June 25, 2019

Gov. Lamont Amends Education Proposal on Shared Services; Encourages School Collaboration, Reallocation of Resources to Classroom

Governor Ned Lamont (D)

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF GOVERNOR NED LAMONT– Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is submitting revised language to the General Assembly on his proposal encouraging shared services in Connecticut schools. The new proposal, which was developed in collaboration with stakeholders, addresses concerns raised by members of the community while continuing to encourage collaboration and shared services among schools. The governor said that he agrees with many constituents who do not want their school districts to be forced to consolidate operations and is hopeful that the modifications to his proposal address those concerns.

Unlike other proposals, Governor Lamont’s legislation does not force school consolidation. Rather, his bill uses school construction bonds and other funds to incentivize communities to explore cost savings, but does not force regionalization.

“The truth is that our students and teachers are not getting the adequate resources they need in the classroom,” Governor Lamont said. “Sharing certain back-office administrative services and purchasing costs is more efficient for certain schools, and my bill is intended to highlight and incentivize those efficiencies. I’ve also heard the concern that school districts need independence to make the decisions they feel are best. My revised proposal seeks to strike that balance through a collaborative process that preserves the feisty independence of our towns while providing them the tools they need to accomplish our shared vision of focusing resources on the classroom.”

As an example, North Carolina uses one contract for school software throughout the entire state, however in Connecticut there are 170 different contracts and the state is paying a premium. The governor’s proposal creates a bipartisan commission on shared school services, made up of education stakeholders from across the state including parents, teachers, superintendents, and school board members. That commission has no power to force the adoption of its recommendations, but will look around and outside the state to issue advisory reports on how districts can best share services and prioritize money for students and teachers. The towns and the people’s elected representatives will be able to draw on the recommendations that make sense in their local contexts.

The revised language in governor’s proposal:

  • Ensures regional diversity by requiring each of the governor’s six appointees come from a different RESC service area
  • Underscores the non-binding nature of the commission’s recommendations
  • Eliminates requirements that the commission consider redistricting and regionalization in its reports

The legislation, SB 874 – An Act Concerning Education Initiatives and Services in Connecticut, is currently pending in the education committee. The same language is included in HB 7192 – An Act Concerning Municipal and Regional Opportunities and Efficiencies, which is pending in the planning and development committee.

**DownloadProposed revised language to SB 874

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Needleman Proposes New School Regionalization Plan

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — Yesterday State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) proposed a new plan for school regionalization. His proposal would create legislation tailored to help school districts and municipalities cooperate to share services and resources on their own terms, in contrast to recent legislation that would mandate school changes.

Needleman appeared with East Haddam Selectman Robert Smith, Chester First Selectman Laurent Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Essex Board of Education member Lon Seidman, Portland First Selectman Susan Bransfield and CABE Deputy Director and General Counsel Patrice McCarthy.

Watch this news clip from NBC to see a summary of what Needleman proposed.

The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Town of Lyme.

Today a public hearing will be held at 11 a.m. in Hartford on HB 7192, AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND EFFICIENCIES, a Governor’s Bill dealing generally with regionalization and shared services for local governments

Sections 7-10 of the bill are the same as Sections 1-4 of SB 874, the Governor’s Bill on school regionalization and shared services. If you have already submitted testimony to the Education Committee on school regionalization bills, this is an opportunity to comment before a different committee specifically on SB 874.

– Make sure to read the four sections of HB 7192 (again) and comment on them specifically (of course, you may also comment on any other sections you choose).

– Include only HB 7192 (same as first sections of SB 874) in your testimony, as this is the only language from the three school regionalization bills that is before Planning & Development.

Written testimony should be submitted by 9 a.m. to PDtestimony@cga.ct.gov

Sign-up to speak between 9 and 10 a.m. (lottery) in Room 1D.

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Talking Transportation: Connecticut’s Hometown Railroad

The worldwide logo for Genesee and Wyoming Inc.

You might not realize it, but Connecticut is home to the world headquarters of a $5 billion international railroad company on whose trains you’ll never be able to ride.

In a small office building across from the Darien railroad station sits the offices of Genesee and Wyoming Inc, a “short line” railroad conglomerate.  The original railroad, founded in 1899, hauled salt on a 14-mile track in upstate NY.  Today, G&W owns 122 different railroads on three continents, serving 3000 customers with over 16,000 miles of track.

A “short line” railroad, as its name implies, only operates over short distances, sometimes thought of as rail freight’s first and last mile.  They pick up boxcars and tankers at factories and plants and carry them to junction points where they hand them off to the major railroads which carry them to their ultimate destination, a journey often completed by another short line railroad.

In the US G&W’s railroads are as short as a single mile in length and as long as 739 miles.  They operate 1300 locomotives and 30,000 railcars.  But they only carry freight, not passengers.

And because they only travel short distances, they’re not looking for speed as much as customer service.  Moving along at 15 mph saves a lot on track maintenance.

How does G&W’s sales team sell companies on shipping by rail instead of truck?  Fuel costs.  Trains are four times more energy efficient, a crucial consideration when you’re hauling tons of stone, coal, or wheat instead of Amazon boxes filled with packing peanuts.

The G&W’s most local affiliate, The Providence & Worcester, runs a train on Metro-North tracks each night, hauling crushed rock from Connecticut quarries to Queens NY.  I can hear the train from my home, usually just before midnight, as its locomotives strain under the load and rumble through town.

That’s about the only freight train left on the New Haven line.  But that’s another story for another time.

Overseas the G&W owns some much larger railroads, but still dedicated only to freight.  They run trains, container terminals and freight yards in the UK, Germany, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Down under in Australia the G&W runs a huge freight operation running north-south through the heart of the continent serving the iron ore and manganese mines hauling intermodal containers through the desert-like interior.

How does a tiny, 20-person office in Darien oversee such a massive railroad network around the planet?  It doesn’t.  Each of G&W’s nine operating regions is locally managed with capital allocated from headquarters.  Keeping the decision-making close to the customers, not being second-guessed from thousands of miles away, has been the key to G&W’s success.

But one thing that all of G&W’s railroads do share in common is the color scheme of their logos, originally designed by Milton Glaser (famous for the I Love NY logo).  Every G&W railroad’s logo is orange and black.  Not just any orange, but Princeton orange, harkening back to its former chairman’s alma mater.

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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Essex Winter Series presents New Haven Symphony Orchestra with Violinist Tai Murray, Sunday

Violinist Tai Murray, who will perform Sunday in the Essex Winter Series.
Photo: Marco Borggreve for HM

DEEP RIVER — Essex Winter Series presents its Fenton Brown Emerging Artist Concert featuring the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO) with violinist Tai Murray on Sunday, March 17, at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, Deep River.

Maestro William Boughton, in his final season with NHSO, conducts four masterpieces showcasing the string family of the orchestra, as well as the internationally and critically acclaimed violin soloist Tai Murray. The concert will include Mozart’s Symphony No. 31, better known as the Paris Symphony; Violin Concerto in G minor by Prokofiev; Barber’s solemn, yet powerful Adagio for Strings; and Haydn’s Symphony No. 102.
An inspiring talent with a silky and sweet tone from even the highest registers of her instrument, impeccable intonation, the hugely musical Murray has become an essential personality in today’s classical musical world. A former BBC Young Generation artist, member of the Marlboro Festival and of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society, she gave her London Proms Debut during the summer of 2016 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Thomas Sondergard.
Living between New York and Berlin, Murray has been heard on stages such as the Barbican, London’s Queen Elizabeth and Royal Albert Halls, aside orchestras such as Chicago Symphony, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
Essex Winter Series’ 42nd season concludes on April 7 at Old Saybrook High School with Chanticleer, known around the world as “an orchestra of voices.” The program celebrates the ensemble’s 40th year with a program of beloved composers, from Palestrina and Victoria to Mason Bates and Steven Stucky, as well as audience favorite arrangements by Jennings, Shaw and others.
Seating for all concerts is general admission and tickets may be purchased by calling 860-272-4572 or visiting www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2019 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Masonicare at Chester Village, Tower Laboratories, Guilford Savings Bank, and BrandTech Scientific.

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Centerbrook Architects Garner Award for Mystic Seaport Design

The award-winning Centerbrook Architects & Planners-designed Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum. Photo by Derek Hayn/Centerbrook Architects.

CENTERBROOK – The Centerbrook Architects & Planners-designed Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum has been recognized with a national award by WoodWorks – Wood Products Council.

The Thompson Exhibition Building was recognized in the “Commercial Wood Design – Low-Rise” category – one of nine national awards bestowed by WoodWorks. The Wood Design Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in wood building design across the country.

This is the fourth recognition for the Thompson Exhibition Building since it opened to the public in the fall of 2016 in Mystic, Connecticut. The design previously garnered the Honor Award-With Distinction by the AIA QUAD Awards, and was named by the CT CREW Blue Ribbon Awards as the Best Specialty Project. In 2018, ArchDaily – the world’s most-visited architecture website – named the Thompson Exhibition Building one of the 100 Best Wood Architecture Projects in the U.S.

The Centerbrook design team, led by Principal Chad Floyd, FAIA and Senior Director Charles Mueller, AIA, chose wood as the predominant building material for its form, function and aesthetic capabilities. The Thompson Building’s more prominent wood features include Douglas fir glulam beams spanning the entire width that give the building its unique curvilinear shape, and arresting western red cedar exterior cladding.

