nonprofits, ECSI has budget cuts and has to tighten its belt.  Although we get funding from Senior Resources Area Agency on Aging and donations from our clients, the funding does not cover the cost of providing the meals.  We could not provide our services without fund raising events.  Our latest Autumn on the Dock Wine Tasting and Auction was held on September 21 and was a success again this year.  I would like to thank all those generous people who attended the event and opened their wallets to support our seniors.  Len DiBella of Luigi’s was our honorary chairman and an eloquent spokesman for our senior nutrition program.

I urge you to support and thank our great sponsors as they donated $23,350 for our senior nutrition program.  They are Scranton Financial Group; Fred Cliffe; Middlesex Hospital; Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale; First Niagara Foundation; Rachel Thomas Real Estate; the Essex Savings Bank; Tri State Maintenance; Reynolds’ Garage & Marine; the Safety Zone; the Clark Group; the Guilford Savings Bank; Claremont Sales Group; Gladeview Rehabilitation & Health Care; Kitchings & Potter, LLC, Home Instead Senior Care, Ceil Printing, and the Wine Cask.

If you know of a senior in need of our nutrition service, or if you would like to volunteer to drive for Meals On Wheels, please call Peg Barrett at 860-388-1611.

Thank you,

Paula C. Ferrara,
Executive Director

Estuary Council of Seniors Inc.

New Modern Art Venue, Gallery19 Opening in Essex

"Gray Red" monotype, 18"x18", by Judy Friday

“Gray Red” monotype, 18″x18″, by Judy Friday

A new modern art venue, gallery19, is opening its doors at 19A Main Street in Essex, Connecticut’s historic downtown shopping area. Founded by Old Lyme artists Judy Friday and Helen Cantrell, the gallery will feature their abstract and expressionist paintings and works on paper, and will eventually include other artists who share the gallery’s commitment to modernism.

Gallery19’s inaugural reception will be Sunday, October 13 from 3 to 5 p.m., with refreshments catered by nationally-known chef Amanda Cushman. On view will be Cantrell’s expressionist oils, evoking the shoreline’s salt marshes, as well as a new series of suburban houses glimpsed from commuter railway windows. “Art is about perception, not nature,” says the artist, quoting Roy Lichtenstein, “although nature inspires me, as does the work of other artists, especially abstract expressionists like Willem de Kooning and Richard Diebenkorn.” Also featured will be Judy Friday’s new abstract work, which bounces between geometry and chaos, including collages from comics, luminous grids and brushy explosions of color, the freer paintings inspired in part by the work of Joan Mitchell.

Judy Friday has shown extensively in New England and Ohio, where she graduated from Ohio State University in 1980. She has studied at the Lyme Art Academy and is well known in the shoreline arts community as a 20-year veteran of the Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme. “The Cooley Gallery has been vital to my exposure as an artist, and I am grateful for their generosity in showing my work,” Friday says, adding: “Now I am launching a new adventure, a new way to explore all avenues of modernist, contemporary art.” Helen Cantrell, a painter and printmaker who moved to Old Lyme in 2010, is a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Diploma 2004). Cantrell says, “We are excited to join Art Essex, the Essex Art Association, the Orison Project, and other artists in this area—we think the time is right to develop modernist and contemporary art synergy.”

Gallery19 will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. For more information call 860 581-8735, or email Helen Cantrell at info@gallery19essex.com.

"Bridge" oil on canvas, 30"x30", by Helen Cantrell

“Bridge” oil on canvas, 30″x30″, by Helen Cantrell

Two Juveniles Arrested Thursday After Bomb Threat at DR Elementary Schools

DEEP RIVER— Two juveniles were arrested by state police Thursday after a morning bomb threat forced an evacuation of Deep River Elementary School. The unidentified juveniles, who are students at the kindergarten through sixth grade elementary school, were arrested and charged with breach of peace and threatening.

A telephone bomb threat was received at the school at 9:20 a.m., leading to an evacuation of the building with students and most staff transported by bus to the John Winthrop Middle School. State police and emergency personnel searched the building and determined there was no threat. Students and staff returned to the school around 11:30 a.m.

The two juveniles were arrested by police later Thursday. Their cases have been referred to the juvenile court in Middletown.

