January 31, 2023

Archives for April 2014

A Smooth Transition from Essex to Westbrook for Middlesex Hospital

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

On Monday morning, April 28, Middlesex Hospital quietly closed its doors to medical patients at its long-term Shoreline Medical Center in Essex, and at the same time, opened its doors to new patients at its new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook. The new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center is located at 250 Flat Rock Place, Westbrook, just off of Interstate 95 at Exit 65 and neighbors to the Tanger Outlets.

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

There were a multitude of road signs posted, announcing that the Shoreline Medical Center in Essex was moving to Westbrook. The move was also widely covered in the media. The new facility opened its doors at 7 a.m. with its first Emergency Department patient arriving at 7:01 a.m.

With 44,000 square feet the new Medical Center in Westbrook is double the size of the old medical center in Essex. In contrast to the building of the old Essex center, the new Medical Center in Westbrook has two, distinct entrances. They are: (1) The Whelen Emergency Pavilion ­– 24/7 emergency services with 24 acute care beds and (2) the Outpatient Center ­– two entrances, registration and waiting area.

The Whelen Emergency Pavilion offers patients true emergency care with its separate, covered entrance for up to five ambulatory vehicles, including a helipad to transport patients from the Emergency Department, and an “Express Care” designated to minor injuries or illness but still considered an emergency visit.

As for the Outpatient Center, it offers patients a wide range of medical services. They are: (1) Radiology Department, including the latest generation MRI, CT scanning, X-ray digital fluoroscopy and more, (2) Women’s Imaging Center, including digital mammography, ultrasound and bone densitometry, (3) Laboratory for emergency and routine blood work, and (4) Infusion – a private area for receiving intravenous (IV) fluids.

 Middlesex Hospital President and CEO On Hand

On hand for the first day of operation of the new Shoreline Medical Center was Middlesex Hospital’s President and CEO, Vincent Capece. Regarding the move from Essex to the new facility, Capece said, “The transition to our new facility has been smooth, and there were no major glitches. This was the result of all the efforts of many employees in planning this transition.”

Opening day -  (left to right) Pat Cozza, volunteer; Vincent Capece, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital; and Beth Saity, Telecommunications.

Opening day – (left to right) Pat Cozza, volunteer; Vincent Capece, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital; and Beth Saity, Telecommunications.

IFoundFitness Weight Loss Challenge Helps Feeds the Hungry

Left to right: Claire Bellerjeau of SSKP, Donna Scott, Owner of IFoundFitness, Jeff Prindle, Store Manager of the Deep River Adams Super Food Store, and the top three winners of the challenge: first place, Sarina Garofalo, second place, “Santa” Dave Puffer, and third place, Deb Garofalo, pictured with the food donation.

Left to right: Claire Bellerjeau of SSKP, Donna Scott, Owner of IFoundFitness, Jeff Prindle, Store Manager of the Deep River Adams Super Food Store, and the top three winners of the challenge: first place, Sarina Garofalo, second place, “Santa” Dave Puffer, and third place, Deb Garofalo, pictured with the food donation.

DEEP RIVER — The 2014 IFoundFitness “Winter River Valley Slim Down” challenge included over 30 people competing for $2,300 in prizes. In addition, the competition raised $478 to purchase a food donation for The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries. The winner, Sarina Garofalo, lost 21% of her body weight in 12 weeks through the challenge.

The total weight of the food donated was equally impressive, resulting in 339 pounds of food for SSKP’s Westbrook Pantry, which distributes over 15,000 pounds of food every month to hundreds of local families in need. When the funds were brought to the Deep River Adams Supermarket, manager Jeff Prindle sold the food “at cost”, making every penny count for the pantry.

Donna Scott, owner of IFoundFitness, repeats this special challenge several times per year. “Getting people of all ages fit, through regular exercise and healthy eating, and then giving back to the community is what it’s about!”, she said.

“On behalf of those we serve, who experience a community that cares deeply each time they attend a pantry, I thank IFoundFitness and all the challenge participants for remembering those in need on the shoreline,” said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP.

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River. Founded 25 years ago, in 1989, at the Baptist Church in Essex, the agency continues in its mission to feed the hungry in body and spirit. Last year with a small staff and over 900 dedicated volunteers, SSKP served over 908,000 meals worth of food to shoreline neighbors in need.


Chester Town Government and Elementary School Budgets go to Public Hearing

CHESTER— A proposed $3.64 million town government budget and a proposed $4.15 million appropriation for Chester Elementary School will be presented at the annual budget hearing Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room at town hall.

The $3,649,681 town government budget, which includes a 2.75percent wage/salary increase for town employees and elected officials, is up by $133,626 from the current appropriation. The $4,150,677 budget for Chester Elementary School is down by $31,696 from the current appropriation.

The total $12,507,736 spending package for 2014-2015 also includes a $342,870 capital expenditure plan, and the town’s $4,364,508 share of the Region 4 education budget. The capital plan is down by $30,750. After a sharp drop in the town’s share of the region 4 budget last year because of fewer students from Chester attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, the Chester share of the proposed Region 4 budget is up by $106,915.

Calculations for the property tax rate have been shaped by the ten-year townwide property revaluation that was completed last year. The revaluation resulted in a, 12 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property, reflecting the decline in property values that followed the Great Recession that began in 2008. More than 90 percent of the town’s residential properties had a decrease in assessed values.

The board of selectmen and finance board, in preparing the spending plan over the past two months, had set a goal of avoiding any actual increase in tax bills for homeowners. While the tax rate is recommended to increase by 3.87 mills, to 24.82 mills from the current rate of 21.95 mills, decreases in assessed values are expected to cover the increase and forestall higher tax bills.

The new rate would represent $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. With help from a lower share of the Region 4 budget, the tax rate was dropped by one-half mill last year.to fund current spending.

The town and elementary school budgets go to voters for approval at the annual budget meeting on May 22. The Region 4 budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

Senator Linares Endorses McKinney for Governor

John McKinney

John McKinney

State Senator Art Linares (R-Westbrook) today endorsed State Senate Republican Leader John McKinney to be the next governor of the state of Connecticut.

“Republicans have a great opportunity in this election to take back the governor’s office and win a number of new seats in the legislature, but we will not be successful unless we have a strong candidate at the top of our ticket, Senator John McKinney is that candidate,” Linares said. “Senator McKinney is a dynamic leader capable of taking our Party and our state in a positive new direction.”

Senator Linares represents the 35th State Senate District in the Connecticut General Assembly, which encompasses the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and his hometown of Westbrook. He is ranking member on the Banks Committee. In his private life, Linares, 25, is cofounder of a successful, Middletown-based, commercial solar energy company.

Linares is of Cuban-American descent. His grandparents fled communist Cuba in the 1960’s to start over in America where his father started his own business. Linares, who volunteered for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio before running for office himself, has made it a priority to improve Republican outreach to Latino communities.

“Senator McKinney, can relate Republican values to young voters, female voters and Latino voters – constituencies we must rally to build a strong foundation for the future of our Party,” Linares said.

McKinney thanked Linares for his endorsement. “Senator Linares represents the future of our Party. I marvel at what this young man has accomplished in such a short period of time and what the future may hold for him. I am grateful for his support and for what he has taught me about the issues important to his constituents in southeastern Connecticut.”

University of New Haven and Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts Reach Historic Agreement

OLD LYME — The governing bodies of both the University of New Haven and Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts have unanimously approved a proposal for Lyme Academy College to become the university’s sixth college.

“The affiliation of these two outstanding institutions is an exciting and historic event,” said University of New Haven President Steven H. Kaplan. “This will raise the stature of fine arts education in the Northeast and expand the benefits, services and opportunities that the university and Lyme Academy College provide to students, faculty, alumni and all Connecticut residents.”

Robert W. Pratt Jr., chairman of the Board of Trustees of Lyme Academy College, agreed, adding, “The cultural, educational and civic resources of both institutions will become stronger, more exciting and increasingly available to a larger constituency.”

The Board of Trustees of Lyme Academy College and the Board of Governors of the University of New Haven both provided their approvals in early April. The Connecticut Office of Higher Education and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges also approved the affiliation.

“I am grateful for the bold decision of both boards,” Kaplan said. “We will work closely with Lyme Academy College to support and enhance what already is a top-tier fine arts education program that is one of the cultural and educational jewels of the Northeast.”

The affiliation presents many advantages to both institutions. Lyme Academy College will benefit from the operational breadth and depth of the University of New Haven, gaining access to an expanded range of liberal arts courses and complementary UNH art programs, such as design and digital media. The University of New Haven also offers study-abroad opportunities at its campus outside Florence, Italy, where Lyme Academy College students can attend classes. Lyme Academy College students also will gain access to the university’s growing portfolio of new and exciting learning opportunities.

“Very little will change as regards the student experience,” said Lyme Academy College President Scott Colley. “We will retain the acclaimed essence of the college – the small size of our classes, the hands-on experiences and the opportunity to become immersed in representational art. But we will gain access to an expanded reservoir of courses, technologies and academic initiatives that will strengthen the educational experience. Additionally, the opportunity to study abroad in Italy is particularly appealing to our students.

“After 20 years as an academy and almost another 20 as a fully accredited independent college, this affiliation represents a wonderful opportunity for Lyme Academy College to take the next step in its evolution as it becomes part of a much larger university, while retaining all the attributes of a small institution,” Colley continued.

The University of New Haven will add Lyme Academy College’s high-quality Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) program to its curriculum, making it possible for UNH students to study painting, sculpting, drawing and illustration. The university does not currently offer a B.F.A.

“Our university is known for the unique experiential programs it offers to students. The program at Lyme Academy College fits in well with our rapidly expanding offerings at our main campus in West Haven, our new campus in Orange, and our international program in Italy,” Kaplan said.

“We are determined to protect and preserve the mission of Lyme Academy College, retaining the unique qualities that appeal to students seeking an arts degree in an idyllic, rural setting in Old Lyme, Conn., that nurtures creativity,” he added.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. The university has 80 degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Founded in 1920, the university enrolls approximately 1,800graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts continues the academic tradition of figurative and representational fine art while preparing students for a lifetime of contemporary creative practice. The college offers the bachelor of fine arts degree in drawing, illustration, painting, and sculpture (full- and part-time study); certificates in painting and sculpture; a post-baccalaureate program; continuing education for adults; and a pre-college program for students aged 15-18. The college is located at 84 Lyme St. in Old Lyme.

Emily Bjornberg of Lyme Declares Democratic Candidacy for 33rd State Senate Seat

Emily Bjornberg, State Senate candidate (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Emily Bjornberg, State Senate candidate (photo by Jerome Wilson)

AREAWIDE— With three 2012 election rivals and the district’s former 20-year Democratic senator looking on, Emily Bjornberg of Lyme Monday declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 12-town 33rd State Senate District. Bjornberg will challenge the first term incumbent elected in 2012, Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook.

About 50 friends and supporters turned out for Bjornberg’s announcement at the Deep River Town Landing on the banks of the Connecticut River. Bjornberg, 33, was joined by her husband, Jason, an Iraq War veteran, and children Elliot (age 7), and Anna (age 4).

But it was the other participants at the announcement that signaled district Democrats have united behind Bjornberg in an effort to reclaim the senate seat. There was former ten-term State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook, who had represented the district for two decades before her retirement in 2012, and two former candidates who faced off in an August 2012 primary for the nomination to succeed Daily, former state Rep. James Crawford of Westbrook, and longtime party activist Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam. Crawford won the nomination in the primary.

Also standing near the podium was Haddam First Selectwoman Melissa Schlag. Elected as first selectwoman as a Democrat last November, Schlag had run an aggressive campaign for the senate seat in 2012 as the nominee of the Green Party. Linares, at age 24, won the seat in 2012, defeating Crawford on a 23,915 to 21,251 vote. Schlag received 4,317 votes as the Green Party candidate.