With its 5,000-square-foot exhibition gallery, the Thompson Building is the centerpiece of Mystic Seaport Museum’s reimagined mission that brings a new focus to exhibitions. With its functional flexibility, the Thompson Building has strengthened the museum as a year-around tourist destination.

Centerbrook Architects & Planners is a firm conceived in 1975 as a community of architects working together to advance place-making and the craft of building. A collaborative firm with an exceptional history of building, Centerbrook is known for inventive design solutions that are emblematic of its clients. Centerbrook’s designs have won more than 380 awards, including the Architecture Firm Award, a distinction held by only 40 active firms nationwide. Centerbrook was named a 2018 Top Workplace in the Greater Hartford Area by the Hartford Courant.

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Musical Masterworks Modern Presents ‘Quince Ensemble’ at Lyme Art Association Tonight

Quince Ensemble performs at the Lyme Art Association, March 1. Photo by Aleksandr Karjaka at Karjaka Studios.

AREAWIDE — Musical Masterworks Modern (MMModern) presents the Quince Ensemble,Friday, March 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the Lyme Art Association.

Experience contemporary chamber music featuring Quince Ensemble with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang’s love fail, a meditation on the timelessness of love that weaves together details from the story of Tristan and Isolde.

Singing with the precision and flexibility of modern chamber musicians, Quince Ensemble is changing the paradigm of contemporary vocal music.  Described as “the Anonymous 4 of new music” by Opera News, the ensemble continually pushes the boundaries of vocal ensemble literature.

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

After the performance concludes, end your evening with a Three-Course Prix Fixe dinner for two with a bottle of wine for $100 at the Bee & Thistle, only available to MMModern concertgoers.  Make your dinner reservation by calling Bee & Thistle at 860.434.1667.

This special performance has been generously sponsored by The Howard Gilman Foundation and James B. and Alden R. Murphy.

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

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Region 4 Board of Education Presents Capital Plan, Draft Budget for Public Comment, Wednesday

The Region 4 Board of Education is currently in the middle of budget workshops for the 2019-20 school year. As part of this budget process, the Board is reviewing the recommendations of the Region 4 Grounds & Building Maintenance and Oversight Committee (made up of members of the Region 4 BOE, Administration, and Town Officials) in determining a five-year capital plan.
On Wednesday, March 6, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the John Winthrop Middle School library, there will be a presentation and time for public comment on the capital plan and working draft budget before the Board moves into their scheduled Budget Workshop.
This is a re-scheduled date due to the weather cancellation on its originally scheduled evening.
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Matthew Shafner Memorial Scholarship for Sons/Daughters of Disabled Workers Now Accepting Applications

The Disabled Workers’ Committee, a Connecticut-based, not-for-profit organization, whose mission is to help impaired workers, has issued new criteria for the single scholarship of $10,000 that it is offering to assist a senior high school student resident in Connecticut.  A student qualifies as a candidate for this scholarship if one or more of the following criteria are satisfied by their parent or legal guardian: 

  • is deceased as a result of a work-related injury; 
  • has been found to be permanently and totally disabled from all forms of work;
  • has sustained a work-related injury resulting in loss of a limb or;
  • has sustained a work-related permanent disability that has resulted in an inability to return to their former employment and has suffered a permanent wage loss.
  • the disability must arise out of a workplace injury.

The 2019 scholarship provides $1,250 per semester for four years.  The amount of the scholarship fund is awarded to the child or dependent of a disabled worker, who demonstrates both academic excellence and the financial need to go on to college.  The disability must arise from a workplace injury, and be confirmed by acceptance of the claim, a workers’ compensation final decision or social security award.

“The pressures that fall on disabled workers and their families are tremendous” explained Matthew Shafner in 2010 when he was chairman of the committee. “This scholarship fund eases one of the important financial burdens that disabled workers often face.”  Shafner, a nationally recognized attorney and former Chairman of the Disabled Workers Scholarship Subcommittee, passed away in September 2015. 

Applications are available throughout Connecticut in the offices of high school guidance counselors, labor unions and Workers’ Compensation Commission offices. The applications should be received by April 1, 2019 at the Scholarship fund, Disabled Workers Committee, Inc., c/o Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-law, 2 Union Plaza, Suite 200, New London, CT 06320. A statewide committee of prominent educators will carry out the screening and select the successful student.  

The Disabled Workers’ Committee is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of returning impaired workers to the workplace as soon as possible.  

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Third Annual Festival of Women’s Plays Continues at Ivoryton Playhouse, Today

Waltrudis Buck’s play, ‘Water Without Berries’ iwill be read on the opening night, March 1, of the Third Annual Women Playwrights Initiative at Ivoryton Playhouse.

ESSEX — Tickets are on on sale now for the Ivoryton Playhouse’s Third Annual Women Playwrights Initiative – Passion, Power and Prose 2019.

Tori Keenan-Zelt

The Initiative includes the Ellie Award and a $500 stipend for each of the four women playwrights chosen and provides a safe, nurturing environment for the development of new, one-act plays by and about women and the issues that shape their live, including a week of intensive rehearsal with the playwrights, directors, and actors.

The weeklong workshop culminates in two evenings of staged readings which will take place on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT, followed by discussions with playwrights, actors and directors.

Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m., there will be two readings presented.  

  • How to Be A Widow by Tori Keenan-Zelt and directed by Susan Einhorm.  In this wickedly funny play, two young women grapple with the freedom and power of their new widowhood.
  • Water Without Berries by Waltrudis Buck and directed by Todd Underwood. Two brothers—a school teacher and Shakespearean actor—return to Harlem to persuade their infirm grandma to leave the tenement where they grew up. In this bittersweet drama, yearning, art, rivalry, and hope struggle against the relentless forces of reality.

Kathleen Cahill

Saturday, March 2, at 7 p.m. there will be two readings presented.  

  • Partner of – by Rachael Carnes and directed by Leslie Snow. What can her grandmother and mother teach young Sally about agency, expectation, and the roles society permit women? Through the lens of three enslaved women, the property of Thomas Jefferson, we face what it means to be the “partner of –”
  • The Robertassey by Kathleen Cahill and directed by Hannah Simms. Roberta’s trip to Ireland becomes a surreal odyssey when the airlines lose her suitcase containing her father’s ashes. The dialogue is sharp, and the tone is magical, in a comedy that explores the universe’s indifference, filial obligation, forgiveness, and the power of love.

Rachael Carnes

To purchase tickets for the Friday, March 1, or Saturday, March 2, readings – each start at 7 p.m. – call 860.767.7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Tickets are $20 for an adult each night; $15 for a senior each night; $10 for a student.  Buy tickets for Friday and Saturday night performances for $30 adult; $25 senior; $10 student – call the box office 860.767.7318 to book a two-day package.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT  06442.

For more information about the Women Playwrights Initiative and to read bios of the playwrights, visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

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Centerbrook Architects Present Talk Tonight on Food, Farming Projects; All Welcome

ESSEX — The Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series welcomes architect Caitlin Taylor, Design Director at MASS Design Group to The Cube tonight, Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m.

Our collective human need to produce, process, transport, prepare, and eat food has a powerful transformative effect on our world – ecologically, economically, culturally, epidemiologically, historically, food shapes the world we live in. Food is inextricably linked to housing, education, health, environmental change, local economies, global industry, and to racial and social injustice.

Today we operate within a food system that is designed to exclude and oppress. Food access is spatial and temporal, and agricultural production colonizes vast swaths of our landscape. 

As an architect with a background in organic agriculture, Taylor brings to MASS Design Group an interdisciplinary focus on food justice, agriculture, and food systems. She is currently directing projects that focus on rural infrastructures of regenerative food production, equitable food access, and cultivation of food culture in disinvested cities.

Taylor will present some of the ongoing food and farming projects on the boards at MASS including the Good Shepherd Conservancy in Kansas, a new national network for school kitchen design, a community-run food hall as catalyst for urban redevelopment in Poughkeepsie, New York, and an industrial scale grain mill in Senegal.

Prior to joining MASS, Taylor worked at Centerbrook and directed an independent practice focused on water infrastructure. She lives with her family in East Haddam, Conn., where they own and operate an organic vegetable and cut flower farm. She has taught advanced architecture studios at the Yale School of Architecture and Columbia Graduate School for Architecture, Planning & Preservation.

This talk is free and open to the public.

For more information or to register, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. The Cube is located in the offices of Centerbrook Architects at 67 Main Street in Centerbrook.

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Sen. Needleman Joins Essex Town Planner in Support of GIS Expansion Bill

John P. Guszkowski, Essex Town Planner and Government Relations Officer for CCAPA, listens intently while Sen. Norm Needleman (D-33rd) testifies on the hearing related to streamlining GIS systems across the state. Photo submitted.

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) joined with John P. Guszkowski, Essex Town Planner and Government Relations Officer for the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association (CCAPA), to advocate for legislation Sen. Needleman proposed on streamlining access to geographic information systems across the state. If enacted, the bill would create a more overarching system of access for towns and cities to access the technology and benefit from its use.

Senate Bill No. 550, “An Act Concerning Geographic Information Systems,” would make geographic information system tools and software available to municipalities at a low cost. It was heard Wednesday at public hearing in front of the Planning and Development Committee.

Geographic Information System tools, also known as “GIS,” are digital maps and layouts of geographic areas that can be used by municipalities for a number of purposes, most commonly surveying and land usage planning.

