December 9, 2018

Archives for 2018

‘Con Brio’ Presents Second Holiday Concert This Afternoon

AREAWIDE — How do you get into the holiday spirit? Why not ease into the season by experiencing the joy of uplifting seasonal music at a Con Brio Choral Society December concert. The second will be on Sun., Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme. You’ll hear glorious choral music, trumpet fanfares, and even get the chance to sing your favorite carols along with the singers at the concert’s end.

Danielle Munsell Howard, soprano.

Three professional soloists – Danielle Munsell Howard, soprano; Louise Fauteux, soprano; and Allison Messier, mezzo-soprano – will join the 66 voices of Con Brio and the Con Brio Festival Orchestra under the baton of Dr. Stephen Bruce. To open the concert – and herald the holiday season – four trumpets will perform Jan Zelenka’s Fanfares for four trumpets and timpani.

The choral program that follows will feature two baroque pieces performed with soloists and orchestra. The first piece, one new to most, is Czech composer Jan Zelenka’s Te Deum for double chorus. A new edition of this long-lost Baroque masterwork prompted Con Brio to program it. Zelenka knew J.S. Bach and at least once, stayed at Bach’s house in Leipzig, and also knew Telemann and other famous musicians of the time.

The other baroque piece is likely more familiar, the first movement of J.S. Bach’s Cantata 63, Christen ätzet diesen Tag, composed for the First Day of Christmas, 1713.

Soloist Danielle Munsell Howard, soprano, has been praised by Opera News Online for her “bright, pretty timbre and remarkable facility.” She has performed as soloist with the American Bach Soloists, Amherst Early Music Festival, Boulder Bach Festival, the Yale Collegium Soloists, Princeton Pro Musica and a number of contemporary choral and chamber ensembles. Her New York debut singing Melagro in Gluck’s La Corona at Merkin Hall was enthusiastically received, critically acclaimed in the New York Times and recorded live for Albany Records.

Louise Fauteux, soprano

Soloist Louise Fauteux enjoys a diverse career in the arts devoted to education and performance. Her versatility as a soprano includes a performance of Peer Gynt with the New York Philharmonic and actor John De Lancie and a tour of Venice with DiCapo Opera and the Fairfield Chorale. She has also performed as soloist with New Haven Chorale, Concora, the Farmington Valley Chorale, the Connecticut Master Chorale and the Connecticut Chamber Chorus.

Soloist Allison Messier, mezzo-soprano, has performed as an oratorio soloist in numerous major works including the Mozart Requiem with the Clearlakes Chorale in the New Hampshire Lakes Region, the Rachmaninov Vespers with the Boston Russian Choir; Dvorak’s Mass in D and Mass in Time of War with the Bermuda Chamber Choir. Her opera credits include Dido in Dido and Aeneas and La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica with Piccola Opera NH, as well as other works.

As in past years, Con Brio will sing two pieces in the round while the singers are arrayed around the Sanctuary. The first piece is Quem Vidistis Pastores by Richard Dering and the second, Hodie Christus Natus Est by Giovanni Gabrieli. For many regulars, the eight-part early music pieces sung in the round are a highlight of each Con Brio concert.

Allison Messier, mezzo-soprano

Also on the program is Ola Gjeilo’s Serenity (O Magnum Mysterium) and Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria, both written for eight parts, Mary Had a Baby, arranged by Craig Courtney, I Saw Three Ships arranged by Mack Wilberg, and Sir Christémas, arranged by William Mathias.

The concerts are on Friday evening, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. and on Sunday afternoon, at 3 p.m. at Christ the King Church at 1 McCurdy Lane, Old Lyme, CT. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased in advance at www.conbrio.org or by calling 860-526-5399.

Con Brio Choral Society is a classical, all-auditioned chorus drawing its 66 singers from 15 towns extending along the Connecticut River from Old Saybrook to Deep River and East Haddam and along the shoreline from Guilford to Mystic.

The group performs with the Con Brio Festival Orchestra and professional soloists under conductor Dr. Stephen Bruce.

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Letter from Paris: Riots Fuel ‘Yellow Vest’ Rebellion Against Macron’s Reforms, Stir Memories of May ’68

Editor’s Note: We are watching events in Paris today with deep dismay. Nicole Logan’s topical column gives her opinion on the background to the tense situation unfolding there.

Nicole Prévost Logan

France is in a tailspin.  

The crisis started with the fury against the seven-cent tax hike on diesel fuel. The movement of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) spread like wildfire through the social networks as they blocked the roads all over France. For three weeks in November, the demonstrators congregated in Paris each Saturday. Their confrontation with the police culminated in scenes of violence, which shocked the world: Place de l’Etoile obliterated by the smoke of tear gas, graffiti desecrating the Arc de Triomphe, and a policeman being attacked near the monument.  

Riots have been occurring in cities all over France but are centered on Paris. File photo by Randy Colas on Unsplash

Since the Champs Elysées and the Place de la Concorde were cordoned off by the police, the casseurs (hooligans) spilled over Avenue Kleber and Avenue de la Grande Armee, where they looted shops and set fire to six buildings. Hundreds were wounded and 412 demonstrators arrested. By the day’s end, a picture of desolation remained with the smoldering remains of 35 cars and streets littered with whatever was used as a projectile by the radicalized mob.

The tension is mounting. The government seems unable to contain it. The gilets jaunes are widening their demands to lower all taxes, raise salaries and retirements as well as the dissolution of the National Assembly. At this point they will not stop short of the resignation of Macron. 

It is an unprecedented, unstructured popular anger directly aimed at the president.  The opposition parties – with much glee – are surfing on this tsunami.

The government is making concessions to meet people’s demands. Unfortunately these concessions always arrive too late. The more the government concedes, the more the gilets jaunes demand, apparently comforted by their success.  On Dec. 4th, Prime Minister Edward Philippe announced a six-month freeze on fuel and utility taxes followed by their cancellation the same evening. And the price tag of this measure? Four billion euros. This was the first admission of defeat by the Macron team – a measure very hard to swallow since it went against its own environmental principles. 

What are the causes of this crisis? Mistakes made by a president attempting to reform the country from the bottom up? Ungovernable French people? Perhaps a combination of both.

During the first 16 months of his mandate, Macron undertook structural reforms  to turn France into a modern and competitive country. These reforms dealt with political institutions, the labor code,  the impressive — but somewhat antiquated — railroad system or  SNCF (Societé Nationale des Chemins de Fer), crowded universities  by abolishing a chaotic and ridiculous entrance selection by lottery. 

But French people do not like changes and are attached to their privileges, tax niches and social benefits acquired over decades. An attempt at reforming the system was bound to face an uphill battle .

All these reforms were part of a general plan — a vision — which the president had placed at the core of his electoral campaign and on the basis of which he had been elected. in 2017. He gave himself five years to achieve his goals. 

Unfortunately for him the people wanted immediate results. He wanted to raise the French economy and society from the bottom up and encourage the active population. This was different from a “trickle down” process, but was not perceived as such by the French.  Soon the label,”President of the Rich,” was firmly attached to him.

Macron’s strategy was to consult with trade unions, elected local officials or business people at the Elysée Palace before making any decisions.

Apparently tetanized by the fast pace of the president’s method, the population seemed at first to accept the reforms. But gradually, overwhelmed by the sheer number of new regulations, taxes, or reforms facing them them every morning, its discontent started as an underground rumble until it finally exploded. The last drop was the additional tax on diesel. 

Overall, the French population is justified in its revolt against an unbearable tax burden. France is the world number one champion of taxes with 48 percent of its Gross Domestic Product coming from tax revenues versus 40 percent in the other European countries and less than 30 percent in the US.  One of the buzz expressions among the gilets jaunes is “ras le bol” (meaning “we are totally fed up.”) There are hundreds of hidden taxes in France. For example, did you know that here, one has to pay a tax on “oiseaux de companie” (pet birds)?

The French have a special craving for social justice as shown in their attitude toward the Impot de Solidarite sur la Fortune (ISF) or wealth tax. Macron had split that tax between property wealth — which he retained — and financial holdings such as stocks. In order to encourage investments — particularly on green energy — he created a “flat tax” of only 30 percent.  What he did was misunderstood by the public opinion and may be scrapped soon.    

Today Macron’s room to maneuver is very small.  Since the opposition has no leader to replace him, where is the country going?  Cohn Bendit, the hero of May 1968, the largest French uprising in the past 50 years, gave a frightening prognosis, “I see the present movement in France as a possibly the first step toward totalitarianism, headed by an illiberal despot.” 

The situation is evolving by the hour.  More demonstrations of force are already planned …

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Chester Celebrates ‘First Friday’ Tonight

This painting of Chester’s own ‘Starry Night’ is by Barbara Rossitto.

CHESTER – Tree lighting, carol singing, hot chocolate, cider, wine, homemade cookies, music, art openings, shops in their winter wonderland glory with special gift ideas, tastings and more are all part of the annual Holiday Night/First Friday tonight, Dec. 6, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Annual Tree Lighting and Lighting of the Menorah will be held at 5:45 p.m. at the flagpole. Then join the Chester Hose Company and Santa on Main Street at 6:30 p.m.  This part of the event is hosted by: The Rotary Club of Chester, The Chester Merchants, The Chester Hose Company, Congregation Beth Shalom, Camp Hazen, Chester Elementary School, The Chester Boy Scouts, The Chester Town Hall and The Guest House

An opening for the annual Postcard Show – dozens and dozens of original works postcard size or smaller – will be at the Chester Gallery.  Champagne by the fire will be served.

New jewelry designs from Dina Varano.

New paintings of the Connecticut River and the artist’s garden will be shown in the Holiday Exhibit at Leif Nilsson’s Gallery. His house band, Arrowhead, will play and photographer Caryn Davis will sign copies of her new book, “A Connecticut Christmas: Celebrating the Holiday in Classic New England Style.”

Dina Varano Gallery will introduce Dina’s annual new collection of jewelry.

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SECSEWAC Hosts Local Independent Expert to Present, “Cuba, the Conflicted Isle,” Tuesday

Rob Hernandez will give a presentation on Cuba at the next SECWAC meeting.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) hosts Rob Hernandez to speak on ‘Cuba, the Conflicted Isle: can it reconcile its past while creating a new future?’ at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Old Lyme Country Club, 40 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme, CT.

Hernandez, an international business consultant and lecturer on global issues for the National Geographic, universities and corporations, will discuss the current status of Cuba in the context of its historical relationship with the United States. Specifically, he will recount the long and often tortured history of U.S.-Cuba relations, describe the reality on the ground today, and discuss possible solutions to the five decades of seemingly irreconcilable differences between the two neighbors.

Born in the U.S. but raised in Spain and Cuba—and Essex, Hernandez has worked extensively around the world for more than 40 years. An ecologist by education, he spent his early career doing field research and documenting through film and photography many of the world’s more remote places, work that has appeared in many leading global publications.

