October 20, 2020

Archives for 2014

Letter: Conservation Commission Sanctions Barbaric and Inhumane Tactics

To the Editor:

The conservation commissioners of the Town of Essex have sanctioned barbaric and inhumane tactics — lethal entrapment and drowning — to eradicate a family of beavers at Viney Brook Hill Park, a local conservation property entrusted to the commissioners for safekeeping. Acting without clear and irrefutable scientific evidence of material environmental damage, the commissioners decided on November 6 to engage a trapper to exterminate the beavers as still sanctioned by the Connecticut General Statutes.

The Humane Society of the United States, like other responsible mainstream animal and environmental conservation advocacy organizations, decries trapping and drowning as inhumane under any circumstance.

A group of concerned citizens has asked for a stay of execution on the beavers’ behalf, and has secured a conceptual proposal from a globally-recognized wildlife biologist who has successfully mitigated beaver damage in scores of cases throughout New England alone. For a sum of under $2,000, this expert will conduct a site assessment and develop a tailored animal-friendly beaver mitigation strategy including the use of baffles and other noninvasive mechanical equipment. The concerned citizens are willing to bear the expense themselves, to spare the Town of Essex any cost.

If your readers, like our family, value responsible animal-friendly environmental conservation, I encourage them to attend the Town of Essex Conservation Commission’s meeting on December 4 and to ask that the Commission:

(1) Rescind its November 6, 2014 decision to lethally exterminate beavers

(2) Present incontrovertible expert scientific evidence of material environmental impairment at Viney Brook Hill Park; and

(3) If environmental damage is confirmed, explore and adopt a non-lethal, humane conservation strategy that protects both the wetlands AND their animal inhabitants.

Without action, our local beaver family — and possibly, other unsuspecting wetlands mammals — will be in mortal danger as soon as December 5.

Sincerely,

Scott Konrad
Essex

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Letter: Ask for Beaver Reprieve

To the Editor:

While the competition for “Head Scratcher of the Year” is always stiff, I may have just encountered 2014’s winner.  

The Conservation Commission of the Town of Essex, established for “the purpose of protecting native plants and wildlife” has recently voted to exterminate a family of beaver at a town nature preserve.  Beaver are enjoying a renewed appreciation all around the Northern Hemisphere as they provide free eco-services to the habitat we all share. There are well established procedures for accommodating their presence.  The results are well worth the minimal attention these procedures require.  The Conservation Commission has been presented with these alternatives more than once yet more than once they have handed down their beaver death sentence.  After the residents of Essex are done scratching their heads about this, I urge them to contact Town Hall and ask for a Beaver Reprieve!

Sincerely,

Paul Leach
Essex

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Letter: Beavers – Set Example for Our Children

To the Editor:

As another former member of the conservation commission I want to add my voice to those seeking justice for the beaver family in Viney Brook park. I see no reason to trap and then kill by drowning such a useful and hard working family living as nature intended them to do. What harm to the park and the environment will be prevented to justify this senseless act? Let’s show mercy in this case and set an example for our children we can be proud of.

Sincerely,

Rick Silverberg
Essex

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Chester Main Street Bridge Reconstruction Expected to Begin 2016

CHESTER— State Department of Transportation officials reported Monday that a $3 million reconstruction of the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook is expected to begin in early 2016, with the bridge in the downtown village expected to be closed to vehicular traffic from mid-January to mid-May 2016. About 30 residents turned out at the Chester Meeting House Monday for a public information meeting on a project that is entirely funded by the state.

Project managers Andrew Fesenmeyer and David Stahnke presented the latest plans for replacement of the 1921 bridge that carries up to 3,600 vehicles per day. Town officials and residents were supportive of the project, which is expected to set the stage for completion of the final phase of a town sponsored Main Street improvement project that would begin after the new bridge is completed.

But DOT officials cautioned that any delays in securing permits for the project could delay a start of construction to 2017. Fesenmeyer said the project requires permits from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said the permits must be approved by May to allow the project to be put out to bid for a start of construction late next year that would precede the five month bridge closing in 2016. First Selectman Edmund Meehan, along with several residents, said they want to be notified as soon as possible if the bridge closing is to be delayed until January 2017.

DOT has already accepted a construction schedule requested by the town that would limit any closing of the road and bridge to the winter and spring months to reduce disruption for Main Street businesses and annual events. Under the planned schedule, the bridge and road would reopen no later than May 22, 2016. The plan calls for work to be done between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m,. six days per week, with no night work.

The new bridge would be slightly longer and wider than the existing bridge, with a concrete deck and a roadway width of 37-feet. Plans call for preserving the existing stone abutments while reinforcing the abutments with concrete. There would also be improvements to a small section of Main Street and West Main Street (Route 148) in the vicinity of the bridge, including new sidewalk, granite curbing, a new crosswalk, added street trees, and an improved and wider turning radius from Route 148 on to Main Street.

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Letter: Essex Conservation Commission Please Rethink Beaver Plans

To the Editor:

Below is a copy of a letter I sent to the Essex Conservation Commission on November 15, 2014:

Dear Conservation Commission,

As a former member of the commission I have tried to stay informed about your ongoing work and in as much just read the minutes from the November 6th meeting  and I find it disturbing that after several years, the commission seems again to be choosing an inappropriate measure in dealing with the beavers.

Viney Hill Brook Park was purchased by the Town as a nature preserve, and all that inhabits the preserve should be just that – preserved.  There is ample research and many appropriate alternatives to killing.  Beavers are indigenous to Connecticut and deserve the same protection any other animal living at Viney Hill Brook Park is afforded.

Further, your potential actions are in direct conflict with the rules and regulations you publish  –from the Conservation Commission brochure about Viney Hill Brook Park:

Please observe and follow the posted guidelines:

PASSIVE RECREATION

The passive recreation area of the park, managed by the Essex Conservation Commission, is open to the public for walking and hiking. It is not a playground, hunting area, bike path or campground. The area is a place where people can enjoy native plants and animals without altering or…

The State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has published a fact sheet on their  website providing details, among other things, of the benefits of beaver communities and options to help alleviate problems caused by beavers.

I urge you to rethink your plans and use a better measure to work and live with the beavers of Viney Hill Brook Park.

Respectfully,

Susan Malan
Essex, CT

 

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Dec. 15 Referendum Set for Proposed $8.085 Million Bonding Authorization for Essex Capital Projects

ESSEX— Voters will go to the polls for an all-day referendum on Dec. 15 to act on a proposed $8,085,000 bonding authorization for town capital projects. The board of selectmen approved the bonding resolution question Wednesday after a public hearing where the plan drew general support from residents.

About 60 residents turned out for the public hearing on the capital projects plan that was developed over the past year by a three-member Capital Projects Building Committee led by Selectman Bruce Glowac. While there were several questions, no one spoke in direct opposition to any of the proposed building projects or the proposed $8 million bonding total. The cost estimates for each project were developed by CME Associates Inc. a Woodstock engineering fire retained by the town.
The bonding authorizations would be presented as five separate ballot questions for bridge projects, Essex Elementary School projects, town hall projects, public works garage projects, and a $600,000 authorization to purchase a new pumper fire truck for the volunteer fire department.

The largest projects, which had already been identified as priorities when the committee began its work, include replacement of the Walnut Street and Ivory Street bridges in the Ivoryton section for an estimated cost of  $2,845,000, and replacement of the elementary school roof for an estimated cost of $1.4 million. Four additional projects, including $600,000 for air conditioning the school building, would bring the total estimated cost for elementary school projects to $2,815,000. The Walnut Street bridge replacement and the elementary school roof would be eligible for federal or state grant funding reimbursement of $2,055,000.  The funding reimbursement would reduce the total cost borne by town taxpayers to $6,030,000, though the bonding authorizations must be for the total project cost amounts.

The six improvement projects at town hall have an estimated cost of $1.3 million, including $500,000 to renovate land use offices, $200,000 for roof replacement, and $200,000 for air conditioning the building that was first constructed as a high school in the 1890s. Four projects at the town public works garage have an estimated cost of $525,000 including $109,000 for roof replacement and $264,000 for a two bay addition that would provide space for equipment storage.

Glowac acknowledged the proposed $8 million in bonding is ” a big number,” but maintained all of the projects are “real needs as opposed to wants,” that would address town and elementary school capital improvement issues for the next 20 years, which would also be the term of the bonds. He said all of the cost estimates represent  “worst case” projections with the actual amount to be bonded likely to be less than the requested authorizations. First Selectmen Norman Needleman said selectmen and the finance board may decide to pay for some of the smaller projects with transfers from the town’s $2.9 million undesignated fund balance, without the need for bonding.

Finance Director Kelly Sterner said the town expects to use bond anticipation notes, which have a one-year maturity, for some of the initial projects, such as the bridges. Most of the bonds would be issued in late 2016 or early 2017. The highest year for debt service is expected to be 2017-2018, when debt payments would add about 0.49 mills to the property tax rate that is currently set at 21.99 mills, or $21.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Sterner said the 0.49 mills in 2017-2018 would represent about $147 in additional tax for a property assessed at $300,000. Debt service costs would begin dropping in 2020-2021, falling more steeply around 2027 leading to a final pay off in the 2036-2037 fiscal year.

The bonding resolutions will be presented for further discussion, but not amendment from the floor, at a Dec. 3 town meeting that begins at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall. The Dec. 15 referendum would be conducted from 6 a.m.  to 8 p.m.

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Region 4 School Employees Union Supports Shoreline Soup Kitchen

l-r: Roberta Price; Coral Rawn; Shirley Rutan; and Kim Johns.

l-r: Roberta Price; Coral Rawn; Shirley Rutan; and Kim Johns.

With the holiday season fast approaching, the members of AFSCME Local 1303-421, representing Region 4 School Employees, donated $500 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries.

Local 1303-421 President Coral Rawn and Secretary Kim Johns, along with union representative Roberta Price, recently presented the donation to Shirley Rutan, Coordinator for the Deep River Congregational Church meal site.

“We’re very grateful for the generosity of AFSCME Local 1303-421 members,” Rutan said. “Their contribution will go a long way.”

Rawn said union members decided to establish a Good and Welfare Committee for the purpose of making charitable donations. “It’s a good way for our union to give back and to support the communities where we live and work,” she said.

