December 11, 2019

Bike and Pedestrian Alliance of Clinton Announces 1st Annual Clinton Bike Fest & Street Fair on May Day

Town Hall, Clinton

CLINTON – Are you ready for spring? The Bike & Pedestrian Alliance of Clinton (BPAC) is planning the First Annual Clinton Bike Fest on May Day – Sunday, May 1, 12 – 5 pm.

 The event will begin at noon at Town Hall with an hour-long Family Fun Ride/Walk out to the Clinton Marina (registration begins at 10:30 am). At the same time, a longer ride for more road-savvy cyclists will head out to the beach by way of Beach Park Road.

From 1 – 5 pm there will be activities behind Town Hall, including food and information booths, music, bike demos, pedicab rides, and a bike rodeo (bike and helmet required).

Lots of exciting events will also be happening on Post Office Square all afternoon, where we’ll have singing, dancing, yoga and zumba classes, musician performances and an open mike for jamming. Museums and many shops on Main Street will be open for business as well.

 Check out our web site at www.clintonct.org/bpac.htm for more information on this event or download a registration form here for the Family Fun Ride/Walk. The Bike Fest is a free event, and all ages are welcome.

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Where Have All the Songbirds Gone?

Potapaug Audubon presents “The Plight of Connecticut Songbird Populations” April 7 at the Essex Town Hall at 7:30 p.m., with guest speaker, Dr. Min Huang, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Wildlife Biologist & Leader of the Migratory Gamebird Program.

Many Connecticut songbirds are in decline and no one knows why.  This program explores the possible reasons.

For more information, call 860-399-9673.

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Police Hire and Beavers Again Topics for Essex Board of Selectmen

ESSEX— Cops and beavers, two issues that dominated the March 16 meeting of the board of selectmen, were under discussion again at the board’s meeting Wednesday.

The hiring of a new town police officer was not on Wednesday’s agenda, though First Selectman Phil Miller had said last month that he would announce the hiring of Paul Kennefick as the new town officer at the April 6 meeting. There was no announcement at the meeting, but Miller said Thursday that Kennefick was hired earlier this week.

“He’s definitely hired,” Miller said, adding that it had “just slipped my mind” to formally announce the hire at the meeting. “It was on my list of information items for the meeting,” he said.

The selection of Kennefick, who has just retired as a Connecticut State Police lieutenant and commander of the Troop F barracks in Westbrook, has drawn a public campaign of opposition from John Orr, a town resident and former Essex police officer who left the force amid unexplained circumstances in the summer of 2005. Orr had claimed at the March 16 meeting that Kennefick mishandled a police internal affairs investigation of him in 2005, and was currently the subject of a police internal affairs investigation. Miller had said at the March 16 meeting that he knew nothing of an investigation of Kennefick.

Orr Wednesday presented Miller with a written confirmation that Kennefick had recently been the subject of an internal affairs investigation based on a complaint from another officer. “If there is such a complaint it is probably not one to be taken seriously,” Miller replied.

Miller said Kennefick is expected to begin patrol duties by the end of the month after a required retraining for service as a municipal police officer. He said Kennefick, with 21 years of experience as a state trooper, had received a top ranking from about 35 applicants screened by an area wide Law Enforcement Council review panel.

The recent lethal trapping of beavers in the smaller pond at Viney Hill Brook Park was also under discussion Wednesday. The trapping, which was approved by the conservation commission to prevent flooding and damage to trees at the park, had drawn strong objections from some residents.

Miller said the trapping had been completed last week, but declined to specify how many beavers had been killed in the process. He also predicted that beavers would return to the pond and wetlands at the 100-acre park, and suggested the conservation commission would further explore alternatives to lethal trapping.

Miller said the commission would consider all input received from the public on other options for responding to beaver problems, and would “be very thoughtful” before authorizing any future trapping. “It’s going to be a long-term management issue,” he said.

Selectman Joel Marzi said he was gathering information on options for beaver management, and would be attending meetings of the conservation commission when the issue is discussed in the future. “There may be some workable alternatives that can at least be talked about,” he said.

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Camp Hazen YMCA Summer Camp Open House

On Sunday, April 17, Camp Hazen YMCA will host an Open House from 2-4 PM.   Families are encouraged to attend to learn more about summer opportunities for children.  Camp Hazen YMCA, located at 204 West Main Street on Cedar Lake in Chester, offers one and two week session of both day and resident camp. 

Some sessions already have waitlists so it is imperative for families to plan their summer now.  Camp Director, Danita Ballantyne, states “Attending an Open House provides a valuable opportunity for families to meet the Camp Directors and see the facilities to determine if Camp Hazen is the right choice for their family.” 

Camp Hazen YMCA is committed to helping youth develop valuable life skills through camping experiences that build healthy bodies, open minds and awakened spirits.    Traditional camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts and campfires – along with more unique programs including a Skate Park, Alpine Tower, Mountain Biking and Windsurfing are available for campers.  All activities are designed to ensure that campers are having fun, making friends and learning valuable life lessons such as independence and leadership which are the core ingredients of the camp experience.

Camp Hazen YMCA believes the summer camp experience is a vital part of a child’s development and offers a tier pricing program to make camp affordable for all.  For more information, contact Danita Ballantyne at 860-526-9529 or visit www.camphazenymca.org

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Connecticut River Eagle and Osprey Viewing Cruises

 

RiverQuest wil be offering osprey and eagle viewing cruises this spring to experience wildlife on the Connecticut River.  Cruises will depart from Haddam, Eagle Landing State Park, Route 82, (across the river from the Goodspeed Opera House).

Join the crew aboard RiverQuest as they cruise the lower Connecticut River to view returning ospreys, resident eagle nests, hawks, ducks and other early spring wildlife.

The extremely quiet RiverQuest has an enclosed cabin or enjoy the pristine beauty of the river on our open decks. Listen and observe as our experienced crew point out and educate all on our local wildlife and other points of interest. Bring your binoculars or borrow theirs. Complimentary coffee, tea and light snacks.

These cruises are over 2 hours in length and are $30 per person.  One lucky passenger will win a gift certificate for 2 to a Public Daytime/Sunset Cruise on each trip. Departures are April 16 and May 14 at 4:00-6:15 p.m. and April 30 at 9:30-11:45 a.m.  For more information, reservations, visit: www.ctriverquest.com or call 860-662-0577.

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Railroad Crossing Safety – Essex Steam Train Begins Seasonal Operation!

Essex Steam Train #40 at Chester (Photo courtesy of Caryn Davis)

Essex, CT —The Valley Railroad Company wishes to make all local residents aware that seasonal train operations began on April 1, 2011. 

Motorists and pedestrians in Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester and Haddam should renew their sense of caution and alertness when traversing the crossings of the railroad.  Railroad STOP signs, flashing lights, and gates carry the full weight of the law. Pedestrians are also not permitted, by law, to walk along the tracks of active railroad.

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Essex Land Trust Property-Wide Spruce Up – Volunteers Needed

As part of their ongoing Earth Day celebration efforts, the Essex Land Trust is again organizing a town-wide spruce-up of preserves in Essex, Ivoryton and Centerbrook. Meet at the Essex Town Hall parking lot at 9am and help the Land Trust restore its preserves after a long winter by picking up debris and brush and clearing trails and streams. Some of the tasks we plan to tackle are spreading topsoil and wood chips at Osage Trails and Cross Lots, clearing and marking a new trail at Heron Pond, and attacking the invasives at Millrace Preserve.

If you can, plan to bring the following tools:  lawn rakes, garden rakes, loppers, wheelbarrows and shovels.  Be sure to wear good gloves; and dress warmly.

Make this a family event! All ages and abilities are welcome, including local groups and organizations. Refreshments will be served. The spruce-up lasts from 9 am to 12 pm. Rain or shine. For more information please contact our chief steward Al Macgregor at 860-767-0693 or abmacgreg@hotmail.com.

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Local Land Conservation Trusts Announce Winners of their Sixth Annual Photo Contest

The Lyme, Old Lyme, Salem, Essex and East Haddam land conservation trusts announced today the winners of their jointly sponsored amateur photo contest. The purpose of the contest was to focus on the celebrated and scenic countryside in those towns and its diversified wildlife. There were over 350 photos submitted from 85 photographers all over Connecticut. The ages of the photographers were from 7 to 91.

This contest was made possible by the generous financial support provided by Lorensen Toyota, Oakley/Wing Group at Smith Barney, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Essex Savings Bank, ChelseaGroton Bank, Ballek Garden Center and Murtha Cullina LLP.
 
“There were so many wonderful pictures submitted that the judges had a difficult time selecting the winners” said Tony Sullivan, spokesperson for the conservation trusts.

The three independent judges are William Burt, a naturalist who has won acclaim for his books of wildlife photography: Rare and Elusive Birds of North America, Shadowbirds, and his recently released Marshes: The Disappearing Edens. Amy Kurtz Lansing, Curator at the Florence Griswold Museum and a Yale University doctoral candidate in the History of Art. She is also the author of Historical Fictions: Edward Lamson Henry’s Paintings of Past and Present and Rudy Wood-Muller, a photographic illustrator and designer. His first large exhibition was at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and was followed by numerous other shows, including a one-man show at the Rochester Institute of Technology. A group of his photographs have been selected to be part of the Permanent Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“This year an additional award was given out to honor one of our prior judges, John G. Mitchell, who passed away” said Sullivan. “John, who was one of the editors at National Geographic, dedicated his career to writing about the environment and conservation, so the award was for the best picture reflecting that subject.”