As part of those endeavors, he spent a year in Africa filming a television special on lions and, in his early twenties, spent two years circumnavigating the Pacific and Indian Oceans in a 29 ft. sailboat.  Since then he has continued to lead numerous expeditions to Africa, the Arctic and Antarctic, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and South America, among others.

This led to a 30-year career at the National Geographic Society (NGS) where he served in numerous capacities, including senior editor of the National Geographic magazine, head of Strategic Planning, and later as Senior Vice President, founder and head of the Society’s International Publishing Division.  In that role, he established NGS offices in more than 35 countries and published books, magazines, maps, DVDs, websites and a broad range of other digital media in over 40 languages.  Totally committed to NGS’s non-profit missions, he was also heavily involved in the scientific, educational, and conservation initiatives of the organization.

Most recently, he completed his career at the Walt Disney Co. where he ran Disney’s Magazine Publishing Worldwide Co. producing more than 400 local-language magazine titles and other publications for sale throughout the globe.

Now semi-retired, he lives in Essex and works as an international business consultant and lecturer on global issues for the National Geographic, universities, and corporations. He has traveled to Cuba often in the last three decades and looks forward to sharing with his insights about this enigmatic island.

Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC meeting attendees have the option for $35 to attend a dinner with the speaker at the Old Lyme Country Club. Dinner reservations are required by Thursday, Dec. 6, at 860-912-5718.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the main event beginning at 6 p.m. The presentation is a part of the SECWAC 2018-2019 Speaker Series. For non-members, tickets ($20) may be purchased at the door; ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership. Attendance is free for SECWAC members (and their guests). Membership September 2018 through June 2019 is $75; $25 for young professionals under 35; free for area college and high school students.

SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). The organization dates back to 1999, and has continued to arrange eight to 10 Speaker Series meetings annually, between September and June. The meetings range in foreign affairs topics, and are hosted at venues along the I-95 corridor, welcoming members and guests from Stonington to Old Saybrook, and beyond.

SECWAC’s mission is “to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.” It provides a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between members and speakers, who can be U.S. policy makers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations. Learn more at http://secwac.org.

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Puccini, Saint-Saens Featured at Cappella Cantorum Concert This Afternoon

Tenor Brian Cheney will be a soloist in the Dec. 2 Cappella Cantorum concert.

DEEP RIVER — Bring in the spirit of the holiday season by attending Cappella Cantorum’s Christmas Concert Sunday, Dec. 2, 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, One Winthrop Road, Deep River.

Cappella’s Masterworks Chorus will perform Puccini’s “Messa Di Gloria” and Saint-Saens’ “Christmas Oratorio,” two glorious works from the late 1800s.

Featured soloists will be soprano Abigail Paschke, tenor Brian Cheney and baritone Paul Fletcher. Simon Holt will direct the chorus and professional orchestra.

Tickets are $30 purchased in advance, $35 at the door.

Puccini is best known for his later works, the operas “Tosca,” “La Boheme,” “Madama Butterfly” and “Turandot.” His “Messa Di Gloria” was composed earlier but is no less masterful. Saint-Saens is perhaps best known for his opera “Samsun et Dalila” and “The Swan” from his “Carnival of Animals.”

For more information or tickets, visit www.CappellaCantorum.org or call 860-526-1038.

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Musical Masterworks Presents ‘Winterreise’ ConcertThis Afternoon

Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park

AREAWIDE — Musical Masterworks will ring in the winter with the beautiful song cycle by Franz Schubert titled Winterreise — which translates to a winter’s journey – on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m.

Baritone, Randall Scarlata and pianist, Jeewon Park will perform this remarkable piece of music.

Join Artistic Director, Edward Arron, one hour before each concert for a pre-concert talk about Schubert’s life and his composition of this masterpiece.

Musical Masterworks’ season runs through May 2019.  Mini subscriptions are available for $100 each or individual tickets are $40 for adults and $5 for students. visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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State Senator-Elect Needleman Hosts First Office Hours, Thursday in Colchester

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman

State Senator-elect Norm Needleman (D-Essex) is inviting the public to ask questions, share their concerns and meet their new state senator during his  first public office hours to be held Thursday, Dec. 6, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the McDonald’s restaurant at 375 South Main Street in Colchester.

For the past 30 years, Sen.-elect Needleman has been the owner and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a pharmaceutical business which employs more than 150 Connecticut residents.  Sen.-elect Needleman serves as a board member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, and he is also currently serving his fourth term as the first selectman of Essex

Beginning Jan. 9, 2019, Sen.-elect Needleman will represent more than 100,000 Connecticut residents in the 33rd State Senate District, which includes the Town of Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Deep River, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

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Talking Transportation: An Open Letter to Ned Lamont

Dear Ned:

Well, you did it.  Congratulations on your election.  And my condolences.  The easy part of politics is over:  getting elected.  Now comes the hard part:  being Governor.

I hope you and your transition team are already working on that budget that’s due in three months.  There’s a lot of red ink ($4 billion) that needs to be mopped up.  And don’t forget those $80 billion in unfunded pensions.  But I’m sure you’ve got the solutions, right?  That’s what you promised voters, anyhow.  So have at it.

But as you are cutting and slashing, may I be so bold as to make a few suggestions on the transportation front?  Your campaign assured us you’d fix our roads and rails, so I’m sure you have your ideas.  But let’s see if these are of any help.

1)    KEEP YOUR COMMISSIONER:   Jim Redeker has been CDOT Commissioner since 2011 and nobody knows better what’s working and what isn’t.  He’s clearly the smartest guy in the room and you need his experience and talents.  Let’s not lose him to another state.

2)    FIX THE TRAINS FIRST:  You can’t keep high wage earners (and tax payers) living in Connecticut if Metro-North continues its downward slide.  Getting trains back up to speed and on-time is crucial to the state’s economy.

3)    THEN IMPROVE BUS SERVICE:  I hope you realize that the CTFastrak bus rapid-transit system is hugely important and not the “waste of money” your opponent claimed.  Not everyone in this state owns a car.  For the 15 million riders of that busway since it opened, those buses mean being able to get to their jobs.  That is what we want, right… people working?

4)    RIDE MASS TRANSIT:  You campaigned at train and bus stations, now why not get onboard?  Set an example by taking the train from Greenwich to Hartford and riding the bus with your constituents.  See the conditions first hand.

5)    GET GOING WITH TOLLS:  We both know they’re inevitable, despite your opponents’ “tolls are a tax” lie during the campaign.  Let’s stop losing revenue to out-of-staters and truckers and make them pay for driving on our roads.  Start with tolling trucks, though I doubt that’s legal.

6)    HONOR THE LOCKBOX:  Voters have spoken loudly!  The Special Transportation Fund is now padlocked.  Don’t you dare think about picking that lock or letting the Legislature touch those funds for anything but transportation.

7)    PLEASE BE HONEST:  You and your opponents glossed over the tough issues in the campaign, making vague, general comments about improving our lives.  You got the job, so now don’t give us any BS.  Tell us about the hard choices to come.  Embrace the FOI act.  Be open and transparent … and honest.  We’re adults.  We can take it.

8)    DON’T ABUSE THE MAJORITY:  Once again the Democrats are in full control in Hartford.  That’s a lot of power in a few hands and your party’s record on “reaching across the aisle” isn’t great.  Our problems can only be solved with bi-partisan cooperation, so please set the best example.

That’s enough for now.  Get some rest, maybe even a vacation, and we’ll talk again in the coming months.

Best wishes,

Jim Cameron
“The Train Guy”

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media

Jim Cameron

About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

For a full collection of  “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

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Return of ‘The Movie Man’: ‘Beautiful Boy’ Reveals Realities of Relationships Controlled by Addiction

Editor’s Note: We welcome Kevin Ganey back to LymeLine.com. We have missed his stimulating, thought-provoking, intensely personal reviews of movies and are thrilled he has returned

Author’s Note: It seems that in the last two years, I’ve fallen off the edge of the earth when it comes to keeping up with current films. In this time, I’ve skipped the Oscars, and have not even watched trailers to highly anticipated future features. I’m also too intimidated to watch whichever new Marvel film has been released, due to fear of being unable to follow the story. But I have spent a great deal of time immersing myself in older ones, and I owe a great deal to the Criterion Collection for this. But make no mistake, I intend to continue critiquing films for the readers situated in the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.

The cover of the book on which the movie is based. Image: SODIL

I left the screening of Beautiful Boy in a depressed mood.

The film, starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, depicts the relationship of a father and son, David and Nic Sheff, during the latter’s tumultuous period of drug addiction. While many fans of Dunder-Mifflin’s greatest regional manager will take delight in seeing that Nic’s mother is played by none other than Amy Ryan (Michael Scott’s wife), this will not contain any of the goofy humor we saw on the iconic sitcom. It deals with the gut-wrenching and horrific truths of what addiction is.

This is a true story, based on the memoirs of both father and son.

It captures the grim reality of addiction. From Nic’s days of smoking weed (with his father, on occasion) to his bodily dependency on heroin and crystal meth. In several points, Nic gets sober (at one point lasting over a year without using anything), only to fall into relapse.

The film captures the ugly truth of addiction’s harm to the user, and to the user’s loved ones; depicting Nic stealing prescription medicine from his girlfriend’s family, as well as taking the only money his younger half-brother has (a mere $8).

Along with addiction, this film also brilliantly depicts the relationship between David and Nic. We get to see things through David’s perspective as he watches his son spiral out of control and sends him to rehab time after time after time. We clearly see David’s frustration as he wants what is best for his son, whom he loves more than everything.

While I never struggled with drug addiction, I could see myself in Nic pleading to David in regards to numerous subjects, asking his father to have faith in him, and David’s stern responses, all in vigilance to protecting Nic’s well-being. For once, I could understand the mindset in which my parents denied my numerous requests throughout youth, and I could see the arrogance in the “What do they know?” reaction I would give.

This is not a film to see on the basis of pure entertainment. I could hardly imagine any filmmaker with a sound conscience taking addiction as a subject with the intent of making a light-hearted humorous project. I was also dissatisfied with the story’s editing and basic setup.

Without giving away the ending, I was unable to perceive the narrative had finished until the credits began to roll. The performances were stellar, and I would not be surprised if any of the cast receives award nominations, Chalamet, in particular.

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Join a “Hands-On” Workshop Monday to Design a Holiday Topiary Arrangement

LYME — Back by popular demand, Nancy Ballek will again host a demonstration and workshop at Lyme Public Library on designing a topiary arrangement to adorn your homes for the Holidays. This hands-on workshop is by pre-registration only at a cost of $20 per participant. (All supplies will be provided.)
Class size is limited to 25 participants. This event is sure to sell out quickly, so sign up promptly.

Call 860-434-2272 or email programreg@lymepl.org to register.

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It’s Small Business Saturday, so Shop Local Today!

Launched by American Express in 2010, when small businesses were suffering from an economy in a recession, Small Business Saturday was created to encourage people to Shop Small and take more holiday
shopping to local businesses that make our communities strong.

Our friends at the-e-list have prepared a list of local businesses offering special deals for Small Business Saturday, which you can find at this link.

