January 26, 2021

Dr. Alicia Farrell Announces Free Online Parenting Webinars Series in February 2021

AREAWIDE — Cognitive psychologist and national keynote speaker, Dr. Alicia Farrell, has announced a four-session webinar series to address common challenges that parents face in raising children in today’s environment.

Titled, How to Raise a Well-Adjusted, Confident, Self-Reliant and Civil Adult in a Crazy Mixed-Up World, the free webinar series, being held in February, goes beyond the challenges of the pandemic to address four main areas of parenting concerns including:

  • Stress, anxiety and perfectionism
  • How to recognize it in your children and what to do about it
  • Technology: how it is affecting our children and what to do about it
  • Parenting: how to communicate, set boundaries, place age-appropriate expectations and allow for natural consequences at any age
  • Drugs and alcohol with a focus on marijuana: how to talk to your kids about the facts, the fiction and their future.

“Life has been coming at us for quite some time– pre-COVID, COVID and likely, post-COVID – for you, me, everybody. But you know who is suffering most? Our children. It’s breaking my heart. We have to sort this out.” says Dr. Farrell in her blogpost announcing the series.

She continues, “Time is precious so I want everyone who is interested to know that each of the four webinars will be packed full of essential knowledge and practical tools that can be applied right away.  They are designed to stand alone so you can choose to attend one, two, three or all four webinars depending on your needs.”

Asking, “Doesn’t everyone want to survive this challenging time with children who have more grit, resilience and are better equipped to handle their future adult lives?” Dr. Farrell adds, “I felt compelled to offer this free four-part series online to reach a larger audience than I do on my couch every day and, with the global adaptation to services like Zoom, I hope to inspire a greater number of people to influence positive change in our children’s lives.”

Registration is required for each of the free sessions and is available on Farrell’s website at aliciafarrellphd.com  The four sessions are offered Wednesdays, Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Alicia Farrell is an accomplished Cognitive Psychologist, former University Professor, National Keynote Speaker and Founder of Clearview Consulting. For over 20 years, Dr. Farrell has counseled hundreds of clients on how to get back to basics to achieve their life goals and personal well-being. Her clients have ranged in age from 13 to 98. She has worked with individuals, couples, parents, families and professionals.

She also brings 10 years of corporate experience to her work.  In 2019 Dr. Farrell was recognized with a ‘Women of Excellence Award’ by the Shoreline Chambers of Commerce in Connecticut.  For more information visit: www.aliciafarrellphd.com

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Happy New Year 2021!

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash.

We wish all our readers, advertisers and friends a very Happy New Year 2021.

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

We thank you sincerely for your support through the challenging year of 2020 and look forward to continuing to serve you in what we hope is a far better 2021!

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Join a ‘Starry Night’ TONIGHT in Chester at ‘First Friday’!

Be a star, sponsor a star! Light up Chester with stars, which will be illuminated Friday at 5:45 p.m.

CHESTER — Make Chester shine this holiday season by Sponsoring a Star to decorate downtown! 

On Friday, Dec 4, during Chester’s Starry Night Celebration and annual holiday town stroll, the Chester  Merchants are going to light up the Village for the holiday season.  After this challenging year, it is time for a light and  bright holiday together. There will be live music filling the streets and mirth and merriment everywhere!

Illumination is 5:45 p.m. on Friday, Dec 4, in Chester Village. 

Also, remember you can shop late in Chester every Friday night through 8 p.m. from now until Christmas.

*All visitors to Chester are required to wear masks over their nose and mouth and stay socially distant from one  another. Visitors that feel unwell are asked to stay home.*  

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main  Street by the cemetery, at 20 Water Street and on Maple Street.

More information about First Friday is available  on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by emailing chestermerchants@gmail.com 

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling this evening during ‘First Friday.’

The deadline for ordering a star has passed but just in case you would like the the information, here it is!

Sponsor an illuminated star in your family, business or civic organization’s name and be a part of of the  festivities not only this year, but for years to come.  

The stars, hand-made by Chester resident Christopher Owens, (who has created the ones you currently see  adorning homes and businesses throughout Chester and beyond), will be installed throughout the downtown area and create a cheerful and festive atmosphere for residents and visitors to enjoy through the winter  months.

Your star will display your name and the Chester Merchants will let you know where to find it.  

Stars are available for purchase at this link on the VisitChesterct.com website until Wednesday, Dec. 2. Learn how your family, business  or organization can sponsor a star here: www.visitchesterct.com/illuminated-stars/ 

This is a great way to support the Merchants of Chester during this incredibly difficult time. Sizes and prices are as follows:  

2 ft. – $35
3.5 ft. – $50
7 ft. – $95  

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King to Stay as Valley/Lyme-Old Lyme Football Team Coach, Resignation Request Rescinded by Region #4

AREAWIDE — Region #4, which comprises the middle and high school-age students of Chester, Deep River and Essex, has rescinded its request for football coach and gym teacher Tom King to submit his resignation.

A joint statement issued just before 7 p.m. Monday evening and signed by both King and Region #4 Superintendent Brian J. White says, “As the Superintendent and Head Football Coach, we recognize that during the time of the Covid19 pandemic our communities and schools have put in place measures as recommended by the Department of Public Health to protect the health and safety of our students, staff and community members.”