The categories and names of the winners are:

JOHN G. MITCHELL – Environmental Conservation Award
         Mark Bailey, Essex

PLANTS
   First Place:  Gerry Graves, Old Lyme

  Second Place:  Susan Spang, Salem
   Third Place:  Brendan Donovan, Old Lyme
   Honorable Mentions:  Cheryl Philopena, Salem
       Jean Callan King, East Haddam
       Jeanie Wantz, Essex

LANDSCAPES/WATERSCAPES
   First Place:   Skip Broom, Hadlyme

  Second Place:   Linda Waters, Salem
   Third Place:   Cheryl Philopena, Salem
   Honorable Mentions:   Diana Atwood Johnson, Old Lyme
       Tammy Marselli, Rocky Hill
       Tanya Bourgoin, East Haddam

WILDLIFE
   First Place:   Jean Callan King, East Haddam


   Second Place:   Mark Bailey, Essex
   Third Place:   Brendan Donovan, Old Lyme
   Honorable Mentions:   Hank Golet, Old Lyme
       Jeff Sims, Waterford
       Stephanie Clayton, Old Lyme

CULTURAL/HISTORIC
   First Place:   Jean Callan King, East Haddan


   Second Place:   Skip Broom, Hadlyme
   Third Place:   Cheryl Philopena, Salem
   Honorable Mentions:   Emily Maroni, Hadlyme
       David Wantz, Essex
       Tony Sullivan, Lyme

YOUTH
   First Place:   Courtney Fiala, East Haddam

   Second Place:   Julia Danielle Ellman, Guilford
   Third Place:   Courtney Fiala, East Haddam
   Honorable Mentions:   Tara Kielty, East Lyme
       Phoebe Petrovic, Centerbrook
       Tara Kielty, East Lyme

All the winning photographs will be available for public viewing at Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library at 2 Library Lane in Old Lyme during the month of May and during the following months at the public libraries of Lyme, Salem and Essex. The photos can also be seen at http://landtrustsphotos.shutterfly.com/ or on the web sites of each of the sponsoring conservation trusts.

The Seventh Annual Photo Contest is starting this Spring and any amateur photographer who is interested should contact landtrustphotos@yahoo.com for a copy of the rules and entry form.

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Shoreline Bike and Pedestrian Coalition Holds Inaugural Meeting

Representatives from more than a dozen local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups and regional planning representatives, met in Old Saybrook on Tuesday 15 March in a first-ever attempt to bring multiple stakeholders together in a single room to discuss the topic of shoreline regional planning for non-motorized travel.

Kathy Connolly, leader of new Shoreline Bike/Pedestrian Coalition

The new group, called the Shoreline Bike and Pedestrian Coalition, is lead by Kathy Connolly who was the previous chair of the Old Saybrook Bikeways Committee.  The new coalition’s objective will be to develop a high level, regional vision and strategies for bicycle and pedestrian resources over the next 5-10 years.  “We want to see what it would take to develop end-to-end connectivity across the eastern Connecticut shoreline without a car,” said Connolly.

The meeting was attended by cycling advocacy group representatives from most shoreline towns between the Rhode Island line and New Haven, including Stonington, Mystic, Groton, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Madison, Branford and East Haven, and Haddam from the CT River Valley.  Also attending were Jim Butler from the South Eastern Regional Council of Governments, Jean Davis from CREPA, Meg Parulis, Town Planner from Westbrook and Katherine Rattan, CT DOT Non-motorized Transportation Coordinator.

The coalition is being formed in the hope that having a regional forum in which bike and pedestrian plans from individual towns can be shared and coordinated will increase the liklihood of securing support and funding.

Some of the early initiatives the group hopes to address will include developing an inventory of on-the-road assets and challenges that currently exist in the region, looking at interconnectivity with trains and buses, and participating in the national bike/pedestrian count days in September.

Anyone interested in getting more information about the coalition should contact Kathy Connolly at kathy.connolly@snet.net.

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US Power Squadron Basic Boating Class

The Saybrook Sail & Power Squadron will be offering a basic boating class on March 29 starting at 6.30 p.m.

 The cource covers finding your way, handling in bad weather, laws & requirements, unseen hazards, and lots of practical information.  Passage qualifies the individual for any State’s safe boater’s certificate.  Thus course istaught nationwide to thousands sailors and is “strongly recommended” by the Connecticut D.E.P. as one of the best. 

 A bargain for $45.00, which includes an excellent manual. For more info contact Capt. John McCarthy, 1-860-399-2439 (jmccarthy03@snet.net)

The Saybrook Sail & Power Squadron, which is an affiliate of the national U.S. Power Squadrons, is a non-profit organization dedicated to education toward safer boating.   More information about their activities can be found at www.saybrooksailandpowersquadron.com.

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Essex Conservation Commission Authorizes Lethal Trapping of Beavers at Viney Hill Brook Park

Library image courtesy of J Schmidt - NPS Photo

ESSEX— The conservation commission has authorized the lethal trapping of beavers in one of the ponds at Viney Hill Brook Park. First Selectman Phil Miller announced the trapping at a meeting of the board of selectmen Wednesday where a handful of residents objected to the plan.

Miller said beavers have been constructing dams in the smaller of the two ponds at the 900-acre park located off Cedar Grove Terrace, flooding a trail. He said the conservation commission, which supervises a large portion of the park set aside for passive recreation, is concerned the beavers may move to the larger pond that is used as a public swimming area. “There is a potential for more problems,” he said.

Miller said the commission has retained a private trapper, who would do the trapping at no charge in exchange for the beaver pelts that have increased in value in recent years. A permit for the trapping requires the activity be completed during March.

Several residents objected to the trapping, where the beavers are held under water to drown Residents also contended the traps were laid last week, before all nearby property owners were notified of the plan.

Jim Richmond noted the commission’s own regulations prohibit trapping and hunting in the portion of the park that is set aside as an open space nature preserve. Other residents said their dogs often enter the smaller pond, and could have been caught in one of the traps and harmed.

Miller said the traps have been set up, but have not yet been armed to catch the beavers. “I wish we were not in this situation” he said.

Selectman Joel Marzi said he would prefer an alternative method of trapping that allows for a relocation of the beavers without killing the animals, though Miller said that live trapping would require an expense of town funds. Miller maintained that most of the property owners abutting the park favor the trapping.

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Camp Hazen YMCA Summer Camp Open House March 27

Skate Park Instruction at Camp Hazen YMCA

Do you know what your children are doing this summer?  On Sunday, March 27, Camp Hazen YMCA will host an Open House from 2-4 p.m.   Families are encouraged to attend to learn more about summer opportunities for their children.  Camp Hazen YMCA, located at 204 West Main Street on Cedar Lake in Chester, offers one and two week session of both day and resident camp. 

Some sessions already have waitlists so it is imperative for families to plan their summer now.  Camp Director, Danita Ballantyne, states “Attending an Open House provides a valuable opportunity for families to meet the Camp Directors and see the facilities to determine if Camp Hazen is the right choice for their family.” 

Camp Hazen YMCA is committed to helping youth develop valuable life skills through camping experiences that build healthy bodies, open minds and awakened spirits.    Traditional camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts and campfires – along with more unique programs including a Skate Park, Alpine Tower, Mountain Biking and Windsurfing are available for campers.  All activities are designed to ensure that campers are having fun, making friends and learning valuable life lessons such as independence and leadership which are the core ingredients of the camp experience.

Camp Hazen YMCA believes the summer camp experience is a vital part of a child’s development and offers a tier pricing program to make camp affordable for all.  For more information, contact Danita Ballantyne at 860-526-9529 or visit www.camphazenymca.org

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Vernal Pool Walk at Bushy Hill Sunday 27 March

Essex Land Trust will be organizing a family vernal pool walk on Sunday 27 March at 1 p.m. at the Bushy Hill Nature Center

Explore the magic of early spring vernal pools at the 700-acre Bushy Hill Nature Center preserve with Director ErikBecker. Families are invited to use nets and other tools to identify flora and fauna. Roast marshmallows over the fire after the walk, which will last about 1-1/2 hours.

Erik Becker the Bushy Hill Nature Center Director has worked at Bushy Hill since 1999. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a B.S. in “Earth Living Education and Therapy.” He has been learning and teaching “woodsy” skills since the early 90’s.  In addition to his teaching, Erik coaches football at Hand High School and works for Madison Youth & Family Services.

This is an Essex Great Outdoor Pursuit event and is supported by a grant from The Rockfall Foundation, Middletown, Connecticut. Park at Bushy Hill Nature Center (at the Incarnation Center). Rain or shine. For more information about the event please contact Peggy Tuttle at 860-767-7916 or e-mail peggytuttle@gmail.com.

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Get Set for Spring with Composting 101

Master Gardener Claire Matthews will present a free “how-to” program on getting started with compost, at the Essex Library on Thursday March 31 at 7 p.m.

Learn how to turn your garbage into black “gold”, and make nutrient –rich compost that will help your garden grow.

 This program is co-sponsored by the Essex Garden Club, and is free and open to all. Please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 to register, or for more information.

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“Landscaping and Ferns” by Bill Harris From Acer Gardens

Bill Harris of Acer Gardens, Deep River, will present  a lecture at The Old Saybrook Garden Club on “Landscaping with Ferns,” at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 4 at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook.

Harris has a  degree in agronomy and soil science and has operated Acer  Gardens since 1983. The presentation will take at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main  Street, Old Saybrook.

Light refreshments will be served after; there  is no charge. A garden-club business meeting for members will begin at  12:30.

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“Pyrotechnic” Gardener Digs Formalism

Landscape designer Louis Raymond - March 18 at Essex Meadows

Landscape designer Louis Raymond conducts an illustrated and animated presentation on that perennial horticultural question “To be Formal – or Not to be Formal” as part of the Essex Library’s Centerbrook Architecture Series.

Raymond’s exposition, which is formally titled “Putting Everything in Perspective: Formality in Your Garden,” is on Friday March 18 at the Essex Meadows Auditorium from 7 to 8 p.m.  Admission is free; please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 to register.

Raymond and his exuberant garden designs have appeared in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, House & Garden, Metropolitan Home, and Design New England.  His broad plant palette ensures that his gardens go from peak to peak Spring through Fall, while his acute sense of space combines with a keen interest in foliage and form, bark and berry, to ensure that his landscapes maintain their interest right through the Winter. 

A flower lover at the core, he’s nonetheless unafraid to speak plainly about the impracticality of relying on flowers alone for garden interest.  “In New England, it’s a triumph to have even one thing in bloom in any given week, month after month after month.  So it’s best to think of flowers as the icing on the cake.  Delicious indeed, but the heart of your garden’s appeal must be in its plants’ form and foliage, as well as overall layout.”