Transportatation: Metro-North Meltdown

Jim CameronFirst of all, despite what some commuters may recently be thinking, the folks who manage and operate Metro-North are not stupid.  Inconsiderate and uncommunicative sometimes, but not stupid.

Metro-North managers and employees are railroad professionals, justifiably proud of the 96+% on-time performance they achieve on one of the busiest commuter line in the US.  They want to run a world class railroad.  But they can only achieve as much as the states of NY and Connecticut fund them to do.

In recent years our legislature gave MNRR $1+ billion to buy badly needed new railcars, a very visible manifestation to commuters that the state was investing in the railroad.  But sufficient funding for inspection and repair of the tracks, the catenary and our 100- year-old bridges is still lacking.

New cars are sexy.  Giving them safe tracks to run on and wires to power them, not so sexy.

What happened when Con Ed’s back-up feeder cable failed at 5:30 am on Wednesday Sept 25th was not an act of God, but human error.  The two agencies knew the main power cable was going to be out of service and calculated, very wrongly, that the single back-up cable would be sufficient.

This raises a number of questions:  Did Con Ed monitor that back-up cable for signs it might fail?  Was it wise to save $1 million by not constructing a back-up for the back-up?  Does Homeland Security know or care that the entire Metro-North and Amtrak Northeast Corridor were depending on this calculation? How many other power sub-stations are in similar danger?

The effects of this outage are many:  the inconvenience to 125,000 daily riders, the economic impact on those commuters’ businesses, and longer-term, the economic recovery of our state and nation.

Governor Malloy quickly called this outage just the latest black eye for our state in his efforts to attract businesses to set up shop in the Nutmeg State.  Even if they can tolerate our high taxes, do relocating CEO’s really want to rely on Metro-North to get their employees to and from work or fight the perpetual rush-hour crawl on I-95?

I fear some individual commuters may be reaching the tipping point.  There are plenty of other New York suburbs with good schools and more reliable transportation.  If fed-up Connecticut commuters decide to vote with their feet and move to Westchester or Long Island, they will take their taxes with them.  Remember that Fairfield County pays 40% of all state taxes in Connecticut, so anything that makes our neighborhoods less attractive, hurts the entire state.

And it hurts our house values too.  People live in the towns served by Metro-North because they need to rely on those trains to get to high-paying jobs in NYC.  When that trust is broken, those towns and their houses become less attractive.

If housing values sag, town taxes will have to go up.  The schools will suffer making our towns even less desirable for those leaving the city for the good life in the ‘burbs.

Reliable train service at an affordable price is what makes Fairfield County thrive.  When you begin to doubt the ability of the railroad to keep operating, let alone be on time, it may be time to rethink where you live.


JIM CAMERON has been a Darien resident for 22 years.  He is a member of the CT Rail Commuter Council and the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com  or www.trainweb.org/ct

TTYS Suicide Prevention Work-group Developing Prevention Strategies

The Suicide Prevention Workgroup L-R: Claire Walsh, Megan McDowell, Kevin Brewer, Cate Bourke, Brad Pitman, Gail Onofrio, Rev. Timothy Haut, David Fitzgibbons, Chester First Selectman Ed Meehan.  Absent from photo: Melissa Haines

The Suicide Prevention Work-group L-R: Claire Walsh, Megan McDowell, Kevin Brewer, Cate Bourke, Brad Pitman, Gail Onofrio, Rev. Timothy Haut, David Fitzgibbons, Chester First Selectman Ed Meehan. Absent from photo: Melissa Haines

The members of the Suicide Prevention Work-group have recently received training in Suicide Prevention and are developing strategies to raise awareness throughout the communities of Chester, Deep River, and Essex that suicide can be prevented.

The group has received funding through the Greater Valley Substance Abuse Action Council and will promote the campaign, “1 Word, 1 Voice, 1 Life.  Be the 1 to start the conversation.”  For more information, please go to preventsuicidect.org.

Mystic Firm Expected for Design Work on Phase One of Chester Main Street Project

CHESTER— The Mystic firm of Kent & Frost is the recommended pick for preparing detailed designs and bid documents for phase one of the long-planned Main Street reconstruction project. The firm, which recently prepared a comprehensive plan for the entire project, has been recommended by the town’s Main Street Committee that is coordinating the project.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan told the board of selectmen at a meeting Tuesday that he is ready to follow the committee’s recommendation after resolving some final details on the exact scope of work that would be required for the project, which is a reconstruction of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 west to vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. Meehan said he hopes to sign a contract with the firm by the end of October.