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Enjoy ‘Trees in the Rigging,’ Community Carol Stroll, Tomorrow

Buddy the Elf stands aboard one of the vessels in last year’s Lighted Boat Parade. Photo by CT River Museum.

ESSEX — Kick off the holiday season tomorrow, Sunday, Nov. 25, in Essex with the annual Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Lighted Boat Parade!

The Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Board of Trade, and the Essex Historical Society combine to present this annual event that includes a traditional, lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street where spectators are invited to bring their own lanterns or flashlights and join in with the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars. 

Participants can gather at the Essex Town Hall at 4 p.m. The stroll steps off at 4:30 p.m. beginning on West Ave. and ending at the Connecticut River Museum with a parade of vessels dressed out in holiday lights and passing in review along the Connecticut River. 

Judges view the ‘Trees in the Rigging’ parade. Photo by CT River Museum.

Santa and his elves will arrive by one of the parade boats for visits with children on the lawn of the Connecticut River Museum. The Connecticut River Museum will also be open that evening for all to attend the 25th Annual Holiday Train Show.

New for this year’s land parade will be “Boat Floats” or small watercraft on trailers that are decorated for the holidays and can be towed down Essex’s streets.  Members of the public are welcome to decorate their own boat to be pulled or walked down the parade route.  This addition is starting small-scale – so folksy, homemade and low-budget will suit the spirit of the parade perfectly.  Rowboats, kayaks and canoes will all work, too. 

Contact Essex Historical Society to register your “Boat Float” and receive important driving and parking info: 860-767-0681 or mjosefiak@essexhistory.org

The essence of this free community event is the parade of boats dressed in holiday lights that sail along Essex’s waterfront in a friendly competition.  Prizes will be awarded to the top three best dressed boats.  Winners will be invited to receive their prize and have their photo taken on Monday, Nov. 26, at 4:30 p.m. at the Connecticut River Museum.

Join the on-the-water fun and register your boat for the lighted boat parade.  Registration is required to participate in the boat parade that usually begins around 5:15 p.m. from the south end of Essex Harbor.  To register, send emails to: akyff@ctrivermuseum.org. Information should include: vessel name; type of boat and description; owner(s) name; contact information (phone and preferred email); decorating scheme (if known at time of registration).  Registration must be received by Monday, Nov. 19 at 4:30 p.m.

To make your own lanterns at home: 

  • Step 1: fill an empty aluminum can with water and freeze. This will make it easier to punch holes for the design in the can.
  • Step 2: using a hammer and nail, punch holes in the can to make a connect-the-dots style picture of a holiday design. Use plenty of holes to allow the light to shine through.
  • Step 3: punch two holes near the rim to attach a wire handle.
  • Step 4: after the ice is melted, attach a votive or other small candle to the inside bottom of the can.

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

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Needleman Wins 33rd Senate District After Recount, This Time by 83 Votes

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman has been declared the winner of the 33rd State Senate District by 83 votes after a nail-biting recount involving all the towns in the district, which include Chester, Deep River, Essex, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

He was originally announced as the victor by 303 votes but a subsequent correction in Essex’s vote count reduced the margin of victory to a number that requires a recount by Connecticut law.

Asked his reaction to the recount result, Needleman responded, “I welcomed the recount, because it assured everyone that every vote cast was counted. I am grateful to the election workers throughout the district who worked so hard to make the recount fair and accurate. We can now move on to the task of being the credible advocate the towns in our district badly need in Hartford.”

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Hosts ‘Turkey Walk,’ Saturday

LYME — Take a Turkey Walk on Saturday !

Join a guide from the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center on Saturday, Nov. 24, from 9 to 10 a.m. for their yearly post-Thanksgiving walk at the Jewett Preserve in Lyme. Topics of discussion will include turkeys, Thanksgiving and more during this relaxed hour-long walk while enjoying the fall foliage and outdoor family time.

Register at https://www.ctaudubon.org/2018/10/register-turkey-walk/

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Recount Called in 33rd State Senate District Race

AREAWIDE — Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s office said on Thursday that another state Senate race will be subject to a recount.

State election officials said a recent correction to a reporting error in Essex has put the contest for the 33rd District [which includes the Town of Lyme] within a margin that requires a recount. The new tally leaves Essex’s Democratic First Selectman Norm Needleman leading East Haddam Republican state Rep. Melissa Ziobron by 137 votes.

John Heiser of the Essex Registrar of Voters office said …

Read the full article by Clarice Silber, which was published today on CTMirror.com, at this link.

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Letter From Paris: Thoughts on an Historic Day of Respectful Remembrance … and Distressing Disrespect

Nicole Prévost Logan

Editor’s Note:  We are delighted to welcome back Nicole Prévost Logan after her traditional break from writing while she summers in Essex, Conn.  She has now returned to Paris just in time for the centennial celebrations of the end of World War I, on which she provides an insightful commentary in this column.

Paris was the center of the world on November 11 – the 100-year anniversary of the Armistice of World War I.  Struggling against a strong wind and in pouring rain, 70 world leaders walked toward the Arc de Triomphe on a deserted Avenue des Champs Elysées – a striking image on an historical day.

The ceremony, taking place by the tomb of the unknown soldier, was magnificently choreographed by the French president Emmanuel Macron.  It was solemn and sober.  Not intended to be a show of triumphalism, it did not include a military parade.

The president only reviewed only some of the elite military academies: students from Ecole polytechnique, wearing bicornes (two-pointed hats), and from St Cyr (equivalent to West Point) with their emblematic “casoars” of red and white feathers, as well as students from the air force and naval academies.  The ceremony was to be essentially both an homage to the millions who died and a reminder of the importance of reconciliation and peace.

The timing of the proceedings was synchronized to the minute: at 11 o’clock  all the bells of France tolled, the five Mirages of the patrouille de France flew twice over the Place de l’Etoile in impeccable formation leaving tricolor strands of smoke in the sky.  The sounds of Sonnerie aux Morts (The Last Post) and other bugle and drums pieces added their somber touch. 

Whereas most of the foreign leaders had ridden busses from the Palais de l’ Elysée to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the American and Russian presidents as well as the Israeli prime minister were driven all the way in their cars for security reasons.  The honorable guests gathered under the transparent awning and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Finally the armored car of Donald Trump, in a convoy of 53 vehicles carrying 700 security agents and US government officials, appeared at the bottom of the Champs Elysées.  The American president had a chance for a photo op alone in front of the other heads of State.  

The seating on the first row must have ben a nightmare for the protocol people.  Trudeau was far enough from Trump and protected from him by the King of Morocco and his son.  Trump was next to Angela Merkel.  A few minutes later Vladimir Putin arrived (according to a Russian radio commentator, he had been kept in his car for 20 minutes until the Trumps were settled.)  He took his place next to Brigitte Macron.  Trump broke into a broad smile for the first and only time of the weekend as he greeted Putin.

The visit of the American president to France had started on a sour note.  He distorted what Macron had said  during his November 10 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.  In a furious tweet, he said that he found the French president’s comment about building an independent European military force “insulting.”  In fact, Macron had never used the words “against the US.”

A cultural and emotional program started with the cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing a Sarabande of the Suite No.5 in C minor by Johann Sebastian Bach and ended with the 17-minute long Ravel Bolero, performed by the European Union Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.  A group of young people of all nationalities read excerpts form diaries written by a few French poilus (soldiers) among the 1.4 million killed during the Great War.  The message was the transmission of memory through the future generations.

Macron was born in Amiens, a provincial town in the heart of the devastated regions of France during World War I.  His four great-grandfathers fought there.  In his speech, the French president spoke with emotion of the battlefields he visited during the seven days prior to the centennial, saying, “I walked on the grey earth where so many soldiers were buried, which is today covered by innocent nature.” 

One of the highly symbolic moments of that week was in the clearing of Rethondes when Merkel (the first time ever for a German chancellor) and Macron sat side by side in the train car where the armistice was signed  November 11, 1918.

In the second part of his speech Macron, portrayed himself as a patriot.  Nationalism, he said, has nothing to do with patriotism and is, in fact, its betrayal.  Withdrawal within one’s borders is harmful for the rest of the world, he added.  The anger of Trump was becoming increasingly tangible as he heard those words, his face frozen in a  pouting expression.  One might describe the speech as outright provocation, but it was well-deserved .

The chasm between Trump and Macron grew deeper in the afternoon.  A Peace Forum had been scheduled at La Villette for business people, NGOs, associations and also political leaders, with the objective of  promoting multilateralism.  The American president chose not to attend.

TV viewers were treated to a surreal split screen: on one side Trump speaking at the American cemetery of Suresnes, near Paris, to honor some of the 116,000 Americans who fell during the Great War and on the other, Merkel giving the inaugural speech at the Forum, in which she supported Macron’s vision of an European army to be created in the distant future.

The American president intensified his flurry of angry tweets after his return to the US and threatened France with increased taxes on its wine exports.  In a November 15 interview held on the French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the French president commented: ‘I do not answer tweets. I believe in mutual respect between allies.’

How unfortunate that such a solemn commemoration was hijacked by low-level diatribe.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Charles Sennott, Founder of The GroundTruth Project, to Speak at SECWAC Meeting, Wednesday

Seen here reporting in Afghanistan, Charles Sennott will be the speaker at the SECWAC meeting at Connecticut College on Wednesday

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) hosts Charles M. Sennott on Wednesday, Nov. 14  when he will speak on “GroundTruth in a Post-truth Era,” at 6 p.m. The talk will be held in the Ernst Common Room at Blaustein Hall in Connecticut College.

An award-winning foreign correspondent and founder of The GroundTruth Project, Sennott will discuss the work of this non-profit news organization around the world. Specifically, Sennott will look at the assault on a free press in the US and globally and how it is impacting international coverage. A crisis in journalism is becoming a crisis for democracy.

Sennott is an award-winning correspondent, best-selling author, and editor with 30 years of experience in international, national and local journalism. A leading social entrepreneur in new media, Sennott started GroundTruth in 2014, and in 2017 launched the non-profit organization’s new, local reporting initiative, Report for America.

Reporting on the front lines of wars and insurgencies in at least 20 countries, including the post-9/11 conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and the 2011 Arab Spring, Sennott began his career in local news covering cops, courts, and municipal government. Sennott’s deep experience reporting led him to dedicate himself to supporting and training the next generation of journalists to tell the most important stories of our time.

Sennott is also the co-founder of GlobalPost, an acclaimed international news website.

Previously, Sennott worked for many years as a reporter at the New York Daily News and then the Boston Globe, where he became Bureau Chief for the Middle East and Europe, and a leader of the paper’s international coverage from 1997 to 2005.

Sennott has also served as a correspondent for PBS Frontline and the PBS NewsHour. He has contributed news analysis to the BBC, CNN, NPR, MSNBC and others. He is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the main event beginning at 6 p.m. The presentation is a part of the SECWAC 2018-2019 Speaker Series. For non-members, tickets ($20) may be purchased at the door; ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership. Attendance is free for SECWAC members (and their guests). Membership September 2018 through June 2019 is $75; $25 for young professionals under 35; free for area college and high school students.

Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC meeting attendees have the option for $35 to attend a dinner with the speaker at Tony D’s Restaurant, New London. Reservations are required at 860-912-5718.

The Ernst Common Room at Blaustein Hall, Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London, CT 06320. (MAP HERE)

SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). The organization dates back to 1999, and has continued to arrange eight to 10 Speaker Series meetings annually, between September and June. The meetings range in foreign affairs topics, and are hosted at venues along the I-95 corridor, welcoming members and guests from Stonington to Old Saybrook, and beyond.

SECWAC’s mission is “to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.” It provides a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between members and speakers, who can be U.S. policy makers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations. Learn more at http://secwac.org.

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Letter to the Editor: Needleman Says, “The Election Is Over … Let’s Get To Work”

To the Editor:

The voters of the 33rd District have chosen me to be their advocate in the State Senate for the next two years. The depth of my gratitude to the voters and to the hundreds of volunteers who helped throughout the campaign is beyond my ability to express.

The electioneering is finished, and now we will confront the hard work: get the state back on track, and secure a fair share of support for the towns in our district.  My opponent and I differed in our approach to addressing those issues, but we agreed that the core challenge is restoring the state’s financial health and economic vitality. There is no quick fix, but in my view the path we must travel is clear.

First, we have to bridge the partisan divide that stands in the way of good ideas and sensible solutions. Partisan politics have crippled our state, and it should be obvious by now that retreating to an ideological corner is lethal to the kind of cooperation we badly need. As I said throughout the campaign, I will work with anyone who is committed to finding real solutions, regardless of political affiliation.

Second, renovating our approach to developing revenue projections and budgets is vitally important, but is not the only component of the path to recovery. As importantly, the state needs a comprehensive economic development plan that clearly defines strategies and tactics for creating jobs. We need a plan that builds a compelling and durable appeal to businesses of all sizes…a plan that creates a marketing and communications framework for coalescing the state’s many attributes and advantages into a compelling message. Without a comprehensive plan, the road to economic vitality will be random and reactive, instead of well directed and focused.

Third, I will tirelessly advocate to make certain that every town in our district receives its fair share of support from Hartford. The perspective I have gained from real world experience in budgeting and managing town and business operations will add both credibility and impact to the voice our towns have in the State Senate.

But we also need to address issues that go beyond the state’s finances. We can never stop advocating for measures that address the quality of life in our towns: women’s issues; primary, secondary, and higher education; benefits to our seniors; support for small businesses; and job training for the thousands of unfilled, high paying technical and manufacturing jobs.

I make the same pledge to those who voted for me and to those who didn’t: I will listen to your concerns, I will give you straight answers, and I will never stop working for you. The challenges and the issues that concern you will always be my focus.

It is time to bridge the partisan gap and start on the road to finding solutions. I’m optimistic, because I believe all of us recognize that we have to set aside our differences and truly work together.  That’s the approach and the attitude I will bring to Hartford as your state senator.

Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and support.

Sincerely,

Norm Needleman,
Essex.

Editor’s Note: The author is the first selectman of Essex and state senator-elect for the 33rd Senate District.

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Deep River Public Library Holds Mayflower STEM Challenge, Thursday

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Library will be holding a Mayflower STEM Challenge geared toward children in grades 2 – 4 on Thursday,  Nov. 15, from 4 to 5 p.m. Registration is required for this event.

Participants will be split into two teams and will work cooperatively through a series of tasks to complete the challenge. Students will need to be able to add decimals, work though a simple engineering task as a team and crack a rebus code to follow the clues.

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pm; Tuesday 10 am – 6 pm; Wednesday 1 – 8 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 2 pm.

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All Active, Retired Military Invited to Join Tri-Town Veteran’s Day Parade Today

TRI-TOWN — Tri-Town Veteran’s Day Parade kicks off at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11, down Main St in Deep River.

All active duty and veterans are welcome to march.

Muster at 12:30 p.m. behind Deep River Elementary School.

Ceremony follows at the Memorial Green.

Listen for all church bells to ring at 11 a.m. throughout the towns in observance of the 100th anniversary of Armistice.

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Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm Hosts 29th Annual ‘Farm Day’, Nov. 24; All Welcome

Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm Annual ‘Farm Day’ always draws a large number of visitors.

LYME — Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm will host their 29th Annual ‘Farm Day’ on Saturday November 24th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 139 Beaver Brook Rd. in Lyme, Conn. The annual event is a Lyme tradition, bringing families together to celebrate the heritage of the 101-year-old farm.  The open house ‘Farm Day’ is a free event and features activities for people of all ages.

The Sankows invite the public to see the animals; including over 600 sheep, learn the history of the Sankow farm, and to discover how the farm products are produced and used.   Suzanne Sankow says “Stan and I continue to encourage families to learn the importance of farming and local agriculture.  We greatly enjoy seeing the next generations explore the farm, pet a cow, try a sheep’s cheese or just have fun being outdoors before the winter cold arrives”.

Activities for the family include wagon hayrides, wool spinning and sock making demonstrations.  Live music will be performed by The Locomotives, a folk/blues/rock band, who will be playing songs from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s in addition some originals.

Visitors can shop from a few local vendors including Four Root Farms who will be onsite selling holiday wreaths and swags made with all-Connecticut grown evergreens, rose hips and berries.

The Farm Market and Wool Shop will be open during the event and will feature a variety of artisanal sheep and cow’s milk dairy products and meats as well as new wool products including wool socks, pillows, blankets, capes and sweater capes. Complimentary tastings of sheep’s and cow’s cheese will be available including the Award-Winning BIG E ‘Best in Class’ Feta Pesto.

Lamb and chicken sausage sandwiches, Abbey, Pleasant Cow and Pleasant Son mac & cheese, lamb and white bean chili, chicken corn chowder, hot chocolate and cider will be available for purchase.

Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm, is a 175 acres sheep and dairy farm located in Lyme, CT.  The 101 year old farm is home to a dozen Jersey Cows alongside the 450-600 sheep – Frislands, Romneys and natural coloreds.

Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm is the largest sheep farm in Connecticut and the only licensed producer of sheep’s milk in Connecticut.  They make and sells artisanal sheep and cow’s milk cheeses as well as yogurts, milk, and gelato.

The Wool Shop on the farm features wool garments including socks, scarves, sweaters, hats, vests, and blankets as well as cones of yarn made from their own wool. They offer fresh lamb meats at their farm store beside homemade entrees such as white bean chili and lamb curry stew.

Visit www.beaverbrookfarm.org for more information.

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Collomore Concert Series Concludes With ‘Andes Manta,’ Nov. 25

The ‘Andes Manta’ group from the Ecuadorian Andes will play the final Collomore Concert, Nov. 25.

CHESTER — The Collomore Concert Series wraps up its 45th season at the Chester Meetinghouse on Sunday, Nov. 25, with music of the Ecuadorian Andes, played on more than 35 traditional instruments by the music group Andes Manta.

The vibrant and powerful music of Andes Manta is a joyous celebration of daily life. Songs and festivals mark the blessing of a house, the birth of a child, and the cycles of planting and harvesting. Energetic music and dance animate religious festivals blending pre-Colombian and Catholic rituals.

Natives of the Ecuadorian Andes, the four Lopez brothers – Fernando, Luis, Bolivar, and Jorge – form the group.  They are well known all over America for their virtuosity and extraordinary performances. From Carnegie Hall to the Discovery Channel, the National Cathedral to Lincoln Center and in hundreds of schools and universities, their powerful and moving performance has received standing ovation after standing ovation.

As one presenter said, “The crowd would not let them stop. These guys are magic.”

A selection of the instruments played by ‘Andes Manta.’

The four brothers learned their traditional folk music as it has been learned for thousands of years, passed from father to son, and brother to brother. They have played the entire range of Andean instruments since their childhood, but each has specialties.

Fernando specializes in strings, and most often plays guitar, the bandolin, and the charango. Luis is a noted virtuoso on the charango and the quena, the Andean flute. Jorge specializes in the Andean stringed instruments, while Bolivar is a noted wind musician and the featured performer on the ronadador, an Ecuadorian panpipe that is unique in the world for the “chordal” note that it produces.

The Sunday, Nov. 25, concert will be at 5 p.m. at the Chester Meetinghouse, 4 Liberty St., Chester. A reception follows the concert so you can meet the four brothers.

Read more about Andes Manta on the website, www.collomoreconcerts.org. Tickets for the concert are $30 (students, $5). Tickets can be purchased online at www.collomoreconcerts.org using PayPal, or call (860) 526-5162.

The Collomore Concert series is under the auspices of the Chester Historical Society.

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High Hopes Holds ‘Holiday Market’ Today with All New ‘Tasting Center’

Last year’s Holiday Market at High Hopes drew huge crowds.

AREAWIDE — On Nov. 11, Veterans’ Day, High Hopes will host its 8th Annual Holiday Market with more than 60 carefully curated vendors  coming together with food trucks, kids’ activities, a wine and beer tasting tent, and a whole barn full of holiday spirit, to benefit over 1,750 children, teens and adults. Artisans come to the market to share their wares and help High Hopes to raise friends; the High Hopes Holiday Market is also the organization’s opportunity to share what they do.

Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., over 3,000 visitors will come through the farm gates in search of holiday inspiration. They’ll find something for everyone on their list from handmade silver jewelry to unique up-cycled clothing, woolly socks to silk scarves, goat soap to homemade honey, babies’ gifts to coffee table books, and cheese makers to chocolatiers. But it’s not just about shopping … the Market is a fun day out for the whole family.

Thanks to Market Partner, Benchmark Wealth Management of Old Lyme, entry to the market remains free with a non-perishable food item for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries. Last year High Hopes was the largest single-day collection point with our visitors donating over 3,000 lbs of food just in time for the Holidays.

Grab a group of friends and your “Passport” to Taste the World. Grand Wine & Spirits will be piquing your palate with a selection of wines and beers from each of 12 different producing regions across the world. The Gourmet Galley Catering will be tempting your taste buds with seasonal small-bites, holiday treats and a raw oyster bar.

Tickets can be purchased ahead of time online for $20 (a 33 percent saving, which also means you get fast-tracked into the tent on the day.) Tickets on the day will be $30 on a first-come-first-served basis. State or Federal photographic I.D. will be required for all entrants. Tickets are available at this link

As well as vendors, there will be kids’ activities, information about High Hopes 2019 Summer Camps, and some of the hottest food trucks on the Shoreline. Take the time to walk the beautiful “runway” and meet the High Hopes special herd of therapy horses.

Stop one of the many volunteers and find out why they joined with over 650 others this past year to help High Hopes deliver over 12,000 equine-assisted activities and therapies to over 1,500 children and adults who come through the organization’s programs, celebrating “ability not disability.”

Nov. 11 is Veterans’ Day, and thanks to our community partner MassMutual, veterans will be able to take some time out, browse some helpful resources, watch “Mark’s Story” and enjoy cider donuts and piping hot Omar Coffee in the Veterans’ Tent.

For more information and to register for the raffle or Passport to Taste the World Tent, visit this link.  