Raymond served for six years as the design manager of the New England Spring Flower Show, which draws more than 100,000 people a year, and his portfolio includes work from Montreal and Manhattan to the Caribbean.  Favorite projects include New York’s legendary Turtle Bay Gardens, the eye-popping gardens for owners of a rare Gustav Stickley house in Wellesley, MA, and a massive waterfront estate in Narragansett, RI.  For other projects, visit his website, www.RGardening.com

Raymond is not shy about expressing his beliefs: “Naturalism is for wusses.  People use it as an excuse to plant things willy-nilly.”  While he has always had a fondness for plants and gardening, Raymond, who is 56, took the scenic route to his current vocation.  By the time he was 25 he had already earned baccalaureate degrees in chemistry, piano, and voice—and still found time for a couple of years of medical school along the way— before launching successful careers as an opera singer and a freelance writer.   By 30 he had retired from both to take up the trowel as a garden designer.

One reviewer described the riotously-expansive gardens at Raymond’s country home in Rhode Island as “pyrotechnic.”  Many hundreds of varieties of indigenous, exotic, and tropical plants cavort within its strictly-formal layout.  It’s where Raymond celebrates both his successes and failures, learning from each.  “To have a garden of this intensity is freakishly rare,” he said.  “I can only do it because it’s my business, so I don’t have to hire myself.  My gardens are a big lab to figure out every possibility for what we can grow here in New England.”

The Centerbrook Architecture Series is sponsored by Centerbrook Architects (www.centerbrook.com).

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Literacy Volunteers April Fool’s Backward Mile

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore will be holding their 4th annual April Fool’s Backward Mile and 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, April 2, 2011, starting at Essex Town Hall. There will also be a Lollipop Run for children aged 6 and under.

Registration will be at 7.30 a.m., and the Backward Mile for adults age 18 or older will start at 8.30 a.m., the Lollipop Run for children 6 and under will start at 8.50 a.m. and the 5K Walk/Run will start at 9.15 a.m.

This is an important fundraiser for Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc. , who provide tutors to those residents in the Connecticut Valley Shore area who want to learn to speak, read or write English or who wish to improve those skills. Their service is strictly confidential and is provided free of charge.

People who wish to participate in the race can download the application form here or apply directly online at the Literacy Volunteers website at www.vsliteracy.org .  They can also contact Michael Noto, the Executive Director at 860-399-0280 or contact the race director, Cathy Bishop, at 860-767-0354.

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Chickens Coming Home to Roost at Essex Library

UCONN Poultry expert Dr. Michael Darre  will give an educational talk about raising backyard chickens, on Saturday March 12 at 10 a.m., at the Essex Library.

Learn everything you need to get started with this popular new hobby, from what kinds of hens to choose, to building simple shelters. Reap the benefits of fresh eggs, free fertilizer, and natural pest control.

Call the Essex Library today to register, at 860-767-1560.  The program is free and open to all, but space is limited.

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Small Grants for Connecticut River Improvement Available

Non-profits, municipalities, and schools within the watershed of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts and Connecticut are invited to submit project proposals that will result in improved river water quality, ecosystem health, public awareness and/or recreational access to the Connecticut River.

This effort is being put forth by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Capitol Region Council of Governments, the Franklin Region Council of Governments, and the Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency. Proposals are due Friday, March 18, 2011. A full announcement and application form can be downloaded at www.pvpc.org.

Funding for this project has been provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

For more information, contact PVPC’s Anne Capra at (413) 781-6045 or acapra@pvpc.org.

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Bat Chat

Geraldine Griswold Greb-Lasky, noted bat expert, will talk at Essex Town Hall on March 7 at 1.45pm

Geraldine Griswold Greb-Lasky, noted bat expert, will make a passionate and entertaining presentation about bat conservation and the overall health of the bat population at Essex Town Hall on Monday, March 7 at 1.45 p.m.

Bats have occupied our planet for fifty million years yet we have only seriously studied them over the last six decades! Through a Q&A, a brief power point presentation, and the help of a charming Big Brown bat named Theo, we’ll explore biology, ecology, sonar, cultural highs and horrific lows (White Nose Syndrome) of these extraordinary creatures.

Gerri Griswold is Director of Administration and Development at The White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut. She is a wildlife rehabilitator and educator and is licensed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Department of Agriculture to keep and exhibit non releasable bats for education. Over the years Griswold and her bats have delivered hundreds of programs to libraries, classrooms, scout troops and organizations like the National Park Service and the Yale Peabody Museum. They have appeared on the cover of The Weekly Reader and produced a segment about bats for The Late Show with David Letterman.

This event is co-sponsored by the Essex Land Trust and the Essex Garden Club. Refreshments served. Admission is free. For more information about the event please contact Peggy Tuttle at 860-767-7916 or e-mail peggytuttle@gmail.com.

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“Lurking in the Trees”: The Asian Longhorned Beetle

The Asian longhorned beetle. See a film and discussion on 3 March at 7.30 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall

There will be a film and discussion on the Asian Longhorned Beetle on Thursday, March 3 at 7:30 pm at Essex Town Hall. Admission will be free.

With Spring around the corner, we take for granted that our trees will begin to show their buds, flowers and leaves. The recent arrival of the Asian Longhorned Beetle may put this annual event in jeopardy. Come watch the film “Lurking in the Trees” which depicts how this alien insect has devastated trees in a number of communities. After viewing the movie, we will learn from Katherine Dugas of the Connecticut Agricultural Station how to recognize and thwart this pest. Katherine will  bring a display of Asian longhorned beetles and a cross-sectioned wood sample showing internal damage caused by ALB larvae

These terrible insect-invaders from Asia have killed trees in New England, in particular, Worcester, Massachusetts. The only way to stop the pests in that city was to cut down and grind up over 25,000 trees. There is concern that the damage could spread throughout the northeastern United States. New infestations can destroy our forests and property values, and cost huge sums of money to control.

Originating in China, Asian Longhorned beetles are invasive pests that likely came to the U.S. in wood pallets used in shipping containers. They established themselves in a stand of maple trees in the industrial core of Worcester 12 to 15 years ago and have been quietly spreading, killing trees and multiplying ever since. The threat the beetles pose to New England trees, including towns in this region, is a risk too great to contemplate.

Co-sponsored by the Essex Garden Club, Potapaug Audubon Society and the Essex Library.  Refreshments served. Admission is free. For more information about the event please contact Peggy Tuttle at 860-767-7916 or e-mail peggytuttle@gmail.com.

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Prepare to Launch Your Boat!

A Spring Commissioning Seminar will be held at the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, Novelty Lane in Essex, on Saturday, March 5 from 10a.m. to 12p.m.  Members of the public are invited.

The Seminar will discuss various tasks associated with successfully preparing your boat for launch and use throughout the upcoming season.

The Seminar will be let by Captain Mark Bancroft of Wild Oats Marine Services.   Mark has been sailing for well over thirty-five years and been involved in the marine industry for over twenty years. After completing a successful career in the United States Navy as a Chief Petty Officer he retired in 1989. Mark has been the delivery captain for over 100 boats to various ports from Boston to Norfolk. His experience includes installation and repair of equipment/electronics, spring commissioning and winterization of yachts.

Please register for this no cost seminar.  Contact the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club office at 860-767-3239 or ecyc@essexcyc.org.

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Open Sugar House Saturdays at Bushy Hill

Bushy Hill Director Kelly Way, who runs the open houses, working in the Sugar House

Ivoryton, CT- The Sugar House at Bushy Hill in Ivoryton will be open for the maple sugaring season starting Saturday Feb. 19 and every Saturday until March 19 from 10am-2pm. Bring the whole family and take part in the syrup making process using sap collected from the trees on the property, taste some samples or stop by to pick up a pint of syrup to go. Trails that cover 700 acres will be open to hike, snow shoe, or cross country ski on as well. The open houses are free to the public and no reservations are required. Different size jugs of the finished maple syrup will be available to purchase.

Bushy Hill at Incarnation Center is located at 253 Bushy Hill Road, Ivoryton, CT. The Sugar House is about 300 yards from the road entrance on the left next to the Activity Center. If you have any questions call (860)767-0848. Visit our website at www.bushyhill.org for more information.

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Camp Hazen YMCA Summer Camp Open House , February 27

On Sunday, February 27, Camp Hazen YMCA will host an Open House from 2-4 PM.   Families are encouraged to attend to learn more about summer opportunities for their children.  Camp Hazen YMCA, located at 204 West Main Street on Cedar Lake in Chester, offers one and two week session of both day and resident camp. 

Some sessions already have waitlists so it is imperative for families to plan their summer now.  Camp Director, Danita Ballantyne, states “Attending an Open House provides a valuable opportunity for families to meet the Camp Directors and see the facilities to determine if Camp Hazen is the right choice for their family.” 

Camp Hazen YMCA is committed to helping youth develop valuable life skills through camping experiences that build healthy bodies, open minds and awakened spirits.    Traditional camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts and campfires – along with more unique programs including a Skate Park, Alpine Tower, Mountain Biking and Windsurfing are available for campers.  All activities are designed to ensure that campers are having fun, making friends and learning valuable life lessons such as independence and leadership which are the core ingredients of the camp experience.

Camp Hazen YMCA believes the summer camp experience is a vital part of a child’s development and offers a tier pricing program to make camp affordable for all.  For more information, contact Danita Ballantyne at 860-526-9529 or visit www.camphazenymca.org

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Winter Walk at Falls River Preserve and Jean’s Island

This is the year’s kick-off event for the Essex Great Outdoor Pursuit, co-sponsored by the Essex Land Trust and the Essex Park and Recreation Department, will be a winter walk at Falls River Preserve and Jean’s Island, which will take place on Saturday, Feb. 19 starting at 10 a.m. at Falls River Preserve.

Naturalist Phil Miller and Preserve steward John Matthiessen will lead groups through the spectacular Falls River Preserve. Walk to Jean’s Island if the ice is thick. Stop for cocoa after the hike at Barbara Sarrantonio and Ed Marlowe’s home, adjacent to the preserve.

