December 7, 2022

Archives for January 2016

Tri-Town Youth Services Hosts New Toddler Play Groups Through March

TRI-TOWN — Calling all toddlers!

Tri-Town Youth Services at 56 High St. in Deep River offers play groups led by Parent Resource Coordinator Allison Abramson.  The groups offer a mixture of free play, music, art, and story time.  Caregivers have a chance to chat with each other and browse the parent resource library.

Both groups run on Wednesdays from Jan. 6 through March 9.  Outstanding Ones meets from 11 to 11:30 a.m. with a cost of $45 for tri-town residents and $55 for non-residents.  Terrific Twos meets from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. with a cost of $60 for Tri-Town residents and $70 for non-residents.  Register at or call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. The organization coordinates and provides resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at

Robert Langer Art Exhibit at Marshview Gallery in March

AOM March 2016 Bob Langer estuaryOLD SAYBROOK – During March, the Marshview Gallery at the Estuary Council of Seniors will feature the art of Robert Langer. A reception to meet the artist will be held Friday, March 11, from 5 to 7 p.m. All are welcome. Refreshments will be served.

Robert Langer is a graduate of Art Instruction Inc. with a diploma in commercial art. He studied at Paier College in Hamden for two years and is an elected member of several shoreline art societies.  He has taught classes in pastel at Artisans Harbor in Old Saybrook and is currently teaching at Indian River complex in Clinton. His subject matter and media vary, but pastel, oil and acrylic are his favorites and animal illustration is his forte. During the summer he takes small groups out on location to paint plein air subjects. His work has been exhibited in banks, libraries and galleries along the shoreline.

The Marshview Gallery at the Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc., 220 Main Street in Old Saybrook, is open daily, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. All ages are welcome to view the gallery.

It’s Ecological Sunday! New Water Bottle Initiative Kicks Off Today in Chester

felise water bottleCHESTER — Celebrate Ecological Sunday on Sunday, Jan. 31, in Chester Center to participate in a new initiative, named “Chester Cares,” to reduce the use of plastic water bottles. The initiative, which was started by Chester resident and former science teacher Felise Cressman, includes a launch of Chester’s own aluminum logo water bottle.

On Jan. 31, anytime between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., visit Maple & Main Gallery of Fine Art, at the corner of Maple and Main Streets, to educate yourself about the harmful effects of plastic on our land and waterways.

Also, view the short film celebrating this initiative, which was created by Nick Lepore, a Valley Regional senior interested in film studies.

And see the display of Chester’s “Top 10” items of garbage collected in less than five visits along Chester’s Connecticut River shoreline.

Finally, check out at the sculpture at the Maple & Main Gallery that Cressman and her fellow volunteers created from the collected debris; you can even add to it.

The water bottle is made in America by veterans and previously unemployed Americans from recycled aluminum cans and BPA-free materials. The logo is the newly designed “Chester, Connecticut -We’re a Walking Town” logo by Janet Cummings Good.

The bottle will be available for purchase that Sunday at Maple & Main as well as at Compass Rose and Simon’s Marketplace.  Check out a “boxed water” alternative to plastic at various merchants in town.  Proceeds from sales will be used to purchase more logo bottles and to support protection and cleanup of oceans through the Rozalia Project (

For more information or to become involved in this initiative, email

Plastic Facts from Chester Cares
* Americans used approximately 30 billion plastic water bottles in 2015.
* 8 out of 10 plastic water bottles are not recycled.
* The average plastic water bottle breaks down in ocean water into 39,000 1-mm-sized micro plastic bits.
* 44% of all seabirds eat micro plastic by mistake.
* 20% of all plastic in the ocean comes from the sea and 80% comes from land.
* In 10 years there could be 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of finfish in our oceans.

Chester Historical Society Hosts “It Happened to Jane” Walk & Talk, This Afternoon

Louis Bertelli was one of the builders of “Old 97,” a wooden locomotive that was moved into a newly planted park for the “Jane” movie (where the Chester Package Store parking lot is today). Photo courtesy of Peggy Breslin

Louis Bertelli was one of the builders of “Old 97,” a wooden locomotive that was moved into a newly planted park for the “Jane” movie (where the Chester Package Store parking lot is today). Photo courtesy of Peggy Breslin

CHESTER — “It Happened to Jane” never won an Academy Award or a Golden Globe, but as far as Chester folks are concerned, it’s definitely an award winner.

After all, the movie, which starred Doris Day and Jack Lemmon, was made right in the heart of Chester in the summer of ‘58 – in the Chester Meeting House and the Center and on Jennings Pond and by the railroad – and hundreds of Chester folks were movie extras.  So whether you were there in 1958 or came to town later, the movie has every right to be a local treasure.

On Sunday afternoon, Jan. 31, the Chester Historical Society is offering you two opportunities to immerse yourself in “Jane” memories.

At 2:30 p.m., Chester Historian Rob Miceli and Peg Lieberman will lead a walking tour of Chester Center’s sites of interest from the movie. (It’ll be a very short walk, as Chester Center isn’t very big!)

You’ll hear how Carmine Grote’s Appliance Store (now Compass Rose and Red Pepper) became Aaron Caldwell’s Fine Foods & Notions store for the movie. Bill Breslin’s package store (in The Villager building) was turned into a marine supply store. A wooden locomotive was built and moved into the parking lot now used by Chester Package Store, and parking meters were added to town. Jack Lemmon’s law office was above the old Robbie’s store and the Cape Anne, Maine, Telephone Exchange was above today’s Century 21 real estate office.

Jack Lemmon, one of the Hollywood stars in “It Happened to Jane,” takes a break on Main Street in front of the old Chester Bank building during the movie filming. Photo courtesy of Peggy Breslin

Jack Lemmon, one of the Hollywood stars in “It Happened to Jane,” takes a break on Main Street in front of the old Chester Bank building during the movie filming. Photo courtesy of Peggy Breslin

At 4 p.m., at the Chester Meeting House (used as the Cape Anne Town Hall in the movie), the Chester Historical Society is presenting one of its popular “crackerbarrel discussions,” with folks sharing their “Jane” memories. We’ll also view some of the Chester scenes from the movie.

The walk and the crackerbarrel program are free and open to all.

Walkers should meet at the Century 21 Heritage office before 2:30 p.m. Parking is available at the 20 Water St. public parking lot and the Norma Terris Theatre on North Main St.

Refreshments will be served during the movie.

For more information, call 860-526-2331 or 860-558-4701 or go to

Amy Bloom Discusses her Latest Novel at Chester Synagogue Today

Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom

One of the most highly acclaimed authors of our time, Amy Bloom, will come to Chester to read from and discuss her novel “Lucky Us, now out in paperback.

Her appearance, at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31, is free and open to the public, and is part of the Books & Bagels series of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ).

“Lucky Us,” her third novel (she also has three collections of short stories, a children’s book, and a collection of essays), received almost universal praise.

From Janet Maslin of the New York Times:  “These two things about Amy Bloom’s surprise-filled Lucky Us are indisputable: It opens with a terrific hook and closes with an image of exquisite resolution … She writes sharp, sparsely beautiful scenes that excitingly defy expectation, and part of the pleasure of reading her is simply keeping up with her. You won’t know where Lucky Us is headed until, suddenly, it’s there …”

Bloom has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award for Fiction. Her best-selling novel,Away, was an epic story about a Russian immigrant.

Bloom lives in Durham, and taught at Yale University for the last decade. She is now Wesleyan University’s Distinguished University Writer in Residence.

Referring to her upcoming appearance at CBSRZ, she says, “This is the only synagogue I ever joined. It was a shelter, an education and a playground for my kids and, now that I think about it–it was the same for me. Whenever I go back, I’m home.”

Tracy Kleinberg, who is in charge of the synagogue’s program committee, says she is particularly pleased that the author will be returning to CBSRZ where earlier appearances have drawn large and enthusiastic crowds. “She is an entertaining speaker – warm, witty and wise.”

This program is free and open to the public – no advance registration is necessary.  CBSRZ is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.

For more information about this program or CBSRZ, visit or call the office 860-526-8920.

The Country School Offers $10,000 Merit Scholarship

AREAWIDE –– In celebration of The Country School’s 60th Anniversary, the school’s Board of Trustees is providing a $10,000 merit scholarship to a student applying for admission to Grades 4-8 for the fall of 2016. Additional scholarships will be offered to students entering those grades based on applicants’ qualifications and/or need. Founded in 1955, The Country School is celebrating its 60th anniversary during the 2015-2016 school year.

This will be the second 60th Anniversary Merit Scholarship awarded in honor of The Country School’s founding six decades ago. Eloise de Landevoisin Campbell, currently an 8th Grader from Lyme, was awarded the 60th Anniversary Merit Scholarship for the 2015-2016 school year. In addition, other students received partial scholarships after applying for the merit scholarship.

Head of School John Fixx will share information about the 60th Anniversary Scholarship program on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 12:30 p.m. in conjunction with the school’s Winter Open House (taking place from 1-3:30 p.m.). While students sit for the Merit Scholarship test, parents will have the opportunity to tour campus and speak directly with faculty members, current parents, and administrators. To learn more and register, go to

The recipient of the $10,000 Merit Scholarship will be selected on the basis of academic merit and personal promise as demonstrated by the merit scholarship testing, school records, and an interview. Finalists will be asked to write an essay describing how a Country School education might benefit them and will be invited to spend a day on campus. The scholarship recipient will be notified in early March.

On January 31, visitors will learn about the academic program and the wide academic, artistic, athletic, and leadership opportunities on campus. They will also learn about The Country School’s six decades-long history of preparing graduates for the strongest independent secondary schools and high school honors programs in the area and throughout New England. Families will receive the impressive list of where Country School graduates attend college and hear how the Secondary School Placement Office assists families in attracting similar scholarship support for secondary school.

Students will sit for the Merit Scholarship test and experience hands-on learning and design challenges similar to those our current students experience on a regular basis. They will also explore campus and meet teachers and students.

The 60th Anniversary Scholarship is for a new student and is renewed each year that the student is enrolled at The Country School, provided the recipient stays in strong academic standing and consistently demonstrates good citizenship. It is The Country School’s expectation that merit scholarship recipients will contribute significantly to the life of the School, creating a stronger overall experience for all students.

