September 19, 2020

Join Essex Land Trust for an Outdoor Hike This Morning at Johnson Farm

ESSEX — The Essex Land Trust is starting up its outdoor hikes, with the first to Johnson Farm, Sept. 19, at 10 a.m. Hikers will discover the new pollinators’ meadow at Johnson Farm, a 49-acre property of fields and forest in Ivoryton.

There is new field of goldenrod, which with any luck, will be resplendent yellow, providing a natural resource for many bees, butterflies, moths and dragonflies, members said in a statement.

The trail system includes a woodland trail through the deciduous forest located on the east side of the property. An intermittent stream runs through the northern boundary of the property which also includes a vernal pool. The farm is a wonderful reminder of Connecticut’s farming heritage.

The property’s elevation ranges from 90 ft to 250 ft., which provides spectacular views northeast to the Connecticut River Valley, members said.

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Next ‘March for Justice’ to be Held in Old Lyme, Sept. 23

Signs were held high at a previous rally as the marchers crossed Main Street in Old Saybrook.

OLD SAYBROOK/OLD LYME — The next Old Saybrook March for Justice will be held Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 5:30 p.m. in front of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Listen to a variety of speakers before marching to Old Lyme Town Hall.

The March for Justice is an inclusive and welcoming coalition of friends and neighbors, who care deeply about basic human rights. Join them if you wish to hear about their plans and strategies to address equity and justice in our communities.

All are requested to wear masks.

The group’s mission statement states, ” We are outraged by centuries of structural racism in this country. We stand with Black Lives Matter. We listen, learn and act. We understand that silence is not an option and we will not be bystanders to white supremacy.”

It continues, “We aim to be allies and antiracist. We are respectful, nonpartisan and inclusive. We welcome all who share our values. We educate ourselves and join in weekly marches.”

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Op-Ed: A Gardener, “The Gardener’s Tale,” and Structural Racism in Our Towns

Editor’s Note: The author of this op-ed, Joseph CL Merola,  MD, MPH, is an active member of the Old Saybrook March for Justice.  He lives in Old Saybrook and is a semiretired Obstetrician and Gynecologist, having most recently practiced, taught and served as Chairman of the Department at the St. Luke’s University Health Network in Eastern PA and Western NJ. Dr. Merola also has been a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Clinical Professor at the Temple University School of Medicine. He has an abiding interest in the public’s health, particularly for women and children, and for distributive justice in health care.           

At this time of year, I’m in my glory as an avid gardener in Coastal Connecticut.

So grateful to my Italian father and grandfather for sharing and showing, by example, a gardener’s passion  (and frankly requiring  me to participate by helping to sow, nurture, weed and pick!) Arising from that hands-on education comes a now more natural understanding of the elements of the growing environment for seeds and plants … temperature, soil quality, water, sun and organic principles. 

So here we are again, in early September, with an abundant harvest of herbs, greens, root vegetables, peppers and array of tomato varieties, sizes and colors. And we can still look ahead to corn, squashes and pumpkins for the fall.  How wonderful! But, giving credit where credit is due, these “fruits of one’s labor”, and their quality, begin and depend on the all-important environment.

So, let’s consider for a moment “The Gardener’s Tale,” an allegory, first appearing within an article in the American Journal of Public Health in 2000, authored by Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, PhD, MPH, the former President of the American Public Health Association and a Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. (An Abstract, and access to the full text is available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446334/ for further reference.) 

She develops a context for understanding racism on three levels. First is Personally Mediated Racism, i.e. intentional or unintentional prejudice and discrimination, including acts of omission and/or commission, structural boundaries, and societal condonation.

The second is Internalized Racism, wherein the members of the race in question accept notions of their own lesser intrinsic worth and ability.

The last is the so evident Institutionalized Racism, shown by sub-optimal material conditions (access to quality housing, education, employment, a clean environment and particularly health care). Also included in this category is similarly differential access to power, resources, information, and a “voice.”

As a demonstration, Jones presents the referenced allegory of a Gardener with two flower boxes, one with fresh, rich soil (and beautiful red flowers) and the other, unknowingly at first, with old, poor quality soil (and similarly poor quality pink flowers.) 

Personally Mediated Racism is reflected in the Gardener’s discard of the scraggly pink blossoms before going to seed, or removing pink scattered seeds that might be blowing into the more fertile soil. 

Internalized Racism here relates to the pink flowers telling the bees not to pollinate them with pink pollen, as they prefer red pollen, and thus red flowers.

The allegorical equivalent of Institutionalize Racism is most poignant … with the two flower boxes historically keeping the soils, seeds and flowers separate by color, the oversight of the gardener in not addressing the soil differences in the first place, and the belief that red flowers were intrinsically better!

This summer a light has dramatically been shone on our own “gardens”, in our own shoreline towns. The marches for social justice, arising from the Black Lives Matter movement, have grown in size and number. Privileged people, not directly impacted by racism, have materialized and raised their voices against racism. This has been a powerful maker! 

Towns across Connecticut, including New London, have adopted resolutions claiming that “racism is a public health crisis,” and used the opportunity for town hall conversations to bring about change. Why is all quiet in the Old Saybrook, Essex and Old Lyme Town Halls, despite their own residents’ protests and affirmation?    

Clearly, “the Gardener” here is our local government. They have the power to consider, act, and openly declare racism as a reality, a grave concern, and a public health crisis. They have the power to allocate more resources to mitigate this dilemma. Among other outcomes, these could take the shape of education, public culture, affordable housing and accessible healthcare. 

But, why are they so quiet? 

We need open recognition, and declaration: our various garden environments for growth must be optimized, and not different. Our racial soil quality, particularly new and fertile soil, is needed to permit pink flowers to flourish, as well as red. Then, flowers of all colors can be recognized equally, and have the same opportunity for contributing to a brighter and more meaningful life.  

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Valley Regional High School Graduates 11 Eagle Scouts

The Valley Regional High School Class of 2020 graduating Eagle Scouts gather for a photo. Front row (from left to right) Edward Lenz, Sean Davis, Jared Hart, Anthony Joia. Middle row (from left to right) Michael Raymond, Gavin Hauswirth, Ryan Shasha. Back row (left to right) Joseph Thomas, Sam Rutty, Carl Neubert III, and Gehrig Beighau. Photo by Michael Rutty.

TRI-TOWN — Belated congratulations to the 11 members of the Valley Regional High School Class of 2020 for earning the Eagle Scout rank!

Having 11 Eagle Scouts in this year’s graduating class is over double the national average for youth earning the highest rank in Scouting. Earning the Eagle Scout rank is an outstanding and prestigious achievement that takes many years of work to complete.

The Eagle Scouts are members of Troop 12-Essex, Troop 13-Chester/Deep River, and Troop 38-Westbrook.

Valley Regional High School Class of 2020 Eagle Scouts, their service project and the year they earned the Eagle Rank:
Gehrig Beighau – Troop 12 – WWII Lego Diorama at American Heritage Museum – 2019,
Sean Davis – Troop 13 – Bushy Hill Nature Center Amphitheater Improvements – 2020,
Jared Hart – Troop 13 – United Church of Chester Sign Roof & Lighting Improvements – 2020,
Gavin Hauswirth – Troop 13 – McKinney Nature Center Observation Platform – 2020,
Anthony Joia – Troop 13 – Plattwood Park Walking Trail – 2019,
Edward Lenz – Troop 13 – John Winthrop Middle School Farm Classroom Arbor with Benches – 2019,
Carl Neubert III – Troop 13 – Hamburg Fairgrounds Directional Signs – 2020,
Michael Raymond – Troop 13 – CT State Police K-9 Obstacle & Training Course – 2020,
Samuel Rutty – Troop 13 – Haddam Neck Fairgrounds Memorial Benches – 2017,
Ryan Shasha – Troop 12 – Essex Veterans Memorial Hall Step Replacement – 2020,
Joseph Thomas – Troop 38 – Westbrook Town Green Conduits – 2019.

To become an Eagle Scout, a Scout must earn twenty one merit badges and advance through the seven Scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to their Troop and service to their community. One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the Scout’s community, school, or religious institution; all work must be completed prior to the Scout’s eighteenth birthday.

Boy Scouts of America serves the youth ages 11-18. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help youth to develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting the Scouts to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead.

The Boy Scout of America methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun.

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Letter From Paris: Back to Normal in France? Not Quite …

Nicole Prévost Logan

A Cannes Film Festival turned virtual,  the Roland Garros tennis tournament and Tour de France bicycle race both postponed until September?  France will definitely not be the same this  summer!

Tourism and culture are two of the main sectors of French economy and the pandemic has inflicted a direct blow on both of them.  Hundreds of festivals, sport events, art shows, plays, and concerts or activities linked to historical monuments had to be drastically reduced, presented behind closed doors, or totally cancelled, putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work .

But you would not think there is a virus going around when you see the way the French behave.

In Paris, restaurants and bistros spread their terraces across the sidewalks and into the streets.  They mark their space with bushes and flower beds.  Beach umbrellas add color to the scene.  Taking advantage of the warm weather, Parisians hang out outside.

Away from the cities, the French have been seeking  the calm of the countryside, enjoying family gatherings and organizing barbecues with  friends .

Young people could barely wait for the end of the lockdown to have fun in Paris … to huddle on the banks of the Seine or the Canal St Martin, to congregate in open spaces and dance into the night, or to flock to discotheques.  Meanwhile, St Tropez, down on the Riviera coast in the far south of the country, became a particularly hot spot.

People were reluctant to take the subways and, as a result, car traffic has surged.  Bicycles have taken over Paris.  It is likely that this trend will persist, virus or not.

Barely out of the lockdown, one thing was on everybody’s mind … the next vacation.  Every day the media tempted the viewers with sights of clear waters, beaches, and cool mountain trails.  This year the French seem to have rediscovered their own country and become the only tourists there.

It was to be expected that such behavior would have an impact on the evolution of the pandemic.  Clusters have multiplied throughout the country, which led to the specialists warning that the virus was still active.

But the present situation is quite different from what it was at the height of the crisis back in March and April.  The number of  deaths, or severe cases, being treated in the hospitals remains very low.  A general lockdown appears to be out of the question today.

Hospitals are better prepared and treatments made easier for the patients.  Masks and testing are more available.  Central government and local authorities adjust their policies to manage the pandemic in a more flexible way.  For instance, as of this week , Paris and several other large cities require masks to be worn outside in crowded areas.

From this overview of the pandemic in France, let us now change scenery and take a look at some highlights of life in France and Europe over these past months …

Every six years in France, the people are riveted by municipal elections. There are 36,000 communes in France headed by a maire assisted by a conseil municipal. The wide spectrum goes from the highly political Paris town hall, employing 40,000 people — Jacques Chirac headed that institution before becoming president of France — to the tiniest mairie.

The small village on the Dordogne, where one of my daughters lives, had been dormant for the past four decades with an unopposed maire at the wheel. This year however, things were different. The ballot took place in a heated atmosphere.  Participation was high. The scene was like a microcosm of French politics … and the maire was defeated.

In early July, Edouard Philippe stepped down as prime minister. A growing feeling of insecurity and violence has damaged the authority of the French executive. President Macron decided that a major reshuffle was required to bring new faces and methods and thus energize the government prior to the next presidential election.

Even a new voice was welcome. Jean Castex comes from the Pyrenées region and has a southern accent, which the French usually associate with vacations on the Mediterranean. Castex nevertheless is a product of the élite schools, a graduate of Ecole Nationale  d’Administration (ENA). As a high-ranking official, he has held key positions at the very center of power at the Elysée Palace.  He is an old pro — although he does not sound like one.

Over in Poland, Ardrzej Duda, leader of the conservative party Droit et Justice (PIS), was reelected as president on July 12.  The very small margin of his victory – 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent – suggests that it is only a question of time until a liberal, pro-European movement, possibly headed by Rafal Trzaskowski, defeats the authoritarian executive.

In Italy, meanwhile, after 14 months of the disastrous government of populist Matteo Salvini, Giuseppe Conte brought  appeasement as a centrist prime minister, who works well with Brussels.

At 5.30 a.m. on July 22, the 27 members of the European Union (EU) met  in response to a Franco-German initiative.  It was the longest summit in EU history.  Arduous  negotiations produced a  stimulus of 390 billion Euros in subsidies and 360 billion in loans.

The recovery plan of the EU — labeled “Next Generation EU”– is ambitious.  At its core is  a  “Green Pact.”

The plan, which will be implemented gradually along with each year’s budget, includes support of the health system, innovation assistance to viable companies, aid to farmers and fishermen, and 100 billion to help pay for widespread partial unemployment.

Banking rules will be made more flexible to facilitate the borrowing by entrepreneurs.  Right now the European Central Bank (CBE) enjoys a high credit rating, which helps the borrowing process. Margrethe Verstager , Executive Vice President of the EU Commission, will promote a Digital Single Market.

Alstom — a French multinational company operating in rail  transport markets — bought the Canadian company Bombardier.  The merger will create a rival to the giant China Railway Construction  Corporation (CRCC). China is continuing to make inroads in Europe and just invested in Portugal’s trams.

Overall the numbers of the European economic recovery are impressive:  together Brussels plus the 27 EU national governments will inject 40,000 billion Euros into the economy — far more than the US or even China

The “frugals”– the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Finland — fought tooth and nail against transfers of funds from the richer North to the South.  Dutch prime minister Mark Rutt stressed that the 750 billion Euros were not a blank check to weaker economies like Italy’s  — whose vertiginous debt is 240 percent of its GDP — but an investment plan to be controlled by Brussels.

Concessions had to be made.  The “frugals” received a rebate in their annual contribution to the European budget.  But the real beneficiaries are Poland and Hungary, who keep receiving money in spite of their frequent violation of the rule of law.

Recent developments show how fragile — but also resilient — the EU is.  Even the “Eurosceptics” do not want to let go of  their profitable membership in the “club .” But the real strength of the EU is that it constitutes a huge market, the largest trading block of the world.  The richer EU economies need the tariff-free Single Market.  Germany relies particularly on Lombardy  for its exports.  Maybe the EU should learn from  Alexander Hamilton who advocated the “mutualization” of the sovereign debts of the States to make the federation stronger?

And finally … on Aug. 21, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel met at the medieval Fort de Brégançon, the summer residence of French presidents.  On this late summer day, they seemed to enjoy this picturesque spot on the Mediterranean  to meet for five working hours.  They reiterated the unity of their policy at this complicated time.

At unprecedented speed, France and Germany led the EU in its mediation to support the protests following the Belarus elections.  They also acted swiftly also in flying Alexei Novalny, who is in a coma, to a hospital in Germany for treatment of a possible poisoning by the Russian government.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Letter to the Editor: State Rep. Palm Displays “Enduring Commitment to Healthcare Issues”

To the Editor:

In State Representative Christine Palm, we in the 36th Assembly District have a strong leader active in our best interests. We are represented by someone who is consistently caring in thought, word, and deed.

In a recent Op-Ed (Seven Ways We Can Come Out of the Coronavirus Crisis Stronger, Hartford Courant, April 15, 2020), Representative Palm indicated that the Covid-19 pandemic has illuminated the inequities of access and quality of healthcare. She also alerted us to the needs of essential workers who have given so much and who need our support. Ms. Palm recommended how public policy can serve us collectively in this current public health crisis. Representative Palm truly listens to the needs of her constituents and builds effective legislative networks to achieve solutions.
Her contribution to passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act is another example of her advocacy for constituents and her leadership.

As a Family Physician, I appreciate her enduring commitment to healthcare issues and her efforts to secure a more equitable healthcare system for all.