Meehan said Kent & Frost was of of three firms interviewed by the 11-member volunteer committee. A total of seven firms submitted proposals for the project work in August. Meehan said the price from Kent & Frost, about $122,00, was slightly lower than prices from the other two firms interviewed, Millane & McBroom Inc. of Cheshire and Tectonic Engineers PC of Rocky Hill.

Meehan said the plan is to complete the project design over the winter5 months to be ready to seek bids for the project by April. The design plans would be presented at a public information meeting before bidding. Kent & Frost had estimated the cost of the phase one project at about $1.3 million in the full “Chester Village and Center District Master Plan” plan that was approved by voters at a town meeting in July

Essex Town Meeting Approves 2013-2014 Town Projects Building Committee

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Monday approved the formation of a building committee to develop and implement several infrastructure projects that are expected to be presented to voters for a bonding authorization early next year. Six residents turned out to approve the formation of the 2013-2014 Building Committee and the appointment of its first three members on unanimous voice votes with little discussion.

The initial three appointments to what is planned as a five-member building committee are town finance director Kelly Sterner, Leigh Rankin, and Bruce Glowac. Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer, is an uncontested candidate for Region 4 Board of education in the Nov. 5 election. Glowac, a former first selectman, has served as director of facilities for Region 4 schools since 1999.

Glowac is also the uncontested Republican nominee for an open seat on the board of selectmen in the Nov. 5 vote. Glowac is expected to begin a new term on the board of selectmen, where he served as a selectman and first selectman in the early 1990s, when the new two-year term begins in mid-November.

The first task for the building committee will be working with the board of selectmen to hire an engineering firm to prepare detailed cost estimates for various priority projects that would be used to establish an amount for the proposed bond authorization. The current list of priority projects includes replacement of sections of the Essex Elementary School roof, and replacement of two bridges in the Ivoryton section.

Selectman Joel Marzi told voters Monday the early formation of a building committee would allow the town to begin work on an application for state funding assistance that would be available for the school roof project. A formal building committee is required for seeking state funding reimbursement for school building projects.

Marzi noted that Glowac has experience with this process from serving as Region 4 director of facilities during the Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School renovation and expansion projects that were completed in 2005. The town could also seek partial state funding reimbursement for the two bridge replacement projects.

The existing three-member building committee is expected to hold its first meeting later this month, with the board of selectmen expected to discuss the process for hiring an engineering consultant at its Oct. 16 meeting. After the make up and amount of the proposed infrastructure projects bond issue is established, the plan would be presented to voters at one or more public hearings before any town vote on a bonding authorization.

Letters: Run for Chris Fundraiser Huge Success – Thank You

2013 logo


To the Editor:

The 2nd Annual 5K Run for Chris on 6-22-13 was a hugh success this year. Thank you to all who made this possible. The Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation at Middlesex County is a non-profit that integrates multicultural and foreign language programs into the schools of Lower Valley of Middlesex County.

Because of the kindness of The Town of Essex, Essex Park and Recreation, The Essex Police, The Resident State Trooper, and all of the people who donated and ran or walked this event we raised funds to support Chris’s dreams and visions. The high school students will benefit thru a grant from the fund to pay for transportation to visit Spain, France and Quebec this school year.

We would also like to thank all the sponsors especially “ From You Flowers “, our premier sponsor. Also instrumental in the success of the run were all the volunteers who donated their time. Special thanks to the race committee members: Cathy Bishop (race director), Julie Conner (for her logo design), George Chapin, Linda Talbott, Chloe Zanardi, and Sarah Delorso.

See you next year at the 3rd Annual 5K Run for Chris on Sat. June 21,2014. The run is now certified by the USATF.


Robin Chapin

Health Care Reform – What You Need to Know Now!

Open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act begins on Oct. 1. What do you need to know about the program and how will it affect you? Randi Redmond Oster, an independent health care advocate, reports that there is “not all good news, but it isn’t all bad either.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, Oster will be presenting two free programs, sponsored by the Valley Shore Public Libraries, to answer such questions as: What are the top ten changes I need to know about? How much will the new insurance cost? Will I qualify for the health insurance premium subsidies? What is the penalty if I don’t purchase insurance? Does my employer need to offer me insurance? Does my Medicare supplement change?