SSKP serves people in need in 11 shoreline communities, including the Region 4 town of Essex, Deep River and Chester. SSKP’s 5 meal pantries distribute groceries to over 500 families per week, giving each family 3.5 days of food per week, and their 8 meal sites serve over 200 meals to individuals per week.

“Hunger is a real issue throughout our communities,” Johns noted. “We’re pleased to be able to help a wonderful organization doing important work.”

Local 1303-421 represents more than 20 school employees, including network technicians, custodians, nurses and secretaries.

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Letter: Stand up for The Beavers

To the Editor:
It is beyond comprehension that the “Conservation Commission” would even think about destroying the natural habitat of Viney Brook Park in Essex by drowning a family of beavers! And I have to say I am disgusted to hear that this is not the first time this has happened. This makes no sense and is not at all like killing a poisonous snake in a populous area.
The beavers are only in their natural habitat…a place that you would think the “Conservation Commission” would want the natural lives of plants and animals to survive. Will they just keep killing every family that moves in? No doubt there will be more that come to live there.
Hopefully somehow this action will be stopped.
Sincerely,
Terri Temple
Essex, CT
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Letter: Believe in the Election Process

To the Editor:

It’s been two weeks since the election, and I’m sure most of you are done with politics, so I’ll keep this brief.  I want to first thank everyone for voting on November 4th, it is by far the most important and powerful thing that anyone can do in our lives.

This being my first time running for office, I learned so very much in what was a fairly short period of time.  There is truly quite a bit of work that goes into running for office, but it is worth every minute, every sweat, and every tear.  I met so many great people since jumping in the race in June, all of whom I now consider friends.  Listening to people’s thoughts and concerns, for me, was the best part of this race.  The 36th Assembly District has four beautiful towns, all of which I love.  Everyone that lives in Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam are truly the luckiest residents in Connecticut.

I encourage everyone to run for public office, especially younger people.  I guarantee that it is the best experience you will ever have in your life.  Please know that you can be a landscaper or former bartender and still run.  The most important qualifications that any candidate should have are their ideas, beliefs, and convictions.  This is what makes America such an awesome place to live, the opportunities are endless.

So again I thank all of you, it was the best decision I ever made to run for office and I am so happy that all of you were a part of it.  The best strength that we have is that when we work together, all of our lives become better than the day before.  Believe in the process, it works.

My very best to all of you,

Bob Siegrist
Former Candidate for the Connecticut House of Representatives
36th Assembly District

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State Police Investigate Bomb Threat at Valley Regional High School

DEEP RIVER— State police are investigating a bomb threat that was called in Monday to Valley Regional High School. The telephone threat was received around 12:45 p.m., with students and staff evacuated as police with bomb-detecting dogs searched the building. Students were transported to the nearby John Winthrop Middle School.

By 1:15 p.m. students and staff were allowed to return to the building after no explosives were detected. Minutes later, around 1:30 p.m. there was a bomb threat made to East Hampton High School that also prompted an evacuation and police search of the school building. Both incidents remain under investigation by police.

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Essex Annual Town Meeting Monday to Act on Board and Commission Appointments

ESSEX— Voters at the annual town meeting Monday will act on 20 board and commission appointments and two additional appropriations, along with acceptance of the annual town report for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The meeting begins at 7 p,m., in the auditorium at town hall.

All of the appointments subject to town meeting confirmation Monday are incumbent members currently serving on the respective panels, with most of the appointments for three year terms. Voters will be asked to confirm  seven appointments to town land use commissions, including Alvin Wolfgram and William Reichenbach for the zoning commission, with Adrienne Forest as commission alternate, Thomas Danyliw for the planning commission, Fred Szufnarowski for the inland-wetlands commission, and William Veillette for zoning board of appeals, with Barbara Sarrantonio and Peter Decker as ZBA alternates

Voters will be asked to confirm appointment of Douglas Senn Robert Russo, and Anthony Mosa for the parks and recreation commission, and Walter Weigert for the harbor management commission, with Terry Stewart as harbor management commission alternate. Voters will be asked to confirm the appointment of David Winstead, Robert Laundy, and Edward Cook for the economic development commission, with Susan Malan and Mark Reeves for the water pollution control authority, with Alvin Wolfgram as WPCA alternate.

Voters will be asked to approve two supplemental appropriations for the 2013-2014 fiscal year that ended on June 30, including $21,431 for the town clerk’s office, and $68,653 for the highway department. The highway department overrun is for snow removal expenses last winter. Voters will also be asked to accept the annual town report for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

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State Dept. of Transportation Public Information Meeting on Chester Main Steet Bridge Replacement Project

CHESTER— The state department of Transportation will hold a public information meeting Monday on the latest plans for the replacement of the Main Street Bridge The session begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street.

DOT is planning to replace the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook, with the latest information indicating that construction would begin in the spring of 2016.  DOT staff will be at the meeting to present the latest plans and construction schedule for the bridge project, with interested residents, business owners, and commuters invited to the session to learn about the project.

The town is planning a separate Main Street project for next year, reconstruction of the street from the intersection with Route 154 east to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery  Plans for additional reconstruction of Main Street through the downtown business district are expected to be done after the state completes the Main Street Bridge project.

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Something Strange Happened Lately in the Skies of France

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

Something strange happened lately in the skies of France:  drones were spotted over several nuclear plants, including one dangerously close to Paris in Nogent sur Seine. A few days later more drones flew over nuclear complexes.  A wave of anxiety gripped the public opinion.  Who was manipulating those machines?  Was the country under threat?

Greenpeace was immediately suspected of being the one to operate the unmanned contraptions.   As a pro-environmental watchdog this international association has a history of peaceful action against nuclear power.  In 2012 a paraglider had landed on a nuclear installation, to prove that the installation was not well protected.  In July 2013, 29 activists broke into Tricastin nuclear plant, in southern France.   Yannick Rousselet, head of the anti-nuclear Greenpeace campaign, appearing on television, vehemently denied any involvement this time.

If Greenpeace had nothing to do with it.  the question remained, who did?  A few days later , three individuals suspected of operating the drones, were arrested.  So, for now, the fear is defused. But it was a wake up call of a potential danger.

The most advanced drone technologies are found in Israel and the US..  To obtain the most accurate information I interviewed a French engineer who used to work with a German company manufacturing drones .  He told me that ten years ago all of them were built for military use, mostly for reconnaissance and surveillance.  They included the HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance); the MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance); tactical drones; portable drones for use in ground combat.  Israeli  Watchkeeper with sensors and camera can fire missiles and bombs from sometimes thousands of miles away.   To-day drones have become a necessity in wars taking place in huge territories such as Mali.

France is at the cutting-edge of research but lacks funds to develop its ideas.   As an example, Dassault designed the NEURON and produced one model whereas the American PREDATOR, built in 2010, has already flown one million hours.

European countries are catching up with drone technology. On November 5, François Hollande and David Cameron attended the signing of an agreement between Dassault Aviation and BAE Systems (British Aerospace and Marconi electronics Systems) for a new generation of drones.  Germany and Italy will be part of the project in the future.

To-day civilian drones exist in all sizes and degrees of complexity. Drones, called “insects” are so small that they can be held in the palm of the hand.  The  Chinese DJI Fantom , flies like an helicopter with quadrotors,  carries a remote camera and is very popular with the general public. Drones  have become invaluable at times of natural disasters, to test the strength of bridges, in mapping, archaeology and multiple other uses.

But they may be dangerous like causing the crash of commercial airplanes by getting into the reactors.  When a drone fell less than six feet from Angela Merkel, during her political campaign in September 2013 people realized that a drone was anything but a toy.

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Commission a Poem to Support ‘Reach Out and Read CT’

Tish Rabe

Tish Rabe

Tish Rabe, the best-selling author of over 160 children’s books including the popular Dr. Seuss, Cat In the Hat Learning Library, is partnering with Reach Out and Read Connecticut in support of their mission – to prepare disadvantaged children for academic success.  Rabe is generously donating her time and her talents to create customized poems that celebrate the special moments in life including anything from the birth of a child to a retirement.

These poems are available for the public to purchase for $50 with 100% of the proceeds going to Reach Out and Read Connecticut.  The poems are called “Magical Milestones” and can be purchased at https://www.crowdrise.com/magicalmilestones.  The partners hope to raise $10,000 during the holiday season.

“I’m having fun creating original poems for families that they can enjoy for years to come.” said Ms. Rabe, a resident of Mystic, CT.  “I am a passionate supporter of early childhood literacy and know how important it is to get a free book into the hands of every low-income child in Connecticut.  I am happy to do whatever I can to make that happen.”

Focusing on low-income families, Reach Out and Read is a national organization that partners with medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children as well as support healthy brain and social/emotional development.  Reach Out and Read is far more than a book give-a-way program.  By leveraging the unique relationship between parents and medical providers, the program is able to positively change parental behavior and increase parent involvement in their children’s lives – a critical lever linked to the educational, emotional, physical, and social health of children.

“The Reach Out and Read model provides parents with personalized, age-appropriate advice about books and reading at every well-child visit from 6 months to 5 years, along with the gift of a new developmentally and culturally appropriate books.  Books are used by the medical provider at the beginning of the visit during developmental surveillance, and as a vehicle to offer concrete guidance to parents.  Armed with this guidance, parents make reading aloud a part of their daily routines,” said Dr. Catherine Wiley, Connecticut Medical Director for Reach Out and Read Connecticut.

She continues, “Among the many anticipatory guidance items medical providers have on their checklist, Reach Out and Read has the best evidence base.  Reach Out and Read is the only anticipatory guidance activity proven to promote child development.  When you participate in Reach Out and Read, you address a critical need with a successful model.  Children served by Reach Out and Read are read to more often, have better expressive and receptive language skills and are better prepared for success in school.”  Dr. Wiley, who practices at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, brought Reach Out and Read to Connecticut in the early 90’s and continues to champion the program.

“We are thrilled to be working with Rabe on this new endeavor and to have her as part of our Connecticut Advisory Board,” said Christine Garber, Connecticut Executive Director for Reach Out and Read.  “Her “Love You, Hug You, Read to You” book is fabulous and has been well received by our medical providers and families.  We are privileged to have such a creative and enthusiastic person supporting our mission.”