Sincerely
,
Kate Wessling, M.D.
Higganum, CT 06441

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Richard Wyman Appointed Community Music School Executive Director, “Thrilled to Come Home”

Dr. Richard Wyman, the new Executive Director of the Community Music School based in Centerbrook.

CENTERBROOK — Dr. Richard Wyman has been appointed the new Executive Director of the Community Music School (CMS) located in Centerbrook. He took over the reins of the organization in the mid-May after serving for several years as Musical Masterworks General Director.

Wyman has a long history of involvement in both playing and conducting music professionally along with community-based music learning. He began his music studies at the prestigious Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., where he obtained his undergraduate degree in music education and then moved to the University of Illinois to pursue a masters degree in music.

Subsequently, he moved back East when he joined the US Coast Guard (CG) Band  as a baritone saxophonist in the late 1990s. Back then, Wyman also taught saxophone for a number of years at CMS but in 2004, he was appointed Assistant Director of the USCG band and opted to focus on his new position along with studying conducting at the University of Connecticut where he earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts.

In his role as USCG Band Assistant Director, Wyman led educational concerts for thousands of students.

After retiring from the SCG in 2018, Wyman first took the position with Musical Masterworks and now he has come full circle back to the CMS.  He is still continuing his music education, however, since he is currently studying arts administration at UConn.

Wyman says he is, “Thrilled to ‘come home’ to CMS,” and is looking forward to all the challenges and opportunities that the job offers. These latter involve continuing to run the school’s teaching program online and running the spring “Friends of Note” campaign, which is devoted to “COVID-19 Relief” for CMS through the summer. He points out that a gift to this $50K campaign will, “Provide payroll (for staff and instructors), mortgage payments, maintenance of our facilities, and … most importantly, support of the wonderful instruction and music-making,” by CMS faculty and students.

Asked to explain his passion for both music and music education, Wyman says, “Throughout my adult life, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with understanding music’s essential role in the living of a fulfilling life,” noting, “Whether it was through performing as saxophonist in amusement parks (which he did at both Disney World and Busch Gardens many years ago), conducting/hosting USCG Band educational performances, or witnessing the joy music brings to members of the CMS “New Horizons” Band.”

Wyman lives in Old Lyme with his clarinetist/pianist wife Erin and their three boys, the eldest of whom has just graduated from Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS). The younger two are respectively at LOLHS and Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and all three, in Wyman’s words, “Study music as important parts of their educations and lives.”

Editor’s Note: Community Music School is located at 90 Main St., Building 4, Centerbrook, and also 179 Flanders Rd., Ste. 3 East Lyme. For more information on CMS, call 860-767-0026 or visit the school’s website. If you wish to donated to the “Friends of Note’ campaign, call Wyman at 860-767-0026 to discuss giving opportunities, or donate online at cmsct.org/support.

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Incumbent State Sen. Needleman Nominated Unanimously to Run Again for 33rd Senate District Seat

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — (Based on a Press Release released by Sen. Needleman’s office) On May 22, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) was unanimously endorsed for re-election to the 33rd State Senate District by Democratic delegates.

First elected to the State Senate seat in 2018, Sen. Needleman represents the towns of  Colchester, Chester, Clinton, Essex, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Portland.

Needleman will be challenged by Republican Brendan Saunders, who is running for the Senate for the first time, although he has been involved in numerous Republican campaigns. Saunders received unanimous endorsement for his candidacy at the Republican District Convention, May 18,

“The need for strong, effective leadership in the State Senate has never been more important than now, due to the crisis created by COVID-19,” says Sen. Needleman in the press release announcing his endorsement, noting, “In my time at the General Assembly, I’ve worked in a bipartisan manner to tackle our most difficult challenges. More now than ever, I believe that inclusive, non-partisan dialogue is what’s needed to solve tough problems. This ‘makes sense perspective characterizes my approach to representing our district in the State Senate.”

He continues, “That’s why I’m anxious to continue my service at the Capitol to help our state recover from this once-in-a-century crisis.  Doing so requires knowledge of town operating procedures, experience in managing local resources and skill in business planning. As your State Senator, I’m utilizing my expertise in those areas to help constituents and small businesses navigate state and federal assistance programs, as well as connect people with the resources they need to sustain their livelihoods and support their health during the pandemic.”

Sen. Needleman serves as Deputy President Pro Tempore, Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, Vice-Chair of the Planning & Development Committee, and is a member of the Commerce, Finance Revenue & Bonding, and Transportation Committees.

He also serves as First Selectman of the Town of Essex.

Sen. Needleman has been instrumental in the passage of a bill bringing wind energy generation to Connecticut. This legislation enables up to 40 percent of future energy needs to come from carbon-free renewable energy and creates a new industry for Connecticut. Needleman states it could add as much as $2 billion to the state’s economy, bringing with it thousands of skilled, well-paying jobs.

Citing other successes benefiting the 33rd District that he has supported, Needleman mentions allowing first responders, police officers, and firefighters to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and assisting passage of a bill raising the age of access for tobacco products from 18 to 21, protecting youths from addiction.

Needleman also sponsored and enacted legislation holding energy companies accountable for prompt responses to power outages and formulated policy solutions to protect rivers and lakes from invasive species.

As founder and CEO of Connecticut-based Tower Laboratories, Needleman has created over 100 well-paying manufacturing jobs directly in the 33rd Senate District.

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Death of Michael G. Birner, Sr. Announced

Michael G. Birner, Sr.

Michael G. Birner, Sr.

ESSEX — Michael G. Birner Sr., 77, of Essex formerly of Moodus, husband of the late Judi (Priest) Birner, died Friday June 5, 2020 at Mid-State Medical Center.

Michael was born in Middletown, son of the late Michael and Bertha (Arndt) Birner. Michael was employed with the Town of Essex for 28 years.

Michael is survived by two sons, Michael Birner Jr, of East Hampton, Joseph Birner of Essex, a granddaughter, Brandy Birner, and a great-granddaughter Maddy, both of Palm Coast, Florida. Also, one brother, George Birner of Vermont, sister Greta O’Connell of Old Saybrook and (predeseased) sister Helen Windhom of North Carolina.

Funeral services will be held at a later date.

Those who wish may make memorial contributions to Essex Ambulance Assoc. 149 Dennison Rd, Essex, CT 06426. To share memories or express condolences online, please visit www.biegafuneralhome.com.

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Letter From Paris: Thoughts on Life Under Lockdown in Fontainebleau, How France Has Coped With COVID-19

Nicole Prévost Logan in Paris prior to the lockdown.

There have been many deadly pandemics in the history of the planet but this is the first time ever that one has affected so many people. COVID-19 forced half the world population – or more than three billion – into confinement. I guess this is the price one has to pay for living in a globalized world. Each country handled the coronavirus crisis in a different way.

How did Europe, and more particularly France, manage the virus outbreak, both during the stay-at-home period and after the relaxation of the rules?

Like many people, I escaped the approaching lockdown of large cities – in my case the French capital of Paris.

The famed Château de Fontainebleau. Published under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

On March 16, I left Paris on what I thought would be an extended weekend but turned out to be eight weeks, and was fortunate enough to stay with my daughter in Fontainebleau.  Only a 40-minute train ride south east from Paris, Fontainebleau is a lively town of 15,000 inhabitants, famous for its 12th century chateau restored and enlarged by generations of kings.

During the period of “confinement” – as the lockdown is called here – technology became quite helpful. People exchanged news and jokes across the globe, using WhatsApp; some did yoga or gym watching  YouTube; meetings took place via  Zoom;  people on Skype remained safely behind the screen while they urged other to stay home, and a French actor read La Fontaine fables on Instagram. In other words  globalization had not ended … it just had become virtual.

A feeling of anguish never went away. Week after week, one watched hospital scenes with medical staff and caregivers hovering over patients disappearing under respirators, ventilators, machines of all types connected by wires and tubes. We, the spectators, became numbed by so much suffering.

Every night the head of the health  department gave frightening, sometime confusing information. On TV all we saw were doctors, surgeons, epidemiologists, and doctors specialized in intensive care. Politics, economy, even social conflicts had been moved to the back burner.

In France, late March was the most frightening time. We were at the bottom of the curve showing an acceleration of the virus and feared a tsunami . It was on March 23 that the stock market fell to the lowest point, losing 40 percent from its high. The world was collapsing around us.

I attempted to read “The Plague” by Albert Camus, published  in 1947. Bad idea! The  description of the ghastly symptoms and of the panicked Oran population became unbearable. The story resonated too much with what we were going through.

The epidemic in France started in the Grand Est. A group of 2000 evangelists had gathered for a week of fasting in Mulhouse.  The area became the epicenter of the outbreak. Very soon it was joined by the heavily-populated Ile de France with Paris at its center.

France has been one of the countries hardest hit by the virus. Actually it ranks as fifth for the number of deaths, after the US, Russia, Italy and the UK.

The objective of the French government was to make sure that the medical facilities would be able to absorb the sudden surge of infected people. Chaos was avoided thanks to planning ahead. At the height of the crisis, transfers of patients were organized to areas less affected by the virus, and to other countries like Germany or Switzerland. Helicopters, fast trains, military planes, boats … all means of transports went into action.

French President Emmanuel Macron

The Macron government showed compassion during this difficult time, expressed gratitude toward the caregivers, and showed humility in its limited ability to cope with such an  unprecedented situation. In other words it appeared human … while also gaining a few points in the polls.

The government took unparalleled measures compared to most other countries. It gave temporary unemployment status – with up to 90 percent of a person’s salary covered – to one out of three wage earners – or 13 million people. Some taxes were cancelled, and bonuses distributed. The total of this largesse reached 120 billion Euros. The Maestrich Treaty rule of capping European Union (EU) members’ deficit at 3 percent is now forgotten. The French national debt, usually limited to 60 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, doubled.

The management of the coronavirus crisis did not go without a number of hiccups however. The main one was the shortage of masks. It has been a source of irritation throughout. On the advice of medical experts, the government kept saying that the masks were useless except when used in public  places. It stressed that priority should be given to the medical staff who are battling the disease on the front line.

The real reason for this policy soon exploded into a scandal; in reality, there were not enough masks. Frantic orders were placed in other countries, mainly China. At one point, one witnessed a real war of the masks. Some shipments were burglarized, other rerouted.  One shipment intended for Italy was confiscated on its arrival at Prague airport and, in another case, France took over a shipment on its way to Sweden. On the eve of the “deconfinement” masks were still hard to find.

Another criticism of  the crisis management has been the insufficient  number of testing facilities.

One does not want to be old at a time of pandemic because statistics do indeed show that older people are most vulnerable to the disease. At one point, a rumor started that “our fragile seniors” should remain locked up long after the rest of the population.

Fortunately for all the older people, Bernard Pivot, a most popular and entertaining moderator of a literary show on TV, rebelled one day. He was so funny and convincing that the government changed its policy and replaced age discrimination by health criteria.

It is a fact though that real carnage has taken place in nursing homes and retirement homes with assisted-living.

The stay-at-home rules were quite strict in France. Public gardens and forests (like the forest of Fontainebleau) were off-limit. Only a one-hour walk was allowed and no further than one kilometre from the person’s residence. A signed document and ID were required at all times. Dispensation was only granted for the imperative need to purchase food or medicine.

By mid-April, one began to see the light at the end of the tunnel when Macron gave May 11 as the date for the end of our, “deconfinement.”

The gradual opening up of society after that date was a cautious, arduous and very gradual process.  Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and his key ministers  spelled out the rules in a 60-page Protocol. A map showed France divided between red and green zones. The hardest task was to organize public transport in heavily populated areas as well as re-opening of the schools. Today there is a limit of 60 miles for travel from one’s residence. Cafés and restaurants remain closed in the red zones.

On June 3, the government will reassess the impact of loosening the rules. About 30 small “clusters” of contamination are popping out around France. Several of them are where people work in in slaughter-houses. But nothing to worry about (as yet).

At the outset of the COVID-19, France was just pulling out of months of strikes and social turmoil following the government’s structural reforms intended to modernize the country. The crucial retirement system was being debated in the Parliament. Overall, progress had been made under the Macron mandate: the economy was sound and unemployment at its lowest levels in years.

Then progress and turmoil came to a full stop almost overnight because of the pandemic.

Culture felt the brunt of the crisis. Cinemas, theaters, opera houses, concert halls, museums and festivals will stay closed until June.  The cancellation of the Cannes Festival was the worst blow.

Europe has been slow in tackling the coronavirus.  Ursula von der Leyden , president of the European Commission acknowledged that fact herself. A gigantic stimulus is being negotiated by the  EU members. Thierry Breton, European Minister of Internal Trade said, “Only solidarity can help the EU get back on its feet.”

But the “North countries” like The Netherlands and some Eastern European countries, including  Hungary, are balking at the idea of helping those hardest hit by the virus. On May 19, an accord between Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel was a real breakthrough with a proposal to create a bond of 500 billion to help the EU recovery.  The 27 members have still to agree to it.

How did the French accept the lockdown? Surprisingly well … at least at first. But as the anxiety diminished, the opposition found its voice again, public opinion resumed its usual pastime of scrutinizing and criticizing every move by the government.

Bruno Lemaire, the French Minister of the Economy declared, “The hard part is ahead of us.” The main priority will be to assist three sectors:  aeronautics, the car industry and tourism. It is a unique opportunity to redirect the economy to be carbon-free.

But the future looks like a black hole with the economy under perfusion.

Let’s end with good news though. Beaches have reopened and travel restrictions are set to disappear in July and August … just in time for vacation!

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Brendan Saunders Endorsed by Republicans to Run Against Incumbent Needleman in November

Brendan Saunders is the endorsed Republican candidate to challenge incumbent Norm Needleman for the 33rd State Senate seat.

AREAWIDE — At their district convention held Monday, May 18, Republicans confirmed first-time Senate candidate Brendan Saunders will challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Norm Needleman for the 33rd State Senate seat in November.

In his acceptance speech, Saunders said, “Ronald Reagan once said, ‘the greatness of our nation lies within its people.’ I believe that the greatness of this state lies within its residents. As your senator, I will fight to reverse the trend of raising taxes and fees. I will work to let you keep more of your hard-earned money. I will fight to make living and operating a business in this state less onerous. ”

“Saunders has the ‘get up and go’ and enthusiasm I love to see in a candidate,” said Ed Munster of Haddam’s Republican Town Committee (RTC). Munster, who nominated Saunders, said Monday, “He is a good speaker and someone who listens and is interested in what you have to say. Something voters want in people they elect to public office.”

Saunders and Munster have a history of campaigning together. He helped Munster run for Congress in 1992. While this is Saunders’ first time running for office, he has also helped Westbrook candidate State Representative Jesse MacLachlan, and State Senator Art Linares. Saunders “knows what he is getting into,” said Munster.

Carolyn Kane of Chester RTC, seconded Saunders’ nomination Monday. Kane proclaimed Saunders as both dynamic and grounded with a lifetime of ties to his community. She also said that Saunders has an “approachable demeanor and commanding confidence. He came out of the gate ready to share his plan, vision, and how he would work in Hartford to ensure the 33rd district would be his priority.”

Noting, “In the wake of COVID-19, Saunders retooled his campaign to include an active online presence, strategically using his District tour to highlight his technological savvy and command of communication avenues,” Kane added, “Brendan demonstrates new ways to connect on a personal level and proves his commitment to building lasting relationships with every interaction.”

She said, “His ability to build partnerships is one of the most important skills sets a State Senator must have.”

To support Saunders’ campaign with a donation and to learn more, visit Saunders4Senate.com.