An afternoon program on Oct. 22 will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Acton Library in Old Saybrook. An evening program will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House. The programs are open to all at no charge. More information is available through your public library.

Essex Savings Bank Wins New England Financial Marketing Award

Essex, CT — Gregory R. Shook, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank, is pleased to announce that the Bank was awarded a Silver Level Award for creativity and accomplishment at the first ever New England Financial Marketing Association’s Awards Gala held at the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center in Framingham Massachusetts.  In spring and early summer, NEFMA scoured New England for the best in bank and credit union marketing initiatives.  The judges were drawn from community banks and marketing companies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.  Essex Savings Bank was selected as a winner in the Community Champions category for Overall Philanthropy for its Community Investment Program whereby the Bank annually commits 10% of its after-tax net income to local non-profit organizations.  Since its inception in 1996, the program has given back $3.7 million to the communities it serves.  Lynn Giroux, Senior Vice President/Chief Administrative Officer, proudly accepted the award on behalf of Essex Savings Bank.


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

Newman Named New Executive Director at Lyme Art Association

The Lyme Art Association’s (LAA) Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Joseph F. Newman as Executive Director of the LAA, effective Oct. 1. Newman will be replacing Susan Ballek, who has accepted the position of Director and CEO of the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT.

Currently, Newman owns a private firm specializing in American fine art and rare book collection management, and serves as managing partner of Treasure Hill Farm, eastern Connecticut’s 97-acre premier equestrian facility.

Newman was previously responsible for new client development and sales for a major American auction house, as well as a prominent New York City gallery. His fine art career originated in Old Lyme, where he served as director of the Cooley Gallery, responsible for development, sales, and research. Newman received his Bachelor of Arts degrees from Boston College, graduating magna cum laude, and he holds an ALM from Harvard University. Writing as J. F. Newman, he is also the author of The Freeman’s Oath, a novel about the inside world of American rare books and documents.

“For the past two years, Joe Newman has been actively engaged in the Lyme Art Association as a board member, serving on committees dealing with exhibitions planning, development, and the launching of our Second Century Capital Campaign,” says LAA Board President Katherine Simmons. “His enthusiasm and commitment for the mission and values of the LAA, combined with his strong background in the arts and results-oriented style, is a perfect match for the Association’s goals as we embark on our next century of advancing the Lyme tradition of exceptional representational art.”

“The legacy of the Lyme Art Association and its founding artists is extremely important, both for our region and its role in our national art history,” says Newman. “Together with an outstanding and dedicated Board of Directors, I am excited to help lead the LAA and its Second Century Capital Campaign. When complete, the Campaign will strengthen the Association’s standing as an art destination for patrons from throughout the Northeast and beyond, and will improve the LAA’s mission to serve as an educational resource for local artists, schools, and the public. I welcome the community to join us as we embark on an exciting second century.”

The LAA invites its members, friends, and patrons to meet Joe Newman at the Opening Reception of the New England Landscape Invitational Exhibition, to be held on Friday, Oct. 4, from 6 to 8. pm.

The Lyme Art Association was incorporated in 1914 by members of the Lyme Art Colony, which included the American Impressionist masters Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, William Chadwick, and more. These nationally-recognized artists embraced the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme as pastoral havens to paint, re-kindle their creative energies, and, via the Association’s celebrated exhibitions, sell their work. Architect Charles A. Platt, designer of the Freer Art Gallery in Washington, D.C and the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London, CT, drafted the plans for the Lyme Art Association Gallery, designed specifically to showcase the art of its founders. The gallery opened in 1921.

Nearly a hundred years later, the Lyme Art Association continues to be a vibrant art center dedicated to producing major exhibitions of representational art in its four light-filled galleries. Annually these exhibitions feature over 2,000 pieces of artwork for exhibition and sale. The Association also offers a busy schedule of affordable art classes, workshops, and lectures. The Lyme Art Association, together with the Florence Griswold Museum, the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, and the Cooley Gallery, helps make Old Lyme the place where American art lives. The Lyme Art Association is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit the LAA online at www.lymeartassociation.org, or contact 860-434-7802 or info@lymeartassociation.org.