There are 70 Reach Out and Read programs throughout Connecticut predominately at community health centers, clinics and hospitals.  Their team of nearly 300 medical providers distribute close to 70,000 new children’s books each year.  Nearly 40,000 children and families receive the Reach Out and Read model in Connecticut.

“Research shows that if you partner with parents and intervene in the first five years of life, you can dramatically improve the early literacy skills of a child, putting them on the track for success in school and in life,” said Garber.  “Childhood development experts tell us that the most important thing that parents can do to prepare their children to succeed in school is to read aloud to them every day. “

The Reach Out and Read model is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the program has one of the strongest records of research support of any primary care intervention.  In a significant milestone earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a policy statement which, for the first time ever, formally recommends that pediatricians incorporate into every well-child visit both books and advice about reading, referencing Reach Out and Read as an effective intervention.  This is a significant step for both the organization and early literacy efforts.

Nationally, Reach Out and Read doctors and nurses distribute over 6.5 million books to more than 4 million children and their families annually at 5,000 pediatric practices, hospitals, clinics and health centers in all 50 states.  More than 20,000 medical providers nationwide currently participate in Reach Out and Read.

For more information, visit www.reachoutandread.org/connecticut and www.tishrabe.com.

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Letter: Let the Beavers Stay

To the Editor:
Today I read a letter to the Editor pleading for the case of some recent immigrants to our village who are threatened with eviction, deportation, or maybe even decapitation. One shudders to think such treatment would ever be dealt to any who choose Essex as their home. Yet that’s what some newly arrived beavers face as the forces of normalcy and order are marshaled against them. I must say I am on the side of the writer and of the beavers. There are many well-intentioned folks who say we must preserve nature the way it is. Well, beavers are a vital and interesting part of that nature. I’m sure the Parks & Recreation Department can spare a few trees at Viney Hill. Who knows, the village may have just acquired a new “official mascot”. I say, let them stay!
Sincerely
Steve Haines,
Essex
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Glastonbury Firm Buys Assets of Chester Insurance Business

Smith Brothers Insurance, in Glastonbury, announced this week it has bought the assets of Archambault Insurance, Inc. and its related parties, of Chester, Connecticut. Archambault is a multi-generational insurance agency that has insured Connecticut families and businesses for over 100 years. Archambault Insurance will remain in Chester with its current staff.

“Ray and Tom Archambault have a terrific reputation for building long-term relationships with businesses and families in the Chester area, and going the extra mile to provide excellent service for their clients; which matches our way of doing business at Smith Brothers. Chester is a great community and there is a lot we can offer their clients”, stated Joe B. Smith, President & CEO of Smith Brothers.

Ray and Tom Archambault will continue to manage the Chester office and will work with Smith Brothers to expand their service offerings to their clients. “We have already began introducing the additional value that Smith Brothers can bring to our clients. We are excited to continue our tradition in Chester and look forward to working with the people at Smith Brothers” stated Ray Archambault. Tom Archambault added, “the culture at Smith Brothers fits our culture very well, and that was very important to Ray and I as well as our team”.

About Smith Brothers Insurance, LLC

Smith Brothers is one of the largest independently operated insurance and financial service organizations in New England.

For over 40 years their core values remain consistent: develop, nurture and maintain trust and respect with all stakeholders: clients, suppliers, employees, shareholders, and community. Smith Brothers’ guiding principles are to build strong relationships with   well-regarded carriers and provide clients with a level of service higher than industry standards, so clients know that they have an advocate, and their assets are protected.

Smith Brothers provides insurance, surety, risk management, employee benefits, and financial services to individuals and businesses. Smith Brothers is a member of Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, one of the most respected independent agency affiliations.

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Letter: Allow the New Beaver Family to Live in Essex

To the Editor:

Beavers. They are back at Viney Brook Park in Essex.  Beavers have been found to provide a number of benefits to an area; they improve water quality, they create critical habitats for plants and animals, and their dams control flooding by slowing water flows.  They mate for life and usually defend their territories from outsiders, keeping their own population under control in accordance with the amount of available food.

The last family of beavers was drowned by order of the Conservation Commission. They were trapped in underwater cages where they held their breath for about ten minutes, unable to escape the cages that held them.  But a new family has moved in.  It’s a beautiful spot, ironically a conservation area.  The beavers like the small pond, quite a distance from the larger pond that is a swimming hole.

Other towns, all over the country, have learned to exist with beaver ponds in their midst. They have learned how to mitigate the damage that beavers might cause to trees.  They have benefited from cleaner water, more bird species, and a healthier environment.

That won’t happen in Essex.  The new family will be drowned. Their pelts will be sold. Two or three years from now, a new family will move in.  It’s a shame we can’t learn from other towns that have figured out how to coexist with these magnificent creatures.

Sincerely,

John Ackermann
Essex

 

See related letter

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Fifth Annual CMS Champions Recipients Honored

Burgess.Herrle

CMS Champion Ken Burgess with faculty member and presenter Martha Herrle. Photo courtesy of Joan Levy Hepburn

More than 60 friends and supporters joined Community Music School for the 5th annual CMS Champions Awards and Donor Recognition Breakfast on Wednesday, October 29th at The Copper Beech Inn. This year’s honorees included retiring luthier Kenneth Burgess of Old Saybrook, former CMS Trustee E. Peter Bierrie of Essex, and the TJX Foundation and local TJ Maxx Stores. CMS presents the Champions Awards to those who have supported the School and its mission over the past 31 years and who strive to improve our community through the arts.

Ken Burgess is an amateur violinist who has been keeping CMS violin and viola students in tune for many years, donating his time to provide a free instrument clinic each fall. Peter Bierrie is a retired international CEO and former executive at SCORE who was enlisted in 2007 for help resolving a problem at the Music School. He ended up joining the board and served as finance chair and vice president until completing his term in 2012. The TJX Foundation has provided grant funds to support the Music School’s partnership with Region 4 Public Schools. Additionally, its local store associates have lent their talents as volunteers for the annual CMS gala benefit event.

For the second year, the event was generously sponsored by Essex Savings Bank and Essex Financial Services. “The Community Music School is a very special group of people dedicated to assisting children and adults alike in nurturing their love of music.  As a strong supporter of local organizations dedicated to improving our local communities, it is our pleasure and honor to support such a wonderful group,” stated Charles Cumello, President & CEO of Essex Financial Services.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so that they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives. For additional information, call 860-767-0026 or visit www.community-music-school.org.

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Essex Selectmen Set Nov. 19 Public Hearing on Proposed $8 Million Bonding for Capital Projects

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has scheduled a Nov. 19 public hearing on a plan for $8 million in bonding to fund capital improvement projects for town and school buildings, along with replacement of two bridges in the Ivoryton section. The hearing, which begins at 7 p.m., in the auditorium at town hall, will be followed by a regular meeting where the board may set the dates for a town meeting and subsequent December referendum to vote on the proposed bonding authorization.

The bonding plan was developed over the past year by a capital projects committee chaired by Selectman Bruce Glowac. The board of selectmen gave tentative approval for up to $8,085,000 in bonding last month, with the board of finance also voting preliminary approval after a presentation at an Oct. 16 meeting.

Plans discussed by the board at a Nov. 5 meeting call for the bonding resolution to be presented as five questions, with funding totals that are based on the latest cost estimates provided by engineers. The questions/authorizations include $2,845,000 for replacement of the Walnut and Ivory street bridges in Ivoryton, $2,815,000 for improvements at Essex Elementary School, including roof replacement, $1.3 million for improvements at town hall, $525,000 for improvements at the town public works garage, and $600,000 for a new fire truck.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said selectmen and the finance board could decided not to bond some projects on the list, particularly projects at town hall and the public works garage, even if an $8 million bonding authorization is approved by voters. Needleman said some smaller projects could be funded with surplus or set aside funds without the need for bonding.

Needleman said the bonding plan is still subject to change based on input received from residents at the Nov. 19 hearing.  Selectmen have agreed the top priorities of the capital projects are the two bridge replacement projects, which must be done in 2015, and the roof replacement for the elementary school. The bridge projects and most of the elementary school improvements would be eligible for federal/state funding reimbursement of about $2 million.

Selectmen are considering holding the town meeting on the bonding resolution, which would be for discussion only, on Dec. 3, with a tentative Dec. 15 date for a referendum vote on the bonding authorizations.

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Tunisian Election Outcome Offers Remarkable Example to Countries Dealing With Terrorism, Violence

TunisiaTunisia did it again!  This small country in North Africa was the one to start the Arab Spring in December 2010.  On Oct. 26 of this year, the parliamentary elections marked the return to some degree of normalcy after a difficult period of assassinations and violence.

The latest elections revealed a “collective intelligence,” to use the words of a French political scientist – the result of a well established civil society.  Instead of a single party hijacking the political scene, the people voted for several parties.  The liberal party Nidaa Taures won with 38 percent of the votes.  In order to reach a majority of 109 seats in the parliament, it is willing to form a coalition – quite unusual in this part of the world.

The Islamist party Ennahda secured second place with only 28 percent of the votes and 69 seats — or 16 seats less than in the previous election.  Wisely it  conceded defeat.  How to explain the resistance of the population to the Ennahda program?

The answer lies for a large part in the key role played by women.  They spearheaded the resistance against the strict enforcement of the Sharia or moral code, which limits their rights in many areas: inheritance, divorce, veil and regulations on clothing, custody of children, adultery sanctioned by stoning or “honor killing,” right to travel, right to open a bank account, and access to higher education, etc.

In the text of the constitution approved in January 2014,  Ennahda had reluctantly agreed to replace the expression “complementarity of men and women” by “equality for all.”  A journalist had the nerve to make the following extraordinary comment, “This was a small victory for a few Tunisian feminists”.

The “Personal Status Code,” which was installed by president Habib Bourguiba in 1956,  had given empowerment to Tunisian women, thus making them the most emancipated in the Arab world.  This revolution was at the center of his program in order to model his country on Kemal Ataturk’s vision of a secular  and modern country.  Incidentally, it is interesting to note that both Turkey and Tunisia have almost identical flags.  Bourguiba is said to have remarked at one time, “… the veil – that odious rag.”