The mission of the Essex Great Outdoor Pursuit is to bring the families of Essex together through positive and healthy outdoor endeavors, while increasing the presence and awareness of our local parks, open spaces, and preserves. For more information, please visit the Park and Recreation website: http://essexct.recdesk.com/recdeskportal/

Park at the end of Falls River Drive in Ivoryton. Only really bad weather (blizzard or torrential rain) cancels. For more information about the event please contact Peggy Tuttle at 860-767-7916 or e-mail peggytuttle@gmail.com.

Falls River Walk

Jeans Island Winter Walk

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Planning Commission to Hold Final Public Hearing on Preserve Modification on February 16

Chairman of the Old Saybrook Planning Commission Robert McIntyre

Robert McIntyre, Chairman of the Old Saybrook Planning Commission, has scheduled what he terms “the final public hearing” on whether the Commission should approve a modification of its approved plans for the Preserve.  The hearing on this question will be held on Wednesday, February 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Middle School in Old Saybrook.

The highlight of the developer’s modification application is a proposal to build 230 new housing units in three separate clusters located on the edges of the 1,000 acre Preserve property. In addition to the housing units themselves, the modification application contains detailed plans for new access roads, new sewerage treatment facilities and new landscaping at the building sites.  

If approved by the Planning Commission, the developer would be permitted to modify in a limited way the Preserve’s development plan, which was approved by the Commission over a decade ago.

Of course, all efforts to develop the Preserve were stopped, when in 2005 the Old Saybrook Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission decided that “the proposed 18-hole golf course [in the developer’s plan] is located in or in proximity to the dense wetlands area of the site.”

Rather than to address this ruling and change its plans accordingly, the developer  appealed the Wetlands Commission’s ruling in the courts, and the case went all the way up to the Connecticut Supreme Court. Ultimately, the developer lost all its appeals, and in 2010 embarked on yet another attempt to develop the property.

The developer’s application to the Planning Commission for permission to build the three housing clusters, which they prefer to call pods, is the first attempt to develop any portion of the Preserve, since its final defeat in the courts over the Wetlands decision. As to whether the Planning Commission will approve this new modification proposed by the developer is very much an open question.

One factor that is troubling for the success of the modification application is that even at this late date, two days before the final hearing, the developer was still submitting modifications to its application. 

Mark Branse, Counsel to the Planning Commission, has been sharply critical of some of the developer’s earlier submissions, saying that in some cases they showed “drainage areas that went uphill, and new roads that went nowhere.”

However, even if the developer makes last minute changes in its application that are satisfactory to the Planning Commission, there remains the open question as to whether the developer is prepared to obey the Old Saybrook town regulation that provides that in cases where a developer seeks to develop its property in “phases,” it must include in the first phase all of the property preserved as open space in the overall plan. 

The town’s land use regulations are clear. If an approved development is to be constructed in phases, which the initial three clusters of housing appear to be, then an integral part of the first phase must be a setting aside all of the open space designated in the overall plan.

This would mean that to build the three housing clusters, at the same time the developer must dedicate 483 acres of open space to be preserved forever on the Preserve site. 

To date there has not even been an inkling that the developer is prepared even to contemplate such a proposition.

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Essex Celebrates Presidents’ Weekend with Eagle Trolley, Boat Tours and Village Specials

Essex Is For Eagle Lovers! Enthusiasts are gearing up for free rides on the Eagle Trolley, EagleWatch boat tours and plenty of special offers at shops and restaurants in Essex Village on February 19 and 20.

Essex, CT – This Presidents Weekend, experience the majestic beauty of Bald Eagles and the cozy charm of Essex Village during its annual EagleWatch and WinterFest celebration.   Whether on land or on water, there’s plenty of opportunity to view wintering Bald Eagles along the Connecticut River while enjoying the hospitality of an authentic New England village. 

On Saturday, Feb. 19 from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m., the Essex Board of Trade is organizing an afternoon of eagle fun for everyone.  All are invited to climb aboard the Essex Eagle Trolley with First Selectman and Naturalist Phil Miller for a free ride and guided tour through Essex Village to eagle land-viewing spots.  The trolley will depart from Essex Town Hall and loop through town stopping along Main Street, the Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Steam Train and other points of interest. Village shops and restaurants will also be serving up special refreshments while extra special offers and discounts will be given to all those with an Experience Essex button, sold for $5 at designated locations. 

For those who want to get up close and personal, eagle-viewing boat tours featuring heated cabin and narration will depart from the Connecticut River Museum on Friday 2/18 at 1:00 pm as well as Saturday 2/19 and Sunday 2/20 at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, and 1:00 pm.  Free admission to the Museum’s Eagles of Essex exhibit and other galleries is included with every boat tour.  And for the music lover in all of us, the Griswold Inn is the spot to be on Sunday, February 20 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm with a special performance by Blues on the Rocks, to benefit the CT Audubon Society Eco-Travel.    

Free parking is available on village streets, in designated lots, and at Essex Town Hall, also the starting and ending point for the trolley loop.  For other Winter Festival events information, including the Essex Land Trust’s Winter Walk at Falls River Preserve on Saturday, February 19 at 10 am, go to www.essexct.com or call the Essex Board of Trade at 860-767-3904.

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The meaning of “phased development,” a key issue at February 2 hearing on the Preserve’s new “pods”

At first, it seemed to all come down to a question of semantics. Should the Preserve’s proposed three clusters of housing, called “pods,” be characterized as the first phase of the phased development of the 1,000 acre property? Or, should the pods be considered simply as “stand alone” developments?

However, what is at stake is not simple semantics. Rather it is a question of whether, to get permission to build three pods of housing, the Preserve is prepared to reserve close to 500 acres of its property in perpetuity as open space.

The developer’s counsel, David M. Royston

Throughout much of the drawn out Preserve proceeding before the Old Saybrook Planning Commission, the developer’s counsel, David M. Royston, has staunchly maintained that the three pods for 221 new homes in the original plan, and now 230 in the new one, are a “stand alone” development.

This characterization, the counsel of the Planning Commission, Mark J. Branse, strongly disputed. Far from being a “stand alone” development, Branse maintained that the three proposed pods were clearly the first phase of a phased development of the Preserve’s property.

This dispute even reached the point where Branse in exasperation wrote Robert McIntyre, Chairman of the Planning Commission, on January 13 saying, “Allowing the stand alone development of each of the three pods is allowing a phased development and no amount of linguistic acrobatics can change that fact.”

Then, suddenly, in a memorandum to the Planning Commission on January 19, the Preserve’s Royston appeared to concede the point, that the three pods could indeed be characterized as the first phase of the full development of the Preserve.

Royston said, “The Applicant will proceed … without further debating the interpretation of “phasing” and with the balance of the expectation that the Commission will concur with the interpretation of its staff and its attorney.”

Commission counsel Branse finds this frankly tortured English “unclear,” he said in a recent interview, and he said that he would try to clarify what was being said at the upcoming public hearing on February 2. That hearing will be held, incidentally, at the Middle School in Old Saybrook beginning at 7:30 p.m.

What is at stake here is a huge question for the Preserve. Will the developer even want to go forward with the pods, if their approval, as part of a first phase of the site’s full development, requires reserving as open space 483.3 acres of its property in perpetuity?

Old Saybrook land use regulations clearly require that when a property is developed in phases that included in the first phase there must be the reservation of the entire amount of the open space that was approved in the original development plan.

The pertinent town regulation reads, “56.6.8 Phases. The area covered by an open space subdivision plan may be submitted for final approval in phases, if any land to be reserved for open spaces is so reserved in the first phase.”   

In interpreting this section the Land Use Department of the Town of Old Saybrook wrote to Planning Chairman McIntyre on January 14, “We reiterate that a consequence of phasing development is that the land reserved for open space by the Preliminary Open Space Plan must be dedicated, as to whether in fee or in easement, as a condition of approval at the time of approval of the first phase of the Open Space Plan for Subdivision of Land.”

In his remarks before the Planning Commission on December 1, 2010, Robert A. Levine, President of a prominent real estate development firm based in New York City, and the owner’s representative of the Preserve, made no reference to the town’s land use regulation that applies in the case of a phased development.

Levine did, however, note in his testimony, “that the purpose and intent of this application is to maintain all potential options with respect to the central forest core, from full development, to no development.” He also said, “We are prepared to make such plan revisions as are necessary to meet the regulations.”

As yet there is no clear expression by the owner’s representative of recognizing that concomitant with the Planning Commission’s approval of the first phase of the phased development of the three pods is a requirement to reserve almost half of the Preserve’s present property as open space forever.

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Raptor Identification with Milan Bull

Potapaug Audubon & The Essex Land Trust will host a lecture on  “Raptor Identification” on Thursday, Feb. 3 at the Essex Town Hall at 7:30 p.m. with Guest Speaker Milan Bull, Senior Director of Science and Conservation for the Connecticut Audubon Society.

Learn how to identify and understand the various species of hawks, falcons and eagles that frequent our area, especially in winter. This program is perfectly timed for the beginning of Essex’s “eagle watching season.”

Free Program. Open to the public. Refreshments served after program. For more info: 860-767-9763.

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Connecticut River Museum To Host Live Birds of Prey Show and Photography Workshop

Tami Miglio introduces a Peregrine Falcon at last year’s “Wind Over Wings” Live Raptor Show hosted by the Connecticut River Museum

Essex, CT – If getting up close and personal with live raptors sounds like a fun, then mark your calendar and set your GPS for Essex on Sunday, Feb. 13.  As part of its EagleWatch 2011 programming, the Connecticut River Museum will host a “Wind Over Wings” Live Raptor Show at Essex Town Hall at 3:30 p.m.  The show, presented by Wind Over Wings, a non-profit bird of prey rehabilitation and education center, will introduce birds of prey and tell their individual stories of survival and conservation.  With funding support from the Essex Garden Club and Potapaug Audubon Society, this program is free to the public but seating is limited and is on a first-come, first-seated basis. 
For those looking for an on-water adventure and a chance to see majestic bald eagles in their winter habitat, the Connecticut River Museum, together with Project Oceanology, are offering eagle-viewing boat tours on Fridays at 1:00 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. from February 4 through March 13. Project Oceanology’s vessel Enviro-lab III departs from the Museum’s dock for an up-close view of winter wildlife, Bald Eagles, and other big birds of prey.  Educators from the Museum and Project Oceanology provide narration while passengers can enjoy viewing from the heated cabin or outside deck area.  In addition, there’s an opportunity to assist in collecting water samples and compiling data for water-quality monitoring programs that are part of an ongoing environmental study with the Museum.  Every boat tour ticket includes free admission to the Museum where the story of the Bald Eagle continues to unfold in the Eagles of Essex exhibit.   

