May 24, 2022

Archives for 2013

Talk at Essex Meadows on America’s Delayed Entry into World War II

IMG_7401Author Lynne Olson, whose recent book, THOSE ANGRY DAYS, Roosevelt, Lindbergh and American’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, spells out in unsparing detail the inexcusable long time that it took America to join the fight against imperial Japan, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in World War II.

Olson will speak on this theme at an open public meeting at Essex Meadows on Sunday, September 29 at 3:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Churchill Society, and a voluntary contribution of ten dollars is requested from those attending. Refreshments will be provided by Essex Meadows after author Olson’s talk.

Roosevelt Goes Slow in Going to War

As Olson notes in her book, although Great Britain’s war time leader, Winston Churchill, was literally begging Roosevelt to have America enter the war against Nazi Germany as soon as possible, the President’s  response was to parcel out support for Britain, one slow step at a time. The President’s excuse was that he did not want to get ahead of American public opinion, which he felt at the time did not want to go to war.

In her book Olson also writes how Roosevelt, ever so slowly, doled out aid to Great Britain. America’s first concrete gift was to give the British, 50 American World War I-vintage destroyers.  However, in return for these creaky, old ships, the President required Britain to hand over to the U.S. a number of British bases in the West Indies.

Author Lynne Olson

Author Lynne Olson

Next, there was the American Lend Lease program, in which Roosevelt adopted the fiction that the U.S. was not giving aid to Great Britain but rather simply lending it. Finally, there was the issue of America destroyers protecting convoys of British ships, which were crossing the Atlantic Ocean with much needed aid for Britain.

However, even when an American destroyer was sunk by a German U-boat, as Olson reports, killing 115 Americans crew members, Roosevelt did not protest such a war-provoking attack. In fact, not until Japan’s surprise attack against Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when eight American battleships were sunk, did Roosevelt call upon the Congress to declare war against Japan.

However, the President at the time did not ask the Congress to declare war against Germany or Italy, the two other Axis powers. This meant that for a short period there was speculation that America would only be at war with Japan. However, then on December 11, 1941 Germany and Italy declared war or the U.S., and finally Roosevelt asked the Congress to declare war on them as well.   

Charles Lindbergh, America’s Voice for Peace

As Olson spells out in her book, it is difficult to imagine now, just how popular Charles Lindbergh was after he made the world’s first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.  He was, literally, idolized both in Europe and America. Making him an even more evocative figure was the tragic kidnapping and murder of his young son, Charles, Jr.

After his son’s death, Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, moved to England and France for a number of years. While in Europe Lindbergh became deeply impressed by the Nazi regime of Adolph Hitler.  In fact, in 1938 Lindbergh had become such an unabashed Nazi sympathizer that he accepted the “Service Cross of the German Eagle” from the Hitler regime. The medal was personally presented to Lindbergh by Nazi Luftwaffe chief Herman Goering.

After Lindbergh returned to the United States, he became a much sought after speaker by America peace groups, such as America First. These groups were dead set against America becoming involved in another European war like that of World War I. Even after the fall of France to the Germans, and the relentless bombing of London and other British cities by the Luftwaffe, Lindbergh and his pro-peace allies counseled that the America should not take sides in the European conflict.

However, as Olson notes, Lindbergh finally took a step too far. In a speech in September 1941 in Des Moines, Iowa, he said that American Jews pose a particular “danger to this country,” because of “their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.” This was even too much for the isolationist Chicago Tribune, who in the past had praised Lindbergh for his anti-war activities, and who now repudiated his remarks.

However, for all of Lindbergh’s pro-peace activities, after the U.S. went to war against Japan, Germany and Italy, he totally committed himself to the American cause.  He even flew combat missions as a pilot in the Pacific against the Japanese, and worked on making more effective U.S. war planes, as is duly noted by Olson.

Essex Selectmen Appointing Building Committee for Planned Bonding Projects

ESSEX— The board of selectmen is appointing a five-member building committee for planned infrastructure projects that are expected to go to town voters for a bonding authorization by early next year. The selectmen are considering bonding for several capital projects, particularly replacement of sections of the Essex Elementary School roof and two bridge replacement projects in the Ivoryton section.

First Selectman Norman Needleman initially suggested a three-member building committee during discussion at the board’s meeting last week, but agreed to a suggestion from Selectman Joel Marzi for a five member committee.

The initial members recommended by Needleman are Kelly Sterner, the town’s finance director, Leigh Ann Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer who is an uncontested nominee for Region 4 Board of Education in the Nov. 5 election, and Bruce Glowac.  A former first selectman from 1991 to 1995, Glowac currently works as director of facilities for the Region 4 schools. But Glowac is also expected to return to the board of selectmen in November as the uncontested Republican nominee for the seat now held by Marzi, who is an uncontested candidate for town clerk in the Nov. 5 vote. The selectmen are seeking interested volunteers for the two other spots on the building committee that is expected to hold its first meeting later this fall.

In other business at last week’s meeting, Needleman announced one appointment and two departures. Doug Haynes of Ivoryton has been appointed as the town’s first veterans services contact person, a new position that is required under a state law that became effective in July. Haynes, a U.S. Navy veteran, will serve on a volunteer basis, helping Essex residents access available services.

Needleman announced that Stuart Ingersoll is retiring from the zoning board of appeals. Ingersoll has served on the ZBA since the mid-1960s, soon after zoning regulations became effective in Essex. He has served as board chairman for many years.

Needleman also announced that Keith Nolin is retiring from the building inspector position he has held since 2004. The town is accepting applications for a new building inspector. Nolin will continue in the part-time fire marshal position.

Deep River Residents Enjoy Homesteading Life in Maine

Richard and Maria on top of their new world, happy in their fields of wild blueberries.  Visible  below are their home and barn, and far back, Lake St. George. She picked the flowers on the walk up

Richard and Maria on top of their new world, happy in their fields of wild blueberries. Visible below are their home and barn, and far back, Lake St. George. She picked the flowers on the walk up

Liberty, Maine–Is it possible for two people in middle-age–late middle age –to change just about every aspect of their lives and find fulfillment in a new life style?

I said just about every aspect. Here is what I mean. To change the person they would live with. Where they would live. What they would do for a living. How they would spend their money. And so many other aspects that spin off from these.

Well, I know a couple who have done exactly that. And I have just seen them up close in this new life of theirs. Nothing on this earth is perfect, and that’s certainly true of human relationships. But from what I have witnessed of these two, I would say they are happy. In fact, surprisingly happy.

I am speaking of Richard and Maria King. Richard is from Deep River, Connecticut, which is my town. Maria is from Poland. They met online and then in Warsaw and quickly became convinced that they shared many aspirations.

Read the full story here

Chester Boy Scout Builds Bridge in Bushy Hill Nature Camp to Qualify for Eagle Scout Rank

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

Tyler R. Johnson, a 17-year old Chester resident, and six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, recently supervised the complete rebuilding of a much needed bridge in the Bush Hill Nature Camp in Ivoryton.

The bridge building project fulfilled for Johnson a necessary requirement for him to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. The new bridge connects the Red Trail to Berry-Berry Island in the Bushy Hill Camp.

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The new bridge is 22 feet in length and three feet wide, and it has new, four foot high, rope railings on both sides. All of the work on the new bridge was supervised by Johnson, who was assisted by 15 or more Boy Scout volunteers.

As a reward for their efforts, the volunteers received “services hours,” which are necessary for their advancement in the ranks of the Boy Scouts.  For Johnson the bridge-building project fulfilled for him the requirement to have an “Eagle Leadership Project” to become an Eagle Scout.

Johnson is a six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, and to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, he had to pass through the ranks of scouting from Tenderfoot to Eagle, with four other ranks in between. In the process Johnson earned 33 different Boy Scout merit badges, ranging from Swimming to Financial Management, from Citizenship to Small Boat Handling.

Commenting on his bridge building project, Johnson said, “I wanted to give back to the [Bushy Hill Nature]camp, which I attended for seven years, and for which I have fond memories.” Johnson also very much wants to have the impressive rank of Eagle Scout on his resume,’ as he searches for a college to attend next year.

Chester's Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester’s Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Parking Variance Approved, Essex Zoning Sets Meeting on Pharmacy Application

ESSEX—- With a parking variance approved this week by the zoning board of appeals, the zoning commission will hold a special meeting Monday on the permit application to open a pharmacy in vacant space at the commercial building at 31-33 Main St. in Centerbrook. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in town hall.

The commission had opened a public hearing on Sept. 9 on the application of Quality Care Drug/Centerbrook LLC to open a pharmacy in vacant former restaurant space at 31-33 Main St. The proposal drew no objections, and two expressions of support, from residents at the public hearing.

But the zoning commission was unable to act on the application without approval of a parking variance from the zoning board of appeals. The variance would allow 35 parking spaces where 44 spaces would be required under zoning regulations for all current and planned uses at the commercial building.

At the request of the applicant, pharmacist and business partner Greg McKenna, the commission took the unusual step of agreeing to hold special meeting to conclude the public hearing and possibly vote on the application if the variance was approved by the ZBA. The board approved the variance Tuesday after a public hearing.

Essex Yacht Earns Honors in the Marblehead to Halifax Race

Harry Bird helms Bluebird in the Marblehead to Halifax Race

Harry Bird helms Bluebird in the Marblehead to Halifax Race

The Essex based ketch Bluebird, skippered by Essex resident Harry Bird of the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, placed third in its class in the bi-annual Marblehead to Halifax race on July 11th.

The Marblehead to Halifax race is one of the world’s great open ocean races, 363 miles in length and jointly sponsored by the Boston Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.  This year’s race was the 35th rendition with the first race run in 1905.

We made it!  Bluebird’s crew outside the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in Halifax: (L to R):  Carl Ordemann (Larchmont YC), Jim Francis, Terry Stewart, Harry Bird (Essex Corinthian Yacht Club), and Ed Remillard (Essex Yacht Club).

We made it! Bluebird’s crew outside the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in Halifax: (L to R): Carl Ordemann (Larchmont YC), Jim Francis, Terry Stewart, Harry Bird (Essex Corinthian Yacht Club), and Ed Remillard (Essex Yacht Club).

Bluebird, a Migrant 45 built in England in 1983, has completed four Newport to Bermuda races and two Halifax races under Harry, competing in the cruising (non spinnaker) class.   In previous races, in the 2011 Halifax race, Harry placed second in the cruising class. In the 2010 Bermuda Race, Bluebird was second in its class and third overall in the cruising division (out of 38 boats).

His crew for this year’s Halifax race consisted of Commodore Terry Stewart and Past Commodore Jim Francis of the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, Ed Remillard of the Essex Yacht Club, and Carl Ordeman and Will Ingraham of the Larchmont Yacht Club.

Seventy five boats started the race in nine classes. Boats ranged from the 12 Meter yacht Valiant, to the maxi boat Rambler (who crossed the finish first), to the beautiful Herreshoff designed schooner, Ticonderoga.

Commodore George Archibald of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron at the award ceremony with Harry Bird

Commodore George Archibald of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron at the award ceremony with Harry Bird

This year’s race featured very light winds with fog for most of the race.  As a result, what took Bluebird two days to finish in the 2011 race took just over four days this time.

By dodging adverse currents flooding into the Bay of Fundy, Bluebird was able to cross the Gulf of Maine in route to the southern tip of Nova Scotia, avoiding several pods of whales and a few sharks in the process.

Bluebird’s final challenge was entering the port of Halifax in a heavy fog while avoiding an unseen incoming super tanker and three outgoing Japanese warships.

Upon reaching the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron dock, Harry and crew were very happy to hear Bluebird placed third in its class. Shortly thereafter, the Commodore of the Yacht Squadron awarded Harry the third place trophy in a traditional ceremony celebrating seamanship, safety, persistence, and accomplishment.

Essex Town Meeting Approves $200,000 in Special Appropriations from Surplus

ESSEX–– Voters at a town meeting Wednesday approved five special appropriations totaling $200,000 of unexpended funds from the 2012-2013 town budget. About 25 residents, many of them volunteer firefighters, turned out to approve the additional appropriations from a budget surplus that totaled about $380,000.

Finance Director Kelly Sterner said nearly all of the surplus came from additional revenue received in the budget year that ended June 30, including $229,000 from a settlement with the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, $29,000 in surplus returned from the 2011-2012 Region 4 education budget, and about $80,000 in reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for expenses incurred from Storm Sandy last October and the February blizzard. Sterner said there is about $180,000 in surplus funds remaining after the expenditures approved Wednesday.

The largest amou8nt approved Wednesday was an additional $75,000 for the volunteer fire department’s budget sinking fund. The funds will be used to purchase equipment and other items. Also approved was a supplemental appropriation of $50,000 for the municipal property sinking fund, and $15,000 for the police cruiser replacement sinking fund.

Voters also approved special appropriations of $35,000 for a bonding study and $25,000 as initial funding for a planned waste water management study. The board of selectmen is reviewing various capital projects, including roof replacement at Essex Elementary School and replacement of two bridges in the Ivoryton section, for a possible bonding authorization that could be presented to voters for approval early next year. Sterner said the $35,000 would be used to hire an engineering consulting firm to prepare detailed cost estimates for projects under consideration for bonding.