Endorsement of Bjornberg's candidacy by Haddam First Selectman Melissa Schlag, a ranking woman office holder (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Endorsement of Bjornberg’s candidacy by Haddam First Selectman Melissa Schlag, a ranking woman office holder (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Schlag Monday pledged to actively support Bjornberg in the challenge to the incumbent Republican. “We’re all together again,” she said. Klinck said Bjornberg was “a true social justice Democrat,” who would appeal to young people in the campaign. Daily described Bjornberg as “a very sound Democrat with a huge social conscience that we can all be proud of,” while Crawford said Bjornberg would bring the Linares record on various issues “into the daylight.”

Former State Senator Eileen Daily endorsing Bjornberg's candidacy for her former seat (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Former State Senator Eileen Daily endorsing Bjornberg’s candidacy for her former seat (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Bjornberg is from the Reynolds family that owns and operates the Reynolds Subaru dealership in the Hamburg section of Lyme. She has worked for the past eight years as Director of Youth and Family Ministries for the Deep River Congregational Church, and is also active with the Lyme Land Conservation Trust.

Bjornberg pledged an active campaign for the Nov. 4 election, citing education, the environment, and the economy as the three top issues.. “I will be a strong voice for our region in the majority caucus, where important policy and legislative decisions are made,” she said, adding “we can no longer afford to be represented by a senator who did not receive a majority of votes in the last election, and who routinely votes against legislation that will benefit our towns.”

Bjornberg is expected to receive an uncontested endorsement for the Democratic nomination at the district nominating convention on May 19. Linares is expected to be nominated for a second term by district Republicans at a May 12 convention. The 33rd Senate District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.


Very Rare Sturgeon Found on Bank of Connecticut River in Lyme


These youngsters stand by the sturgeon found yesterday at the end of Elys Ferry Rd.

This very rare sturgeon (pictured above) was found Saturday on the banks of the Connecticut River near the end of Elys Ferry Road in Lyme.  It was about five feet long.

Labelled an endangered species by the Connecticut DEEP, the sea-run population of sturgeon in the Connecticut River is concentrated along the lower part of the River.  There is a landlocked population surviving above dams in the upper watershed of the river.

For more information on sturgeon in Connecticut, visit the DEEP website at http://www.ct.gov/deEP/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=326092&deepNav_GID=1655

Obituary: Gary William Lamothe – April 13, 2014

ESSEX – Gary William Lamothe, 56, died Sunday, April 13, 2014, at Yale New Haven Hospital.

He was born in Meriden May 23, 1957. He lived in Essex and will be missed by his friend, Marsha Pond, and his dogs Ty, Cooper and Phoebe. Gary had struggled with many medical conditions in the past years but he always embraced his spirituality.

He is survived by a brother, Bruce Lamothe, of Ogunquit, Maine; a sister, Janet Gura, of Meriden; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his life partner, Spirit T. X.; his mother and father, Marlene and Richard Lamothe; his brother, Richard Jr.; and sisters, Carol and Diane.

A memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, May 3, at 1:15 p.m. at St. Lawrence Parish, 121 Camp St, Meriden, Ct.

Friends may make donations to: Maryheart Crusaders at 338 Coe Ave., Meriden, CT 06451 and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – SPCA, 359 Spring Hill Road, Monroe, CT 06468-2100.

The Spa of Essex Celebrates Anniversary with a New Addition

ESSEX — The Spa of Essex is celebrating its anniversary!  2014 marks 8 years of providing luxury & wellness services to clients from near and far. This spring they are also excited to unveil the new Sauna & Steam Lounge.

Clients of The Spa of Essex are now able to experience the benefits of both a sauna and a steam (visit http://www.thespaofessex.com/spa-blog/  to read about the benefits of sauna and steam).   “We asked our clients what additional services they would like and we are thrilled to be able to fulfill their requests. We believe that it is all about your experience!” said Joyce Cosenza, owner of the spa.

The Spa of Essex, located at 65 South Main St., Essex, CT, is an elegant day spa & boutique with a serene and sophisticated environment designed for even the most discriminating of clientele. With a menu offering all that is essential to relax, renew and achieve your desired results, you may choose from more than 100 treatments & experiences that are completely customized to meet your needs.

Essex Town Elementary School Budgets Unchanged After Public Hearing

ESSEX— The board of finance made no changes to a proposed $7.2 million town government budget and a proposed $7.74 appropriation for Essex Elementary School after a quiet budget hearing Thursday.

About 25 residents turned out for the public hearing. There were no objections or calls for specific changes to the spending plans,despite an anticipated increase in the property tax rate that is largely driven by the results of a townwide property revaluation completed last year. The revaluation, the first for Essex since the start of the national Great Recession in 2008, resulted in a 7.72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property that is used to establish a tax rate.

The town government budget of $7,202,161 represents a $234,700, or 3.37 percent, spending increase over the current town government appropriation. The budget for the elementary school, $7,742,313, is up by $107,396, or 1.41 percent, from the current appropriation.

The total spending levy for 2014-2015 also incudes the town’s $8,112,489 share of the Region 4 education budget that funds the operation of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle school. The Region 4 share is up by only $30,717, a much smaller increase than recent years because of a smaller rise in the number of students from Essex attending the two secondary schools.

Former Selectman Vince Pacileo asked the key question of the budget hearing, specifically where would the spending plans put the town’s tax rate when the new fiscal year begins in July. The current tax rate is 18.99 mills, or $18.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. The tax rate increased by 0.52 mills last year to current town/school spending.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said a tax rate of 20.4 mills would be required under the new grand list to cover current 2013-2014 spending. With total requested new spending of $372,813, a slightly higher tax rate could be required for 2014-2015. Under the new grand list, a tax mill raises about $1 million in revenue.
Pacileo also asked the expected total for the town’s undesignated fund balance at the start of the next fiscal year in July. Finance Director Kelly Sterner said the fund balance is expected to contain about $2.7 million.

The finance board will set a tax rate for 2014-2015 after the town and school budgets are approved by voters. The board could use a transfer from the fund balance to limit the tax increase for 2014-2015. But in recent years the board has not favored use of the fund balance to defray increases in the tax rate

The town government and elementary school budgets are scheduled for a vote at the annual budget meeting on May 12, though residents could petition for an eight-hour referendum vote on these components of the budget. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

Gov. Malloy Announces Plan to Seek State Funding to Protect The Preserve



Hartford — Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced today a plan for the state to play a major role in purchasing and protecting as open space a 1,000-acre parcel along Long Island Sound known as The Preserve, which is located in the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook.

“We will take action to make funds available for the state’s participation in the purchase of the property and to address issues concerning joint ownership and stewardship of the land with the Town of Old Saybrook, which will also be making a significant financial contribution,” said Governor Malloy.  “The permanent protection of The Preserve has been a goal of the land conservation community across our state for more than 15 years and it’s time to act to achieve this important goal.”

The Preserve is considered to be the last, large unprotected coastal forest between New York and Boston.  The property is rich in natural resources, wildlife, and habitat areas and will offer hiking and other passive outdoor recreational opportunities.  The Preserve, which also provides an important coastal buffer against storm waters, connects to 500 acres of existing parklands in adjoining towns and miles of hiking trails. (Download map of The Preserve)

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a leader in the effort to protect The Preserve, reached an agreement with River Sound Development LLC to purchase the property in July 2013. Since that time, it has been working to secure funds needed to finalize the purchase, which is now set at $8.09 million.

“The Preserve is one of Connecticut’s special places and this support from the state will allow us to move forward and forever protect from development this land,” said Alicia Sullivan, Connecticut State Director of TPL.  “Our mission is to protect land for people, and I can’t think of a better example of protecting land for all the people who live in Connecticut, and visit here.”

Governor Malloy said that under the agreement, the State of Connecticut would be an owner of The Preserve and intends to contribute $3.3 million toward its purchase and management, consisting of $1.4 million from federal funds for open space acquisition and $1.9 million for acquisition and management pending approval by the State Bond Commission.

Additional funds for the purchase are expected from the Town of Old Saybrook, which plans to contribute $3 million, and from TPL, which will bring private funding in the range of $2 to $3 million for acquisition and management.

“The Town of Old Saybrook is grateful for the state’s support as we move forward to protect The Preserve.  We now have a chance to put to rest once and for all the question of what will happen with The Preserve,” said Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna, Jr.  “I look forward to launching a public process in Old Saybrook that will conclude with a referendum to approve the town’s financial support for this important land acquisition.”

State funding may increase through a grant to the Essex Land Trust, an applicant for matching funds for the acquisition and protection of 71 acres of The Preserve that is located within the Town of Essex.  This application is pending under the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition program administered by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).  In addition, the Town of Westbrook is discussing options to facilitate the preservation and public use of The Preserve.

Governor Malloy said that he is asking the General Assembly to take action this session to authorize an agreement with TPL that will transfer a vast majority of The Preserve to the state and the Town of Old Saybrook for joint ownership and management of these critical lands.

“We appreciate the strong interest that the residents of Old Saybrook have in protecting this property and the willingness of the town to make funds available to help us accomplish this goal,” Governor Malloy said.  “The agreement we envision will allow for a positive and productive partnership between the state and the town that will provide lasting benefits for everyone.”

Other parties that strongly supported the purchase and protection of The Preserve include the Old Saybrook Land Trust, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound, The Alliance for Sound Area Planning, Audubon Connecticut, and The Nature Conservancy.

Support for Acquisition of The Preserve

“The purchase of The Preserve will ensure that these unique and environmentally valuable and sensitive lands will be protected in perpetuity,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee.  “Connecticut is fortunate to have an active and effective land conservation community that has played a key role in preserving thousands of acres across our state and paved the way for action on The Preserve.”

“For years, this fight was a long and lonely one, a seeming endless uphill battle for citizen activists dedicated to preserving this true treasure,” Senator Richard Blumenthal said.  “Governor Malloy is demonstrating a strong commitment to protecting pristine, environmentally significant land in Connecticut.  I have fought development of The Preserve for many years and commend the state’s aggressive action to permanently stop any development of this unique asset.”

“While walking along The Preserve land yesterday with members of the Old Saybrook community, it couldn’t have been more clear that this breathtaking open space needs to be protected for our future generations,” said Senator Chris Murphy.  “This forest land is the idea place to spend an afternoon hiking, exploring, and observing Connecticut’s natural beauty. I’ve been committed to open space protection issues since my days as a state official and I know how committed the land preservation community has been to protecting The Preserve. Today’s announcement is a huge win for the Old Saybrook community, and I commend all those who worked to make this possible.”

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Co-Chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus, said, “The Long Island Sound is a regional and a national treasure and protecting The Preserve will ensure this pristine and vibrant ecosystem is available for future Americans to enjoy.  I applaud the Town of Old Saybrook and Governor Malloy for prioritizing the future of this beautiful area.”

Attorney General George Jepsen said, “Open space preservation not only conserves critical habitat and environmental features, it also contributes to the character of our state.  The Preserve is an important and unique area of our state, and I commend Governor Malloy and all the partners involved for crafting a proposal to protect it for future generations.”

“After a long battle to protect The Preserve, it’s heartening to see the pieces falling into place to finally conserve this extraordinary resource once and for all,” said Don Strait, President of Connecticut Fund for the Environment.  “An opportunity like this comes along once in a generation.  This state funding will join with support from citizens who value The Preserve’s miles of woodland trail and the habitats it provides to bobcats, hawks, and rare amphibians.  It’s an amazing example of what ordinary people can do when they band together to protect the land they love.”

Bill Arnold, President of the Kent Land Trust, said, “I thank Governor Malloy and commend him for his commitment to protecting The Preserve.  As the Governor well knows, this is a unique natural area with a long list of features which are important to conserve.  Acquiring it for public benefit will help protect habitat and water quality as well as provide excellent outdoor recreation opportunities for all Connecticut residents.”

Background on The Preserve

The Preserve consists of approximately 1,000 acres of land along Long Island Sound in three towns: 926 acres in Old Saybrook; 71 acres in Essex; and four acres in Westbrook.

The Preserve was the subject of development proposals dating back to 1998, including plans to build more than 200 homes and an 18-hole golf course. These plans met with strong opposition and lawsuits from conservation groups and residents. Over the years, multiple attempts were made to acquire the land for conservation, but an agreement was never reached and efforts to develop the property continued.