The Country School is a coeducational, independent day school serving 200 students in PreSchool through Grade 8, ages 3-14, on its 23-acre campus in Madison. This year, also in honor of the school’s 60th anniversary, the campus is undergoing a major transformation, with new athletic fields, tennis courts, and playground areas being installed. Future enhancements will affect classroom buildings, campus infrastructure, and outdoor common spaces.

For more information, contact Pam Glasser, Director of Admission and Curriculum, at 203-421-3113, extension 122, or

For further information, visit

Tri-Town Weekly Playgroups Run Through May 25

AREAWIDE – Tri-Town Youth Services invites parents and toddlers to enjoy open play, seasonal songs, stories and art exploration this spring.

Outstanding Ones (for children 12-24 months old) will meet on Wednesday mornings from 11 to 11:30 a.m.  The cost of the 10-week program is $45 for tri-town residents.

Terrific Twos (for children 24-36 months old) will meet Wednesdays from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., and costs $60 for tri-town residents.

Both programs run from March 23 to May 25.

“Our playgroups are a lot of fun for the little ones, but they’re also a great opportunity for parents and caregivers to connect with other adults, browse our parent resource library and get some advice about bedtime or potty training or other family challenges,” said Allison Abramson, Parent Resource Coordinator.

Tri-Town Youth Services is at 56 High St., Deep River. Call 860-526-3600 for more information or to register.

Editor’s note: Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc. is a nonprofit agency that coordinates, develops and provides services dedicated to promoting the positive growth and development of youth and families in Chester, Deep River and Essex.

Essex Library’s Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series Begins Eighth Year Tonight

The 2016 Centerbrook Lecture Series opens with a talk on the evolution of ocean liners by Chad

The 2016 Centerbrook Lecture Series opens with a talk on the evolution of the modern ocean liner by Chad Floyd.

Chad Floyd

Chad Floyd

The Essex Library invites you to the kick off of the eighth year of its architecture lecture series sponsored by Centerbrook Architects on Friday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall when the program, “SS United States, Hallmark of 20th Century Design” will be presented by architect and raconteur Chad Floyd, FAIA.

Floyd will tell the story of the great ocean liner SS United States, designed by marine architect Francis Gibbs and interior designer Dorothy Marckwald.  He will show how this little-known pair reimagined ocean liners and invented a new mid-century aesthetic that married function with glamour and changed American design forever.

Over the previous seven years, the lecture series has enjoyed presentations by architects and landscape architects from across the United States and Canada. The series was also honored to welcome Nobel Prize winner James Watson, who participated in a discussion on designing science laboratories at Cold Spring Harbor.

Upcoming Centerbrook series lectures this spring will include talks on barns in Connecticut; the architecture of Hugh Ferriss and Lee Lawrie; and a premiere of the film Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion by Matthew Silva.

This program is free and open to all.

For more information or to register, call the Library at (860) 767-1560.  The Essex Town Hall is located at 29 West Ave. in Essex.

The Insane Insidewalk Sale Continues Tomorrow in Saybrook

There will be bargains galore at this year’s Insane Insidewalk Sale in Old Saybrook.

There will be bargains galore at this year’s Insane Insidewalk Sale in Old Saybrook.

OLD SAYBROOK — presents the Seventh Annual Insane Insidewalk Sale Friday, Jan. 29, and Saturday, Jan. 30, at 105 Elm St., in the Old Saybrook Shopping Center, just a few doors down from the Stop & Shop grocery store. The Sale will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $5, which covers entry for both days and the first 25 people to enter the Sale on Friday will have their admission fee waived.

This Sale enables people to shop the best stores and designers on the shoreline in one location at up to 75 percent off — it’s a pop-up specialty mall, featuring over 20 of the best local boutiques and designers offering deals on women’s clothing, accessories, shoes, jewelry, gifts, home decor, and kid’s clothing for two days only.

Ann Lightfoot will be selling her beautiful jewelry at the Insane Insidewalk Sale.Ann Lightfoot will be selling her beautiful jewelry at the Insane Insidewalk Sale.

Exhibitors include Ann Lightfoot Jewelry, Just Hatched, Mix Design Store, Grace, Ciao Bella, Ella Where She Shops, Lulu’s, Southern Exposure, J. McLaughlin and many more. For a full list of participating vendors, visit

The Insane Insidewalk Sale was conceived in 2008 to help local retailers who were stuck with excess inventory after the financial crash and a dismal holiday season. The-e-list rented a vacant storefront and invited 20 boutiques to sell their wares at deep discounts. It was a huge success for both vendors and attendees and now it’s become a well-established tradition that Shoreline shoppers eagerly anticipate.

Last January, more than 1,500 enthusiastic shoppers turned out for the Insane Insidewalk Sale. Bargains were snatched up from the likes of Southern Exposure, Silkworm, Stonewear and many more. Erica Tannen, creator and publisher of The-e-List commented, “It was a delight to meet and gab with e-list readers face-to-face,” adding, “I snagged a few steals myself: perfect wineglasses at Mix, de rigeur stretchy fleece leggings from Grace, and a hilarious but too-cozy-for-words hat/scarf/mitten combo (with ears) from Ciao Bella!”

Tannen continued, “It [the 2015 Sale] was the best one yet, and I’ll chalk it up to the enthusiastic crowds and happy vibe. It was a joyful place: vendors were thrilled to clean out their excess stock, shoppers were excited to score extreme bargains.” She noted, “The real fun was in the communal dressing room. Women of all ages, shapes and sizes stripped down to their skivvies and swapped clothes, opinions and advice. Unlike most solitary dressing room experiences (Oh, no! Whose thighs are those?), if you needed a boost to your self esteem, you got it there.”

She concluded, “[The 2015 Sale] left me nostalgic for the days when we shopped en masse versus all alone with a computer screen. Online shopping is handy but will never deliver instant gratification and community like the Insane Insidewalk Sale [does].”

Two New Shows on View at Maple & Main

 "Essences of Dreaming" by Rachel Carlson of Deep River

“Essences of Dreaming” by Rachel Carlson of Deep River

CHESTER – The Winter Exhibit and the first Annual Juried Show at Maple and Main Gallery in Chester open Wednesday, Jan. 27, with a gala reception Saturday, Jan. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Winter Exhibit, featuring newly created works from 40 Connecticut artists, fills the first floor of the gallery, while paintings by artists chosen for the juried show are displayed in the Joslow and Stone galleries on the lower level of Maple and Main.

The juror was noted artist Robert Noreika, who chose 85 works from hundreds of paintings that artists from Connecticut and surrounding states submitted for the new show. Visitors will be able to view a versatile selection of landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, abstracts and highly original work in both shows.

Alan James will provide live music during the opening party on Jan. 30, and wine, appetizers and desserts will be served. Many of the artists represented in the juried and winter shows will be at the event.

Maple and Main’s two shows run through March 13 and the gallery, at One Maple Street in Chester, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Maple and Main artists are also showing 31 selected works at the Valentine H. Zahn Community Gallery at Middlesex Hospital’s Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook through March 18. That gallery is open during business hours every day.

More information about Maple and Main Gallery is on its website at

Chester Business Raises Funds for Shoreline Soup Kitchens

Shoreline Soup Kitchens logoAREAWIDE – On Friday, Feb. 5, Roto Frank of America, Inc. will present a check for $2,867 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries. The presentation will be made by Chris Dimou, President and CEO of Roto Frank of America, Inc., and Sue LeMire, HR/General Accounting Manager. The donation will enable the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries to provide enough food for more than 7,350 meals.

The funds were raised during an employee campaign that ran from February to December 2015. After identifying five local charities, employees voted to select the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries as the recipient of their campaign efforts in 2015.

Employees voluntarily elected to make donations via payroll deduction as well as supporting a variety of fundraising events such as bake sales, pancake breakfasts and raffles. In addition to the money raised by Roto Frank employees, the organization also collected and donated more than 300 pounds of canned goods and pasta.

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries provides food for families in need through its pantries located in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Old Lyme and East Lyme and meal sites in Centerbrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton and Old Lyme.

Founded in 1979, Roto Frank of America, Inc. is a Chester-based manufacturer of window and door hardware. For more information, visit

Learning Engineering Concepts Through Legos at Essex Elementary

Fourth graders - Devon Welch, Noah Santangelo and Ben Rector - work with Luke DeFrino of Chester, a junior at Valley Regional High School, during a new LEGO robotics program at EES.

Fourth graders – Devon Welch, Noah Santangelo and Ben Rector – work with Luke DeFrino of Chester, a junior at Valley Regional High School, during a new Lego robotics program at EES.

ESSEX — A special after-school program recently began at Essex Elementary School (EES).  Boys and girls, in grades 4 through 6, are learning about engineering concepts by building Lego Mindstorms robots.

Jimmy Christensen, a science teacher from Bushy Hill Outdoor Education and Leadership Center, is working with students each week, alongside a team of high school mentors.

This program is sponsored by the Essex Elementary School Foundation, a not-for-profit, volunteer organization that provides funds for enrichment opportunities, such as author visits and an iPad lab.

For donation information, head to


Coldwell Banker’s Essex Office Donates to Shoreline Soup Kitchen, Essex Housing Authority

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office recently presented an $800 donation to the Essex Housing Authority. Pictured from left are affiliated sales associates Dee Hasuly, Roy Monte, Laurel Peters, Tammy Mesite of the Essex Housing Authority, Peter Bonanno, and Jeanne Rutigliano, manager of the Coldwell Banker Essex office.

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office recently presented an $800 donation to the Essex Housing Authority. Pictured from left are affiliated sales associates Dee Hasuly, Roy Monte, Laurel Peters, Tammy Mesite of the Essex Housing Authority, Peter Bonanno, and Jeanne Rutigliano, manager of the Coldwell Banker Essex office.

ESSEX – The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office in Essex recently donated a total of $1,800 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Pantries and the Essex Housing Authority. The donations were made through the company’s charitable foundation, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation.

A $1,000 donation was presented to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Pantries, an interfaith service that provides food and fellowship to those in need and also educates the community about hunger and poverty. Additionally, an $800 donation was made to the Essex Housing Authority.

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office presented $1,000 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Pantries. Pictured from left are affiliated sales associates Rick Greene, Laurel Peters, Executive Director Patricia Dowling, and Roy Monte.