While Connecticut is a small state, current GIS practices indicate that every town in Connecticut has a separate contract, and contractor, for individual use. This process is inefficient, as each town must negotiate separate contracts, and leaves some aspects of the technology unused. Individuals looking to compare geography in two bordering towns have to open two separate services to access it, even if the land is separated by just the town border.

“This is the recipe for poor planning, wasted and duplicative efforts, and a lack of cohesiveness in inter-municipal development and conservation efforts,” said Guskowski in testimony during the public hearing, speaking on behalf of the CCAPA. “It is impossible, under this current system, to know authoritatively, how far along we are, as a state, toward our various conservation and open space preservation goals.”

“Having the state take a leadership role in unifying and coordinating these efforts … is a relatively low cost way to facilitate a major step forward for Connecticut,” Guszkowski continued.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) additionally supported Senate Bill No. 550 on Wednesday. “Given the current budget situation and the prospect of additional reductions in state aid,” CCM said in written testimony, “municipalities are already being forced to consider increases in local property taxes or reducing current services, it is important to make access to the GIS technology affordable to municipalities. Such systems provide opportunities to find efficiencies in information exchanges on land use and other issues between state, regional and local planners and decision makers.”

“We don’t need to have 169 solutions to one common problem,” added Sen. Needleman. “A state-wide GIS system would control costs, allowing the state to negotiate on behalf of towns, and create a more efficient platform, reducing more than a hundred points of access into just one. That would allow towns and cities across the state to work together and collaborate, using this collected information to improve their communities and our state as a whole. I am happy to see the committee consider this bill, and I look forward to working in coming months to make sure it passes.”

Editor’s Note: State Senator Norm Needleman was first elected in 2018 to represent the 33rd Senate District which consists of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and part of Old Saybrook. Needleman is also the first selectman of Essex, a role he has held for four terms, and the founder of Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company that employs over 250 people.

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Public Hearing on Chester Plan of Conservation and Development to be Held Tonight

The 2019 Chester Plan of Conservation and Development Public Hearing will be held this evening, Monday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House. This plan outlines the future of Chester for the next 10 years.

ll residents are invited to attend this meeting and give their input.

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‘The Kate’ Hosts Dazzling Oscar Night Party Tonight

OLD SAYBROOK – The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (the Kate) transforms into a glittering, Hollywood-esque venue for its Oscar Night Party on Sunday, Feb. 24, beginning at 7 p.m. at the center located at 300 Main St., Old Saybrook. This annual red-carpet fund raising event honors the Kate’s 12-time Oscar Nominated, 4-time-winning namesake and makes for an entertaining evening.  Proceeds support quality performing arts and cultural presentations at the Kate throughout the year.

“We always look forward to this event to celebrate Katharine Hepburn’s achievements,” said Brett Elliott, Executive Director. “This year is extra special as we’ll be rooting for our friend and 2017 Spirit of Katharine Hepburn Award recipient, Glenn Close, who is nominated for Best Actress for ‘The Wife’.”

Delicious hearty hors d’oeuvres and desserts are provided by Fresh Salt and a cash bar is available throughout the evening as the 91st Academy Awards ceremony airs live in surround sound on the Kate’s big screen. Guests will walk the red carpet, pose for photos, and have the chance to hold a real Oscar, thanks to Devin Carney, state representative and grandson of the late award-winning actor Art Carney. Carney is emcee for the event and a member of the Kate’s board of trustees.

An auction and raffle add to the fun of the evening, as well as Becker’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook’s “Mystery Red Box” activity. Sixty jewelry boxes wrapped in vibrant red paper and white bows are available for purchase with each box containing a Becker’s gift certificate and one grand prize box holding a beautiful piece of jewelry.

The Oscar Night Party is sponsored by H&R Block of Old Saybrook, Secor Volvo, Becker’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook, Comcast, Gulick & Co., Pough Interiors, and Saybrook Point Inn Marina & Spa.

For information and tickets for all shows at the Kate, visit www.thekate.org or call 860-510-0453.

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center is a non-profit performing arts organization located in an historic theatre/town hall on Main Street in Old Saybrook. Originally opened in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Center has been renovated with public funds from the Town of Old Saybrook and donations raised by the Trustees of the Center.

It includes a 250-seat theatre and a small museum honoring Katharine Hepburn, Old Saybrook’s most celebrated resident. As befits an organization born of such a public/private partnership, programming is eclectic, offering something for all ages and income levels on the Connecticut shore and in the lower river valley.

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Don’t Miss a Swashbuckling Party Tonight at the Connecticut River Museum

The Privateer Crew is ready for your arrival on Saturday. Photo Credit: CRM

ESSEX —Arr” you in?

Come down and show your swagger on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Grab your sword, hoist your sails and get to the Privateers’ Bash, presented by Gosling’s Rum, at the Connecticut River Museum. Come in costume (or not!) and let off a bit of winter steam. Relive riverfront history at the 13th annual Privateer Bash; a playful nod to the privateers who made their wealth by plundering foreign ships of their valuable cargo.

Grog, grub, music, and dancing will fill the floors of our exhibit galleries while Brad and Brian will help create a tropical mood with the sound of the Islands. Savory bites will be provided in-part by Gourmet Galley, Coffee’s Country Market, Catering by Selene, Da Vinci Pizza and David Allen Catering. Treasure can be found with great prizes up for raffle, plus booty awarded for best costumes.

You can’t help but have a good time at the Privateer Bash! Photo Credit: CRM

A $50 Privateer ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, grog, and one complimentary drink. Or take advantage of a two-ticket purchase deal and buy two Privateer tickets for just $85. A $75 Commodore ticket includes hors d’oeuvres and grog plus an open bar. Tickets may be purchased by calling 860-767-8269, online at www.ctrivermuseum.org, or at the door on the evening of the event.

All proceeds benefit the Connecticut River Museum. Support for the Privateers Bash is provided in part by Bogaert Construction, Reynolds’ Garage & Marine, Sapia Builders Corp., All Pro Automotive, Essex Law Group, Marwin Mechanical Services, Kleinschmidt Associates, Brown & Brown/McCutcheon Burr & Sons, Essex Steam Train & RiverBoat, Pages, Inc., Shore Discount Liquor, CCA Services and Young’s Printing. In-Kind support provided by McChesney Design and Connecticut Rental Center. 

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. The Museum is dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley. For a full listing of Museum programs, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

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Sunken Luxury Yacht in Hamburg Cove Raised Wednesday, Whole Operation Recorded by DiNardi on Video

After extended and carefully managed efforts by Sea-Tow divers, the Mazu finally floats atop the waters of Hamburg Cove rather than under them. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

The luxury yacht, which sank in Hamburg Cove in January, was raised Wednesday (Feb. 20) by Sea Tow of Old Saybrook.

A Sea-Tow diver works to raise the Mazu from the floor of Hamburg Cove in Lyme. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

Frank DiNardi of East Haddam, who had previously filmed the yacht prior to its sinking and then after it had occurred (see our article at this link), documented the whole episode of re-floating the yacht, which was subsequently towed to a dock in Chester.

Sea-Tow divers and operatives at work alongside the Mazu. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

View DiNardi’s striking photographs on his Facebook page at this link.

11:07 a.m. UPDATE: DiNardi’s excellent video of the whole process is now available for viewing on YouTube at this link.

Prior to the re-float operation, this was the submerged boat in Hamburg Cove. Photo by Frank Dinardi and used with his permission.

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Courtney to be Keynote Speaker at Middlesex Chamber’s Member Breakfast Tomorrow

Manufacturing Talent Pipeline Workshop to Held After Breakfast

Representative Joe Courtney

MIDDLETOWN — Chairman Jay Polke of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce announced that United States Congressman Joe Courtney will serve as guest speaker at the chamber’s Member Breakfast Meeting on Friday, Feb. 22.

Congressman Joe Courtney was elected in 2006 to represent the Second Congressional District of Connecticut in the House of Representatives. He serves on the Armed Services, and Education and Workforce Committees. Congressman Courtney is Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

“We look forward to welcoming Congressman Joe Courtney as keynote speaker at this event which is sponsored by The Mohegan Tribe. Congressman Courtney’s district includes many county towns within the chamber’s service area. His remarks will touch on the many important issues that he is working on including a manufacturing workforce pipeline as he represents his constituents in Washington D.C,” said President of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Larry McHugh.

The Member Breakfast Meeting will be held at the Red Lion Hotel Cromwell, 100 Berlin Road, Cromwell, with networking beginning at 7:00 a.m., breakfast buffet opens at 7:15 a.m., and the meeting program, 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.

The event is sponsored by The Mohegan Tribe. Cost is $22 for members of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and $32 for non-members. Advance registration required, please register on line: www.middlesexchamber.com.

Immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting with the Congressman, the chamber will host an Informational Forum for Employers, Educators and Parents focusing on Developing the Manufacturing Pipeline in Middlesex County.

The forum will include an employer perspective and information on the Connecticut Manufacturers Collaborative by Eric J. Brown, Vice President-Manufacturing Policy and Outreach at CBIA; information on Skill Up for Manufacturing and other workforce initiatives By Bill Villano, President of  Workforce Alliance.