Tunisia can be considered to-day as a bulwark between a dangerously chaotic Libya and an Algeria unable to control terrorism (on Oct.14, a  Frenchman visiting the rugged mountainous area south of Algiers, in order to train young Algerians to become mountain guides, was taken hostage and  beheaded two days later.)   In other words, Tunis is of great importance not only as a model of democratic process coexisting with a moderate Islam but also, one hopes, as an oasis of stability for the whole area.

HeadshotAbout the author:  Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter.  She writes 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 covers 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.

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Ivoryton Village Project Draws Support and Some Questions at Public Hearing

ESSEX— A grant-funded improvement project for Main Street in Ivoryton village drew support and some questions from residents at a public hearing Wednesday. About 30 residents turned out to learn details and discuss the project that is funded by a $435,000 state Main Streets Investment Fund grant that was awarded in the summer of 2013.

The plan prepared by Anchor Engineering Services of Glastonbury drew general support, but several residents questioned the inclusion of two raised crosswalks that would be located on the east end of the village, near the intersection with North Main St. (Route 80), and to the west near the intersection of Main and Summit streets.

Project engineer Kevin Brendel said the raised crosswalks would be more accessible for the handicapped and would further a project goal of slowing traffic through the village area. But one resident contended the raised crosswalks would be “gridlock waiting to happen,” particularly when buses are dropping off patrons for the Ivoryton Playhouse. There were also questions about whether the raised crosswalks would hamper winter snow removal.

Selectwoman Stacia Libby, who is chairing a volunteer committee coordinating the project, said public works employees and the town engineer would be consulted to ensure the crosswalks would not interfere with snow removal. Jacqueline Hubbard, executive director of the playhouse, said buses do not discharge passengers on Main Street where the crosswalk would be located, but rather from Summit Street or the private parking lot on the south side of Main Street. But First Selectman Norman Needleman said he is not completely sold on the idea of raised crosswalks as part of the project.

Other elements of the project drew general support, including plans to remove a paved island at the intersection of Main and Summit streets to create a T shaped intersection, new lighting at the back section of the Ivoryton Park, new curbing, and about 400 feet of new sidewalk in front of the playhouse property and around the park,

Libby said the committee and project engineer would consider input received at the hearing and review the plans with a goal of putting the project out do bid in the early spring for a start of construction in May 2015.

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Republican Art Linares Takes 57 Percent of Vote in Reelection Win Over Democrat Emily Bjornberg

AREAWIDE— Republican State Sen. Art Linares took 57 percent of the vote to win a second term Tuesday over Democrat Emily Bjornberg in the 12 town 33rd Senate District.Linares had 22,746 votes to 16,482, or 42 percent, for Bjornberg.2 The 6,264 vote margin is more than double the incumbent’s 2,562 vote victory over Democrat Jim Crawford in winning his first election in 2010.

Green Party nominee Colin Bennett had 484 votes, one of his lowest totals in four previous runs for the state senate seat. But the one percent of the total vote preserves the Green Party ballot line in the district for the 2016 election. Linares carried ten towns, with Bjornberg winning only in Chester and her hometown of Lyme.

Unofficial results gathered from town clerks are:

CHESTER— Bjornberg 798-Linares 724
CLINTON– LInares 2,693 Bjornberg 2,328
COLCHESTER– Linares 3,172 Bjornberg 2,312
DEEP RIVER– Linares 990 Bjornberg 915
EAST HADDAM– Linares 2,078 Bjornberg 1,455
EAST HAMPTON– Linares 3,153 Bjornberg 1,939
ESSEX– Linares 1,647 Bjornberg 1,504
HADDAM– Linares 1,946 Bjornberg 1,260
LYME– Bjornberg 636 Linares 539
PORTLAND–Linares 2,198 Bjornberg 1,680
OLD SAYBROOK—Linares 1,508 Bjornberg 1,184
WESTBROOK– Linares 1,687 Bjornberg 1.035

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Foley Takes Essex While Malloy Carries Chester and Deep River in Governor Race

AREAWIDE— Republican Tom Foley carried Essex in his unsuccessful run for governor, while Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy carried Chester and Deep River on his way to re-election for a second term

In Essex, the Foley-Sommers ticket led 1,600-1,576.  Malloy carried Deep River 1,003-917, and Chester 907-693. Petition candidate Joe Viosconti, who ran with Haddam Neck resident Chester Harris for lt. governor before withdrawing Sunday, had 30 votes in Essex, 21 in Deep River, and 22 in Chester.

Democratic incumbents carried the three towns in most other state races. Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill led Republican Peter Lumaj 1,588-1,471 in Essex, 994-817 in Deep River, and 919-588 in Chester. Green Party nominee Michael DeRosa had 52 votes in Essex, 61 votes in deep ruiver, and 53 votes in Chester. Democratic Attornmey general George Jepson carried the towns over Republican Kie Westby,1,747-1,300 in Essex, 1,079-726 in Deep River, and 1,010-503 in Chester. Democratic Comptroller Kevin Lembo led Republican Sharon McClaughlin 1,582-1,438 in Essex, 968-821 in Deep River, and 902-594 in Chester.

But in the extremely close race for state treasurer,Republican Tim Herbst carried Essex over incumbent Democratic Treasurer Denise Nappier 1,636-1,470. But Nappier took Deep River 946-916 and Chester 878-691.

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Connecticut River Gateway Commission Donates $5,000 To “The Preserve” Fund

Presentation of $5,000 to “The Preserve Fund” – Connecticut River Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody presents a $5,000 contribution to The Preserve Fund to Kate Brown (center), Trust for Public Land Project Manager for “The Preserve” acquisition. On the far left is Commission Vice Chair Nancy Fischbach, and on the right are Commission Secretary Madge Fish & Treasurer Margaret (“Peggy”) Wilson.

Presentation of $5,000 to “The Preserve Fund” – Connecticut River Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody presents a $5,000 contribution to The Preserve Fund to Kate Brown (center), Trust for Public Land Project Manager for “The Preserve” acquisition. On the far left is Commission Vice Chair Nancy Fischbach, and on the right are Commission Secretary Madge Fish & Treasurer Margaret (“Peggy”) Wilson.

The Connecticut River Gateway Commission has contributed $5,000 to the Trust for Public Land Campaign to Preserve the 1,000 Acre Forest.

The donation will help ensure that the parcel known as The Preserve in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, and Essex will be permanently protected as forestland and wildlife habitat.

The Gateway Commission was established in 1973 to administer the Connecticut River Gateway Conservation Zone. Eight towns in the lower Connecticut Valley:  Chester, Deep River, East Haddam, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Lyme, and Old Saybrook joined together in a compact to create the Conservation Zone in order to protect the scenic, historic and environmental resources of the lower Connecticut River.

Although not within the Conservation Zone, The Preserve lies within the lower Connecticut River watershed. It is the last thousandacre coastal forest between New York and Boston and includes the headwaters of streams that flow into the Connecticut.

The Commission believes that its protection is important to the ecological health of the watershed and the river.

According to Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody “The Gateway Commission is gratified to join in this vital preservation project.”

For more information about the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, go to www.ctrivergateway.org or contact J. H. Torrance Downes at (860) 581-8554, or email him at tdownes@rivercog.org.

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Letter: Disturbing Election Tactics

To the Editor:

During this past election cycle, a significant number of Democratic campaign signs disappeared in Essex. I find it disturbing and pathetic that certain persons would attempt to obstruct the political process by removing signs that were placed on private property with permission.  In view of the results of the recent elections, I hope that these persons have learned that removing signs is not an effective way to disrupt the election process.  In addition, I find it very disturbing that a significant number of the registered voters state-wide fail to exercise their right to vote.  For a democracy to work effectively, it is essential for our citizens to participate in the process by voting for their choice of candidates.

Sincerely,

Frank B. Hall
Essex, CT

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Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller Wins New Term in 36th House District

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE— Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex has been re-elected for a new term in the 36th House District, defeating Republican challenger Robert Siegrist of Haddam on a 5,522-4,701 vote. Miller carried the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex, while losing Haddam to Siegrist.

The vote in Chester was Miller-971, Siegrist-625. In Deep River it was Miller,1065, Siegrist 816. For Essex, the vote was Miller-1,865, Siegrist-1,295. Siegrist carried Haddam with 1,965 votes to 1,621 votes for Miller.
Miller, who served as first selectman of Essex from 2012-2011, was elected in a  Feb. 2011 special election, and re-elected for a full term in 2012. Siegrist, a 31 year-old former bartender making his first run for public office, ran the strongest race of the previous opponents to Miller, losing to the incumbent by 821 votes.

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Democrat Terrance Lomme Wins Second Term as Nine-Town Judge of Probate

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

AREAWIDE—  The contest for regional judge of probate was a replay of 2010, only closer, with Democratic Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme of Essex winning a second term over Republican challenger Anselmo Delia of Clinton. The unofficial result was Lomme-12,895, Delia-12,635.

The results from the nine towns in the district were similar to the contest between Lomme and Delia in 2010, the year local probate courts were consolidated in to a regional probate court located in Old Saybrook. Lomme carried the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme and Old Saybrook, while Delia carried the towns of Clinton, Haddam, Killingworth, and Westbrook.

Lomme won the 2010 race by 419 votes. But Tuesday’s result was closer, with a 260-vote margin, after a campaign where Delia, a Clinton lawyer, questioned Lomme’s decision to retain some private legal clients while serving in the judge position that has an annual salary of $122,000.

The town results are Chester:Lomme-985, Delie-544, Clinton: Lomme 2,069, Delia-2,755, Deep River: Lomme-1,060, Delie-761, Essex: Lomme-1,740, Delia-1,295, Haddam: Lomme-1,649, Delia-1,855, Killingworth: Lomme-1,291, Delia-1,440. Lyme: Lomme-629, Delia-508, Old Saybrook: Lomme-2,279, Delia-2,109, and Westbrook: Lomme 1,193, Delia-1,368.

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Republican State Senator Art Linares Elected for Second Term in 33rd District

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

AREAWIDE— Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook was re-elected to a second term Tuesday, defeating Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg of Lyme by a decisive margin and carrying 10 of the 12 district towns.