It continues, “Through discussion, we have come to an understanding about the extent of the coach’s involvement in an independent team of Region 4 football players. Coach King does understand as a role model, the concerns about community perception regarding his involvement with this team.”

The statement then notes, “We both understand and accept that as educators and professionals we have a special responsibility to our students, staff and community during a pandemic and that we must place safety above all else. It is in this spirit, that the request for Coach King to resign from the position of head football coach has been rescinded.”

In conclusion, the statement looks to the future, saying, “Moving forward we will collaborate to provide the ongoing leadership necessary to support our students, staff and communities and the importance of the values of respect, kindness and concern for each other. We are committed to working together to build a bridge within our
community in a manner that serves the best interest of Valley Regional High School and the towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex.”

Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) students play football on the VRHS ‘Warriors’ team in a formalized co-operative arrangement, which has been in place for some 10 years. Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained, however, that the co-op arrangement did not mean LOL Schools had any involvement in the recent actions of the Region #4 Superintendent.

Neviaser said by email on Sunday, “In our current cooperative football agreement with Valley Regional, Region #4 employs the head coach. Therefore, any action or proposed action is independent of the Region #18 [Lyme-Old Lyme Schools] Board of Education.”

According to news reports, the issue that had prompted White to ask for King’s resignation was King’s presence at an Independent Football League practice held in Lyme, which included players from both VRHS and LOLHS. The League was formed in response to the cancellation of the high school football season by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

Since he is the VRHS/LOLHS football coach, King was not permitted by Region #4 to coach in the Independent Football League. According to numerous reports, King submitted he complied with that ruling and many witnesses have substantiated that statement. King has been head football coach at Valley Regional High School since 1997/

A petition started by the captain of the VRHS/LOLHS co-op football team Jack Cox on change.org, requesting that King should retain his positions at Valley Regional High School garnered 2,885 signatures.

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Region 4 Asks Valley-Old Lyme Co-op Football Coach to Resign

Action from a Warriors game against Old Saybrook played on the Lyme-Old Lyme Varsity Field in 2016. File photo,

AREAWIDE — The press and social media are currently swirling with articles*, opinion pieces* and comments relating to the requested resignation of the extremely popular Valley Regional High School (VRHS) football coach and gym teacher Tim King by the Region #4 Superintendent Brian White.

Region 4 comprises the middle and high school-age students of Chester, Deep River and Essex; each of the three towns operates their own elementary schools.

Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) students play football on the VRHS ‘Warriors’ team in a formalized co-operative arrangement, which has been in place for some 10 years. Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained, however, that the co-op arrangement does not mean LOL Schools had any involvement in the recent actions of the Region #4 Superintendent.

Neiaser said by email, “In our current cooperative football agreement with Valley Regional, Region #4 employs the head coach. Therefore, any action or proposed action is independent of the Region #18 [Lyme-Old Lyme Schools] Board of Education.”

According to news reports, the issue that prompted White to ask for King’s resignation was King’s presence at an Independent Football League practice held in Lyme, which included players from both VRHS and LOLHS. The League was formed in response to the cancellation of the high school football season by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

Since he is the VRHS/LOLHS football coach, King was not permitted by Region #4 to coach in the Independent Football League. According to numerous reports, King submits he complied with that ruling and many witnesses have substantiated that statement.

Neviaser noted in his email, “Region #18 has no involvement in any independent sports programs that are not a part of our annual budget.”

The captain of the VRHS/LOLHS co-op football team Jack Cox started a petition on change.org, requesting that Tim King should retain his positions at Valley Regional High School. As at 12 a.m., Nov. 23, more than 2,760 people had signed the petition.

Editor’s Note: *Articles and opinions referenced for this article include:
Three local teams to compete in 11-on-11 Independent Football League by Ned Griffen, published Oct. 23, by The Day.

Players, parents upset that Valley/Old Lyme coach King being forced to resign by Ned Griffen, published Nov. 21, by The Day.

Coach asked to resign for involvement in independent football league by Sean Patrick Bowley, published Nov. 21, in the New Haven Register.

Tim King has the community — and the truth — on his side by Mike DiMauro, published Nov. 23, by The Day.

Valley Regional high school coach asked to resign by school district for involvement in independent football league formed during the pandemic in The Courant.

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Region 4 Moves to Distance Learning Through Nov. 30

TRI-TOWN — Region 4 Superintendent Brian J. White sent out the following message to the Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4 School Community this afternoon (Nov. 9):

Due to multiple positive cases of Covid-19 currently impacting our schools, we have made the decision, in consultation with Connecticut River Area Health District and the Town of Essex Health Department, to transition all schools to full, remote e-learning until November 30, 2020.

At the time of this communication, our school system has 23 staff members and 123 students PreK-12 required to quarantine with various return dates. We are also actively investigating multiple, new cases in partnership with our local health departments.  In addition to concerns about spread within the schools and the need for further contact tracing and quarantine requirements, we are experiencing staff shortages related to these cases that impact our in-person operations. 