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Ivoryton Library Hosts Screeching Hawk, Other Mohegan Tribe Guests, Today

ESSEX — November is National Native American Heritage Month.

On Sunday, Nov. 11, Ivoryton Library welcomes Screeching Hawk and other guests from the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut. She will bring and discuss jewelry, baskets and other crafts, as well as regalia. Screeching Hawk will also demonstrate tribal dances.

Join the Ivoryton Library at 4 p.m. for this exciting program. For more information, call the library at 860-767-1252.

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Democrat Challenger Palm Defeats Republican Incumbent Siegrist in 36th District

State Representative-Elect (D-36th) Christine Palm.

AREAWIDE — Democrat Christine Palm defeated one term-incumbent State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R) by 6,930 votes to 6,592 in the 36th House District.  The District includes the towns of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam.

Asked her reaction the result, Palm told ValleyNewsNow.com, “There are those who will say that speaking in terms of “red” and “blue” is counterproductive. But there’s no question that Democrats and Republicans approach problem-solving differently.”

She continued, “My job now is to represent all four towns in a way that is authentic, respectful of differences, and driven by both passion and pragmatism. Enlightened public policy always takes into account the needs of all people — regardless of where they fall on the economic spectrum.”

Palm concluded, “And while I will never please everyone, I intend to be a pro-active leader for all the towns in our district.”

 

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‘The Queens of the Golden Mask’ at Ivoryton Strikes a Topical Chord … With a Warning

Gerrianne Genga, Sarah Jo Provost and Ellen Barry perform in ‘The Queens of the Golden Mask.’ Photo by Jonathan Steele.

IVORYTON – It is summer, 1961, and in Celestial, Ala., it’s hotter’n a blister bug in a pepper patch.  It is especially steamy in the kitchen of the Sage household where the matriarch, Ida, has gathered her friends around her to meet the new girl in town.  How will Rose from Ohio fit in with the ladies of Celestial who bake pies, sell Avon and belong to the Ku Klux Klan?

The Queens of the Golden Mask, a world premiere currently being performed at the Ivoryton Playhouse, runs through Nov. 18. Carole Lockwood’s brand new play pulls aside the Cotton Curtain to reveal a hidden piece of history that tells a little-known story and also raises a warning. The normalizing of hate is dangerous and toxic – not only to the objects of the hatred but eventually destroying those who are unwittingly caught up in its comfortable complacency.

The play is based on the experiences of Elizabeth H. Cobbs/Petric Smith, who wrote the autobiographical Long Time Coming: An Insiders Story of the Birmingham Church Bombing that Rocked the World. Smith’s work provides more than an insider’s account of one of the most atrocious events of the civil rights era; it is also the personal journey of a woman inside the world of the most extreme opponents of racial justice.

In the violent world of the Klan, women were subservient; men beat their wives with impunity in order to sustain white male supremacy. Most women were partners in the goal of maintaining white supremacy but there were many who, quietly and with great moral courage, put their lives on the line. This is their story.

Lockwood is an actor and writer, who has performed all over the country, on and off Broadway, but it was a challenge from David Mamet that prompted her to sit down and write a play — she has been writing ever since.

Lockwood has written five plays; Basic CableThe Lone Star Princess; and three scripts based in the civil rights movement, “the girls” of Red Tears (the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church), The Mary Band Road Show (the Selma-to-Montgomery March) and The Queens of the Golden MaskUp on the Roof (rooftops after Hurricane Katrina) is currently in the works.

The cast includes Bonnie Black*, Bethany Fitzgerald*, Jes Bedwinek, and Anna Fagan, who have all previously appeared at Ivoryton, and Ellen Barry*, Gerrianne Genga* and Sarah Jo Provost* who will be making their Ivoryton debut.

The production is directed by Jacqueline Hubbard, Ivoryton’s Artistic Director, with set design by Daniel Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Elizabeth Saylor Cipollina.

Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

There will be a talk back with the cast and director plus guests after each performance on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Tickets are $55 for adults; $50 for seniors; $25 for students and $20 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

(Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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Musical Masterworks’ MMModern Presents ‘Quinteto Latino’ This Evening at Centerbrook

‘Quinteto Latino’ will perform Friday, Nov. 9, in the Centerbrook Meeting House.

CENTERBROOK — Experience contemporary chamber music featuring Quinteto Latino tomorrow evening (Friday, Nov. 9) in a Musical Masterworks’ Modern concert starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Centerbrook Meetinghouse. Whether exploring new twists on traditional folk songs or premiering works by living composers, these five musicians blend both the vibrant colors and vigorous rhythms of Latin American music through the tones of the flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon.

Admission is $35 and student admission is $10. Admission includes a reception prior to the concert at 5:30 p.m.; the concert begins at 6:30 p.m.

After the performance, continue your evening with a $40 per person Prix Fixe dinner at the new Los Charros Cantina at The Essex in Centerbrook. Price includes choice of appetizer, tacos, dessert and house margarita. Only available to MMModern concertgoers. Make your dinner reservation by calling The Essex at 860.237.4266 and reference MMModern.

This special performance has been generously sponsored by The Howard Gilman Foundation, Clark Group, Phyllis M. McDowell, Tower Labs and Wade Thomas.

For full details and to purchase tickets, visit Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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Needleman Wins 33rd State Senate District by 303 Votes

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman

State Representative (R-34th) Melissa Ziobron.

AREAWIDE — Melissa Ziobron, Republican Candidate for the 33rd State Senate District and outgoing House Representative for the 34th District, called her opponent to concede the race just after noon today.

According to the Connecticut Secretary of State, Mr. Needleman leads by 303 votes, or 0.58 percent, which is just 0.08 percent over the 0.5 percent threshold that would trigger an automatic recount.
Rep. Ziobron stated “I am very proud of the race that I ran and grateful for the tremendous effort from my campaign staff and volunteers. We worked hard, earned every vote and did not give an inch of ground.”
Rep. Ziobron concluded: “I want to thank everyone who has supported me, both in this race and elsewhere, most especially my family.”
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Reflecting State Result, Deep River Splits Vote Almost Evenly Between Lamont, Stefanowski; Lamont Ahead by 101

DEEP RIVER — Note these are unofficial results.  We also hear unofficially that Question 2 has passed statewide.

GOVERNOR

Lamont/ Bysiewicz: 1,279

Stefanowski/ Markley: 1,178

Griebel/Frank: 125


US SENATE:

Murphy: 1,584

Corey: 942

Lion: 17

Russell: 14


US HOUSE:

Courtney: 1,662

Postemski: 829

Reale: 16

Bicking: 29


STATE SENATE:

Needleman: 1,525

Ziobron: 1,035


STATE HOUSE:

Palm: 1,377

Siegrist: 1,171


SECRETARY OF STATE:

Merrill: 1,475

Chapman: 993

Gwynn: 17

DeRosa: 29


TREASURER:

Wooden: 1,439

Gray: 1,021

Brohinsky: 27


CONTROLLER:

Lembo: 1,435

Miller: 1,063

Passarelli: 17

Heflin: 16


ATTORNEY GENERAL:

Tong: 1,351

Hatfield: 1,139

Goselin: 31

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Essex Results Give Big Wins to Local Democrats Needleman, Palm

ESSEX– Note these are unofficial results.  We also hear unofficially that Question 2 has passed statewide.

GOVERNOR

Lamont/ Bysiewicz: 2,147

Stefanowski/ Markley: 1,990

Griebel/Frank: 220


US SENATE:

Murphy: 2,562

Corey: 1,632

Lion: 24

Russell: 7


US HOUSE:

Courtney: 2,804

Postemski: 1,422

Riele: 28

Bicking: 38


STATE SENATE:

Needleman: 2,798

Ziobron: 1,543


STATE HOUSE:

Palm: 2,378

Siegrist: 1,926


SECRETARY OF STATE:

Merrill: 2,451

Chapman: 1,755

Gwynn: 29

DeRosa: 32


TREASURER:

Wooden: 2,372

Gray: 1,815

Brohinsky: 39


CONTROLLER:

Lembo: 2,374

Miller: 1,795

Passarelli: 31

Heflin: 36


ATTORNEY GENERAL:

Tong: 2,250

Hatfield: 1,972

Goselin: 50

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Murphy Easily Wins Re-election


U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy speaks to supporters Tuesday night. Photo by Douglas Healey for CTNewJunkie.

Editor’s Note: We are providing this link to an article by Jack Kramer published on CTNewsJunkie.com Nov. 6, which covers Senator Chris Murphy’s victory.  CTNewsJunkie.com is a fellow member of the Local Independent Online News (LION) publishers national organization and we are pleased occasionally to cross-publish our stories.

HARTFORD, CT — U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy easily won a second term Tuesday night defeating Republican challenger Matthew Corey.

Murphy was declared the winner shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Early results showed him with a 3-2 margin over Corey.

Read the full article at this link.

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Carney Claims Victory in 23rd House District

State Rep. Devin Carney

OLD SAYBROOK — On Facebook, State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) has posted news of his victory over Matt Pugliese by 7129-5690 votes.

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Vote! Election Day is Today, Polls Open From 6am to 8pm

Tri-Town and Old Saybrook voters go to the polls today in a critical mid-term election.  There are no town elections — all the names on the ballot sheet are for state positions, including that of governor.

Visit this link to read the responses that all six of the local candidates gave to our questions.

Visit this link or click on the “Letters” tab above to read all the letters we have received relating to the elections.  Open any letter on its individual page to read the associated comments.

Polling stations open at 6 a.m. today and close at 8 p.m.  Essex and Chester  residents cast their votes at their respective town halls while Deep River residents should go to the Town Library. Optical scan machines will be used. Voters must present identification.

IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY DONE SO, WE URGE OUR READERS TO VOTE TODAY!

We will publish the results here on ValleyNewsNow.com very shortly after their announcement.

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We Asked, They Answered: The Candidates Respond to Our Questions

In keeping with a long tradition and in the interests of increasing voter knowledge prior to next week’s critically important mid-term elections, we asked all the candidates, whose districts include some or all of the towns in our coverage area, to send us a brief biography and photo, and answer four questions that we posed to them. The questions came from you — our large and diverse community of readers. We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of questions you sent to us, which we interpret as a clear sign of the level of interest in this election, and are extremely disappointed we could not include more of your questions.

We are pleased to report that five of the six candidates responded to our questionnaire and are delighted now to publish their responses.  We would like to express our sincere thanks to the candidates for taking the time to answer our questions and for adhering to our strict word deadlines — 100 words for the bio and 300 words for each response.

The questions were:

  1. What is the biggest problem facing the state, why is it the biggest problem, and what would you do to help solve it?
  2. What do you think of our leadership in Washington?
  3. What policies or infrastructure do you support at the state level for fostering or managing growth in you district?
  4. Why are you running for this position?