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office presented $1,000 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Pantries. Pictured from left are affiliated sales associates Rick Greene, Laurel Peters, Executive Director Patricia Dowling, and Roy Monte.

“We are committed to giving back to the community and are especially proud to support these worthy organizations which provide vital services to local residents. The resources and assistance they offer is essential for the health, well-being, security and stability of our neighbors,” said Jeanne Rutigliano, sales manager of the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office in Essex.

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation is supported by the affiliated sales associates and staff of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Through regular donations, fundraising events and volunteer support, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s affiliated sales associates and staff demonstrate their commitment to unity, hope and vision in the communities of Connecticut and Westchester County.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation is a chapter of Realogy Charitable Foundation, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in Delaware, tax ID 20-0755090. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation’s primary purpose is to raise funds to provide financial assistance to housing-related causes in the communities where we have a presence.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, a leading residential real estate brokerage company in Connecticut and Westchester County, N.Y., operates approximately 51 offices with more than 2,200 affiliated sales associates serving the communities of Connecticut and Westchester County, N.Y. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is part of NRT LLC, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company.

For more information, visit

State Legislators Came to Old Saybrook to Listen and Share

legislatorsAREAWIDE – Three state legislators, Rep. Devin Carney, Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares (shown above, left to right), held open office hours on Jan. 25 at the Saybrook Point Pavilion.

The state legislators updated taxpayers on the key issues that will be debated in the 2016 legislative session at the State Capitol. Several area residents turned out for the public meeting to get their questions answered.

Those who could not attend may contact Carney at 800-842-1423 and Formica and Linares at 800-842-1421.

The legislative session runs through May.


Egyptologist Kent Weeks Inspires Students at The Country School

gyptologist Kent Weeks visited The Country School to speak with students about his work in Egypt. Fifth Graders are pictured here with their teacher, Kerri Kelly, and Dr. Weeks, along with a hieroglyphic message they created in his honor. Standing, left to right, are: Andrew Walter-Zona, North Branford; Ian Marshall, Killingworth; Philip Warren, Old Saybrook; Colin Higginson, Madison; Elke Zigmont, Madison; Wendol Williams, Madison; 5th Grade teacher Kerri Kelly, Essex; Liliana Boone, Middletown; Kameron Borden, Clinton; Madison Grady, Clinton, and Dr. Kent Weeks. Pictured front row, left to right, are: Jenson Taylor, Westbrook; Erik Howie, Madison; Jackson Chontos, Old Lyme; and Willa Wurzbach, Killingworth. Photo by Kate Cordsen

Egyptologist Kent Weeks visited The Country School to speak with students about his work in Egypt. Fifth graders are pictured here with their teacher, Kerri Kelly, and Dr. Weeks, along with a hieroglyphic message they created in his honor. Standing (L-R): Andrew Walter-Zona, Ian Marshall, Philip Warren, Colin Higginson, Elke Zigmont, Wendol Williams, teacher Kerri Kelly, Liliana Boone, Kameron Borden, Madison Grady, and Dr. Weeks. Front (L-R): Jenson Taylor, Erik Howie, Jackson Chontos and Willa Wurzbach. Photo by Kate Cordsen

MADISON – The Country School was delighted to welcome world-renowned Egyptologist Kent Weeks to campus recently to discuss his groundbreaking work in the Valley of the Kings. In addition to sharing stories about his efforts to excavate and catalog ancient Egyptian monuments, Dr. Weeks spoke about the library he founded in Luxor to support archeological research, educate local children about the importance of preserving Egypt’s monuments, and provide a community gathering place.

More than 200 people attended Dr. Weeks’ lecture. Along with all Country School students and teachers, visitors included students and teachers from Madison’s Brown Middle School and Country School alumni, parents, grandparents and friends.

Dr. Weeks’ visit was a particular thrill for Country School fifth graders, who are currently immersed in a multi-month study of ancient Egypt — an undertaking that will culminate this spring with a visit to the Egyptian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As a class, students have read, discussed and watched videos about Dr. Weeks and his work with the Theban Mapping Project, through which he is setting out to catalog the thousands of tombs and temples in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. They also know details of his major find – the discovery of KV5, the tomb of the sons of Ramses II.

During his talk, Dr. Weeks explained that resources for schools in Luxor are very scant, so the nonprofit Theban Mapping Project Library is filling a critical role in teaching local children about their heritage. Although researching, cataloguing and protecting Egypt’s monuments have been his life’s work, Dr. Weeks said the library may be the most important contribution of all.

“We’ve been at this for a number of years, but I think the library we are establishing is going to be one of the most important additions to protect the monuments of ancient Egypt,” he said. “They are important not just for the children in these slides here but for everyone all over the world. They’re all part of our own heritage.”

Country School students have been holding a series of fundraisers to support Dr. Weeks’ library, and after his visit they were able to donate $350 to benefit the Theban Mapping Project Library. They look forward to holding additional fundraising initiatives, including an ongoing student-run pop-up Farmers Market.

Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent PreSchool-Grade 8 school in Madison. The school regularly invites speakers to campus to talk with students and/or parents about topics of interest and importance.

The next event will be held on Thursday, Feb. 4, when the school hosts a screening of Most Likely to Succeed, the acclaimed documentary about the future of education. A panel discussion will take place following the screening, featuring Madison Superintendent of Schools Tom Scarice, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools Douglas Lyons, and education writer Laura Pappano, author of Inside School Turnarounds: Urgent Hopes, Unfolding Stories and a frequent contributor to The New York Times Education Life, among other publications. The screening is free and open to the public.

The Country School will also have a series of speakers on campus this spring when, on April 23, the school hosts TEDxTheCountrySchool.

For more information about these and other events, visit

State Legislators Host Open Office Hours in Old Saybrook, Today

AREAWIDE – State legislators will hold pre-session open office hours at the Saybrook Point Pavilion on Monday, Jan. 25, from 6 to 7 p.m.

Taxpayers are encouraged to attend to ask Sen. Art Linares (R-33rd), Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th) and Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) questions regarding any issue. The legislators also will provide an update on the key issues being debated at the State Capitol.

Anyone with questions about the event can contact Mitch Renfrew at or call (800) 842-1423.

Saybrook Point Pavilion is located at 150 College St.

Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District that includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook.

Formica represents the 20th District comprising  Old Lyme, along with Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London,Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

Linares represents the 33rd District comprising Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam,  Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

jan 25 event

Holy Week Services at Deep River Congregational Church

Deep River Congregational ChurchThe Deep River Congregational Church has announced its Holy Week services. All are welcome.

March 24, Maundy Thursday Service of Communion and Tenebrae, 7:30 p.m., with First Communion for the church’s 4th grade class.

March 25, Good Friday, Soup and Bread Supper,  6:30 p.m.  (Come and help make soup in the church kitchen at 9:30 a.m. or bring a loaf of bread.)  Good Friday Service of the Cross, 7:30 p.m.

March 27, Easter Sunday, the most joyous day of the Christian year:
6:30 a.m. Sunrise Service on Mt. St. John’s hill overlooking the Connecticut River.
9 a.m. Family Easter Service, with a story by Rev. Haut instead of a sermon.
10 a.m. Easter Fellowship, hosted by our Deacons with luscious pastries created by Grace Taylor between the two services.
10:30 a.m.  Traditional Easter Worship with a sermon by Rev. Haut.

There will be special Easter music at both the 9 a.m. and the 10:30 a.m. services featuring the Senior Choir and Chancel Handbell Choir.

For more information, please call the church at (860) 526-5045 or visit

Essex Historical Society Presents Program on E.E. Dickinson’s Witch Hazel Brand, Today

Printing area, ground floor of new office 1929

This 1929 photo shows the printing area and ground floor of the then new E.E. Dickinson office. Image courtesy of the Essex Historical Society.

ESSEX — The 20th century was a time of great change and growth in the manufacturing and marketing of American products. The E.E. Dickinson Company, an Essex-based producer of Witch Hazel, was one of the most successful in dominating the national market and becoming a household name. The fascinating story of the birth of the Dickinson brand will be presented by the Essex Historical Society on Sunday, Jan. 24, at 3 p.m. in the original 1924 corporate office building — now Wells Fargo Advisors — at 31 North Main St. in Essex.

Image courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

Image courtesy of Essex Historical Society.

Local historian Brenda Milkofsky will address the complex, well-timed marketing efforts of the E.E. Dickinson Company, providing historical perspective on the local and national impact of the company’s growth.

A variety of Dickinson advertising and marketing artwork will be highlighted along with images that illustrate the company office environment and processes. Tours of the building’s public areas, including the gracious 1920s lobby, will be given following the program.

This lecture is part of a series of special events celebrating the Essex Historical Society’s 60th anniversary and the E.E. Dickinson Company legacy. The program is free and open to the public.

More information can be found at or by calling 860-767-0681.






Take Your Child to Acton Library for Special Activities, Feb. 6

Take Your Child ToThe LibraryOLD SAYBROOK – To celebrate the fifth annual Take Your Child to the Library Day on Saturday, Feb. 6, Karen Giugno, Children’s Librarian and Assistant Director at the Acton Public Library, has planned several special programs.

Children in kindergarten through fourth grade can participate in the “Great Masters Art Program” with Kim Larkin from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Children will create their own masterpiece based on the style of Matisse using painting, drawing and collaging techniques. No experience necessary. Registration is required. This program is sponsored by the Friends of Acton Library.

Also from 10:30 a.m. to noon, the Treehouse Players will be celebrating libraries with a “Fractured Fairy Tales” drama workshop for children ages 5 to 12.  With Treehouse Players, your child can use his or her imagination through song, speech, creative movement, theater games and acting out stories. Please register if interested.

Visit the Children’s Department at any time on Feb. 6 to make a fun craft to bring home. Crafts for preschool through preteen will be available.

Please be sure to reserve your seat by calling 860-395-3184. All children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult.

Acton Library is at 60 Old Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook. For more information, go to

Editor’s Note: Take Your Child to the Library Day  is an international initiative that encourages families everywhere to take their children to their local library. Launched in 2011 in Connecticut, the initiative raises community awareness about the importance of the library in the life of a child, and promotes library services and programs for children and families.