Students and staff are asked to participate in remote learning until Monday, November 30th.  All non-instructional and essential staff are to await further instructions from their building principal or department supervisor.  Grab and Go meals will be available for pick up outside the school on Friday and Monday 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Staff and community members who encouraged to take advantage of free Covid-19 testing available in Old Saybrook. For additional details please see this flyer: FREE Coronavirus Testing.  Testing is also now available at the Old Saybrook location for free Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

We will communicate further updates as they become available.  Our buildings will be closed to the public until further notice, however, our front main office staff in each school will be available if you need to call or communicate with the schools.

Thank you for continued patience and understanding during these uncertain times.

 

Sincerely,

 

Superintendent of Schools

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Election 2020: State Results & Interactive Visuals

STATEWIDE — Our Local Independent Online News (LION) colleagues at CTNewsJunkie.com have prepared a couple of interactive maps of the State Senate and House results for readers to explore. Use the toolbox to group and sort Senate/House districts by political party and demographic characteristics.

Here is the State Senate map.

Here is the CT House of Representatives map.

Related articles at CTNewsJunkie.com can be found at:

Dems Post Gains In Legislative Seats While Some Key Republicans Hang On
By CTNewsJunkie Published Nov. 4, 2020 12:48am

Senate Democrats Strengthen Majority
By Hugh McQuaid Published Nov 4, 2020 1:47pm

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Win a Subaru! High Hopes Hosts a ‘Raffle for a Cause’

A 2020 Subaru Forester 2.5i is the first prize in this year’s Raffle for a Cause sponsored by High Hopes of Old Lyme, CT and Reynolds Subaru of Lyme, CT.

OLD LYME — High Hopes Therapeutic Riding is holding a raffle in which the first prize is a 2020 Subaru Forester 2.5i. The second prize is an Apple i-Pad Mini and the third an Amazon Echo Show. Reynolds Subaru of Lyme is High Hopes’ raffle partner for this event.

All proceeds from the raffle benefit the programs at High Hopes.

Tickets are $50 each, two for $90, four for $180 or five for $225.

The raffle will be drawn during a live feed at noon on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. Winners will be notified immediately following the drawing. Ticket holders need not be present to win.

All federal, state and local taxes on prizes are the winner’s responsibility.

Visit this link for full details of the raffle.

Buy your tickets at this link!

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Local State Senate, House Candidates Respond to our Questions

  1. What do you believe are currently the three most pressing issues in the state of Connecticut?
  2. From the three issues you cite in your response to Question1, identify the one that you think is the most pressing and explain your choice. Then expand on steps you believe should be taken to resolve it and how you could contribute to that resolution process?
  3. What personal characteristics do you embody that justify why people should vote for you?

We gave a 350-word limit for the response to each question to which each candidate strictly adhered: we are most appreciative of that.

We are delighted that all the candidates responded to our questions in a timely manner. We thank them sincerely and are pleased to publish their responses today accompanied by their respective biographies and photos.

We should also state that, again in keeping with our long-held policy, we will not be making any candidate endorsements.

Click on the links below to read each candidate’s responses:

CT State Senate, 33rd District 

Norm Needleman (D – incumbent)

Brendan Saunders (R)

CT House of Representatives, 23rd District 

Devin Carney (R- incumbent)

David Rubino (D)

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The Country School Hosts Virtual Open House Tonight, Register for Link

Fifth grade lessons at The Country School continue outdoors with teachers Kerri Kelly and Dan Kollmer. The school hosts a Virtual Open House, Oct. 26.

MADISON, CTThe Country School (TCS) is hosting a Virtual Open House on Monday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m.

Register to meet engaged students and dynamic teachers. Learn about the school’s rigorous academic program;  Signature Programs of STEAM, Elmore Leadership, Global Citizenship, Outdoor Education, and Public Speaking; rich offerings in the arts and athletics; and TCS’s $15,000 65th Anniversary Merit Scholarship opportunity for students entering Grades 4-8.

Founded in 1955, The Country School serves students in Pre-School through Grade 8 on its 23-acre campus in Madison, Conn.

The Country School honors students’ creativity, sense of wonder, and intellectual curiosity. The school’s integrated curriculum aligns rigorous academics with a commitment to character and leadership development.

Learn more and register for the Oct. 26 Virtual Open House at www.thecountryschool.org.

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Letter to the Editor: Palm is Best Choice for 36th District Due To Her Traits, Skills, Issues for Which She Stands ; She’s In It For Us, Not Herself

To the Editor:

Christine Palm is the best choice for the 36th District because of her traits, skills and the issues she stands for. She is a powerfully effective speaker and writer. She actively reaches out to constituents for our opinions and to offer assistance. Before Covid she arranged many gatherings in our towns to listen to us, answer questions and propose solutions. Since Covid she has tried to reach us with phone calls and email to keep us informed and make herself available to help.

On the issues, she has stood up for insurance to cover pre-existing conditions, for lower prescription drug costs, for sensible gun safety, for expanding services to veterans, improving education opportunities, womens’ rights and more. I have known her to challenge leadership to get things right. She is in this for us, not for herself.

Sincerely,

Kate Wessling,
Higganum.

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Essex Steam Train Issues Cautionary Reminder on Safety at Railroad Crossings

Photo by Essex Steam Train & Riverboat.

ESSEX — The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat has issued a reminder to friends and neighbors in the Lower Connecticut River Valley that train frequency will be increasing during October through December on their tracks in Essex, Deep River, Chester, and Haddam.