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Former State Representative Bob Siegrist III Receives Endorsement of 36th District Republican Convention

Bob Siegrist III received the nomination to be the Republican candidate for the 33rd Congressional seat.

HADDAM – Former State Representative Bob Siegrist, III (R-36) received the unanimous endorsement at the virtual 36th District Republican convention held tonight throughout the district.

Siegrist thanked the delegates after securing the nomination to seek the 36th House district seat in November. “I will actually listen to the concerns of the residents in my district and fight for them when it comes to such critically important issues as taxes and state spending, unfunded state mandates and transportation and tolls to name a few.”

Siegrist continued his remarks, “I am greatly encouraged by the groundswell of support from residents across the four-town district who are willing to work on my campaign and support my return to the General Assembly on their behalf.”

Siegrist concluded by stating, “I will work hard in the coming months to earn your vote and bring back common sense policies that will improve the quality of life for the 36th District”.

Former State Representative Bob Siegrist, III, represented the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam from January 2017 to January 2019. He had served on the Public Safety and Security, Insurance and Real Estate, and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

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State Rep. Devin Carney Endorsed for Another Term in 23rd District

State Rep. Devin Carney has been endorsed to run for reelection in the 23rd District.

OLD SAYBROOK — On Tuesday, May 19, Republican delegates from Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook unanimously endorsed State Representative Devin Carney for a fourth term as representative for the 23rd District.

The delegates held a convention by web conference to endorse Carney, making his campaign for another two-year term as State Representative official. Delegates gave remarks on State Representative Carney’s dedicated and effective record of public service as well as being a knowledgeable and accessible legislator for the four communities.

“Representing the 23rd District – the place where my family lives, where I was raised, where I went to school, where I work and volunteer – has truly been the honor of a lifetime,” said Carney.  “I am proud to be your voice in Hartford to advocate for fiscal responsibility, small business growth, our wonderful public schools, and our precious shoreline coast. We are facing an uncertain future and need experienced leaders who put people over politics – something I have always done.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education Member, Dr. Mary Powell-St. Louis, nominated Carney.

“Devin has done a wonderful job representing people here in the 23rd District. He listens, cares, and is a real voice of reason”, said Powell-St. Louis. “As a Region 18 parent and Board of Education member, I was particularly pleased with how hard he worked against state forced expanded school regionalization last year – his leadership helped defeat, what would have been, devastating for our students, schools, and quality of life.”

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna seconded Carney’s nomination.

“It has been a pleasure working with Devin over the past several years. He has been a strong advocate for small towns and small businesses and has worked diligently to ensure our needs are met,” Fortuna said. “His knowledge of state and local issues, active community outreach, and his legislative experience are exactly what we need as the state works through the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath.”

Some other voices from across the district spoke in support of Carney’s nomination.

Westbrook Tax Collector, Kimberly Bratz, added “From day one, Devin has worked incredibly hard to try to make Connecticut more competitive and has fought for fiscally responsible policies. Residents deserve someone in Hartford who will focus on rebuilding our economy without new, higher taxes – and that person is Devin.”

Judy Tooker, Old Lyme’s Tax Collector, commented, “Devin understands the unique needs of our community members, from healthcare and transportation to employment and jobs, and he will focus on the district – not partisan politics. We need his strong voice in Hartford now more than ever.”

In addition to receiving the Republican nomination on Tuesday, Carney reported that he had raised the necessary contributions to qualify for the state’s Citizens’ Clean Election Program.

Carney, who works in finance and real estate, was first elected to the legislature in 2014. He was born and raised in Old Saybrook and lives in Old Lyme with his significant other, Lisa. He currently serves as Ranking Member of the Transportation Bonding Subcommittee and serves on the legislative committees overseeing Transportation, Planning & Development, and Finance, Revenue, and Bonding.

He was named a 2019 Environmental Champion by the League of Conservation Voters for his work supporting renewable energy and received the Legislative Service Award from the Connecticut Counseling Association for his work on mental health issues and opioid addiction.

In district, he serves on the Boards of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Saye Brook Senior Housing. He is also an active member of the Old Saybrook Rotary Club, both the Lyme-Old Lyme and Old Saybrook Chambers of Commerce, and with Grace Church in Old Saybrook.

In addition to his duties as State Representative, he serves as an alternate to the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals.

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Find Out About ‘A Sailor’s Life,’ Join this Virtual Program at Deep River Public Library, June 25

DEEP RIVER — What was life like for sailor in the 1800’s? Find out in this virtual history lesson presented by the Mystic Seaport!. Join Deep River Library on Zoom on Thursday, June 25, at 10:30 a.m. as a sailor’s chest is unpacked in this interactive history lesson.

Using artifacts, from Mystic Seaport’s collections, a Museum educator will guide participants  through the clues, piecing together a picture of what a sailor’s life would have been like more than 150 years ago.

All are welcome to attend this event. Visit the library’s website calendar or Facebook Event page for Zoom meeting information, or email the library at deepriverpubliclibrary@gmail.com for the meeting codes.

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

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Essex Land Trust Publishes ‘Thatchbed Island & its Ospreys’ Booklet

ESSEX — The Essex Land Trust has announced that it has published Thatchbed Island & its Ospreys, a booklet commemorating the return of Ospreys to its Thatchbed Island property and the lower Connecticut River. The booklet celebrates the successful recovery of this iconic raptor, one that practically disappeared from Connecticut.

In March 2003, the land trust installed its first Osprey platform on Thatchbed Island, located in Essex’s South Cove. Since then, Ospreys have successfully raised numerous broods. A camera was installed in 2010 and it broadcast the annual breeding cycle through 2019. 

The 45-page, full-color booklet features a brief history of Thatchbed Island, the experience of building the platform and installing the camera, recounts the breeding season through pictures taken from the OspreyCam live stream and details the causes of its decline and eventual recovery.

Both the publishing of the booklet and the cost of installing the Osprey camera were facilitated by grants received from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County.

The booklet was spearheaded by board member Jim Denham, who coordinated and edited the project. It is a lasting contribution and serves as a reminder of the land trust’s mission: Caring for our world here at home.

A downloadable version is available on the Essex Land Trust website or can be purchased for $7.50 (postage included) by sending an email to info@essexlandtrust.org.

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First Case of COVID-19 Confirmed in Chester

Photo by CDC on Unsplash


CHESTER — In an email sent out this afternoon at 4:40 p.m., First Selectwoman Lauren Gister confirmed that “the State Department of Public Health has reported that there is a positive case of COVID-19 in Chester.” The person who has contracted the virus is, “a resident in her 40’s, who is recovering at home,” adding, “This case is expected to be travel related.”

Gister noted, “COVID -19 is a highly contagious virus, and as testing has been ramping up, positive cases in our area are to be expected. Connecticut River Area Health District (CRAHD) continues to monitor the situation and will ensure that all appropriate CDC guidance is followed. I anticipate that we will continue to get more cases as the infection spreads and testing becomes more available.”

Now there are no drugs against coronavirus, but to combat the symptoms, drugs are used for other diseases such as caletra, also generic aralen.

She further stated, “This first case is a reminder to us all to review the messages being delivered by the CDC, the CT DPH, and our local health department, CRAHD,” stressing, “If you do not need to be out in public, don’t be!” and, “The single best way to slow the spread of this virus is to practice social distancing. Assume that you are contagious, and that everyone around you is contagious as well.”

Gister gave the following guidelines for living with COVID-19:

·      Call or email your doctor if you think you may have COVID-19
·      Stay home if you do not have to go out.
·      Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
·      Avoid touching your face
·      Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and phones daily
·      Maintain social distancing of at least six feet

You are free to walk your dog, get groceries or prescriptions, take a hike, or work in your garden. Put 6 feet of space between you and anyone else you come in contact with, and do not visit with friends (except via telephone or video).

She concluded, “We will continue to provide updates on measures Chester is taking to address the COVID-19 pandemic. We are not panicked – we are prepared. Chester’s leaders and Emergency Management Team are here to support you. We will get through this together.”

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A View from My Porch: Keep Calm and Carry On

Original 1939 UK poster. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

The title of this essay is derived from a poster designed by the British government in the late 1930s to maintain morale when war against Germany became imminent. This essay roughly considers “a day in the life” of Southeastern Connecticut residents as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts each of us and our collective ability to “carry on” our lives as usual. I will present the key elements of this crisis, drawing from the wealth of real data that have become available, and define some of the terms used by our public health professionals so that you can better understand the basis for the required actions.

The Statistics: 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) reported on March 23 that there were 618 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state; with multiple cases in each of Connecticut’s eight counties. Fifty-four patients were hospitalized, and 12 residents have died. Over 60 percent of Connecticut cases are in Fairfield County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 50,000 cases and nearly 700 deaths across the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports over 415,000 cases and nearly 19,000 deaths worldwide. Note that these numbers change, and probably increase, daily. 

Excuse me in advance, but this isn’t our first rodeo; and we’ve successfully dealt with pandemics in the past. These include the HIV/AIDS crisis that began in the mid to late 1970s, and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, our response to COVID-19 was late and disorganized with mixed and confusing messages coming from the highest levels of the federal government. As a result, testing for the disease started late, supplies of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves for health care personnel became scarce, and were not replenished in a timely manner.  The same was true of essential hospital equipment like ventilators, which are the “breathing machines” used for treating patients in severe respiratory distress. 

And so, on March 10th, Connecticut Governor Lamont joined several governors in nearby states and declared both a public health emergency and a civil preparedness emergency. A public health emergency gives the state authority over quarantine, while a civil preparedness emergency grants the governor broad powers over state institutions, allowing him to restrict travel, close public schools, some businesses, and public buildings.

As a result, only “essential businesses”, which include: grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices, hospitals, childcare, auto repair, banks, and emergency services remain open. Restaurants may remain open, but for takeout and delivery only. Schools were closed on March 31, and there is some thought that they may remain closed through the end of the semester. Hospitals have changed visitation rules.

I will not list the “non-essential” businesses. Tele-commuting is encouraged when at all possible. These restrictions and closures have resulted in significant displacement of workers and unemployment has grown.  

Important Terminology: 

COVID-19 is a disease triggered by a coronavirus, which is a relatively common virus that can cause both upper and lower respiratory tract infections. 

In the past, most coronaviruses weren’t dangerous and caused only mild respiratory problems. However, in early 2020, following a late 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new type of coronavirus. Officials named this new virus “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus2 “(SARS-CoV-2)”. This highly contagious and virulent microorganism is the agent that causes COVID-19; which can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock, and death.

Older adults and any individual with a serious underlying medical condition are at higher risk for COVID-19’s more serious complications. The CDC notes that people may be most contagious when they are at their sickest. However, note that many cases are still mild to moderate and not life-threatening. These can be treated at home.

You may have also heard this virus referred to as “novel”, which, very simply, refers to a virus that has not been seen before, or has never infected humans before. As such, it’s unlikely that anyone will have immunity, or antibodies that protect them against the novel virus. 

Public health professionals stress the need to “flatten the curve” as a means of controlling this disease. The curve refers to the rate of growth of new cases displayed graphically (i.e., the projected number of new cases over a specific period of time). A “flattened” curve staggers the number of these new cases over a longer period, so that people have better access to care, and do not overburden the healthcare system. 

Transmission:

The virus is spread primarily from person-to-person, commonly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, saliva, or from some hard surfaces on which the virus may live for four or five days and remain infectious for even longer.

Prevention:

The best way to prevent this disease is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC still recommends social distancing to reduce the probability of contact between individuals carrying the infection with others who are not infected. 

The goal is to minimize disease transmission, and its resultant morbidity, and ultimately, mortality. The minimum recommended measures include:

  • Allow six feet of interpersonal space, which means avoid crowded social activities, like going to pubs, bars, and restaurants, sporting events, theaters and cinemas.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently; use hand sanitizers.
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Use the “usual” coughing and sneezing protocols.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

Testing is a good thing:

It is correct that testing does increase the number of individuals identified with the disease, but it also provides the data required to target resources and plan for future needs. Testing is now widely available. All acute care hospitals have the ability to test, although for those that utilize the DPH lab in Rocky Hill, testing is reserved for patients that have been admitted to the hospital.

There are also a number of outpatient testing sites that use private labs, and do not need to comply with the admission restriction. All sites require a physician’s order, who, at present, must make an appointment for the patient.

Critical and Immediate Issues:

This crisis will not end soon. Only one source predicts an end by April 12, which is Easter Sunday in the United States. Most experts agree that an end date is difficult to predict, but 60 days is feasible.

There is currently no vaccine or “miracle” drug specifically targeting COVID-19 — no antiviral drugs are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat patients with COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and collaborators are working on development of candidate drugs for rapid testing and evaluating re-use of drugs approved for other diseases. Current treatments often focus on protecting against opportunistic infections and alleviating symptoms while the disease “runs its course.”

We do not yet know what the recurrence rate is for patients, who have recovered from COVID-19. 

Americans have never really faced the rationing of healthcare services. It is clear, however, that we must plan for a possible surge of critically ill patients and identify additional space in which to provide care. Unfortunately, it may be possible that our medical professionals will need to make decisions regarding assignment of scarce resources like ventilators. 

I am confident that the United States will allocate resources to support our citizens and small businesses that face economic hardships as we move through this crisis. 

Make certain that you know the source of the information about this disease. The most reliable data comes from Connecticut DPH, Ledge Light Health District, and the CDC. 

Finally, God save the United States if we ever reach the point when we have to value a life lost in this pandemic less than a life lost in an economic downturn (whatever that is.)

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Connecticut River Museum Still Closed, but Online Programs Offered

The entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum has been closed to the public, effective this morning.  It is expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future, certainly to Easter Sunday (April 12) if not beyond.

The staff remain on the job, either at the Museum or from home, and plans for future events and programs continue to be made.
Visit the Museum’s website at CtRiverMuseum.org for the latest schedule updates and for more definitive information about its reopening.
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Estuary Regional Senior Center Closed, But Still Providing Critical Meals on Wheels Service

estuary councilOLD SAYBROOK/AREAWIDE — Following the State of Connecticut guidelines, the Estuary Council’s Senior Center building will be closed until March 31, but will continue providing Meals on Wheels uninterrupted. Staff will also be available, by phone only, to help answer questions. The Estuary Council’s phone message, website, and Facebook page will be updated as they continue to monitor this unprecedented situation.

Stan Mingione, Executive Director, says “We find ourselves in an unprecedented time in regards to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 virus. We respect the seriousness of the situation and have decided to close our Senior Center beginning March 17, until the end of the month. Our concern is for those in our organization, our staff, volunteers, clients and the communities in which they live. Our vital Meals on Wheels service will continue uninterrupted.”

He stresses, “Our phones will be open for anyone seeking information or a friendly voice. We appreciate your patience and we will keep you updated as to when we will be resuming operations. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. I will be available by phone or email during this time so do not hesitate to reach out. Keep yourselves healthy and continue to be positive. We will get through this.”

The following changes in services have been announced:

Meals on Wheels
Meals are still being delivered to homebound clients. Be patient as the usual time of your delivery may change.

Café Lunches
A take-out option is being tried for café lunches. All lunch reservations made for dates after March 16 have been cancelled. Call 860-388-1611 and dial 216 to listen to take-out options and make new reservations.

Medical Transportation
Medical transportation service has been suspended at this time. No new medical reservations will be taken until it has been determined when this service will resume.

Thrift Shop
The Estuary Thrift Shop is closed at this time and donations are NOT being accepted until further notice. Please do not leave items outside the building.

Programs/Activities
All Estuary programs, activities, and clubs – including the gym and AARP Tax services, are suspended at this time. No appointments are being taken until it has been determined when these services will resume.