The Preserve includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, more than 3,100 linear feet of watercourses, high quality coastal forest, and an Atlantic White Cedar swamp.  The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a critical refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles. In all, more than 100 species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds thrive on this property, some of which are state-listed species of special concern and others of which are declining in other areas of the state.

In addition to its recreational and habitat resources, The Preserve provides important water quality benefits to residents.  Surface waters on the property drain to three different watersheds: the Oyster River, Mud River and Trout Brook, as they make their way to Long Island Sound.  The protection of The Preserve will ensure that stormwater on the site is recharged to local aquifers.  An aquifer protection area is located just east of the Preserve and supplies an average of 200,000 gallons per day of drinking water to Old Saybrook and surrounding communities.

The Preserve also offers benefits for coastal resiliency in the face of climate change, and conservation of it will ensure lessened stormwater impacts from hurricanes and other intense storms.  It is located in the area designated by FEMA’s Hurricane Sandy Impact Analysis as having experienced “high impact” from Superstorm Sandy.  The Preserve acts act as a sponge for stormwater, releasing it slowly into the tributaries and rivers that lead to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, protecting downstream property owners from flooding.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy Tours ‘The Preserve’ in Old Saybrook


Old Saybrook — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined representatives from the Trust for Public Land and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and about 40 other environmentalists and town officials on Thursday afternoon on a short guided tour of the Preserve in Old Saybrook.  The Trust for Public Land is currently working with the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook  to acquire the 1,000-acre forest for public enjoyment and to prevent it from further development.

“I’m thrilled to be here with you today,” said Murphy, “My family, for as long as I’ve been alive, has had a little tiny summer house in Old Lyme so this part of the world is like a second home to me.”

Sen. Murphy took off his office shoes and replaced them with hiking footwear as he joined the rest of the group on the hike through to the middle of the Preserve.


Senator Murphy joins the group on the short hike through the Preserve

After a short hike, the group reached the center of the 1,000 acre property, overlooking Pequot Swamp.  Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, described the swamp as an area of particular environmental significance.  “Pequot Swamp is a 113-acre wetland area that feeds two tributaries of the Connecticut River and is an important resting site for migratory birds”, said Cryder.

Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, explains the environmental significance of Pequot Swmap to Senator Chris Murphy

Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, explains the environmental significance of Pequot Swamp to Senator Chris Murphy

The Trust for Public Land has been working with the towns of Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Essex, Land Trusts for the three towns, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Audubon Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy and the State of Connecticut to raise the necessary funds to purchase the property.  The Trust hopes to raise $2 million to $3 million in private donations towards the re-negotiated  price of $8.1 million.  The remaining funds could potentially come from the state and from the town of Old Saybrook, who will be holding a referendum in June when town voters will be asked to vote on the issue.  If successful, the land would be owned by the town and would be kept open to the public for hiking and recreation purposes.

“In our office, we eat, sleep and breathe land conservation,” said Murphy, “so this is really exciting when we have a big piece of iconic property like this that, hopefully with a little bit of luck and some good partnership, we can preserve for the ages.”

After returning to the trailhead, the group posed for a photo with Senator Murphy.



Essex Savings Bank Supports Essex Garden Club Project

2014-04-24 15.13.10

The Essex Savings Bank’s grant of $700 has generously supported the Essex Garden Club’s special project of purchasing and planting two Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum “Bloodgood”.  These trees were planted in front of the Town Hall to enhance its appearance with the graceful round shape and colorful foliage of the Japanese Maple. Though separate from the Town Campus project, these trees will complement the overall changes.

As it matures the Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ grows to a height and spread of 20 feet.  The picturesque, multiple grey sub-trucks are particularly showy on a snowy, wintery day.  The foliage displays a red crimson canopy throughout the summer and fall and the bright red samaras (seed pods) add to the ornamental value of the tree.  Palmatum is descriptive of the leaves which are palm like, bearing lobes that fan out from the center.

Greg Shook, President of the Essex Savings Bank told the Essex Garden Club that the Bank was very pleased and fortunate to support its mission of beautifying Essex and specifically the placement of these very special trees.

Essex Savings Bank Announces Community Investment Program Balloting Results

ESSEX – Results of the recent voting by Essex Savings Bank customers who participated in the Bank’s Community Investment Program were announced at a meeting of employees, directors and trustees at the Bank’s Plains Road Office on Thursday, April 17, 2014.

The Top Ten Winners in attendance received special recognition.

The customer balloting portion of Essex Savings Bank’s 2014 Community Investment Program began on February 1 and concluded on March 15.  During the first phase of the program, the Bank’s customers were asked to select from a list of 85 qualified non-profit organizations that made application to the Bank.

Gregory R. Shook, President and Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank stated, “At Essex Savings Bank, we believe the way to move the world forward is by giving back.  Our Community Investment Program is designed to provide vital financial support to those organizations that enhance the quality of life in our communities.”

Each year the Bank donates 10% of its after tax net income to non-profit organizations within the immediate market area consisting of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.   According to Thomas Lindner, Vice President and Community Relations Officer for Essex Savings Bank, 8,481 votes were cast this year.  Mr. Lindner stated that $67,013 is to be disbursed during the month of April based on ballot results.  The remaining $156,360 will be distributed over the year by the Directors, Senior Management, Branch Managers and Essex Financial Services.  By year end 2014, $223,373 will have been allocated to over 200 organizations bringing the total distribution since the inception of the program in 1996 to $3,896,917.

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


Organization # Votes $Amount
1 The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries 801  $       6,329
2 Forgotten Felines, Inc. 437           3,453
3 Valley Shore Animal Welfare League 294           2,323
4 High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. 287           2,268
5 Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM) 287           2,268
6 Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Meals on Wheels 281           2,220
7 Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc. 261           2,062
8 Pet Connections, Inc. 217           1,715
9 Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc. 210           1,659
10 Essex Fire Engine Company #1 210           1,659
11 Camp Hazen YMCA 191           1,509
12 Bikes for Kids, Inc. 189           1,493
13 Essex Library Association 166           1,312
14 Essex Ambulance Association, Inc. 164           1,296
15 Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, Inc. (VNLV) 158           1,248
16 Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, Inc. 155           1,225
17 Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc. 151           1,193
18 Bushy Hill Nature Center 148           1,169
19 The Lyme Fire Company, Inc. 145           1,146
20 Graduation Night, Inc. – Old Saybrook 128           1,011
21 Valley-Shore YMCA 128           1,011
22 Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association 115              909
23 Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc. 112              885
24 Old Saybrook Land Trust, Inc. 108              853
25 The Deep River Fire Department 102              806
26 Friends of the Acton Public Library 96              759
27 Literacy Volunteers – Valley Shore, CT, Inc. 93              735
28 Chester Historical Society 91              719
29 Community Music School 87              687
30 The Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock 87              687
31 Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc. 85              672
32 Old Saybrook Historical Society 83              656
33 Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc. 82              648
34 Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation 79              624
35 Common Good Gardens, Inc. 77              608
36 Friends of Hammonasset, Inc. 76              601
37 The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Inc. 76              601
38 Essex Elementary School Foundation, Inc. 73              577
39 Essex Community Fund, Inc. 72              569
40 Old Saybrook Education Foundation 72              569
41 The Region 4 Education Foundation, Inc. (R4EF) 72              569
42 Florence Griswold Museum 69              545
43 Lyme Public Library, Inc. 69              545
44 Valley Baseball-Softball Booster Club, Inc. 67              529
45 Lyme Art Association, Inc. 66              521
46 Lyme-Old Lyme Safe Graduation Party, Inc. 64              506
47 Essex Historical Society, Inc. 62              490


Organization # Votes $Amount
48 Madison Community Services, Inc. 60              474
49 Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc. 60              474
50 Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc. 59              466
51 Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center, Inc. 58              458
52 Chester Land Trust, Inc. 56              442
53 Lyme Public Hall Association, Inc. 54              427
54 Friends of the Chester Public Library, Inc. 51              403
55 Deep River Historical Society, Inc. 49              387
56 Sister Cities Essex Haiti, Inc. 47              371
57 Scranton Library, Madison (aka E.C. Scranton Memorial Library) 45              356
58 CDE (Chester, Deep River, Essex) Cooperative Nursery School 44              348
59 Westbrook Project Graduation, Inc. 43              340
60 Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) 42              332
61 Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc. 41              324
62 The Country School, Inc. 40              316
63 Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, Inc. 39              308
64 Madison Ambulance Association, Inc. 38              300
65 Act II Thrift Shop, Inc. 35              277
66 Essex Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, Inc. 35              277
67 Maritime Education Network, Inc. 35              277
68 Brazilian and American Youth Cultural Exchange (BRAYCE) 34              269
69 Lymes’ Elderly Housing, Inc. (Lymewood) 34              269
70 Camp Claire, Inc. 30              237
71 Hope Partnership, Inc. 30              237
72 Deep River Land Trust, Inc. 27              213
73 The Madison ABC Program, Incorporated (aka Madison A Better Chance, Inc.) 27              213
74 The Touchdown Club, Inc. (Valley Regional High School/    Old Lyme High School Football) 26              205
75 Madison Land Conservation Trust, Inc. 24              190
76 Deep River Elementary PTO, Inc. 23              182
77 Essex Winter Series, Inc. 23              182
78 The Essex Art Association, Incorporated 22              174
79 Musical Masterworks, Inc. 21              166
80 Potapaug Audubon Society 19              150
81 The Woman’s Exchange of Old Lyme 16              126
82 Tracy Art Center, Inc. 15              119
83 The Madison Foundation, Inc. 14              111
84 Madison Historical Society, Inc. 13              103
85 The Deacon John Grave Foundation 9                71

Main Street East Reconstruction Project Draws Mixed Response at Chester Meeting, Location of New Sidewalks an Issue

CHESTER— The Main Street East reconstruction project drew a mixed reaction from residents an a public information meeting Tuesday, with some residents objecting to plans for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road.

About 70- residents turned out for the session held by the town’s volunteer Main Street Project Committee, with residents hearing a presentation by project engineer Kent Frost on two options for a segment of the project that has generated some debate in recent weeks. The project is the first phase of a long-planned project that will later include reconstruction of Main Street in the downtown commercial area. It calls for a reconstruction of 1,800-feet of Main Street from the entrance to the Laurel Hill Cemetery east to the intersection with  Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The committee last month gave a preliminary endorsement to constructing a four-foot wide sidewalk from the entrance to the cemetery east to Route 154, while also retaining and improving sidewalk that runs along portions of the south side of the street, including the area in the vicinity of the Chesterfields Health Care Center. The committee decided a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street would enhance pedestrian safety by reducing the need for crossing the street to use sidewalk, though existing crosswalks at the intersection with School Lane and in front of Chesterfields would be retained and improved. Another factor in the panel’s recommendation is the possibility the town would built a new library at North Quarter Park on the north side of the street, bringing increased pedestrian traffic to this section of Main Street.

But some residents have objected to a proposed removal of three mature Maple trees in the vicinity of School Lane and the residential property at 131 Main St., and plans for sidewalk in front of a residential property at 137 Main St., where the existing house is closer to the roadway. A second option presented Tuesday would include improvements to the sidewalk on the south side of the street, but no continuous sidewalk on the north side of the road.

Frost said the property owners at 131 Main Street where the three trees are located, David and Lisa Meade, have offered qualified support for the plan, and a willingness to work with the committee on replacing the trees with newer trees and possible fencing. He said the property owners at 137 Main Street, Jeffrey and Mary Gates, have objected to the plans because of the proximity of the sidewalk to their house, and the need to remove a privacy hedge in front of a portion of their property.

Several residents at the meeting, and five who submitted written statements, expressed support for the continuous sidewalk ion the north side of the street. Most of the objections expressed at the meeting focused on the removal of the three trees, which are within the town’s road right-of-way.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the hedge in front of 137 Main St. is also located within the town right-of-way, and is a liability for the town because it blocks sight line views in the area of the crosswalk from a staff parking lot to the Chesterfields facility. He said the hedge must be removed even if there is no Main Street East reconstruction project.