Region 4’s $53,350 Year-End Surplus to be Returned to Member Towns, Applied to R4 Sinking Funds

REGION 4 — On Jan. 7, 2016, the Region 4 Board of Education received the final audit of the 2014-15 school year that reflects a surplus of $53,350 at the close of the school year.

“The results of this year’s audit are great news, given the significant financial challenges the board and administration faced last year,” said Chris Riley, chairman of the Region 4 Board of Education. “Dr. Levy and her team are to be commended for their continued commitment to both our students and our taxpayers.”

Under a policy adopted last year, the Region 4 Board voted to return 50 percent of the surplus to the member towns and apply the other 50 percent toward capital sinking funds.

Funds will be returned to member towns based on the student population in John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School as follows:

  • Town of Chester: $6,439
  • Town of Deep River: $8,267
  • Town of Essex: $11,969
    TOTAL $26,675

Letter from Paris: Exhibition Explores the Elegance, History of Louis Vuitton’s Luggage

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

The exhibit “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez” (Fly, Sail, Travel) at the Grand Palais takes the visitor to the elegant world of travel in the early 20th century.  It is a retrospective of the luggage, which created the Vuitton dynasty’s fame.  Every  item is beautifully crafted of wood, cloth and leather, such as the famous “sac Noé” created in 1932. This contrasts to a carry on luggage, like this one, that is more cheaply built and marketed to a non-aristocratic demographic.

caroussel_grandpalais_460x550_v02These luxurious objects make travel by air, train or sea glamorous and modern. The visitor rides an old-fashioned, wood-paneled train and feels transported into the “Out of Africa” world of Karen Blixen, as the Kenya savannah speeds outside the windows.

Several pieces of the Vuitton family’s private luggage — first seen by the public at the 1900 Exposition Universelle (World Fair) — are scattered  on sand dunes, evoking the beautifully photographed scene of a couple riding  in the desert near the Pyramids in the 1978 Agatha Christy’s movie “Death on the Nile.”

A huge sail reaches all the way to the ceiling.  On the deck of a yacht are displayed a wooden trunk,  fragrant with camphor wood and rosewood; a “wardrobe” trunk whose drawers and hangers contain  an elegant passenger’s apparel;  a gentleman’s  personal case complete with crystal flasks; and fancy hair brushes.

Luxury goods – labeled as “consumer discretionary” in Wall Street jargon – are an important sector of the French economy.  They combine traditional savoir-faire acquired over many generations (the Maison Vuitton has existed since 1835; the Maison Hermes since 1837) with the creative talent of artists and decorators along with  the highly complex robotic machinery used to fabricate, clothes, bags, shoes and more.

At Hermes, silk screen scarves are made from raw silk spun under the constant scrutiny of a worker; artists, assisted by colorists, create the designs.

For decades, not a single famous woman – from Jacqueline Kennedy to French actress Catherine Deneuve – has been seen without the iconic Chanel purse.  The making of the little black purse, with its gold chain, and its distinctive padded outer shell stitched in lozenges, requires the skilled delicate work of 17 people.

The world of fashion and luxury objects could not exist without money — lots of money.  In 1987, the merger of Louis Vuitton fashion house with Moët et Chandon and Hennessy champagne – produced the LVMH multinational conglomerate.  It brought together 90 of the most famous brands of wines and spirits, fashion and luxury goods, as well as perfume and cosmetics.  Dior is the major shareholder with 40 percent of the shares.

Bernard Arnault is CEO of both Dior and LVMH.  He is the richest man of France and holds the fifth largest fortune in  the world — his worth is about 30 billion dollars.  When Arnault arrived in Shanghai for the opening of a new Vuitton boutique, he was received like a head  of state.

It is not uncommon for a tycoon to be a philantropist and an art collector.  In the late 19th century, two Russian businessmen were instrumental in bringing French art to their home country — Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin introduced Impressionist art to Russia after a trip to Paris, and similarly, Ivan Morozov was a major collector of French avant-garde art.

Arnault won a resounding victory over his rival Francois Pinault when he was able to build his art museum on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.  (Pinault “only” owns a few islands of Venice.)  In order to promote artistic creation, Arnault built a museum, which he called the Fondation LVMH — it was designed by the American architect Frank Gehry.  At the time of its inauguration in 2014,  it was met with a mixed reaction but gradually it has become part of the landscape. It did help rejuvenate the dilapidated  Jardin d’Acclimatation, a 100-year-old zoo and children’s attraction park, beloved by the Parisians.

Gehry created a wild structure of huge, curved glass panels flying in all directions, like spinnakers blowing in the wind.  To create an area of 125,000 square feet of molded glass, 100 engineers were employed who were supported by Dassault Systèmes, the leading French company specializing in aeronautics and space.

The inside structure, called the “iceberg,” is erratic and disorients visitors. Several intricate levels and vertiginous staircases lead to the upper terrace offering  a view over the Bois in which the skyscrapers of La Défense district appear to be framed by the glass panels.

Nicole Prévost LoganAbout 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.

Essex First Selectman Lauds Area Firefighters for Quelling 24-Hour Blaze at Calamari Recycling

A view of the Calamari Recycling facility after the flames had subsided.

A view of the Calamari Recycling facility after the flames had subsided.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman in an official statement on Jan. 16 praised area firefighters for quelling on Jan. 6, “one of the worst and longest burning fires in Essex in decades,” which occurred at the Calamari Recycling Co. Inc. at 20, Dump Rd., in Essex. In an article by Karena Garrity published Jan. 12 in the weekly Valley Courier newspaper and on, it was reported that to tame the blaze, “it was estimated that more than 150 firefighters from more than 15 different fire departments,” were on the scene.

In his statement published on the Town of Essex’s website, Needleman praised, “The rapid and well organized response from Essex Firefighters, Police and Public Works, as well as mutual aid efforts of firefighters from other towns. These highly trained individuals worked together like a well-oiled machine throughout, even when exhaustion set in.” Needleman added, “Services from in and out of our Town came to our rescue and helped to minimize the impact of this fire. The Town of Essex can’t thank you all enough.”

Over a dozen fire departments from the surrounding area played a role in extinguishing the fire at the Calamari scrap metal recycling facility, and it took over 24 hours for the firefighting units ultimately to quell the blaze.

Although there were no reports of injuries as a result of the fire, the Valley Courier newspaper article reported that flames at the facility, “created thick billows of clouds of smoke for several days, causing town and school officials in the area to take precautions in regard to air quality conditions.” The Valley Courier also reported, “Student at Essex Elementary School were held inside for recess on Jan. 7 and 8 to ensure safety, and the Department of Environment and Energy Protection visited the area to conduct air quality testing, ”which turned out to be in the safe quality range.”

According to the Valley Courier’s report, “The fire started in the construction and demolition debris building, one of the four buildings on the Calamari Recycling property,” and that, “the cause of the fire was thought to be a spark from a cardboard bailer.” Also reported in the article was that, “Essex firefighters as well as members of  the Essex Public Works Department stayed on the scene for 28 straight hours.”

In addition, the Essex Public Works Department set up a warming center for firefighters and supplied more than 500 gallons of diesel fuel to tanks for the engines that were on the scene.

The fire on Jan. 6 at the recycling facility was the “the worst fires in 60 years,” according to a Calamari Recycling staff member, who declined to give her name in an interview on Jan. 19.  As for the status of the investigation of the fire, “the insurance people were looking at it,” she said, declining to give further details.

The Movie Man: Latest ‘Star Wars’ Extravaganza Forcefully Rebukes Critics


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …

A young and ambitious filmmaker named George Lucas created Star Wars, which changed the face of the movie industry forever. Since its release in 1977, the Star Wars universe has expanded into other forms of media, such as books, video games, television, music, toys, and more. It spawned two sequels, which were received as well as the first film, and eventually spawned a prequel trilogy, which, well, did not fare so well, mainly due to poor stories, poor acting, and overemphasis on green screen visual effects.

And three years ago, when George Lucas’ studio, LucasFilm, was sold to Disney, and its new owner announced more movies to come, many of us groaned. How could they take this galaxy to an even lower level after Jar-Jar Binks, and shoddy acting by Hayden Christensen as a young Darth Vader?

This past week changed our opinions. On Dec. 17, the United Kingdom got the first glance at Star Wars, Episode VII- The Force Awakens, directed by big and small screen legend J. J. Abrams. To play on the immortal words of Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi: “I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of Disney haters were suddenly silenced …”

Yes, The Force Awakens can be honorably added to the Star Wars saga, not out of necessity to tell the backstory of the legendary Darth Vader. Now we get to see the continuity of our heroes Han Solo, Princess – sorry, General – Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker. There are also newcomers to the story, with Oscar Isaac as pilot Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley as Rey, and John Boyega as Finn, and last but not least, Adam Driver as villain Kylo Ren.

All performers do not disappoint … although it is very unlikely in the first place, I would have nominated them for a Screen Actors Guild Ensemble award. And who can forget the new droid, BB-8, who caught our attention the moment we saw him in the teaser trailer released last Thanksgiving?

What’s even more amazing is that BB-8 is not CGI, he is, in fact, built as a real robot. Which is another theme in this film, being that those behind The Force Awakens only used CGI effects when necessary, preferring to use practical effects — similar to those used in the original trilogy — in order to give it a more believable visual feel (the major mistake George Lucas made from The Phantom Menace to Revenge of the Sith was using the computers as much as possible).

And, of course, there returns the music legend John Williams to conduct the score

But the big question we have been asking since the second trailer was released this past April is: where is Luke Skywalker? He has not appeared in the trailers since, and is not on the poster for the film? This has spawned many fan theories that he is, in fact, the villain, Kylo Ren, who wears a mask, or that he is dead. When asked by Jimmy Kimmel the reason behind Luke’s absence (on the poster), Harrison Ford quipped, “They ran out of room.”

Readers, your questions will be answered right away upon screening. And you will see that there are many similar events that took place all the way back with A New Hope. You will perhaps see them as foreshadowing events, or even tributes, since the only way one could dislike this film would be if one is a Holden Caulfield hipster, who is critical of anything mainstream.

The film will not disappoint. And (cue the hand wave) you will return to see it multiple times.