For those interested in capturing birds of prey with a camera, the Connecticut River Museum will also present a one-hour “Introduction to Bird Photography” workshop on Saturday, February 12 at 1:30 pm. International nature photographer Stanley Kolber will present the do’s and don’ts of photographing birds in the wild in the Museum’s Boathouse Gallery.  The workshop is free with paid admission to the Museum.

For a full listing of event details, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm.

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Free Fly Tying Clinic in February

North Cove Outfitters of Old Saybrook is proud to offer a series of four free fly tying clinics each Saturday in February, from 10:00 a.m – 1 p.m.  Fishing staff will review tying techniques and some of their favorite patterns. These are patterns that their fishing staff love to tie and have proven effective in CT waters and beyond.

Attendees should bring your own vise and tying tools and North Cove Outfitters will provide the materials.  Please call the fishing department to reserve a seat.  Call 860-388-6585 ext 307 visit www.northcove.com for more information.

The clinic will be limited to 6 students.  The schedule will be as follows:

Saturday, Feb 5
Atlantic Salmon Flies
An introduction to tying flies for Atlantic Salmon.
By Ben Bilello

Saturday, Feb 12
Early Season Trout Flies
Some of our favorite flies for fishing in early spring and
how we tie them.
By Merrill “Doc” Katz

Saturday, Feb 19
Spun Deer Hair and Deer Hair Applications
Fish LOVE flies that “push” water. We will show you tips and tricks for
tying flies with deer hair heads like Muddler Minnows, Snake Flies, or
Dahlberg Divers. Big Flies catch Big Fish! This clinic will have some
patterns & techniques for tying castable big flies that catch fish!
By Evan Peterson

Saturday, Feb 26
Epoxy Flies: Salt Water
Every fly tyer has a love-hate relationship with Epoxy and beginners get
overwhelmed. 1 minute, 5-minute, 30-minute and rod builders epoxy all have
their place in fly tying. We’ll go over some of the favorite Epoxy Flies and
share some tips about handling this wonderful adhesive. By Captain Mark
Dysinger

North Cove Outfitters is located at 75 Main Street, Old Saybrook, CT 06475

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Digging out after the Storm

Over a foot of new snow fell overnight during first big snow storm of the year

After the first big snow storm to hit the region this winter local residents are faced with the task of digging themselves out from as much as two feet of new snow.  Most areas along the shore got more than 12″of new snow, and some got nearly two feet, in addition to several inches of snow from earlier snowfalls during the weekend. 

Many local businesses were closed for the day and Gov. Dannel Malloy announced that all non-essential State employees who work the first shift should stay at home. 

Region 4, Region 18, Old Saybrook and East Lyme public schools were all closed for the day and most scheduled Town meetings have been cancelled.

Snowplows were out all night in most areas

Snow removal crews were out all night trying to stay ahead of the storm.  I-95 was passable but deserted, with only the occassional snowplow or truck on the highway at 9am today.

I-95 deserted at 9am this morning

As the the last few flurries of the storm pass through the area, residents are now faced with the task of digging themselves out.

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Connecticut River Museum and Project Oceanology Team Up Again for EagleWatch 2011

Passengers board Project Oceanology’s Enviro-lab III at the Connecticut River Museum’s dock for eagle viewing boat tours every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in February through mid-March.

Essex, CT — Every year as the temperature drops below freezing and the last holiday decoration is packed away, a new season begins on the Essex waterfront.  Bald Eagles from as far north as Canada migrate to the open waters of the Connecticut River where the fishing is good and the nesting is easy.  In fact, the lower Connecticut River boasts one of the largest concentrations of these majestic birds from mid-January through mid-March, a natural phenomenom which sets the stage for the Connecticut River Museum’s continued expansion of its annual EagleWatch programming.  After a highly successful season last year with first-year partner Project Oceanology, the Connecticut River Museum will again team up with the Groton-based marine science and environmental education organization to provide a dynamic on-water experience.     

Connecticut River Museum Educator Bill Yule guides eagle viewers aboard Project Oceanology’s 65-foot research vessel Enviro-lab III.

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting on February 4 and running through March 13, Project Oceanology’s vessel Enviro-lab III will depart from the Museum’s docks for an up-close view of winter wildlife, Bald Eagles, and other big birds of prey.  Educators from the Museum and Project Oceanology will provide narration while passengers can enjoy viewing from the heated cabin or outside deck area.  In addition, there’s an opportunity to assist in collecting water samples and compiling data for water-quality monitoring programs that are part of an ongoing environmental study with the Museum.  Every boat tour ticket includes free admission to the Museum where the story of the Bald Eagle continues to unfold in the Eagles of Essex exhibit.   

Opening on February 5 and running through March 13, Eagles of Essex tells the full story of why so many bald eagles winter here and how they went from near-extinction to becoming one of the greatest environmental come-back stories in history.  In addition to an interactive eagle nest, exhibitry will illustrate how to identify birds of prey and where the best land-viewing spots are located.  An eagle sighting scoreboard and a “real-time” community photography display will also be featured.  Amateur photographers are invited to submit their digital shots of eagles or other river raptors for inclusion in the exhibit. 

Special programming events will round out EagleWatch 2011.  On Saturday, February 5, drop-in arts and crafts, eagle nest building activities, family gallery tours, birdwatching with binoculars and scopes, and more will be happening from 12 noon to 4 pm in the Eagles of Essex gallery. 

On Saturday, February 12 and on Saturday, March 5 at 1:30 pm, international nature photographer Stan Kolber will present the do’s and don’ts of photographing birds in the wild during a one-hour “Introduction to Bird Photography” workshop.   And on Sunday, February 13 at 3:30 pm at Essex Town Hall, the Connecticut River Museum, together with the Essex Garden Club and the Potopaug Audobon Society, will host a Wind Over Wings live birds of prey demonstration.  Admission is free but seating capacity is limited. 

For a full listing of event details, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm.

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RiverQuest and CT Audubon offer their Seventh Annual Eagle Cruises from Haddam

RiverQuest – Connecticut River Expeditions and Connecticut Audubon are joining up again in February and March for their Seventh Annual Eagle Viewing Boat Cruises on the Connecticut River. These ever-popular winter cruises will depart from the “New Eagle Headquarters” located at the appropriately named Eagle Landing State Park in Haddam.

Captain Mark of the quiet, environmentally friendly eco-tour vessel RiverQuest says “This will be our second year offering Eagle Cruises from Eagle Landing State Park. Our first year was a complete success and we are excited to again be departing from the beautiful and picturesque Haddam and East Haddam area. Because of our many years of experience on the river, we know exactly where to look for eagles and other wildlife. We hope to expose even more people to this “Winter Wonderland” during the 2011 season.”

Andrew Griswold, Director of Connecticut Audubon EcoTravel and founder of the Connecticut Audubon Society Eagle Festival, has been offering Eagle Cruises on the Connecticut River for 16 years. This will be the seventh year the two organizations have partnered together aboard RiverQuest. “We have many years of knowledge and experience between us. The same naturalists and educators narrate these cruises each year making our trips truly exciting, educational and better each year.” said Griswold. Andrew agrees that departing from Eagle Landing State Park was very successful in 2010 and is looking forward to the 2011 Eagle Cruises.

Eagle Landing State Park is very easy to get to. It is close to Route 9, right off of Route 82 and there is plenty of parking. The park is located directly across the river from the historic Goodspeed Opera House and is just south of the famous East Haddam Swing Bridge, which opened in 1911 and is the 5th longest swing bridge in the world. Gillette’s Castle is 4.5 miles away. Although the castle is closed this time of year, the grounds are open year round for visitors. There are also unique shops and restaurants in Haddam, East Haddam and Chester, all making this area a destination in itself.

Please join Connecticut River Expeditions and Connecticut Audubon aboard RiverQuest for a unique, informative cruise while searching for the majestic Bald Eagle and other winter wildlife along the peaceful lower Connecticut River. Complimentary coffee and tea aboard. Binoculars are available for use during the cruise at no charge.

Numerous weekend and weekday dates and times are available for these 2-hour cruises. For more information or reservations visit RiverQuest at ctriverquest.com, phone 860-662-0577 or CT Audubon EcoTravel at ecotravel.ctaudubon.org, phone 860-767-0660.

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Woman safe after Knollwood pier rescue in Old Saybrook

The Past Chief of the Old Saybrook Fire Department, David Heiney, responded to an emergency at the Knollwood pier yesterday and played a key role in a dramatic rescue of a woman from the Long Island Sound.

On Wednesday Dec. 29 at 0940 Hrs, the Old Saybrook Fire Department received a 911 call reporting that a female was in the water off the Knollwood Pier in Old Saybrook (Long Island Sound). The Old Saybrook Fire Department, Police Department and Ambulance were dispatched to the scene.

Past Chief David Heiney of the O.S.F.D. responded to the scene in his personal vehicle. When Heiney arrived, he was told that a woman was in the water off the end of the pier. Heiney entered the water to rescue the woman.

Officer James Kiako of the Old Saybrook Police Department arrived on scene and retrieved his rescue rope that is kept in the trunk of his patrol car. Kiako went out onto the pier and threw the rescue rope to Heiney as he was swimming to the victim. Kiako tied the rope to the railing of the pier. Heiney was able to grab onto the rope and swim to the victim.

Firefighter Rebecca Lucas and Kiako went down onto the beach to enter the water to assist Heiney. In the meantime, Heiney had grabbed onto the victim and started to swim to shore. A civilian, Jerry Gintoff was on the pier assisting in the rescue. 

Gintoff took the rope off the railing and pulled Heiney and the victim to the shore.  Heiney was met in the water by firefighter Lucas and Kiako. The woman was pulled from the water and was still breathing.