Meehan said Wednesday the committee, in discussion after the public comment portion of the meeting, expressed a consensus to stand by the original recommendation for a continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street. Meehan said the board of selectmen would discuss the committee’s recommendation further at a meeting next month.
But Meehan also confirmed the debate over sidewalks has delayed an initial goal of putting the project out to bid and beginning construction by this fall. He said construction is now expected to begin in the spring of 2015. The estimated $1 million project is funded by a combination of state grants and some town funding.

John W. Rafal Ranked 12th in Barron’s Special Report on the Top 100 Financial Advisors

John Rafal, long term resident of Old Lyme and the Founder and current Vice Chair of Essex Financial Services, has been ranked 12th in Barron’s special report of the nation’s Top 100 Financial Advisors.

John Rafal, long term resident of Old Lyme and the Founder and current Vice Chair of Essex Financial Services, has been ranked 12th in Barron’s special report of the nation’s Top 100 Financial Advisors.

Essex – Barron’s, the acclaimed financial and investment newsweekly, has published the 2014 list of America’s Top 100 Financial Advisors, and John W. Rafal of Essex, Connecticut, is ranked number 12. Very few independent advisors, such as John Rafal, were included in the list, which is mostly composed of advisors from the major wire house firms.

Mr. Rafal is the Founder and current Vice Chair of Essex Financial Services, which is owned by Essex Savings Bank. The ranking appears in the April 21 edition of Barron’s

In the story accompanying the list, Barron’s noted that John Rafal was among a small group of financial advisors who have appeared on the top 100 list every year since inception in 2004.

“I am gratified to Barron’s for the recognition and accept the honor on behalf of the entire team at Essex Financial Services,” said John Rafal. “I want to express my sincere thanks to our clients, many of whom we have represented for over 30 years. It’s a privilege to earn and retain your trust.”

Doug Paul, Chairman of the Board of Essex Savings Bank, which also owns Essex Financial Services, stated, “The Barron’s ranking is a testament to John Rafal and the entire team at Essex Financial Services. On behalf of the entire board and management team, I want to offer our congratulations to John Rafal.”

Essex Financial Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Essex Savings Bank, is one of the leading independent financial advisory firms in the country

Essex Zoning Commission Approves Essex Place Elderly and Affordable Housing Development

ESSEX— The zoning commission Monday unanimously approved a site plan for the 22 unit Essex Place elderly and affordable housing development that would be located off Main Street in the Centerbrook section.

The project would be the first elderly and affordable housing development in town since the existing 36-unit Essex Court elderly housing complex was constructed in 1985. The new development would be located on a one-acre town-owned parcel at the southwest corner of the Essex Court complex, with the new units to receive access off Main Street through the existing entrance road in to Essex Court.

The 22 units, including 18 one bedroom and four two bedroom units, would be in a three-story building, with a total of 46 parking spaces for the development. The project was designed by architects with Quisenberry Associates of Farmington.

The applicant for the project is Essex Elderly and Affordable housing Inc., a non-profit group established by the Essex Housing Authority that manages the Essex Court complex. The application was submitted under state statute 8-30G, a law intended to promote additional elderly and affordable housing in Connecticut.

The statute allowed the project to bypass some requirements town zoning regulations that govern height and setbacks from abutting properties. Under the 8-30G process, the commission’s jurisdiction over the site plan was limited to public health and safety issues.

But any public health issues related to development were resolved with a report submitted earlier this month by Lisa Fasulo, town director of health. Fasulo advised that site testing confirms the  parcel could accommodate an engineer-desighned septic system to serve 26 bedrooms, though the project would also require written approval from the state Department of Health before construction could begin.

The project received statements of support from nine residents at a March 17 public hearing, with three residents also speaking in support of the project when the hearing resumed Monday. Dawn  Boulanger, a member of the Essex Housing Authority and Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., said construction of additional elderly and affordable housing would benefit the town. No one spoke in opposition to the project.

The units would be reserved for persons age 62 or older who meet income guidelines. Construction of the Essex Place development is expected to begin this fall, with state and federal grant and loan funding expected to pay for the cost of building the 22-unit development.

Middlesex Hospital Holds Well Attended “Open House” at New Medical Center in Westbrook

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in

Middlesex Hospital held a very successful preview of its new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook on Saturday, April 19. The new center is located off I-95 at Exit 65 and has a street address of 250 Flat Rock Place in Westbrook. The four-hour preview event on the 19th, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., attracted a flood of visitors to the new 44,000 square foot medical facility.

The new medical center will open its doors for patients on Monday, April 28. Until then, Middlesex Hospital will continue to provide medical services at its present medical center in Essex. Once the new center opens in Westbrook, the Essex center will be closed down permanently. It should be noted that Middlesex Hospital has been providing emergency medical services at various locations in Essex since the 1970’s.

Middlesex Hospital’s new facility on Flat Rock Place in Westbrook is housed in a single long building, which is divided into two discrete sections. The section on the right, when facing the building coming off Flat Rock Road, houses the Emergency Center. The section on the left houses the Outpatient Center. There is a single walk-in entrance to the Emergency Center. There are two entrances to the Outpatient Center, one facing Flat Rock Place, and the other at the left side of the building.

The Emergency Center

The Emergency Department, named the “Whelen Emergency Pavilion,” offers emergency medical treatment, for things such as a heart attack, or a crushed limb. Also, located at the Emergency Center is an “Express Care” treatment center, which offers treatment for injuries of a non-emergency nature, such as a sprained ankle, or for a minor cut.

Laurel Patt, Director, Radiology Services; Paula Howley, radiologic technologist; and Kim Carey, radiologic technologist

Laurel Patt, Director, Radiology Services; Paula Howley, radiologic technologist; and Kim Carey, radiologic technologist

There is also a separate ambulance entrance to the Whelen Emergency Pavilion, with a helipad located just beyond the ambulance area. To give visitors a little extra excitement during the recent open house, the LifeStar helicopter made a special landing on the helipad and allowed visitors to explore it.

The Outpatient Center

The Outpatient Center is the section of the Medical Center which is to the left of the Emergency Center, when entering from Flat Rock Place. The Outpatient Center has two separate entrances, one at the front of the building, and another on the left side of the building. The services offered at the Outpatient Center are extensive. They include: a Radiology Department, which offers state-of-the-art imaging services, including the latest generation MRI, CT scanning, X-ray, digital fluoroscopy, among other services.

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center

A Women’s Imaging Center is also located in the Outpatient Center. It includes private spaces for digital mammography, ultrasound and bone density examinations.  Also in the Outpatient Center has a new MRI unit, which features the most advanced imaging with a wider and shorter opening aperture.

In addition this is the location of the Medical Center’s laboratory, which is accessible to outpatients and for emergency services. Finally, in the Outpatient Center there is an infusion section with a private area for receiving intravenous (IV) fluids.

On an artistic note there is also a Community Gallery featuring rotating works of art by professional, amateur and student artists. There is also an open area stone garden off the left end of the building.

Entertainments for the Day

At the recent Saturday open house, in addition to tours of the Emergency and Outpatient Centers, there were vehicles on display from the Westbrook and Essex Ambulance Associations, the Middlesex Hospital Paramedic service and neighboring commercial car dealers. Also, there were free blood pressure screenings offered to visitors, and a roving magician to entertain the young. In addition, Connecticut State Police officers distributed child fingerprint ID’s, among other amusements for the young and old.

Deep River Selectmen Establish New Study Committee for Firehouse Expansion Project

Deep River Fire DeptDEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has established a new study committee to develop a consensus recommendation for a long-planned firehouse renovation  and expansion project.

The committee established earlier this month is comprised of two selectmen, Angus McDonald Jr. and David Oliveria,  two Deep River volunteer Fire Department officers,, Chief Timothy Lee, and assistant chief Timothy Ballantyne, and Susan Watts,a representative of the design advisory board. Selectmen are seeking one additional volunteer at-large member for the committee.

First Selectman Richard Smith said Monday the committee has been asked to prepare a written report by Sept. 1 that would include a review of options and a recommendation for a firehouse expansion project. Town officials and residents have been discussing and debating options for a firehouse expansion project for nearly six years, including two failed referendum votes for a renovation and expansion of the existing 5,084-square foot firehouse at the corner of Union and West Elm streets that was built in 1961.

A proposed $2,.4 million renovation and expansion of the existing firehouse was rejected on 347-312 vote in a July 2010 referendum. A more costly renovation and expansion project was rejected by a wide margin in a November 2007 referendum.

After the 2010 defeat, town officials and representatives of the fire department began considering other possible sites, including the option of building a new firehouse on a parcel on the north side of Route 80 in the vicinity of Plattwood Park. But Smith said Monday there has been no consensus on an alternative site for a new firehouse, with some firefighters and residents contending the Route 80 location is too far from the downtown area, a distance that could lead to increased  rates for fire insurance.

Smith said the committee would focus on a revised renovation and expansion plan for the existing firehouse that may, or may not, utilize portions of an abutting residential property at 57 Union Street that was acquired by the fire department in 2007. “We need to be able to make a decision on what we really need for a firehouse expansion, and how can we make it work” for the existing site, Smith said.

Letter From Paris:  Van Gogh at the Orsay Museum

During the last four years of his life, Vincent Van Gogh produced a phenomenal number of works. But it was also the time when he suffered episodes of madness, which were to lead him to suicide in 1890 at the age of 37.

The Orsay museum chose this period of intense creation and of psychological despair to present the current exhibit entitled, “Van Gogh/Artaud. The man driven to suicide by society.” This new approach to the genius of Van Gogh is through the eyes of Antonin Artaud, a poet, actor and artist, who suffered serious mental illness, was interned nine years and underwent shock treatment.

In 1947, he had a chance to see a major retrospective of Van Gogh’s works at the Orangerie museum. He wrote, “Van Gogh was not crazy, he was saying a truth that society could not accept.” He went on by denouncing the prejudices of morality and science, which were unable to fit genius and madness within the accepted norms. Throughout the exhibit, the paintings and drawings of Van Gogh are commented upon in poetic terms by this troubled soul mate.

Visitors study the Van Gogh paintings in the new exhibition of the artist's work at the Musee d'Orsay.

Visitors study the Van Gogh paintings in the new exhibition of the artist’s work at the Musee d’Orsay.

The exhibit opens in a very dark room, with incoherent sentences scattered on the black walls with a back drop of moaning sounds. Forty six of Van Gogh’s strongest works have been selected along with some graphic works. The visitor travels through four periods of the Dutch painter’s life – in Paris, Arles, Saint-Remy-de-Provence and Auvers-sur-Oise.

Several among the more than 40 self portraitsVan Gogh painted throughout his life are — for the public — like a brutal confrontation with the artist. They certainly are not an exercise in complacency, but a harsh and almost merciless exercise. American art historian Meyer Schapiro remarks that, for Van Gogh, creating a self portrait was a form of therapy and a way to reconstruct his inner self. The artist used it to protect himself from crises of instability.

In contrast, portraits of ” La Berceuse” and “Père Tanguy” express the peaceful and introspective mood of the models. In both paintings, the background — floral in one, Japanese etchings in the other — shows his attraction to pure decorative and aesthetic considerations reminiscent of Matisse’s. The portrait of Dr. Gachet, at first his psychiatrist and then his friend, seems to radiate kindness, but also melancholy. Van Gogh writes, “This man is in as bad a shape as myself. He wears the sorry expression of our times.”

After the tragedy of the night of Dec. 23, 1888, when he had a fight with Gauguin, who was visiting him in Arles, Van Gogh sliced his left ear. At his own request, he was admitted to the Saint-Paul hospital, near Saint-Remy-de-Provence. However, he was authorized to go out and, on those occasions, painted some of his most powerful landscapes.

His trees are soaring into the sky and dwarf the silhouettes of people. In “Cyprès avec deux femmes“, June 1889, the tormented volutes of the trees are an ominous shape hovering over two young women walking. In “Arbres dans le jardin de l’hopital Saint -Paul,” October 1889, the twisted trunks tower over a barely visible woman carrying a red parasol. His “Foret de pins au declin du jour ,” (Pine forest at dusk) December 1889, is a frightening scene, where the trees are beaten by the wind. They are outlined on an acid yellow sky and a smoldering orange sun.