Call 860-388-1611 and listen closely to the message for updates as these services may continue to change daily.

Check the Estuary website and Facebook Page @ Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. for posted updates.

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A View From My Porch: Remembering Connecticut Icon William Gillette

Gillette Castle, former home of the iconic movie star and playwright, Connecticut-born William Gillette, who died in 1937.

Editor’s Note: Feb. 12 is the 90th anniversary of William Gillette’s final performance as Sherlock Holmes, given Feb. 12, 1930 at the popular Parsons Theatre in downtown Hartford.

I am going a few miles upstream in this essay towards East Haddam and its medieval gothic castle to consider William Gillette’s impact on how Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed in movies and television. My goal in these essays is to cover the subject thoroughly enough to either satisfy your curiosity, or to pique your interest to pursue some additional research.

Assuming the editor’s forbearance, I will also review, in a subsequent essay, several of the actors who played Holmes or Watson to judge how true they were to either Gillette’s or Arthur Conan Doyle’s artistic vision.

Gillette was born to a progressive political family in Hartford’s Nook Farm neighborhood where authors Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, and Charles Dudley Warner each once resided. His mother was a Hooker, that is a direct descendant of Connecticut Colony co-founder Thomas Hooker. Gillette is most recognized for his on-stage interpretation of Sherlock Holmes. He may have been America’s first matinée idol or to put it another way, the era’s rock star.

The Sherlockian Literature

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. See below for photo credit.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels between the 1880s and the early 20th century that comprise the “canon” of Sherlock Holmes. The stories were first published in Strand Magazine and two of the novels were serialized in that same periodical. 

Holmes defined himself as the world’s first and only “consulting detective.” He shared rooms at 221B Baker Street in London with Dr. John H. Watson, who was a former army surgeon wounded in the Second Afghan War. 

Holmes referred to Watson as his “Boswell” because he chronicled his life and the investigations that they jointly pursued as did 18th century biographer, James Boswell, of Dr. Samuel Johnson.  Watson was described as a typical Victorian-era gentleman and also served as first-person narrator for nearly all of the stories.

Holmes was known for his incredible skills of observation and deduction, and forensic science and logic, all of which he used when investigating cases for his myriad clients, which often included Scotland Yard. He played the violin well and was an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman. He summarized his investigative skills for Watson this way, “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,” and, “It is my business to know what other people don’t know.”

However, Holmes had shortcomings. He was a very heavy smoker of black shag pipe tobacco, which he kept in the toe of a Persian slipper on the fireplace mantel at 221B. He also smoked cigars and cigarettes. A very difficult problem was called a “three pipe problem.” 

He used cocaine and morphine to provide “stimulation for his overactive brain” during periods when he did not have an interesting case or as an escape from “the dull routine of existence.” This was not really unusual in that period because the sale of opium, laudanum, cocaine, and morphine was legal and often used to self-medicate or for recreation. This habit was worrisome for Dr. Watson, although he once said of Holmes, “He was the best and wisest man whom I have ever known.”

The Holmes stories were immensely popular and Doyle’s last publication in Strand, “The Final Problem,” elicited such public (and Royal Family) outrage, that there were mass subscriber cancellations bringing the magazine to the brink of failure.

William Gillette. See below for photo credit.

Doyle decided to write a stage play about Holmes, set earlier in the detective’s career. He was probably compelled to do so because there already were several Sherlock Holmes on-stage productions, which provided him no income, and were of such poor quality that he felt the need to both protect his character’s legacy and improve his own income stream. 

He drafted the play and shared it with his literary agent, who sent it on to Broadway producer and impresario, Charles Frohman. Frohman reviewed it and said it needed substantial work before anyone would consider production. He suggested that William Gillette be offered the rewriting task. 

At that time, Gillette was already well-known as a talented actor and a successful and prolific playwright. His approach was a significant change from the melodramatic standards in the American theater of the time. He stressed realism in sets, lighting, and sound effects. Holmes Scholar Susan Dahlinger described Gillette’s acting style this way, “He could be thrilling without bombast, or infinitely touching without descending to sentimentality.” 

So, Doyle agreed with Frohman, and Gillette began the project by reading the entire “canon” of Holmes stories and novels. He began drafting the new manuscript while touring in California with the stage production of “Secret Service,” which he had also written.  He exchanged frequent telegrams with Doyle during the process and, with Doyle’s blessing, borrowed some plots and detail from the canon in adapting Doyle’s original manuscript into a four-act play. 

Unfortunately, neither Gillette’s first draft nor Doyle’s original script ever reached stage production. A fire broke out at Gillette’s San Francisco hotel and both manuscripts were lost. So, Gillette began a complete redraft of his lost script, and Doyle was finally able to present a play before the century’s end that he deemed worthy of Sherlock Holmes.

It is worth noting that Frohman perished on the Lusitania in May, 1915, after it had been torpedoed by a German submarine.

In 1899, Gillette was “predictably” cast for the lead role in “Sherlock Holmes A Drama in Four Acts.” Initially presented in previews at the Star Theatre in Buffalo, NY, it opened that November at the Garrick Theatre in New York City, and ran there for more than 260 performances before beginning a tour of the United States and then on to a long run in London, where it received great critical and public acclaim.

He starred in that role for more than 30 years, and about 1,500 productions in the United States and Great Britain. He also starred in the 1916 silent film, “Sherlock Holmes,” which film-historians have called, “the most elaborate of the early movies.”

Playing a role for so many years was not unusual at that time in American Theater. For example, James O’Neill, father of playwright Eugene, played Edmond Dantès, The Count of Monte Cristo, more than 6000 times between 1875 and 1920.

Some Key Elements of Gillette’s Sherlock

Although William Gillette is really no longer a “household name” — except perhaps,here in Southeastern Connecticut, where much of how we imagine Holmes today is still due to his stage portrayal of the great consulting detective. 

Gillette actually bore some resemblance to the Holmes described by Dr. Watson in “A Study in Scarlet.” Watson notes, “His [Holmes’s] very person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination.” 

Gillette’s Holmes appeared in deerstalker cap and Inverness cape. He smoked a curve-stemmed briar pipe, and carried a magnifying glass.  He crafted a phrase that eventually evolved into one of the most recognized lines in popular culture: “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Gillette’s direct style was said to lend a bit of arrogance to Holmes beyond that which Doyle had depicted —  that arrogance has become a hallmark of Holmes’ portrayal in contemporary movies and television.

And finally, Gillette introduced the page, “Billie,” who had actually been played by a certain 13-year-old Charles Spencer Chaplin during the London engagement. At the end of the run, Chaplin began his career as a Vaudeville comedian, which ultimately took him to the United States and movie stardom as the incomparable Charlie Chaplin. 

Some Final Thoughts

I first learned of William Gillette a few summers ago when I visited his remarkable home, “Gillette Castle” built high above the eastern bank of the Connecticut River. I left that visit impressed with Gillette’s creativity in his design of the doors, light switches, and some of the furniture; wondering about his secret multi-mirror “spying” system, and with the assumption that he was just an eccentric artist who liked trains. 

However, I enjoy the Sherlock Holmes literature; and began reading the “canon” at age twelve. I have certainly re-read many of the stories a few more times. Over the past several years, I began to read several authors who write Sherlock Holmes short stories and novels “in the style of Arthur Conan Doyle.” Some of these “pastiches,” as they are called, are quite accurate in style and continuity of Doyle’s themes. 

In researching this essay, I was surprised with the breadth of scholarly work that is currently available regarding Sherlock and Gillette. There are several national and international literary organizations that have also developed around Doyle’s work.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth offers a “Study of Sherlock” course, wherein students engage in critical reading, thinking, and writing by studying the iconic detective.

Our local expert on Holmes is Danna Mancini of Niantic. He has lectured and conducted seminars on The World of “Sherlock Holmes.” He is active in at least two Holmes literary organizations: The Baker Street Irregulars (NYC) and the Speckled Band of Boston.

Of some note, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) tasked by Winston Churchill to “set Europe ablaze” during World War II, had its headquarters at 64 Baker Street and was often called, “The Baker Street Irregulars.”

So, the ‘consulting detective’ continues to inspire novels, movies, and television.

As noted above, I will review several of the actors who played Holmes or Watson in these media in my next essay, and judge how true they were to either Gillette’s or Arthur Conan Doyle’s artistic vision.

Photo credit for the photo of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is as follows: By Arnold Genthe – PD image from http://www.sru.edu/depts/cisba/compsci/dailey/217students/sgm8660/Final/They got it from: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/photodraw/portraits/,where the source was given as: Current History of the War v.I (December 1914 – March 1915). New York: New York Times Company., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=240887

Photo credit for the photo of William Gillette is as follows: Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. William Gillette Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47de-e15c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Tom Gotowka

About the author: Tom Gotowka’s entire adult career has been in healthcare. He’ will sit on the Navy side at the Army/Navy football game. He always sit on the crimson side at any Harvard/Yale contest. He enjoys reading historic speeches and considers himself a scholar of the period from FDR through JFK.

A child of AM Radio, he probably knows the lyrics of every rock and roll or folk song published since 1960. He hopes these experiences give readers a sense of what he believes “qualify” him to write this column.

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Letter From Paris: France is Embroiled in Pension Reform Crisis, But Seems to be Doing Fine … or is it?

Nicole Prévost Logan

Reform of the retirement system was at the core of French President Emmanuel Macron’s 2016 campaign. He wanted to simplify the system and make it universal. The reform is so highly sensitive – one might even say explosive – that several prime ministers have fallen in similar attempts (1986, 1995, 2008.) Although close to 60 percent of public opinion is favorable to the reforms, the opposition is orchestrated into an angry movement by the unions and the Left.  

In a nutshell, the objective of the reform is two-fold: first, to prevent the system from being in the red in the 2020s and second to achieve social justice. This latter aim is being sought by suppressing the 42 régimes spéciaux (special systems), which grant privileges to certain groups of the population, such as civil servants, train workers (SNCF) bus and subway employees (RATP), personnel of the Paris Opera, members of the two legislative assemblies, etc. Some of these benefits include calculating the amount of retirement after the last six months of employment rather than the last 25 years.  And not surprisingly, these régimes spéciaux cost the French government billions every year.

The pension system in France is based on “repartition,” meaning that the active population pays for the retired one.  The problem is that in 1950, there were four working people for each retiree. Demography will soon reduce the ratio to 1 to 1.  In the US, the retirement system is based on “capitalization,” that is, individuals are free to invest their accumulated capital in a pension fund or other types of investment as they wish.  The Scandinavian countries use both systems – “capitalization” and “repartition”- simultaneously. 

For an American reader, it must be hard to comprehend the over-regulated retirement system in France, which applies not only to the 5.6 million civil servants  but also to the private sector.  A special dispensation is even required for retirees to be allowed to work.

The Macron plan is based on a points system.  Throughout one’s professional life, each hour’s work is translated into “points.” Variables – such as the political or economic environment – may impact the points’ value.  Employers and unions will determine together the value of each point.  Hence the anxiety of the people regarding this unfamiliar system.

France has the most generous retirement pension in Europe but it’s costing the country dearly. Photo by Hans Ripa on Unsplash.

France is the ‘Etat-providence’ (Welfare State) par excellence and the most generous in Europe.  The retirement age is 62 in France as compared to 65 in the UK.  It can be as low as 52 as in the case of train conductors.  More than 13 percent of the Gross Domestic Product is devoted to funding pensions.

The French government announced its plan to reform pensions on Dec. 5, 2019.  The reaction was immediate:- a general strike of all public transport. That meant no subway in Paris, except for two lines (which are automated), no buses, and very few trains.  That ordeal lasted for weeks without even a respite during the Christmas and New Year vacations.  Life for working people, who had to commute from the suburbs, became a pure nightmare.  Videos showed stampede scenes at stations.

On Jan. 28, 2020  the Gare de Lyon was packed as usual with passengers waiting for TGVs and suburban trains.  Suddenly a deafening sound resonated under the glass and steel structure.  Several explosions followed and pink smoke filled the station.  It turned out that dozens of the men getting off the train, wearing black parkas with yellow stripes, were firefighters on their way to join a demonstration at the Bastille. They were just getting warmed up, using their talents with pyrotechnics to blast powerful fire-crackers. 

After 50 days, the strikes had partially stopped.  The street demonstrations continued and have become a way of life in the city.  The left-wing unions and radical groups keep the momentum going and direct their actions to strategic areas such as blocking the main ports or shutting down oil refineries .

Tens of thousands people in black robes marched near the Bastille on Feb. 3.  They were some of France’s 70,000 lawyers, who have been on strike for five weeks – an absolute first.  The atmosphere was peaceful.  Not a single policeman in sight, no police vans nor water guns. 

I went down to take pictures.  ‘Why are you on strike?’  I asked a young lawyer. ‘We have our own retirement system,’ she answered, ‘which is autonomous and, furthermore, has a surplus.  Now the government has announced that the contributions toward the pension fund will double from 14 to 28 percent.’ Actually, what she said is not entirely accurate — the increase will be gradual: it will not start until the late 2020s and will not apply to all equally. 

French President Emmanuel Macron.

The launching of this crucial pension reform is like stepping into an anthill.  Wherever the government goes, it cuts into well-entrenched benefits, provoking an outpouring of protests.  Every time the government helps one group financially, this assistance has to be paid for by depriving another group.  This in turn feeds the popular mistrust for the government . 

After consultation with all the unions at the Hotel Matignon (seat of the Executive Power), an agreement was reached with the CFDT (Confederation Française Democratique du Travail), the most reformist of the unions.  For Laurent Berger, the CFDT leader,  the “age pivot” (retirement age) of 64 was a “red line” not to be crossed.  The Prime Minister agreed to pull back from it and replace it with a “cocktail of measures” to generate 12 billion Euros in order to balance the pension system. 

A parliamentary commission  of 80 deputies from all parties from the RN (Rassemblement National of Marine LePen) to LFI (La France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Melanchon) was appointed.  The government’s proposal was met with a ridiculous number of 22,000 amendments, (19,000 by LFI alone.)  Their obvious strategy was total obstruction of the process.  A general debate in the Parliament will follow.  If time runs out because of the municipal elections in 36,000 towns on March 15, the Prime Minister may resort to Executive Orders. 

In this crisis, I believe both sides are to blame: the government’s project may not have been prepared well enough and appeared confusing.  The opposition consistently refuses to enter any dialogue.  It is a French cultural trait:- first you flex your muscles then – possibly – you may be willing to come to the negotiating table.  But keep in mind that compromise is a dirty word in France.

The proposed retirement reform has somehow triggered other requests.  Seeing an opportunity, demands for higher wages and benefits are snowballing.  Some teachers in public schools are striking for pay raises.  These school students take their cue from their teachers and march in the street, or block their classrooms to protect their future pension rights — an odd sight indeed for 12- or 13-year olds!

The unrest (accompanied by violence) is dragging on.  There does not seem to be an end to it.

France appears to be functioning on two different levels — on the one hand, there is a France of  angry people, who feel very sorry for themselves. On the other, there is a dynamic France doing rather well, which has become economically attractive to foreign investors thanks primarily to labor market reforms. 

At the same time, Macron has chosen to keep above the in-fighting and focus on his role as the president of the only nuclear power of Europe, strengthening its defense and security while seeking a more integrated European Union.

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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State Sen. Needleman Announces Candidacy for Re-election in 33rd District

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

ESSEX — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) announced his candidacy yesterday for re-election to the 33rd State Senate District. First elected to his seat in 2018, Senator Needleman represents the town of Lyme along with those of Colchester, Chester, Clinton, Essex, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, and Portland.