Essex Resident Served on Shore Crew of U.S. Winner of Recent America Cup Race

Essex resident Jason Sanstrom holding the American's Cup after the race

Essex resident Jason Sanstrom holding the American’s Cup after the race

Jason Sanstrom, an Essex resident, played an important role in the recent winning of the America Cup by Oracle Team USA. Jason is the son of Sandy Sanstrom, a Member of the Board of Governors of the Pettipaug Yacht Club in Essex.

The younger Sandstrom, 27, is a specialist in the carbon fiber construction of racing sailboats. Because it is lighter and stronger, carbon fiber construction has become the favorite over fiber glass, in the construction racing, sailboat hulls.

The younger Stanstrom worked not only on this year’s American entry in the 34th America Cup Race, he also worked on the American entry in the 33rd America Cup Race. In this year’s final race the America team, Oracle Team USA, beat out the Emirates Team New Zealand by a mere 44 seconds.

To capture the America’s Cup the U.S. team, funded by Larry Ellison, had first to win seven consecutive races in order to catch up with the New Zealand team. In the final race, initially, the New Zealand boat had a 40 meter lead; however, eventually the wind and the tide favored the Americans in going upwind, which enabled them to win.

The entire cup race lasts barely twenty minutes; the boats are so fast in going around the course.

Town Meeting Approval Required for New Essex Projects Building Committee

ESSEX— Approval from a town meeting is required for the new 2013-2014 town projects building committee established by the board of selectmen last week. The town meeting is scheduled for Monday at 5 p.m. in town hall.

The building committee will be charged with developing an implementing several town infrastructure projects that are expected to be funded by a bonding authorization that would go to town voters for approval early next year. A Sept. 18 town meeting approved spending $35,000 in surplus funds for hire an engineering consulting firm that would prepare detailed cost estimates for priority projects, including replacement of sections of the Essex Elementary School roof and replacement of the Ivory Street and and Walnut Street bridges in the Ivoryton section.

The cost estimates would be used to establish an amount for the bonding resolution, which would be presented to voters at one or more public hearings before any vote.

Voters Monday will be asked to approve two resolutions, one for the establishment of the “2013-2014 Building committee,”, and a second to approve the appointment of three members recommended by First Selectman Norman Needleman last week.

The proposed members are Bruce Glowac, town finance director Kelly Sterner, and Leigh Ann Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard Officer who is an uncontested candidate for Region 4 Board of Education in the Nov. 5 election. Glowac, who served as first selectman from 1991-1995, currently serves as the director of facilities for Region 4 schools.

Glowac is also the Republican nominee for an open seat on the board of selectmen in the Nov. 5 vote where Democratic First Selectman Needleman, Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby, and Glowac are uncontested for election to the board. Glowac’s term on the board of selectmen would begin in mid-November. The selectmen agreed last week to establish a five member building committee, with volunteers still being sought for the other two spots on the panel.

Essex Zoning Commission Approves Special Permit for Centerbrook Pharmacy

ESSEX— The zoning commission Monday unanimously approved a special permit for a new pharmacy in vacant former restaurant space in the commercial building at 31-33 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. The panel acted after a public hearing where the plan from Quality Care Drug/Centerbrook LLC drew no objections and expressions of support from two residents.

The partnership led by Pharmacist Greg McKenna operates five small pharmacies in Connecticut, including pharmacies in Haddam and Portland. The space in the 31-33 Main St. building had been previously occupied by restaurants, but has been vacant for about three years. The 31-33 Main St. building had previously housed Doane’s Pharmacy, a locally owned independent pharmacy that operated for decades before closing about seven years ago.

Before winning quick approval from the zoning commission at the special meeting Monday, the application last week had secured approval of a variance from the zoning board of appeals. The variance allows 35 parking spaces for the building where 44 spaces would be required under zoning regulations.

John Weinstein, a partner with building owner JMB Properties of Cheshire, told the commission Monday the new pharmacy would be an asset to the town, and would require less parking than any possible restaurant use. The pharmacy is expected to open before the end of the year.

The commission Monday also approved a special permit allowing the Essex Volunteer Fire Department to open a fire training facility on a section of Greider Field, a property owned by the fire department on the east side of Plains Road that also contains a recreational ball field. The fire department plan drew no objections at a Sept. 16 public hearing.