The victim was transported to the Middlesex Medical Center in Essex by the Old Saybrook Ambulance and treated for hypothermia. Heiney and Lucas were also transported to the Medical Center and were evaluated and released.

Reported by Max Sabin of Old Saybrook

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Boats, Tugs, Steamships & Trains: Stories of Commercial Traffic Along The Connecticut River

Artist Steve Cryan will present “Boats, Tugs, Steamships & Trains: Stories of Commercial Traffic Along the Connecticut River!” at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex on Thursday, January 20 at 5:30 pm.

Essex, CT – The stories of commercial transportation in the Connecticut River Valley will come to life on Thursday, Jan. 20 at 5:30 p.m. when local artist Steve Cryan presents “Boats, Tugs, Steamships & Trains: Stories of Commercial Traffic Along the Connecticut River” at the Connecticut River Museum. 

Using his colorful storytelling technique and vibrant images, Mr. Cryan will treat the audience to a retelling of the days when the River was bustling with various modes of working vessels and transport. 

A special behind-the-scenes tour of the Connecticut River Museum’s 17th Annual Holiday Train Show created by Mr.Cryan will end the program. 

Admission is $5 per person.  Museum members are admitted free.  Please call to reserve a spot. 

The Connecticut River Museum, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley, is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street.  The 17th Annual Holiday Train Show runs through February 13.  For more information on this and other programs, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call (860)767-8269.

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Old Saybrook Planning Commission to hold second public hearing on Preserve development, January 5

Residents post signs to preserve the land

The Old Saybrook Planning Commission will hold a second public hearing on the controversial proposal to develop the Preserve on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 7:30 p.m.  The hearing will be held at the Middle School in Old Saybrook.

The Preserve property consists of  1,000 acres of open space, most of which is located in Old Saybrook along Ingham Hill Road, although 60 acres of the site are located in Essex and a smaller parcel in Westbrook.

The Jan. 5 hearing, like the earlier hearing in early December, will consider a proposal by developer River Sound Development LLC to develop a small portion of the 1,000 acre site along Ingham Hill Road. This new proposal would consist of three developed sites containing 224 units of new housing.  

1,000 acres of vacant land at issue

An earlier development plan of the Preserved a number of years ago, envisioned the construction of 221 new housing units and a new golf course with a club house. Although this proposal was approved by the Old Saybrook Planning Commission in 2005, the Inland Wetland Commission thwarted the plan from going forward because of environmental concerns.  The developers appealed the Wetland Commission’s decision to the courts but to no avail. 

Although Old Saybrook First Selectman Michael Pace declined to take a position on the Preserve’s latest application, noting that the idea to develop the Preserve “has been going on for years,” Essex First Selectman Phil Miller on the other hand is staunchly opposed to the new proposal.

Essex First Selectman Phil Miller

Miller has said, “The Preserve is a 1,000 acre, wet and rocky sponge. The best use of the property is open space.” Development of the property in Miller’s view “is not in the best interests of Old Saybrook or Essex.” 

Miller is also seeking a new purchaser of the Preserve property, who would preserve the land as open space. He recently met with representatives of the Trust for Public Land with this in mind.

Expected to speak against the new application at the Jan. 5 hearing is the Connecticut Fund for the Environment. Others in the past, who have voiced opposition to the Preserve’s development include: local State Senators, Eileen Daily, Andrea Stillman, and Edward Meyer; and State Representatives, James Spallone, Marilyn Giuliano, and Brian O’Connor. U.S. Senator-elect Richard Blumenthal has also expressed his opposition to developing the Preserve.   

Some 60 local residents came out for the first hearing on the proposed River Sound development, and many of them opposed it.

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Trees in the Rigging Boat Parade Winners Announced

TREES IN THE RIGGING event organizers and boat parade participants from left to right are George Graf, Essex Historical Society; Bill Stevens, TONY M. crew member; Jerry Roberts, Connecticut River Museum; Lee Thompson, Essex Mariner; Jon Manafort owner of TONY M.; Bob Higgins, TONY M. crew member; and Patrick Kilty, owner of ISHKOODAH.

On Friday, Dec. 10, organizers and participants in this year’s Trees in the Rigging boat parade gathered at the Connecticut River Museum to celebrate victory in the annual holiday boat decorating contest. 

The event, held on Nov. 28, featured festively-lit vessels passing in review in front of the Connecticut River Museum on the Essex waterfront. 

Jon Manafort, owner of the TONY M. won first place for converting his 31-foot aluminum workboat into a spectacular holiday locomotive.  He received a wooden boat model donated by the Essex Mariner as his prize. 

Second place was awarded to Dan and Cheryl Malone for their clever “Port & Starboard” light display that covered the 42-foot CHERYL ANN.  A messenger bag donated by Boatique was the second place prize award. 

Third place honors went to Patrick Kilty and Angus MacDonald Jr., owners of the ISHKOODAH, a 37-foot sloop that featured classically-lit rigging and Santa’s sleigh in tow as its dinghy.  They received a Connecticut River Museum membership and CRM burgee. 

Trees in the Rigging is a community event presented annually by the Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Historical Society, and the Essex Board of Trade.

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“Save The Ferry” Public Meeting Dec. 16

The Hadlyme Public Hall Association has scheduled a public meeting for Thursday Dec. 16 to discuss the importance of the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry and to ask state officials to find ways to assure its continued service to the communities it serves on both sides of the Connecticut River.

The state Department of Transportation has included the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry on a list of possible transportation services that could be curtailed or eliminated next year.

“We understand that the state faces some serious financial problems in the coming years,” said Association President Curt Michael, “but this ferry has been running since before the United States even existed. It’s an historic treasure, and its service is essential to businesses and tourism on both sides of the river. We want to find ways to work with the state so that Connecticut doesn’t lose this important part of its history.”

Michael said state legislators and selectmen representing the communities served by the ferry have been invited to attend the meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Hadlyme Public Hall, One Day Hill Road, Lyme. 

Representatives from the Connecticut DOT have also been invited, as well as tourism and economic development officials.

The Hadlyme Hall Association has already collected more than 1,000 signatures on petitions urging the state to retain the ferry service, according to Michael. The petitions will be presented to state officials at the meeting.

The Hadlyme Public Hall Association is a nonprofit community organization that’s nearly 100 years old.  The Hall’s only financial support is from its members and its community events.  It has no government funding.  It is located on Rt. 148 at the intersection of Ferry Road, Day Hill Road and Joshuatown Road one mile east of the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry and half a mile west of the intersection of Routes 148 and 82.

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Essex Garden Club Decorate Silent Policeman

left to right: DeeDee Charnok, Sheila Gleason, Sandy Meister and Gay Thorn

As they do every year, theEssex Garden Club has decorated the Essex silent policeman and the merchants’ window boxes with greens for the holidays.  Shown here from left to right are:  DeeDee Charnok, Sheila Gleason, Sandy Meister, and Gay Thorn.

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First Connecticut Bike-Walk Summit Raises Hope

If you doubt that bicycles and pedestrians are beginning to get some long-overdue attention as road users, those doubts might have been revised on Saturday, Nov. 13, when about 150 people gathered at Central Connecticut State University for the state’s first Bike-Walk Summit.

Participants learned about the latest developments at the Connecticut Department of Transportation, heard about national trends in community planning such as “Complete Streets,” got the scoop on the new legislative landscape, and learned about national and international bicycle and pedestrian planning—among many other topics.

The summit was sponsored by www.BikeWalkCT.org. Old Saybrook representatives included members of the Bikeways Committee, the Board of Selectmen, and the Police Commission.

Highlights:

A “Complete Streets” law took effect on Oct. 1 in Connecticut. This refers to a practice of considering all road users in street design, including non-motorized users. This new law says, among other things, that the state and municipalities working with state money must set aside 1% of funds for bike and pedestrian projects.

Things are busy in New Haven, where a number of tangible changes are underway. The city has completed a street design manual that addresses bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. It is available at the New Haven web site: www.cityofnewhaven.com/TrafficParking/pdfs/CS-Manual-04-05-10.pdf

New Haven is using the “SeeClickFix” Web site to accept public input about safety issues and repairs. (http://www.SeeClickFix.com) SeeClickFix is a local advocacy Web site that lets users write about issues and encourages communication between residents and local government. SeeClickFix users post a complaint about problems that occur within a set of boundaries on a Google Map, like a missing stop sign or a damaged curb, and the site communicates the problem to local agencies and departments, with a mark the Google map.

New Haven also has a “Vision Zero” initiative, an idea that got its start in Scandinavia and is spreading worldwide. It is based on the premise that traffic fatalities are NOT inevitable.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is exploring six major changes to past policies, including the following:

  1. Setting aside 50% of Federal Transportation Enhancement funds received by the DOT for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
  2. Allowing Surface Transportation Funds (STP) to be used for bike and pedestrian projects.
  3. Putting sidewalks on an equal footing with other elements of road design.
  4. Including more bicycle and pedestrian design standards in the DOT Design Manual.
  5. Making faster responses to local situations, implementing of a “quick fix” mechanism.
  6. Collaborating with the Department of Environmental Protection, which currently administers many miles of bike and pedestrian trails within the state park system.

Comments regarding changes to DOT policy can be sent to Tom Maziarz, DOT’s Bureau Chief for Policy and Planning. Email: maziarztj@ct.gov.

The Capital Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) has a “Smart Cycling” education program. According to Sandra Fry, Transportation Planner, these programs are based on the principles advanced by the American League of Bicyclists: “Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.”

Ms. Fry reviewed who and what causes of cycling accidents. According to her sources, responsibility for cycling accidents is about 50/50 between cyclist and motorist. She also showed that about 50% of all cycling accidents involve falls by the cyclist, indicating that many riders have poor control of the bike. The Smart Cycling program teaches five layers of safety for cyclists, including bike control, following traffic laws, proper positioning on the road, hazard avoidance, and use of helmets.

Legal trends are causing more state and local governments to look at laws as they pertain to bicyclists and pedestrians, according to Kyle Wiswall of the Tristate Transportation Campaign. Nonetheless, there continues to be a lot of misinformation regarding those laws. One of the primary objections to “complete street” designs, he said, is the fear that towns raise their liabilities with designs that encourage multiple types of users. Contrary to common opinion, however, towns have “design immunity” as long as implementation is done according to accepted design standards (such as those advanced in connection with Connecticut’s new “Complete Streets” law).