And I can state unequivocally, I will return to see it multiple times …

(Heads up: I already saw it twice within 36 hours)

Kevin Ganey

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

LVVS Hosts Important Presentation Tonight on Refugee Crisis, Pathways to Citizenship,

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) will host a presentation on refugees and the paths to citizenship on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of Westbrook’s Public Library. The presentation will feature Claudia Connor CEO of the International Institute of Connecticut and Alicia Kinsman, who is the Director and Managing Attorney of the organization’s Immigration Legal Services Program.

The International Institute of Connecticut, based in Bridgeport, CT (IICONN) is the state’s leading nonprofit provider of integrated legal and social services to new immigrants and refugees.  Kinsman will address immigration issues and explain the various immigration processes that would be relevant to LVVS clients and Connor will explain the refugee admissions process, the security screening process and the refugee resettlement program.

Refreshments will be served.

The event is free but readers are encouraged to reserve as seating is limited. Contact the office by phone at 860-399-0280 or email at 

Families Invited to Purim Spiel and Carnival, March 20

AREAWIDE – Join in the fun at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) at the annual kids Purim Spiel and Carnival on Sunday, March 20, from 10 a.m. until noon. Kids are welcome to come in costume (Queen Esther, Haman or anything of their choosing) and be part of the Costume Parade.  Admission and games are free.  Lunch is available for purchase and the proceeds will benefit the Youth Group Program.  This is a perfect activity for families with children up to age 12.

CBSRZ is a reform synagogue located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester. For more information, contact the office at 860-526-8920.  Visit the website at and visit on Facebook at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek.

Susan Strecker Talks about Her Latest Thriller with John Valeri

strecker 1ESSEX – Susan Strecker’s debut novel, Night Blindness, was released by Thomas Dunne Books in 2014 and garnered rave reviews: “Strecker builds fine portraits” (Kirkus Reviews); “the characters will pull you in” (Booklist); “a powerful beginning and characters who are easy to connect with” (Library Journal).

Nowhere Girl, Strecker’s next novel with Thomas Dunne Books, seems destined to make her a household name for thriller readers who enjoy strongly detailed characters and page-turning plotlines. Kirkus Reviews praised Nowhere Girl as “compulsively readable.”

Join John Valeri, of Hartford Books Examiner, in a conversation with Strecker about her latest psychological thriller on Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. at the Essex Library. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing, or buy your copy ahead of time for $19 at the library. Refreshments will be served.

This program is free and open to all. Please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 to register or for more information. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

Wildlife Photographers Presentation at Old Saybrook Land Trust Meeting, March 20

Wood Duck - Anders Ogren photo

Wood Duck – Anders Ogren photo

 OLD SAYBROOK – Local photographers Kristofer Rowe and Anders Ogren will share their wildlife photography during a free public program on Sunday, March 20, from 3 to 5 p.m., at Grace Episcopal Church, 336 Main St., Old Saybrook.

This is a great opportunity to learn about the birds, ducks and other creatures that inhabit our local marshes, waters and forests. Rowe and Ogren will also let you in on their secrets for getting the dramatic up close and personal shots they are becoming famous for.

Old Saybrook Land Trust board member Chris Cryder will provide an update on activities in the Preserve, OSLT President Mike Urban will give an update on OSLT activities, and officers will be elected for the coming year.

This is a family-friendly program offered by the Old Saybrook Land Trust Board in conjunction with their annual meeting. The program is open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information about the Old Saybrook Land Trust, visit, or send an email to Links to the photographers’ websites and facebook pages are also available at

CT River Museum Begins EagleWatch, Winter Wildlife Boat Tours

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator Bill Yule leads the boat tours and helps participants spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and waterfowl and other wildlife from the deck of EnviroLab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum

Connecticut River Museum environmental educator Bill Yule helps visitors spot Bald Eagles, wintering hawks and waterfowl and other wildlife from the deck of EnviroLab III. Photo: Connecticut River Museum

AREAWIDE – The Connecticut River Museum, in partnership with Project Oceanology, will begin its annual EagleWatch and Winter Wildlife boat tours aboard the EnviroLab III on Friday, Jan. 29.

Winter is the best time for seeing Bald Eagles in Connecticut, and the best place to see them is from a boat on the Connecticut River. Connecticut has more than 80 year-round resident breeding eagles, but in winter the number can swell to 150 as rivers and lakes freeze farther north.

Eagles are not the only attraction for winter wildlife viewing, as other raptors like marsh hawks, Peregrine falcons and snowy owls can be spotted from the river. Ducks, loons, harbor seals and other wildlife all become more visible in the austere beauty of the winter riverfront landscape.

From Jan. 29 through March 13, boat tours will be offered on Fridays at 1 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Each tour on the EnviroLab III is 90 minutes long. You can stand out on the deck looking for wildlife or relax in the heated cabin with complimentary coffee and watch the river through the windows. Naturalists will narrate the trip and help you spot the eagles and other wildlife.

For more information or to make reservations, visit or call 860-767-8269. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vista’s Starlight Benefit “Sets Sail” in April, Sponsorship Opportunities Available

Members of Vista’s Starlight Benefit Committee are gearing up for this year’s Gilligan’s Island-themed event on April 16. From left are Margie Butler, Jean Brookman, Heidi Teubert and Francoise Williams. Photo credit: Vanessa Pereira

Members of Vista’s Starlight Benefit Committee are gearing up for this year’s event on April 16. From left are Margie Butler, Jean Brookman, Heidi Teubert and Francoise Williams. Photo credit: Vanessa Pereira

AREAWIDE — Set sail aboard the S.S. Minnow for a “three-hour tour” during the Vista Starlight Benefit at the Water’s Edge Resort and Spa on Saturday, April 16.

The event—Vista’s annual spring fundraiser and social event—features a cocktail function, live and silent auctions, dinner and entertainment. Guests are encouraged to embrace this year’s “Welcome Ashore” theme by coming dressed as a shipwrecked castaway from the 1960s.

Charles Steinberg

Taking the helm is event honoree Charles Steinberg, owner of Branford Jewelers. Steinberg is a great friend of Vista and a tremendous supporter of many organizations along the shoreline. An avid cyclist, Steinberg supports a number of charitable rides, including the Vista Tour de Shore cycling event and fundraiser. Vista is proud to honor him for his dedication and commitment to the Vista and shoreline communities.

More than 250 people attended last year’s Broadway-themed Starlight Benefit, which netted over $90,000. Funds raised at the event support the many programs and services offered at Vista, an organization that serves individuals with disabilities. A unique auction held during the evening benefits Vista’s Student/Member Enrichment Fund, which helps underwrite special projects and initiatives that directly benefit students and members in Vista’s programs.

Event tickets start at $100. Sponsorships and online fundraising opportunities are also available. Visit to support the Starlight Benefit. For questions or to get involved, contact Jessica Liedke, Manager of Fundraising and Events, at or (860) 399-8080 ext. 268.

Editor’s note: Based in Madison and Westbrook, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success. For more information about Vista, visit

Though Losing a Leader, Pettipaug Yacht Club Will Keep Teaching the Young to Sail   

Pettipaug Sailing Academy sailors putting their boats in the water in a recent sailing season

Pettipaug Sailing Academy sailors putting their boats in the water in a recent sailing season.

ESSEX — With the death last November of Paul Risseeuw, who for over 50 years led the sailing programs at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, some asked will this mean the end of an immensely popular program for teaching young people to sail.

However, according to the club’s Vice Commodore Kathryn Ryan, this is not going to be the case. “In response to this loss,” Ryan said in a statement, “the Pettipaug Board of Governors has increased our effort to provide the best sailing program in the area. Many talented officers of our club have come forward to step up their involvement to guarantee a smooth transition to 2016. Our top priorities are safety, learning, providing talented instructors, as well as equipment and facilities, and, of course, fun on the water.”

Ryan continued, “I have been elected to the role of Vice Commodore, which includes the duty of Chairman of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy.” Also, she noted, “I have been involved with the Pettipaug Sailing Academy for the last eight years, as my own children have come through the program.”

Ryan Introduces Ann Courcy, Club Sailing Director for 2016

In introducing Ann Courcy, the club’s new sailing director, Ryan noted, “Ann is a Deep River resident who had firsthand knowledge of our program, not only though her work with us, but also as a parent of two former and two current students. We are fortunate to have someone with Ann’s working knowledge of our program and our club on board for the coming year.”

Ryan went on to note that the club is presently accepting registrations for the summer of 2016, and that the application form can be found on the club’s web site. She added, “We will also be looking for help from parent volunteers through the season, so please consider sharing your talents, when we send out our request for help. Together we can continue to offer a high quality program for our junior sailors.”

Essex Saving Bank’s Honan Receives ‘New Leaders in Banking’ Award

Shawn P. Honan, CPA.

Shawn P. Honan, CPA

Shawn P. Honan, CPA, has been named one of 13 ‘New Leaders in Banking’ for 2015 by the Connecticut Bankers Association. Honan is entering his 25th year at Essex Savings Bank — starting as an Accounting/Operations manager, Honan has worked his way up through the management ladder of Essex Savings Bank to the point where he is now Senior Vice President, Treasurer, and Chief Financial Officer, and is an essential part of the four-person senior management team.

He enjoys serving the community including spending 10 years coaching Little League baseball and softball while also serving as the Treasurer of the organization for most of those years and is also active both in his local church parish, including serving on the Vestry as Treasurer for four years, as well as serving the broader church throughout the state.

“I am proud to say Shawn has been an integral part of the success of our Bank. He is a thoughtful colleague who has helped shape our balance sheet and assisted in building a business that is sustainable. I enjoy strategizing with him and have appreciated his counsel and friendship,” stated Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank.

“I am honored and truly flattered to have been nominated for and chosen to receive this award. My sincere thanks to President Shook and the Board of Directors for their support and confidence in me. I consider it a privilege to serve this great institution and the financial needs of the people and businesses in our communities,” said Honan.

The awards are presented by the Connecticut Bankers Association and Connecticut Banking magazine and the ‘New Leaders In Banking’ honorees were chosen by an independent panel. To be eligible, an individual must work in a Connecticut bank, be an outstanding employee, manager, or business leader and make a notable impact within their bank or community.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.

RiverQuest Now Booking Annual Winter Wonderland/Eagle Boat Cruises

EagleAREAWIDE – Connecticut River Expeditions is ready to cruise on the lower Connecticut River this February and March for their 13th Annual Winter Wonderland/Eagle Boat Cruises. These perennially popular winter cruises will depart from Eagle Landing State Park in the Tylerville section of Haddam, Conn.