In particular, daytime train activity will be increasing on tracks between Chester and Goodspeed Station in Haddam. 

When approaching STOP signs, motorists and pedestrians are legally required to come to a complete stop at the white stop line, and yield to any approaching rail traffic.

When facing flashing lights and/or gates, crossing users must STOP and wait for trains to pass/lights and gates to shut off.

Additionally, pedestrians, bicycles, and motorized vehicles are never allowed on railroad tracks except at a legal crossing location. Emergency contact phone numbers are located at all railroad crossings in the event of problems. The railroad is working with local law enforcement on issues of motorist compliance at crossings throughout the valley.

For further information, contact Rob Bradway, Vice President of Track and Property, at 860-964-3422.

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A la Carte: Mushrooms by the Million? Soup is the Solution!

Lee White

This weekend, friends from Lyme offered a pound of freshly picked shiitake mushrooms for eight dollars a pound. I asked if I could get two.

So this is a very short paragraph … I am going to give you two mushroom soup recipes, both of which are incredible. You can use shiitake mushrooms (whose woody stems should be discarded), cremini, or other varieties.

One is easy; one takes a little longer. With the easy one, once cool. puree it, if you like. You may double both recipes and they freezes beautifully.

Mushroom soup is always delicious. Photo by Dose Juice on Unsplash

Easy Mushroom Soup

Yield: 6 Servings

2 tablespoons butter
½ pound sliced mushrooms
¼ chopped onions
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ freshly ground black pepper
2 cans low-salt chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half cream

Cook on medium-heat mushrooms and onions until tender, about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix flour, salt, pepper and 1 can broth; stir until smooth and add to the mushroom mixture. Stir into until smooth. Add the other can of broth and bring to a boil. Cook until thick, 2 minutes. Reduce heat, add cream and stir until flavors are blended, 15 minutes.

Potage Crème de Champignons

From Charles Virion’s French Country Cookbook (Hawthorn Books Inc., New York, 1972)

Yield: serves 8

5 cups canned chicken consommé or stock
1 small bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 sprig thyme
1 ½ cup fresh mushrooms
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small onions, chopped fine
3 tablespoons flour
3 egg yolks*
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Madeira wine (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (for garnish)

Simmer stock with bay leaf, parsley and thyme for 10 minutes. Remove herbs. Set aside.

Slice mushrooms (I buy them sliced and they are already cleaned). Saute mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter until mushroom liquid evaporate. Do not scorch the mushrooms or the taste will be bitter. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Clean skillet with a paper towel; over medium high heat, saute the onions in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter.

When onions are tender and transparent, add flour and stir constantly s that the butter is well blender with the flour.

Cook mixture slowly for 3 or 4 minutes, then start adding the stock, a little at a time, until you have a smooth white sauce. Add mushrooms and cool (I keep a few mushrooms aside to garnish the soup.) If you think the mixture is too thick, add a little bit more of the stock.

After the mixture is cooled enough, put the entire mixture through the blender until smooth. (Only pour enough of the mixture into the blender until is it one-half full; if necessary, do this in batches.)

Beat together the cream and the egg yolks. When soup is ready to be served, reheat it gently. When very hot, but not boiling, add the egg yolk-cream mixture, stirring until well blended. Season with salt and pepper. 

You can now add the optional Madeira, if you wish. Pour soup into bowls and garnish with parsley and reserved mushrooms.

*I mixed the cream with the whole eggs, forgetting to use only the egg yolks. It didn’t seem to make a difference.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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It’s ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight!

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling this evening during ‘First Friday.’

CHESTER, CT — The downtown Merchants of Chester are host another family-friendly First Friday tomorrow evening, Friday, Oct. 2, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The organizers of this family friendly event are aiming to keep everyone extra-safe so masks must be worn at all times while in town for ‘First Friday’ and all attendees are requested to stay socially distant, especially if they are enjoying one of the music performances taking place throughout town. Visitors that feel unwell are asked to stay home

Also, attendees are requested to respect the stated capacity of each space as noted at the entrance, especially if they are enjoying one of the two music performances happening downtown (at Chester Galley and Leif Nillsson’s Spring Street Studio & Gallery.)

Shops will all be open late and many will offer special sales or featured artists.

Images of artwork on display at The Chester Gallery. Photo by Nancy Pinney.

The Chester Gallery will continue with its exhibition of ‘Chester Artists: Past, Present and Up & Coming’.

The Gallery will use their large side lawn and driveway to host a socially-distant celebration of the installation of Jesse Good’s new sculpture — a large-scale weathervane titled , ‘The Hope Detector’ — set to the music of Tracey Kroll’s new four-piece Gypsy Jazz Band, ‘Gadjzo’, djangomusic with Justin Good, Tracey Kroll, Nick Capazzo, Evan Tosi and Marshall Lefferts, at 6:30 p.m. out on the lawn/parking area. BYOB and lawn chair if you wish.

Also featured will be sculptures by Gil Boro’s ‘After the Race-in Blue’ (see image at left in collage below) and ‘Family of Wo(man)’.

A selection of the sculpture on display at The Chester Gallery.

The Gallery will be open inside from 5 to 8 p.m. Masks are required.