Additional speakers include Steven Minkler, Ed.D. Campus CEO & Dean of Academic Affairs at Middlesex Community College, Jeffrey Wihbey, Superintendent at CT Technical Education and Career System, Javette Allen, Principal, at Vinal Technical High School and Michael Hood, Department Head, Precision Machining, at Vinal Technical High School. Dr. Ruth Levy, Superintendent at Regional School District 4 will round out the panel to provide best practices for the comprehensive high schools. A question and answer session will follow the speaking portion of the forum.

For more information on Middlesex Chamber programs and events, visit middlesexchamber.com

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Region 4 Cancels all After-School Activities, Includes Budget Workshop

AREAWIDE — Region 4 has cancelled all after-school activities today due to the anticipated weather, which includes the scheduled Region 4 Budget Workshop with special presentations and public comment time.
A make-up date has not yet been determined.
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SECWAC Hosts NYT Columnist Carl Zimmer This Evening to Speak on ‘Deep History of Global Affairs’

NYT columnist Carl Zimmer will speak on “The Deep History of Global Affairs,” Wednesday evening.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) hosts Carl Zimmer to speak on “The Deep History of Global Affairs” at 6 p.m. tomorrow evening, Wednesday, Feb. 20, at Crozier Williams Student Center Building, Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London, CT 06320. (Map here)  Members and guests are encouraged to RSVP via online registration, but walk-ins will be accepted.

Zimmer is a columnist for the New York Times and the author of 13 books about science. His newest book is She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Power, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity (signed copies of which will be available for sale after the presentation).

Today, global affairs are profoundly influenced by mass migrations, conflicts between ethnic populations, and upheavals brought about by trade and technology. To understand the origins of these forces, scholars usually look back to recent history—a few decades back, perhaps, or a few centuries at most. But new advances in sciences are now allowing researchers to unveil the history of global affairs reaching back tens of thousands of years.

Ancient human remains are yielding entire genomes, making it possible to track the rise of our species from a small band of bipedal apes. Researchers are rewriting the deep history of humanity’s spread across the planet, discovering previously unknown collisions between ancient peoples, and the ways in which new ideas have spread around the world.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the main event beginning at 6:00 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). Pro-rated half-year membership is introduced in February; half-year membership February through June 2019 is $37.50; $12.50 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 Connecticut College. Dinner reservations are required via pre-registration and making a payment securely online, calling 860-912-5718, or emailing info@secwac.org (vegetarian option available if reserved in advance).

Zimmer earned a B.A. in English from Yale and worked at Discover, where he served for five years as a senior editor. Since then he has written hundreds of articles for magazines including National Geographic, Scientific American, and The Atlantic. Zimmer’s writing has earned a number of awards from organizations including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 2016 he won the 2016 Stephen Jay Gould Prize, awarded by the Society for the Study of Evolution to recognize individuals whose sustained efforts have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science. She Has Her Mother’s Laugh was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book ReviewThe Guardian named it the best science book of 2018. Zimmer is professor adjunct in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University, where he teaches writing.

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 8-10 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. policymakers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations. Learn more at http://secwac.org.

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Essex Winter Series Presents the Midiri Brothers Sextet This Afternoon

Paul Midiri who will play in the Midiri Brothers Sextet on Sunday, Feb. 17. File photo courtesy of Essex Winter Series by Tom Salvas.

ESSEX – Essex Winter Series’ presents its Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring the Midiri Brothers Sextet with special guest Jeff Barnhart on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River.

The incomparable Midiri Brothers Sextet performs a phenomenal jazz program celebrating the great reedmen, including Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Jimmy Noone and many othersJoseph Midiri is considered a virtuoso of clarinet and saxophone, and Paul Midiri’s wide-ranging talents include vibraphone, drums, and trombone. The added bonus will be Essex Winter Series’ Jazz Advisor and pianist Jeff Barnhart, who will join the group with his dynamic energy.

“I am thrilled to have multi-instrumental virtuosi Joe and Paul Midiri return for a concert, this time with their jazz ensemble, the Midiri Brothers Sextet,” said Barnhart. “The Sextet has been a mainstay of the CT Jazz scene throughout the Great CT Traditional Jazz Festival and the Hot Steamed Jazz Festival, and their legions of fans will be out in force to see their new show celebrating music of the great jazz reedmen. Don’t miss it!”

The lineup includes Joseph Midiri, co-leader, reeds; Paul Midiri, co-leader, vibraphone; Danny Tobias, jazz cornet, trumpet; Pat Mercuri, guitar, banjo; Jack Hegyi, bass; Jim Lawlor, drums; Jeff Barnhart, piano.

Essex Winter Series’ 42nd season continues on March 17 with violinist Tai Murray (the 2019 Fenton Brown Emerging Artist) joining the New Haven Symphony Orchestra under the direction of William Boughton for a program featuring Mozart, Prokofiev, Barber, and Hadyn.

The final concert of the series is Chanticleer, known around the world as “an orchestra of voices,” celebrating their 40th year with a program of favorites composers, from Palestrina and Victoria to Mason Bates and Steven Stucky, as well as audience favorite arrangements by Jennings, Shaw and others.  The concert will take place on April 7.

All performances take place on Sundays at 3 p.m. with the February jazz concert at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 John Winthrop Middle School Road, Deep River; the March concert at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Road, Deep River; and the April concert at Old Saybrook Senior High School, 1111 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook. Seating is general admission and tickets may be purchased by calling 860-272-4572 or visiting www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2019 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Masonicare at Chester Village, Tower Laboratories, Guilford Savings Bank, and BrandTech Scientific.

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Key Healthcare Bills Introduced by Needleman, Move Forward

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) has endorsed the advancement of two bills he introduced to the General Assembly this week. On Feb. 13, the Public Health Committee voted to draft two healthcare bills, Senate Bill No. 4, “An Act Concerning the Affordability and Accessibility of Prescription Drugs,” and Senate Bill No. 394, “An Act Concerning Quality Health Care for Women.”

“I’m encouraged to see these bills moving forward,” said Sen. Needleman. “Everyone deserves the same level of healthcare, no matter your gender, your race, your income. These bills help bring us closer to that reality.”

Senate Bill No. 4 is intended to make prescription medications more affordable for Connecticut consumers. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which focuses on fiscal and economic challenges in the United States, prescription drug spending has grown from $12 billion and 5 percent of total healthcare costs in 1980 to $330 billion and 10 percent of healthcare costs by 2016, and that amount is expected to nearly double in the next decade.

“The ever-rising increase in prescription drug costs hurts everyone, creating a financial drain that negatively impacts the young and old alike,” said Sen. Needleman. “We need to push for a solution to this problem, and this legislation will be the first step toward that. By making prescription medication more affordable for everyone, we can preserve not only our physical health, but our economic health as well.”

Senate Bill No. 394 is designed to give women additional protections against unfair health and wellness mandates. Harvard Medical School said in 2017 that many health and wellness mandates are still lacking for women compared to men, with examples including that 70 percent of chronic pain patients are women, yet 80 percent of pain studies are conducted on men, and that women are seven times more likely than men to be misdiagnosed and discharged in the event they have a heart attack.

“If we believe in fairness, we believe in equal treatment, and yet all too often women don’t receive the same treatment,” said Sen. Needleman. “With this legislation, we counteract these flaws and move closer toward the equality we deserve.”

Editor’s Note: State Senator Norm Needleman was first elected in 2018 to represent the 33rd Senate District, which consists of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and part of Old Saybrook. Needleman is also the First Selectman of Essex, a role he has held for four terms, and the founder of Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company that employs over 250 people.

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Sen. Chris Murphy to Hold Open Town Hall in Essex, Sunday

ESSEX — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) will hold an open town hall meeting at Essex Town Hall on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. Murphy will provide an update on his work in Congress and take questions from those in attendance. Members of the public are invited to attend and are encouraged to arrive early.

Essex Town Hall is located at 29 West Ave., Essex, CT.

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Musical Masterworks Presents Barrière, Schoenberg, Brahms in Concerts This Weekend

AREAWIDE –– Musical Masterworks welcomes back several internationally acclaimed artists, along with a handful of exciting Old Lyme debuts on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 3:00 pm. 

Violist Ettore Causa

This concert represents the Musical Masterworks debut of violist Ettore Causa, who will perform alongside veteran Masterworks violinists Jesse Mills and Jennifer Frautschi, violist Nicholas Cords, and cellist Wilhelmina Smith.

This program features two masterpieces for a string sextet: Arnold Schoenberg’s romantic Transfigured Night, based on the poignant poem bearing that title by Richard Dehmel; and Johannes Brahms’s exquisite G Major Sextet.

The concert will begin with a charming duo for two cellos by the French Baroque-era composer, Jean-Baptiste Barrière. 

Violinist Jennifer Frautschi

Join Artistic Director, Edward Arron, one hour before each concert for a pre-concert talk about the lives of these composers.

Musical Masterworks’ season runs through May 2019.  Mini subscriptions include three concerts and 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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CT Valley Camera Club Hosts Presentation on Equine Photography This Evening

The portfolio of Sarah Mote, who will speak tonight at the CT Valley Camera Club, includes this photo.

AREAWIDE — The Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will host a presentation on Equine Photography by Sarah Grote on Monday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme. The public is welcomed to attend.

Sarah Grote is a lifestyle and nature photographer specializing in projects, equine, and event photography. After 20 years in corporate and nonprofit companies in various operational, development, and managerial roles, she decided to follow her artistic dreams and visions based on her Mom’s inspirational quote, “celebrate everything”.