Unofficial results showed Linares with 22,170 votes to 16,922 votes for Bjornberg. Green Party nominee Colin Bennett of Westbrook garnered about 150 votes. Bjornberg carried her hometown of Lyme, 636-539, and Chester, 829-708. But Linares carried the other ten towns by decisive margins, with the closest result in Deep River, Linares, 975, Bjornberg 897.  The result in Essex was Linares 1,647 to Bjornberg 1,504. Linares also carried the district towns of Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and Old Saybrook.
Bjornberg received the results while gathered with family members and supporters at the Democratic headquarters in Deep River. Bjornberg said she called Linares to concede when the result became clear around 9:20 p.m. “It was a good race but it was a tough year for Democrats in eastern Connecticut,” she said.
Linares appeared around 9:50 p.m. before a crowd of about 100 cheering supporters gathered in the ballroom at the Water’s Edge Resort in Westbrook., declaring that his victory, along with wins in state House races by Republicans Devin Carney in the 23rd District and Jesse McCLachlin in the 35th district represented ” a new generation of leadership.”
Linares also alluded to the sometimes harsh contest with Bjornberg. “We were attacked over and over again but the decent people of this district knew better,” he said. Linares, 26, also praised his 24-year-old brother Ryan Linares, who served as campaign manager. “He was the only campaign manager who actually lived with the candidate,” Linares said.
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Trees in the Rigging: Call for Decorated Boats

Essex’s annual TREES IN THE RIGGING holiday celebration features a parade of festively-lit and decorated boats on the waterfront at the Connecticut River Museum (photo courtesy of Anthony Reczek).

Essex’s annual TREES IN THE RIGGING holiday celebration features a parade of festively-lit and decorated boats on the waterfront at the Connecticut River Museum (photo courtesy of Anthony Reczek).

The Connecticut River Museum in partnership with the Essex Board of Trade and the Essex Historical Society invite boat owners to participate in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade. Trees in the Rigging is a community carol sing and boat parade.  This year the event will take place on Sunday, November 30 beginning at 4:30pm.  A critical and crowed-pleasing part of this free community event is the parade of boats dressed in holiday lights that sail along Essex’s waterfront.

The decorated boats are part of a friendly competition.  A modest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize will be awarded to the best dressed boats. Winners will be invited to receive their prize and participate in a photo op on Monday, December 1 at 4:30 PM.

Registration is required to participate in the boat parade that usually begins around 5:15 PM from the south end of Essex Harbor. To register, send emails to: crm@ctrivermuseum.org. Information should include: Vessel name; Type of boat and description; Owner(s) name; Contact information (phone and preferred email); Decorating scheme (if known at time of registration). Registration must be received by Monday, November 24 at 4:30 pm.

Trees in the Rigging also includes a traditional, lantern-lit carol stroll down Essex’s Main Street where spectators are invited to bring their own lanterns or flashlights and join in with the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars. Santa and his elves will arrive by one of the parade boats for visits with children on the lawn of the Connecticut River Museum.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm. For more information, call 860.767.8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

 

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Letter from Paris: Picasso in Paris – A New Museum Opens

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

After five years of over-budget restoration, the Picasso museum in Paris reopened on Oct. 25.  It was worth the wait — the new museum is spectacular.

I decided – like the rest of Paris, it seemed – to go to the opening.  The logistics to handle the thousands of visitors passing through the magnificent courtyard of the XVII century Hotel Salé  (thus nicknamed because the owner was a salt tax collector) in the Marais was the best I have ever seen in France.

The renovation has doubled the exhibition space.  The museum gives a feeling of openness thanks to the series of rooms opening onto the garden; wide thresholds and corridors facilitate the flow of visitors.  The classical architecture – grand stairs, loggia with arched windows and baroque haut-reliefs – coexist with modern minimalism.

The walls are stark white, allowing the creations of Picasso to literally explode.  The lighting of weathered bronze and white resin is imaginative, but discreet.  The upper level, which houses the private collection of the artist, was carved out from the original attic.  The enormous wooden beams constitute a stunning setting for Cezanne, Matisse, “Le Douanier” Rousseau (a nickname given to Rousseau related to his occupation as a toll collector), or artifacts from the South Pacific.  The exhibit spans the long life (1881-1973) of the artist.

At an early age in Malaga and la Corogne, Pablo Picasso showed his precocious talent.  His supportive father — an art teacher — acknowledging the genius of his son, put down his paint brushes in 1895 and never painted again.  In the first room of the museum, the portrait of “L’homme à la casquette” reveals  the virtuosity of the 14-year old.

picassomuseum-1

A self portrait, 1901, showing a middle-aged man (although Picasso himself was only 20 when he created the piece) belongs to his “Blue Period.”  A gaunt, almost emaciated acrobat  (1905) with elongated hands and sad eyes is part of the circus world which fascinated Picasso.  In 1906, he begins working on the Demoiselles d’Avignon.  Gertrude Stein, foresaw the importance of what was to be one the major works of the 20th century and bought most of the preparatory sketches of the unknown young artist.  The painting hangs today at MoMA in New York City.

A voyage to Italy in the early 1920s inspired Picasso to return to the classicism of ancient Rome.  In La Course, painted 1922 in surprisingly small dimensions, two gargantuan women run on the beach, their  heads touching the clouds.

Women – whether wives or mistresses – are his sources of inspiration:  Fernande, Olga, Dora Maar, Marie Therese, Françoise, Jacqueline – each of them represents a new start.  Picasso reinvents himself continuously and keeps experimenting with new techniques and media.

There is a recurrent theme of violence in his depictions of bullfights, wars and erotic scenes.  He deconstructs his models and reassembles them in a shamble of distorted strokes which have become his trademark.  Les Amoureux, 1918, is the most irreverent and humorous example.

Picasso’s sculptures – made of crude recycled material and always full of humor – are interspersed with the paintings, which gives the visit a lighter angle. In September 2015, an exhibit on “Picasso the sculptor” will take place at MoMA.

Nicole Prévost Logan headshot

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter.  She writes 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 covers 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.

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Volunteers Needed for Tax Preparation Assistance

Volunteers are needed for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to help low- to moderate-income households prepare and file their taxes to ensure they get back the money they have earned. We use software such as Paychex Flex, which is easy-to-use and helps to streamline the process of filing for taxes. We advise all volunteers to read a Paychex Flex review before applying.

VITA is a national program of the IRS, and volunteers are trained and certified to ensure that working families and individuals are filing for all of the appropriate tax credits. The program also helps people avoid costly fees associated with tax preparation and rapid refund loans.

The program is looking for volunteers for two VITA sites located in downtown Middletown to provide free tax preparation assistance for eligible taxpayers. Tax preparation assistance is offered January 24–April 11, 2015 at the offices of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team.

No prior experience is necessary. Volunteers complete training and are certified by the IRS. Training will be held from January 5-8 or January 12-15, 2015 in the evening. Volunteers must attend consecutive evening sessions. You will be trained to let filers know if they qualify for additional tax credits, such as the federal and the state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. VITA volunteers must complete a minimum of one 4-hour shift per week during tax season in the late afternoons and evenings or on Saturdays; maintain confidentiality of all client information; and interact with the public in a helpful and supportive manner. Opportunities to become certified as an advanced tax preparer for the VITA program are also available.

In 2014, the two VITA sites in Middletown helped more than 530 Middlesex County area residents file their taxes for free and returned $767,781 back to taxpayers. Those who filed with Middletown VITA sites had an average Adjusted Gross Income of $19,676 and received an average refund of $1,706, money they have earned. This impacts not only those who filed their taxes, but also their families and the local economy.

For more information about volunteering, contact David Morgan at dmorgan@wesleyan.edu or (860) 346-1522.

VITA is a free program offered by the federal government. Local VITA sites are coordinated by the Middlesex VITA Coalition, a partnership of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team. The Middlesex VITA Coalition receives support from the Connecticut Association of Human Services.

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Republican Senator Art Linares and Democratic Challenger Emily Bjornberg in Hotly Contested 33rd District Race

AREAWIDE— Republican State Senator Art Linares’s bid for a second term is facing an aggressive challenge from Democrat Emily Bjornberg in of Lyme in a contest that also includes Green Party nominee Colin Bennett.

The race, which included three well-attended debates, has attracted statewide attention as Democrats make a determined effort to reclaim the seat that was held for two decades by former Democratic State Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook before Linares won it after a three candidate contest in 2012. This week U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman campaigned for Bjornberg at separate appearances in Portland and Clinton. The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and portions of Old Saybrook.

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

Linares, of Westbrook, was elected in 2012 on a 23,813 to 21,251 vote, over Democrat Jim Crawford, a one term state representative from Westbrook, in a race where Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag received over 4,000 votes. This year, Linares also has the Connecticut Independent Party ballot line while Bjornberg also holds the ballot line for the Working Families Party.

Linares, who turned 26 Friday, and Bjornberg, 33, have campaigned heavily since last spring, making thousands of door-to-door visits throughout the 12 district towns. Both major party nominees have received the $94,850 grant available for state senate candidates under the state’s Citizens Election Program, using the funds to pay for several voters mailings and television ads on the cable channels.

Green Party nominee Colin Bennett

Green Party nominee Colin Bennett

Bennett, 34, of Westbrook, is spending little money on his campaign, but has raised some signs and participated in each of the debates. Bennett, who currently works as a substitute teacher in Region 4 schools, was the Green Party nominee for the seat in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010, garnering as many as 1,682 votes in 2008.

Linares, who co-founded the Middletown-based Greenskies solar power company in 2008, said he has focused his campaign on economic issues. He contends tighter controls on government spending and easing of some business regulations would help add jobs and boost the economic recovery in Connecticut. While predicting a possible state budget deficit would approach $2 billion next year, Linares pledges to oppose any new or increased taxes and calls for reductions in taxes on gasoline, hospitals, and retirement income.

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

Bjornberg, a mother of two young children who works part-time with the youth and families ministry at Deep River Congregational Church, has also talked about helping small businesses and pledges to oppose any tax increases that would impact middle and working class families. But the first time candidate whose family owns the Reynolds Subaru dealership in Lyme has also sharply criticized the incumbent’s record over the past two years and questioned several aspects of his business, including purchasing solar panels from China rather than from companies in the United States.

Bjornberg has also brought social issues in to the fray, contending an endorsement from the Connecticut Family Institute shows Linares is an ultra-conservative who would seek to overturn state laws on same sex marriage and abortion rights. “People have a very clear choice in this election,” she said, promising to be a voice in the Democratic majority caucus for children, the environment, and small towns.