The $25,000 for a waste water management study is the initial funding for a comprehensive study of waste water disposal in the three villages of Essex, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton that could cost a total of about $150,000. First Selectman Norman Needleman said preparing for the study is a “proactive step,” to avoid any possible orders or mandates from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that could require construction of sanitary sewers in any of the village areas. He said the study could suggest less costly alternatives for any waste water disposal problems in the village areas.

The last waste water management study sponsored by the town’s water pollution control commission was completed in 1998 as part of a sewer avoidance plan for the town. Proposals for the study will be sought when additional funding is available, possibly in 2014.

2013 Ivoryton Pumpkin Festival Volunteers Needed

2nd best pumpkin fest pic

The Town of Essex Park and Recreation is currently seeking volunteers to assist at the annual Ivoryton Village Pumpkin Festival. The Pumpkin Festival will be held on Saturday, October 26. From 5 -8 p.m.. This is the 13th year for the town event and all residents of Centerbrook, Essex and Ivoryton are encouraged to get creative with their pumpkin carving.

In the past, the event had over 250 Jack-O-Lanterns decorating the Ivoryton Town Green with almost 1,500 people in attendance. There will also be the haunted library and entertainment provided by “The Federation”. Returning sponsors will be providing refreshments and kids’ activities.

Volunteers are needed to assist with registration, staging, serving refreshment, lighting pumpkins, haunted library supervision and participation, security and clean up. Please join us for a night of fun and fright.

We are also hosting a pumpkin carving party on Wed. Oct. 24th at the Essex Town Hall Auditorium– we need volunteers to carve pumpkins for our jack–o-lantern stroll. Pizza and light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to Essex Park and Recreation if you would like to attend.

For more information about volunteering at the Pumpkin Festival please contact Mary Ellen Barnes, Town of Essex Program Manager 767-4340 x110.

Chester P & Z Approves Pizza Restaurant for 69 Main Street

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has approved a special permit for a new pizza restaurant at 69 Main St. in the downtown village. The panel approved the permit on a unanimous vote at it’s Sept. 12 meeting.

The restaurant will be run by Jonathan Rapp, who also owns and operates the River Tavern restaurant at 23 Main St. in the downtown village. The 35 seat restaurant would be open daily from 5 to 11 p.m., offering pizza, salads, and gelato, along with beer and wine. The three-story building at 69 Main St. is owned by local resident Jonathan Schroder, who purchased it from the town several years ago.

The town had acquired the property in the mid-1990s for a possible expansion of town hall, which was located in a building on an abutting parcel until the current town hall opened in 2003 at 203 Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The commission imposed several conditions with the special permit approval, including a ban on outdoor music and parking behind in the area the building which is reserved for tenants on the other two floors. Patrons of the restaurant will be required to use on street parking or park in any the three town-owned lots in the village. Rapp had included a provision for outdoor seating in the application, but he will be required to obtain a separate accessory use zoning permit from the zoning enforcement officer before any outdoor seating is allowed.

Talking Transportation: Public Hearings or Political Theater?

Jim CameronI believe passionately in open, transparent government.  The public has a right to know what their elected officials are doing and comment on it before it’s done, usually by way of mandated public hearings.

So I was thrilled to see that the Government Accounting Office has issued a 56 page report sharply critical of the Port Authority of NY-NJ for raising tolls without public input.

In 2011, the Authority jacked up tolls by 50% on bridges and tunnels three days after a single public hearing, held on a weekday during rush hour.  And even at that one hearing, comments were taken without an explanation of the proposal.

It’s as if the Authority went out of its way to avoid criticism, constructive or otherwise.  And for that the GAO rightly criticized them.

We’ve seen this same thing happen many times in Connecticut:

  • The CDOT plans a rail fare increase, baked into its legislative budget, then holds public hearings.  Nothing said at the hearings can affect the decision to boost fares (except possibly to cut train service).
  • The state’s Transportation Strategy Board holds a public hearing on a million dollar study of over a dozen different possible scenarios for tolling on I-95, asking for comments but without ever explaining what the study said.
  • The state chooses to develop land under the Stamford garage in a secret negotiation with developers without ever seeking input from commuters on what’s planned.

The formula is simple, but backwards.  Lawmakers decide what they want to do and then hold a pro forma public hearing to get comments from those who will be affected.  Too often the decision has been made and, for political theater, they just go through the motions of asking for comment.

Here’s a novel idea:  why not hold a public hearing first, asking constituents, commuters and customers what they think?  Explain to them the necessity of a fare hike or development plan and then ask for their reaction.

Decisions by government-run monopolies should be made with input from all the stakeholders, not a handful of bureaucrats.  That’s how you build a consensus in a democracy.

But there is good news.  Recently in my town of Darien the pattern was broken.

A planned parking rate increase at the town’s two train stations, Darien and Noroton Heights, came up for a public hearing before the Board of Selectmen.  A final vote on the plan was on the agenda for the same evening.

But a handful of dismayed commuters who knew no details of the plan (boosting day-parking rates by 66%), turned up at the hearing and protested. They said they had not been warned about the proposal, that commuters had not been told of the public hearing and they had a slew of complaints and concerns about other aspects of the parking lots and stations.

I guess I was the one responsible for that turnout, as I’m the one who posted signs at the station and leafleted cars in the parking lot, something I told the town fathers they could and should have done.

To their credit, and my surprise, the public hearing was continued for another week and the rate-hike pushed back until more commuters could be heard.  Signs were posted at the stations informing commuters of the proposals and the chance to be heard.

The Board of Selectmen was not required to do that, but they did.  And they deserve credit and our thanks for listening first and voting second.

 JIM CAMERON has been a commuter out of Darien for 23 years.  He is a member of the new CT Rail Commuter Council and the Darien RTM.  You can reach him at or

Essex Zoning Holds Special Meeting to Act on Proposed Centerbrook Pharmacy

ESSEX-— The zoning commission is ready to hold a special meeting next week to act on a special permit application for a pharmacy in vacant former restaurant space in the commercial building at 31-33 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. But any action on the application is dependent on the approval Tuesday of a parking variance from the zoning board of appeals.

The commission opened the public hearing Monday on the application of Quality Care Drug/Centerbrook LLC. Greg McKenna, a licensed pharmacist and partner in the firm, said the partnership currently owns and operates five small “community based” pharmacies including pharmacies in Haddam, Portland, and three in Fairfield county. McKenna said the parking needs for the pharmacy would “certainly be far less,” than the parking requirements for restaurants that had operated in the vacant space until late 2010.

JMB Properties, a Cheshire group that owns the building, is seeking a variance from the zoning board of appeals to allow a total 35 parking spaces for the building where 44 spaces would be required under zoning regulations for all current and proposed uses in the building. The ZBA is set to hold a public hearing, and possibly act, on the appeal Tuesday.

No one expressed opposition to the proposed pharmacy at the zoning commission hearing Monday. Two residents spoke in support of the application, Paul Partica, owner of the Centerbrook Cheese Shop located in the 31-33 main St. building, and local engineer Robert Doane. Doane’s father ran a pharmacy that operated in the Centerbrook building for decades until around 2006. Partica said he has never observed a lack of parking at the building, which also houses the Centerbrook Package Store, since opening the cheese shop in late 2010.

When commission members also raised no questions or objections during the hearing,

Peter Lucchese, a Clinton realtor who has been marketing the vacant space, asked the panel to consider acting on the permit application before the next scheduled meeting on Oct.21. Lucchese said McKenna is hoping to open by Thanksgiving to allow the business to start generating some return on the investment going in to the winter season.

Commission Chairman Alvin Wolfgram said the panel usually delays a vote until the next regular monthly meeting, particularly if a key requirement, such as the nine-space parking variance, is still lacking. But after discussion, the commission agreed to schedule a Sept. 23 special meeting to close the public hearing and vote on the pharmacy application, as long as the parking variance first wins approval from the ZBA.

Chester P & Z Continues Hearing on Town Plan Change Requested by Aaron Manor

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has continued a public hearing on the request by Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for an amendment to the town plan of conservation and development that would give the facility the option of connecting to the town sewer system. The hearing that began Thursday will resume at the commission’s Oct. 10 meeting.

The 60-bed nursing facility, located at 3 Wig Hill Road off Route 148, is requesting revisions to the 2009 town plan that would give it the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system that currently serves the downtown village and areas south on Route 154 to the Deep River town line. The septic system for the 60-year old facility has been failing for several years due to seasonal high ground water, and Aaron Manor is under a consent order with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to resolve the problems.

Represented by Essex engineer Alvin Wolfgram, the facility last winter applied to the inland-wetlands commission seeking a permit for a new and expanded septic system and on-site treatment system. The IWC asked Wolfgram to also investigate the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system, leading to a withdrawal of the permit application last March. The town plan currently makes no provision for sewers west of the downtown village along Route 148, a situation that blocks any consideration of the hook-in option for Aaron Manor.

The idea of revising the town plan to accommodate Aaron Manor drew a mixed response from residents at the hearing. The hearing began with First Selectman Edmund Meehan contending the request should have been first presented to the board of selectmen, and could possibly require approval from voters at a town meeting. Commission lawyer David Royston said town meeting action was not required if changes are approve by a two-thirds vote of the nine-member commission. But Royston recommended continuing the hearing to allow for review and input from the selectmen.

Royston also urged the commission to “proceed cautiously” with any changes to the town plan, with an eye toward addressing any possible conflicts with a statewide plan of conservation and development that became effective in June. One possible conflict could be an increase in potential development density that could result from an extension of the sewer line west along Route 148.

Several residents objected to changing the plan, with some suggesting there should be another way to give Aaron Manor a connection option without amending the plan. Meehan said any decision on changing the plan should include a review of all vacant land that is available for development along Route 148 to the Route 9 Exit 6 interchange. “Part of this decision is what is the sewer service area the commission wants for the town of Chester,” Meehan said.

But a representative of one nearby property owner suggested connecting Aaron Manor to the municipal sewer system could be the most environmentally sound option for resolving septic problems at the facility. Joan Malloy, a Wallingford attorney representing the owners of nearby Chapel Farm, contended the new and larger on site system proposed last winter could lead to contamination of a stream that runs through the farm property.

Wolfgram said connecting Aaron Manor to the municipal system with a sewer line running more than 1.5 miles along Route 148 would be “physically feasible,”, but costly, while adding the new and larger on site septic system that would be required for Aaron Manor would also be “very expensive.”

I Love You, You’re Perfect Now Change – At The Ivoryton Playhouse

Christopher Sutton

Christopher Sutton

Ivoryton: The much loved musical comedy I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts has played more than 5.000 performances, has been translated into more than dozen languages and produced the world over and now opens at The Ivoryton Playhouse on September 25.

This celebration of the mating game takes on the truths and myths behind that contemporary conundrum known as “the relationship”. From dating and waiting to love and marriage; from the agonies and triumphs of in-laws and newborns, trips in the family car and pick up techniques of the geriatric set. This hilarious revue pays tribute to those who have loved and lost, to those who have fallen on their face at the portal of romance, and to those who have dared to ask “Say, what are you doing Saturday night?”

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change goes through your funny bone and straight to your heart!” said Jacqui Hubbard, Executive Director “You’ll fall head over heels for this hilarious musical comedy about that terribly wonderful, absolutely crazy thing called love!”

Christopher Sutton will be directing and starring in this production. Christopher was supposed to have been joined on stage by his beautiful wife, Lynn Philistine, but the arrival of the newest member of their family, a bouncing baby boy, Dylan, has necessitated a change in plans! The cast includes Ivoryton favorite Sheila Coyle*; Holly Holcombe* who was last in Ivoryton as a student at the Hartt School in a production of A Woman of a Certain Age; and Michael Brian Dunn* who will be making his Ivoryton debut. Musical direction is by Logan Medland, costumes by Kari Crowther, set design by Tony Andrea and lights by Tate Burmeister.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change opens in Ivoryton on September 25 and runs through October 13 . Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Generously sponsored by: Clark Corporation, First Niagara Bank and Hamilton Connections.

*member of Actors Equity


Essex Zoning Commission Public Hearing Monday on Centerbrook Pharmacy Application

ESSEX— The zoning commission has scheduled a public hearing Monday on a special permit application for a pharmacy in the commercial building at 31-33 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. The hearing, one of four on the panel’s Monday agenda, begins at 7 p.m. in town hall.

Quality Care Drug/Centerbrook LLC is seeking to open a pharmacy in vacant space that was previously occupied by Debbie’s Restaurant, which closed in 2010. But the plan requires a parking variance from the zoning board of appeals which must be approved before the zoning commission could act on the special permit application.

The ZBA has a public hearing Tuesday on an appeal by JMB Properties LLC of Cheshire, owner of 31-33 Main St, for a variance of the parking requirements of zoning regulations to allow 35 off-street parking spaces where 45 spaces are required for all existing or proposed uses on the property.