Since 2014, Grote has been the photographer for the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum and the Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue (CDHR).  Her photos and paintings were selected for CDHR’s juried art show “Save a Horse – Buy Art!” in 2015 and 2017.

Her photography was used for the “Demolish or Preserve:  The 1960’s at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion” exhibit, which won the most prestigious award given by the American Association of State and Local History.

In 2018, Grote’s photos were selected for three juried shows at the Mystic Museum of Art, the Essex Art Association Gallery, and The Voice of Art Gallery. She has been a board member of the Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue organization since 2015.

The CVCC, which was founded in 2002, has a simple mission — to give its members the opportunity to become better photographers.  The ways that the club achieves this objective include offering a variety of presentations and workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills.  During these popular events, members explore such areas as photographic techniques, computer processing, artistic interpretation and commercial applications, often under the tutelage of a professional photographer.

The CVCC welcomes new members at any time. Meetings are generally held on the first Monday of the month at the Lymes’ Senior Center in Old Lyme.

For more information about the CVCC, visit the club’s website at ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com.  Meeting dates, speakers and their topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at ww.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage.

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The Mystery of the Sinking Sailboat … in Hamburg Cove, DiNardi’s ‘Before & After’ Video Goes Viral

The submerged boat in Hamburg Cove. Photo by Frank Dinardi.

LYME — Frank DiNardi of East Haddam has become an overnight social media sensation with an extraordinary video that he captured of a boat initially at its mooring in Hamburg Cove,Lyme, and then subsequently after it had sunk last week.  His video has now been viewed over 150,000 times and he also has taken numerous photos that are posted on his Facebook page of various stages of the whole sad episode.

He told LymeLine.com via an e-message, “I work for a local landscaping company and we do a lot on Hamburg Cove. I’ve been watching the boat all year along with the neighbors on the cove wondering what it’s doing in the water and why it hasn’t been taken out?” adding, “It’s a boat that often catches my eye in the summertime as I think it is beautiful and I’ve photographed it with my drone in the summer too.”

Dinardi continues, “When I saw the ice building up around it I had to go back and grab some photos of it and decided to take some video. On the evenings and weekends I operate a growing photography and videography business called Frank’s Sky Sights. So I had gathered some video a couple weeks ago and then last weekend somebody had wrote me telling me that the boat sank and I should go check it out.”

He concludes, “So I went down there and flew around the boat again with my drone and was able to get the footage of the boat underwater. I went home and put that video together and it instantly became a hit on social media.”

The link to Dinardi’s first video is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yay0xDhZmO8

He has now prepared a follow-up video in which he answers many of the questions that have been raised from the first video.  The link to the second video is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C244qqEIzi0&fbclid=IwAR1Gmutmin5w-u-Mjhdcx42IqpvGx7CWsE1lkQ46F9CAVeytSYQK6DMIyqw

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Essex Land Trust Hosts Winter Birding Field Trip Today


ESSEX —
Ducks, Eagles, Hawks, and Owls: join an outing this Saturday in search of all kinds of wintering birds in our region. Several types of raptors may be seen, among many other winter residents. Novice and advanced birdwatchers are welcome. 

This trip will be led by Essex Land Trust’s Jim Denham and Andrew Griswold of CT Audubon.

Bring a bag lunch, binoculars, boots and warm clothes. Two vans are available to seat the first 14 people who sign up. The event is free.

Meet at 12 pm in the Essex Town Hall Parking Lot, 29 West Ave.

To reserve, call Jim Denham at 860-876-0360 or email at info@essexlandtrust.org. Inclement weather cancels.

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Chester Synagogue Hosts Exhibition of New Work by Locally Based, Nationally Acclaimed Sculptor Gilbert Boro, Through April 30

CHESTER — When our souls become heavy with life’s burdens, art has the potential to soothe and solace.  Indeed, Pablo Picasso wrote, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” That theme will be explored in an exhibit of new works by nationally and internationally renowned sculptor Gilbert Boro at the Main Street Gallery of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester, Conn. Boro lives and works in Old Lyme. 

Coming Together, a show highlighting works born out of Mr. Boro’s loss of his wife, is a prequel to the unveiling of the synagogue’s planned “Meditation Garden,” anticipated to open in 2020.

The “Meditation Garden” will feature a large-scale sculpture loaned from Mr. Boro’s Studio 80 Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme, CT, a park-like setting developed in concert between Mr. Boro and his wife Emily. The original model of the loaned garden sculpture will be donated to CBSRZ.

The show has special significance for Mr. Boro because the synagogue is the repository of a Memorial Light celebrating the memory of his wife of 48 years, Emily Seward Boro. A period of sadness and depression that followed her passing in 2013 acted as a catalyst, Boro says, fueling new creativity culminating in his “Musical Master Works” and “What’s Knot to Like” series. Ten to 15 works of aluminum, steel, and copper from these series, plus a few larger pieces, will be on public display for the first time. 

The Master Works and Knot series are the latest incarnations of Boro’s visual acuity, with a touch of playfulness always present. The “Musical Master Works” series transpired after attending music performances, which fired his imagination to consider what forms and shapes the music might create. The “What’s Knot to Like” reflects the many years Boro was deeply committed to offshore racing and cruising with his wife and family.

Boro credits his interaction with CBSRZ’s designer, the celebrated artist Sol LeWitt, with firing his creative imagination at a young age. “I found LeWitt’s extensive range of artistic expression extremely stimulating,” Boro says. “He inspired me and challenged me to broaden my vision, which resulted in applying my art education to the creation of architecture. Having my sculptures exhibited here has special meaning for me.”

Photography by Christina Block Goldberg will also be part of the show. Goldberg’s captivating images give viewers a unique insight to Boro’s sculptures by zooming in for intimate inspection of the joints and details. They will be printed on thin sheets of aluminum using a dye sublimation process. 

“This exhibit is rather novel,” says the gallery’s curator, Linda Pinn, “in that to a large degree the works to be exhibited will be scale models of the work that he anticipates to place in the garden.”  The “Meditation Garden” is envisioned to draw on the therapeutic power of nature and inspiring capacity of art.  Gardens are a common respite for their calming effect. Art’s power to stimulate and transform our thoughts and beliefs make it a potential balm to sooth our minds and spirits.

Studies now conclude that exposure to creative works are an elixir for our emotions when struggling with anxiety, depression, loss, and pain. Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing, said that “variety of form and brilliancy of color in the objects presented to patients are an actual means of recovery.”  Combining the two in a meditation garden, says the synagogue’s art curator, Linda Pinn, is an idea that “goes beyond any specific artist or garden,” she says. “Bringing art and nature together to create a peaceful, contemplative environment where people can walk, relax, and be calm,” will be a respite to escape, recharge, and heal.

The Coming Together exhibit begins with an opening reception on Sunday, February 3, from 3-5 that is free and open to the public. It will be on display until April 30. 

The Main Street Gallery at CBSRZ focuses on art works with themes relating to issues of concern in our society and the world at large. It is always open to the public free of charge, Monday – Friday, 10 – 3, and on Sundays when Sunday school is in session. It is located just off Rte. 154 at 55 East Kings Hwy, Chester, CT. 

For more information visit www.cbsrz.org.

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It’s First Friday in Chester Tonight with Chocolates, Champagne, Art, Music … and More!

CHESTER — Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and the merchants of downtown Chester are sharing their romantic wares and offering tasty nibbles as part of the First Friday festivities tonight, Friday, Feb. 1, from 5 to 8 p.m.

A Dina Varano necklace from her Amore collection.

Jeweler and artist Dina Varano will unveil her annual Amore Collection, a special line she designs every year for Valentine’s Day, with hand-painted cards at her eponymous gallery.

At the art galleries, Chester Gallery and Framing’s new winter show features Chester artists working in a variety of styles and mediums, and the Mid-Winter Exhibit of gouache and oil landscape paintings by Leif Nilsson opens with live music by Arrowhead at Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery.
Elsewhere around town, chocolate and romance is the name of the game:
·     To set the mood for romance, The French Hen will be serving decadent chocolate-covered strawberries and Champagne to enjoy while browsing the selection of Valentine’s Day cards and gifts.
·     Strut Your Mutt will be offering tastes of a traditional Brazilian dessert called Brigadeiro, which is Brazilian chocolate truffle.
·     Lark is featuring chocolate bites and wine along with a “jewelry bar” with a special price of buy one, get one for $15.
·     Watercolors of Paris by noted artist Roleen Bisaillon Sheehan will be available at the Shops at the Mill House.
·     The Perfect Pear will be serving samples of Lyra chocolates, a Slovakian chocolate maker with intriguing designs and a delicious taste that is featured in O, The Oprah Magazine. The large bars, regularly $15, will be 20% off through Feb. 14.
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Needleman Announces Bill To Hold Utilities Accountable

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) announced that he has submitted a bill that would hold utility companies accountable to better serve their customers, requiring them to improve their response times after power outages and increase vital staffing.

“An Act Concerning Utility Response Times For Restoration of Electric Service and Utility Minimum Staffing Levels,” Senate Bill No. 469, would require companies to restore electric service on an improved schedule after power outages, also requiring them to establish minimum staffing levels for line crews.

“In the last several years, response times to perform repair work after storms and outages by utility companies like Eversource have grown precipitously, causing significant delays in restoring power to Connecticut residents and businesses relying on it,” Sen. Needleman said. “It’s no coincidence, I believe, this comes as Eversource continues to reduce its repair staff and equipment, instead increasingly relying on private contractors from outside of their system. Without adequate staff, in the event of severe weather, Eversource will waste time and inconvenience customers.”