Linares said he “has no social agenda,” and is personally opposed to abortion while supporting same sex marriage rights. Linares said he would make no effort to change state law on the social issues, and suggests Bjornberg is highlighting these issues “just to scare people.” He said Bjornberg has “offered no solutions or new ideas,” while criticizing his two-year record and a business that he claims has created 300 jobs in the state.

Bennett has called for increased investments in clean energy, raising taxes on the state’s wealthiest citizens, and legalization or marijuana. While Bjornberg confirmed that she has asked Bennett to withdraw to avoid splitting progressive votes on Tuesday, Bennett said he is remaining in the race to provide another choice for “people who have lost faith in government.”

The candidates show both common ground and some differences on two issues that affect motorists, the option of restoring tolls on state highways and allowing use of red light cameras. Linares and Bennett expressed strong opposition to allowing red light cameras, while Bjornberg said she would want to see a specific proposal, including “where cameras would be placed and why and what safeguards would be in place for due process.”

On tolls, Bjornberg is opposed while Linares said he could be open to the option if it did not include new toll booths at multiple locations. “I would like to see the proposition in detail and what the new technologies are,” he said. Bennett acknowledged he is undecided on the issue of tolls.

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Sunrise over Long Island Sound (photo by Nigel Logan)

Sunrise over Long Island Sound (photo by Nigel Logan)

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https://valleynewsnow.com/2014/10/27136/

Deep River Awarded $4.2 Million State Grant for Expansion and Renovation of Kirtland Commons Elderly Housing Complex

DEEP RIVER— The town has been awarded a $4.2 million state Department of Housing grant for an 18-unit expansion and renovations at the Kirtland Commons elderly housing complex. The grant was announced last week under the department’s Competitive Housing Assistance for Multi-family Properties program.

Joanne Hourigan, executive director for Kirtland Commons, said the award comes after more than three years of efforts to obtain grant funding for improvements at the 21-year-old complex on the northern end of Main Street (Route 154). “We’re beyond happy about finally getting a grant,” she said.

The plans call for adding 18 units to the existing 26-unit complex that opened in the spring of 1993. The new units would be added to the north on each of the three floors of the building.  The grant will also pay for other needed improvements, including new windows, doors and locks, along with a new entrance area and upgrades to the building’s heating system.

Hourigan said the long effort to obtain funding has resulted in design plans for the project that are nearly ready to be put out to bid. Hourigan said the “project team” includes consultant Dale Kroop of Hamden and architect Chris Widmer of Guilford. She said construction for the renovations and expansion should begin in 2015.

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Letter: Response to Latest Mailings

To the Editor:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the 33rd District.

The political mailings, particularly the last two I have received on behalf of Democratic candidate Emily Bjornberg who is running for a senate seat in Connecticut representing our 33rd district,  have been, to say the least, the lowest, most nasty mailings that I have ever received prior to an election for a senatorial candidate who would represent me in Hartford.

Not only have these last two mailings been disgraceful and full of lies, but, having attended the last two debates among Emily Bjornberg, Art Linares and Colin Bennett, I have also been disgusted with the attack dog tactics and misinformation coming from Emily against Art Linares. Her behavior makes the definition given to a pit bull terrier pale in comparison to her progressive, socialistic demands and attitudes about what should or should not be rule of law for everyone.

Please, back off Emily. You have shown your true colors.  We have had good representation in the 33rd district with Senator Art Linares.  We need Art to return to his duties in Hartford and continue the work of trying to keep Connecticut from collapsing under the heavy weight of a democratic governor and a democratically controlled House and Senate.

Respectfully submitted

 

Melanie Phoenix
Essex

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Letter: Essex Democratic Town Committee Honored to Support Miller, Bjornberg

To The Editor:

The Essex Democratic Town Committee (EDTC) is honored to support Representative Phil Miller, State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg, and the other Democrats running for office this fall.

Since being elected in 2011, Representative Miller has become a trusted leader in House of Representatives on policy matters impacting the environment and public health, as well as behavioral health.   In addition to serving as a statewide policy leader, Rep. Miller works tirelessly for the residents of Essex, Deep River, Chester and Haddam.

If elected, Emily Bjornberg, candidate for the state senate would serve as a partner with Phil in the General Assembly.  Emily’s history of caring for those in need and her commitment to protecting and preserving the CT River will bring a much needed voice to the state senate on these matters. Emily’s plan to focus the state’s attention on the needs of small business, help unemployed veterans return to work, and fight for greater state education aid to lower property taxes would yield many benefits for our economy.

Essex residents and those of the surrounding towns deserve a state representative and state senator who are able to articulate the needs of the district and then work collaboratively to effectuate the changes needed to improve our communities.

The EDTC believes a legislative team of Representative Phil Miller and Emily Bjornberg will serve the town of Essex and surrounding towns well and we urge you to vote for them on November 4.
Sincerely,
Brian Cournoyer, Chairman
Essex Democratic Town Committee

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Letter: If You Want Change Get Out and Vote

To the Editor:

I’m not a Republican. But I’m voting for Bob Siegrist, the Republican candidate for State Representative.

It’s important not to raise taxes, but more important for me is being sure my tax money and the money I have to pay as a business owner is being spent properly.

I’m competing against three companies, one national, one based out of state and one Connecticut company. All three are operating in one or more ways illegally.

The out-of-state company has been caught for not registering to do business in Connecticut and failing to pay business entity taxes. To avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance, this company is also classifying people as subcontractors who should be paid as employees. But nobody at Department of Labor has bothered following up on it. This company underbid a good locally-operating business until it left the state. Connecticut lost all the tax revenue on that business and its’ employees. Since these workers were paid in the state, Connecticut also lost any money made by these people spending their paychecks here.

The Connecticut company has forced subcontractors to take pay cuts while denying them the right to renegotiate their contracts. It was bouncing paychecks for two years. No one at the state level has done anything about that either. Two subcontractors had the courage to approach someone in the Labor Department and were told there was nothing they could do about it because the two individuals were subcontractors.

By breaking the law, these companies can afford to underbid me on work in the state. The state should be sure everybody doing business here is registered and doing business legally and paying for that right. The state should be collecting all the money that it is owed.

It seems like it takes a whistleblower or a news story to alert state departments to problems like this. Otherwise, nothing seems to happen until somebody gets hurt. Why can’t the various departments within the state investigate on their own?

Our legislature should act as a proper board of directors or trustees for all the departments of the state. Bob Siegrist understands this.

Our voters are like shareholders and elect our representatives to set a proper vision for the future of Connecticut. It’s our representatives’ work to be sure our state runs efficiently and everyone working for the state is doing their job. Bob Siegrist has promised me he will work hard if he is elected.

Everybody should realize that if they are unhappy with the way our state and national governments are working, waiting for change means waiting forever. The easiest way to make change happen is to get out and vote.

Sincerely,

Mark Bruce Guthrie
Chester

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36th House District Contest Pits Two-Term Democratic Incumbent Against Republican Newcomer

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE— The election contest in the four-town 36th House District pits a two-term Democratic incumbent with previous experience as a first selectman against a Republican newcomer whose most recent full-time job was as a bartender. The district includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller, 56, of Essex, is seeking a second full term in a seat he first won in a Feb. 2011 special election. After serving a nearly full term that included votes for the tax and budget plan presented by Democratic Governor Danel Malloy, Miller was re-elected in 2012, defeating Republican Vince Pacileo of Essex on a 7.105-5,352 vote. Miller previously served four terms as Essex first selectman, winning the top job in 2003 after unsuccessful runs in 1999 and 2001.

Robert Siegrist

Republican candidate Robert Siegrist

Robert Siegrist, 31, of Haddam, is making his first run for political office from a spot on the Haddam Republican Town Committee. Siegrist emerged as a candidate in June after the nominee of the May party convention, Chester Harris of Haddam, withdrew to run for lieutenant governor on a conservative petition ticket. A 2001 graduate of Haddam-Killingworth High School, Siegrist received a degree in political science from Quinnipiac University and has worked as a bartender in recent years at two establishments in Chester. Siegrist said he gave up bartending in August to focus on the campaign, and currently works for a local landscaper.

Both candidates have received the $27,850 grant for House races through the state’s Citizen’s Election Program, and are waging active campaigns that have included door-to-door visits in the four towns. Siegrist, seeking to build some name recognition, has deployed more than a dozen large signs at various locations in the district.

An Oct. 8 debate at Valley Regional High School in Deep River showed Miller, known as a progressive with a focus on the environment, and Siegrist, who has a libertarian bent, agree on several social issues such as support for abortion rights, same sex marriage, and decriminalization of marijuana. But differences have emerged over state spending, taxes, and the possibility of returning tolls to two interstate highways in Connecticut.

Miller said this week he does not believe any possible budget shortfall in 2015 will be as large as predicted by some fiscal analysts. He discounts the possible need for new or higher taxes, and suggests any future tax increase should be limited to a hike in income tax for the state’s wealthiest citizens. Siegrist believes the deficit could be higher, and calls for a renewed effort to cut state spending. He also calls for reducing state taxes on gasoline and social security income, along with elimination of a business entity tax on companies with less than 50 employees.

The rivals differ sharply on the issue of restoring tolls, with Siegrist rejecting any consideration of tolls as a way to boost funding for road and bridge projects. Miller said he could support restoring tolls to certain locations on Interstate 95 and Interstate 84 as a way to build funding for transportation projects while also allowing for reductions in the gasoline tax that would put Connecticut prices more in line with prices in neighboring states.

The candidates may also differ on the possible authorization of red light cameras in Connecticut. Siegrist said he would oppose any legislation for red light cameras. Miller said he is undecided, but sees some possible benefits that could include greater safety for pedestrians and bicycle riders “It’s a tough issue and there needs to be a lot more discussion on it,” he said.

The candidates have avoided negative campaigning and personal attacks, Siegrist said he has been running a positive campaign that seeks to present himself as a new face in local politics. Miller said Siegrist’s lack of government experience could hamper his efforts for the district. “I respect that he is a working person but I don’t think Bob has the knowledge and skills to discern what is important.” Miller said.