The candidates are:

House District #23 (includes Old Saybrook)

Devin Carney (R – Incumbent)

Matt Pugliese (D)

House District #36 (includes Chester, Deep River and Essex)

Bob Siegrist (R – Incumbent)

Christine Palm (D)

Senate District #33  (includes Chester, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook)

Norm Needleman (D) Essex First Selectman

Melissa Ziobron (R) State Rep. House District #34

Click on the candidate’s name above to read their biography and responses to our questions.

For the record and again in keeping with a long tradition, we will not be making any candidate endorsements.

Happy reading … and voting!

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Meehan’s Presidential Memorabilia Display at Acton Library Ends Nov. 7


OLD SAYBROOK — From Oct. 1 until Nov. 7, the Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook will be hosting a display of James Meehan’s presidential memorabilia in their atrium display case. 

The Acton Public Library is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. (starting Oct. 14.)

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Essex Foundation Expands Gateway Beautification 

Sullivan Lawn Service crew members focus on the task at hand – the planting of 15,000 daffodil bulbs at Sunset Pond along West Avenue in Essex thanks to the efforts of The Essex Foundation and its project partners.

ESSEX – The legacy of the late Elizabeth “Diz” Callender continues to enhance the Essex landscape. Through a generous bequest to The Essex Foundation upon her passing in 2014, funding support is now fueling the addition of daffodils along the West Avenue entrance into Essex village.

The first phase of the daffodil project was completed this October with 15,000 bulbs planted in a 3,000 square foot section of turf between Sunset Pond and West Avenue, and blooms expected this spring. Sullivan Lawn Service was hired to provide the planting services. The second phase of the daffodil project will be completed next fall, and includes expanded bulb planting in the Sunset Pond area as well as at the Rte. 153/154 gateway intersection.

The idea for the project came from the fact that Diz Callender enjoyed planting daffodils. Additional funding is coming from The Paul Foundation (owners of the Sunset Pond property), Centerbrook Properties, and individual donors.

A truckload of daffodil bulbs are at the ready to be planted at Sunset Pond along West Avenue in Essex thanks in part to a bequest to The Essex Foundation by the late “Diz” Callender.

The gateway beautification project, which also included the installation of 12 Chanticlear Pear trees and over 300 evergreen and perennial ornamentals at the intersection of Rte. 153 and Rte. 154, is a good example of the types of community efforts supported by The Essex Foundation; projects that are somewhat unique, require quick action, and have an immediate impact.

The Essex Foundation was founded in 1970. It is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making a difference in the lives of Essex residents. The foundation is funded through donations from the community and strives to fill needs not met by other organizations or sources. In general, funds are granted for special purposes, including buildings, equipment, land, and programs, but not to recurring expenses.

More information can be found at www.theessexfoundation.org.

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Letter to the Editor: Vote Yes on Q2 on Nov. 6 to Protect our Public Lands

To the Editor:

As a strong supporter and user of Connecticut’s wonderful state parks, forests, farmlands and other state-owned recreational and conservation lands (in our area, Nehantic State Forest and Rocky Neck, Harkness and Hammonassett State Parks, just to call out a few of them), I write in support of the public land conveyance constitutional amendment that will appear on our November 6 ballot as Question #2. I urge my friends and neighbors to vote YES. This ballot measure alone is worth a  trip to the polls.

Many people assume that our state-owned recreational and conservation lands are safeguarded for the public forever. Sadly, this is not the case. As things stand now in Connecticut, the state legislature, by simple majority vote,  can sell, swap or give away these lands to private companies or local governments just as it can any other properties that the state owns.
The number #2 ballot proposal, if adopted, would change this. It would amend the state constitution to require a public hearing and a 2/3 vote before the state legislature could take such action. Thus, while not providing absolute protection for publicly-accessible and much-loved  lands, the measure would require direct public input on their fate. It would create an open and transparent process preventing back-room deals.
For many in our community, state parks and forests are our only way to experience nature and the outdoors. For all of us, our state lands are beautiful and unique; they nourish body and soul. They also contribute substantial revenue to the state and to the localities in which they are located.
Please join me in voting YES on ballot question 2 on November 6.

Sincerely,

Christina E. Clayton,
Old Lyme.
Editor’s Note: The author is a former president of the Old Lyme Land Trust.
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It’s ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight!

CHESTER — The First Friday of the month means something’s happening in Chester!

The merchants of Chester are kicking off the season of Thanksgiving on the First Friday of November, Nov. 2, by collecting canned goods for Hinka’s Cupboard, the Middletown food pantry. Drop off a can at your favorite shop (or brewmaster), and then enjoy the quaint boutiques, talented artists and the top-notch brewery and restaurants that Chester has to offer during the First Friday activities from 5 to 8 p.m.

Drop-off spots for canned goods include Blackkat Leather(36 Main Street), Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery(1 Spring Street), Little House Brewing Company(16 Main Street), The French Hen(14 Main Street), Shops at the Mill House(5 West Main Street), Chester Package Store(1 North Main Street), Lark(4 Water Street), CAIT SHEA + Sprouted(1 Main Street), Kismet(11 Main Street), Lori Warner Gallery and Swoon(21 Main Street), Dina Varano Gallery(27 Main Street), Strut Your Mutt(29 Main Street), Caryn Paradis(43 Main Street) and The Perfect Pear(51 Main Street).

Merchants, restaurants and galleries will be offering food and drink samples, newly introduced products and specials.

The Chester Gallery continues their exhibit “In the Elements” featuring two new Sol LeWitt gouaches, along with other wonderful sculptures, paintings, neon glass, etchings, baskets and more…visit their website for a list of artists! https://www.chestergalleryct.com/artists/

Blackkat Leather will host Aquinnah Jewelry for the evening. Meet Kelly and customize your own tassel keychains in the shop. Spend $100 or more in store and you get to make one on the house.

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Join Essex Land Trust This Saturday to Hike Falls River Preserve, All Welcome

ESSEX — Join former Essex Land Trust President, Chet Arnold, and naturalist Phil Miller on a beautiful autumn walk of the Falls River Preserve this Saturday, Nov. 3.  Meet at 9 a.m. at Falls River Drive in Ivoryton.

The Preserve is a 40-acre peninsula of forest and ledge projecting into Mill Pond on the Falls River. Arnold was one of the key players that helped to secure this property back in the late 1990s … and Miller always entertains and informs due to his vast knowledge of the environment and nature.

The more challenging trails cross over ledges of 800-million-year-old metamorphic schist forming the peninsula’s spine. The Falls River was dammed in the 18th century to provide waterpower to run a gristmill, a sawmill and an iron works over the years.

The land has been used for logging and pasture as recently as the 1930s. The property’s shoreline on the Mill Pond attracts a large variety of birdlife.

Bad weather cancels.

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Norm Needleman (D) Candidate for Senate District #33

Biography

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman

Norm Needleman is currently serving his fourth term as Essex First Selectman. He has over 20 years as a leading advocate for small towns, with experience as a Selectman in Essex, a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Essex Economic Development Commission, the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, and Board Member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.

Norm founded Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing company, 38 years ago. He and his two sons have built the company to become a leader in its field, now employing over 250 people.

Q1: What is the biggest problem facing the state, why is it the biggest problem, and what would you do to help solve it?

The state’s most immediate problem is the fiscal crisis brought on by years of mismanagement by administrations of both political parties. The harsh reality is that there is no quick fix. Fundamental change is required in the way we manage the state’s finances.

  1. Stop the blame game. We need cooperation, not finger-pointing. The way out of the financial mess is to stop the political gamesmanship that cripples any real chance for cooperation. Inclusion is the only way to forge the dialogue that can resolve difficult issues. No solution to the financial crisis will result without meaningful participation from all stakeholders.
  2. Start with reliable revenue projections. The state has to live within its means. The budget process should begin with revenue projections that are both reasonable and reliable. Overly optimistic revenue projections have caused budget instability, knee-jerk fixes, and fluctuating funding for our towns, making local budgets unstable and compromising delivery of services.
  3. Recognize that shared sacrifice is required. Interest groups, legislators, and the administration must come to the table recognizing an unavoidable reality: we can’t always get what we want. Not everyone will leave the table happy, but all stakeholders have to share the responsibility for putting the state on the road to financial stability.
  4. Start on the road to a proven long-term solution. Job creation through aggressive economic development is the permanent solution to the state’s financial crisis. We need a comprehensive, long-term plan that will define the path to attracting businesses of all sizes and the high paying jobs that come with them. Those businesses want certainty, not a constant refrain of gloom and doom. When a long-term plan is implemented, our state will regain its status as a place where businesses can grow and prosper.

What do you think of our leadership in Washington?

I’m proud of the work being done by Connecticut’s congressional leaders in Washington, Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, and Congressman Courtney. They work tirelessly for the benefit of their constituents in our state. Their work exists in sharp contrast to the thoughtless, damaging and rigidly ideological policies of the current administration. In almost every area…taxation, healthcare, women’s rights, trade and tariff policy, the environment, voting rights, education, foreign policy…the current administration has attempted to implement regressive and repressive policies that punish hard working people. In our district and in our state, businesses of all sizes have suffered economic consequences, and individuals have felt the impact in job losses and price increases for goods and services. The price we pay for current administration policies is made worse by the tone-deaf policies on issues like women’s rights, healthcare and voting rights.  I am grateful to Connecticut elected officials in the Senate and the House, who have worked to battle the rising tide of repressive policies that ignore human values, basic rights, and the economic interests of hard working Americans.

So, the short answer to your question about what I think of our leadership in Washington: I’m appalled and dismayed. But I’m not giving up…I’m committed to fighting every step of the way for state policies that insure safety, fairness and opportunity for every individual in our district.

Q3: What policies or infrastructure do you support at the state level for fostering or managing growth in your district?

Make certain that the towns in our district receive their fair share of support from the state. Every year our district sends tens of millions of dollars to Hartford. And every year, we get less and less support in return. I will work to eliminate inequities in state funding, and make certain that every town in our district gets its fair share of support. As importantly, I will support procedures that result in stable state budgets, so our towns can develop municipal budgets with the certainty that support will not fluctuate in mid-course.

Make economic development a priority. Re-building the economic vitality of our state and our district is key to almost every element of the quality of life here, including infrastructure maintenance, education, the environment, and everyone’s favorite, lower taxes.  I will use my experience as a job creator to build a reality-based economic development plan that will make it easier for small and large business to operate and prosper.

Fix the state’s budget process. Partisan bickering, shortsighted legislators, and knee-jerk reactions to profound economic challenges are what got us into our current fiscal mess.  All of that has to change. Revenue projections have to be realistic, the hard decisions about spending priorities need to be reality-based, and the budget development process needs to be inclusive, not exclusionary. In Essex, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents work together to focus on doing more with less. The result: our taxes are lower than 90% of the municipalities in our state. 

Set an example of non-partisan cooperation. I have built my success in business and government based on inclusion, and listening to ideas, regardless of the party affiliation of the source. Partisan politics got us into this mess…clearly it is the way out.

Q4: Why are you running for this position?