“It is an honor to be able to represent the 33rd Senatorial District, and I’m excited to continue serving my constituents,” said Sen. Needleman. “My time in the General Assembly has been an incredible experience, and I truly enjoy fighting for my district to ensure we build a stronger future for them and all the citizens of Connecticut. I humbly ask my constituents for the opportunity to do so for another term.”

Needleman serves as Senate Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, Vice Chair of the Planning and Development Committee, and is a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding, Transportation, and Commerce Committees.

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Letter From Paris: Brexit Has Happened – An Historic Day Which Sparked Joy, Tears, and Innumerable Challenges

Editor’s Note: The United Kingdom finally left the European Union (EU) at 11 p.m. on Jan 31, 2020, after being a member of the EU for 47 years. Despite a referendum passing in 2016 by a very slim margin that requested the extraction of the UK from the EU, it has been a long three years of butter argument to reach this point. Even now, it is estimated that roughly half of the population are delighted with Brexit and the other half are devastated.  But what are thinking on the other side of the English Channel?  Nicole Prévost Logan is back to give her thoughts from Paris on how the French see the whole business and where we all go from here.

Nicole Prévost Logan

The historic day has finally come … applauded by some and mourned by others.

The United Kingdom has left the European Union (EU).  With emotional tears the deputies of the European Parliament sang Auld Lang Syne – a 1788 Scottish song with a traditional folk tune – and hugged each other.

Now the real work is starting.  The UK has only an 11-month transition period (starting Feb. 1) to negotiate the terms of Brexit.

The extent of the long, drawn-out discussions has been covered many times in the past four years (see my previous article in Letter from Paris dated 12/9/14;  3/2/164/6/1712/29/18;  4/12/19)

On both sides of the English Channel there is, at least for now, a feeling of relief that a decision has been reached.

An image of 10 Downing Street — the UK British Prime Minister’s official residence – taken from a BBC broadcast moments after the 11 p.m. deadline on Jan. 31, 2020 when the UK left the EU.

How did Boris Johnson win

The French have been very impressed by the dexterity with which Boris Johnson (BJ) was able out to turn around the majority in the House of Commons: the Tories won 364 seats, an increase of 48 seats while the Labour party took 262, representing a loss of 60.   “Salut l’Artiste” (congratulations to the artist), wrote Françoise Fressoz, Le Monde editorialist  on Jan. 8.  On a radio talk show, a commentator said that BJ has become a model for the French Right: a conservative with social projects. The French feel that BJ, because of his super majority, is going to negotiate from a position  of strength.

A brillant strategist, he put his focus on the less wealthy population of the North of England and the Midlands, who supported Brexit. He undercut the Labour party by proposing a number of social measures such as raising the minimum wage, encouraging apprenticeships, building 40 hospitals and schools, and investing in railroad tracks at the cost of 100s of billions pounds sterling.  How will these projects be carried out?  How they will be paid for?  Not a mention of that in his campaign.

The other part of his strategy was to put pressure on the EU.  It is not clear how he did this, possibly in making concessions.  In a populist fashion, he probably told the Europeans what they wanted to hear.  A French journalist-columnist for The Daily Telegraph said BJ bluffed his way through. His optimism is more appealing that May’s stubbornness.  The French like another trait of his: his culture.  On our TV screens here, we saw him recite The Iliad poem for two and a half hours in classical Greek.

With Brexit both sides will lose, but many feel the UK will lose more.  The UK exports 47 percent of its products to Europe whereas the EU exports only 20 percent.  Some have compared Donald Trump’s attitude toward the EU to Boris Johnson’s.  There is one big difference though: BJ is not trying to destroy Europe.

Immigration has been at the core of Brexit since the beginning.  In this area, there is an inner contradiction.  Although the UK was never part of the Schengen Area (which guarantees freedom of circulation of the people), it still took advantage of the accession of eight new states to the EU in 2004, and 2007, to welcome these new labor forces – particularly from Poland.  It is unknown at this point how this situation will be resolved under Brexit.

The transition period

What’s going to happen during the transition?  Concretely, very little except that the Union Jack will not fly any more at the entrance of the EU HQ.

In the immediate term, ferry boats will continue crossing The Channel and Eurostar will continue to carry passengers and goods.  There will be no custom duties, no tariffs, and no visas required.

However, some changes are going to be immediately painful for the UK. The 73 British deputies at the European Parliament packed their bags on Jan. 31.  The British Commissioners have been gone for a while.  This means that the UK will not participate in the decision-making process, while it will still have to contribute to the EU budget and abide by the decisions of the European Court of Justice.

Michel Barnier from France has been appointed again as chief negotiator.  This is good news for everybody because he is a consensus-making personality.  He will work with a group of deputies from the European Parliament in Strasbourg,  Barnier has always stressed that the EU is not out to punish the UK.  Its only objective is to protect the EU’s interests.  Barnier feels sorry for the British population that was misinformed prior to the 2016 referendum.

The task ahead

In the simplest of terms, it is Herculean.

The UK is party to more than 600 international agreements with around 100 other countries through its EU membership.  As it leaves the EU , the UK will be cut off from these agreements.  However, it can retain its place whenever the UK signed an agreement in its own right.  The undoing of all these agreements is called (delightfully) “detricotage” in French (tricoter is to knit.)

The country has already taken steps to secure continuity in its relationships with other countries.  Examples include a treaty maintaining the UK’s civil nuclear trade; bilateral aviation agreements with the US and Canada; citizens rights agreements with Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland; protection for Scotch and Irish Whiskey exports.

The Lancaster House Bilateral Treaty of 2010 between the UK and France is a good example. It was signed between then French President Sarkozy and then UK Prime Minister Cameron and concerns Defense and Security Cooperation. Nathalie Loiseau, former French minister for European Affairs is the president of  the Commission on Security and Defense of the European Parliament.

One of the greatest fears in Europe is the prospect of a “Singapore-on-Thames.”  This would mean a country disrespectful of social and environmental norms and regulations.  Fiscal dumping will not be tolerated, says Brussels.  “There will not be quotas nor tariff if the UK forgets about dumping” writes the newspaper La Croix.

The first issue to be tackled will be fishing.  The negotiators will sit down around the negotiating table as early as Feb. 3, 2020.  The French fishermen have for years been fishing in 60 percent of the time in British waters.  The problem is that the British fisherman need the huge Single Market of 500 million people to sell their catch … and they already complain about quotas, which are imposed in order to avoid the depletion of fish!

France is one of the closest commercial partners of the UK (its foreign trade with that country has a trade surplus  of 12 billion Euros), which mean that it is particularly exposed to the consequences of the Brexit.  The manufacturing sector, such as the automobile industry, is fully integrated with Europe and relies on spare parts coming from the continent.  Every day 1,100 trucks transport parts back and forth through the Channel.  Aeronautics is facing a huge logistics problems since Air Bus employs 13,500 people in Great Britain.

The pharmaceutical industry, such as Sanofi, prepared for the Brexit by accumulating huge quantities of drugs.  The Total energy company is relocating its treasury department from London to Paris.

The traders of BNP Paribas Paris – the largest European bank in the UK – will have to leave the City of London whenever dealing with European clients. HSBC – the largest bank in the EU – is relocating many of its units to Paris.  One thousand personnel have already moved. Bank of America is now located on Rue de la Boetie in Paris.  J.P. Morgan has also relocated here.

The complicated problem of the border  between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland seems to have been defused.  One hears now that, in the long term, the two Irelands may be reunited.  The border would then go under the Irish Channel and the North Sea.  The idea of a “backstop,” which we heard so much about under Theresa May’s watch, seems to have vanished today.

In a recent debate, Pascal Lamy, Honorary Director of the Jacques Delors Institute (Delors was one of the founding fathers of the EU. He created the Single Market in 1993) made a few remarks about

Prognosis for the future

The more the UK diverges from the EU’s norms, the thicker the wall between them will grow.  The 27 members of the EU are extremely attached to the Single Market, the largest in the world.  It seems likely that BJ will in the end up aligned with Europe.  If BJ carries out his proposed social policy, the public deficit risks will be enormous.  Will there be “Boris Bonds” ?

Recently the populist governments in Denmark and Italy have collapsed.  Johnson’s electoral base is a mismatch between the less wealthy Brexiteers of the North and the rich ones from London. Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland and Arlene Foster in Northern Ireland will have an important role to play in whether there is going to be a break-up of the United Kingdom or not.  The UK will likely remain closer to the EU than the US.

On Dec. 13, 2019, some European leaders stated their position toward Brexit in carefully selected words:

Charles Michel, president of the European Council said, “We are ready.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted, “This will be a challenge.”

French President Emanuel Macron stated: “We welcome a new partner who should be a fair competitor.”

And in a Jan. 30, 2020 interview on French radio, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to France, Baron Llewellyn of Steep, said in the most British of ways,”Let’s have a cup of tea and go to work!”

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

Nicole Prévost Logan

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

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Wanda Nicholas Plays Perfect Cribbage Hand for First Time in ‘Estuary’ History

Wanda Nicholas displays her perfect cribbage hand.

OLD SAYBROOK — Congratulations to Wanda Nicholas!

She is a regular cribbage player at the Estuary Senior Center in Old Saybrook and on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, Nicholas played a perfect cribbage hand, which is 29 points. This is the first perfect hand played in Estuary history.

The Estuary cribbage players meet every Wednesday at the Estuary Senior Center, 220 Main St., Old Saybrook. New players are welcome to this fun group.

Call 860-388-1611 for more information.

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Are You Eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit? Find Out With Free Tax Help From VITA

HARTFORD/ TRI-TOWN — Workers may get a larger tax refund this year because of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). But to get it, you must file a tax return and claim it.

Today, Jan. 31, 2020, marks the 14th anniversary of EITC Awareness Day, a nationwide effort to increase awareness about EITC and free tax preparation sites. This year, IRS is promoting EITC and providing information on other refundable tax credits for which you may be eligible. This includes the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), the Credit for Other Dependents (ODC) and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). These differ for tax credit earned or reimbursed in the form of lender or borrower fees for parent and child type loan payments, especially in countries like Finland; speak to experts such as Sambla OY for more on the topic.

If your 2019 income is up to $56,000, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in Connecticut provides free tax preparation services, including filing for the EITC and other credits for individuals and families with 2019 incomes up to $56,000, persons with disabilities and limited-English-speaking taxpayers. Appointments at VITA locations across the state are now open.

The Village for Families & ChildrenUnited Way of Central and Northeastern ConnecticutHuman Resources Agency of New Britain and the Connecticut Association for Human Services have opened tax filing sites in Litchfield, Hartford, Tolland, Windham, Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and New London Counties.

To schedule an appointment at a VITA location, visit 211CT.org and click on “Tax Help” or dial 2-1-1 and press 3 then 6.

Experienced VITA volunteers are ready to help you with tax preparation in numerous locations across Connecticut. File photo.

VITA volunteers – trained by the Internal Revenue Service – ask you the needed questions to find out if you qualify for EITC and other refundable tax credits. They also prepare and e-file (electronically file) your tax return at no cost to you.

“Our community volunteers help you get EITC and the maximum refund you’re due. Our goal is to help you get it and get it right. This is money you can save or use to pay off bills, buy that car to get to work or make a down payment on a home. Let us help make your life a little easier,“ said Laura O’Keefe, director of family financial stability at The Village for Families and Children.

EITC can mean up to a $6,431 refund when you file a return if you have qualifying children. Workers without a qualifying child could be eligible for a smaller credit up to $519. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average amount credited for 2019 was $2,476.

In 2019, 25 million workers received more than $63 billion in EITC refunds. In Connecticut, 216,000 workers received $485 million in Earned Income Tax Credits, averaging $2,243 per person.

The IRS estimates four of five eligible taxpayers claim and get the EITC. EITC and other income tax credits lifted an estimated 9 million people out of poverty last year, including 5 million or more than half of them children. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Policy Basics: The Earned Income Tax Credit, June 21, 2019)

Bring the following to make sure VITA volunteers get you the right amount of credit you deserve:

  • A valid driver’s license or other photo id card
  • Social security cards, a social security number verification letter for all persons listed on the return
  • Birth dates for all persons listed on return
  • All income statements: Forms W-2 and 1099, Social Security, unemployment, and other statements, such as pensions, stocks, interest and any documents showing taxes withheld
  • All records of expenses, such as tuition, mortgage interest, or real estate taxes
  • Copies of last year’s state and federal tax returns, if you have
  • Bank routing numbers and account numbers to direct deposit any refund
  • Dependent child care information: name and address of who you paid and either the caretaker’s SSN or other tax identification number
  • If you purchased coverage through the Health Insurance MarketplaceForm 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement
  • Both spouses to sign forms to e-file a joint tax return

In addition to face-to-face tax assistance, free online self-preparation and tax help is available for people who make up to $66,000 at www.myfreetaxes.com.

For more than a decade, VITA coalitions have been helping working families become financially secure. Free tax preparation is one way for hard-working families to keep more money in their wallets by obtaining the tax refunds and credits they have earned.

Last year, volunteers at 175 VITA locations across Connecticut brought $73,222.366.00 in total refunds and credits to filers.

The 2019-2020 VITA and MyFreeTaxes program partners are: CT Association for Human Services; Human Resources Agency of New Britain; Internal Revenue Service; The Village for Families & Children; and Connecticut United Ways.

Editor’s Note: This article is taken from a Press Release. For further information, contact one of the following:
Laura O’Keefe, Director of Family Financial Stability, The Village for Families & Childrenlokeefe@thevillage.org, 860-236-4511 ext. 3836
Maura Cook, Director of Community Engagement and Marketing, United Way of Central and Northeastern CTmcook@unitedwayinc.org; 860-493-1131
Juan Berrios, Community and Financial Services Program Manager, HRA of New Britainjberrios@hranbct.org; 860-225-8601
Takima Robinson, VITA/Asset Building Program Manager, CT Association for Human Servicestrobinson@cahs.org, 860-951-2212 x229

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Essex Savings Bank Donates Over 700lbs of Food to Shoreline Soup Kitchen

Pictured in the photo (from left to right) are Greg Cassells, VP and Community Reinvestment Officer, Greg Shook, Essex Savings Bank President & CEO, and Diane Arnold, SVP and Chief Lending Officer.

ESSEX Each year all six branches and corporate office departments within Essex Savings Bank held a holiday contest designed to help those less fortunate in the local communities. After several years of helping other organizations, the Bank returned this year to support the Shoreline Soup Kitchen as well as the Chester and Madison food pantries.

This year’s goal was to collect non-perishable food from employees and donate to the three organizations while creating a display that invoked the spirit and joy of watching holiday movies. Although this contest adds to the fun of the season, the deeper goal for all of the Bank employees is to help those in need as that is the true spirit of the season.
All donations were at the employees’ expense and generated by their goodwill. As a result of everyone’s efforts, on Friday, December 20th, Essex Savings Bank employees delivered over 700 pounds of food to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and several box loads to the Madison and Chester food pantries.
Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking.
Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Division, Essex Trust and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.
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Needleman Appointed Senate Vice Chair of Planning & Development Committee

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

HARTFORD — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), whose District includes the Town of Lyme, has been appointed Senate Vice Chair of the Planning & Development Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly by Senate President Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). As a condition of this appointment,  which as announced Tuesday, Sen. Needleman will step down from his position as Senate Vice Chair of the Banking Committee.

Sen. Needleman’s appointment to this committee is in addition to his existing roles as Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee and membership in the Commerce Committee, Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee and Transportation Committee.