Quality Care Drug/ Centerbrook LLC is owned by Greg McKenna, a Berlin resident who owns other small, non-chain, pharmacies around the state. The 31-33 Main St. building was the home for decades of Doane’s Pharmacy, an independent, locally-owned pharmacy that closed more than six years ago. In subsequent years, the space that had been the pharmacy was occupied by an expanded Centerbrook Package Store, leaving only the former restaurant space remaining vacant in the commercial building. The only other pharmacy in town is the Rite-Aid located at the Bokum Corners Shopping Plaza.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said this week the zoning commission can not act on the pharmacy application without ZBA approval of the parking variance for the overall property. Budrow said the commission is expected to continue any public hearing on the proposed pharmacy that is opened Monday to it’s October 21 meeting, after any action on the variance by the ZBA at the Sept. 17 meeting.

Essex Garden Club Announces New Officers for 2013-2015

L to R: Barbara Burgess, 1st Vice President, Barbara Hall, Recording Secretary, Linda Newberg, President, and Patricia Mather, Treasurer.  Missing are Dianne Sexton, 2nd Vice President, Barbara Marden, Corresponding Secretary and Carol Denham, Assistant Secretary.

L to R: Barbara Burgess, 1st Vice President, Barbara Hall, Recording Secretary, Linda Newberg, President, and Patricia Mather, Treasurer. Missing are Dianne Sexton, 2nd Vice President, Barbara Marden, Corresponding Secretary and Carol Denham, Assistant Secretary.

The new Officers for the Essex Garden Club are Linda Newberg, President, Barbara Burgess, 1st Vice President, Dianne Sexton, 2nd Vice President, Barbara Hall, Recording Secretary, Barbara Marden, Corresponding Secretary, Patricia Mather, Treasurer, and Carol Denham, Assistant Treasurer.

After officially taking the EGC gavel on September 9, 2013, Linda Newberg described an exciting agenda and activities for the Club which will  correlate with the Club’s mission of beautification of the three villages of Essex, spreading horticultural knowledge and supporting the conservation of natural resources.

Ms. Newberg described this year’s theme as “Thinking Outside the Box” and encouraged members to reflect on past strategies and develop new ways to successfully meet  the Club’s  objectives  and accomplish the goals of its mission.  She considers the Essex Garden Club a “treasure” where imagination, creativity, hard work and camaraderie come together for the benefit of the members and the community alike.

Chester P & Z to Hold Public Hearing Thursday on Proposed Revisions to Town Plan

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing Thursday on proposed modifications to the 2009 town plan of conservation and development that are requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The hearing convenes at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The 60-bed skilled nursing facility located off Route 148 at 3 Wig Hill Road is under a consent order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to repair and upgrade the septic system that has served the facility for decades. Aaron Manor, represented by Essex engineer Alvin Wolfgram, had applied to the inland-wetlands commission earlier this year for a permit for a new and expanded septic system. In considering the application, the IWC had asked Wolfgram to also explore the option of connecting to the existing town sewer system which serves the downtown village and several properties extending east to Route 154 and south to the Deep River town line.

The system was expanded in 2009 and currently sends waste water from Chester south to the Deep River sewer system and the waste water treatment plant on Winter Avenue in Deep River. Under a 2005 agreement, Deep River agreed to accept waste water from Chester for treatment at the Winter Avenue plant.

The town plan that was last updated in 2009 makes no provision for an expansion of the municipal sewer system to the west along Route 148. Aaron Manor is requesting changes to four chapters in the town plan that could allow for consideration or any proposal for a future expansion of the system west along Route 148.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said last month the town has no plans for any westward expansion of the sewer system on Route 148 to the Route 9 Exit 6 interchange, an area that includes Aaron Manor. Any expansion to the area, a distance of about 1.6 miles from the end of the existing system, would have to be self-funded by Aaron Manor, possibly with assistance from state and federal grants. A change to the town plan of development would at least allow Aaron Manor to consider a connection option as it works to comply with the state consent order.

Essex Housing Authority Plans for Expansion of Essex Court Elderly Housing

ESSEX— The Essex Housing Authority is developing plans for a possible 20-unit expansion of the Essex Court elderly housing complex at 16 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. At a Sept. 5 special meeting, the board of selectmen approved a change to a lease agreement that is required for the authority’s current plan to proceed.

The expansion would be constructed on a one-acre parcel at the back section of the complex. The parcel is owned by the town, and leased to the authority under a 99-year lease approved in 2002. But the appointed authority has established a non-profit sub-group, Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., to coordinate the expansion project. The lease agreement would be amended to include a reference to Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc.

Janice Atkeson, chairwoman of the housing authority, said the authority has hired the Middletown-based Women’s Institute of Housing and Economic Development to assist in planning for the project, particularly in applying for loans or grant funds that could be used to pay for construction. The group earlier this year secured a $250,000 pre-development planning grant from the state Department of Housing, with some of the funds used to hire the Quisenberry & Arcari Architects LLC firm of Farmington to prepare a preliminary design plan for the project.

Atkeson said the plan for a possible expansion of 20 to 22 units would be used in the coming months to apply for loans and other funding for the project. If funding is secured, the project could be put out to bid and construction begin in 2014.

The new rental units would be available to persons over age 62 who meet income guidelines. The existing 36-unit Essex Court elderly housing complex opened in 1985, but has been renovated and upgraded in recent years with the help of grant funding.

9 Town Transit Welcomes Eight New Buses

First Selectman Carl Fortuna, First Selectman Ralph Eno, First Selectman Dick Smith, Leslie Strauss, First Selectman Noel Bishop, John Forbis and First Selectman Norman Needleman (Photo courtesy of Roland Laine).

First Selectman Carl Fortuna, First Selectman Ralph Eno, First Selectman Dick Smith, Leslie Strauss, First Selectman Noel Bishop, John Forbis and First Selectman Norman Needleman (Photo courtesy of Roland Laine).

Shoreline transit users are getting a more comfortable, and colorful, ride thanks to eight new buses introduced over the past several months.

The new buses rolled out by 9 Town Transit (9TT) include the region’s first two low-floor buses. These buses have no steps inside, making it easier for passengers to board. Each bus also offers a ramp for people utilizing wheelchairs or walkers instead of the traditional wheelchair lifts. With this delivery, the fleet now has five hybrid electric buses. Hybrid technology saves fuel and emissions, resulting in reduced cost and environmental impact. The 9TT fleet is now 40% hybrid electric. However, if anyone is involved in an accident involving one of these buses, they should definitely consider seeking support from someone like a bus accident attorney los angeles as they could be able to help out when this kind of accident occurs.

9TT does not only rely on hybrid vehicles to save fuel. There are two diesel buses and one mini bus that also service the district. The diesel powered buses consume 40% less fuel than their gasoline counterparts. The mini bus has improved gas mileage over the traditional 12 passenger buses and is easier to navigate into residential driveways for our dial-a-ride passengers.

The purchase represents the largest single year vehicle investment in 9TT’s history at a total price tag of $873,073. The project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Federal Transit Administration, the Connecticut Clean Fuels Program and the Connecticut Department of Transportation..

9 Town Transit provides service to all parts of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, with connections to New Haven, New London and Middletown. All services are open to the general public. Additional information, route maps and schedules are available online at or by calling 9 Town Transit at 860-510-0429.

Sen. Linares, and Rep. Carpino Hear from Local Manufacturers in Chester Meeting

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Chris Dimou, President of Roto Frank, Inc. (right) pause at the entrance to the Chester-based manufacturer which hosted the Sep. 6

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Chris Dimou, President of Roto Frank, Inc. (right) pause at the entrance to the Chester-based manufacturer which hosted the Sep. 6

State Rep. Christie Carpino and State Sen. Art Linares on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion with local business owners to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

The meeting, which was held at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc., brought together area job creators with the goal of crafting and improving the state’s business climate.

“It was a productive meeting and a great turnout,” Rep. Carpino said. “We want business leaders throughout our districts to know they have partners at the State Capitol who will fight to pass policies which grow jobs and make our state a more attractive place to do business. We heard real-life examples of some detrimental state legislation that hinders job creation and growth. This is unacceptable! We look forward to future meetings like this where we can continue to exchange ideas.”

“We view these manufacturers – and all taxpayers – as our customers,” Sen. Linares said. “We want them to know that their voices matter and that they will be heard in Hartford. Whatever Rep. Carpino and I can do to help respond to their needs, we will do.”

Among the business leaders in attendance were:

  • Chris Dimou, President of Chester-based Roto Frank, Inc.
  • Chip Merritt, CEO of Colchester-based InCord, Ltd
  • Andrew J. Gibson, CEO of Chester-based AeroCision
  • Robert Reynolds, Co-CEO and Chief Operating Officer at Portland-based Standard-Knapp Inc.
  • Kelli-Marie Vallieres, President/CEO at Old Saybrook-based Sound Manufacturing, Inc./Monster Power Equipment
  • Rick Puglielli, President at Portland-based Promold Plastics
Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Christie Carpino listen to comments from local business leaders on how Connecticut can improve its business environment. The legislators on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc. to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Christie Carpino listen to comments from local business leaders on how Connecticut can improve its business environment. The legislators on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc. to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

Robert J. Marcinek joins Essex Financial Services

Essex Financial Services, recently announced that Robert J. Marcinek, CFP, has joined the firm’s nationally renowned team of Financial Advisors.   Over nearly 30 years, Marcinek has a developed a deep base of experience in financial services, in both commercial banking and financial management and advisory services.   He joins EFS after 11 years as a wealth planning advisor with Sagemark Consulting and Sagemark Private Wealth Services.

“Bob is ideally suited to Essex Financial Services.  He specializes in financial planning, investment management and estate planning for individuals, families and small business owners and has built a broad client base,” stated Charles Cumello, Jr., interim chief executive officer of EFS.

Marcinek holds an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (1984) and a BA in economics from the University of Connecticut (1979).  Bob is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and holds a variety of securities registrations and insurance licenses.

Bob and his wife Alison reside in Essex, CT.  They have three children and are actively involved in the local community.

Middlefield Firm Picked for Essex Town Hall Campus Project

ESSEX— The town is expected to hire Xenelis Construction Inc. of Middlefield as the lead contractor for the Town Hall Campus Project after components of the project were modified when the four bids received for the work exceeded the state grant funding for the project.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said Friday the Middlefield firm has agreed to various changes that were required to hold the cost of the project close to the $471,500 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant funding that was awarded for the project late last year. Needleman said the board of selectmen is expected to award a modified contract to Xenelis Construction at it’s next regular meeting on September 18, with work to begin later that week.

The project includes repaving and expanding the town hall parking lot, new tennis courts, and a new handicapped accessible playscape in the Grove Street Park that abuts the town hall property. There would also be new crosswalks, sidewalks, and other improvements intended to enhance the connections between the town hall property and the Essex Library property on the other side of Grove Street.

Xenelis Construction had submitted the second lowest of four bids that were opened on Aug. 8, but the total price of $638,113 exceeded the available grant funding. Needleman said he worked with town Public Works Director David Caroline to remove items from the bid package where the town could obtain lower prices, such as paving and site preparation work.

The town will use to state Department of Transportation subcontractors, Garrity Construction of Bridgewater and American Paving Company of Berlin, for the site preparation and paving work. “It was a very complicated process and we had to review all four bids line by line,” Needleman said.

Needleman said Xenelis Construction will receive $277,261 for most components of the project, including construction of the new tennis courts. The components for a new handicapped accessible playscape will cost $130,000. Lenard Engineering of Meriden, which prepared the design plans for the project, will receive $21,000, with a $27,000 contingency and pavements to the site preparation and paving subcontractors accounting for the remainder of the total cost.

Needleman said the town will direct between $130,000 and $150,000 to the project in addition to the grant funding. He said the town was always planning to pay for some components of the project, with all of this funding available in the current town budget without the need for any special appropriation. With construction expected to begin around Sept. 19, the project is expected to be completed by mid-December.

Chester Village West, a Luxury Retirement Community on Top of a Hill in Chester

Entry sign of Chester Village West, located on the western boundary of Chester

Entry sign of Chester Village West, located on the western boundary of Chester

To reach Chester Village West come north on Route 9, and then get off at Exit 6. Next, at the bottom of the ramp, take a left on to Route 148, and then drive up what feels like a long, long hill.  As you climb, there is almost nothing but full grown tress along both sides of the road.

Then, suddenly, on your left you see the large sign for Chester Village West. You have now reached a state of the art, fully developed, top of the line, retirement community.

Entrance road into Chester Village West, a meticulously kept retirement community

Entrance road into Chester Village West, a meticulously kept retirement community

Running the show at the retirement community is Executive Director Robert Taylor, who terms Chester Village West, “a premier, senior living community.” There are presently 105 residents at the “community,” tended, and cared for, by a staff of 43.

A key member of the staff at the community is Nurse Navigator Catherine Balliett. She is the “go to” person, whenever a resident has a medical question, which can range all the way from a troublesome hang nail to a worrisome pain in the chest.