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Giuliano Commends Funding to Preserve Open Space

State Rep. Marilyn Giuliano (R-23) along with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced state grants of: $351,000 to preserve 2.87 acres of open space in Lyme, $162,500 to preserve 40.76 acres of land on 106 Four Mile River Road in Old Lyme and $650,000 to preserve 186 acres of Horse Hill Woods – Phase II in Westbrook. The collective grants will help preserve over 405 acres of open space.

Open Space projects are a continuation of the supportive roles that these Towns and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) have had in preserving open space and protecting habitat.

Sheldon Creek River Access in Lyme will receive $351,000 to preserve 2.87 acres of land. Currently, the property is maintained as a meadow with 157 feet of waterfront access along Sheldon cove on the Connecticut River. This parcel is recognized as a “Wetlands of International Importance,” with public parking and recreation to the river are easily accessible.

The 106 Four Mile River Road property, in Old Lyme, boasts over 1,250 feet of frontage and public access which will seek to be added to a open space parcels totaling 147 acres. The $162,500 grant will protect the property, which is traversed by two wetland tributaries of the Three Mile River and is covered by diverse upland forest and stands of mountain laurel.

Additionally, the state also awarded a $650,000 grant to the town of Westbrook, aimed at protecting Horse Hill Woods – Phase II, which consists of two separately owned but abutting parcels of land: the Russo (143 acres) and Miele (43 acres) properties.

Rep. Giuliano persistently lobbied to secure the purchase of “The Preserve” – a 1,000 acre coastal-forest area that the state is seeking to purchase along with the Town of Old Saybrook and surrounding towns.  The $471,250 award to the Essex Land Trust supports that organization’s plans to purchase a 70.6-acre section of “The Preserve”.

“An investment in preserving open space in Connecticut is one which will surely pay off. These grants will help safeguard the natural beauty and habitats our district is known for. Through these grants, we will ensure that generations to come will continue to enjoy the abundant natural beauty,” said Rep. Giuliano.

Aiming to preserve 673, 210 acres of undeveloped Connecticut land by 2023, the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) developed the Open Space program. To date, the state has reached nearly 74 percent of its goal, preserving an impressive 496, 182 acres.

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Letter From Paris: Tragic Death of Christophe de Margerie, CEO of Total, Stuns France    

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

On the night of Monday, Oct. 20 , the visibility was poor at the Vnukovo  airport.  The control tower had given clearance to the Falcon private jet to take off.   A few seconds after leaving the ground, the pilot saw a snowplow on the runway but was unable to avoid it.  The landing gear caught the roof of the vehicle, flipped over and crashed a few yards away.  There was just one passenger on board – Christophe de Margerie, CEO of  the world’s fourth largest oil producer.

The late Christophe de Margerie.

The late Christophe de Margerie.

The news hit France like a bomb.   At Total’s headquarters in the district of La Defense employees were stunned.  The country reacted as if a chief of state had died.  Tributes poured in from everywhere.

Total has a capital ranking second in the CAC 40 (the ‘Cotation Assistée en Continu’ is a benchmark French stock market index) and employs more than 100,000 people in 130 countries.  It is hard to believe therefore why such a company – the jewel of  the French economy –  should have so many detractors in France.  The day after the accident, the conservative daily Le Figaro published an article entitled, “The man who wanted the French to make peace with Total”.   That man, Christophe de Margerie, was a charismatic  and jovial person, full of warmth, direct but tough .

De Margerie came from an aristocratic family that could be described as representative of, ‘vieille France.’  Family members occupied prominent positions in the world of high finance, diplomacy (his cousin was ambassador to the US) and the arts.  He was the grandson of Pierre Taittinger, the founder of a champagne empire.  Several of his relatives own and live in an elegant apartment building tucked away in a garden, behind massive walls and a monumental gate, right at the heart of the Faubourg St Germain.

He joined Total about 40 years ago and was named CEO in 2007.  In 1995, he became the head of Middle East Total, which explains his particular interest for that part of the world.  The Jubail giant refinery inaugurated in 2013  by Total and Saudi Arabia, is but one example.

The main criticisms against the company concern its huge benefits, which do not profit the French economy because the company pays practically no taxes in France.  The ‘marée noire’ (black tide) caused by the oil spill off the coast of Brittany in 1999 has not been forgotten.  In 2010,the decision to close the Dunkirk refinery and the associated firing of more than 1,000 workers outraged the opinion.  Finally, de Margerie’s policy of creating joint ventures with Russian companies Loukoi, Novatek or Gazprom and his rejection of the sanctions enforced by the West have isolated him.

De Margerie wanted to project a positive image and show his concern for the environment by encouraging renewable energy.  In recent years, signs of transformation of the company had been noticeable, particularly in the reduction and higher selectivity of investments.  The question now is whether de Margerie’s successors, Thierry Desmarets as chairman and Patrick Pouyanné as CEO, will bring changes to the company’s strategy or maintain the course.

Nicole Logan

Nicole Logan

About 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.

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Letter: Linares’s Business Experience: What Is It Exactly?

To the Editor:

The suggestion that voters should support Art Linares for state senator due to his “business experience” deserves closer examination. So does Linares’s portrayal of himself as a champion of free enterprise.

Linares’s company, “Greenskies”, installs solar panels. It is undoubtedly among the most heavily subsidized companies in Connecticut.  In 2012, the Hartford Courant reported that “the biggest impact on Greenskies’ potential for growth by far is how successful it is in capturing state subsidies.” In a lobbying paper to the Connecticut legislature, Greenskies president called such support  “critical”.

How many Connecticut companies depend for growth “by far” mainly on state subsidies? Most companies, like the successful car dealership run by the family of Emily Bjornberg  (Linares’s opponent) must compete on their own merits.  Given the extensive state aid propping up Greenskies, how relevant is Linares’s experience to most businesses ?

Tea Party politicians like Linares usually revile such support as “corporate hand outs” and a bone-headed effort by government to “pick winners and losers”. We’re not hearing that here, however.

Meanwhile – and this is a key point — Linares wants to cut many other state programs supporting equally worthy causes and opposes increasing the minimum wage. For others, Linares believes the free market should set wages and prices – just not in the sector where he does business.

Greenskies use of Chinese solar panels takes this double standard to a new level. In 2012, the U.S. Government found that factories controlled by the Chinese government were selling the panels at prices below their cost of production.  This is an unfair trade practice under U.S. law, known as “dumping”.  Our government imposed tariffs on the panels.

Greenskies liked the artificially cheap panels dumped by the Chinese because they hurt its competitors, who, unlike Greenskies, make their panels in the U.S. Greenskies president bluntly told the press “When we go to toe to toe, we enjoy an advantage. We were perfectly happy with low-cost equipment from China.”

It did not seem to bother Greenskies or Linares that, according to our own government, this “advantage” resulted from Chinese market manipulation. The matter is now before the World Trade Organization.

So I am trying to understand this. It appears that Linares’s business experience is with a company that enjoys state subsidies on a huge scale not available to virtually anyone else, which enable it to distribute panels dumped by Chinese communists at artificially low prices, damaging American companies and destroying U.S. jobs.

That’s quite a business model for a champion of free enterprise.

Sincerely,


David Harfst

Essex

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Letter: Linares Ranked Low by League of Conservation Voters

To the Editor:
When my husband and I moved to Essex, one of the compelling reasons for doing so was the natural beauty of the Lower Connecticut River Valley.  We are fortunate that this area has been protected from major development.  In the upcoming election you have an opportunity to choose between two candidates for state senator who share very different views on conservation:  the incumbent Art Linares and his challenger Emily Bjornberg.

Mr. Linares received a lifetime score for his voting record by the independent group League of Conservation Voters that ranks the second lowest in the entire state senate.  Art may work at a solar energy company, but as an intern to Tea Party Senator Marco Rubio in 2010, he must have picked up some very bad ideas on the role of government in protecting the environment.  I cannot believe his voting record on these issues is representative of the people of his district.

Emily has not been ranked by the League as she is not a sitting legislator. However, she is a very committed environmentalist who has served as a member of the Lyme Land Trust for many years. She has been endorsed by State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex, a leading environmental legislator, as well as by Melissa Schlag, now the First Selectman of Haddam and a former Green Party Candidate for the State Senate.

If you appreciate the beauty of our state’s environment, please vote with me for Emily Bjornberg.
Sincerely,
Jane Piro
Essex 

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Letter: Judge Terrance Lomme Asks for Your Vote

To the Editor:

I am Terrance D. Lomme, your Judge of Probate and believe I am the best candidate for this office due to my compassion and experience. These two qualities are essential to being an effective Judge. I am very concerned about all of the people who appear before me. I fully understand that there are difficult circumstances that bring people to the Court. As a Veteran, I am sensitive to the Veteran’s issues that are presented to me.

Before being elected Judge, I practiced probate law for over 30 years in the towns that now constitute the 33rd District Court. This experience, combined with being the East Haddam Probate Judge for three years was invaluable to me when, shortly after my election in 2010, I was given the task of merging nine individual courts into the new Saybrook District Probate Court. This was the largest merger of individual Courts in the State.

I am aware my decisions have a major affect on people’s lives, whether it is a decision to conserve an elderly person, to award custody of a child to a grandparent or the loss of a loved one.

As a probate lawyer for 30 years, and seven years as a Judge presiding over three thousand five hundred hearings, I have assisted thousands of families through the probate process. The Court and my clerks have received exemplary ratings from Probate Administration in each of its three reviews. Additionally, the Court budget has not increased since my election.

Further, as a member of the Executive Committee of the Probate Assembly and a member of the National College of Probate Judges, I keep current on State and National trends that may affect the Court.

For the above reasons I ask you to vote for me on November 4th.

Sincerely,

 

Terrance D. Lomme,
Essex

 

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Letter: Bjornberg’s Criticism of Sen. Linares is Hypocritical

To the Editor:

As a lifelong Democrat, a former legislator and a former Selectman representing shoreline Towns, and a partner with State Senator Art Linares, Jr. at Greenskies Renewable Energy, I was shocked and quite frankly embarrassed for my party to receive the recent mailer from Emily Bjornberg on Senator Linares’ track record on the environment and the economy.  Her false and hypocritical statements regarding our business seems to be representative of her “win at all costs” mantra, and her criticism of one of Connecticut’s most dynamic and environmentally responsible startup companies clearly displays her basic lack of understanding about both the environment and the economy.