During his last months in Auvers-sur-Oise, north of Paris, he painted farm houses with red tiles or thatch roof, giving them a quaint and welcoming touch. Only the sky, scratched with jagged lines, reveals the artist’s tension.

The most important work of the exhibit – “Champ de Ble avec Corbeaux” (Wheat field with crows) – is projected on a screen, drawing the onlooker into the heavy yellow mass of wheat swaying under a stormy sky. The tracks on the path combined with the birds everywhere create a harried movement with little time to spare.

HeadshotAbout the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She will write a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also will cover a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

April 24 Public Hearing for Essex Town Government, Elementary School Budgets

ESSEX— A proposed $7.18 million town government budget and a proposed $7.74 million appropriation for Essex Elementary School will be presented at the annual budget hearing Thursday. The hearing, to be conducted by the board of finance, begins at7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The proposed $7,189,062 town government budget for 2014-2015 represents an increase of $221,601, or 3.18 percent, over the current budget. The spending plan includes a three percent wage-salary increase for most town employees. The recommended budget for the elementary school totals $7,742,313, representing an increase of $107,396, or 1.41 percent, over the current appropriation for the school.

The largest segment of the total town spending package, the $8,112,489 Essex share of the Region 4 education budget, is not subject to review by the finance board. With little change in the number of students from Essex attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, the town’s share of the proposed 2014-2015 Region 4 budget is up by only $30,717 after a much larger increase for the current year. The Region 4 budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

The finance board will consider any input received at the public hearing before deciding whether to make any changes to either the town government or elementary school spending plans. The annual budget meeting to voter on the town/elementary school budgets is set for Monday May 12.

The tax rate for 20-14-2015 will be set by the board of finance after the budgets are approved by voters. The current tax rate is 18.99 mills, or $18.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value
A townwide property revaluation completed last year resulted in a 7.72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property, with the assessed value of many residential properties falling by around 8 percent. The drop in the grand list will require an increase in the tax rate for 2014-2015, though many homeowners would be paying the higher rate on a lower property assessment.

I Ought To be In Pictures At The Ivoryton Playhouse

Mike Boland and Jeanie Rapp (Photo by Anne Hudson)

Mike Boland and Jeanie Rapp (Photo by Anne Hudson)

Ivoryton: What’s a daughter to do when she wants to get in touch with her father who she hasn’t seen in 16 years and who lives 3,000 miles away? Well, if you’re Libby Tucker you hitch hike and bus your way across the country with nothing but a backpack full of dreams and spare socks. Libby travels from Brooklyn to Los Angeles ostensibly to break into movies but mostly because she needs to find out why her dad and left, and does he still love her.

I Ought To Be in Pictures opened in New York in April 1980, and in 1982 was turned into a movie starring Walter Matthau and Ann-Margret. This is Neil Simon at his best – poignant and funny. For dads and daughters everywhere, this will be a memory to treasure.

I Ought To Be In Pictures opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on April 23and runs through May 11. Directed by Ivoryton favorite, R. Bruce Connelly, the cast includes Mike Boland* as Herb, whose Broadway credits include An Enemy of the People at Manhattan Theater Club and the national tours of Twelve Angry Men and West Side Story; Siobhan Fitzgerald*, making her Ivoryton debut as Libby and Jeanie Rapp*, founder and artistic director of Margreta Stage who was last seen in Ivoryton in Love, Loss & What I Wore*, as Steffy.

The set design is by William Stark, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Kari Crowther.

Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Fridayand Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $42 for adults, $37 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 atwww.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Chester Selectmen Appoint Committee to Prepare Plans for a New Library for North Quarter State Park

CHESTER— The board of selectmen has appointed a second volunteer committee to prepare preliminary design plans for a new library at North Quarter Park. The board established the committee at its meeting Tuesday, two weeks after appointing a separate volunteer committee to develop a master plan for use of the 22-acre park located off the north side of Main Street.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said Wednesday the committee, which could have up to nine members, would assist in hiring an architectural firm to prepare preliminary design plans for a building that would house the library, and possibly some other secondary municipal use. Meehan said funding for architectural services would be included in the next town budget that takes effect July 1.

Unlike the North Quarter Park Master Plan Study Committee, which included representatives of the board of finance, planning and zoning commission, and Main Street Project Committee, the second committee is comprised mostly of residents involved with the Chester Public Library. Along with Librarian Linda Fox and library board of trustees chairwoman Terry Schreiber, the committee includes Jean Davies, Richard Harrall, Denny Tovie, Lois Nadel, and Patricia Halloway. Davies, Tovie and Nadel are library trustees or were involved with earlier study committees for a library expansion, while Halloway works as a professional librarian in West Hartford.

After two years of considering options for a renovation and expansion of the historic 1907 library building on West Main Street (Route 148), library supporters agreed over the winter to refocus on the option of building a new library at North Quarter Park. Meehan acknowledged the latest committee could evolve in to a building committee if voters approve plans and funding for a new library building.

The North Quarter Park Master Plan Study Committee is expected to hire a consultant by mid-May to complete a master plan for uses of the park by mid-July, while the second committee should be able to hire an architectural firm by July. Library supporters are hoping the town can make a final decision on a library project before a September deadline to apply for available state grant funding for library building projects.

Meehan said meeting the September deadline for making a town decision on a library project “is going to be tough,” while adding that with the two volunteer committees working with the board of selectmen “we’re going to try” to meet the grant application deadline.

Talking Transportation: A Report Card for Metro-North

Jim CameronIf Metro-North were a student and commuters its teacher, the railroad’s winter report card would be a D+ and the comment would be “needs to improve”.

As new Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti finishes his second month on the job, he’s making the rounds to meet and listen to commuters. But his 100-Day Plan for bringing the railroad back won’t conclude until mid-June, so I thought that now would be a great time to survey riders and get a baseline of their sentiments against which we can measure any gains in the months ahead.

Our unscientific online survey ran for seven days and got 642 responses. Clearly, those who wanted to opine were probably those with gripes, so take the results with a grain of salt.

Asked to give Metro-North a letter grade based on the past months’ performance, the railroad got an average D+.

Asked if service was getting better, 22 percent said yes, 31 percent said it was getting worse and 47 percent said it was “about the same”.

When asked what their biggest complaints were (respondents could list multiple issues), 88 percent said it was late or delayed trains, 60 percent said poor communications when things went wrong, and 59 percent said it was lack of sufficient seating on trains. Another 30% percent complained about the train cars’ heating / cooling system (or lack thereof), while others (18 percent) said there was insufficient station parking and 15 percent said the stations had poor upkeep.

The survey also asked how commuters reported their gripes. Ten percent said they never had complaints, 46 percent said they didn’t complain “because it seemed useless” but 61 percent said they did complain to conductors or to Metro-North. Of those who did complained almost half of respondents (45 percent) said their problem was never fixed.

We also asked who commuters thought was to blame for the railroad’s problems. An overwhelming 90 percent blamed Metro-North management, 48% percent said they were due to the Department of Transportation, 35 percent said it was their state legislature’s fault, 28 percent said it was because of Metro-North employees, 12 percent blamed the Federal government, and 9 percent blamed their fellow commuters.

Our last question was most telling: “Do you feel safe riding Metro-North?” 56 percent said yes, 15 percent said no and 29% percent said they weren’t sure.

We designed the survey to be brief, taking maybe two minutes to answer. But we also gave space for commuters to comment, and 267 of them did, some at great length. Here’s a sampling of their opinions:

Sorry to be so harsh … It is 2014, pseudo-modern, wealthy society and the most laughable public transportation system in any advanced country and metropolitan area.

This service is really shameful for the amount that we pay. I have not been on a train in the last 6 months that has arrived on time.

When I moved here 10 years ago you could set your watch by MetroNorth. Now the timetable is just a suggestion.

The Danbury Line is the orphaned stepchild of the system.

The lack of self control of “irate” commuters does not help the situation. Makes us look bad.

The full results of the survey and all of the comments are available online via links from our website, www.CommuterActionGroup.org

Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron has been a Darien resident for 22 years. He is the founder of the Commuter Action Group and also serves on the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com


Deep River Ambulance Offers Emergency Medical Technician Certification Class

Deep River Ambulance is pleased to offering an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification Class.

Classes will be held Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 – 10:00pm, beginning June 6 and running through August 21 at Deep River Ambulance Headquarters, 284 West Elm Street.  The cost for the course is $795, which includes tuition, CPR certification, textbook, class uniform shirt and stethoscope.

If you’ve ever wanted to become medically certified and join your local Emergency Medical Services (either ambulance or fire department), now is the time! No previous medical training is necessary.

For more information and registration form, please contact the course instructor, Emily Masters, at (860) 526-3275.

“Memorializing Morgan,” Essex Woman Buys $142,000 Lot in Memory of Her Beloved Dog

Present condition of "Slum House" at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Present condition of “Slum House” at 63 North Main Street in Essex

The treasure of Ina Sue Bomze’s life has been her dog, “Morgan.” Day in and day out, rain or shine, Ms. Bomze lovingly walked her “Morgan” around the Town of Essex. Then, not too long ago, suddenly and unexpectedly, Ms. Bomze’s dog died. Ms. Bomze is still walking around Essex these days, but now she walks alone.

Ms. Bomze lives at 64 North Main Street, which is just across the street from a long vacant, dilapidated property that has been called by some the shame of Essex.

The address of this eyesore is 63 North Main Street, and it is at the corner of New City Street.

On January 25 of this year there was a formal auction of this property, and the winning bidder at the auction was Edmund Mormile of Madison. His winning bid was $142,000.

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski who handled the sale

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski who handled the sale

Because of questions about the property’s septic system, among other problems, Mr. Mormile decided that he did not want to assume the ownership of the property that he had won at auction. In response, Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski petitioned the Middlesex Superior Court for a ruling to sanction the withdrawal of Mormile’s rights of ownership to the property. While waiting for the matter to be heard, Mr. Mormile contractually assigned his right to purchase the property to Ina Sue Bomze of Essex.

On April 7 the court issued a decree permitting transfer of the property to Ms. Bomze, pending a formal closing and payment of $142,000.

That closing took place on April 11, and Ms. Bomze is now the owner of record of the property.

Ms. Bomze was not available for comment, however, the Essex attorney, Jeannine Wyszkowski, who has been handling this matter said, “I think that it is a charming conclusion for what had been an unfortunate problem for the home owners in the area, JP Morgan Chase bank and the residents of Essex. What a great solution,“Think about it!”

The River Valley Slimdown: Winter Winners and New Summer Challenge

Deep River, CT– Participants of the most recent IFoundFitness River Valley Slimdown laughed in the face of the “Polar Vortex” and showed those dreaded winter pounds who’s boss! With a jackpot higher than ever before, the dedicated group of health-seekers brought in cash, prizes, and a generous donation to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen!

The River Valley Slimdown is a fitness challenge regularly held at IFoundFitness in Deep River, CT. Participants contribute towards a jackpot, paying up for pounds gained or weigh-ins missed. They work closely with fitness expert Donna Scott, taking part in group fitness & nutrition classes, while bonding with their weight-loss companions!

Twenty participants saw the challenge through the end this brutal winter, bringing the jackpot total to $2,392. Almost $500 of this went to Shoreline Soup Kitchen, the charity selected by the group. The winner of the challenge, Sarina, lost 21.04% of her body weight! While she takes home 60% of the jackpot, ESSENCE of Old Saybrook will also be treating her to a makeup and hair makeover to match her healthy new glow.

Second place went to “Santa Dave.” This, jolly, bearded fellow dropped his stereotypical belly by losing 35 pounds! Dave takes home 60% of the jackpot and a massage by True of Clinton, CT but the most incredible reward was bringing his Type 2 Diabetes under control.

“This has been an absolutely amazing challenge!” says Donna. “In the face of one of our worst winters, these guys just would not give in! Even those that didn’t finish in the top 3 experienced incredible transformations. They’re STILL not ready to give up!”