The living quarters at Chester Village West consist of 90 apartments and 15 semi-detached houses. The apartments have four layouts, which are: one bedroom, one bedroom with den, two bedrooms, and two bedrooms with den. As for the semi-detached houses, they all have two bedrooms, with a choice of two different layouts plans.

These accommodations, as well as the other amenities at the community, are located on 25 acres of developed land on the western town line of Chester. Abutting the developed acreage, are 25 more acres belonging to Chester Village West, which are wetlands.

The Large Corporate Owner of Chester Village West

Chester Village West is wholly owned by Life Care Services, which has its headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. In total the company owns 17 senior living facilities, including Chester Village West, and it is also the managing partner of 112 other senior living facilities. In total the company has operations in 38 states.

The relevance of this wide experience, says Chester Village West’s Executive Director Bob Taylor, is that when it comes to senior living,  “We perfected it.” Taylor is also not reluctant in comparing his retirement facility in Chester with Essex Meadows in Essex. “We consider Essex Meadows as one of our competitors,” he says.

Taylor’s number one desire for residents at Chester Village West is that he wants all of them to feel that, “This is your home.”

The Array of Services at Chester Village West  

The services that are available at Chester West are truly staggering. They include one meal a day prepared by a, “five star,” Master Chef in the person of Chris Pardue, who even has his own herb garden.  Furthermore, residents are offered not only “gracious” dining with full table service, if they prefer there is “take out” service as well.

In addition to the one table served meal a day at Chester Village West, there is also complementary morning coffee and Danish as well. Also, at the community, residents are provided with: housekeeping services, linen services, scheduled transportation, utilities services, a full-time maintenance staff, lawn and garden care, 24-hour security, a full time Activities Director, shopping services, and a 24-hour Home Health Aide.

Also, the community has a backup generator to use, just in case regular power goes out. “It was a top priority upon my arrival, “says Executive Director Bob Taylor. In addition, Chester Village West is “pet friendly.”

More Features at the Chester Village West

Other attractive features at Chester Village West include: apartments with eat-in kitchens, which have either balconies or patios, and semi-detached houses with garages and fireplaces. Also, on site are an indoor swimming pool, a pub, a library, a music room and theater, a card room, a creative arts room, a beauty shop/barber shop, an exercise room, a greenhouse, and a pond with a gazebo.

In addition, for emergencies there is an emergency response system in each apartment or house, as well as a fire alarm system throughout the facility.

In conclusion, Executive Director Bob Taylor says, “The true value of Chester Village West can only be appreciated by touring the community, walking its many trails, and meeting staff and residents first hand.”

For further information, and for a private guided tour, interested parties can contact Sara Philpott, Marketing Director, Chester Village West, at 860-526-6800.

Chester Selectmen Endorse State Plan for Improvements to Road in State Forest

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Tuesday endorsed a plan by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for drainage improvements to Cedar Swamp Road in the Cockaponset State Forest.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the DEEP Forestry division is planning to install low water flow culverts on sections of Cedar Swamp Road, an unimproved town road that runs south through the state forest to the Winthrop section of Deep River. Meehan said the drainage work is intended to reduce storm water flows that have led to rutting in the road and damaged forest vegetation after use by various all-terrain vehicles. The drainage work would be done in the spring of 2014.

The plan for improvements was also reviewed by the town’s conservation commission, which asked the DEEP in install signs near the end of the improved section of the road in Chester declaring the road is suitable for use only be 4-wheel drive vehicles. In 2009, the state began closing and blocking the road at both the Chester and Deep River ends during the winter months. But the rugged unimproved road is open for use during the warm weather seasons.

In other business Tuesday, the board agreed to ask voters at a town meeting to amend a town ordinance to set the membership of the appointed economic development commission at five members. Meehan said the town ordinance establishing the economic development commission sets the membership for the panel at seven, though only four members are currently serving on the commission. Meehan said this has led to problems securing a quorum of members to hold legal meetings. The proposed amendment, to be included on the agenda of a town meeting to be held this fall, would specify an EDC with five members to be appointed by the board of selectmen for three year terms.

Car Crashes in to Former Aggie’s Restaurant in Ivoryton

Crashed front door and windows (Photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson)

Crashed front door and windows (Photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— The front entrance to the former Aggie’s Restaurant at 107 Main St. in the Ivoryton section was shattered when a car crashed in to the building Monday evening. State Police report a Chevrolet Malibu operated by Richard LaFountain, 31, of Wallingford was westbound on Main Street around 7:45 p.m. Monday when LaFountain failed to negotiate a small curve in the road and crashed in to the lower level entrance to the building.

A passenger and the owner of the vehicle, Lila Harvey, 29, of Portland, was transported to the Shoreline Clinic for treatment of minor injuries. Police issued LaFountain a ticket for traveling too fast for conditions.

The breakfast and lunch restaurant at the lower level of 107 Main St. was owned and operated for several years by local resident Agnes Waterman. The restaurant closed in June when the property was sold to new owners. It has not reopened.

A New Life in a New Land With Challenges Aplenty

Tarek and Elena  are all smiles as they get started in Quebec. They have faced  problems  before. He especially.

Tarek and Elena are all smiles as they get started in Quebec. They have faced problems before. He especially.

Longueil, Province of Quebec – I just had a wonderful visit with Tarek and Elena in this suburb of Montreal. Met their three cute little daughters, ages 3 to 10. They are brand-new immigrants from Ukraine, so eager to start a new life with much brighter opportunities.

I thought I’d be with them an hour or two. Well, it was more than three. So fascinating to hear what they went through to get accepted here, and how they’re making it. Not easy!

I got to meet Tarek and Elena when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. They worked at Headquarters in Kyiv, the capital. He was a pharmacist in the medical department. I’d meet him when I went to see a doctor there. I served a full-hitch of 27 months so that happened quite often.

I found out he spoke French, quite a rarity there. He had to speak good English for that job, of course. But he was also fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, which I expected, but also in Algerian. Quite a feat! Sometimes I’d poke into his office just for a little chat in French with him.

His wife Elena was the travel assistant. She was Ukrainian and a university grad. She handled arrangements for Headquarters staffers and Volunteers on official travel. By plane, train, bus, or any combination. In Ukraine and to any other country. All my travel was on my own, and I traveled quite a bit, in Europe and even to China. She didn’t have to be but was always cheerfully helpful.

They had good jobs. They were both in their 30s. I took it for granted they’d be there till they retired. Imagine my surprise when I got an email from him a year ago. In French, by the way. He told me they were moving to Canada. Wow!

He asked me if I had any contacts in Montreal. They didn’t know a soul there. I said yes, and put him in touch with a couple. He was very appreciative.

More than once I wondered, Why did they make this enormous move, and with three little kids? Leave family and friends, and of course lovely Kyiv? What made them decide it was worth facing all the difficulties and challenges they were sure to run into in Quebec?

So when I decided to come up here in my van, I lost no time asking to stop by and visit. He promptly and enthusiastically said yes.

I had bad luck. I showed up an hour late, and through no fault of mine. I had hardly parked when all five came out to welcome me. They had been at the window, watching for me!

It was the first time I saw Lisa, Sofia, and Amalia. What sweet little girls.

I knew that Elena didn’t know a word of French, which is the official language here. That was something to cause them concern. And the little girls would be facing that challenge, too, plus other tough adjustments. Learning a new language like french can be a struggle for anyone if this isn’t their first language. It also applies to people who want to pick up any new language. Maybe one of your goals could be to learn to speak english, as it is one of the most spoken languages in the world. Taking a course like The Effortless English Club will have you speaking English confidently in no time!

Well, Tarek filled me in about everything.

First, about him. He was born in Ukraine and grew up in Algeria, and that’s why he’s so good at French in addition to the native Algerian. His mother was Russian and his dad Algerian. They met in Moscow when they were students.

In Algeria, he decided he wanted to be a doctor. I asked him why. A lot of doctors go into medicine primarily to make money and enjoy prestige. That’s well known. “No, no,” he said. “I wanted to help people.” I believe him. He graduated from medical school in Algiers and passed the credentialing test and became a certified M.D. there.

There was a war going on. He wanted no part of it. He moved to Ukraine. He had relatives there. He found out that he couldn’t practice medicine there because of a crazy technicality. That’s how he got to work at Peace Corps as a pharmacist.

Along the way, he met Elena again. Love! Marriage! There three kids were born there.

So why did they decide to move to Quebec? “We have three kids and we wanted for them to have more opportunities in life, and grow up in a multicultural environment. We spent a long time deciding. We’d move to another country. It hasn’t been easy. But we’re very glad we made that decision.”

I said to him, “You were turned down by the United States, is that what happened.” In my work in Ukraine I had run into many people who thought about emigrating, and the U.S. was always their first choice. They thought of our country as Paradise on earth. I always agreed with them that we’re a very wonderful country, but we have problems, too. We’re no Paradise.

“No, we never considered the United States,” Tarek told me. That astonished me. I took it for granted that the U.S. had been their first choice.

“Why not?”

“It’s a fine country, but Canada is better. It is less aggressive, that’s for sure. Children can grow up with less worry about having to go off somewhere in the world to fight in a war.

“And Canada, like the United States, is made up of people with all kinds of backgrounds, but Canadians seem to be more accepting of one another. There’s less discrimination, it seems to us.

“Taxes are much higher here, but there’s more money spent on services for people. Canadians don’t have to worry as much about good health care, for instance. Or good care when they’re old. Or their children getting a good education that will be affordable. We researched all that. And that’s how we made our decision.”

I knew that he was studying to be a pharmacist in Montreal. “How is that going, Tarek?”

“No, not a pharmacist. That takes five years and leads to a doctorate. I’m studying to be licensed as a pharmacist technician. That takes one year full-time. I’ll complete that by Christmas.”

“Gosh, why assistant? That surprises me.”

“I just turned 40. I have to earn money! Elena is studying French full time in a College—a special program of preparation for immigrants. She enjoys it. Is learning French. Quebec history and culture. Many practical things. Important things.

“And I intend to be a doctor again. That is my dream. It is possible, though there are many steps and it will take time. I will achieve it faster this way. Five years in pharmacy school would make it impossible.”

I remembered that back in Ukraine, Tarek was completing a fellowship in radiology, including nuclear radiology, at a major hospital there. He’d be a radiologist now if they had stayed there. Imagine that. They’d have a good life over there.

I looked around as we spoke. They had a nice apartment on the first floor of a six-apartment building in a lower middle class neighborhood. It was safe and comfortable and clean and had all the basics. Even hot water and a washer and dryer and a TV and full computer set-up, but it’s not the place a couple with their credentials would normally live in.

Elena was a warm and caring person. She kept coming out with something for me. A cup of hot tea with mint and ginger. Delicious. Then she came out with a supper plate of toasts with scrambled eggs. She knew I didn’t eat flesh of any kind. She had some wonderful herb in those eggs. Then a piece of cake. Then a baked apple.

I kept thinking that had been a prestige job she had back in Peace Corps. I wondered about her feelings now. She did seem radiantly happy in her role and mother. The two of them certainly had a close and caring relationship. I could see that.

She spoke fine English, but I knew she didn’t speak French. In an email, I had asked Tarek if I should speak in English or French when I was with the family.

“French, please. It will be good practice for them.”

So French it was. I had to compliment her. I could tell she was following our conversation. Even joining in.

It had taken them three years to get through the admission process. A lot of suspense. They had to agree to a lot of things. One was to send the children to French Schools. Another was to arrive with $5,000 dollars—Canadian dollars–in their pocket. That’s a lot of money for Ukrainians. A teacher earns about $2,000 a year, as I remember it.

“That $5,000 is to keep an immigrant family going for the first three months,” he said. “If we had gone to Ontario next door, we would have needed $10,000. But Quebec is what interested us.”

He thought a minute. “It takes at least $20,000 per year to get by here. Just get by. We bought that nice computer in the living room because it was absolutely essential. We use it every day. It’s so useful so many ways, including my studies, of course.”

Elena spoke up. “I speak to my father in Ukraine every day! By Skype. On the computer!” She beamed as she said that.

I asked her, “Do you like snow? There’s an awful lot here!” I was sure she’d say no. I myself got tired of snow many years ago. Had to shovel too much of it. Drive in it too often. Many people feel as I do.

She laughed. “We love snow!”

They have no car. He takes a bus every morning, then switches to a subway to get to school in Montreal. Does it in reverse to get home. Takes an hour each way. They chose this apartment because it was close to all the important things. Thy walk, walk, walk. In 10 months they haven’t had the time or the money to visit anything beyond the range of city transit.

It’s a hectic schedule. He goes to classes every day. She goes to her own classes. The two older girls are in primary school. The youngest is in a day care. The weekends are precious.

With all those languages, what do they speak at home. Russian and French. Those are the most important for the girls right now. Hopefully the others, too, some day.

He brought up the subject of money again.