Fall jewelry by Dina Varano.

Leif Nilsson of Spring Street Studio invites the public to listen to Arrowhead and Friends six feet apart on the porch while enjoying some of his oldest and the newest paintings of his home and travels.

Dina Varano will be showcasing her new fall jewelry (see photo at left) at the Dina Varano Gallery.

The Space at 1 Main St will host their glassblower who will be demonstrating his technique.

Lori Warner Gallery & Swoon Boutique is happy to host friend of the gallery, Chester artist Annie Averill, who will show her art that makes you smile. Her paintings are sometimes absurd, sometimes historical yet always beautifully rendered. A bird that looks extinct or maybe a goat in space fill her frames and are both a joy to behold and don’t take themselves too seriously. She paints to amuse, bemuse and otherwise entertain herself and others!

Other restaurants and shops will most likely offer specials and sales.

Downtown restaurants are booking up fast, so make your reservation now!

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, at 20 Water Street and on Maple Street.

More information about First Friday is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by emailing chestermerchants@gmail.com.

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Needleman Endorsed by Independent Party in Re-Election Bid to State Senate

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — State Senator Norm Needleman has accepted the endorsement of the Independent Party as he continues his quest for re-election to the Connecticut State Senate.

Sen. Needleman, who announced his candidacy last winter, was unanimously renominated by the Democratic Party to run in the 33rd Senate District. First elected in 2018, Sen. Needleman represents the towns of Colchester, Chester, Clinton, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

“I’m proud and excited by the Independent Party’s endorsement of my campaign,” said Sen. Needleman. “The Independent Party represents an electoral system that encourages different points of view. As someone who is results-oriented and who believes in common-sense solutions, I believe that listening to different points of view works in the best interests of my constituents That’s the mindset I will take back to Hartford if I’m re-elected in November.”

Sen. Needleman serves as Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, and has recently taken the lead in developing the “Take Back Our Grid Act” which will hold utilities more accountable to ratepayers in Connecticut.

In addition, Sen. Needleman is Vice Chair of the Planning and Development Committee and a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding, Transportation and Commerce Committees.

Sen. Needleman founded and runs a manufacturing company, Tower Laboratories in Centerbrook, and is currently serving his sixth term as First Selectman of Essex.

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Chester Reopens ‘First Friday’ Tonight, First Time for Event Since March

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling during ‘First Friday’ tonight, Friday, Sept. 4.

CHESTER, CT — The downtown Merchants of Chester are thrilled to host their first First Friday since March this evening, Friday, Sept 4, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The organizers of this family friendly event are aiming to keep everyone extra-safe so … masks must be worn at all times while in town for ‘First Friday’ and all attendees are requested to stay socially distant, especially if they are enjoying one of the four music performances taking place throughout town.

Also, attendees are requested to respect the stated capacity of each space as noted at the entrance. Shops will all be open late and many will offer special sales or featured artists.

  • Chester Gallery is hosting and exhibition titled ‘Chester Artists: Past, Present and Up & Coming,’ along with sculptures by Connecticut-based artists throughout the grounds.
  • Dina Varano is having an ‘Arm Party’, showcasing her newest bracelets.
  • Little House Brewery is celebrating its second birthday with a special birthday brew.
  • Lori Warner Gallery + Swoon Boutique are having a sale of the current Ann Lightfoot jewelry collection and all Clare V bags through Tuesday.
  • Leif Nilsson of Spring Street Studio invites the public to listen to Arrowhead and Friends six feet apart on the porch while enjoying some of his oldest and the newest paintings of his home and travels.
  • There will be four acoustic musicians stationed around town, filling the streets with their
    acoustic sounds. As already mentioned,
    >Guitarist Leif Nilsson will play from the front of his Spring Street Gallery above the Chester Wall
    >Local guitarist, Mark Fornwald will play from the porch of Chester Gallery
    >Cellist Julie Ribchinsky from Ivoryton will be on the porch of the Hive
    >CT natives guitarist Pat Brennan and bassist Wallace Stelzer will perform a mix of the Great American Song Book, Jazz Classics, and Bossa Nova from the stoop of 1 Main Street

Downtown restaurants are booking up fast, so prompt reservations are recommended.

All visitors to Chester are required to wear masks over their nose and mouth and stay socially distant from one another.

Visitors that feel unwell are asked to stay home.

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, at 20 Water Street and on Maple Street.

More information about First Friday is available on http://Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by emailing chestermerchants@gmail.com.

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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 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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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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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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Former State Representative Bob Siegrist III Announces His Candidacy for 36th House District Seat

Bob Siegrist III intends to seek the Republican nomination to be a candidate for State Representative for the 36th House District.

HADDAM – Former State Representative Bob Siegrist III (R-36) has announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for State Representative of the 36th House District, May 19.

“The 36th District residents sorely need a Representative who fights for them when it comes to such important issues as taxes and state spending, transportation and tolls, our kids’ education and veteran’s issues just to mention a few.”

Siegrist continued his remarks, “I will actually listen to the concerns of the residents in my district and always fight for common sense policies that will improve the quality of life for the 36th district”.

Siegrist concluded by stating, “I will work hard to earn your vote and would be honored to return to the General Assembly on your behalf”.