“I look forward to starting work on the Planning & Development Committee, working to improve and streamline processes to assist our state’s municipalities and support further development in Connecticut,” said Sen. Needleman. “I would like to thank Senator Looney for his appointment and am excited to continue my work in the upcoming Legislative Session.”

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Death Announced of Barbara Woodman Wyden

Barbara Woodman Wyden

Barbara Woodman Wyden, born July 1, 1922 passed away on January 4, 2020, at Davis Nursing Home, Wilmington, N.C.

Barbara graduated from Radcliff in 1941. She worked for Newsweek Magazine as editor of International News. Other newspapers that she worked for were the Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles times and then settling down to the New York Times as editor of the women’s section. Barbara was a ghost writer as well; writing all of Joyce Brothers books as well as many others. Barbara befriended Kaye Summersby, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s driver during World War II, and wrote “Past Forgetting” using much of the information from Eisenhower’s diaries. Kaye died before the book was published, so Barbara left the dairies to her brother, Richard Woodman, who contacted the Eisenhower Library and donated those pages of the diaries that she had. They are now in a section of the Library dedicated to his wartime efforts.

Barbara was preceded in death by her father, Clarence Woodman, her mother Katherine Woodman and her sister, Virginia Woodman Cordes.

No services are planned at this time.

Arrangements are being handled by Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington NC 28403.

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Country School Runners Earn All-America Status at National Championships

Third-graders Laila Goodman (standing on right in photo above) of Old Lyme and Tillie Killam of Madison (left in photo) display their All-American awards received Dec. 14 when they took 1st and 9th place respectively in the Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships held in Madison, Wis.

MADISON, CT – This past Saturday (Dec. 14), in cold and windy conditions in Madison, Wis., Country School 3rd Grade classmates Laila Goodman of Old Lyme and Tillie Killam of Madison earned All-America status by taking 1st and 9th place respectively among 157 runners in the Junior Olympics (JO) Cross Country Championships.

Having finished 8th in the same competition last year in Reno, Nev., Goodman led the 7-8 girls’ race this year from start to finish, fending off challenges from top runners from California, New York, and 42 states to finish the 2K course in 8:01, five seconds ahead of the 2nd place finisher.

Going to the National JOs for the first time, Killam needed a top-25 finish to become Country School’s third-ever All-American, and she earned it with a well-paced race and a fast finishing kick to flash across the line in 8:29.

Fellow classmate Lillian Clare of Madison raced in the 9-10 year-old division and blitzed the 3K course in 13:10 to take 94th out of 242 runners. Clare, Goodman and Killam qualified for Nationals by finishing in the top 30 in Connecticut and then the top 30 in Region 1, which includes all of New England, Long Island and the Adirondacks.

In national competition, Clare, Goodman, Killam and all Country School students run for Litchfield Track Club, whose 8 and Under girls cross-country team, led by Goodman and Killam, captured 4th place in the team competition Saturday against all the club teams in the United States.

The competition was held at the Yahara Hills Golf Course in Madison, Wis. Over 4,000 youth runners in ages 7 to 18 took part in the all-day competition.

In addition to Goodman and Killam, the Litchfield Track Club 8 & Under girls team included Gwen Krukar (Goshen) 65th, Alexa Johnston (Litchfield) 102, and Attie Bergin (Goshen) 115th. There were a total of 157 finishers in their race.

The team advanced to the finals by winning the Connecticut Association meet and placing 2nd in the Region 1 Championships on Long Island in November.

Due to a USATF rule that states to compete in a national event, a runner must turn age seven by December of that year, Country School 1st grader Liv Killam could not compete after qualifying for Nationals.

Also competing for Litchfield Track Club in Wisconsin were Annecy Vlieks of Madison (12:03 for 94th, 11-12 girls), Abbie Johnston (105th, 13-14 girls), and Branford’s Liam Watson (188th, 11-12 boys).

Founded in 1955, The Country School serves 200 students in PreSchool-Grade 8 on its 23-acre campus in Madison. The Country School is committed to active, hands-on learning and a vigorous curriculum that engages the whole child. Signature programs such as Elmore Leadership, Public Speaking, STEAM, and Outdoor Education help prepare students for success in high school and beyond. See our community in action during our winter Open House on January 26 from 1-3:30 p.m.

For more information, visit www.thecountryschool.org.

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Reading Uncertainly: ‘The Library Book’ by Susan Orlean

Editor’s Note (i): If you’re still searching for a last-minute gift, then consider this book — it’s the perfect present for book- and library-lovers everywhere! Many thanks to our wonderful and ever faithful book-reviewer Felix Kloman of Lyme for sharing his thoughts on this best-seller, which is described by The New York Times as “a sheer delight…as rich in insight and as varied as the treasures contained on the shelves in any local library” and by USA TODAY as, “a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution and an investigation into one of its greatest mysteries. 

Susan Orlean, a long-time writer for The New Yorker, gives us, at once, a paean to all libraries, a biography of a singular library in Los Angeles, a story of its crippling fire in April, 1986 and its possible arsonist, and, above all, the tale of the devotion and delight of all librarians. It is a love story, too, resonating with all of us enamored of those enticing shelves.

She begins with that fire and its effect on guides and users alike, facing the enormity of the destruction, “This was a shrine to being forgotten; to memories sprinkled like salt, ideas vaporized as if they never had been formed; stories evaporated as if they had no substance and no weight keeping them bound to the earth and to each of us, and, most of all, to the yet-unfolded future”.

What is a library? The author suggests that ”every problem that society has, the library has too,” from homelessness, thievery, fractious adults, uncontrolled children, and waste, yet our librarians manage and smile though it all.  Susan Orlean remains enthralled: “As I stood there, gobsmacked by this serendipity!”

She also wonders about the future of book lending, under the effects of advancing technology, the Internet and social media, concluding with optimism, “Libraries are physical spaces belonging to a community where we gather to share information. … A library is a good place to soften solitude; a place where you feel part of a conversation that has gone on for hundreds and hundreds of year even when you’re all alone. The library is a whispering post. You don’t need to take a book off a shelf to know thee is a voice inside that is waiting to speak to you”.

So off I go to wander through the stacks in Phoebe Griffin Noyes, the Lyme Library, the Acton in Old Saybrook, the Essex Library, and even to Middletown. And everywhere I will find smiling librarians and a veritable profusion of riches.

Editor’s Note (ii): ‘The Library Book’ by Susan Orlean was published by Simon & Schuster, New York 2018.

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction, a subject which explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there.
For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farm Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His late wife, Ann, was also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visited every summer.

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Bursting with Bubbles! Centerbrook Business Launches New Product Line, Includes Jewelry Cleaner, Shower Aromatherapy, Calcium Supplement

The full range of FizzBenefitz products shown in this photo includes a jewelry cleaner and shower aromatherapy.

ESSEX — Centerbrook-based manufacturer Tower Laboratories Ltd., has launched a diverse line of effervescent health and personal care products. The line, called FizzBenefitz, includes

  • Shine Better Jewelry Cleaner
  • Shower Better Aromatherapy
  • Well Better Vitamin C and Calcium Supplements
  • Hydrate Better Kids Hydration

Tower Laboratories has been in the business of effervescent product manufacturing for almost 40 years. The company produces denture cleaners, antacids and other over-the-counter tablets under various store brands. With FizzBenefitz, Tower Laboratories is hoping to develop its own brand recognition.

“We are excited to launch our own unique line of effervescent products and we think consumers will find a lot to like about FizzBenefitz,” said Matt Needleman of Tower Laboratories. “Effervescence gives people a multi-sensory experience that you don’t find in other types of products. For our health supplements, it has the added benefit of eliminating the stress of taking pills. Our products are always made with convenience for the consumer in mind.”

The full FizzBenefitz line is available for purchase online at fizzbenefitz.shop

Editor’s Note: Tower Laboratories, Ltd. is a privately held company founded in 1979 and the country’s leading supplier of store brand effervescent products. Tower Laboratories, Ltd. also produces a number of effervescent products for contract customers consisting of prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs, dietary supplements, medical devices, personal care products and specialty applications. The company is headquartered in Centerbrook, CT, with manufacturing facilities in Clinton, CT and Montague, MI.

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Legal News You Can Use: Do You Know the True Purpose of Alimony?

Alimony is an important protection for some divorcees. If you are divorcing, it might be something you’re looking into seeking, too. Do you know how it’s determined? Do you have any idea about how much you need?

Here’s a little more about alimony, so you can understand what to expect.

1. Alimony is decided by the courts unless you and your spouse agree on an amount

Alimony is decided by the courts, but you and your spouse can decide on an amount yourselves in advance if you’d like. If you want to make up your own mind about how much you need, then you should sit down and budget. Find out how much you need in alimony to make ends meet, and then you and your spouse can talk about an amount that is feasible and how long it should be paid.

2. Alimony is designed to help a lesser-earning spouse and to “pay them back” for their support

Alimony has a few purposes. One purpose may be to help spouses who gave up their careers or who earn less and need time to make up the financial differences caused by moving out. Alimony can also be used as a way to pay them back for financial support while one spouse went to school.

3. Lump-sum alimony helps you avoid long-term obligations

Lump-sum alimony is a good way to avoid long-term obligations. With lump-sum alimony, the payer doles out the whole amount versus monthly installments. With lump-sum alimony, the recipient doesn’t have to worry about payments not being made, and neither the recipient nor payer have to stay in touch (unless for other reasons).

Attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can speak with you more about alimony and answer your questions on the subect. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Sponsored post on behalf of Suisman Shapiro.

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Death of VNN Contributor, Former NY State Senator Jerome ‘Jerry’ Wilson Announced

The late Jerome (Jerry) L. Wilson.

ESSEX — It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our beloved contributor, Jerome ‘Jerry’ L. Wilson. Mr. Wilson, 88, passed away Friday, Nov. 1, in Essex. We have not yet heard the details of services for Mr. Wilson but will publish them as soon as we receive them.

Mr. Wilson was a great supporter of our online news ventures and contributed more article and photos to ValleyNewsNow.com and LymeLine.com than we can count. Coincidentally, Mr. Wilson was room-mates at Colgate University with John ‘Jack’ Turner, who was the founder of LymeLine.com in 2003. Most of Mr. Wilson’s articles were published on ValleyNewsNow.com, which was founded by Lon Seidman in 2009. Both sites are now owned by Shoreline Web News LLC.

Mr. Wilson was passionate about the importance of local news and determined to keep it very much on the front burner.  He would pursue stories with the grit of a rookie journalist, never giving up until he had answers or comments from everyone he believed should be involved. A character in every way imaginable, Mr. Wilson had a heart of gold and we will miss him dearly.

He led a storied career as a Democratic State Senator from Manhattan, an on-air political correspondent and editor for WCBS-TV, and a lawyer. He was perhaps best known for his determined and ultimately successful efforts to change the New York state law, which required a spouse to prove adultery as the sole way to gain a divorce. New York was the only remaining state in the country with this provision when then Senator Wilson took up the issue. By the time the new law was passed in September 1967 with Sen. Wilson leading the state judicial committee that had proposed it, four additional grounds for divorce had been added.

This past Tuesday, Nov. 5, the New York Times published an article about Mr. Wilson at this link by NYT Obituaries Reporter Sam Roberts.

We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Ulla, his four daughters, two stepsons, six grandchildren, and four step-grandchildren.

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Needleman Easily Wins Another Term as Essex First Selectman, No Changes on Board of Selectmen

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) has been re-elected to the position of Essex First Selectman.

ESSEX — Incumbent First Selectman Norman Needleman (D) cruised to victory in Tuesday’s election with more than twice the number of votes of his opponent, Matthew Fleming (R).  Needleman also serves as the State Senator for the 33rd CT District. His running mate,  incumbent selectman Stacia Rice-Libby, also won easily to retain her seat on the board of selectmen.

The third seat on the board will be taken by Bruce Glowac (R), who like Rice-Libby is also an incumbent, thus keeping board members exactly the same as prior to the election.

The full results in Essex were:

First Selectman
Norman Needleman (D)
1667

Matthew R. Fleming (R)
621

Selectman
Stacia Rice-Libby (D)
1333

Bruce M. Glowac (R)
951

Board of Finance
W. Campbell Hudson (D)
1439

Carolyn E. Field (R)
820

Mary-Louise Polo (D)
1412

Philip J. Beckman (R)
847

Board of Education
Cassandra S. Sweet (D)
1689

Board of Assessment Appeals
George B. Wendell (D)
1354

Coral L. Rawn (R)
902

Regional Board of Education
D.G. Fitton (D)
1369

D.G. Fitton (R)
790

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Essex Elementary School Foundation Grants Over $40,000 to Essex Elementary School for the 2019-2020 School Year

Students designing 3D sculptures during the afterschool Makerspace program thanks to a grant by the foundation. The program is run by EES Media Specialist, Mrs. Renee Mitchill, Art teacher, Mr. Gary Stevens and Network Technician, Chris Hutchins.

ESSEX — The Essex Elementary School Foundation (EESF), supported by the residents and community of Essex, has  announced a commitment to funding over $40,000 slated for enrichment programs at Essex Elementary School (EES) for the 2019-2020 school year.  These programs offered at EES through our partnership with Sambla would otherwise not be available through traditional funding by the school system and budget.

The funding includes annual programs such as:  World Culture Days (Haiti, China and India) for the second grade, Scientist in Residence for Grades K-6 teachers and students, all transportation for High Hopes therapeutic riding classes, and The Makerspace program using 3D printers funded by EESF.  Over the last two years, the foundation was able to offer a Science and Technology Grant that was used by EES to help offset the costs to send two state Invention Convention winners to the national competition.

“The foundation is pleased to once again be able to make a contribution to several different enrichment programs at the school,” says Bill Jacaruso, President of EESF.  “We wouldn’t be able to carry on this work without the generous support of so many members of our community.  Thank you to everyone who contributes to the foundation each year.”

New this school year, EESF will be funding an Artist/Historian in Residence program for the fifth-grade team.  Teaching artist, Doug Day will work with the EES team to research, write, and perform a musical based and focused on the rich history of Essex, Ivoryton, and Centerbrook.  Doug will spend two weeks at EES working with our 5th graders on this experience culminating in a musical to be performed for the school community.

Another new program funded under this year’s grant cycle will be for the introduction of LumoPlay.  This software is designed to create interactive virtual reality experiences in order to practice math fluency and other key math skills. LumoPlay, under the guidance of Shannon Vandermale, EES Math Specialist, will allow for a multisensory approach to learning a variety of math concepts and skills.  Engaging in multisensory learning has been proven beneficial to students of all learning styles.   The annual appeal for EESF begins in mid-November.

“I am so very grateful to the foundation for all they do to enrich the lives of our students in the past and yet again this year,” says Jennifer Tousignant, Principal at Essex Elementary School.   “Their generosity makes high quality programming outside the traditional classroom setting possible.  The board members are truly a great pleasure to collaborate with and our students are very fortunate for the generosity of the EESF!”

Since its inception in 1996, the Essex Elementary School Foundation’s primary goal has been to create a significant endowment that can support the school’s strategic vision to engage all students in a rigorous and collaborative educational program.  Each year, at least five percent of the EESF endowment is allocated for supplemental enrichment programs and projects proposed by the Essex Elementary School administration that would otherwise not be available through traditional funding by the school system and budget.

Programs funded include the Justus W. Paul World Culture Program, literacy support materials, equipment for musical and physical education, playground improvements, logical thinking games, audio/visual equipment, 3D printer, an iPad lab, and an Engineering with Legos program.

For more information, visit www.essexesf.org.