Wiswall also discussed the “vulnerable user law” that will be considered in the upcoming legislative session. This law creates a new category of road user—anyone outside the crumple zone of a motor vehicle. This can include emergency workers while outside their vehicles, road workers, pedestrians, cyclists, roller bladers, skateboarders, horseback riders, and others. If passed, it will give police the power to cite drivers whose role in accidents with “vulnerable users” is currently uncovered by existing laws.

Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, shared that about 60% of survey respondents in Portland, OR, could be classified as “concerned” about safety in cycling—a factor which causes them to cycle less than they might. This 60% will be the source of growth in transportation cycling as better infrastructure and better education become established.

These were just some of the highlights. Information flowed freely, as did some cautious optimism that a new day may be dawning for those who would like to leave their cars in the driveway. The presentations will be posted at the BikeWalkCT Web site by the week of Nov. 22.

For some interesting Web sites, check out these:

Connecticut bicycling and walking advocacy site where the Summit presentations will be posted: http://www.bikewalkct.org

Walk to School Pledge: http://walkitbikeitct.org

United States Bicycle Route System: http://www.adventurecycling.org/usbrs

Share-the-road signage in Connecticut: http://sharetheroadct.org

Benchmarking report 2010 on biking and walking in the US: http://www.PeoplePoweredMovement.org

Kathy Connolly is Chairman of the OldSaybrook Bikeways Committee and can be reached at kathy.connolly@snet.net

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Harbor Commission adopts “use it or lose it” rule for private moorings in Essex harbor

Mooring tackle out of the water at the Pettipaug Yacht Club

It’s a new day for the holders of private moorings in Essex Harbor. The town’s Harbor Management Commission has just adopted a new rule that if a boater does not properly use an assigned private mooring during the boating season, the boater’s mooring spot will not be renewed for the following season.   

The Commission’s action was in response to an informal survey taken in Essex Harbor last summer. The survey found that as many as one third of the private moorings assigned to boaters in the Essex Meadows mooring field were not being used as they should be. Some had moorings in the water but no boats were using them. Others, even more egregiously, were totally empty, with neither boat nor mooring at the assigned mooring location.

To remedy this situation the Harbor Management Commission at its October 28 meeting adopted a number of new mooring policies for private mooring holders. Among the most important is that if a boater who has been granted a private mooring permit fails to install the required mooring tackle in the water during the boating season that boater “may at the discretion of Harbor Master be determined ineligible and disqualified for renewal of that Mooring Permit for the following year.”  

Furthermore, if the “ineligible and disqualified” person wants to apply for a new mooring permit in the future “that person shall be placed at the bottom of any wait list for any area of Essex Harbor … ”

Also new “use” requirements have been put in place by the Commission. They state, “Private Moorings are intended for the regular personal use of the Mooring Permit holder.” They also provide that “it is required that the mooring shall be occupied by the watercraft for which the permit was issued on a regular basis during the boating season.” 

 The highlighted language could be interpreted to mean that if a mooring permit holder does not engage in “regular personal use” of an assigned mooring, or if the   mooring is not used “on a regular basis during the mooring season,” these could be grounds for making the holder of the mooring “ineligible and disqualified for renewal of the Mooring Permit the following year.”

Most of the vessels in Essex are now out of the water. A few remain.

However, before imposing the loss of a mooring on these grounds, a finding should be made as to what does, or does not, constitute “regular personal use,“ or, “ a regular basis during the mooring season. “ This determination, presumably, would be made by the Harbor Master.

Another new policy enacted by the Commission is that private mooring permits are “for the personal and recreational use of the Mooring Permit holder.” This would infer that commercial use of private mooring permits is prohibited.

Another new policy of the Commission dictates, “All ground tackle must be inspected every 2 years by the Essex Harbor Master or his designee.” Also, “All vessels must be registered or certified by the State of Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.”

In addition, “Proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance – Certificate of Insurance) shall be required for all watercraft (boat, barge, float, etc.) for which an Application for the Mooring Permit is made.”

Yet another new policy requires, “Pursuant to U.S. Coast Guard requirements all mooring balls (floats) shall be of white color with a blue horizontal stripe around the middle circumference of same. The Mooring ball (float) shall have the Mooring Permit Holder’s Permit Number and Permit Holder’s initials with anchor weight marked on it.”

Also, all private mooring applicants should submit with their applications “evidence of a suitable means of access to a mooring.” This access requirement, presumably, would be satisfied, either by use of boats of private yacht clubs, or by use of private boats from public boat launches. 

In a new wrinkle the new policies require that each year, before the beginning of the boating season, the ten individuals at the top of the mooring permit waiting list will be advised in writing of the “possibility of available mooring space becoming available in the Mooring Area previously requested…”  These persons are also advised to get ready for a new mooring assignment by assembling all required documents.  

The full text the Essex Harbor Management Commission’s new “Private Mooring Permit Policies” can be found on the home page of the Essex town website at www.essexct.gov .  Hard copies of the new policies can also be obtained at the Essex Town Hall in the First Selectman’s office.

Jerome Wilson conducted the survey mentioned of unused moorings in Meadows Mooring field with the assistance of the Pettipaug Yacht Club. Wilson also testified before the Essex Harbor Management Commission urging the adoption of a “use it or lose it” policy in regulating private moorings in Essex Harbor. 

 Further background on private moorings in Essex Harbor

There are 112 persons holding private moorings in Essex Harbor, and 46 persons on the wait list for an assignment of a private mooring in the harbor. 

The cost of a private mooring in Essex Harbor is $50 payable to the town annually, as well as a onetime cost of $300 to $400 dollars to purchase mooring tackle, including anchor, chain, float and pennant. There could also be incidental charges for putting the mooring in and out of the water and for mooring maintenance.
 
By contrast the rental of a mooring owned by a commercial marina can cost over $3,000 for a single boating season. These costs included maintaining the mooring and taking it in and out of the water.

The cost difference between the two alternatives explains why many boaters are eager to be assigned private moorings in Essex Harbor. Incidentally, a person does not have to be a resident of Essex to be eligible to be assigned a private mooring in Essex Harbor.   
 

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Local Towns To Receive Federal Funds for Boating ‘Pump-Out’ Programs

Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that more than $1 million in federal funds will be used to continue or expand “pump-out” programs along Long Island Sound to provide boaters with a convenient and environmentally safe way to dispose of sewage from their vessels.

“Long Island Sound is clearly one of the most important natural resources for our state. It defines Connecticut in so many ways and our stewardship of it must never waver. Preserving and improving the water quality in the Sound is a priority and will be for generations,” Governor Rell said.

“Working together with our federal and local partners we have made significant strides toward eliminating discharges from boats, making our waters and beaches cleaner,” the Governor said.

The Governor said the success of the pump-out program, funded through the federal Clean Vessel Act (CVA) program, has allowed Connecticut to designate all of Long Island Sound as a ‘No Discharge Area’ in 2007 and the grants being awarded will finance upgrades to existing facilities and construction of new ones.

Federal officials said the Connecticut CVA program, along with one other state program, received the highest federal grant award this year.

“Connecticut is a great example of how the program should work and we are pleased to support this success with these grants,” said Alberto Ortiz, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Region CVA Coordinator

New projects this year span the coastline of Connecticut and include two important upgrades and one new construction in Milford.  A brand new pump-out boat offloading connection and dock are being funded at the municipal sewage treatment facility in Stonington Harbor as well as a new pump-out station at O’Sullivans Island in Derby on the Housatonic River.  The grants will also support construction at the Darien Boat Club in Noroton Harbor and the purchase of a new pump-out vessel in Mystic.

The CVA funding is supported by excise taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and boat fuels. Up to 75 percent of the cost of an approved project may be reimbursed under the program, which is designed to increase the availability of proper waste handling facilities for boaters and reduce the discharge or poorly treated or untreated sanitary wastes into the waters of Long Island Sound and its harbors. 

Since 1993, the CVA program has awarded more than $8 million in grants since 1993, providing grants to small marine business owners, municipalities, and non-profit organizations.  With the success of this program, sufficient facilities exist so that the entire Connecticut side of Long Island Sound has been designated as a No-Discharge Area with U.S. EPA approval. 

For more information about this program, visit the DEP web page at www.ct.gov/dep/cva or contact Kate Hughes Brown, Grants and Outreach Coordinator, at (860) 424-3652 or by email at kate.brown@ct.gov.

Following is a list of projects being funded this year:

Clean Vessel Act Grants Awarded – 2011 Boating Year
     
Pump-out Boat Programs
Branford, Town of Branford $38,370.00
Bridgeport Port Authority Bridgeport $36,596.25
Coastal Environmental Services Mystic $197,050.10
Essex, Town of Essex  $86,062.40
Soundkeeper, Inc. Norwalk  $147,933.98
Save The River/Save The Hills, Inc. Waterford  $22,087.50
Stratford, Town of Stratford  $36,454.00
Westerly, Town of Westerly  $52,048.00
     
New Construction/Upgrade Projects
Coastal Environmental Services Mystic  $35,250.00
Derby, City of Derby  $48,750.00
Milford Boat Works Milford  $22,349.25
Milford Lisman Landing Marina Milford  $13,215.00
Stonington, Town of Stonington  $43,200.00
Darien Boat Club Darien  $47,100.00
Milford Harbor Marina Milford  $17,130.00
     