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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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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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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It’s ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight!

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling this evening during ‘First Friday.’

CHESTER, Conn. – It’s the First Friday in Chester, that means all downtown shops and restaurants will be open until 8 p.m.

Enjoy a wine tasting at the Chester Bottle Shop from 4 to 7 p.m.

The Hive at Chester will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. where offices are filling fast.

Listen to the sweet sounds of Arrowhead and Friends at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery while enjoying the oldest and the newest paintings of Leif Nilsson’s home and travels.

Elsewhere around Chester, shops will be open until 8 p.m., with most offering complimentary snacks or beverages.

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, on Water Street and on Maple Street.

More information about First Friday is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by calling (860) 322-4047

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St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Hosts Free Pancake Dinner Tonight, Shrove Tuesday

EAST HADDAM – On Tuesday, Feb. 25, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church will hold a free pancake dinner to mark Shrove Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is open to the public and is free to attend; however, St. Stephen’s will be collecting freewill donations for Middlesex Habitat for Humanity of Connecticut.

“Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday is a centuries-old tradition in the U.K., where the Episcopal Church has its roots, and we’re happy to continue it here in East Haddam,” said the Rev. Adam Yates, rector of St. Stephen’s. Shrove Tuesday falls immediately before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, and in French it is called Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.”

“We don’t get as wild with our pancakes as they do with the Mardi Gras celebration,” continued Yates, “but delicious food, fellowship, and raising money for a great organization is a terrific way to begin the Lenten season – and comes without the hangover!”

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Eversource Conducts Statewide Infrared Helicopter Inspections Through Feb. 28


TRI-TOWN & OLD SAYBROOK — Rights of way in Chester, Dep River, Essex and Old Saybrook are included on the list over which Eversource is currently conducting aerial inspections of high-voltage electrical equipment. This semiannual inspection, which takes place at locations throughout Connecticut, is an important part of the company’s ongoing commitment to providing reliable electric service.

The work involves the use of a helicopter (pictured above) equipped with heat-sensing, infrared scanning technology, which can detect potential equipment issues before they occur.

Inspecting images taken from the Eversource helicopter and looking for potential equipment issues.

The aerial inspections continue through Feb. 28. Weather permitting, flights will take place between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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Essex Winter Series Continues with Concert by Classical Guitar Duo, LINÜ, March 8

ESSEX – The Essex Winter Series (EWS) continues its 2020 season Sunday, March 8, with the classical guitar duo, LINÜ, performing at John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River. The virtuosic and versatile Gulli Bjornsson and JIJI are aspiring young artists searching for new ways to promote classical music. They have received many accolades for their guitar playing and have backgrounds in composition, film, electronic music, visual arts and theater.

Essex Winter Series’ 43rd season concludes on March 29 at Valley Regional High School with BeethovenFest, a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th with seven world-renowned artists: David Shiffrin, clarinet; William Purvis, horn; Marc Goldberg, bassoon; Ida Kavafian, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Peter Wiley, cello; and Timothy Cobb, double bass.

All concerts begin at 3 p.m. and are general admission. For tickets call 860-272-4572 or visit www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2020 season is generously sponsored by Masonicare at Chester Village with co-sponsors The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Tower Laboratories, and hospitality sponsors Guilford Savings Bank and BrandTech Scientific.

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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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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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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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‘The Country School’ Hosts Open House Today, All Welcome

MADISON — The Country School jn Madison is holding an Open House Sunday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

This is an opportunity to meet engaged students and passionate teachers. Also, attendees can learn about the rigorous academic program and commitment to honoring the creativity, sense of wonder, and exuberance of childhood.

MADISON — Learn about the school’s signature programs – STEAM, Elmore Leadership, Outdoor Education, and Public Speaking – and their rich offerings in the arts and athletics.

Tour the transformed 23-acre campus and hear how alumni are thriving at top high schools and colleges across the country.

Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent day school serving students in PreSchool through Grade 8. To learn more and register, visit this link.

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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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2020 Women’s March Sister Vigil Scheduled in East Haddam This Morning

EAST HADDAM — Together We Rise CT  – Building Bridges for Justice has announced that East Haddam, Conn., is again registered as an Official Sister Event location for the Lower  Connecticut River Valley for the Jan. 18, Women Rising 2020 – Women’s March, which is taking place in Washington DC.

Together We Rise will join sister events/marches throughout the world with an outdoor gathering and vigil from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee House & Café, which is located at 374 Town St. in East Haddam, Conn., at the junction of Routes 82 and 151.

The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists & organizers to engage in their local communities through trainings, outreach programs and events.

Women’s March is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect.

To help with planning, those interested in participating in the Together We Rise Jan. 18 Sister Event vigil should register at this link. All are welcome from all towns — including Lyme and Old Lyme — in the Lower Connecticut River Valley and beyond.

Participants are encouraged to arrive early. Parking Monitors will be on site to direct participants to parking venues near Two Wrasslin’ Cats.

Parking in Two Wrasslin’ Cats parking lot is available only to those with disabilities.

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Birds, Fish, People and Water: Learn More About CT Audubon’s ‘State of The Birds’ Report on ‘CT Outdoors’ This Weekend

CT Audubon Society’s Executive Director Patrick Comins pauses for a photo with ‘CT Outdoors’ host Suzanne Thompson prior to his interview on her show, which is being broadcast this weekend.