The bill’s announcement comes as Eversource is requesting a rate increase from the Public Utilities Regulation Authority, according to the Hartford Courant, citing the increased costs of repairing systems after severe storms. If that rate increase passes, the average customer could see their bill jump $1.85 per month or more than $20 annually as soon as this year.

“Why should Eversource receive a rate increase for this work when it drags its heels doing it in the first place? Connecticut taxpayers and businesses were already inconvenienced when their power remained off for days during these storms, and they shouldn’t be punished twice,” Sen. Needleman said. “If Eversource had invested in effective weather responses in the past, instead of reducing staff and equipment to save money, they wouldn’t need to ask for $150 million in repairs.”

“Businesses lose money every second their power remains out,” Sen. Needleman said. “As a business owner myself, I know these problems first-hand. My manufacturing plant in Michigan has lost power one time in 14 years, while my manufacturing plant in Centerbrook sometimes loses power for no reason at all. Connecticut needs to attract businesses, and unstable electrical systems will only drive them away.”

According to the Energy Information Agency, Connecticut residents are already charged the third-highest rates for electricity in the country in both price and expenditure.

“Eversource should provide the services it already pledges to its customers, not be rewarded for failing to implement adequate weather-related response and repair strategies,” Sen. Needleman said. “When Connecticut taxpayers are already charged one of the highest prices in the country for electricity, they should feel confident their service will remain stable, not prepare for days of outages whenever severe storms rear their head. S.B. 469 will hold Eversource and other utility providers accountable for the services their customers deserve.”

Editor’s Note: State Senator Norm Needleman was first elected in 2018 to represent the 33rd Senate District which consists of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and part of Old Saybrook. Needleman is also the first selectman of Essex, a role he has held for four terms, and the founder of Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company that employs over 250 people.

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Become a Middlesex Health Hospice Volunteer

MIDDLETOWN—Middlesex Health’s Hospice Program is looking for volunteers.

Hospice volunteers are an integral part of the Middlesex Health team, and they work with patients and families as they cope with the challenges of terminal illness.

All aspiring volunteers must submit a volunteer application and complete 12 hours of training and a mentorship before they can begin their work. The next training sessions will be held on April 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and April 13, from 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Both sessions are mandatory for new volunteers and will be held in the Randy Goodwin, MD Conference Center.

For more information and to request an application, contact a Middlesex Health volunteer coordinator at 860-358-5700. 

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Essex Garden Club Donates Food to Shoreline Soup Kitchens

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club (EGC) members collected nonperishable food items for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries (SSKP) at the club’s annual Festivities.  The EGC festivities were held at the Essex Yacht Club.

Individual members donated $1,305.00 and the Essex Garden Club donated $500 for a total of $1,805.00. 

Pictured above packing the food for delivery are, from left to right, Phyllis Graf, Sue Baker and Barbara Campbell.

The Gowrie Group Match Challenge was $1,805.00   

The total weight of the food donation was 302 pounds.

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Essex Land Trust Hosts Talk Tonight on Amphibian Habitat in CT

ESSEX — The Essex Land Trust hosts Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse, (pictured left) an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at UCONN, Thursday, Jan. 24, 7 p.m. at Essex Town Hall, 29 West Ave. The title of her talk will be, ‘Amphibian habitat in CT: Is there enough for populations to persist?’

She will define amphibian habitat and discuss whether or not there is enough habitat in Connecticut to maintain amphibian population for future generations. Learn about amphibian habitat and improve your understanding of habitat in general.

Rittenhouse has a BS from University of Wisconsin-Madison and MS and PhD from University of Missouri-Columbia. She studies where wild animals live and how they travel through habitats. The snow date for this event is Jan. 29.

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State Rep. Palm Plans to Host “Listening Sessions” Monthly

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

AREAWIDE — Christine Palm, State Representative-for the 36th District (covering the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam), took the Oath of Office Wed., Jan. 9, at the State Capitol. Palm is one of 151 members of the House (the lower chamber of the General Assembly), each of whom represents approximately 23,000 people.

Palm ran as a progressive Democrat who was cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party, and stood for economic security for all workers, affordable healthcare, school excellence, gun safety, enhanced women’s rights and environmental protections. 

Palm has now started meeting with constituents in various locations in her district. She intends to hold these “listening sessions” in coffee shops in each of the four towns in the 36th District during the month of January.

After that, she will hold at least one meeting per month, rotating times and locations throughout the district, including libraries, assisted living facilities and town halls. Residents of any town are always welcome to attend a meeting in another town.

For the month of January meetings are as follows:

Friday, Jan. 11: The Villager, Downtown Chester, 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. https://www.thevillagerchester.com/

Tuesday, Jan. 15: The Nook, 1610 Saybrook Rd., Tylerville (Haddam), 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 22, Savour, Spencer’s Corners, Centerbrook (Essex), 10:00-11:00 a.m. http://www.thesavourcafe.com/

Wednesday, Jan. 23, Whistle Stop Café, Main Street, Deep River, noon to 1:00 p.m. https://www.facebook.com/whistlestopcafect/

“It’s very important to me to hear from the residents – both those who voted for me and those who did not,” Palm said. “Too many people feel government is out of touch with them – that it’s an inaccessible monolith.

She continued, “That’s not the kind of government I want to serve in and I intend to be as responsive as possible. Not only do our residents deserve a State Representative willing to hear their concerns, I need them, too; talking with folks is a great source of inspiration for me. Through casual conversations, I’ve already gotten some ideas for changes we need to make so that government better represents the people. So, I am grateful to all those willing to meet and share their ideas, concerns and experiences with me.”

Once Palm is sworn in, her official State of Connecticut email, phone number, website and Facebook page will go live and she will make them public. For now, residents of any of the towns she serves are welcome to call her on her cell phone at 860-836-2145.

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Third Annual ‘Women’s March on Washington’ Sister Vigil to be Held This Morning in East Haddam

AREAWIDE — Together We Rise – Building Bridges For Justice has announced that East Haddam, Conn., is again registered as an Official Sister Event location for Connecticut, along with Hartford and Kent, for the Jan. 19, 2019, Third Annual Women’s March:#WomensWave March on Washington.

Together We Rise will join more than 650 sister events/marches throughout the World, when an outdoor gathering and vigil will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee House & Café, located at 374 Town St. in East Haddam, CT at the junction of Rtes 82 and 151.

Those interested in participating in the Together We Rise Jan. 19 Sister Event vigil should register by going to  https://www.womensmarch.com/2019/ and clicking on Sister Events, and entering zip code 06469. 

Participants are encouraged to arrive early. Parking Monitors will be on site to direct participants to parking venues near Two Wrasslin’ Cats.  Parking in Two Wrasslin’ Cats parking lot is available only to those with disabilities. 

Speakers at the Together We Rise Vigil in East Haddam will include Christine Palm, Marta Daniels and Ella Briggs.

Palm is the newly elected State Representative for the 36th Legislative District covering Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam. A lifelong Connecticut resident and progressive Democrat, her social justice advocacy began in high school when she marched with Caesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. Palm’s work has culminated in her strong desire today to champion public policy that reflects the aspirations and concerns of people in the lower Connecticut River Valley.

Palm has been a journalist, high school teacher, communications manager, and small business owner. Most recently, she has served as Women’s Policy Analyst for the General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors, a group that advocates for policies that enhance the safety and economic security of these three under-represented populations. Before that, she was Communications Director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. 

Daniels is a writer, activist, and public historian. Her 35-year professional career has focused on expanding and improving civic engagement in public policy issues on peace, justice, and the environment.

She was director or co-director of half a dozen national and state educational organizations and also served as a consultant for several environmental and humanitarian organizations. Daniels is the author of several books on peace, many research papers and hundreds of articles and op-eds on peace and disarmament, and US-Soviet relations.

Daniels lives in Chester and is an active member of the Chester Democratic Town Committee, the Historical Society, and the Land Trust.

Briggs is the 2019 Connecticut Kid Governor.  She is a 5th grader at Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Elementary Magnet School in Avon, CT.  Ella lives with her family in East Hampton.

In addition to these speakers, music will be provided by Thomasina Levy and Diane Adams. Levy was Connecticut State Troubadour for 2005 and 2006. An award-winning mountain dulcimer player, singer, poet and songwriter, her performances weave together traditional and contemporary folk music.

Adams is a local musician, who has performed at a variety of public events celebrating justice and equality including Together We Rise’s 2018 March for Our Lives event.

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Saybrook Stage Presents ‘Other Desert Cities’ at the Kate Through Sunday

OLD SAYBROOK — The non-profit production company The Saybrook Stage Company will be performing Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities live at the Kate in Old Saybrook from Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 17-19, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m.

Rehearsing “Other Desert Cities’

Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz is a poignant play about the strong bond and love of family that overcomes any differences that exist between individual family members. This thoughtful, relevant play will have you sharing tears of laughter, sadness and joy as you become immersed in the heart-wrenching yet heart-warming story of the Wyeth family.

What is the price a family will pay to protect their good name? What is the price parents will pay to protect their children? These difficult questions are addressed in this wonderful and funny play!

It’s Christmas Eve 2004 and Brooke Wyeth is returning home to Palm Springs after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother and her aunt.

Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history – a wound her parents don’t want reopened. In effect, she draws a line in the sand and dares them to cross it.

The cast of Other Desert Cities gathers for a photo .

A realistic story about family struggles and conflicts – The New York Times is quoted as describing this play as “The most richly enjoyable new play for grown-ups that New York has known in many seasons … Mr. Baitz makes sure our sympathies keep shifting among the members of the wounded family portrayed here. Every one of them emerges as selfish, loving, cruel, compassionate, irritating, charming and just possibly heroic … leaves you feeling both moved and gratifyingly sated.”

Other Desert Cities opened on Broadway in November 2011 and received critical acclaim in addition to many awards including a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as Tony Award nominations for Best Play; Best Actress and Best Scenic Design.

Visit www.thekate.org or call 860.510.0453 to reserve your tickets.

Also, visit www.SaybrookStage.org for more information about The Saybrook Stage Company.

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‘Choosing Love’ in Deep River; Information Panel Discussion at DRES, Jan. 24

DEEP RIVER — Deep River Elementary School (DRES) has launched the Choose Love Program for grades K-6 this year. This comprehensive Social Development Curriculum fuses Social Emotional Learning with Character Education, Positive Psychology, Mindfulness, Neuroscience and Emotional Intelligence. 

Students are learning the Choose Love Formula: Courage + Forgiveness + Gratitude + Compassion-in-Action = Choosing Love. 

On Thursday, Jan. 24, DRES invites parents and members of the community to learn more about the tenets of the Choose Love Program and how it is being implemented at the school. This meeting will be held at the Deep River Elementary School Gymnasium from 6 to 7:30 p.m. For planning purposes, RSVP for the event to Tri-Town Youth Services @ 860-526-3600

There will be a variety of Make & Take Activities for participants to gain hands-on experience with the lessons and gain useful tools to try at home.

The evening will conclude with an Informational Panel Discussion with members of the DRES school community and Tri-Town Youth Services. The panel will discuss the program as a whole and each panelist will address how the program fits within the classroom, school, home and broader Deep River community. 

Tri-Town Youth Services will provide information about the free Choose Love at Home online course. Throughout the month of February, Tri-Town Youth Services will also be hosting a Choose Love at Home Study Group on Thursday evenings.

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Late Registration Tonight to Sing Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’ with Cappella Cantorum in April 14 Concert

Cappella Cantorum logo

AREAWIDE — Join the Cappella Cantorum Masterworks Chorus for registration and its first rehearsal of Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” on Monday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m., at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River (use rear entrance).

The lyricism and use of orchestral and choral color in “Elijah” reflect Mendelssohn’s genius as an early Romantic composer.This inspiring work will be performed in concert Sunday, April 14, at John Winthrop with professional orchestra and soloists.

Simon Holt of the Salt Marsh Opera will direct. All singers and high school students are welcome; auditions are not required.

Registration is $50 plus cost of music. Late registration is the following Monday, Jan. 14, same time and place. Singers may register on-line or in person at John Winthrop.

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

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Public Hearing to be Held Tomorrow for 9 Town Transit’s Proposed New Service for Disabled

AREAWIDE — 9 Town Transit (9TT) is planning to begin offering ADA paratransit service along the 641 route in February of 2019. This new service will be offered to individuals who have a disability that prevents them from using the fixed route.

ADA paratransit is a reservation-based origin-to-destination service similar to our Dial-A-Ride program. It must be booked at least one day in advance and has a 30-minute pick-up window. The cost is twice that of the equivalent fixed-route fare, currently $3.50 each way.

Unlike 9TT’s Dial-A-Ride, which is open to the general public, ADA Paratransit is only available to people with a disability that have gone through an application process.

ADA Paratransit offers the same hours as Route 641, making it available Monday through Friday 6:20 a.m. until 7:50 p.m. and Saturday 7:20 a.m. until 6 p.m., which is beyond that of Dial-A-Ride.

ADA Paratransit is only available within 3/4 mile of Route 641. This includes the section of 641 serving Madison. Any trip with an origin or a destination beyond this area would remain a Dial-A-Ride trip.

There will be a public hearing on Jan. 15, 2019 at 3 p.m. at 17 Industrial Park Rd, Suite 6, Centerbrook, CT, 06409. 9TT will hear comments and answer questions about their proposed ADA plan and paratransit.

Comments may also be submitted in writing by Jan. 25, 2019 by email to info@estuarytransit.org or mail to address above.

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New York Philharmonic String Quartet and Mihae Lee Open Essex Winter Series 42nd Season This Afternoon

New York Philharmonic Pricipal String Quartet, 11/26/16. Photo by Chris Lee

ESSEX – Essex Winter Series’ 42nd season begins with a stunning program of Haydn, Dvorak, and Schumann performed by the New York Philharmonic String Quartet and Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Rd., Deep River.

The New York Philharmonic String Quartet comprises four Principal musicians from the Orchestra, including Concertmaster Frank Huang; Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples; Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps; and Principal Cello Carter Brey. The group formed in January 2017, during the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season, and made its debut as the solo ensemble in John Adams’s Absolute Jest in March 2017.

The Quartet will start the program with the delightful Haydn Quartet Op. 72, No. 2 and end the first half with the iconic Dvorak’s “American” Quartet. Mihae Lee will join them for the brilliant Schumann Piano Quintet in the second half. 

Essex Winter Series’ season continues on Feb. 17 with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring the Midiri Brothers Sextet with special guest Jeff Barnhart performing the music of reeds giants Benny Goodman, Jimmy Noone, Artie Shaw and more.

On March 17, violinist Tai Murray (the 2019 Fenton Brown Emerging Artist) joins the New Haven Symphony Orchestra under the direction of William Boughton for a program featuring Mozart, Prokofiev, Barber, and Hadyn.

The final concert of the series is Chanticleer, known around the world as “an orchestra of voices,” celebrating their 40th year with a program of favorites composers, from Palestrina and Victoria to Mason Bates and Steven Stucky, as well as audience favorite arrangements by Jennings, Shaw and others on April 7.

All performances take place on Sundays at 3 p.m. with the January and March concerts at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Rd., Deep River; the February jazz concert at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 John Winthrop Middle School Road, Deep River; and the April concert at Old Saybrook Senior High School, 1111 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook.

Seating is general admission and tickets may be purchased by calling 860-272-4572 or visiting www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2019 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Masonicare at Chester Village, Tower Laboratories, Guilford Savings Bank, and BrandTech Scientific.

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Saybrook Stage Presents ‘Other Desert Cities’ at the Kate, Opens Thursday

OLD SAYBROOK — The non-profit production company The Saybrook Stage Company will be performing Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities live at the Kate in Old Saybrook from Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 17-19, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m.

Rehearsing “Other Desert Cities’

Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz is a poignant play about the strong bond and love of family that overcomes any differences that exist between individual family members. This thoughtful, relevant play will have you sharing tears of laughter, sadness and joy as you become immersed in the heart-wrenching yet heart-warming story of the Wyeth family.

What is the price a family will pay to protect their good name? What is the price parents will pay to protect their children? These difficult questions are addressed in this wonderful and funny play!

It’s Christmas Eve 2004 and Brooke Wyeth is returning home to Palm Springs after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother and her aunt.

Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history – a wound her parents don’t want reopened. In effect, she draws a line in the sand and dares them to cross it.

The cast of Other Desert Cities gathers for a photo .

A realistic story about family struggles and conflicts – The New York Times is quoted as describing this play as “The most richly enjoyable new play for grown-ups that New York has known in many seasons … Mr. Baitz makes sure our sympathies keep shifting among the members of the wounded family portrayed here. Every one of them emerges as selfish, loving, cruel, compassionate, irritating, charming and just possibly heroic … leaves you feeling both moved and gratifyingly sated.”

Other Desert Cities opened on Broadway in November 2011 and received critical acclaim in addition to many awards including a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as Tony Award nominations for Best Play; Best Actress and Best Scenic Design.

Visit www.thekate.org or call 860.510.0453 to reserve your tickets.

Also, visit www.SaybrookStage.org for more information about The Saybrook Stage Company

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SE CT Legislators Including Sen.-Elect Needleman, Submit Bill To Allow Online, In-Person Betting at CT Casinos

Press Release) State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and members of the Southeastern Connecticut legislative delegation have submitted a bipartisan bill for the 2019 legislative session that would amend Connecticut’s existing state laws to allow for online and in-person sports betting at Connecticut casinos.

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman

The proposed law would include age and location verification requirements designed to block online access to persons under the age of 21 from betting on sports.

Since last May, when the United States Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law banning sports wagering, eight states now offer legalized sports betting, including nearby Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. New York has passed enabling legislation but has not yet instituted sports betting, and several other U.S. states – including Connecticut – are now considering it.

Rhode Island – which just launched sports betting in November – estimates it will collect $11.5 million in new state revenue in its first seven months of operation.

“Connecticut needs to play catch-up with surrounding states if we’re serious about modernizing our existing gaming industry. Fortunately, we can do that with a relatively simple regulatory fix,” said Sen. Osten, who represents Ledyard and a portion of Montville, home to Connecticut’s two Native American tribes that already operate gaming casinos.

She continued, “The U.S. Supreme Court decision last year paved the way for the expansion of private-sector sports betting, and I think Connecticut is in a good position to take advantage of that. We have the infrastructure with the tribal casinos, we can use the new revenue, and we’ve got bipartisan support. This should be an early session success story.”