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Connecticut’s Second Living Shoreline Restoration Project Underway in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK – The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) will complete by the early spring of 2020 a living shoreline project in Old Saybrook in partnership with the Lynde Point Land Trust and the Borough of Fenwick. This will be only the second living shoreline project in Connecticut.

CRC has received a grant of $150,000 from the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation to support the construction of this project, which is part of CRC’s four-state Connecticut River habitat restoration and climate adaptation initiatives.

“Living shorelines are an innovative solution to restoring damaged coasts and providing a green way to adapt to a changed climate,” notes Andrew Fisk, CRC’s executive director. “We are incredibly grateful for the generous support of the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation for this work that will restore this coastline and protect it into the future.”

The living shoreline project in Old Saybrook is located on property owned by the Lynde Point Land Trust. The project will restore a breached barrier spit with a reconstructed dune and a series of underwater rock sills. The project design will restore dune, cobble beach, and tidal marsh habitat in an area that fronts a previously restored freshwater marsh. The climate adaptation elements of the project include mitigation of wave energy and a larger dune.

Living shorelines are a priority restoration and climate adaptation strategy of state and federal agencies as they provide multiple benefits unlike sea walls, rock jetties, or groins. Benefits include reducing pollution, erosion and property loss while creating wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. Living shorelines are resilient to storm damage and rising sea levels.

This living shoreline is being designed by the engineering firm GZA. Additional funding has come from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund and the Robert F. Schumann Foundation.

Connecticut River Conservancy has additional active habitat restoration and climate adaptation projects throughout the four-state Connecticut River watershed including dam removals, culvert upgrades, bioengineered riverbank stabilizations, flood plain restoration, and tree plantings.

Connecticut River Conservancy is the voice for the Connecticut River watershed, from source to sea. They collaborate with partners across four states to protect and advocate for the river, and to educate and engage communities. The CRC brings people together to prevent pollution, improve habitat, and promote enjoyment of the Connecticut River and its tributary streams. Healthy rivers support healthy economies.

To learn more about CRC, or to join the effort and help protect our rivers, visit www.ctriver.org.

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Ivoryton’s Eberle, Who Helped Save Man From Burning Car, Presented with Carnegie Medal in Essex Presentation

Stephen Anthony Eberle of Ivoryton, Conn., will be awarded the Carnegie Medal on Oct. 25 by Congressman Joe Courtney.

ESSEX — Carnegie Hero Stephen Anthony Eberle of Ivoryton, Conn., was presented with the Carnegie Medal at a ceremony held Oct. 25, at the Essex Town Hall conference room. U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, who represents Connecticut’s 2nd District, presented the award.

Eberle, with another man, saved a 38-year-old man from a burning vehicle July 16, 2017, after a nighttime accident in Middletown, Conn. Passing motorists Eberle and a 65-year-old teacher’s aide responded to the car, which had caught fire on the highway with the unconscious driver inside.

Using a tire iron, Eberle broke out the rear, driver’s-side window, opened the rear door, and entered the backseat, where he attempted to release the driver’s seat belt. Unsuccessful, he moved to the driver’s door and broke that window. The teacher’s aide then forced the door open, and held it open as Eberle twice attempted to enter the car there and release Smith’s seat belt.

Each attempt was thwarted by heat and fire.

The teacher’s aide then used a pocketknife to cut the seat belt, and together they grasped the driver and tugging hard, removed him from the vehicle and dragged him away. The car was shortly engulfed in flames. The driver was treated for minor crash injuries, but was not burned.

Eberle was the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund’s 10,094th hero. The Hero Fund, established by Andrew Carnegie in 1904, has awarded the Carnegie Medal to 10,117 individuals in recognition of their outstanding heroism, defined by the Commission as acts of lifesaving done at extraordinary risk to the rescuer. Grants totaling more than $41 million have been given to the awardees or their survivors and include scholarship aid, continuing assistance, and death benefits.

For more information about the Carnegie Hero Fund, contact Jewels Phraner, outreach coordinator for the fund, at 1-800-447-8900.

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Eversource Manager Cataudella Raises “At-Risk” Monarch Caterpillars, Butterflies in Spare Time

Donna Cataudella at home with the monarch butterflies, which she is raising.

DEEP RIVER — Luann Cataudella spends her days as the Emergency Preparedness Training Manager at Eversource but in her free time, she’s raising monarch butterflies at her Deep River home.

It’s a hobby and passion she stumbled upon when she was clearing milkweed from her yard and discovered caterpillars on the leaves.

“I found little caterpillars on the milkweed and was fascinated.  When I went back to check on them a few days later, I watched six caterpillars get eaten by assassin bugs and it was terrible,” Luann explained. “I knew I had to do something to help, so I started doing some research.”

Luann learned that monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed, which is scarce these days because of urban development and residents removing the weed from their garden. That and their many predators is why the monarchs are disappearing – their survival rate is only five percent.

So, Luann got some butterfly enclosures to keep the caterpillars and eggs safe from their predators.

“I started with less than 10 caterpillars. Now I have more than 300 eggs and caterpillars in various stages of development and I’ve released 110 butterflies.”

Luann keeps the eggs and caterpillars in the enclosures until they become butterflies and are able to fly, so they can escape the predator insects.

It’s cool that I’m helping them survive, I just love caring for them.  It’s peaceful and relaxing and I really enjoy it.”

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is currently assessing the monarch’s status to determine if the species’ declining population is severe enough to put the monarch on the Endangered Species list.  That decision is expected in December 2020.

In the meantime, Luann is anticipating the monarch caterpillars and butterflies returning next summer and she’ll be there, ready to help with their survival, once again.

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Essex Land Trust Earns National Recognition for Strong Commitment to Public Trust, Conservation Excellence

Essex Land Trust owns 650 acres of open space within the borders of the town including this 49-acre jewel of fields and forest in Ivoryton at Johnson Farm.

ESSEX – One thing that unites the country as a nation is land: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1968 the Essex Land Trust has been doing just that for the people of Essex.

Now the Essex Land Trust has announced it has achieved national recognition – joining a network of over 400 accredited land trusts across the nation that have demonstrated their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work.

“Accreditation gives the Essex Land Trust the opportunity to commit itself to the highest standards of conservation excellence while it pursues its mission of protecting the environment and the small-town character of the Town’s three villages, Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton,” said Nancy Rambeau, the land trust’s President. “The rigorous accreditation process ensures that the land trust’s effort to preserve our community’s open space and natural resources will benefit both current and future generations.”

The Essex Land Trust provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded accreditation, signifying its confidence that Essex Land Trust’s lands will be protected forever. Accredited land trusts steward almost 20 million acres of land – the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

Essex’s privileged location in the lower Connecticut River Valley gives it a responsibility in providing long-term stewardship for its portion of what The Nature Conservancy has identified as “One of the Last Great Places in the Western Hemisphere.” Owning a total of 650 acres, the land trust has pursued a strategy of acquiring open space that expands habitat corridors, thereby enhancing the potential for plant and wildlife diversity.

“It is exciting to recognize the Essex Land Trust with this national mark of distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

Essex Land Trust is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance’s most recent National Land Trust Census. A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

The Essex Land Trust is an independent nonprofit organization supported by generous donations and managed by a dedicated group of volunteers. Its Vision is to preserve our community’s open space and natural resources for the benefit of future generations.

To this end, its Mission is to acquire open space by gift or purchase and to protect the environment and the small-town character of the three villages, Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton, which comprise the town of Essex and to provide the community with passive recreational and educational opportunities. To fulfill these objectives the Land Trust conserves wildlife habitats, forests, fields, rivers, wetlands and scenic views by maintaining properties in a natural state.

For more information, visit www.essexlandtrust.org.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts.

For more information, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents 1,000-member land trusts supported by more than 200,000 volunteers and 4.6 million members nationwide.

The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices. The Alliance’s leadership serves the entire land trust community—our work in the nation’s capital represents the policy priorities of land conservationists from every state; our education programs improve and empower land trusts from Maine to Alaska; and our comprehensive vision for the future of land conservation includes new partners, new programs and new priorities.

For more information, visit www.landtrustalliance.org.

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Ivoryton Lighting Manufacturer L.C. Doane Powers Facility with Sunlight

Longtime U.S. Military supplier in Ivoryton sees environmental, financial benefits of going solar

IVORYTON — The Connecticut Green Bank and the L.C. Doane Company have announced the closing of a financing agreement that will help the company expand existing solar systems on their roof. Verogy, a Hartford-based solar developer, will complete the installation.

For over 70 years the L.C. Doane company, located at 110 Pond Meadow Road in Ivoryton, Conn., has served the United States Navy and Coast Guard supplying commissioned fleets with tough, reliable MIL-Spec Shipboard lighting. Since October 2008, L.C. Doane has used solar photovoltaics on their roof to supply electricity to their 150,000 square foot factory.

Now, thanks in part to the recent closing of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing through the Connecticut Green Bank, L.C. Doane is expanding their solar system to generate more energy to power their machinery. When completed, the new solar systems will add more than 200 kW of capacity.

“As a government subcontractor in the defense industry, it is essential to keep our own lights on,” said Bill Psillos, Vice President. “While manufacturing occurs under our roof, the power source is created from above. Our solar panels provide us with clean energy right on-site. Another level of U.S.-made, environmentally conscience manufacturing. As we continue to expand so does our roof!”

In addition to adding to the existing solar array and installing a larger one, L.C. Doane is also replacing roofing beneath the original panels. The total project costs are $1.46 million with the C-PACE financing covering over $1.06 million. Through C-PACE financing, the project is paid off over 10 years through a voluntary benefit assessment lien to be repaid along with their property taxes.

L.C. Doane worked with Verogy and the Connecticut Green Bank to arrange the multi-faceted project. “C-PACE allows companies the flexibility they need to solve their unique energy needs,” said William Herchel, CEO of Verogy. “We’re glad we were able to help L.C. Doane navigate the options, and find the best possible outcome.”

Project costs are being offset by a $40,000 Energy on the Line Grant, a program funded through the Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD) Manufacturing Innovation Fund to help manufacturers lower their energy costs.

“It’s great to see a long-time Connecticut manufacturer like the L.C. Doane Company expanding their commitment to generating clean energy,” said Mackey Dykes, Vice President of Commercial and Institutional Programs at the Connecticut Green Bank. “C-PACE financing is designed to make projects like this feasible, so companies can benefit from their upgrades immediately and continue to focus on their core business.”

In addition to their subcontracting work with the U.S. military, L.C. Doane’s trusted quality is designed to meet commercial lighting applications including healthcare, industrial, correctional, and institutional industries. All L.C. Doane products are designed and manufactured in the U.S.

“L.C. Doane is setting a great example for other businesses in the region, demonstrating how a commitment to sustainability can also allow building owners to reduce energy costs and remain competitive” said Jeff Pugliese, Vice President, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber has been an advocate for making energy efficiency and renewable energy programs more accessible to businesses in the region, and we are excited to see member businesses taking advantage of solar energy and the Green Bank’s C-PACE program.”

The Connecticut Green Bank was established by the Connecticut General Assembly on July 1, 2011 as a part of Public Act 11-80. As the nation’s first full-scale green bank, it is leading the clean energy finance movement by leveraging public and private funds to scale-up renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency projects across Connecticut. The Green Bank’s success in accelerating private investment in clean energy is helping Connecticut create jobs, increase economic prosperity, promote energy security and address climate change.

For more information about the Connecticut Green Bank, visit www.ctgreenbank.com. For information on C-PACE, please visit www.cpace.com.

Lighting by the L.C. Doane Company has withstood the worst environments and toughest abuse onboard U.S. naval vessels since 1947. Utilizing our experience with shipboard lighting we have been building tough, reliable lights for other demanding environments including industrial, correctional, institutional, and commercial marine – setting new records in durability and performance.

For more information about the L.C. Doane company, visit www.lcdoane.com or contact Joe Thomas (joet@lcdoane.com).

Verogy originates and develops renewable energy projects across the United States to provide savings and long-term value for its clients. Verogy manages all aspects of each project to ensure optimal production and financial performance.

For more information on Verogy, visit www.verogy.com.

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Kinship & Respite Fund Grants Available to Help Guardians With School Expenses

Saybrook Probate Judge Jeannine Lewis

AREAWIDE — With adults already thinking back-to-school, District of Saybrook Probate Judge Jeannine Lewis reminds court-appointed guardians to apply for grants for school supplies. The State of Connecticut Saybrook District Court includes the Towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook along with Clinton, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, and Westbrook.  

Probate Courts have been awarding grants from the state Kinship Fund and Respite Fund to court-appointed guardians for more than a decade.  As of last October, eligibility for the grants was expanded beyond relatives serving as guardians to all those appointed by the Probate Courts who meet low-income guidelines.

A guardianship case typically arises in the Saybrook District Probate Court when parents are unable to care for their children due to mental illness, substance abuse or incarceration. In most cases, Probate Courts appoint a grandparent or other relative to care for the children. In some cases, courts appoint a close family friend, who has a long-standing relationship with the child. While foster parents receive funds from the state, court-appointed guardians do not; guardians who meet eligibility requirements can receive some assistance through the Kinship and Respite Fund grants.

“Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and neighbors, who keep children in their familiar environments instead of going to foster care, offer an enhanced quality of life to the children in their care and simultaneously save the state tens of millions of dollars. In many cases, the guardians don’t really have extra money to spend on a child’s basic needs,” said Judge Lewis. “Kinship and Respite Grants are there to help bridge the gap and make a huge difference to the households who apply for, and receive them.” 

The Kinship Fund assists guardians in paying for necessities such as school supplies, clothing, eyeglasses, school trips and sports fees. Often such expenses are paid directly to the providers. Kinship grants are capped at $500 per child or $2000 per family per year.

The Respite Fund helps guardians with the cost of child care, housing, transportation and food. These grants are capped at $2000 per year.

Guardians who meet income requirements can apply to both funds. Previous recipients must reapply to receive funds each year. Applications are posted at ctprobate.gov under the Children’s Matters tab.

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Essex Republican Town Committee Announces Candidates for Town Office; Fleming, Glowac to Run For BOS

The Essex Republican Town Committee has endorsed Matt Fleming (right) and Bruce Glowac to run for the board of selectmen on the November ballot.

ESSEX — The Essex Republican Town Committee has fielded a slate of candidates who bring a variety of experience to the offices they seek. Their candidates pledge to listen to the residents of all three villages and provide services to them equally.

Matt Fleming will bring his life experience to the office of First Selectman. He attended Roger Williams College and left to serve his country in the Navy. He worked in the Mechanical Engineering field, then started Fleming Construction, LLC. Presently he works in design engineering for Electric Boat. He served his community as a volunteer fireman. Presently he lives in Ivoryton with his wife, Yvette and their bulldog, Charlotte.

Bruce Glowac, our candidate for Selectman has more than 30 years of dedicated service to our town. He served as Essex First Selectman from 1991- 1995. During his term, Essex was named “Best Small Town in America”. Bruce Glowac served on the Firehouse Building Committee, School Building Committee, and Regional Board of Education and many more. He was Facilities Director for Region #4 Schools. He has been a dedicated Selectman in 1989-1991 and present. P

Bruce is a lifelong area resident. He and his wife, Taffy raised four boys in Essex.

Carolyn Field is our candidate for Board of Finance. She and her family have lived in Essex a total of 21 years, and her daughter Elly Field is a graduate of Valley Regional High School. She is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University. She worked for 14 years at the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency. She brings a wealth of information on budgeting and municipal issues. She has eight years of management experience.