“It costs a minimum of $20,000 a year for a family to get by here. That’s a lot of money. And pharmacy school is expensive. We do get financial help. I receive a study grant from the provincial government. A check every month. But it is for a limited time only. I will have to pay back a small percentage of it. That’s all. And there’s also a program of family assistance. So much for each child. We receive that every month, too. It is very helpful.”

He smiled. “It is a challenge! We expected it to be a challenge. We are doing fine. My job prospects are very good. One step at a time. When I get a job, we will buy a car. I will take lessons. Elena will take lessons. And in due time we will be full Canadian citizens! Our little girls will grow up in a free and democratic society.”

And he would be a medical doctor, I felt quite sure.

I brought up the question of politics in Ukraine and in Canada. A natural question. But he didn’t want to get into it. I could understand that.

It’s only when he mentioned how he and Elena planned to take driving lessons that I realized they had never learned to drive. It really was a different world back there in Ukraine.

I felt so good to see what a good and loving home life they were enjoying, despite the difficulties. And how they were going all out to make it even better with their little daughters in this new world so different.

I was positive that if Quebec had extended such a welcoming hand to them, with assistance of this kind and that kind, it was because Quebec was sure that they would become very valuable new citizens.

Quebec was as determined to make a better future for itself as they were for themselves.

A win-win situation in the making!


Region 4 School Boards Approve New Four-Year Contract for Cafeteria Workers

REGION 4— District school boards have approved a new four-year contract for 17 full-time cafeteria workers at the five district schools. The agreement with the worker’s bargaining unit, Council 4 Local 1303-091, was approved by the four district school boards at an Aug. 22 joint meeting.

The contract that runs through June 30, 2017 provides step pay increases, but no across-the-board wage hike, for the current year 2013-2014. There will be two percent pay raises, but no step increases, in the second and third years, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. There would be a 2.215 percent wage increase, but no step increases, in the final year of the agreement, 2016-2017. The cafeteria workers have a much simpler step pay plan than district professionals such as teachers and para-educators, with three steps that are based on years of service.

The contract also includes a change in the pension plan for newly hired employees. The existing defined benefits pension plan would continue for all current members of the bargaining unit, but employees hired after July 1,2013 would have a different pension plan that requires a matching contribution from the employee. For health insurance coverage, the co-pay requirement for employees would increase from the previous 15 percent to a 17 percent share of premium costs beginning in the current school year.

Former Resident State Trooper Hired as New Deep River Police Officer

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen this week hired Chris Cope, a former resident state trooper, as the town’s new full-time police officer. The hiring was approved at the board’s regular meeting on Aug. 27.

First Selectman Richard Smith said Friday Cope, an East Lyme resident, was one of six finalists interviewed for the new full-time police position. Cope retired last March after 20 years with the Connecticut State Police. At the time of his retirement, Cope was completing about four years of service as the resident state trooper for Deep River.

Smith said Cope must complete about two weeks of comparative transfer training at the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden. The training is required for former state troopers shifting to work in a municipal police department. Smith said Cope is expected to begin patrol duties in Deep River by mid-October. He joins a force that now includes full-time officer Raymond Sypher, and two part-time officers, Smith and Peter Lewis. The town officers serve under the supervision of a resident state trooper.

In other business this week, a town meeting Tuesday approved five additional appropriations from the now concluded 2012-2013 budget year that totaled $283,221. Only one resident joined the three selectmen and Town Clerk Amy Winchell at the town meeting to act on the additional; appropriations.

The additional appropriations included $34,751 for selectmen/town hall operations, $64,741 for police services, $70,265 for the highway department, $45,401 for parks and recreation, and $60,063 for capital projects, specifically the completion of improvements to town hall. Smith said nearly all of the additional appropriations were covered by grants, additional revenue, and unexpended funds from other budget accounts.

Smith had said earlier this month that about $65,000 from the $283,221 total may not be covered by other sources of funding and could require an appropriation from the town’s undesignated fund balance. Smith said Friday he now believes the actual shortfall that would require a transfer from the fund balance will be closer to $40,000.

Essex Meadows to Hold Three Retirement Workshops This Coming Fall

Sign at the entrance of Essex Meadows.

Sign at the entrance of Essex Meadows.

Essex Meadows, which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary, will hold three workshops on retirement options this coming fall. The title of the series is “The Future is Yours – Making the Right Retirement Choices,” and will cover various aspects of retirement planning.

There are several dates for each workshop.  All of the workshops will be held at Essex Meadows, which is located at 30 Bokum Road in Essex.  Each workshops begins at 10 a.m. and is followed by lunch.  These workshops are open to the public, but space is limited to 10 participants per session.  Reservations can be made by contacting Karen Hines at (860) 767-7201, or visiting the website at

Workshop 1 is titled “Your Future/Your Options” and attempts to define the various residential and medical retirement options.  Whether your desire is to remain in your current home, downsize, or explore one of the many retirement options available in Connecticut, this retirement workshop can provide you with planning strategies and the tools you need.

Workshop 2 is entitled “Long Term Care Insurance: What you need to know.” This workshop has been designed to review the generic framework of long term care insurance.  Policy holders will learn more about their benefits, elimination periods, and other specifics to help them become more comfortable with policy language and procedure.

Workshop 3 is titled “I’m Ready, What’s Next?” and has been developed for those who are truly ready to take the next step.  This workshop offers guidance if you are at the point where you’ve completed your research, you’ve visited several communities, you’ve found a retirement option that appeals to you and will require a physical move, and now feel almost ready to solidify your retirement plans.  This is truly the nuts and bolts blueprint for organizing the next phase of your retirement lifestyle.

Presenters with Long Experience in the Field

The Presenters at the workshops are Susan Carpenter, who is the Marketing Director of Essex Meadows, and Maureen Campbell, who is the President of Pearce Plus Senior Services.

Ms. Carpenter has over two decades of research and experience in the retirement industry. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and she has done graduate work in gerontology and thanatology (the study of death and dying) at the College of New Rochelle.

Ms. Campbell brings over 29 years of experience working with families in transition. She is a Certified Relocation Professional and a Global Mobility Specialist from the Worldwide Employees Relocation Council. In 2007 she was recognized as one of the Top 20 Business Women by Business Times Magazine.

For more information on the workshops or other special events and lectures, please visit  Essex Meadows, where we believe life is anything but retiring.

Westbrook Man Sentenced to Six Months in Jail for December 2011 Alpaca Killings

ESSEX— A 23-year-old Westbrook man has been sentenced to six months in jail on charges related to the December 2011 stabbings of four alpacas at the Applesauce Acres farm on Bushy hill Road in the Ivoryton section. Kyle Roscetti received the sentence Thursday at Middletown Superior Court.

Roscetti had pled guilty to a charge of cruelty to animals and violation of probation. Middlesex superior Court Judge David Gold sentenced Roscetti to one year in prison, suspended after six months served, and two years of probation. He will also be required to make restitution to the owners of the alpacas and undergo a mental health evaluation. The judge agreed to delay the start of the sentence for a medical treatment, with Roscetti required to report to the Department of Corrections on Sept. 13.

The alpaca killings that were discovered on Dec. 23, 2011 shocked area animal lovers. A state police investigation in April 2012 resulted in the arrest of Roscetti and Shawn Malcarne, 25, of Deep River. Malcarne was granted accelerated rehabilitation in court last year, receiving two years probation with a requirement that he complete 100 hours of community service.

Region 4 Schools Open Thursday Aug. 29 for 2013-2014 Academic Year

REGION 4— Region 4 schools open Thursday for the 2013-2014 academic year, with expanded technology in the classrooms, a new teacher evaluation process, and cameras on all school buses among the enhancements awaiting students in the new year. About 2,100 students in grades kindergarten through 12 are expected to return to the five district schools, with teachers and other district staff returning on Monday to prepare for the opening day.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said Friday that technology will expend throughout the district, particularly in the primary grades, with about 125 iPads purchased for use in various classrooms. Elementary school students will learn additional keyboarding skills as the year progresses. Levy said the district will begin implementing a new teacher evaluation plan, a step that is linked to instruction for new Common Core State Standards that were required as part of the statewide education reform legislation approved in 2012.

Levy said video cameras will now be in place on all 17 of the First Student Inc. buses that transport district students. In recent years, three cameras have been rotated among the buses over the course of a year. There have also been improvements to school security in response to the Newtown elementary school murders last December. Visitors will be buzzed in to all schools, and will be required to leave a drivers license or some other identification with the office during their visit. Staff, substitute teachers, and visitors will all have color coded ID badges while in the buildings during school hours.

The school year begins with 16 new full and part-time professional staff. Tyson Stoddard, who started working in the district in July, is the new supervisor of pupil services, a new position assisting Director of Pupil Services Tracy Johnston is coordinating special education services in the five schools. Stoddard had worked previously as special education coordinator for the Plymouth school system.

New teachers at Valley Regional High School include Kevin Woods-special education, Sarah Rubelmann-special education, Elizabeth Nischan-English, Amy Farotti-science, para-educator Nancylynn Maselli, and Lori Sullivan as a half-time art teacher. Catherine Vashel is the new math tutor at John Winthrop Middle School. New positions funded through the supervision district include Christine Corcoran as a new half-time instrumental music teacher, and Susan Alfiero-Bavasso as a four-tenths time speech and language pathology therapist.

Kirsten Reynolds is the new network technician at Essex Elementary School, with Katie Duncan in a new one-third time para-educator position. Caitlyn Hardy is a new teacher and Julie Papalia a new long-term substitute at Deep River Elementary School. Pamela Baclaski is the new remedial reading teacher and Marijane Mantie is returning as a teacher at Chester Elementary School. Mantie had worked at the Chester school in the 2011-2012 school year, but was laid off last year due to a drop in student enrollment. She has been rehired to replace a retired teacher. Grade assignments for the elementary school teachers are still being determined.

While schools open Thursday, there will be no classes on Thursday Sept. 5 for the Rosh Hashanah Jewish holiday. Students will have Oct. 14, Columbus Day, off but school will be in session for district staff as a professional development day. Schools will be open on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, with special programs on veterans to be presented during the school day. This is a change from last year, when school was in session for Columbus Day and closed on Veterans Day.

Land Purchase and Donation Expand Conserved Areas and Wildlife Refuge

LYME — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently partnered with The Nature Conservancy to add 66 acres of tidal marsh and coastal lands along Whalebone Cove in Lyme to the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

Announced today, this expansion of the refuge includes the purchase of 26 acres from a private landowner, along with a donation of four previously conserved properties totaling 40 acres, from the Conservancy to the Service. Together, these parcels establish the new Whalebone Cove Division of the refuge.

The Nature Conservancy negotiated the new 26-acre property purchase on behalf of the Service and made option payments over 2 ½ years to allow time for the Service to secure funding for the purchase.

The newly protected property contains approximately 2,000 feet of Connecticut River frontage and forms the southern entrance to Whalebone Cove. It features extensive high and low tidal marsh communities; steep, wooded slopes; an upland kettle-hole wetland complex; floodplain forest; upland meadows; and mature forest. Whalebone Cove features exemplary tidal marshes that host one of the largest stands of wild rice in Connecticut. It is an important wintering area for bald eagles and black ducks and a significant feeding area for migratory waterfowl.

Just south of Gillette Castle State Park in Lyme, Whalebone Cove is one of the most undisturbed and biologically significant freshwater tidal marshes on the Connecticut River. The Cove has been a longtime conservation priority of The Nature Conservancy as well as a “special focus area” for the Conte Refuge. The donated acreage was originally conserved by The Nature Conservancy more than a decade ago.

“Today, we celebrate the permanent protection from development of these precious natural areas,” said Nathan Frohling, the Conservancy’s director of Connecticut coastal and marine initiatives.

“The new acquisition, combined with the parcels the Conservancy is now donating, will build on a legacy of conservation here and in the Lower Connecticut River. The Conte Refuge represents an important new and trusted partner in achieving a larger conservation vision for Whalebone Cove. The Service’s role was key to making the purchase possible, and with it 80 percent of this freshwater tidal marsh site is now protected,” Frohling said.

“This acquisition would not have been possible without the Service’s close partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the continued support from the Congressional Delegation and the Administration,” said Andrew French, project leader at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. “Now, we look forward to collaborating with local residents and our partners in being good stewards of this land and good neighbors with those who live in the area.”

Connecticut leaders this week expressed their support for the refuge.

“I commend the Nature Conservancy for their longstanding commitment to preserving vital natural habitats in Connecticut and nationwide. This partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve 26 acres of beautiful and environmentally-precious land deserves to be applauded and replicated,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal. “I will continue to work alongside advocates to ensure that our valuable habitats are protected and treasured for generations to come.”

“This project is a testament to the incredible power of the Land and Water Conservation Fund when it comes to completing high-value conservation acquisitions,” said Senator Chis Murphy. “Unspoiled tidal lands are a rarity in heavily-developed states like ours, and this parcel will be a valuable addition to the Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge.”

“The Connecticut River is an ecological treasure, and this project will help to protect it for generations to come,” said Representative Joe Courtney, of Connecticut’s 2nd District, which includes Lyme. “I applaud the Nature Conservancy for their work to secure this parcel of undeveloped land, and their commitment to protecting our state’s natural landscape.”

Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve native plants, animals and their habitats in the 7.2 million acre Connecticut River watershed that stretches across four states. It is the only refuge in the country dedicated to a river’s entire watershed. The refuge works to protect land, form partnerships with citizens to foster conservation efforts, educate the public, and pass on the importance of the watershed to future generations.

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at


Aug. 27 Town Meeting to Act on Deep River Budget Over Expenditures

DEEP RIVER— An Aug. 27 town meeting will be asked to approve five over expenditures in the 2012-2013 town budget that total a combined $283,221, though nearly all of the total is expected to be covered by additional revenue, reimbursements, or unexpended funds from other accounts in the town budget. The town meeting convenes at 7 p.m. in town hall. The expenditures were approved for referral to a town meeting at an Aug. 13 joint meeting of the board of selectmen and board of finance.

The over expenditures that require approval from voters at a town meeting include $34,751 from the selectmen/town hall operations section of the budget, $64,741 for police protection, $78,265 for the highway department, $45,401 for parks and recreation, and $60,063 for general government capital expenditures.

First Selectman Richard Smith said Tuesday the selectmen/town hall operations overrun resulted from unexpected expenses for engineering services and supplies and equipment. Smith said the police overrun includes funding for the planned hiring of a new full-time police officer and over expenditures for special police services such as traffic control. He said the parks and recreation overrun developed from additional repairs and upgrades to structures at Devitt’s Field and Plattwood Park. Smith said the $60,063 for capital expenditures includes $49,543 that was expended as part of the now completed town hall renovation project.

Smith said the $78,265 over run for the highway department was largely the result of expenses related to Storm Sandy last October and snow removal from the Feb. 8 blizzard. “Our budgets are very lean and the two big storms really hurt us,” he said.

Smith said nearly all of the over expenditures would be offset and covered by additional revenue, reimbursements, and unexpended funds from other budget accounts. But Smith acknowledged as much as $65,000 of the total may not be covered, depending on the outcome of final state reimbursements for the now completed Village Street bridge reconstruction project. “I’m pretty sure it will be close to a wash and the $65,000 would be a worst case scenario,” he said. Any final 2012-2013 budget overrun that is not covered by additional funding would require an appropriation from the town’s undesignated fund balance.

Essex Savings Bank Names New Commercial Loan Officer


Robert B. Benoit

Robert B. Benoit

Essex — Gregory R. Shook, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank, is pleased to announce the addition of Robert B. Benoit as Vice President, Commercial Loan Officer.

Robert’s career spans over forty years in small business lending coupled with management experience.  He most recently worked 8 years for The Bank of Southern Connecticut where he served as Senior Commercial Lending Officer and Loan Workout Officer.  He also brings experience lending in conjunction with the various US SBA loan programs.  Robert has also worked at other financial institutions in both Connecticut and New York, notably The Chase Manhattan Bank and Rabobank Nederland and most recently Sambla Finland.

Robert is a graduate of Dartmouth College and served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  He resides in Milford with his wife Charlene.

Decision Pending on Proposed Downtown Chester Pizza Restaurant

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has closed the public hearing on a special permit application for a new pizza restaurant at 69 Main St. in the downtown village. In other business at the Aug. 8 meeting, the panel approved a special permit for a newly constructed seasonal restaurant at the 72 Railroad Avenue property of the Chester Point Marina.

The proposed new pizza restaurant would be run by Jonathan Rapp, owner of the River Tavern restaurant at 23 Main St. The three-story building at 69 Main St. is owned by local resident Jonathan Schroder, who purchased the property from the town several years ago. The town had purchased the property, which abuts the former town hall site, in the 1990s for a planned expansion of town hall in the downtown village that was later abandoned in favor of the current town hall at 203 Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The proposed 35-seat restaurant would serve pizza, salads, gelato, and beer, with seasonal outdoor seating. The restaurant hours would be daily from 5 to 11 p.m. The proposed restaurant drew questions, but little specific opposition, at the Aug. 8 hearing.

But one nearby resident, Jean Davies of 73 Main St., opposed the application. She called on the commission to limit outdoor seating and take-out service for the pizza. The commission has until early October to act on the permit application, with discussion expected at the panel’s Sept. 12 meeting.

The commission also approved the new seasonal restaurant at the Chester Point Marina that was the subject of a public hearing in July. The restaurant, which would operate from April to October, would be part of a new 5,561-square-foot building. About 2,650 square-feet would be restaurant space, with the remainder containing marina offices and a display area. An existing building that also had a seasonal restaurant would be demolished. The marina on the Connecticut River contains docking slips for 135 boats.

Essex Selectmen Consider New Proposed Blight Ordinance

ESSEX— The board of selectmen is considering a new proposed blight ordinance that would be triggered if a structure has been vacant and unoccupied for more than 30 days. Selectmen received a draft copy of the ordinance last week, with the board expected to discuss the ordinance further at a Sept. 18 meeting.

The ordinance drafted by town attorney David Roylston specifies that the town has the authority to “define, prohibit, and abate blighted premises”, to “protect, preserve, and promote public health, safety, and welfare and to preserve and protect property values within the town.” The ordinance defines various characteristics of a blighted property, including violations of the public health code, fire hazards unregistered and inoperable motor vehicles, dad or damaged trees, and accumulated debris. But under the new version of the ordinance, enforcement measures by the town would not occur unless and until a structure has remained vacant and unoccupied for more than 30 days.

This provision was not included in a proposed blight ordinance the board of selectmen presented at a public hearing in 2011, but never acted upon. At the time there were a handful of unsightly and unoccupied structures in all three villages, Essex, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton. Some of these structures have been restored or demolished over the past two years. A remaining vacant, fire damaged, and unsightly property at 63 North Main St. in Essex has sparked new discussions of a possible blight ordinance in recent months.

First Selectman Norman noted this week that he had opposed the initial version of a blight ordinance that was discussed while he was on the board of selectmen in 2011. Needleman said he was then, and remains, reluctant to get the town involved in “neighbor on neighbor” disputes over conditions on specific properties. Needleman said he asked Roylston to make vacancy the key provision that would trigger town action on a blighted property or structure.

The proposed ordinance calls for establishment of a three-member “anti-blight board” that would receive and review complaints about blighted properties. The board would include the town’s finance director, tax assessor, and a code enforcement official. If blighted conditions are present on a property, beginning with the more than 30 days vacancy, the board could issue a notice of violation to a property owner. The property owner, which could include a bank or financial institution, would have between 15 to 60 days to abate the blight conditions.

The property owner would also have 15 days to appeal a notice of violation to the board of selectmen. If a vote of the board of selectmen confirms that blight conditions are present, the ordinance would authorize the town to take legal action against a property owner, impose fines, and allow persons working for or hired by the town to take steps to remediate a blight condition. The ordinance would authorize the town to impose a tax lien on the property to recover the cost of any required remediation measures.

The ordinance specifies that each day a property remains in violation after the board of selectmen confirms a violation would constitute a separate offense, with fines beginning at $100 per day and rising to $250 per day for a willful and persistent violation “after notice and reasonable opportunity to remediate the blighted premises.”

Needleman said the board of selectmen could decide at the Sept. 18 meeting whether to send the draft ordinance to a public hearing. Depending on input received from residents at the hearing, the ordinance, or a revised version of it, could be presented to voters for approval at a town meeting later this year.

Old Saybrook Photographer Releases Photo of the Preserve, Which He Helped Save from Development


Aerial photograph of the undeveloped, forested Preserve courtesy of Robert Lorenz, Lorenz Photography

Old Saybrook resident, Robert Lorenz, has played a leading role in the effort to save to 1,000 acres of forested land from development. Specifically, he has served as the “injured party” in a number of legal actions against those who wanted to developer the Preserve with private homes, golf courses, country clubs, parking lots, and “other improvements.”

The reason that Lorenz has been able to play this role is that he is the co-owner of forty acres of land that abut the Preserve land. This gives him legal “standing” in court to assert that his personal property would be damaged by the various schemes put forward by the would-be private developers of the Preserve.

Lorenz is also a professional photographer, and to mark the recent agreement, whereby the Trust for Public Land will organized the purchase of the 1,000 acre Preserve property from River Sound Development, LLC, upon payment of $10-$11 million, he has made available for publication a striking aerial photograph of the undeveloped, forested Preserve.

In the aerial photograph that Lorenz took the general parameters of the Preserve can be made out. They include:

1) Very clearly, running along the bottom of the photograph one can see Route 153, sometimes called Plains Road and Westbrook Road. The vacant, forested land pictured above Route 153 marks the northern boundary of the Preserve.

2) As for the southern boundary of the Preserve property, it runs at the top of the photo, just below visible line developed property along the shoreline of Long Island Sound.

3) Very clear as well at the top left of the photo is the mouth of the Connecticut River, as flows into Long Island Sound.

4) Finally, in the midst of the forested land in the photo, there are two parallel lines, which are abandoned railroad tracks.

Chester Rotary Announces 2013 Citizenship Award Winners

Rotary 2013 Citizen Award Winners-1

From left to right in the photo are Kronkanok Ratanasaka, Maggie Calamari, Anna D’Agostino, Karen D’Agostino

The Rotary Club of Chester is proud to announce the recipients of its 2013 Citizenship Award.  Each year this award is given in the form of a scholarship to two graduating high school seniors who are residents of the Town of Chester. This year’s awards were won by Anna D’Agostino, the daughter of Karen and Edward D’Agostino, and Margaret (Maggie) Calamari, the daughter of Kronkanok Ratanasaka and Paul Calamari.  Each recipient was presented with a $2,000 scholarship at Valley Regional High School’s Senior Awards Night held on June 5, 2013.

Both Anna and Maggie have displayed the principles and values of Rotary in their daily activities.  These include community involvement, scholastic achievement and athletic achievement that exemplifies Rotary’s “Service Above Self” maxim.  The Chester Rotary Club hosted a dinner on July 17, 2013 for Anna, Maggie and their families to celebrate the accomplishments of the two exceptional young women.   Anna will attend Fordham University based in New York City and Maggie will be attending Drexel University located in Philadelphia. The Rotary Club of Chester is pleased to recognize these two outstanding students.

The Rotary Club of Chester is a 501c(3) not for profit organization.  We encourage you to visit our website at for more information regarding our club and it’s fund raising efforts, updates for our upcoming events and links to Rotary International.

Essex Zoning Commission Sets Public Hearing on Proposed Centerbrook Nail Salon

ESSEX— The zoning commission will hold a public hearing Monday on a proposed nail salon in vacant space at the commercial building at 31-33 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. The hearing convenes at 7 p.m. in town hall. Maria Malla of Waterbury is seeking approval for a nail salon that would have four chairs for manicures and four chairs for pedicures. The proposed salon would be open each day from 9 a.m to 7 p.m. The space on the west side of the commercial building at 31-33 Main St. was previously occupied by a medical equipment supply business, but has been vacant for more than two years.

Bids are High for Essex Town Hall Campus Project

ESSEX-— The bids have come in high for the Essex Town Hall Civic Campus project that is to be funded by a $471,500 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant. Four bids for the project were opened on Aug. 8.

All of the bids exceeded the amount of the grant the town was awarded late last year. The bids ranged from a price of $594,832 from B&W Paving of Oakdale to a high bid of $795,971 from Running Brook Construction of Killingworth. The second lowest price was a bid of $638,113 from Xenelis Construction Inc. of Middlefield, a company that has done work for the town previously.

The project calls for repaving and expanding of the town hall parking lot, new tennis courts and a new handicapped accessible play scape for the abutting Grove Street Park. There would also be new crosswalks and sidewalks and other improvements to Grove Street intended to enhance the connections between town hall and the Essex Library, which has its main entrance on the other side of Grove Street.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said Tuesday he is optimistic some components of the project can be adjusted to establish a final price that is more in line with the grant amount. “We think we can come in close,” he said.

Needleman noted that while the bid specifications includes extensive paving work, the town can secure a lower price for paving materials through a state price contract that is available to cities and towns. He said some of the work could be done by the town public works crew, allowing for removal of some project components from the bid price.

Needleman said he would work with Public Works Director David Caroline to negotiate possible changes to the bids, with a focus on the two lowest bidders, B&W Paving and Xenelis Construction. Needleman said he is hopeful a contract could be awarded early next month to allow construction to begin this fall for completion before the start of the winter season .

New York City Developer Sells First Building Lot on Foxboro Point Site for $1,125,000

Close up of the construction of the new house on Lot 1

Close up of the construction of the new house on Lot 1

Prominent New York City New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr., has sold the first lot on his 11.4 acre development site at Foxboro Point in Essex.  The lot is on the last significant, large open space on the waterfront in Essex. The price paid for this Lot 1 was $1,125,000 for the land alone. The cost of a house at 19 River View Street will be additional.

Construction site at Lot 1, which cost $1,125,000 for the land alone

Construction site at Lot 1, which cost $1,125,000 for the land alone

Developer Sciame said in a statement, “We are pleased with the sale of our first lot at the Foxboro Point development site. It substantiates our belief that our development on the Essex waterfront will be a great success.”