Many participants are ready to go for round two already! Registration for the Summer River Valley Slimdown is open now, with the challenge launching on April 26th.  Signing on for the new challenge means participants will have a chance to shed the winter pounds justin time to trade those bulky winter coats for sleek swimsuits!

Registration is currently open for the Summer 2014 River Valley Slimdown. Email Donna at donna@ifoundfitness.com for complete rules and registration forms.

For more information on the River Valley Slimdown, please visit: http://ifoundfitness.com/rv-slim-down/

Chester Elementary School Budget Proposed at $4.12 Million, a Decrease from Current Amount

CHESTER— The local board of education has approved a proposed $4,122,077 budget for Chester Elementary School for 2014-2015, a total that is $67,021 less than the current budget appropriation for the school.

Declining enrollment at the kindergarten through sixth grade school is the major reason for the reduced spending. A current enrollment of 214 students is projected to fall to 200 students by the start of the 2-14-2015 school year. The budget includes savings of $60,430 from staffing changes and $11,693 from a reduction in hours for a physical education teacher position.

But the spending plan include $1,635 for a new part-time extra curricular programs mentor position. There is also $18,000 to replace the sidewalk around the back of the school, and $7,647 for new furnishings, including classroom furniture, library tables, and gymnasium mats. The budget funds 33 full and part- time positions; along with three para-educator positions that are funded by grants.

The budget plan for the elementary school has been reviewed by the board of finance, and will be presented with the proposed town government budget at the annual budget hearing later this month. The elementary school and town government budgets for 2014-2015 will be presented for voter approval at the annual budget meeting in May.

Region 4 School Board Stands by Proposed $18.37 Million Education Budget After Quiet Public Hearing

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education will stand by it’s proposed $18,377,431 education budget for 2014-2015 after a quiet and sparsely attended public hearing Monday.

Only three residents, all of them current or former officials from the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex turned out for the hearing Monday at John Winthrop Middle School. Present were two selectmen, Tom Englert of Chester and Dave Oliveria of Deep River, and former Region 4 board chairman Terry Stewart from Essex. There were no objections to the spending plan, which represents a $601,431, or 3.38 percent increase over the current budget. The budget funds the operations of the middle school and Valley Regional High School.

The $18,377,431 gross budget is reduced by $297,447 in anticipated revenue to a net budget of $18,079,984 that is assessed the taxpayers of the three towns based on the number of students from each town attending the two secondary schools. The net budget is up by $579,395, or 3.31 percent, from the current net billings to the towns.

Each of the towns will have some increase in the Region 4 appropriation. Deep River, with 308 students, will have the largest increase. The Deep River share of the net budget is $5,602,987, up by $442,063.

Chester, with 240 students, will have a budget share of $4,364,508 that is up by $106,615.34 Essex pays the largest share of the Region 4 budget. But 446 students, the town’s Region 4 assessment totals $8,112,489 and is up by only $30717 from the current amount.

Board chairman Chris Riley of Essex said the board, over three budget review sessions, had strived to prepare a budget that “reflects the priorities of the school district in a manner that is very respectful of the tax dollars.”

The budget goes to voters of the three towns in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6. The region 4 budget has won voters approval by clear margins in recent years, but with low voter turnout. The last time a Region 4 budget was defeated in a referendum was in 2001.

April 22 Public Hearing Meeting Set for Chester Main Street Project, Location of Sidewalks an Issue

CHESTER— The Main Street Project Committee has scheduled an April 22 public information meeting on the latest plans for the Main Street East phase of the multi-year project. The session begins at 7 p.m. in the community room at town hall.

The appointed committee is coordinating the long-planned Main Street reconstruction project, with the first phase calling for reconstruction of about 1,800-square-feet of Main Street from the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Route 154) west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. The committee is working with Kent & Frost Associates, a Mystic firm hired by the board of selectmen last fall to prepare engineering design plans with bid documents for the initial phase of the project.

The initial design plans, which were first presented at a public information meeting on Jan. 29, have drawn questions and objections from some residents over tree removals and the location and design of sidewalks on both the north and south sides of the street.. There is currently sidewalk on most of the south side of the street, with several gaps in the sidewalk on the north side of the street..

The committee voted at a meeting last month in favor of constructing a continuous sidewalk, with a width of four-feet in most locations, on the north side of Main Street for the entire length of the project area. The idea of a continuous sidewalk along the north side of the street had drawn a mixed response from about two dozen residents at the March meeting.

With most of an estimated $1 million in funding for the initial phase of the project in place, selectmen and the project committee had been hoping to put phase one of the project out to bid this spring, with construction to begin later this year. Subsequent phases of the project, such as a reconstruction of Main Street in the core downtown village commercial area, are tied to state Department of Transportation plans to reconstruct the Main Street bridge that is not expected to begin until 2016.

Chester Library Hosts Spring Book Discussions

“Views from the South:  Looking Forward, Looking Backward”  will be the subject of this spring’s Mark Johnson Book Discussion Series at Chester Public Library, once again led by Charlotte Rea. Dates for the discussions are Wednesdays, April 30 and May 7, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Former Head of School at the Williams School, Rea’s academic background is in English and theater. She explains her choice of these books for this year’s discussion series. “Thomas Wolfe, writing in the 1920s, Eudora Welty, writing in the ‘40s, and Flannery O’Connor, writing in the ‘50s, all portray a vision of life in rural, small-town South as seen from the inside—inside the family, the friendships, and the community.  Strong nets of family and friends and expectations surround the characters with comfort, love, suspicion, jealousy and exclusivity—as well as a sense of superiority for the civility and civilization that is consciously cultivated in the South.” 

How does this strong sense of connectedness interact with Southern warmth and pride to create a world in which outsiders are viewed with suspicion?  Within this tight world, the characters in these stories yearn for the wider world, for more learning, for greater adventures.  The abundant work ethic and risk-taking behaviors shape the characters’ worlds just as their orthodox views of human behavior control their actions.  How does this tension between yearning for stability and comfort war with the drive to experience the outside world?  What role does the strong sense of the past play as characters shape their own and the region’s futures? 

The rhythmic, rich language of the three authors becomes a way of life and brings great rewards for the reader.

On Wednesday, April 30, discussion will center on Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel, in which the protagonist seeks to shape his identity in contrast to and in harmony with his family and Southern community.

On Wednesday, May 7, the group will look at the view from two famous women novelists, Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty, who in their short stories, “Good Country People” and “Why I Live at the P.O.,” imagine the inner world and outer actions of bright, adventuresome, misfit women living circumscribed lives.

Books on paper and on CD are available at the library. EBook versions of both titles can be downloaded from Overdrive. Please call the library at 860-528-0018 to register. Registration is required for these free discussion programs, which are sponsored by the Friends of Chester Public Library.


Letter From Paris: Two Local Elections — Two Remarkably Different Outcomes

Thumbnail for 24789

Local elections have just taken place in Turkey and in France. The outcomes of the elections speak a great deal about these two countries .

Primeminister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, already in power for 12 years, is showing no intention of stepping down. His aura at the polls was barely affected by the scandals and accusations of wrong-doing. Particularly the violent repression of the popular manifestations on Istanbul Taksim Square, the allegations of frauds directed not only at him, but at his family, the murky circumstances of score settlings.

His recent strategy includes the taking over 85 percent of the main TV channel and the curbing of social networks like Twitter or Facebook. Nevertheless Erdogan’s party, the AKP (Party of Justice and Development), passed the test of the polls with flying colors, not acknowledging the distress of the public opinion. These events did not speak much for the democratic system of that country and should constitute a red flag for the 28 EU members next time Turkey knocks at their door.

In contrast, the French municipales (local elections) were a reflection of the French opinion’s strong disapproval of the policy of the Francois Hollande government and brought on major changes.

The municipales, are always an important and colorful event in France, when mayors and council members of 36,500 communes (towns) are elected for six years. But this time they turned into a tsunami, which modified the political landscape of the country. The vague bleue (blue wave ) showing the gains of the Right and even the vague bleue marine (navy blue wave ) named after Marine Le Pen, head of the far right Front National. Just a few figures: in 2008 in the towns of more than 10,000 inhabitants, the Left had 509 mayors and the Right 433. In 2004, the Left was reduced to 349 and the Right grew to 572. Emblematic was the town of Limoges, which had voted socialist since 1912, and turned conservative.

Paris resisted this tidal wave and remained socialist. Incumbent Mayor Bertrand Delanoe had groomed his assistant Anne Hidalgo to be his successor. Together, they engaged in an intensive and efficient campaign. The Mayor of Paris is elected according to a special system of voting in three rounds. The first two rounds each Parisian vote for the mayor and council in each arrondissement. Then mayors and councils vote for the mayor of Paris. The fight to the finish between Anne Hidalgo and her conservative opponent Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet , was fierce, to say the least. The former won by 53.34 over 44.06 percent.

The map of Paris to-day is made up of two halves: a blue west, and a red east. With 11 versus nine arrondissements, Hidalgo leads but not as much as Jacques Chirac did in 1983 when he won all of them. These results will be important in the next senatorial elections since the members of the Senat (high chamber) are elected by the mayors.

Barely 24 hours after the closing of the polls, president François Hollande appeared on TV. He declared that he had heard and understood the people’s message of disapproval of the policy he conducted since 2012. He reassured his audience that appropriate measures would be taken.

A day later he announced the remaniement (reshuffle) of the government. The soft spoken, kind-looking prime minister Jean Marc Ayrault was replaced by tough and energetic Manuel Valls, former minister of the interior. The number of ministers was trimmed down from 38 to 16 and the parity men/women respected. The new ministers are more experienced and some of the “heavyweights” remained, like Laurent Fabius, at the Foreign Affairs desk.

The decision concerning Bercy (ministry of Finances and Economy) was crucial given the urgency to reduce the budget deficit and increase the competitivité (competitiveness) of the French industry. The new prime minister Manuel Valls decided to split the responsibilities between two ministers: Michel Papin handling Budget and Finances , Arnaud Montebourg becoming minister of Economy. This will be a “hot” area since France has to work in a partnership with Brussels.

Ségolène Royal The second spectacular move was the nomination of Ségolène Royal as the minister of Ecology, Sustainable Industry and Energy. She will rank as number three in the new cabinet. She is an old timer, particularly in the environmental field. Her appearance in the courtyard of Hotel de Matignon made quite a splash. Royal is a highly educated woman, used to be Hollande’s companion for 29 years, the mother of their four children and the last contestant for the presidency against Sarkozy in 2002. Her appointment will be helpful to Valls’ government because she brings her strong connections to the lower working class with her.

The outspoken Housing minister Cecile Duflot left the Matignon in a huff and a puff , showing her overwhelming dislike for Valls. Her colleagues in the Green party at the Assemblée Nationale, were upset by her move as they were willing to work within the cabinet.

The overhaul of the new government was greeted by salvos of criticisms and gibes from the UMP and naturally from the extreme parties – this is normal in France. However, the composition of the new government was interpreted, by more unbiased analysts, as the determination to follow the road map set out by François Hollande at the Jan. 14 press conference and to keep the course on the Pacte de Responsabilité, but to implement it with more determination, more speed and more pedagogy.

Failure is not an option and Brussels will not ease off the pressure.

HeadshotAbout the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She will write a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also will cover a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

Sen. Linares Hosts Workshop to Help Seniors Learn New Technologies


Sen. Art Linares and AT&T Connecticut representatives hosted an April 4 event in Old Saybrook to help seniors learn how to use their cell phones and other new technologies to stay connected with family and friends. The free workshop at the Estuary Council of Seniors was attended by more than 25 seniors. “These new technologies are exciting and they can help seniors stay connected to family and friends like never before,” said Sen. Linares. “But sometimes learning about a new technology can be difficult, and that’s why this event was aimed at helping demonstrate new technologies and answering questions about how to use them. I thank area seniors for stopping by.” Those who could not attend the workshop may contact Sen. Linares at 800 842 1421 or at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov .

Connecticut River Museum Livens Things Up . . . 19th-Century Style


The historic Samuel Lay House is the venue for Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern. The beautiful home is now part of the Connecticut River Museum campus and overlooks the River. Photo by Bill Yule, Connecticut River Museum

The historic Samuel Lay House is the venue for Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern. The beautiful home is now part of the Connecticut River Museum campus and overlooks the River. Photo by Bill Yule, Connecticut River Museum

Essex, CT – The Connecticut River Museum (CRM) premiers the Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern program on Saturday, April 26.  With gourmet historic food, wine and beer tastings, music and games, the museum will unveil its newest property overlooking the Connecticut River. 

Christopher Dobbs, Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, said that “We wanted a fun program that pulls people into the museum and provides a unique experience.”  He also noted that this is one of several events taking place along the lower Connecticut River that commemorates the April 8, 1814 British Raid on Essex.  Dobbs said “I can’t think of a better way to give people a sense of life in Essex in 1814 than seeing the Lay House by candlelight, indulging in libations and good food, and enjoying period entertainment.”

The evening will include drinking songs and ballads by noted folk musician Don Sineti.  Sineti is best known for his sea chanteys and lively banjo music.  Catering by Selene is creating appetizer-sized samples of early 19th-century food.  These are based on chef Selene Sweck’s extensive research and collection of early American cookbooks and will comprise such foods as roasted corn chowder, pork pie and cranberry pudding.  Fine crafted Connecticut beer by City Steam and Shebeen Breweries will be available.  Shebeen is brewing a special beer just for this night that is based on a 19th-century recipe.  Also available will be select period appropriate wines.  As part of the evening, participants will have an opportunity to try their hand at historic games such as Skittles (played with a top that goes through a maze knocking down pins) and Captain’s Mistress, a game with a scandalous sounding name. 

Space is extremely limited with programs at 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM.  The $18 CRM museum member and $22 general public tickets include a wine and beer tasting, period appetizers, one complimentary drink and entertainment.  Additional drinks will be available for purchase.  Call 860-767-8269 or visit ctrivermuseum.org to buy your tickets.  Reservations are required and you must be 21 or older to participate.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm and closed on Mondays. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children age 6-12, free for children under 6.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org

Essex Tree Warden Rules on Mares Hill Road Tree Removal

Mares 2In an effort to promote greater collaboration within the community, Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden, called a public hearing on March 19, 2014 in accordance with Chapter 451, Section 23-59 of the Connecticut General Statutes and in response to public complaints about the planned removal/pruning of approximately 40 trees on Town owned land adjacent to Mares Hill Road, Ivoryton Ct., between #5 and #72 address locations. CL&P requested the removal of these trees to satisfy the trimming/removal specifications they follow on the road.

The hearing gave members of the public a chance to voice their concerns and CL&P a chance to provide an understanding of the specifications that are used for “Enhanced Tree Trimming (“ETT”). ETT is a severe form of trimming calling for an eight foot clearance zone on either side of the conductors and ground to sky.

Susan Stotts, the CL&P representative, presented slides of the various trees under consideration, indicating those she thought should be removed and those that could remain.

Augie Pampel reported at the hearing that he was authorized to make a decision about the trees within three days following the hearing, considering the public’s input and after a walk-through of the trees with Susan Stotts. His decision would be based on the health of the trees including diseases as well as structural issues. He initially estimated that 20-25 of the trees might stay but each tree would need to be examined to make the final determination. He noted that the Town owns 20 feet on both sides of the road and that all the trees designated for removal are on Town property.

People raised concerns about the ground to sky regulation which was considered extreme and worried that the result would be the same as on route 153. Also some expressed concern about the impact of tree removal on the soil environment, water runoff and possible flooding if the soil becomes less absorbent. Other questions about a plan to plant new trees and the payment of the tree removal were raised.

Augie noted that the Town tries to replace as much as is possible and that CL&P pays for the tree work, leaving the wood for people to collect. The contractor for CL&P will follow CL&P specifications. Nonetheless, Augie and Susan Stotts will consider the residents’ wishes to maintain the country road appearance when examining the trees. Augie clarified that the tree work done on Melody Lane and Hickory Lane was done on private property with the consent of the property owners.

Augie informed the public that there are no other Essex streets being considered for tree removal at this time. CL&P looks at streets with 40 or more customers and considers liability issues.

The general consensus at the hearing was that as many trees as possible should be preserved to maintain the country road affect while keeping in mind the necessity to avoid power loss and maintain access due to fallen trees.

Since the hearing, Augie Pampel, as Tree Warden examined the trees and posted the final decision on March 21, 2014, regarding the tree removal on Mares Hill Road. Based on a review of all trees posted for removal, 17 will stay. The remaining trees will be removed because “they either have defects sufficient to warrant removal, or the CL&P ETT specification requires that they be removed.” Augie will issue a removal permit to the CL&P contractor with this decision detail.

Mares 5

Though this is the final decision of the Essex Tree Warden, it should be noted that Chapter 451, Section 23-59 of the Connecticut General Statutes states ‘…the Tree Warden shall render his decision granting or denying the application, and the party aggrieved by such a decision may, within ten days, appeal therefrom to the superior court or the judicial district within which such town or borough is located.’”

The Essex residents, and especially those on Mares Hills Road will still enjoy a full canopy of trees despite the loss of 23 trees. That 17 were saved is a testament to the efforts of citizens, CL&P and the Tree Warden to work together to come to the best resolution.

If anyone has further concerns or questions about this decision or wishes to contact Augie Pampel about other concerns related to town trees (trees not on state roads), please contact him at augiepampel@att.net. When possible, Augie will provide advance notice to the public through the media of future CL&P requests for tree trimming and removal.


Essex Selectmen Consider Dissolving Sanitary Waste Commission

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday discussed dissolving the sanitary waste commission, an appointed panel that is charged with supervising the town’s solid waste compactor and recycling site.

First Selectman Norman Needleman suggested amending a town ordinance to dissolve the seven-member commission. The commission was established under a 1958 town ordinance, with the ordinance amended by town meeting vote in 1991 to designate members of the sanitary waste commission as the town’s water pollution control authority.

Needleman said the commission now has “no effective function” because the compactor and recycling site are managed by town employees under the supervision of the director of public works, and the board of selectmen. “I don’t think we need another board in between the staff and us,” he said. Members of the commission voted unanimously to recommend ending the panel’s sanitary waste functions at a meeting last month.

Needleman said the seven members would continue serving as the water pollution control authority, charged with directing the town’s sewer avoidance program that monitors pump outs of residential septic system, and also coordinating studies to determine whether any areas of town need a more centralized treatment system.

Selectman Bruce Glowac asked for more time to consider the recommendation. Glowac said there is no question about chain of command and that the site is managed by staff and the board of selectmen, but added that “sometimes a commission can be a help.”

The board agreed to discuss the proposed change at it’s April 16 meeting. Amending the ordinance to end the sanitary waste commission would require approval from voters at a town meeting.

In other business, selectmen appointed local resident David DeLeeuw as building official. DeLeeuw has been serving as acting building official since Keith Nolin retired from the position last October.

New Commuter Rail Station in Westbrook; a Big Plus for a Growing Shoreline Town


“Train Approaching” at Westbrook rail station

“Train Approaching” at Westbrook rail station

 Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop can hardly contain his enthusiasm for the newly competed Westbrook railroad station. Costing $14.4 million dollars to build, the new station includes a new, two-story over the tracks building and 200 new parking spaces.

Passengers arriving at Westbrook station

Passengers arriving at Westbrook station

The new, two story station is described by the Connecticut Department of Transportation as having, “canopy-covered, high-level-platforms on the north and south sides of the track and an ’up and over’ system’ with elevators for passengers to conveniently cross from one side of the tracks to the other.”

New station building at Westbrook station

New station building at Westbrook station


Continuing, “The platforms are the length of four rail cars; there is parking on both sides of the tracks, a commuter drop-off and bus pick up area, and a full audio and visual messaging system.” Also, the new station, “is fully compliant with the American with Disabilities Act,”

The new Westbrook station, like the old station it replaced, is located just off Exit 65 of I-95. Also, the new station has a competitive advantage over the Old Saybrook train station, just up the line. All parking spaces at the Westbrook station are free. Parking at the Old Saybrook station can cost $10 a day in certain areas.

Commuters Applaud New Westbrook Station

Westbrook commuters are enthusiastic about the new Westbrook train station. In a recent interview, Colin Callahan of East Lyme said that he used to park at the Old Saybrook railroad station. Now, however, he is parking at the new station in Westbrook. “They did a wonderful job,” he says about those who built the new station.

Plenty of parking spaces at Westbrook station

Plenty of parking spaces at Westbrook station

Equally enthusiastic about the new Westbrook rail station is John Frost, who goes by the name of “Jack.” A resident of Essex, Frost said about the  new station, “It has been a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait.”

Parking sign at Old Saybrook train station

Parking sign at Old Saybrook train station

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop estimates that as many as fifty percent of the passengers using the Westbrook station presently come from towns other than Westbrook. This percentage of out of town use of the Westbrook station will grow in Bishop’s view.  

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop with station design

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop with station design

“This will become a regional train station,” Bishop predicts. “People are going to come to Westbrook,” he says, “and this can’t but help our town’s economy.” Also, the First Selectman makes the point that, “the new station could never have been built with town money,” and that federal and state funds were involved. Bishop publicly thanked Daniel P. Malloy Governor, “for his commitment to public transportation.”

The Advantages of the New Rail Station

The following is a list of the advantages of the new station, according to First Selectman Bishop: 1) the new station allows passengers to go over the tracks comfortably by an elevator and an attractive walkway, 2) passengers can stay dry under the station’s new covered areas, 3) there is plenty of parking at the station, and 4) the station is just a three minutes away from Exit 65, off I-95.  

Bishop went on to note with emphasis that for Westbrook, “geography is our destiny.” Substantiating this assertion, he noted that within the town’s boundaries there are the following major attractions.

1) two major car dealerships, Honda and Toyota, 2) the large  Tanger Outlets mall with 60 brand name stores, as well as a movie theater, 3) the soon to be completed Middlesex Hospital emergency medical and outpatient center of 44,000 square feet, which can be expanded to 60,000 square feet, if necessary, 4) Brewer Pilots Point Marina, the area’s largest marina which provides over 800 slips for boaters, 5) the Water’s Edge, a premier resort and conference center on the New England Coast,  6) Westbrook’s historic town center, which is a two minute walk from the trains station, and 7) the Westbrook Elks Club, which is directly on the waters of Long Island Sound.

First Selectman Bishop says the new railroad station, “is a dream come true.” In fact, his excitement is so keen from the new station, it may give him an additional reason, why he comes to work every workday morning at 7:30 a.m.

Letter From Paris: Following a New Silk Road

Thumbnail for 24845

Nicole Prévost Logan

The presidents of the United States and of China were in Europe this week. It was the first visit of a Chinese president to the European Union’s (EU) headquarters since 1975. He will meet with the presidents of the Council, Herman Van Rompuy, of the Commission, Manuel Barroso and of the Parliament, Martin Schuls, showing a nascent interest in Europe as a political entity.

However, Europe has been the largest trade partner of China for a decade, with German leading the pack. Why then did president Xi Jinping choose France as one of his four stops in Europe in spite of that country’s small trade and investment with the Middle Kingdom ? The reasons are historical, cultural, the Chinese’s attraction to gastronomy and good wine, and, finally, the desire to acquire more areas of French “savoir faire” and state of the art technology, heretofore unexplored.

Xi Jinping and his beautiful star singer wife Peng Liyuan opened his three-day state visit in Lyon, the French silk capital, and announced his intention to promote a “new Silk Road.” Started with French King Francis I, the silk-making industry in Lyon was flourishing by the 17th century. In the 1920s cultural ties developed between China and France. Chinese students entered French universities, among them several future political leaders. In 1964 General Charles de Gaulle was the first Western chief of state to establish full diplomatic relations with the Middle Kingdom.