My commitment to public service and civic involvement stems from the lessons my father taught me when I worked in his small grocery store in Brooklyn, New York. He said that everyone has a responsibility to make his or her community a better place to live. To quote him: “”You cant just take…you have to give back.”  I have been fortunate in my life. I have built a successful business, and I have a beautiful family (my partner, Jacqueline Hubbard and 5 wonderful grandchildren). Today, I see a crucial need to give back to the towns in our district, and I am at the stage of my life when my experience will allow me to live up to the teachings of my father.

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Melissa Ziobron (R) Candidate for Senate District #33

Biography

State Representative (R-34th) Melissa Ziobron

Melissa Ziobron is a lifelong resident of the  District with an extensive record of community service. She was Assistant Minority Leader and Ranking Member of the legislature’s influential Appropriations Committee. In 2017 she was reappointed to the Environment Committee and newly appointed to the General Law Committee. In 2017 she was named a State Park Champion by Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and Legislator of the Year by Connecticut Citizens Defense League. In 2018 she received the Excellence in Land Conservation award from the Connecticut Land Conservation Council. She previously served on the legislature’s Public Health and Children’s Committee.

Q1: What is the biggest problem facing the state, why is it the biggest problem, and what would you do to help solve it?

We have several problems, but our large budget deficits — built over decades of mismanagement —  is chief among them.  This is an end result brought on by mainly by not funding pension payments. We also have a stagnant state economy, fueled by uncertainty in the legislature’s ability to live within its means and an atmosphere of extreme partisanship that makes collaboration difficult.

We need to work towards a model that changes the way we budget at the Capitol. Democrats have been content to develop a spending package without consideration of revenue. Reorganizing the budget process should be a priority; waiting to vote on a budget until the last few days of session is unacceptable. A Ways and Means Committee would be a possible solution that could be immediately implemented.

Q2: What do you think of our leadership in Washington?

I voted for and support our President.

Q3: What policies or infrastructure do you support at the state level for fostering or managing growth in your district?

I have intimate knowledge of this district because I have lived here all my life. I think environmental conservation is vitally important.  Our state and local municipalities have done great work in protecting open space, the lower Connecticut River valley and the shoreline.

More broadly, I think our region of the state should continue investing and promoting tourism, as this sort of commerce supports thousands of business across the 33rd district. The state should do as much as it can to support and bolster small business, particularly light manufacturing, regional farming and cottage foods.  I helped bring a new Cottage Food law into effect this year, which will be a benefit for small food based entrepreneurs.

Q4: Why are you running for this position?

I love our state and am dedicated to public service.   As A moderate Republican, I feel parity in representation is the key to working our way our of the current state of affairs in Hartford.

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Matt Pugliese (D) Candidate for House District #23

Biography

Matt Pugliese

Matt Pugliese has spent his career working in the theatre industry, beginning at the Ivoryton Playhouse.  He served as Executive Director at Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theatre in Middletown, CT and now as Managing Director/Executive Producer at Connecticut Repertory Theatre. Matt is currently the chair of Old Saybrook’s Economic Development Commission.  In 2012, Matt was named to the Hartford Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list for his professional work and civic involvement. He holds his BA in Theatre and Masters in Public Administration, both from UCONN.  Matt lives in Old Saybrook with his wife Kristen and their two daughters.

Q1: What is the biggest problem facing the state, why is it the biggest problem, and what would you do to help solve it?

I believe the biggest challenge facing the state are the unfunded pension liabilities.  This constrains the budget and the available resources the state has to invest in other projects and priorities. Priorities is the key word. Connecticut has revenue challenges, and we want to grow our economy, not raise taxes.  I’m not talking about spending more money, but spending money where it is important.

We need to get Connecticut’s spending under control. I’ve spent my career in the non-profit sector, where we have to run on tight budgets and maximize service delivery.  I value accountability and transparency.  We also need to recognize that the state’s spending goes into the community. We need to look carefully to not increase other problems and stressors through shortsighted cutting.  We need a strategic approach.  I will work with the non-profit organizations find opportunities to maximize service delivery and support those in need of help, at the best cost possible.

We need to commit funding to the pension liabilities.  They have been unfunded over the last 40 years, by leadership on both sides of the aisle.  I do not believe that we can re-open negotiations on contracts from years ago.  Not without taking on additional expenses in legal fees. We have an ethical obligation to keep the agreement that we made.  The state has already made progress in negotiations, with the new Tier IV employees pensions being approximately 80% funded.  I have experience around the table as part of a collective bargaining negotiation team representing theatres in our collective bargaining agreement with Actors Equity Association. I have experience working to build consensus with my own staff, consisting of members of five different unions.  We need leaders with experience to take on this challenge and work to a solution that respects our workers and our state.

Q2: What do you think of our leadership in Washington?

I’m frustrated with the partisan politics of Washington. The gridlock in Washington is not serving our citizens.  As a parent, I’m disgusted that name calling and unabashed lying have become acceptable tools of leadership and “debate”.  I am proud that Connecticut sends a delegation of Representatives and Senators that work hard both in DC and in their home communities to fight for our communities and our values.

Q3: What policies or infrastructure do you support at the state level for fostering or managing growth in you district?

We can support workforce development, employee retention and small business growth by prioritizing education, healthcare and paid family leave.  These are initiatives that benefit both business and worker, and make Connecticut regionally competitive with our neighboring states.

I support expanding training programs in our community colleges and trade schools that create a highly skilled and education workforce. We want to prepare our young people for the jobs for the future that will provide a good, living wage. This educated workforce is attractive for business growth and development.  Initiatives including expanding advanced manufacturing training programs in the community college system, partnering with private business to make these programs tuition-free.  I support loan-forgiveness initiatives for college graduates that stay in Connecticut.

Providing high-quality, affordable health care is the most volatile cost for a small business.  It is also one of the most important benefits that workers are seeking in employment. I believe in expanding access to the state’s medicaid program and moving to a single-payer system in Connecticut. This can create stability for both businesses and individuals.

Paid family leave is a benefit that people can use throughout life – whether they are starting their family, taking care of a loved one with an unexpected illness or recovering from their own. Providing paid leave in these situations is a burden on a small business. I’ve myself experienced the stress running a small-business when a staff member needed to use FMLA or left because we were unable to provide these benefits. Paid-family leave would be funded by a small payroll deduction that every employee pays.  It is not an additional cost that small business would need to shoulder. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York all have instituted paid leave systems. We can’t lag behind our neighbors.

Q4: Why are you running for this position?

I’m running for State Representative because I want to serve my community. My wife and I have loved growing up in Connecticut, and we are excited to raise our daughters here.  We need leaders that are going to stand up for good, effective management of our state’s resources, with long-term strategic vision for Connecticut.  We need to protect our environment for future generations, work to reduce income inequality, create a vibrant, strong economy and ensure access to high-quality healthcare.  We need leaders with empathy.  We need leaders that understand the difference between short term wins and long term success.  I want to help Connecticut grow and continue to be a great place to live and work and raise a family. We need leaders that are willing to listen and to learn – and then lead.

I want good governance.  The job of government is to effectively maximize service delivery for our citizens.  I have over a decade of executive leadership experience running non-profit theatre organizations. I ran Oddfellows Playhouse during the recession from 2008 to 2013.  I understand how difficult it is to deliver service to the community while facing decreasing revenues. I have had to make difficult decisions. I have worked hard to keep a staff employed.  We need collaborative leaders that understand communication doesn’t mean talking, it means listening. We need non-partisan leaders that will build relationships, communicate and collaborate to serve our community.

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Devin Carney (R – Incumbent) Candidate for House District #23

Biography

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

Devin Carney is seeking his third term as State Representative for the 23rd District. He currently serves as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and also serves on the Environment and Finance Committees. He is co-chair of the bipartisan Clean Energy Caucus and co-founder of the Young Legislator’s Caucus.

He serves on the Board of The Kate and Saye Brook Senior Housing and is a member of both the LOL and Old Saybrook Chambers. He was born and raised in Old Saybrook and lives in Old Lyme with his significant other, Lisa. He works as a Realtor in Old Saybrook.

Q1: What is the biggest problem facing the state, why is it the biggest problem, and what would you do to help solve it?

Connecticut’s fiscal crisis. Connecticut is currently about $89 billion in debt and there seems to be no end in sight.

The four main reasons we are in so much debt is because of unfunded state employee pension liabilities, unfunded teacher’s retirement costs, benefits and healthcare for state employees, and debt service. Decades of mismanagement and kicking the can down the road have led to this massive debt. These ‘fixed costs’ used to only make up about 12% of the budget, now they make up over 30%, so they are crushing the state budget and taxpayers (debt per person is over $50,000).

Solving it requires collaboration across party lines and across town lines. We have to move all new state employees over to a defined contribution-style of pension plan with benefits that more mirror the private sector. I would eliminate overtime from pension calculations – to me, it’s ridiculous that an employee can make more in retirement than they did in base salary, while employed, because they worked tons of OT in their last three years.

Since I have proposed some changes to state employee benefits, it is only right that our political appointees and politicians give back. I would eliminate benefits for life for political appointees and politicians who serve so little time. I’m shocked that people like UConn president Susan Herbst or former disgraced lottery CEO Ann Noble will be getting six-figure pensions and great healthcare for life – paid for by us – while the average person struggles.

The state must also look at zero-based budgeting and, simply, stop spending so much. We don’t need a $10M toll study, we should sell the XL Center, we shouldn’t be bailing out Hartford, and the list goes on. I am proud to have supported real spending and bonding caps to curb this.

Q2: What do you think of our leadership in Washington?

I wish our leadership in Washington would work together more – and that includes Democrats and Republicans. Aside from Joe Courtney, our district doesn’t get a lot of attention from our leadership in Washington with the exception of help defeating the federal rail bypass proposal.

When I first got elected, I contacted Joe Courtney to meet with him because I wanted to discuss working together when we could. I even worked with Joe to get a federal bill proposed to allow Connecticut to sell the Westbrook Welcome Center, which is closed and in disrepair (federal law prohibits it due to an archaic provision from the 1950’s).That’s the type of leadership I bring to the table – willing to work with anyone, regardless of party. Unlike my opponent, I have never used Washington-style smear tactics about anyone from the other party – no matter how much I disagree with them. That’s the leadership-style we desperately need in Washington and Hartford. Integrity matters.

Q3: What policies or infrastructure do you support at the state level for fostering or managing growth in you district?

Connecticut taxpayers have one of the highest tax burdens in the nation and we are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to other states. Many homeowners in the 23rd either have residency in another state or are seriously considering it because of taxes. Growth can be realized if Connecticut becomes more affordable.

In order to curb the exodus, Connecticut has to strategically reduce taxes in order to better compete with our neighbors and states to the south. I supported reducing the estate tax and reducing pension/social security taxes, which is a start, but more needs to be reduced. Government needs to partner more with the private sector and non-profits to deliver services. Government needs to eliminate mandates on small towns and schools that are unnecessary and add to property tax burdens. I will not support new taxes and was proud to defeat many of Governor Malloy’s proposals for new taxes, including those on cell phones, restaurants, homes and veterinary services.