TRI-TOWN– Are coastal Connecticut communities and Long Island Sound ready for unpredictable environmental changes? Find out on this week’s CT Outdoors radio show, which is hosted by Suzanne Thompson.

Thompson’s guest this week is Patrick Comins, CT Audubon Society’s Executive Director, who discusses with Thompson the findings of the organization’s most recent State of the Birds report that focuses on Long Island Sound. The focus of the report is the varying impacts of sea level rise and changing climatic conditions on wildlife and people.

Listen Saturday, Jan. 11, fro 1 to1:30 p.m. or Sunday, Jan. 12, from 7 t 7:30 am, on WLIS 1420 AM/Old Saybrook and WMRD 1150 AM/Middletown, or streaming at www.wliswmrd.net. Play back 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-10720—CT-Audubon-Society

This 14th annual report includes articles on newly-emerging technologies to obtain accurate counts of Old Lyme’s migrating tree swallows, the improving health of the Connecticut River and challenges facing salt marshes and coastal bird species. A full copy of the report is at https://www.ctaudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/CT-AUDUBON-2019StateOfBirds_Final.pdf

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center in Old Lyme is one of seven nature centers of the statewide CT Audubon Society, which also manages 20 wildlife sanctuaries constituting almost 3,300 acres of open space in the state.

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

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

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

We “stole” the image at left from our friends at Dina Varano in Chester, who are offering a complimentary $20 gift card when you purchase a $100 gift certificate through tomorrow (Dec. 1) in celebration of Small Business Saturday.

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Palm Holds Young Earner Prosperity Roundtable


CHESTER –
State Representative Christine Palm (D-36) is convening a Young Earner Prosperity Roundtable in Hartford on Oct. 10 to give members of the Millennial and Gen Z generations an opportunity to share with State officials their concerns and aspirations. Gov. Ned Lamont will help kick off the event and members of various Executive Branch agencies, including the Dept. of Economic and Community Development, will attend. The event is free and open to the public.

The Young Earner Prosperity Roundtable will feature a panel of young adult workers from throughout the state willing to help inform lawmakers, agency heads, members of the business community, civic organizations and representatives from academic institutions about such issues as entrepreneurship, college debt, access to credit, livable cities, creative partnerships, and opportunities to make Connecticut more affordable and attractive to members of the younger generations of workers.

Palm worked with three young constituents as interns on the project, whom she credits with helping to develop the idea and organize the event. Connor Riordan of Chester, now a freshman at Harvard, served as project director; Arjun Badami of Higganum, a senior at Haddam-Killingworth High School, is project coordinator; and Finn Riordan of Chester, a sophomore at Valley Regional High School, created the project’s website.

“I’m partnering with these remarkable young constituents, and several Millennial colleagues in the General Assembly, because my generation (Baby Boomers) came up in a very different world full of economic and cultural opportunity that has largely eroded,” Palm said. “It’s absolutely critical for lawmakers like me to acknowledge this generational divide, because many currently serving in government and in executive positions in business can’t fully understand the experiences of their younger successors when it comes to living and working in Connecticut.”

Palm says having four Millennial sons of her own gave her the impetus to try to make government more responsive to the needs of that generation (born 1981-1994 and also known as Gen Y), as well as young workers from Gen Z (born in/after 1995 and just now graduating and/or embarking on their careers).

“Providing a forum for young earners to offer their unique perspectives will generate new avenues of discussion and new ideas to explore, which could provide the basis for successful initiatives and possible legislation that will help us attract and retain young earners,” Palm said.

Palm is co-hosting the event with Rep. Caroline Simmons (Stamford), and will be joined at the roundtable by many Millennial legislative colleagues, including House Majority Leader Matt Ritter (Hartford); Rep. Jillian Gilchrest (West Hartford), Rep. Quentin Phipps (Middletown); Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan (Bethel); Sen. Matt Lesser (Middletown); and Sen. Will Haskell (Westport).

Palm says there are four main goals of the project:

(1)   Bring stakeholders together with the common desire to gain the understanding and perspective needed to change the State’s way of doing business in order to attract and retain young earners for Connecticut’s economic, demographic and cultural growth;

(2)   Help decision-makers consider a system where the needs of these workers are not “siloed” but instead are seen as a constellation of challenges with inter-connected solutions;

(3)   Hold subsequent, in-depth forums on specific topics in various districts throughout the state; and

(4)   Develop possible Legislative and Executive Branch initiatives for the 2020 Session.

To learn more about the project, visit: http://www.housedems.ct.gov/YEP

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‘Come Home to Chester’ Tonight for ‘First Friday’

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling during ‘First Friday’ on Oct. 4.

CHESTER – The theme of the First Friday in October is “Come Home to Chester,” and longtime artists-in-residents are introducing new collections of their works at Chester Gallery and Dina Varano Gallery, in addition to other First Friday activities going on around town on Friday, Oct. 4, from 5 to 8 p.m.