Pumpout Operation and Maintenance Grants
American Wharf Development Corporation Norwich  $5,456.25
BDRM, Inc. (d/b/a/ Brewer Deep River Marina) Deep River  $10,240.05
Beacon Point Marine Cos Cob  $9,750.00
Captain’s Cove Marina Of Bridgeport, Inc. Bridgeport  $442.50
Cedar Island Marina Inc. Clinton  $3,671.25
Cedar Marina, Inc. Bridgeport  $2,550.00
Chrisholm Marina Chester  $9,375.00
Clinton Yacht Haven Dockominium Association, Inc. Clinton  $2,137.00
Crocker’s Boatyard, Inc. New London  $10,199.25
DEP Marine Headquarters Old Lyme  $22,815.00
Groton, City of Groton  $15,825.00
Hays Haven Marina, Inc. Chester  $2,850.00
Marine Holdings of Stratford, Inc. (d/b/a Brewer Stratford Marina) Stratford  $4,050.00
Mystic River Marina Mystic  $2,662.50
Mystic River Properties, Inc. (d/b/a Brewer Yacht Yard at Mystic) Mystic  $3,446.25
Niantic Dockominium Association, Inc New Haven  $3,862.00
Norwalk, City of Norwalk  $5,597.63
Pilots Point Marina, Inc. (d/b/a Brewer Pilots Point Marina) Westbrook  $52,875.00
Pine Island Marina Groton  $1,619.89
Port Niantic, Inc. Niantic  $1,425.00
Portland Boat Works, Inc. Portland  $4,176.00
Rex Marine Center, Incorporated Norwalk  $1,923.00
Saybrook Point Marina Old Saybrook  $6,862.50
Shennecossett Yacht Club, Incorporated Groton  $300.00
Thamesport Marina LLC New London  $5,073.00
Unit Owners Association at Guilford Yacht Club, Inc. Guilford  $5,662.50
     
Total Grants Awarded for 2011 Boating Season   $1,038,443.05
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Camp Hazen YMCA Summer Camp Open House Oct. 17

On Sunday, October 17th, Camp Hazen YMCA located at 204 West Main Street on Cedar Lake in Chester will host an Open House from 2-4 p.m.   Families are encouraged to attend to learn more about summer opportunities for their children.  Located in Chester, Camp Hazen YMCA offers one and two week session of both day and resident camp. 

It may only be October, but now is the time to plan your summer to ensure that sessions are available and to research the right camp for your child.  Camp Director, Danita Ballantyne, states “Attending an Open House provides a valuable opportunity for families to meet the Camp Directors and see the facilities to determine if Camp Hazen is the right choice for their family.” 

Camp Hazen YMCA is committed to helping youth develop valuable life skills through camping experiences that build healthy bodies, open minds and awakened spirits.    Traditional camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts and campfires – along with more unique programs including a Skate Park, Alpine Tower, Mountain Biking and Windsurfing are available for campers.  All activities are designed to ensure that campers are having fun, making friends and learning valuable life lessons such as independence and leadership which are the core ingredients of the camp experience.

Camp Hazen YMCA believes the summer camp experience is a vital part of a child’s development and offers a tier pricing program to make camp affordable for all.  For more information, contact Danita Ballantyne at 860-526-9529 or visit www.camphazenymca.org

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Chester Historical Society – Celebrate Barns and The Mill

Photograph by Diane Lindsay

The Chester Historical Society is inviting the public to a special “Closing the Season Celebration,” which includes an evening of free admission to Chester Museum at The Mill.  “It’s our way to thank the community for its longtime support of the Society, including our opening of the new museum on May 1,” said President Skip Hubbard. “We have been especially pleased with the enthusiastic comments from our visitors.”
 
The weekend opens with a “Closing the Barn Door” Reception and Barn Art sale from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, October 29.  Come and enjoy refreshments and Chester barn scenes produced by our own great Chester artists.  Visit the museum for free, plus get a jump start on great holiday presents.  Artists are donating 50% of the proceeds to the Museum. 
 
Chester Museum at The Mill, including the Barn Art exhibit and sale, will also be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sat., October 30 and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 31, the last day of its successful first season. With the exception of the two days following Thanksgiving, the museum will be closed until May 2011 to allow for creation of new exhibits.

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Essex Boy Scouts Perform Flag Retiring Ceremony

Essex Boy scouts lowering flag as part of Flag retiring ceremony. Pictured (left to Right) are Christopher Polo, Brendan McGirr, Davis Wohlmuth from of Essex. (Photo by Donna Kiefer)

 

Essex Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts took part in a camping camporee this past weekend celerbrating 100 years of Scouting. 

The event took place at the Elks club in Westbrook, Connecticut.  The Elks graciously hosted the event with Scout troops from five area towns participating.

The Boys took part in several activities including one that was an original Boy Scout requirement in 1911.

On Saturday evening, as the sun was setting, The Essex Boy Scouts Troop 12 performed a flag retiring ceremony.   Two flags were retired, one from the Bumpy Warner House in Essex and one from the Elks waterfront property in Westbrook.

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Evelyn Stevens to join Vista Tour de Shoreline Bike Event

Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, Inc. will be holding its 2nd annual, Tour de Shore Cycle Event, on Sunday, Oct. 17, and will include rides of 60, 40 or 25 miles (see below).  Rides will start and end in Westbrook Center and will pass through several scenic shoreline towns including Essex and Deep River.    Last year’s event was attended by more than 100 participants.  Joining the 60 mile ride this year will be two celebreties, Evelyn Stevens and Bjorn Selander.

Evelyn Stevens is the women’s racing phenomenon who has rocketed from a desk job on Wall Street two years ago to the national Time Trial Championship this year and a leading place on the world’s best bicycle team, HTC Columbia.  She will be just back from the World Championships in Australia.

Bjorn, winner of the Junior and U23 national cyclecross championships, this year raced on Lance Armstrong’s Radio Shack team.

The rides will pass through some beautiful Connecticut back roads and small towns and provide breathtaking shoreline views.  All riders receive cue sheets and route maps.  Sponsorships are available and can be viewed on the Tour de Shore website at www.vistatourdeshore.com.    

Entertainment and a delicious barbecue will be provided after the ride for all participants.  There will also be raffle prizes.

Call Susan Bradley at Vista for registration information – 203-318-5240 ext. 228 or register on line at www.vistatourdeshore.com.  or www.bikereg.com.  Net proceeds from this event will benefit the programs and services for the students and members of the Vista community through the Vista Endowment Fund.

Cycle Routes:

60 Mile Route

40 Mile Route

25 Mile Route

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Public Tells Bikeways Committee of Road Cycling Hazards

Several members of the public described the hazards of cycling in the town from personal experience at the Special Meeting of the Old Saybrook Bikeways Committee.

During the first of two Special Meetings of the ad hoc Old Saybrook Bikeways Committee on Thursday evening, members of the public listed problem areas of which they were aware that cause hazards and impact the safety of cyclists and pedestrians on town roads.  They were also keen to learn more about what type of lawyer they could get if they were involved in an accident on the road, just in case something did happen to them in the future.

About 20 residents turned out for the meeting, which was chaired by Kathy Connolly, who gave a short presentation on the history of the committee before seeking input from the members of the public on specific cycling and pedestrian hazards they had encountered on and around the roadways of Old Saybrook.

The Bikeways Committee, which was formed in September 2008 by the Old Saybrook Board of Selectmen, is developing a list of recommended infrastructure changes and other investments that will require funding from the 2011-12 budget, which it will then take to the board of selectmen later in the year.

Committee member Julie D’Ambrosio described a survey she is conducting with members of Girl Scout troops to collect traffic, pedestrian and cyclist data at the middle school as part of the “Safe Routes to School” project.  Connolly hopes that funding for infrastructure improvements may be available through a grant from the program.  The Town of Essex has already received a $400,000 grant for physical improvements and Clinton is reportedly working on a similar grant application.

Several members of the public provided personal examples of dangerous situations they had experienced while cycling locally. One person went on to explain that a bicycle accident he was involved in left him out of work for 6 months, and he had no choice but to find a solicitors to help him make a claim. After the struggles he went through to get this, we have finally found one example of a solicitors ( smithjonessolicitors.co.uk/road-traffic-accidents/bicycle-accident-claims/ )who specialises in bicycle accidents. One of the most hazardous areas identified was The Causeway between Saybrook Point and Fenwick, which several residents reported as being particularly dangerous for cyclists.

Great Hammock Road, Elm Street under the Amtrak bridge, and Route 1 over the railway bridge between CVS and Pat’s Kountry Kitchen were also identified as areas of concern.  Proposed solutions included widening roadways where possible, changing road markings and reducing speed limits.

Connolly noted all comments and will incorporate them into her recommendations to the board of selectmen.

A second special public meeting will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the Town Hall.

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Essex Harbor Management Commission to Consider Resident’s Proposal on Boat Moorings

Space is available for five more private moorings off the Pettipaug Yacht Club, but the permittees for these moorings have failed to use them.

ESSEX— The harbor management commission has agreed to consider a resident’s proposal to suspend town mooring field privileges for boat owners who do not use the mooring for an entire season.

Jerome Wilson presented his proposed “use it or lose it” rule to the panel at a meeting last week. Wilson, a retired lawyer and newsman who has lived in town for 11 years, said a survey he conducted in late July of the Meadows mooring field on the south side of the town harbor found seven of 29 mooring spots completely empty.

Wilson, a former boat owner, contends the unused moorings at the Meadows mooring field and at two other mooring fields managed by the commission are unfair to the more than 40 people on a waiting list for a town mooring. He proposed that boat owners who do not use their designated spot for an entire boating season should be disqualified from renewal of the annual mooring permit and placed on the waiting list for future available moorings.

Wilson noted the town’s mooring permit regulations specify a mooring is intended for the active use of the permitee. “Not putting a mooring in the water for an entire season certainly does not constitute active use,” he said.

Wilson said the panel has agreed to consider his proposed rule, either as a change to the current regulations or in a new written policy. Wilson said he is satisfied with the commission’s response to his proposal.

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Connecticut River Museum Fall Foliage Cruises

Schooner Mary E sails the Connecticut River through October with a glorious change of season view

Essex, CT – Once again leaf peepers and nature lovers alike can enjoy a glorious, new perspective on New England’s change of season from the peaceful waters of the Connecticut River.  The Connecticut River Museum, located on the scenic Essex waterfront, has announced the schedule for river cruises aboard the historic schooner Mary E now through October. 

Afternoon excursions, which run for 1.5 hours and include admission to the museum’s exhibits and galleries, are $26 per adult and $16 for children age 12 and under.  Two hour sunset sails are $30 per person, all ages.  Group tours and private charters are also available.   

For information on daily departure times and group charters, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.  

The Connecticut River Museum, located at 67 Main Street, Essex, CT, is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage and natural beauty of New England’s Great River.

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