Phil Beckman is a 24-year veteran of the US Navy and a graduate of the US Naval Academy. He holds a BS in Math, MS in Operations Research and Masters in Engineering Management. He is a Principal Engineer at EB. He and his wife Susie have lived in Ivoryton for 22 years and have two children.                                                

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Kenny Peterson is Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13’s Newest Eagle Scout

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 newest Eagle Scout Kenneth Peterson. Photo by Michael Rutty

CHESTER/DEEP RIVER — Troop 13 – Scouts BSA congratulates Kenneth Andrew Peterson for earning the rank of Eagle Scout.  An Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held for Kenny on June 9, 2019 at the Deep Valley Regional High School Cafeteria.

To become an Eagle Scout, Peterson earned 43 merit badges and advanced through the seven scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community.  One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the scouts’s community, school, or religious institution.  

While a Boy Scout in Troop 13, Peterson attended the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree, National Youth Leadership Training, and is a Brotherhood member in the Order of the Arrow.

Peterson showed leadership over others by developing and implementing a plan to clear away over grown brush, assemble three metal benches, and then install them in a concrete base near the Valley Regional High School Tennis Courts.  The benches provide an aesthetically pleasing seating option alongside the tennis courts.  The completed project enhances the community and benefits guests who utilize the tennis courts at the high school.

Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens, who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead.

The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun. 

To learn more about joining Troop 13, contact Scoutmaster, Steven Merola at 860-526-9262

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Reading Uncertainly? ‘Identity’ by Francis Fukuyama

Stanford University’s Francis Fukuyama always challenges our minds. From his The End of History and the Last Man, addressing our futures after the end of the Cold War (1992), and continuing with The Origins of Political Order (2011) and Political Order and Political Decay (2014), two monster 600+ page tomes, his newest, and briefest (a slim 183 pager!) is Identity.

Who on earth are we? Fukuyama sees we humans as trying to manage, simultaneously, two conflicting pressures. The first is “isothymia,” — “the demand  to be respected on an equal basis with all other people,” and “megalothymia” — “the desire to be recognized as superior.”  This disparity has “historically existed in all societies; it cannot be overcome; it can only be channeled or moderated.”

He continues: “Contemporary identity politics is driven by the quest for equal recognition by groups that have been marginalized by their societies. But that desire for equal recognition can easily slide over into a demand for recognition of the group’s superiority.”

His themes are thymos (the third part of the soul), recognition, dignity, identity, immigration, nationalism, religion and culture. He calls on many earlier observers: Socrates, Luther, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Nietzsche, Herder, Adam Smith, Sartre, Freud, and Kahneman, arguing that the demand for dignity, “should somehow disappear is neither possible nor desirable.” Resentment at indignities remains a powerful force, a “craving for recognition” we must learn to understand and balance.

National identities are “critical for the maintenance of a successful political order.” They begin with a “shared belief in the legitimacy of the country’s political system, whether that system is democratic or not.” They include physical security, quality of government, economic development, “a wider radius of trust,” and strong social safety nets, all of which eventually make possible “liberal democracy itself.”

His chapter on religion and nationalism is particularly challenging. Can people who share a particular culture and language be subsumed into a global belief system (Hinduism; Buddhism; Communism; Islam; Christianity)? Probably not, but these systems continue to try. The advent of social media makes “identity” now the property of groups, not individuals.

Fukuyama cannot resist a comment of Trump, a “political figure who almost perfectly describes … narcissism: narcissism led Trump into politics, but a politics driven less by public purposes than his own inner need for public affirmation.” And “Trump (is) the perfect practitioner of the ethics of authenticity that defines our age: he may be mendacious, malicious, bigoted, and un-presidential, but at least he says what he thinks.”

“What is to be done?” he asks.  One, ”confusion over identity” is a “condition of living in the modern age.” Two, a “pan-European identity may someday emerge.” Three, “education is the critical ingredient”, but it must include a process of universal not parochial values, economic mobility, interdependence, and a growing exposure to other humans and their customs.

We humans seem to be simultaneously breaking down walls and building new ones!

Editor’s Note: ‘Identity’ by Francis Fukuyama was published by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New York 2018

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction, which explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farm Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His late wife, Ann, was also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visited every summer.

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Death of Milton Allen of Essex Announced; Memorial Service Held in Old Lyme, Aug. 24

Milton Nicholas Allen
4-15-1927 – 5-29-2019
 

Milton Nicholas Allen

Milton Nicholas Allen, born in New York City on April 15, 1927, died in Essex, Connecticut on May 29, 2019. He and his wife, to whom he was married for 35 years, had moved to Essex in 2016. They had previously lived in Old Lyme, Connecticut from 1988.

Milton attended Princeton University at the age of 17 where he was elected President of the Class of ‘48. He took a wartime leave of absence from Princeton the next year when he became old enough to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1949 with Distinction. Upon graduation he was selected to represent the United States Navy and became a Rhodes Scholar Finalist. Milton then served in active duty for the Navy as a Lieutenant and Submarine Commander until 1954 when he retired to pursue a career in business.

His civilian life began as Assistant to the President of Connecticut General Life Insurance Company in Hartford, prior to the same role for The Sherwin-Williams Company in Cleveland. He was also a Partner at Robert Heller & Associates (Management Consultants). In 1969 he started his own computer service, software and consulting business, which he led as CEO and Chairman until its sale in 1990. Manufacturing Decision Support Systems (MDSS Inc.) was the first online management information systems and services company. It served manufacturing, distribution, insurance and transportation companies across the US.

Milton was a Director of Progressive Corporation for over 20 years, as well as a Director of Day- Glo Color Corp., DeSantis Coatings Inc., Premier Electric Company, Lighting International Corp., AGA Burdox Gas Inc., Daro Industries, Actron Corp., Mueller Electric Company, and the Women’s Federal Savings Bank.

Contributing to the communities in which he lived was very important to him. In addition to his quiet philanthropy and mentoring of leaders, in Cleveland he was a Director of Laurel School, The Cleveland Playhouse, The Cleveland Institute of Music, the Center for Venture Development and Case Western Reserve University School of Management. He was also Chairman of the Goodrich-Gannett Neighborhood Center, Chairman of the Cleveland Council for Independent Schools and Chairman of the Switzer Foundation.

After moving back east, Milton was a Director and then Chairman of The Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut, The Putney School and Yellow Barn music school in Vermont, and Chairman of Hubbard Brook Environmental Research. He also served as a Director of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library in Old Lyme.

In addition to his business, and various commercial and not for profit roles, for which he was known for his integrity, insight and calm leadership, Milton was committed to his family, his friends and his lifetime love of music and the water.

Milton is predeceased by his wife, Liesa Bing Allen, his older brother, Homer Nicholas Allen and his twin brother, Winston Nicholas Allen. He is survived by his younger brother Gordon Nicholas Allen of Madison, Florida, his three children from a previous marriage, Peter Milton Allen of Palo Alto, California, Thomas Hughes Allen of New York City and Jane Scarlett Allen of Sydney, Australia, as well as five grandchildren, Alexandra Elizabeth Scarlett Allen, Jonathan Thomas Allen, Olivia Sophie Allen, George Dexter Allen and Eloise Scarlett Allen-Bowton.

A Memorial Service to honor his life will be held August 24, 2019 at 2pm at The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 2 Ferry Road, Old Lyme, CT. All are welcome.

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Death of Suzanne Brown of Essex Announced; Memorial Service Held in Old Lyme, Aug. 25

Suzanne Brown

ESSEX — Suzanne “Suzie” Brown, our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend, passed away Aug. 5, 2019, from complications after a fall in her home. She joins her beloved husband, Templeton “Temp” Brown of 58 years. We will celebrate them both by living their example of truth, love, and commitment.

Suzie celebrated beauty in life by picnicking in the countryside, arranging flowers from her garden, traveling the world, and savoring languages, cuisine, literature, colors, and the natural world. She cherished her family. We all have cultivated deep artistic roots because she showed us how to appreciate beauty in everything around us, every day of her life.

Suzie lived in Winnetka, Ill. for over three decades, and then returned to her childhood state of Connecticut to begin a new adventure with our dad, Temp, in Lyme. She had a wonderful group of friends, old and new, first from her many years in Illinois, and then more recently centered in Lyme and at the Essex Meadows Senior Retirement Community, in Essex. Suzie loved and appreciated the connections she made in Essex Meadows with her neighbors, staff, care-team, and her dear friend, Len Lonnegren.

Suzie will be remembered forever by her family, daughter Lisa Brown and her husband Mark Lellman; grandson Matt Lellman; and granddaughters, Leah Lellman (husband Josh Hisley) and Heidi Lellman (husband Jake Bonnerup); and great-grandson, Theo Bonnerup; daughter Suzanne Butz and her husband Ted Butz; grandsons Teddy Butz and Robert Butz (wife Jen Butz); and great-granddaughter, Hayden Butz; and daughter Maren Brown and her wife Patricia Morrison.

A Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Lyme Land Trust, which was dear to both mom and dad’s deep appreciation of preserving nature for future generations to enjoy.

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Op-Ed: Rein In the Quasi-Publics, Break the Culture of Entitlement

Teryy Cowgill

Enough Is Enough. The scandals and mismanagement have got to stop. No, I’m not talking about the Trump administration, though there is some merit to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s broken promise to “drain the swamp” on the national level. I say let’s start right here in Connecticut.

In setting about reforming state government, there is an easy place to start …

Thus begins Terry Cowgill’s op-ed on ethics reform in state government published Aug. 5 on CTNewsJunkie.com. Read the full article at this link.

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Common Good Gardeners Need Your Help

Linda Clough (foreground), who is Common Good Gardens President, is Suzanne Thompson’s guest on this week’s edition of CT Outdoors.

OLD SAYBROOK — Do you have some time to spare in August to help the Common Good Gardens (CGG) volunteers harvest vegetables for Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantry (SSKP)? Join them in the garden behind Grace Episcopal Church, 336 Main Street, Old Saybrook, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, 9 to 10:30 a.m. (or come earlier on hotter days!)

Learn more on CT Outdoors with Suzanne Thompson by playing back her show on your PC or Mac anytime from http://www.wliswmrd.net, click the On Demand icon, look for pop-up screen from radiosecurenetsystems.net, and scroll to CT-Outdoors-73019—Common-Good-Gardens.

Planting Manager Karen Selines harvesting broccoli that will be delivered to soup kitchen pantries in Old Saybrook, Niantic and Old Lyme.

Thompson’s guest this week, Linda Clough, explains how CGG volunteers grow and harvest 8,000 pounds of produce on their half-acre lot, plus collect 10,000 pounds of produce donated by local farmstands, to help SSKP provide nutritious food and fellowship for people in need along the Shoreline.

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Talking Transportation: After Tolls Fail, What’s Plan B?

It seems pretty clear that Governor Lamont’s tolling idea is dead.  The Republicans say “no way, ever” and his own Democrats can’t muster the guts to take an up or down vote because they’re so afraid of public reaction.

Oh, everyone in Hartford is still doing the usual square dance, posturing and politicking, but I doubt a special session to vote on tolls will ever happen:  tolls are dead.

But lest the anti-toll forces should start to rejoice, they may have won this battle but the war is far from over.  Because when tolls go down to defeat, there are still plenty of “Plan B” options, none of which you (or they) will like.

Our bridges are still corroding, our highways are still potholed and our trains are running slower than ever.  Transportation is grinding to a halt, and with it our state’s economy.  Something must be done. The money must be found.

As one senior Lamont staffer told me, “The Governor refuses to preside over another Mianus River bridge collapse.  We cannot put politics ahead of peoples’ safety.”

It is clear that the Special Transportation Fund (STF) is headed into the red unless additional funding can be found.  And if the STF is going to be insolvent, the state won’t be able to borrow anything on Wall Street for anything, transportation or otherwise.  Our bond ratings will rival a third-world nation.

So, if not tolls, where do we find the money?

STOP WASTING MONEY AT CDOT:  The Reason Foundation’s claim that Connecticut’s DOT ranks 46th in the nation in spending efficiency is bogus and has been widely debunked. Even if we could save a few million by cutting CDOT waste, we still need billions to repair our roads and rails.

RAISE THE GAS TAX:  It hasn’t changed a penny since 1997, not even adjusting for inflation. Like tolling, the gas tax would be a “user fee”… though not paid by those driving electric cars nor by out-of-staters who don’t buy gasoline here.

RAISE THE SALES TAX:  Easily done but fairly regressive as it would hit everyone in the state, even those who never drive on our highways.  And again, out-of-staters get a free ride assuming they don’t stop to buy anything passing through.

RAISE THE INCOME TAX:  Another easy revenue source, but even less popular than tolling and just as politically dangerous.

RAISE FARES and CUT SERVICE: This is what I call the Doomsday Scenario … worsening train and bus service, driving more people back to their cars.  It’s a sure way to save money, but at the expense of those using mass transit and adding to traffic.

PARTIAL TOLLING:  Maybe go back to the trucks-only option, not everywhere but just on bridges most needing repairs?  Makes sense, but the toll cynics won’t believe it will be so limited.

VEHICLE MILES TAX:  It works in Oregon, California and progressive EU countries, but when the idea was floated years ago by Malloy’s Transportation Finance panel it was immediately rejected.  Democrats pushed through a law stopping CDOT from even studying the concept.  Paranoids fear “big brother” would be following where they drive, forgetting that their iPhones and Google (not to mention the NSA and FBI) can do so already.

Money for transportation will be found.  If you’re not a fan of users paying their share (via tolling), get ready for the ugly alternatives.

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media

Jim Cameron

About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. 

You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com  For a full collection of  “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

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Needleman, Libby Endorsed for Reelection by Essex DTC; Full Slate of Candidates Announced for November Election

Essex DTC has nominated incumbents First Selectman Norman Needleman and Selectwoman Stacia Libby for reelection in November.  (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX — The Essex Democratic Town Committee met on Wednesday, July 17, to nominate candidates for the November 2019 municipal election. Norm Needleman was unanimously nominated as the candidate for First Selectman. Needleman is currently serving his fourth term as Essex First Selectman. The Democratic Town Committee also unanimously nominated Stacia Libby as their candidate for Selectman. Libby is currently serving her fourth term on the Board Of Selectman.

In accepting the nomination, Needleman said: “I am deeply grateful to the Democratic Town Committee for giving me the opportunity to continue to help make our beautiful town an even better place to live. We are fortunate that all three members of our Board of Selectmen share a commitment to a key objective: find ways to improve services while bringing professional management skills to town finances. Our track record speaks for itself. Essex is a financially stable town, services have improved, and we’ve lowered the mil rate in two consecutive years. But there’s more work to do, and I’m looking forward to discussing our ideas in the course of the coming campaign.”

Brian Cournoyer, Chairman of The Essex Democratic Town Committee, said: “The reasons we unanimously nominated Norm and Stacia are clear. During their time in office, Essex finances and service delivery have become models among towns in our state. Our mil rate remains among the lowest in the state, and other towns acknowledge our leadership in delivering vital services. Re-electing Norm and Stacia will keep our town moving forward.”

Cournoyer continued: ”As importantly, we are fortunate to be able to nominate experienced candidates for every elected office on the ballot in November. Our nominees have all played key roles in managing and delivering town services. Each of them has the skills, experience, and commitment to continue building on the success we have achieved in Essex town government.”

Democratic Nominees for Municipal Offices in Essex are:

First Selectman: Norm Needleman
Selectwoman: Stacia Libby
Essex Board of Education: Cassandra Sweet
Region 4 Board of Education: D. G. Fitton
Board of Finance: Campbell Hudson and Mary Louise Polo
Board of Assessment Appeals: George Wendell

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