Cruises will start on Saturday, Feb. 13, and run through March 20.

These cruises are very popular; it is suggested you book early to reserve your spots.

“We are really looking forward to offering this unique cruise during the 2016 winter season. After last year’s horrific ice conditions on the river, we can’t wait to make it work this year!” Capt. Mark of the quiet, friendly eco-tour vessel RiverQuest says. “On this very special cruise, our goal is to search for and learn about resident and visiting Bald Eagles and other wildlife we will find on our journey. We feel very fortunate that we are able to bring people out on the river during this quiet season to experience these magnificent raptors and one of our greatest natural resources, the Connecticut River.”

Without the summer boat traffic, there is a sense of tranquility on the river and with no leaves on the trees, the river’s edge offers a much different view, making it easier to find and see winter wildlife. In past years, bird sightings have included from one to forty-one Bald Eagles, along with numerous hawk and duck varieties, falcons, cormorants and more. On occasion, fox, coyote, deer, bobcat and even seals have been seen!

Winter and early spring are also a great time of year to explore and experience the entire lower Connecticut River Valley. Come out, enjoy and support local businesses. There are shops and restaurants in Haddam, East Haddam and neighboring towns; stop by and visit one before or after your cruise. Although Gillette Castle, a mere 4.5 miles away from RiverQuest is closed, the park grounds are open for daytime visitors.

So take a trip and beat winter cabin fever! Take your camera and binoculars. If you have no binoculars, no worry, there are extras available on RiverQuest for your use during the cruise. There will be complimentary coffee and tea on board.

Weekend and weekday times are available for these 2+ hour cruises. Cost is $40pp.

It is requested that no children under 10 travel. For more information, departure times and easy on-line reservations visit RiverQuest at 860-662-0577. Private Charters and Gift Certificates are also available.


Tickets on Sale for Ivoryton Playhouse Comedy Night, March 18; Proceeds Support Ivoryton Illuminations

Vincent McElhone

Vincent McElhone

IVORYTON – Leave winter behind and come out for some big laughs at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Friday, March 18, when the theater hosts Comedy Night, headlined by Vincent McElhone.

McElhone, an Old Saybrook resident for 25 years, has worked such famous venues as the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, Caroline’s on Broadway, Dangerfields in NYC and Mohegan Sun, sharing the stage with such acts as Brian Regan, Jim Gaffigan, Dom Irrera and Denis Leary. He returns to the Ivoryton Playhouse with his special blend of comedy, discussing subjects close to him such as his family, marriage, being raised Irish Catholic and living on the shoreline.

Also on the bill are comedians Tony Liberati and Rick Roberts.   Since making his stand-up debut in 1998, Liberati entertains crowds all over the country. His energetic and charismatic delivery of observational humor connects with all types of audiences and his experience as an elementary school teacher blends a unique feeling of nostalgia and silliness that has audiences crying with laughter.  He has been on ABC’s America’s Funniest People and his jokes have been published alongside greats like Chris Rock and Henny Youngman in The Idiot’s Guide to Joke Telling by Alpha Publishing.

Rick Roberts is a lawyer by day and comedian by night. He has performed in over 300 shows throughout the Northeast. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Comedy through Caroline’s, Rick performs regularly at comedy clubs in New York City.  His unique and jaded perspective on the frustrations of middle-aged life and modern technology are central themes of his hilarious comedy.

Comedy Night takes place at the Ivoryton Playhouse at 103 Main Street.  Doors open at 7:30 p.m.  Tables of six and eight are available.  Tickets are $30.  Balcony seats are $20.  Wine and beer cash bar and teacup auction.  Please call 860-767-9520 x205 to book your seats. A portion of the proceeds of this event will go toward producing the annual Ivoryton Illuminations in December.


Essex Savings Bank Offers Customers Opportunity to Select Non-Profits to Receive Financial Awards

AREAWIDE — Gregory R. Shook, President & Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank has announced that $110,000 will be made available for the Bank’s Community Investment Program during 2016. Over the course of the past 20 years the Bank has annually committed up to 10 percent of its after tax net income to qualifying organizations within the immediate market area consisting of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

The program has provided financial support to well over 200 non-profit organizations who offer outstanding services to the ever-increasing needs of our communities. At the close of 2016 a total of over $4.1 million will be distributed.

Essex Savings Bank is pleased, in its 165th year of service to the community, to again offer customers the chance to determine 30 percent of the fund allocations by voting directly for three of their favorite causes, charities or organizations who have submitted applications to participate. Ballots will be available at all Essex Savings Bank Offices between Feb. 1 and 29 to determine the customer allocation of funds.

The remaining 70 percent will distributed by the Bank’s Directors, Senior Officers, Branch Managers and Essex Financial Services, Inc., the Bank’s wholly-owned subsidiary.

The organizations (80) qualifying to appear on the 2016 ballot are:

Act II Thrift Shop, Inc. * APK Charities Corporation * Bikes For Kids, Inc. * Brazilian and American Youth Cultural Exchange (BRAYCE) * Bushy Hill Nature Center * Camp Hazen YMCA * Cappella Cantorum, Inc. * Chester Historical Society * Chester Land Trust * Community Music School * Con Brio Choral Society, Inc. * The Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock * The Country School, Inc. * Deacon John-Grave Foundation, Inc. * Deep River Ambulance Association, Inc. * Deep River Fire Department, Inc. * Deep River Junior Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, Inc. * Deep River Land Trust, Inc. * Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc. * E.C. Scranton Memorial Library – Madison * Essex Community Fund, Inc. * Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing, Inc. * Essex Elementary School Foundation, Inc. * The Essex Fire Engine Company No. 1 * Essex Historical Society, Inc. * Essex Land Trust, Inc. * The Essex Library Association, Inc. * Essex Winter Series, Inc. * Forgotten Felines, Inc. * Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) * Friends of Hammonasset, Inc. * Friends of Madison Youth, Inc. * Friends of the Chester Public Library, Inc. * Friends of the Deep River Library * High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. * Hope Partnership, Inc. * Ivoryton Library Association * The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Inc. * Literacy Volunteers – Valley Shore, CT, Inc. * Lyme Ambulance Association, Inc. * Lyme Art Association, Inc. * Lyme Consolidated School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) * The Lyme Fire Company, Inc. * Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc. * Lyme-Old Lyme Safe Graduation Party, Inc. * Lyme Public Hall Association, Inc. * Lyme Public Library, Inc. * Lymes’ Elderly Housing, Inc. (Lymewood) * The Madison ABC Program Incorporated * Madison Ambulance Association, Inc. * Madison Historical Society, Inc. * Madisons Nite In Hand, Inc. * Maritime Education Network, Inc. * Musical Masterworks, Inc. * Old Lyme Fire Department, Inc. * Old Lyme Historical Society, Inc. * Old Lyme Land Trust, Inc. * Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association * Old Lyme Rowing Association, Inc. * Old Lyme South End Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc. * Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc. * Old Saybrook Historical Society * Old Saybrook Land Trust, Inc. * Pay Forward, Inc. * Pet Connections, Inc. * Region 4 Education Foundation, Inc. * Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation * SARAH, Inc. * Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, Inc. * Simply Sharing, Inc. * Sister Cities Essex Haiti, Inc. * Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM) * Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc. * Valley Baseball-Softball Booster Club, Inc. * Valley Shore Animal Welfare League * Valley-Shore YMCA * Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc. * Westbrook Project Graduation, Inc. * Westbrook Youth and Family Services, Inc. * The Woman’s Exchange of Old Lyme, Inc. Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.

Country School Screens “Most Likely to Succeed” Feb. 4, Acclaimed Film on Future of Education; All Welcome

A scene from 'Most Likely to Succeed,' a documentary being screened at The Country School, Feb. 5.

A scene from Most Likely to Succeed, a documentary about the future of education being screened at The Country School, Feb. 4.

AREAWIDE – The Country School is pleased to join the national conversation about the future of education when on Thursday, Feb. 4, it hosts a screening of the acclaimed documentary Most Likely to Succeed.  A question & answer session and discussion with education leaders will take place following the screening. Panelists include Tom Scarice, Superintendent of Madison Public Schools; Douglas Lyons, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools; and Laura Pappano, an award-winning journalist whose work often focuses on education.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 6:15 p.m. in The Country School’s DeFrancis Gymnasium. Space is limited, so attendees are asked to preregister at

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 9.11.43 PMMost Likely to Succeed examines the history of education in the United States and explores the shortcomings of the current system, which was designed in 1893 for a very different world. The film explores new approaches that aim to revolutionize teaching and prepare students to thrive and be innovators in the 21st century.

Since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last January, Most Likely to Succeed has been shown at venues across the country. In Connecticut, other schools and colleges hosting screenings have included Yale and Choate Rosemary Hall.

Most Likely to Succeed, directed by Greg Whiteley, has received rave reviews from educators, film critics, and journalists. From Sal Khan of Khan Academy: “The 21st century is going to be all about building, creating, and innovating. This remarkable film shows a path of how we can empower all of our children to do that.” From the Huffington Post: Most Likely to Succeed offers “a message Americans need to hear, and desperately test.”

Learn more about the film at

“We couldn’t be more excited to share this groundbreaking film with the broader community, and we are delighted to welcome Tom Scarice, a leader in the discussion of education reform in the public sector; Douglas Lyons, a leader in the independent sphere; and Laura Pappano, whose thought-provoking books and articles invite us all to consider new approaches,” said John Fixx, Head of School at The Country School. “The future of education belongs to all of us, and we are thrilled to come together in a public-private partnership to share ideas about how we can make learning meaningful, lasting, and relevant in a changing world.”

Enjoy ‘Always on Sunday in Chester’ on Sundays Through Spring

Geoffrey Vollers, brother of Bill Vollers of Chester, will exhibit his handmade wooden castle sculptures at Gallery 31-47 in Chester Center during January.

Geoffrey Vollers, brother of Bill Vollers of Chester, will exhibit his handmade wooden castle sculptures at Gallery 31-47 in Chester Center during January.

CHESTER — Does January already have you feeling down? Come to Chester Center where the businesses are celebrating “Always on Sunday in Chester!” all winter and spring.