In order to get growth, the state has to implement policies that encourage business investment and job creation. State government must step aside, stop picking winners and losers, and let the private sector flex its muscle. Too much government bureaucracy and taxes make Connecticut less desirable for investment. At the same time, Connecticut should be focused on training people for in-demand jobs in new technologies, manufacturing, and healthcare by promoting more public-private development initiatives and high school/college training programs. Connecticut is one of the only states not to recover all of its jobs lost in 2008 and that needs to change.

In terms of infrastructure, the DOT needs to focus on improving I-95, particularly in our region, and making it safer. I’m proud, as Ranking Member of Transportation, to have saved precious infrastructure improvement dollars from being cut.

Q4: Why are you running for this position?

I am running for re-election because this state needs proven leaders who will work collaboratively to improve our state’s fiscal situation. There are many issues Connecticut faces, but nearly all of them depend on our fiscal health. I love our district, but I hate seeing what decades of mismanagement and high taxes have done to our state. I’m running because I want our seniors to be able to afford to live here, I want our young people to be able to find jobs here, and I want our quality of life to be the best it can be.

In my four years as State Representative, I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish. I was a leader in defeating the federal rail bypass proposal that would have devastated Old Lyme. I supported policies to curb our opioid epidemic, defeated a mileage tax proposal that would have crushed taxpayers, and worked to grow our tourism economy. In only my second term, I was named Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee, where I have had a seat at the table of one of the most powerful committees in Hartford.

We cannot afford new taxes, more spending on programs we can’t pay for, or more regulations on businesses.  I opposed Governor Malloy’s proposals on all of this. I stood up for small businesses against taxes, I stood up for seniors to reduce costs, I stood up for veterans to improve healthcare, and I stood up for our local education against illogical mandates.

Integrity matters in this election and I have never – nor will I ever – put party politics or special interests over the people I represent. We deserve a positive, collaborative, independent voice in Hartford and that’s what I will continue to bring if elected to another term.

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Christine Palm (D) Candidate for House District #36

Biography

Christine Palm

Christine Palm is principal of Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC, which gives anti-discrimination trainings for the corporate, academic and non-profit workplace. Palm served for many years as anti-harassment trainer for Connecticut’s Executive Branch agencies. She was women’s policy analyst for the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors and served as public information officer for the Office of State Treasurer.

She has been a newspaper reporter, high school teacher, marketer of non-profit and cultural institutions, and once owned a bowling alley. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for essay writing.

She and her husband have four sons and live in Chester.

Q1: What is the biggest problem facing the state, why is it the biggest problem, and what would you do to help solve it?

The biggest problem is the state of our economy, which began to tank years ago under previous administrations. Bad policies and irresponsible practices then have resulted in distress now.

The Connecticut I grew up in had a wonderfully diversified economy that stood on five strong “legs”: Manufacturing, Insurance, Defense, Retail/Commercial and Tourism. Many of the companies woven into this fabric were locally owned and run. We have become over-reliant on Fairfield Country hedge funds, have cut tourism spending, and have allowed our once-robust manufacturing sector to falter.

I’m in favor of investing in vocational and technical schools and apprenticeship programs which, when working together with corporations and businesses, will provide a pipeline to employment.

We need to invest in innovative start-ups. For this, I’d also like to see us reapportion the money currently being spent through the “First Five” program in two ways:

First, rather than give $322 million to 15 large companies (as we do now) let’s give smaller (but still critical) seed money to a wider swath of entrepreneurs, and small and mid-sized businesses. Imagine what 320 grants of $500,000 each could do! I would require that an affordable housing component be required, as well as retail activity. These are the two largest drivers of what makes cities and towns attractive to a young, educated workforce.

Secondly, I would use the other half (around $160 million) to defray college debt. With an average debt of $35,000, Connecticut’s young workforce has the third highest burden in the nation. If the State gave that $160 million to 320 companies to help pay off employees’ student loans, nearly 5,000 workers would have a large expense taken care of (and could therefore stay longer at the jobs), and the employer would not have to raise wages in order to compete.

Q2: What do you think of our leadership in Washington?

If by “leadership” we are talking about the president, I believe he is, without a doubt, the worst thing that has happened to our country in generations. He has debased the free press, incited riots and hatred, defended Neo-Nazis, imposed business-busting tariffs, committed sexual assault (and bragged about it), decimated the E.P.A., violated human rights on every front, and is poised to squander the surplus and strong economy he inherited when taking office. What should be of grave concern to our local residents, too, is the fact that his so-called tax cuts will actually add to the burden of middle-class and working families in Connecticut.

If, however, we are talking about our U.S. Congressional delegation, they are a very different story. Rep. Joe Courtney is a personal, lifelong friend and I know first-hand of his integrity and brains. From my work at the Capitol, I have partnered with Sen. Chris Murphy on such important issues as domestic violence reduction and gun safety. They and their Democratic colleagues represent our interests in a moral, effective way.

Q3: What policies or infrastructure do you support at the state level for fostering or managing growth in your district?

Our district is blessed with natural beauty, cultural attractions and vibrant small manufacturers and businesses. We need to invest and protect the interests of all, as we seek ways to attract more business, including retail, to our towns, especially Haddam.

From knocking on people’s doors this summer and fall, I heard over and over again of the need to make the town more vibrant by increasing the tax base, so that middle class families will not continue to bear the brunt of our unequal taxation system.

In addition, we must protect our schools by guaranteeing our fair share of Educational Cost Sharing dollars.

Q4: Why are you running for this position?

From my 10 years in government service as a non-partisan employee of the General Assembly, I saw too many good bills fail because of partisan bickering and the lack of political backbone. I believe we need bold leadership, and to have the chance to represent four river towns is a privilege I take very seriously.

One of my political heroes was Wilbur Cross, who was Connecticut’s governor during the Great Depression. Among his signature achievements were measures related to the abolition of child labor, improved factory safety and the creation of a minimum wage. I think of him when I get discouraged about political inaction and timidity.

Here is a guy who at the height of the worst crisis in memory, inspired people with his optimism: in his famous Thanksgiving address of 1936, he talked about “blessings that have been our common lot and have placed our beloved State with the favored regions of earth.”

But he also spoke of the need for “steadfast courage and zeal in the long, long search after truth.”

I can’t pretend to have Wilbur Cross’ courage or his wisdom. But in seeking to represent Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam at the Capitol, I promise to strive toward them.

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Bob Siegrist (R – Incumbent) Candidate for House District #36

No responses received.

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The Country School Hosts ‘Open House’ Today; Prospective Students Welcome

The Country School is holding an Open House on Sunday, Oct. 28, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Students interested in attending the school and their families are invited to visit and meet engaged students and dynamic teachers. Hear about the school’s rigorous academic program and commitment to honoring the creativity of childhood.

Learn about their signature programs – STEAM, Elmore Leadership, Outdoor Education, and Public Speaking – and extensive offerings in the arts and athletics. Tour the school’s transformed 23-acre campus. Hear how their alumni are thriving at top high schools and colleges across the country.

Founded in 1955 and located at 341 Opening Hill Rd., Madison, CT 06443, The Country School is a coeducational, independent day school serving students in PreSchool through Grade 8.

To learn more and register for the Open House, visit https://www.thecountryschool.org/admission/open-house.

For information about the school’s $10,000 60th Anniversary Merit Scholarship opportunity for students entering Grades 4-8, visit http://www.thecountryschool.org/scholarship.

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Letter to the Editor: Deep River, Essex Voters Have Opportunity to Elect Much-Needed Third Registrar

To the Editor:

Voters in Deep River and Essex will have a chance this year to elect a third registrar. Sean Ames is running as a write-in candidate in Deep River, and Alex Foster is running on the Green Party line in Essex. Under election law, the two major parties are guaranteed a registrar position, but if Ames and Foster get enough votes, they will be
elected, too.

It makes sense to have more than two registrars. The party registrars are elected to protect the interests of their parties, but the largest group of voters (40% in Essex, 45% in Deep River) are unaffiliated or minor party.

Recently, we’ve seen attempts by hackers, whether foreign or domestic, to break into voter databases across the nation. We’ve also seen clerical errors in the voter lists and attempts to remove voters because they share a name similar to another voter.

A third set of eyes is needed to improve the accuracy of the voter lists, to navigate the more complex election procedures mandated by the state, and to watch out for the interests of the growing number of voters who choose not to affiliate with one of the major parties, opting instead to join a third party or no party at all.

Sincerely,

David Bedell,
Wallingford.

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Salary, Other Benefits Become An Issue In Local Senate District

State Rep. Melissa Ziobron                                                               CTNEWSJUNKIE FILE PHOTO

Editor’s Note: We are providing this link to an article by Christine Stuart published on CTNewsJunkie.com Oct. 24, since it pertains to the senate race affecting the towns we cover in ValleyNewsNow.comCTNewsJunkie.com is a fellow member of the Local Independent Online News (LION) publishers national organization and we are pleased occasionally to cross-publish our stories.

HARTFORD, CT — On paper it looks like state Rep. Melissa Ziobron, who is in a pitched battle for a state Senate seat, was the highest paid state legislator in 2017.

Her opponent in the race, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, sent out a press release last week to highlight the fact that Ziobron collected $18,379 in “other” pay last year. That’s on top of a base salary of $32,241 for the part-time lawmaker.

In a phone interview last week, Ziobron said that Needleman is wrong.

Read the full article at this link.

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Local Historical Societies Commemorate End of WWI, Honor Local Veterans in ‘A Patriotic Salute,’ Nov. 4

The Corinthian Band will play patriotic music during the slide show.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and 100 years of women serving in the US military, the historical societies of Chester, Deep River and Essex will sponsor a program that combines local history, spirited patriotic music and a unique way to honor our veterans.

The area’s historical societies are combining forces to present “A Patriotic Salute,” a digital slide show of images of local veterans over the past 100 years, to be shown on Sunday, Nov. 4, at 3 p.m. at the Deep River Town Hall Auditorium at 174 Main Street, Deep River. The slide show will be presented with musical accompaniment by the Corinthian Jazz Band, performing patriotic music. Historic commentary will be provided by Angus McDonald.

The event is free and open to the public. Handicapped access is available. Refreshments will be served.

Questions? Call 860-558-4701 or go to chesterhistoricalsociety.org.

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How to Teach Kids About Consent, Healthy Relationships; Talk at Deep River Library, Tonight

Jill Whitney, LMFT

DEEP RIVER — The news lately has brought home to all of us how easy it can be for teen sexual experiences to go wrong.  Kids of any gender can be victims of sexual assault – or may even contribute to a culture of sexual harassment and violence if they’re confused about what respect and consent should look like.

Jill Whitney, a licensed marriage and family therapist who writes about relationships and sexuality, will guide parents on how to talk with kids about consent and other sex-related topics.  She will provide:

  • Ideas for getting the conversation started
  • Sample language you can use
  • Ways to deal with strong feelings that may come up for you or your child

Join the conversation on Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Deep River Public Library.  Open to parents of children of any age.  All are welcome.

Registration at tritownys.org would be appreciated for planning purposes.

Resources will also be on hand from the Women & Families Center and the CT Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

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