In this file photo, Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan wave to the crowd.Mutual interests in literature, cinema and art have created special bonds between Chinese and French intelligencia. Chinese fans of the “Nouvelle Vague” films (new wave) are sometimes more knowledgeable about the names of the directors that the French themselves. The 1992 film “l’Amant‘”(the Lover), directed by Jean Jacques Annaud, based on the 1984 novel by Marguerite Duras, was a huge success in France. The plot is the affair a “Chinaman” struck with a young French girl on a ferry boat crossing the Mekong river. French readers cheered on the high school “Joueuse de Go” (Go player) character created by author Shan Sa, whose courage symbolized the determination of the Chinese population fighting against the impending invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese in 1931.

But the objectives of the Chinese president and of his cohort of businessmen and investors who accompanied him were more down to earth: they were here for serious business. Both by making inroads into the French industry and by opening their own market to French goods in order to tilt the massive trade deficit between the two countries. The car company Dongfeng just acquired 14 percent of the PSA’s (Peugeot-Citroen) shares. The Chinese have been trying to take over 46% percent of Club Med’s (touristic villages) capital.

Whether it is nuclear energy or aeronautic technology, automobile industry, or fast trains, the transfer of technology has always been a touchy point for the French. The most striking example of this situation is the TGV (Train à grande vitesse) or fast train which was designed by Alstom in France in the 1970s and was further developed jointly with other Western countries. Now the Chinese network is ten times longer than the French and in July 2013 ”Harmony Express” surpassed the speed of the French trains.

On a televised program, a spokeswoman for the Chinese government was asked the question about transfer of technology. She said that the Chinese now are pretty much caught up, ( which is certainly true with telecom giants like Huawei and ZTE) and that now their policy was veering toward “partnership and cooperation” – language to be expected from a government spokeswoman.

The Chinese love France. Millions of tourists speed through the most famous halls of the Louvre. The growing middle class and the wealthy are increasingly fascinated by luxury goods. They are not satisfied anymore by the pirated brands one finds all over the world. Now they can find the real stuff 72 percent cheaper in France than to the system of “detaxe“ at the airport, avoiding also import duties into China.

During the many years we lived in Africa with the American Embassy, in the 1960s and 1970s, I had a chance to observe that, in those days, the Chinese lived in spartan compounds totally secluded from the local population , working on Guinea tea plantations or building a soccer stadium in the Gambia. They have come a long way. To-day they visit France to do their spring shopping and buy Chambertin ou Chateau Lafitte wine, Hermes silk scarves or Vuitton bags.

Agribusiness is a field where improvements would be welcome. One remembers the problems China suffered a few years ago with contaminated powder milk. The Chinese are very fond of foie gras and cheese. They have just discovered the “Jambon de Bayonne.” It takes many hours of preparation and manual work to prepare the dark red ham meat. The traditional “savoir faire” has existed since the 13th century in the south west of France. Its commerce is labeled “IGP” (Indication Geographique Protegéee) or geographically protected. Pork is one of the main food staple in China and there the huge market is promising. Will the transfer of “savoir faire” be followed by the loss of the brand?

During the elegant dinner at the Elysees palace and the following night at the Opera Royal of the Chateau de Versailles, what was president François Hollande thinking of – 18 billion euros of new contracts or the difficult political situation he is in right now after the disastrous (for him) recent local elections?

HeadshotAbout the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She will write a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also will cover a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

Chester Selectmen Appoint Planning Committee for North Quarter Park as Potential Library Site

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Tuesday appointed a seven-member North Quarter Park Master Plan committee that will study the park on the west end of Main Street as a potential site for a new public library.

The volunteer committee will work with the selectmen to pick an engineering consultant to prepare a study of the 22-acre park, including analysis of its suitability as the site for a new library. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said a request for proposals for a consultant would be published soon, with a goal of completing the report and site analysis by mid-July. A mid-July completion could allow town officials, including the library board of trustees, to make a decision on a library site in time to meet a September deadline to apply for available state grant funds for library building projects.

After nearly two years of considering options for a renovation and expansion of the historic 1907 library building on West Main Street, library trustees in February agreed to a suggestion from the selectmen for further study of North Quarter Park as a potential site for a new library building.

Meehan noted Tuesday that North Quarter Park has been a subject of previous town-sponsored studies in past years that could be used in the latest analysis of the property. “We want to move this along,” he said.

Members of the new committee include Doreen Joslow,, representing the planning and zoning commission, Robert Gorman, representing the library board of trustees, Matt Sanders, representing the parks and recreation commission, Steve Teizzi, representing the Main Street Committee that is coordinating a long-planned reconstruction of Main Street, Richard Nygard, representing the board of finance, and at-large volunteer Dean Amato. Meehan will represent the board of selectmen on the committee. The committee is expected to hold its first meeting later this month.

Talking Transportation: Eight Little Known Facts About Flying

We may never know what happened to that Malaysia Airlines 777, but there’s plenty more we should know about flying, even domestically.  Here are some little-known truths of aviation as shared by pilots and flight attendants:

Lavatory Doors Don’t Really Lock:  They can be opened from the outside by just sliding the “occupied” sign to one side.  This isn’t so attendants can catch “mile high club” wannabies, but so they can be sure the lavs are empty on take-off and landing.  And those ashtrays in the lavs?  Even though smoking has been banned for decades, the FAA still requires them. 

Oxygen Masks Can Save Your Life:  But only if you get them on fast!  In a rapid decompression at 35,000 feet, the oxygen is sucked from your lungs and you have 15 – 30 seconds to get that mask on or die.  And the on-board oxygen is only good for 15 minutes, so expect an express ride down to safer altitudes.

Airlines Are Suffering from a Pilot Shortage:  New regulations for increased rest time and more experience aviators are making it tough for airlines to keep their cockpits filled.  Boeing alone estimates that aviation growth worldwide will create demand for a half-million new pilots.  And just like Metro-North, airlines are now losing their most experienced crews to retirement.

Your Pilot May Be Asleep:  Actually, that’s a good thing during most of the flight, which can be pretty boring as the auto-pilot runs the plane.  And a good nap should make your pilot refreshed for landing.  But the FAA is also proposing to test ‘heavy’ pilots for potential sleep disorders so they don’t nod off at a crucial moment.

Keep Your Seatbelt On:   Otherwise, unexpected turbulence will see you bounce off the luggage racks like a ping-pong ball.  In an incident like that the hysterical screaming is bad enough, so stay belted.

Flight Attendants Aren’t In It for the Glamour: .They don’t get paid when they arrive at the airport or when they greet you boarding the plane.  For most, their pay starts ticking only at take-off.  They travel for a living and have to endure endless abuse for things that are not their fault.  For all that, median salary for flight attendants is about $37,000.  Food stamps they have to apply for separately.

Planes Are Germ Factories: Most older jets recycle cabin air to conserve fuel, so if one passenger sneezes, everyone’s susceptible to a cold.  The air is also dry and the blankets and pillows (if you get them) haven’t been cleaned since the previous use.  The same is true of the headphones they pass out.  And your seatback tray table?  Just imagine whose baby diaper was seated there where you lay out your in-flight snack.  Moral to the story:  BYO sanitizer!

Don’t Drink the Water:      Unless it comes from a bottle, water on planes comes from onboard tanks that are rarely cleaned.  At least when they use it to make coffee it’s heated.  Again, BYO.

Overall, based on passenger miles, flying is the safest form of transportation in the world.  But it’s not without its risks, some of which you can help minimize using common sense.

 JIM CAMERON has been a Darien resident for 22 years.  He is the founder of the Commuter Action Group and also serves on the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com  

Mobile Dental Services returning to Goodwin Elementary, Old Saybrook

The Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) has recently announced that its Mobile Dental program will be returning to Old Saybrook Public Schools, specifically Goodwin Elementary, once again after a three year hiatus. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, early childhood cavities are the most common chronic disease in children and although noteworthy improvements have been made in the past decade, oral health significance is still being overlooked. One major way CHC has helped increase children’s access to oral health services is through the mobile dental program which brings dental services directly to over 170 Connecticut Schools. Founded in 2002, the Mobile Dental Program currently serves over 7,000 patients throughout the state. CHC also has a dental office located on Main Street in Old Saybrook which would operate as a referral site for mobile dental.

“Our Mobile Dental Program comes directly into the child’s school, providing dental cleanings, sealants and in some cases, restorative services. We’ve partnered with Waterpik, who has one of the top water flossers according to Authority Dental, to provide water flossing free of charge for all students who have received parent or guardian approval (please have your son or daughter see his or her principal for a Whitening Authorization Form). The Program allows parents to stay at work, and the kids to stay in school,” stated Justin Gooley, the program manager for the statewide Mobile Dental program. “Often parents will not have the time to take off from work to bring their children to the dentist. We bring dental care to the child in a setting where they are most comfortable. We work hand in hand with the onsite Dentists,” mentioned Gooley. Mobile Dental services have been funded through different Connecticut Health Foundation grants which work to support the integration of oral health at every point where children and their families intersect with health care, human service and education systems.

Mobile dental is part of the School-based health services that are offered through The Community Health Center, Inc. These services are a proven strategy for reducing school absences, improving performance, and reducing health disparities in prevention and chronic diseases in children and adolescents. “If the child has regular dental visits with one of our Mobile Dental Hygienists, it will significantly lower the amount of decay in their mouth and decrease the number of days they are absent from school,” said Justin Gooley.

The first step is sending out enrollment forms to the elementary school and spreading the word about these services for Goodwin Elementary students. The goal is to operate within the Middle and High school in Old Saybrook within the next few years. Mobile dental care coordinators have been working with the schools, town social workers, the nursing supervisor for the town and parent representatives to help market these services and encourage registration. For more information about the Mobile Dental Program at CHC please call (860)224-3642 ext. 5163 or email GooleyJ@chc1.com .

About Community Health Center, Inc.

Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary health care system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 130,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health services. For more information, visit www.chc1.com.

Lyme Democrats Endorse Bjornberg, Stone

Emily Bjornberg

Emily Bjornberg

In addition to endorsing those democratic incumbent state office holders who have announced their intent to run for reelection, the Lyme Democratic Caucus endorsed two newcomers to the State scene: Mary Stone for State Representative, and Emily Bjornberg for State Senate.

The chairman of the Caucus, Steven Mattson, commented, “We are extremely pleased to endorse state legislative candidates as well qualified as Mary and Emily,”

Emily Bjornberg is a Lyme resident and is running for the seat once held by Eileen Dailey. “Emily is an exceptionally strong candidate, and we are confident she will be a superior Senator for the 33rd Senate District,” according to Mattson. The 33rd district covers Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. The seat is currently held by Republican Art Linares.

Mary Stone is an Old Lyme resident, who is running for the 23rd Assembly District consisting of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook. This is an open seat, due to the decision of Marilyn Giuliani not to seek reelection.

“Mary is the perfect candidate for this district,” according to Claire Sauer, who represented much of this district when she represented the 36th Assembly District.

Stone currently serves on the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals and is a former member of the Region 18 Board of Education.

Proposed $18.77 Million Region 4 Education Budget for 2014-2015 Goes to Public Hearing Monday

REGION 4— A proposed $18,377,431 district education budget for 2014-2015 will be presented at a public hearing Monday at 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River. The spending plan for the operation of the middle school and Valley Regional High School was approved by the Region 4 Board of Education last month.

The gross budget, which represents a $601,310, or a 3.38 percent, increase over current spending is reduced by $297,447 in anticipated revenues to a net education budget of $18,079,984 that is assessed the taxpayers of Chester Deep River, and Essex based on the number of students from each town attending the two secondary schools. The net budget represents a $579,396, or a 3.31 percent, increase over the current net assessment for the three towns.

The Chester share of the net budget is $4,364,508 based on 240 students, an increase of $106,615 from the current Chester assessment. The Deep River share is up substantially this year, with a budget share of $5,602,987 based on 308 students that is up by $442,063 from the current amount. The Essex share of $8,112,489 based on 446 students, an increase of $30,717 from the current amount.

The Region 4 board will hold a special meeting after the hearing Monday to consider any possible adjustments to the budget plan based on public input received at the hearing. The Region 4 education budget goes to an eight-hour, 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum inn the three towns on Tuesday May 6.