On Sunday, Jan. 17, there will be a watercolor demonstration at Maple and Main Gallery, an exhibit of miniature handmade wooden castle sculptures at Gallery 31-47, the annual winter sale at C&G Unparalleled Apparel, a concert at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery, the 20-foot-long Bloody Mary Bar at the Pattaconk, and more fun throughout the Chester Center businesses. And to warm you up in this cold weather, stop in at Ceramica for a cup of hot cider, Dina Varano for a cup of tea and Lark for hot chocolate on a stick!

Bivenne will give a gallery talk and demonstration in watercolor at Maple and Main Gallery beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17.

Bivenne will give a gallery talk and demonstration in watercolor at Maple and Main Gallery beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17.

At Maple and Main Gallery, at noon, artist Bivenne will give an informal demonstration in watercolor focusing on enhancing the element of light in a painting. Bivenne will also point out this effect in a few of the works in the gallery in a short stroll and chat preceding her demonstration at 11:30 a.m. A noted artist and popular local watercolor instructor, Bivenne has won multiple prestigious awards. Her work is widely collected and her demonstrations always informed and illuminating. Enjoy three kinds of tea and cookies at the gallery while enjoying the gallery talk and demonstration.

Bill Vollers, owner of Gallery 31-47 in Chester, will exhibit the work of his brother, Geoffrey Vollers, who owns a studio in Rockland, Maine. Geoffrey’s miniature castles have been displayed in the windows of Tiffany & Co in New York. His work, which also includes painting and stained glass windows, has been shown in numerous galleries and in private collections.

Also in Chester on Jan. 17, from 4 to 6 p.m., bluesman Ramblin’ Dan Stevens and Clayton Allen will play at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery. In a melding of diverse blues styles, Stevens and Allen have forged a unique sound, representing a wide variety of traditionally based fingerpicking with a tinge of primitive blues and early blues rock and roll. A $20 donation is requested at the door. BYOB. More info at

Free parking is available on Sundays at First Niagara Bank and the town lot on Water Street; at Norma Terris Theatre on North Main Street; and the Maple Street and Laurel Hill Cemetery parking lots.

Stay informed about Always on Sunday happenings through;; or

Afro-Semitic Experience to Perform in Chester Today at 5 p.m.

Afro Semitic Experience by Fletcher Oakes April 2014

Photo courtesy of Fletcher Oakes (April 2014)

CHESTER — For 18 years, the Afro-American Experience has delighted audiences throughout the U.S. with their unique blend that prominent critic, Ramos, calls as “a whoopin’, hollerin’, testifyin’ celebration of multicultural soul music.” Their music reflects peace and joyous diversity. It is the same music that the great jazz critic Nat Hentoff referred to thus, “Never before have I heard this lyrically powerful fusion of Jewish and jazz souls on fire.” This music is coming to Chester during the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. birthday weekend.

The group opens the eighth — and most ambitious season yet — of Music & More at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) on Sunday, Jan. 17, at 5 p.m.  The season also features, among other groups, the internationally renowned Paul Winter Consort.

David Zeleznik, the new producer of the series, wanted to build on the synagogue’s record of creating special concerts that showcase diversity during the congregation’s annual commemoration of Dr. King’s birth.

As he explains it, “Last season, we had enormous success with Sweet Honey in the Rock. Their powerful soaring voices raised the roof and transported the river valley and shoreline community to their transcendent vision of a brighter future. For this season we wanted to recreate that sense of healing, grace, and inclusiveness within our sacred space through the power of musical performance.

“When we started planning this season back in June 2015, little did we know of the divisive tone that would now pervade our social and political discourse. Afro-Semitic Experience, which has recorded popular eight albums that speak to diversity, provides an antidote by showing how folk music of disparate cultures can meld and blend to joyous effect.

“That this is the group’s 18th year of existence is also meaningful at such a time.  The number 18, or ‘chai’ (in Hebrew) has special significance meaning ‘life’ in Judaic tradition. So, this is Afro-Semitic Experience’s ‘chai year’ and they are back to the beginning, celebrating the life of Martin Luther King with us.”

Zeleznik has also engaged the group to participate in the “More” part of Music & More. Prior to their performance they will be engaging with the community’s youth in a series of musical and performance workshops.

As customary at Music & More events, a reception follows, which is included in the ticket price.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  To reserve tickets ($25 for adults, and no charge for children under 16) or a spot in the workshop, or for more information about the upcoming season (which also includes Caravan of Thieves, The Paul Winter Consort, and The String of Pearls Big Band), contact the CBSRZ office at 860-526-8920 or or visit our website at

Roto Frank of America Hosts Red Cross Blood Drive, March 16

red_cross_templateCHESTER – Two Chester-based businesses – Roto Frank of America and The Pattaconk 1850 Bar & Grille – are teaming up to host a blood drive on Wednesday, March 16 at Roto Frank of America on 14 Inspiration Lane in Chester.

Coordinated by Sue Lemire, HR/General Accounting Manager at Roto Frank of America, the blood drive, which will run from 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., is open to anyone who wishes to donate.

 This “Give a Pint, Get a Pint” promotion follows these guidelines:

 All presenting donors will be eligible for the promotion;

 Free pint offer is valid March 18, 2016—March 25, 2016;

 Limit one free pint per blood donor, not transferrable;

 Blood donors under the legal age of 21 are eligible for one free ice cream cone;

 Limited amount of donation appointments available, promotion is first come, first serve.

“This is a great way for our employees and members of the community to help the American Red Cross in a simple, yet effective way,” said Sue Lemire. “Blood donors with all types, particularly O-negative, A-negative and B-negative blood, are needed and we encourage everyone to make an appointment to donate blood.”

Blood donors are literally lifesavers as donated blood is critical to medical successes, especially emergencies. A single hour-long donation can potentially save three lives. To schedule an appointment for donation, call 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) or visit

Vista to Host Public Transportation Presentation, March 16

Using the 9 Town Transit system will be explained on March 16.

Using the 9 Town transit system will be explained on March 16.

AREAWIDE – Vista Life Innovations, formerly Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, is hosting Public Transportation 101 on Wednesday morning, March 16, in partnership with the Kennedy Center Inc. and 9 Town Transit.

Open to all, this informational and hands-on presentation will focus on transportation options for individuals with disabilities and seniors in towns served by 9 Town Transit. Come listen, ask questions and gather information.

Topics of discussion will include the Dial-A-Ride and taxi voucher programs, applying for reduced fare, accessibility of transit vehicles, and mobility management. Attendees will also be able to participate in a hands-on demonstration on how to utilize the bike racks on 9 Town Transit buses.

The presentation is free and will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Vista’s Madison Campus, 107 Bradley Road. To register, please contact Rob Carlucci at the Kennedy Center: or 203-260-9187.

Community Music School Jazz Ensemble Presents Concert This Evening

CMS Jazz Ensemble members Nolan Serbent of Killingworth (l) and Arthur Masiukiewicz of Essex (r); photo courtesy of Joan Levy Hepburn)

CMS Jazz Ensemble members Nolan Serbent of Killingworth (l) and Arthur Masiukiewicz of Essex (r). Photo courtesy of Joan Levy Hepburn.

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School (CMS) presents a concert by the CMS Jazz Ensemble on Saturday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Centerbrook Meetinghouse, 51 Main St., Centerbrook. The ensemble, comprised of students ages 13 to 17, will perform a mixed repertoire of blues, jazz standards, traditional swing, and Latin jazz. Directed by Tom Briggs, the CMS Jazz Ensemble is now in its 19th year.

Briggs is a retired member of the US Coast Guard Band and former musical director of the Coast Guard Masters of Swing. He is a well-known percussionist, pianist, and composer and has been on the CMS faculty since 1985. The concert is free and open to the public.

Call 860-767-0026for additional information.

Editor’s Note: Community Music School is a not-for-profit arts organization offering innovative programming for infants through adults, building on a 30 year tradition of providing quality arts programs for 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. Additional information can be found at or .

Bear-y Interesting: Learn About Black Bears in CT at Essex Library Talk, Jan. 26

blackbearBlack bear sightings are increasing every year, even in Connecticut’s shoreline towns, as their preferred habitat expands as farmlands revert to forest.

Master Wildlife Conservationist (MWC) Paul Colburn will present an illustrated talk on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Essex Library. This presentation will focus on the natural history of black bears in CT, an overview of black bear habitat, diet, behavior, and current research efforts.  Colburn will also provide recommendations for optimum coexistence with our black bear population especially as the recent warm weather has delayed hibernation.   

Colburn is a graduate of Master Wildlife Conservationist Program which is a Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) adult education program that trains participants in the fields of wildlife management, natural history and interpretation. The purpose of the program is to develop a volunteer corps capable of providing education, outreach, and service for state agencies, environmental organizations, libraries, schools, and the general public. Paul recently retired from a long and successful career in technology. 

In addition to his work as a MWC he volunteers for the Red Cross, Wesleyan University Admissions, AARP, The Connecticut Sports Foundation, and A Place Called Hope (raptor recovery and rehab).  Colburn holds a BA from Wesleyan University and served honorably in the United States Army. 

This talk is free and open to the public. Advance registration is recommended; call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560. The Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

Linares Joins Fellow Senators to Announce Amendment to Improve Protection of CT Open Space

From left to right, Senators Formica, Linares and Witkos announce a new constitutional amendment.

From left to right, Senators Formica, Linares and Witkos announce a new constitutional amendment.

HARTFORD — Sen. Paul Formica, Sen. Art Linares and Sen. Kevin Witkos joined with environmental advocates on Jan. 13 to unveil a constitutional amendment proposal to improve the protection of forest land, parks, wildlife areas and other open space in Connecticut.

The legislators’ proposal would implement strengthened restrictions on the sale of preserved land.

The next legislative session begins in February.

Sen. Art Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Sen. Paul Formica represents Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem, and Waterford.

Sen Kevin Witkos represents Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury, and Torrington.

Wesleyan Univ. President to Address Impact of ‘Black Lives Matter’ Movement Tonight

CHESTER — This year we have heard university campuses across the country echoing with the voices of protestors calling for a stronger response to racism in the university community.  Meanwhile, tensions on campus have sparked an important conversation about the role of free speech, freedom of expression and political correctness. 

Yale University faculty member Erika Christakis resigned after igniting protests when she said that students should be free to push boundaries with Halloween costumes, even to the point of offense. And at Wesleyan University, student leaders voted to cut funding to a campus newspaper after it published an Op-Ed criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement.