A puzzling and disturbing fact regarding Ms. Bjornberg’s criticisms regarding Senator Linares’s lack of concern for the environment centers around her family business, which has enjoyed millions of dollars of profits for generations selling automobiles, the single largest contributor to carbon monoxide pollution in the atmosphere.  Greenskies sole mission is to reduce carbon footprint throughout Eastern United States through the development of photo-voltaic solar systems.  Even more disturbing (and hypocritical) is the automobile that her family business sells are Subaru! These vehicles are entirely manufactured in Japan by Fuji Heavy Industries.  Yet the most outlandish statement in her mailer is that Senator Linares does not care about Connecticut jobs.  Without political fanfare, without beating his chest, but simply because it was the right thing to do, Senator Linares supported consummating a relationship with the electrical union, and today Greenskies currently employs over 300 IBEW electricians in four states, including Connecticut.  If she cared so much about Connecticut jobs, perhaps, Ms. Bjornberg should consider unionizing her automobile dealership.

In today’s world economy, we enjoy an international platform of business opportunity to benefit all.  Greenskies has purchased products from both U.S. manufacturers and from overseas, and we embrace and are extremely proud of our track record.  I personally appreciate the success of Ms. Bjornberg’s family business as well, which has proudly served the shoreline for generations.  But Ms. Bjornberg’s attempt to malign Senator Linares’ record on the environment and on the economy clearly indicates that she does not possess the balance or the intellectual maturity to represent our district.  She should focus on the issues that separate her and her opponent, and their respective parties, and let voters elect the right candidate for the right reasons.

Sincerely,

 

Robert A. Landino
Westbrook

 

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Letter: Bjornberg has the Intellectual Capacity

To the Editor:

After review of the candidates’ backgrounds I am choosing to vote for Emily Bjornberg as our next State Senator.    I need to know my elected representative has the brain power to think on her feet, the intellectual curiosity to dig deeply into issues, the personal skills to listen to and interact with a wide range of people, the leadership skills to influence legislation on issues relevant to our area, and the heart to care.

Emily has real-life experience volunteering and caring for others including aiding the sick in South Africa and working to engage local young people in community service and social justice.    She has real-life experience supporting veterans, including her own husband, who served with the Connecticut National Guard in Iraq.

Emily also has real-life experience as a mother who knows that quality education and protecting children from toxins are important issues if we care about future generations.   She has real-life experience working on behalf of our local environment.   And she has real-life experience with business deeply rooted in the community.  Her family’s business has helped people get where they need to go for generations, from wagon wheels to automobiles, and now Emily is dedicated to helping our constituents go where they want to go…whether they dream of education, a good job , a clean forest for hiking, or a comfortable retirement.

At one of the debates Emily’s opponent decided to attend, our sitting senator said “anyone who is running on social issues doesn’t have anything important to run on.”  He also refused to participate in local debates where he was not provided with questions in advance.

I served on local boards of education for 10 years and know first-hand that balancing budgets with the needs of all of our citizens is difficult.  No decision can be made without considering the impact on all constituents.  This requires analysis and showing up for community dialogues.  “Social issues” do not exist separately from financial issues.

Emily Bjornberg has the maturity, intellectual capacity, and diplomatic skills to make a difference for our region.    She will represent us well and will show up on behalf of all of us.  That’s why she is getting my vote.

Sincerely,

 

Lynne Pease
Chester

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Letter: Deep River First Selectman Endorses Bjornberg

To the Editor:

Emily Bjornberg is clearly the choice to represent the 12 towns that comprise Connecticut’s 33rdSenatorial District.  That conclusion is based on 25 years of first hand experience.  Early in my tenure as First Selectman I learned just how important it is to maintain close contact with our representatives in Hartford.  I have spent many hundreds of hours testifying before our Legislators, the men and women who play such an important part in the health of our communities.  The actions—or, unfortunately, inactions, of our representatives in Hartford are crucial to our future.

We have been largely fortunate in our legislative choices: Jamie Spallone, Phil Miller and, for 20 years, Eileen Daily, whose presence we have sorely missed during the two years since she stepped down.  But we have been afforded a golden opportunity, the chance to elect a Senator with the drive, the capacity and the promise to follow in that fine tradition.

Emily Bjornberg speaks passionately and compellingly; she states her beliefs frankly; she clearly enumerates her goals as our State Senator.  Emily has spent time with residents in all corners of the towns she seeks to represent.  She understands us.  Her honesty is immediately apparent.  She will devote herself to the service of her constituents.  Emily Bjornberg should be our next State Senator.
Sincerely,

Richard H. Smith
First Selectman, Deep River

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Letter: Greatly Respect Essex First Selectman

To the Editor:

I am responding to a letter by a man I greatly respect, who governs our town in a nonpartisan manner. He is a welcome relief from his predecessor, who had a policeman come to Board of Selectman meetings to save him from debate over his decisions.

Negotiations between a Democratic Governor, a Supermajority State House and a Supermajority State Senate is akin to a Chinese Student negotiating with a Tiananmen tank. They just don’t listen!

Sincerely,

Lynn Herlihy
Essex

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Court Orders Recovery of Legal Expenses in Region 4 Principal Lawsuit

REGION 4— A Middlesex Superior Court judge has authorized the regional school district to recover legal costs in the lawsuit involving former Valley Regional High School Principal Eric Rice that was resolved in the district’s favor in August after more than two years of legal proceedings.

After an Oct. 21 hearing at the Middletown court, Judge Julie Aurigemma ordered Rice to pay the district $54,149 in attorney fees and court costs for the lawsuit he filed in December 2011 against the three town school district, Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy and former assistant superintendent Ian Neviaser. The amount includes $52,327 in attorney fees and $1,832 in court costs.

Rice, who was a Chester resident, resigned as principal at the high school in October 2010 after only weeks in the job amid reports he had been given a resign or be fired ultimatum from Levy based on complaints and concerns raised by some staff at the high school. Under terms of the resign and release agreement, Rice received $62,000 in severance pay and medical coverage until he secured new employment. The agreement also called for both parties to refrain from public comment about Rice’s employment with the school district.

But Rice, represented by the Hamden firm Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Srignari, later claimed in the lawsuit that he was defamed in a June 2011 Hartford Courant article about the situation that included information from emails and other communications released by the district to the newspaper under a freedom of information request. In a summary judgment issued in August, Judge Aurigemma dismissed the lawsuit after determining the resign and release agreement signed by Rice was comprehensive, and that school officials responded properly to the newspaper FOI request.

In the Oct. 21 order on legal fees, Aurigemma also noted the resign and release agreement included a provision that could require Rice to pay “all costs including court costs and reasonable attorney fees,” if he later filed suit against the district. The judge noted she had reviewed an accounting of legal fees and court costs provided by attorney Peter Murphy with the Hartford firm Shipman and Goodwin, who worked on the case for the school district.

Rice is attempting to appeal the Middlesex judge’s decision to the Connecticut Appellate Court. Aurigemma rejected a motion from Rice’s attorneys to stay the order on legal fees, noting that issue could be part of any appeal to the higher court.

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33rd Senate Candidates Face Off at Final Debate in Clinton

CLINTON— The three candidates for the 33rd Senate District seat faced off in a final campaign debate at Morgan High School in Clinton Thursday, with the sharpest exchanges coming during the final minutes of the one hour session.

About 100 voters turned out for the debate that was organized by students in the school’s current issues class, with students posing questions and moderating the session. It is expected to be the final public debate between one-term incumbent Republican Sen. Art Linares of Westbrook, Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg of Lyme, and Green Party nominee Colin Bennett of Westbrook.

The candidates stuck to familiar themes through most of the debate. Linares pledged to work to reduce state taxes on gasoline and phase out taxes on retirement benefits while touting his endorsement by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. Bjornberg said Linares has “voted against the most vulnerable among us,” over the past two years while noting her endorsements from the Connecticut Working Families Party, unions representing teachers and college professors and various women’s and environmental groups.

Bennett, declaring he “will not pander,” occasionally used his time to raise issues that were not part of the initial question, including racial justices, police shootings of minority citizens, and the expense of incarceration for non-violent crimes. He called for a “maximum wage” rather than just increasing the minimum wage and higher tax rates for the wealthy.

Most of the exchanges were cordial in a formant that did not discourage applause and cheers from the audience. But the gloves came off in the final minutes after Bjornberg noted that Linares is “the only person on this stage who has proposed a tax increase,” as she pointed to Republican budget proposals backed by Linares that would eliminate the state’s earned income tax credit that provides limited cash rebates to low income workers. Bjornberg also criticized Linares votes on issues related to the environment and women’s rights.

Linares said the earned income tax credit is ” a tax credit for people who don’t pay taxes.” In his closing statement, Linares said Bjornberg “desperate and void of solutions, has begun a smear campaign against me in regards to women and the environment.”, before pointing to his support for funding for the Preserve land purchase and labeling of genetically modified foods.

Bennett used his closing statement to claim that some Bjornberg supporters have contacted him and urged him to withdraw from the race to avoid pulling liberal-leaning votes from Bjornberg. While confirming that he would “rather see Emily elected than Art,” Bennett said such efforts are “100 percent antithetical to democracy” and vowed to continue his campaign to the Nov. 4 vote

The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and portions of Old Saybrook.

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Three Dogs Quarantined After Attack on Smaller Dog in Ivoryton

ESSEX— Three dogs are being held at the town dog pound after an morning incident on Oct. 14 where the dogs attacked and killed a smaller dog on Chord Lane in the Ivoryton section. The fatal attack was witnessed by neighborhood children waiting for school bus pick up.

Phil Beckman, of 16 Chord Lane, raised the issue at the Oct. 15 meeting of the board of selectmen. First Selectman Norman Needleman said the three dogs were brought to the town shelter by Animal Control Officer Jae Wolf, with the incident under investigation by town police.

The dogs, described as mixed Labradors, are owned by Pauline Budney of 23 Chord Lane. The dog that was killed, a Papillon, was owned by Robert and Mary Lizotte of 6 Chord Lane. The three dogs are expected to be held at the town shelter for 14 days, though Wolf could not be reached Friday for comment on the status of the dogs.

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