Sciame’s Foxboro Point development property consists of eight building lots, which curve around Foxboro Point, facing the waters of North Cove. The centerpiece of the development is the Croft Mansion. Among the other lots is for sale is the one that contains Foxboro Point’s iconic windmill.

The iconic windmill on the site will be built with new living quarters

The iconic windmill on the site will be built with new living quarters

Work Going Forward on Other Parcels

In addition to the sale of Lot 1, which is located at the far right end of the development site facing North Cove, the developer is offering Lot 2 as a package consisting of a “build-to-suit” house and the grounds around it. The estimated sale price is $3,000,000 for the house and grounds at 21 River View Street.

The “New Insides” of the Croft Mansion

Developer Sciame has also embarked on a total renovation of the Croft Mansion, which has largest lot in the development with 1.5 acres. The renovations of Croft Mansion will include a new, open floor plan featuring a new open kitchen and open living and dining areas as well. In addition, the grand staircase of the mansion will be enlarged to permit sun light to filter down from the third floor to the first floor.

The Croft Mansion, the center piece of the new development on Foxboro Point

The Croft Mansion, the center piece of the new development on Foxboro Point

Other renovations will include: 1) the installation of new mechanical systems, 2) new windows throughout, 3) new bathrooms, and 4) a new state of the art kitchen with all new appliances. The asking price for the renovated Croft Mansion and the land, which has sweeping views of the waters of North Cove, will be in the neighborhood of $3,500,000.

In addition, there is an option of adding an additional building lot that would accommodate a swimming pool, which would raise the price to $4,900,000.

Finally, Sciame’s plans for Foxboro Point will include putting the Windmill site up for sale. The developer says that the site is large enough to accommodate a livable residence. Sciame asking price for both the windmill and its grounds is $1,950,000.

During the lengthy approval process before the Essex Planning Commission, many Essex residents expressed their approval of the new development at Foxboro Point, noting that it would add new real estate taxes to the Town of Essex.

However, one Essex resident, William Reichenbach, who lives on New City Street in Essex, charged that the Commission had neglected the town’s own open space and public access regulations in approving the application. The Commission did not accept this argument.

There was also a brief discussion by the Commission about requiring the developer to build a pedestrian path, running from Foxboro Road down to the waters of North Cove. However, a view easement was approved from the road to the water instead.

State’s Open Meetings Law Violated

The vote by Planning Commission members to approve the project was by a secret ballot, which appeared to violate the state’s Open Meeting Law. However, an objection to the secret vote was not made in a timely manner, so the vote was valid.

In a concluding statement developer Sciame noted, “There is a border along the waters of North Cove, as well as a view easement to protect water views. Together, these protected lands occupy 3.63 acres, or 30% of the [development] property.”

Simple, Real Food: Summer Delights

Amanda Cushman

Amanda Cushman

Summer produce is here and with it come many requests for how to use up all this gorgeous fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Amanda Cushman is back with some mouth-watering recipes for our readers.

She notes that something she recommends in all her cooking classes is to make sauces, pestos and vegetable fritters, and try freezing them, commenting, “Then you can enjoy later in the year when you have a hankering for fresh basil, zucchini or mint.”

Here are some delicious recipes to utilize  the abundant produce of summer. They are, in order:

Feta Pesto
Simple Tomato Sauce
Papaya-Lime Salsa
Minted Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Yogurt Sauce


Feta Pesto

Makes 1 cup


1 clove garlic, peeled

1 large bunch basil washed, dried, stems removed

8 oz. feta cheese

3 Tb. toasted pine nuts

Fresh pepper, to taste


  1. Place the garlic in a processor and chop finely. Add the basil, feta, nuts and pepper and blend well. Add a small amount of water to produce a smooth sauce. Transfer to a container and freeze or serve at room temperature.

Simple Tomato Sauce

Makes 2 cups


2 Tb. olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

Salt, pepper

1/3 cup torn basil leaves

10 to 15 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1/3 cup red wine (optional)

2 tsp. sugar or 2 small carrots, peeled, diced


  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic until softened about 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add salt, pepper, basil, tomatoes, wine and sugar or carrots and cook over low heat until thickened slightly about 45 minutes. Season to taste and puree if desired. Freeze in plastic containers or use on pasta, grilled fish, chicken or as a sauce for vegetables.

Papaya-Lime Salsa

Makes 2 cups


1 small ripe papaya, mango or half a pineapple

1/2 red pepper, finely diced

3 scallions, very thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1/2 English cucumber, seeded, diced

2 limes or lemons juiced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

1 Tb. chopped cilantro

2 Tb. chopped mint

Salt, pepper, to taste


1. Peel the papayas and remove seeds, finely dice. Combine the papaya and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir and taste for seasoning. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

zucchini_frittersMinted Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

Serves 4


1 pound zucchini, coarsely grated


3 scallions, minced

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/2 to ¾ cup plain breadcrumbs

3 Tb. chopped mint

½ cup chopped Italian parsley

1 egg, lightly beaten

Fresh pepper

Vegetable oil for cooking


1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

3 Tb. lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tb. chopped mint

Salt, pepper


1        Place the zucchini in a colander and toss with 2 tsp. of salt. Place over a plate and weigh down with a heavy can, drain for 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Squeeze out all the excess water.

2        Add the zucchini to a medium bowl with the scallions, cheese, breadcrumbs, mint, parsley, egg and fresh pepper. Using slightly moistened hands, form the zucchini mixture into 12 balls. Flatten them to make a ¾ inch patty. Test one out in a small skillet for seasoning. Re-season with salt and pepper if needed.

3        Heat a 2 1/2 -inches of oil in a medium saucepan and fry the patties until golden on both sides about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt.

4        Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, lemon, garlic, mint, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir and taste for seasoning. Serve the patties warm or room temperature with the yogurt sauce.

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Chester Historical Society Reprints Classic Children’s Book, Ferryboat

Ferryboat Cover photo

Front cover of the book Ferryboat, reprinted by Chester Historical Society

This spring, as the State of Connecticut debated raising the fares for the historic Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, the Chester Historical Society focused on the history of the ferry as it opened its new transportation exhibit, “Over the River and Through the Woods.” After all, the ferry has been an integral part of Chester history since it began in the 1700s.

And now the Historical Society has reprinted the children’s book, Ferryboat, written about that historic ferry by Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Giulio Maestro and originally published by HarperCollins in 1986.

Ferryboat went out of print several years ago, but the Maestros have permitted the Chester Historical Society to reprint 1000 copies of the book.

“We couldn’t be happier to be bringing this wonderful and colorful book to a whole new generation of readers and their families,” said Society president Skip Hubbard.  “Over the years we have had some requests, so I expect there will be plenty of interest. It’s a pleasure to read it with a child and it makes a great gift.’’

Ferryboat inside photo

The Maestros, who lived for many years in Old Lyme, where they raised their son and daughter, said, “We created the book because we loved the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry and enjoyed riding on it with our children when they were small. The children in the book are loosely based on our own son and daughter. Over the years, it was fun to share the book with other children at schools all over the United States as an example of something unique and scenic near our home in Connecticut.”

The Maestros now live in Arizona, “not far from the red rocks of Sedona,” where they continue to write and illustrate children’s books.

Ferryboat, chosen by Yankee Magazine in 2000 for its list of Classic New England Children’s Books, has also been referenced in Southwest Airlines’ Travel Guide, where the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is described as “a popular means of crossing the river during the summer months. It’s more than a tourist attraction – it’s an educational outing for children and adults into the workings of a modern-day ferry.” (Connecticut DOT, take note!)

Publishers Weekly wrote about Ferryboat, “Their words and pictures are so completely involving that it’s almost like being on the real thing. The author carefully explains the workings of the ferry and takes readers from shore to shore, lovingly describing the sights and sounds of the ride….The double-page spreads, with a deep blue river and lush tree-lined shores, are colorful and appealing.”  School Library Journal called the book “a charming treat,” adding,” How the ferry operates (it never needs to turn around since the front is the same as the back!) is sure to fascinate young armchair mariners.”

The book is available for purchase at the Chester Museum at the Mill in Chester, open weekends 10-4, and also at Century 21 Heritage Real Estate office in Chester. Ferryboat can also be found at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme; Gillette Castle in East Haddam; and the Connecticut River Museum and the Valley Railroad in Essex. It is priced around $12.

Man Arrested for Impersonating a Police Officer and Possession of Weapons in OL

Weapons, ammunition and associated paraphernalia found and confiscated by the Old Lyme Police during the arrest of Bruce Browne at Point O’ Woods yesterday.

Weapons, ammunition and associated paraphernalia found and confiscated by the Old Lyme Police during the arrest of Bruce Browne at Point O’ Woods yesterday.

On Thursday evening at 6:23 p.m., Troop F personnel and Old Lyme Police Officers responded to the Point O’ Woods beach community in Old Lyme.  A phone call had been received from a resident reporting a white male wearing military type clothing was walking on Sea View Dr. with a gun.  The caller also reported that this same male was seen early on today’s date operating what she described as a “police type vehicle”.

Responding Troopers and Officers located a 2004 blue Crown Victoria bearing CT. Reg. 684-ZNF at 32 Sea View Dr.  This vehicle was equipped with what appeared to be a disc and antennas mounted on the trunk and equipped with “hide-away” lights.
Upon speaking with several occupants at the residence, Bruce W. Browne, age 46, from Wolcott, Conn., stated that he was the registered owner of the vehicle.  Browne was wearing blue BDU type pants and upon being questioned about his early whereabouts, Browne admitted to walking on Sea View Dr wearing a black nylon gun belt with a loaded 9mm pistol in a holster on the belt.

Located in his vehicle and in plain view were three loaded 9mm handguns, a black nylon duty belt with two sets of handcuffs, an expandable Asp, 12 fully loaded magazines with a total of 101 hollow point and 102 ball 9mm bullets.  Browne also had a black tactical bullet proof vest with the word POLICE embroidered on the front and back.  Also attached to the front of the vest was a silver metal TSA badge.

Further investigation revealed that Browne had commandeered a boat earlier in the day by identifying himself as a “Police/Coast Guard” official.  Browne stopped three separate vessels off the shore of Point O Woods.  During these vessel stops Browne was asking boaters for their registrations and boater safety certificates.

Browne also had an expired Coast Guard identification card belonging to him back when he was a reserve member of the Coast Guard. TSA and US Coast Guard officials were contacted and upon researching their personnel records, it was determined that Browne is not affiliated with either of these agencies.

US Coast Guard Officials will be conducting a follow up investigation on 08-09-13 with regards to similar incidents that they are currently investigating.

Browne was arrested and charged with impersonating a police officer, breach of peace, interfering with a police officer and possession of a dangerous weapon in a motor vehicle.

Browne was released on a $50,000.00 bond and will appear at court in New London on Aug. 22.

Letter: Chester Organon Market Planning Process

To the editor,

As a Chester resident, former P & Z Commissioner, and owner of property abutting the Organon Market on Route 154, I have been following Charles Stannard’s coverage of the story quite closely.

I have found his coverage to be an evenhanded and accurate depiction of the complicated issues that have surrounded the project for the past three years. I would, however, like to comment on a couple points made in his article entitled: Organon Market to Close for Remodeling – Permit Application to Chester P&Z.

First, Mr. Stannard writes that (market owner) “Peter Kehayias also acknowledged the market at 56 Middlesex Avenue, also known as Route 154, would probably never reopen if the commission does not approve some revisions to conditions that the panel imposed when it approved a special permit for the market in September 2011”.  It is important to understand that P&Z did not  “impose” any conditions.  Rather, the special permit was negotiated by Mr. Kehayias and his attorney(s) with input from the commission.  In fact, many of the conditions that Mr. Kehayias is now trying to alter were authored by Mr. Kehayias himself.  They were presented for the record during the public hearings and are memorialized in the meeting minutes and in his application.   These issues include the type and amount of allowable exterior signage and Mr. Kehayias’ agreement to forgo seating and the on-site consumption of food.

Mr. Stannard quotes Mr. Kehayias as saying “ The market should be allowed to run as a market…..I can’t be looking over my shoulder all the time”.   Mr. Kehayias seems eager to lay the Market’s problems at the feet of his neighbors, the Zoning Enforcement Officer, and P&Z.  The truth is that P&Z did not write the statutes which he feels have limited his operation.  Local Town commissions are mandated to follow State Statute on Zoning (and other) matters, and the Town would be terribly, as lawyers would say, “ exposed”  if they were to approve activity forbidden by the State.  Mr. Kehayias purchased a property in a residential zone which, by definition, restricts many types of commercial activity.  This is not opinion, this is law.

During the application and construction process, Mr. Kehayias enjoyed the counsel of architects, assorted licensed contractors, traffic engineers, and at least (by my count) four different attorneys.    It is difficult for many of us to fathom how he can now suggest that the Town is restricting his activities and not allowing him to succeed.  The application process for the market was extremely long and detailed, with considerable discussion and negotiation on everything from the menu and operating hours to the noise generated by the kitchen equipment.  The process was completely transparent, and we all should have known what to expect and what rules we’d have to play by.