Are we watching the next stage of the Civil Rights movement unfolding on our college campuses?  Have we arrived at a place as Americans where we can finally talk about race and racism in a way that may lead to a deep transformation of our culture?  Or has it gone too far?  What is the role of open dialogue and free speech, especially in an academic environment?

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester will mark the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Friday evening, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. when Wesleyan University President and CBSRZ congregant, Dr. Michael Roth will address these questions. Roth will speak during the annual Erev Shabbat service honoring Dr. King.  This service will also include Civil Rights songs led by the CBSRZ choir, under the direction of Meg Gister.  

Refreshments will follow.  All are welcome.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  For more information, call the CBSRZ office 860-526-8920 or visit

Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Hosts Meeting, Jan. 20

TRI-TOWN — The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will hold its next meeting at Tri-Town Youth Services at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20. The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a grassroots organization whose membership is open to all who live or work in the tri-town area who are concerned about substance abuse and committed to its prevention.

Many “sectors” of the community are represented on this council: schools, youth serving organizations, law enforcement, government, civic groups, parents, students, the faith community and health care to name a few.

At the January meeting, Deep River Resident Trooper Dawn Taylor will present on current drug trends in our area. Future meeting dates for this year are March, 9, and May 18.

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

Editor’s Note: Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. We coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at

Medical Marijuana Production, Sale Public Hearing at Chester’s P & Z Meeting Tonight

CHESTER — The public hearing held by the Town of Chester’s Planning and Zoning Commission at their December meeting to discuss an Amendment to Zoning Regulations in reference to adding new Section 117 Medical Marijuana Dispensary and Production was continued to the Commission’s next meeting on Thursday, Jan. 14, at Chester Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.

There was no discussion during the public hearing on Dec. 10 for this petition as a quorum of Commission members, who were present at the start of the public hearing the previous month, was not present.

During the public hearing on Jan. 14, residents will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed amendment to zoning regulations detailed above regarding the production and sale of medical marijuana in Chester.

Meeting House Players to Hold Final Round of Open Auditions Tonight

CHESTER — The Meeting House Players will host the second evening of open auditions for Tracy Letts’ 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play “August: Osage County”.  Auditions will be held at 7 p.m. tonight in the Meeting House located at 4 Liberty St. in Chester, Conn.

The play’s 13-member ensemble includes a range of ages and ethnicities including six woman playing characters aging in range between mid-20’s and late 60’s and six men playing characters aging in range between mid-30’s and mid 70’s as well as one young women able to play a 14-year-old.

Note that this play contains mature themes and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script.

Directed by Lenore Grunko, the production opens at the Meeting House in Chester on Friday, April 29, and continue on April 30 and May 6 & 7.  Week-night rehearsals will begin the week of March 7.

For additional information, contact Lenore Grunko at

Editor’s Note; The Meeting House Players is a not-for-profit, all volunteer community theatre organization pursuing the theatre arts with the talents and interests of individuals throughout Connecticut.

AAUW Presents Awards to Three Students

AREAWIDE — The Lower Connecticut Valley Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) recently presented spring semester educational grants to three local students who are pursuing higher education. Each student received the second $1000 of their total $2000 grant covering the full academic year 2015-2016.

The recipients are Megan Davis, a sophomore from Lyme who is majoring in English Education at the University of Connecticut at Storrs; Alexis Henry, a senior from Old Saybrook who is a biomedical engineering major at the University of Connecticut at Storrs; and Amanda Matulis, a sophomore from East Haddam who is majoring in radiological technology at Middlesex Community College in Middletown and is a second year recipient of this award. This is the sixth consecutive year that the Lower Connecticut Valley Branch has granted educational awards.

The AAUW is a national organization that advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Since 1881, AAUW has been one of the nation’s leading voices promoting education.

Lyme Art Association Presents ‘An Exhibition in Four Acts 2016′

'Ratatouille,' oil, by Cheryl Weyman is the signature painting of the Palette to Palate segment of the exhibition.

‘Ratatouille’ by Cheryl Weyman in oil is the signature painting of the Palate to Palette segment of the exhibition.

Four new exhibitions, each with a different theme, will be on view in the Lyme Art Association’s (LAA) beautiful historic galleries from Friday, March 4, through April 15. A Contemporary Look, Drawing Attention, Palate to Palette, and Urban Landscape run concurrently. An opening reception for all four exhibitions will be held on Sunday, March 13, from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Exhibition in Four Acts is one of the LAA’s most dynamic and exciting exhibitions, bringing together four distinct types of representational art. Urban Landscape showcases the work of talented artist members who set out to capture the architecture and life of town and city. A Contemporary Look is an exhibition of abstracted, yet still representational work. Drawing Attention features work of all themes in charcoal, graphite and ink, and Palate to Palette focuses on food, dining and cooking. Each exhibition is shown in one of the four skylit galleries in our historic building.

“A visit to the Lyme Art Association to see the Exhibition in Four Acts feels like visiting four different galleries. There is a variety and a shift in mood as you move from one gallery to the next,” states gallery manager, Jocelyn Zallinger. “This show also allows a visitor to focus on each genre in a way that is not possible in other exhibitions.”

The opening reception for all four exhibitions is free to the public and will be held on Sunday, March 13, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the gallery located at 90 Lyme St., Old Lyme, Conn.

The LAA was founded in 1914 by the American Impressionists and continues the tradition of exhibiting and selling representational artwork by its members and invited artists, as well as offering art instruction and lectures to the community. The Association is housed in a building designed by Charles Adams Platt and located within an historic district. Admission is free with contributions appreciated. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m., or by appointment.

For more information on exhibitions, purchase of art, art classes, or becoming a member, call 860-434-7802 or visit

Letter From Paris: Welcome ‘Le Grand Paris!’ New Geographical Region Becomes a Reality

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

On January 1st, 2016 the “Metropole du Grand Paris” became official .  This new territorial organization, named Etablissement Public de Cooperation Intercommunale (EPCI),  includes Paris plus parts of three departements Hauts de Seine, Seine St Denis and Val de Marne– with seven millions inhabitants.

What is the Grand Paris ?  Why is it a necessity?  Is it a decisive step forward? Does it have models in other countries?  What are the  problems it is facing ?  Anyone curious to learn how France works and what lies in the future might be interested in having a look at this new concept.

The project was born in 2007 under President Sarkozy’s mandate.  When the Socialists came to power in 2012, they immediately modified the initial proposal.  But the authors of the project kept plodding away.  Its official status represents a progress toward the long term objective, which is to be ready for the Olympic Games in 2024 and the 2025 World Fair, in the event Paris is chosen.

The French capital is choking inside the beltway and something had to be done:  the town of Paris is too small and too expensive even to accommodate the middle class; suburbia, which used to provide a labor force in the former industrial economy, is hit today by unemployment ; this same suburbia feels isolated because of inadequate public transport (if you drive into work you might spend hours in bouchons or traffic jams on the highway).  The RERs (Regional Rapid Transit) are overcrowded and often unsafe.


In the new project (see map above), the backbone of public transport will be the Grand Paris Express, six new lines of totally automated trains circling the Paris agglomeration  and connecting, for the first time, the suburbs.  For instance it will be possible to go directly from Boulogne at the west of Paris to Marne la Vallée  (the location of Euro-Disney) in the east.

Until now any change has been hampered by administrative complexity – layer upon layer of  authorities, like a millefeuille  – (a well known and sinful pastry).

The Grand Paris will  include 132 communes.  Mayors wield enormous power in France.  That power is particularly obvious at election time when building permits seem to multiply.  The mayors will have to learn how to live together and adapt to the new administrative structure, which now includes other layers of the bureaucratic millefeuille, namely the departements and the regions (this year they have been reduced from 22 to 13), piled on top.

France is essentially a centralized state.  Culture, finance, education of the elite,  research and development, luxury shops,  are heavily concentrated in Paris and the Ile de France.  Napoleon, Baron Haussmann, General De Gaulle are the great historical figures who left their imprint in the centralization process.  What we are witnessing today is an explosion of the center.  It is even likely that the boundaries of the Grand Paris may expand.

The Grand Paris will be made of ‘clusters’ (in English in the French text) to bring Paris to par with New York , London or Tokyo.  According to the official description of the project, “Greater Paris relies on seven thematic competitive clusters.”  The list includes : Air Space, Trade, Sustainable City, Digital Creation, International Trade, and Life Sciences.  A financial center already exists in the Defense district, which looks like a mini-Manhattan. ,

Saclay, 20 kilometers south of Paris, is the most impressive and modernistic of these clusters.  Until recently an agricultural land, it is now the hub of Research and Development.  Many élite Grandes Ecoles, like Polytechnique,  have  moved there, as well as 23 universities and the headquarters of major companies.  Its emblematic building, spreading over the fields like a giant flying saucer, is the Synchroton Soleil with its accelerators to study light.  Pierre Veltz, an engineer and former head of Saclay, is confident that it will become an European Silicon Valley.

Nicole Prévost LoganAbout 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.

Addams Family on Stage at Valley Regional, March 11-13

REGION 4 – They’re creepy and they’re kooky!  This year’s musical, The Addams Family, will be performed the weekend of Friday, March 11, through Sunday, March 13, at Valley Regional High School in Deep River. The cast, crew and pit are putting the finishing touches on staging, lights and songs as they prepare for opening night. Ingrid Walsh, director, comments, “I’m just speechless and so proud of how much and how far the cast has dared to go to join the Addams Family.

From the dancing and singing to the elaborate scenery, props, makeup and costumes, this is one show that is not to be missed. There are sure to be feelings of nostalgia for those who grew up watching this iconic show.

Performances are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 1 p.m. Tickets are $12 each for all shows, except the Saturday matinee ($10). They can be purchased at Celebrations, The Wheatmarket, Elephant Crossing, Toys Ahoy and Valley Regional. Those with questions can call the school at 860-526-5328 and speak with Tina Stoddard.

Starring in The Addams Family at Valley Regional: front row (L-R): Jonny Leffingwell, Miranda Holland, Nathan Russo and Maggie Walsh; back: James D’Amico, Zane Bouregy, Mitch Conrad and Annie Brown. Photo by Joseph’s Photography