“Neighboring states are already ahead of Connecticut on sports betting, but I think it’s an issue we can quickly catch up on that will have positive employment, economic and revenue impacts on Connecticut, “ said Sen.-elect Norm Needleman (D-Essex). 

He noted, “Two of Connecticut’s top-10 largest employers will benefit from this bill. The U.S. Supreme Court has already cleared the way legally, so I believe it’s incumbent on us as state policymakers to do what’s necessary to remain relevant and profitable in a rapidly expanding new national industry.”

The bill, with the current working number of LCO 578, is co-sponsored by Sens. Osten, Steve Cassano, Paul Formica, Heather Somers, and Sen.-elect Needleman, and by state Reps. Ryan, Christine Conley, Emmett Riley, Joe de la Cruz, Susan Johnson, Doug Dubitsky, Mike France and Holly Cheeseman.

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Professional Nature Photographer to Speak Tonight at CT Valley Camera Club Meeting

The guest speaker at the Monday, Jan.7, 2019 meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be professional nature photographer Michael Milicia. He will give a presentation titled, “Focus on Sharpness”.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn. All are welcome. There is no admission charge.

Capturing fine detail is often a critical element of a successful image. This presentation will explore a variety of tools and techniques which help to maximize image sharpness.  Milicia will take an in depth look at the many features and tuning options of today’s autofocus (AF) systems and how to best take advantage of them.

Other topics to be covered will include live view AF, mirrorless AF, back button focus, tripods and heads, long lens technique, handholding, and microfocus adjustment.

Milicia’s love of the outdoors is rooted in his time growing up in the rolling hills of rural Western Pennsylvania. After earning a Computer Science degree at Carnegie-Mellon University, he embarked on a 27-year-career as a Software Engineer which included stints at IBM, Digital Equipment Corporation, and Hewlett-Packard, as well as graduate studies at Syracuse University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

In 2005, he left the software industry to pursue a second career as a Nature Photographer specializing in birds and wildlife.

He strives to create images that include an artistic element and have an aesthetic appeal that transcends their role as natural history documentation.  Motivated by a love of nature, Milicia has a fascination with wildlife, and the never-ending challenge of finding that perfect combination of good light, cooperative subject, attractive setting, and beautiful background that allows him to create an artistically pleasing image. 

His passion for photography is rivaled only by his passion for teaching photography. During his years as a Software Engineer, he was continually faced with the need to analyze complex subjects and break them down in a well organized, step-by-step manner that made them easier to understand and communicate.

He finds that this approach also works quite well when teaching the technical aspects of photography. He enjoys teaching at all levels, whether it is helping beginners get acquainted with the world of digital photography or helping more experienced photographers take their images to the next level.

The CVCC is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers. The group offers a variety of presentations and interactive workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills. Photographers of all levels of experience are welcomed. 

The club draws members from up and down the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook; from East Hampton to Old Lyme; and along the shoreline from Guilford to Mystic.

For more information, visit the club’s website at https://ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com. CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage.

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Sign up for Spanish! Classes Held Thursdays at Ivoryton Library

IVORYTON — Sign up for weekly beginning Spanish classes starting at 4 p.m. on Thursdays at. Ivoryton Library, 106 Main St., in Ivoryton.

The teacher is Sara Bendetto, and the cost is $10 a class.

Register by calling the library at 860-767-1252.

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Kyle Zrenda Joins Suisman Shapiro as Firm’s Newest Associate

AREAWIDE — Kyle J. Zrenda has joined Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law as an associate on the firm’s civil litigation team, practicing in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and insurance health care law.

Attorney Kyle J. Zrenda

Prior to joining Suisman Shapiro, Attorney Zrenda was an associate at Vigorito, Barker, Patterson, Nichols and Porter, LLP in New York where he focused his practice on construction site accidents, premises liability, motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and health care law. Attorney Zrenda represented physicians, nurses, medical groups, hospitals, property owners, general contractors, and subcontractors throughout New York and Connecticut.

“We are pleased to welcome Kyle Zrenda to Suisman Shapiro,” said Managing Director John A. Collins, III. “Kyle just obtained an outstanding result in Bridgeport Superior Court and we know that his trial experience will further enhance our litigation team’s approach to aggressively representing our clients.”

Zrenda is Connecticut native who graduated from East Lyme High School. He received his B.A. from Boston College in 2010 and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2013, where he was an Associate Editor of the Quinnipiac Law Review.

Attorney Zrenda was admitted to the New York Bar in 2013, the Connecticut Bar in 2014, and is also admitted to practice in the Federal District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, and Northern Districts of New York. In 2017 and 2018, Attorney Zrenda was listed by Super Lawyers as a New York Metro “Rising Star” in the area of personal injury.

Suisman Shapiro is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut, serving the community for over 75 years with a wide range of legal services.

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Chester Celebrates ‘First Friday’ Tonight

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

CHESTER – Chester’s First Friday festivities on Friday, Jan. 4, are a great way to kick off the new year with art exhibits, holistic health professionals and some post-holiday sales and deals. Downtown shops are open until 8 p.m., and many of your favorite Chester restaurants will have drink and appetizer specials.

Look for exhibitions at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery and The CHESTER GALLERY (76 Main Street); discussions with wellness advocates and samples and sales of essential oils and other products at Kismet Chester & GKD Designs (11 Main Street) and Lark (4 Water Street); and holiday specials at The French Hen (14 Main Street),Shops at the Mill House (5 West Main Street) and The Perfect Pear (51 Main Street).

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, on Water Street and on Maple Street.
More information about First Friday is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by calling (860) 322-4047.
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Happy New Year!

We wish all our readers, advertisers and friends a very Happy New Year 2019.

We hope it brings you and yours peace, prosperity, good health and much happiness.

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Needleman Appointed to Leadership Roles on Two Key State Senate Committees

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

AREAWIDE — State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman (D-Essex) today announced in a press release that he has been appointed Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, and Senate Vice Chair of the Banking Committee. 

“The towns in our district have gained a leadership presence in policy development for finance, technology, and energy infrastructure,” said Needleman. “My experience in government and business financial management, and my years of working with major utilities and energy providers directly applies to the work of both committees. I look forward to bringing common sense ideas to these important issues.”

The Energy and Technology Committee formulates policies relating to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, energy-related planning, and technology issues. The committee works closely with energy and technology services and utilities, which include electric utilities and cable TV service.

The Banking Committee develops policies relating to consumer credit and lending, business finance, the Department of Banking, all banks, credit unions, securities sales, fraternal benefit societies and secured and unsecured lending.

Needleman expects additional committee assignments to be announced in the near future. He officially begins his State Senate term on Jan. 9 of the coming year. 

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Season’s Greetings

Christmas-Bow-Picture_512x384We wish all our readers and advertisers a wonderful, peaceful and enjoyable holiday season.

Thank you for all your support this past year and we look forward to serving you with even stronger coverage of the towns of Chester, Essex and Deep River next year.

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Letter to the Editor: Needleman’s 2019 Resolution is to be 33rd District’s ‘Common Sense Advocate’

To the Editor:

The holiday season is a time when we enjoy good cheer and look forward to the promise of a bright new year. It is a time when we resolve to do the things that didn’t get done in the old year, and fix the things that need fixing.  

For me, the coming year will be both demanding and promising. On January 9, I will be sworn in to represent the 33rd district in the State Senate, a responsibility that brings with it significant challenges and exciting new opportunities. That’s why my only resolution this year is to be the common sense advocate the towns in our district need and deserve. As your voice in the state senate, I will keep you posted on progress in addressing the issues that concern all of us.

Meanwhile, I hope we can all enjoy the festive spirit and good will that make the holiday season so enjoyable. I wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year. 

Sincerely,

Norm Needleman,
Essex

Editor’s Note: The author is the State Senator Elect for the 33rd District.

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Holiday Boutique Today Benefits Tri-Town Youth Services, Other Local Youth Organizations

Wrap up your gift shopping at the Holiday Boutique on Wednesday! Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

AREAWIDE — A Holiday Boutique will be held  Wednesday, Dec. 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Old Lyme Country Club, 40 McCurdy Rd., Old Lyme.  It is is open and free to all community members.

The event will benefit Tri-Town Youth Service Bureau, Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, and Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services.

The Holiday Boutique features 18 vendors from Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Florida, and has something for everyone on your list. Items for sale will include jewelry, gifts, hand bags, scarves, soaps, ties, florals and so much more.

The high-end vendors include:

  • CatchAll from Westport
  • Pinky’s from Greenwich
  • The Calvert Collection
  • Nat Fry Woodworking from Haverford, PA
  • Old Lyme’s Allie Fiscus
  • Three Islands from Westerly
  • Lowebows Bowties
  • Patrice Collection from Darien
  • Stix & Stones from Hartford
  • Carlisle clothing and Mali jewelry from New York
  • The Patrice Collection from Darien
  • Katherine Clarkson Studio
  • Tucci Designs from Stonington
  • Savor and Cortland Park from Essex
  • Maggie Lee Designs from Lancaster, PA
  • Cynthia Slack Designs from Bonita Springs, FL
  • Farm to Bath from Thompson
  • Alka’s Indian gifts
  • Make-up demonstrations by Clippers of Guilford.

A luncheon buffet will be available $18.

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SECWAC Hosts Local Independent Expert Tonight, Presents “Cuba, the Conflicted Isle”

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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