Richard Gold
Chester, CT

Essex Selectmen Approve New Fee System for Use of the Solid Waste Transfer Station

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday approved a new annual fee for residents bringing their own trash to the solid waste transfer station. The new $125 fee, along with higher fees for disposal of other items, was approved on a unanimous vote.

The new fee structure that was developed by the town’s appointed sanitary waste commission is effective Jan. 1, 2014. First Selectman Norman Needleman said the purpose of the new fee system is to remove cash transactions from the operation of the solid waste compactor site, located off Route 154 near Route 9 exit 4. Residents currently pay $3 per bag for disposal of household trash, handing the money to an attendant or paying under an honor system if no town employee is at the site.

Needleman said the new annual fee of $125 for a resident user sticker does not represent a significant cost increase for residents using the site, a group that excludes residents that pay a commercial trash hauler for curbside pickup. Senior citizens over age 65 would pay a discounted sticker fee of $75. Occasional users of the site could purchase five user tickets for $25.

The package of fees approved Wednesday also includes higher fees for disposal of tires, stuffed furniture, mattresses, brush, and demolition materials. There will be no charge for disposal of recyclables, including bottles, cans, cardboard, and newspapers.
The fees for tires on the rim would increase from $5 to $10, but remain at $5 for junk tires taken off the metal rim. The fee for disposal of junk stuffed furniture would increase from the current $7 to $10, with a $20 fee for disposal of mattresses.

The fee for disposal of demolition materials would increase from the current $15 to $20 per cubic yard, and from $7.50 to $10 for a half cubic yard. Needleman said the town was spending almost double for disposal of demolition materials than was being generated in revenue from the current fees.

The fee for disposal of brush would be $10 per cubic yard, though there would be no charge for residents bring smaller bags of brush to the site. As part of the removal of cash transactions, residents would be required to pay the other disposal fees by check or credit card.

In other business, Needleman announced the town is seeking a volunteer to serve as veterans service contact representative. The new position was established under a newly effective state law, and is comparable to the long-standing position of municipal agent for the aging. The contact representative would assist in putting local veterans in touch with available services. Needleman said he is hoping an Essex veteran will volunteer for the position.

Local Westbrook Painter, Jeffry Sabol, is in the Big Leagues Among Maritime Artists

Finishing a painting of Bar Harbor, Maine. Ships in the cove will be added.

Finishing a painting of Bar Harbor, Maine. Ships in the cove will be added.

Jeffrey Sabol is a nationally recognized painter of maritime subjects. As a Signature Member of the prestigious American Society of Marine Artists, he has exhibited in Museum Shows around the country, sponsored by the Society.  His paintings have been featured at leading maritime art galleries, including Art of the Sea Gallery in South Thomaston, Maine; Art Expo in New York City; Sheldon Fine Arts Gallery in Newport, RI, and closer to home, the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport.

Sabol’s striking portrayals of sailboats, quietly anchored amidst shimmering shadows of light, can be viewed, and purchased, at any of these locations in addition to Fresh Ayer Gallery in Old Lyme, adjacent to the Hideaway Restaurant; Art Essex on Main Street in Essex, and Blue Moon Artisans in Guilford.

A typical Sabol painting of a sailboats at anchor with reflections quivering on the water

A typical Sabol painting of a sailboats at anchor with reflections quivering on the water

The artist also periodically shows his superb nautical paintings by appointment at his studio.  Visit his website: for further information. Interestingly, the previous owner of Sabol’s house was a fisherman who sold “live” lobsters out the back, which in a sense is nautical too!

Sabol Started Out Using Oil Paint

Sabol says that when he started painting seascapes, he used oil paints to create his paintings. However, he soon learned that, “Oils take too long to dry,” noting that, “it can take days and even weeks.” Now he has switched to acrylic paint, and he uses it exclusively in creating his pictures. As for acrylic paint he says, “It takes 15 minutes to dry.”

The use of quick drying acrylic paint is now basic to Sabol’s painting process. Quick drying acrylic paint allows him to add layer after of layer of clear and tinted surfaces to his paintings. These surfaces, one on top of the other, enhance the paintings, giving them a greater depth and sheen.

Positive and Negative Spaces in a Painting

Sabol points out that in painting a group of ships at anchor, a favorite topic of his, that there are both positive and negative spaces in the painting. “The positive spaces are those which hold the subject of the picture,” such as ships at anchor, he says.

The negative spaces are the empty parts of the painting, above and below the ships, which can be used to enhance and heighten the items in the positive spaces. Glimmering light, flickering over waves below the ships’ hulls, is an example of the use of negative space, contributing to the positive space of the ships themselves.

As Sabol puts it, “The negative space in a painting is used to bring out the positive space, which is the subject of the picture.” He also says, “I concentrate on reflections in my paintings,” which of course fill in the negative spaces of his paintings.

Sabol’s Path to Painting

Mr. Sabol did not start out as maritime painter. After abandoning an effort to become an architect “because there was just too much sitting,” he made his living as a commercial fisherman and long liner.  After one too many storms at sea, he decided it was safer to ‘paint’ the sea, rather than ‘fish’ it.   He is grateful now for his steady position on his artist’s stool doing what he loves most.  Jeff gets much of his inspiration sailing with his wife in the coastal waters of New England on their Islander sailboat, which they keep in Noank.

Having a final word, Sabol’s wife, Janice, has this to say. “I never have to decorate the walls of our house,” she says. “It’s like living in a gallery and it’s always changing.”

Sabol's wife, Janice Quinn, and the artist Sabol with a work in progress in background

Sabol’s wife, Janice Quinn, and the artist Sabol with a work in progress in background

Chester Selectmen Seek Engineering Firm for First Phase of Main Street Project

CHESTER— The board of selectmen is seeking proposals from engineering firms for design of the initial phase of the Main Street Project, a reconstruction of Main Street from the entrance to Laurel Hill Cemetery east to the intersection with Route 154. The deadline for submitting proposals is Aug. 15

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the volunteer Main Street Committee, which is coordinating the long-planned project, recommended proceeding with the initial, eastern, phase immediately after voters approved a long-range plan for the project at a July 23 town meeting. The full project calls for a complete reconstruction of Main Street in the downtown village, including improvements to two parking lots. But subsequent phases of the project would not begin until after the state Department of Transportation completes a replacement of the Main Street bridge in 2016.

Meehan said the engineering firm would be asked to complete bid-ready plans for reconstruction of the eastern segment of Main Street, including a detailed cost estimate. He said a firm could be hired by October, with the design plan to be completed by the end of the year.

Meehan said the project could be put out to bid by March, with construction to be underway during the spring and summer of 2014. The town currently has about $800,000 in hand for the project through a combination of town funds and state grant funds. Meehan said an expenditure of funds for the “Main Street East” project would require approval from voters at a town meeting.

Deep River Receives $400,000 State Grant for Improvements to Plattwood Park

DEEP RIVER— The town has received a $400,000 state grant for improvements to Plattwood Park, the town’s major recreation area located off Route 80. The grant, provided under the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP), was announced last week with a visit to town by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman.

The 23-acre park, which includes a former sand and gravel quarry pond, was acquired by the town in 1981 and improved for recreational uses in subsequent years. The 1981 purchase, for a price of $75,000, also included a separate 25-acre area to the west that was sold for development as the Plattwood Industrial Park.

The grant will fund several improvements at the park, including a new and larger pavilion with handicapped accessible bathroom facilities. The grant will also pay for a new athletics field and circular jogging/walking trail on the eastern section of the park. There would also be a new, handicapped accessible walking trail through a wooded area on the southern side of the park.

Along with a public swimming area in the former quarry pond, the park currently includes a picnic area with charcoal grills and tables, a basketball court, a skateboarding park, and a paved parking area. The park is open to town residents free of charge, while non-residents pay a $20 per vehicle parking fee to use the park. Construction for the grant-funded improvements is expected to begin in 2014.

State Police Recover Body From Connecticut River off Essex

ESSEX— State police Monday recovered a man’s body from the South Cove of the Connecticut River after a search for a missing New York man that began Sunday evening. Police had not formally identified the body as of Monday afternoon, though the search has been discontinued for Richard Cianflone, 29, of Vahalla, N.Y.

Cianflone had been visiting Essex over the weekend with friends, attending the  Essex Lions Club Lobster Festival that was held Saturday at the Main Street Park. Cianflone later visited the Griswold Inn, and was last seen late Saturday night. Friends reported him missing Sunday, leading police to begin a search Sunday evening with tracker dogs and a team of divers.

Police said Cianflone’s cell phone was recovered in the river’s South Cove, in the vicinity of Rackett Lane and Benson Lane, two small streets extending off Main Street in the downtown village. The search resumed Monday morning, and police recovered the body of a male around 10 a.m. The office of the Chief State Medical Examiner in Farmington is expected to perform an autopsy on the body.

Before You Know It, There Will Be Two Emergency Medical Centers Off I-95

The management team directing the construction of new Westbrook center (l to r) Tim Know, Project Manager, Whiting-Turner Construction; Jack Xenelis, Xenelis Construction; Noel Bishop, Westbrook First Selectman; David Giuffrida, PE, Vice President, Middlesex Hospital; and Harry Evert, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Operations, Middlesex Hospital.

The management team directing the construction of new Westbrook medical center (l to r) Tim Know, Project Manager, Whiting-Turner Construction; Jack Xenelis, Xenelis Construction; Noel Bishop, Westbrook First Selectman; David Giuffrida, PE, Vice President, Middlesex Hospital; and Harry Evert, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Operations, Middlesex Hospital.

There are now two emergency medical centers along the shoreline. One is the “grand daddy of them all,” the emergency medical center in Essex operated by Middlesex Hospital. This medical center has been serving emergency medical patients from its Essex location since 1975.

The second emergency medical center on the shoreline is located in Guilford off I-95 at Exit 59. It is operated by Yale New Haven Hospital, and it opened in 2004.

The Good Old Days for the Essex Medical Center

For decades the emergency medical center in Essex had the shoreline emergency medical center practice pretty much to itself. Patients from Old Lyme to as far as Branford, and all towns in between, had only one choice for emergency medical care, and that was in Essex.

The present Emergency Medical Center in Essex

The present Emergency Medical Center in Essex

However, after the Guilford center opened in 2004, many Essex patients, especially those from the towns of Branford, Guilford, Madison, Clinton and Westbrook, had a new alternative. That was the Guilford medical center, which is just off I-95 at Exit 59.

The entrance of the Emergency Medical Center in Guilford

The entrance of the Emergency Medical Center in Guilford

Certainly, it is quicker and easier for residents of these towns to go to the Guilford medical center along I-95 than to go to Essex, whose medical center is reachable only by a twisting local road, three miles down from I-95.

Middlesex Hospital Fights Back

However, Middlesex Hospital could see the handwriting on the wall. It soon realized that an emergency medical center located right off I-95 was bound to attract more emergency medical patients than one several miles away from the Interstate.

Wall poster in the Essex Medical Center showing its future center in Westbrook

Wall poster in the Essex Medical Center showing its future center in Westbrook

So Middlesex Hospital, under the leadership of Executive Vice President Harry Evert, committed itself to building a new emergency medical center in Westbrook, just a short distance from Exit 65 off I-95. It is now being constructed on an expedited basis and is scheduled to open in April 2014.

Although Middlesex Hospital’s new emergency medical center will not be located quite as close to I-95 as the Guilford medical center, there are attractive expansion possibilities at the largely vacant Westbrook site, which are a plus.

Working weekends to complete construction of new Westbrook medical center

Working weekends to complete construction of new Westbrook medical center

Who Invented the Emergency Medical Center Concept?

If you listen to Middlesex Hospital’s plain spoken, Executive Vice President Evert, it was Middlesex Hospital that first developed the idea of building an emergency medical center to serve shoreline communities away from the sponsoring hospital.

Evert says, bluntly, referring to Yale New Haven Hospital’s emergency medical center in Guilford, “They were copying us.”  True enough, Yale New Haven Hospital, by building an emergency medical center in Guilford, may well have been “copying” the success of Middlesex Hospital’s emergency medical center in Essex.

However, it is equally true that Middlesex Hospital is now “copying” the concept of the Yale New Haven Hospital, which is to place its new emergency medical center close to an exit off I-95.

Both Hospitals and Patients Are the Winners

Both the two hospitals, as well their shoreline patients, are the winners in this matter. In fact, the only real losers are the residents of Essex. They will soon lose having a major medical care facility right in town.

Furthermore, Essex residents in the future could also lose local access to the physicians’ offices, Middlesex Hospital’s physical therapy center, and other hospital related facilities, which are now clustered around the Essex facility. Although some Essex residents decry the emergency center’s moving out of town, clearly, there is no turning back.

The bottom line is that the shoreline will have by spring of next year two, 24 hour, seven days a week, emergency medical centers, and both  will have easy access from I-95.