At Chester Gallery, “The Uncommon Goods” – Peter, Jan, Justin and Jesse – present a two-generational exhibition of collages, constructions, prints and videos. Formerly at the head of Main Street, Jan Cummings Good and Peter Good and their family made Chester home until they sold their iconic building to The E-List Shop and The E-List.com headquarters. This family exhibition opens at Chester Gallery on Oct. 4 and will be on view through Nov. 24.

At Dina Varano Gallery, the eponymous jewelry-designer and -maker and her longtime shopkeep Kate Hair will unveil a collaborative collection that reflects their shared inspiration by the forms and colors in nature and the beauty found within each New England season. Varano has created a new line of nature impressions jewelry, and Hair has botanically printed on a variety of fabrics to introduce a new line of scarves to the gallery.

The French Hen will once again partner with Camp Hazen to accept donations for the camp’s scholarship fund along with serving Camp Hazen’s famous chocolate-chip cookies and mulled apple cider.

Artist Aya will show her one-of-a-kind framed artwork using beautiful sea glass and pottery fragments that have washed up on beaches around the world at Lark.

Shops at the Mill House will have a showing of Thomas G. Mayer, a Connecticut painter and teacher whose works in acrylics, oils, pastels and collages have won numerous awards throughout New England.

At the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Gallery, the band Arrowhead is in residence from 5 to 8 p.m. on the porch, weather permitting, along with a collection of Leif’s artwork.

Elsewhere around Chester, shops will be open until 8 p.m. offering complimentary snacks or beverages and introducing new products or promotions. In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, on Water Street and on Maple Street.

More information about First Friday is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by calling (860) 322-4047.

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Jake Kulak & the LowDown, Winners of $10,000 “Foxwoods Battle of the Bands,” to Perform at 5th Annual ‘Cruise Blues & Brews’ Festival, Sept. 21

Jake Kulak (center) and the Lowdown (Jason LaPierre at left and Jeremy Peck at right) will be performing at the ‘Cruise Blues & Brews’ Festival at Chester Fairgrounds, Sept. 21. The band recently won the $10,000 grand prize in Foxwood’s ‘Battle of the Bands.’

CHESTER — The blues-rock power trio, Jake Kulak and the LowDown just won the “Battle of the Bands” $10,000 grand prize, sponsored by the Foxwood Resort Casino. The band has been wowing audiences all over the state. They have also won the CT Blues Society Band Challenge, they were voted Best Blues Band in the CTNOW’s Best of Hartford Reader’s Poll and they were nominated as Best New Act of the Year at the New England Music Awards.

Jake Kulak and the LowDown will be one of the seven top CT Blues Bands performing at the 5th Annual Cruise Blues & Brews Festival, Sept. 21, at the Chester Fairgrounds. Other bands that will be appearing include: Ninety Nine Degrees, Clayton Allen Blues Band, Ramblin’ Dan and the Other Cats, Cobalt Rhythm Kings, Blues on the Rocks, and Vitamin B-3.

Ramblin’ Dan Stevens is another of the featured blues musicians at the ‘Cruise, Blues & Brews ‘Festival on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Chester Fairgrounds.

The Cruise Blues & Brews Festival will also feature hundreds of antique and unique cars on display, a food court with a variety of food trucks, locally brewed craft beer on tap, a marketplace of vendors, a kid’s play area full of activities, trophies, games and prizes.

All proceeds from Cruise Blues & Brews Festival support the At-Risk Boys Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County. Established in 2013, The At-Risk Boys fund has awarded over $80,000 in grants to organizations throughout Middlesex County. These grants have helped hundreds of boys and young men achieve success and a better life.

The 5th Annual Cruise Blues & Brews Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (rain or shine), at the Chester Fair Grounds.  Admission is a $10 suggested donation, and kids are free. Tickets can be purchased at the gate during the Festival.

To learn more about this fun-filled festival, visit www.cruisebluesandbrews.com

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Back to School and Back to Chester for “First Friday,” Tonight

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling this evening during ‘First Friday.’

CHESTER – The kids may be back to school, but it’s still summer in Chester during the “First Friday” festivities this evening, Sept. 6. The downtown galleries and shops are open until 8 p.m., with special exhibits, new product introductions and refreshments served beginning at 5 p.m.

Chester Gallery continues its “In Our Nature,” an exhibition that brings together artists. who excel in their craft of painting, printmaking and sculpture. Each expresses the wealth of nature, both inherent and physical, in their work. Featured are the trompe l’oeil paintings of Michael Theise, master of detail and optical deception, and Chester artist Richard Ziemann, who achieves his own strain of detail in his depictions of the natural world, rather than the material, in his exquisite etchings and engravings. This show is on view through Sept. 29.

Local Chester artist Leif Nilsson is showing a collection of his oldest and newest paintings accompanied by the sounds of the band Arrowhead.

Dina Varano Gallery will feature a new collection of handwoven wool bags made by artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico.

At Lark, candlemaker Donna Wollum will be showing and selling her Pure Bliss candles. Made with all-natural soybean wax, premium fragrance oils and cotton wicks, Wollum uses fresh and dried flowers, fruits and herbs to make each candle unique.

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, on Water Street and on Maple Street.

More information about First Friday is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by calling (860) 322-4047.

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East Haddam Celebrates Venture Smith’s Life With a Day of Festivities, Sept. 7

Keynote speaker will be Maisa L. Tisdale, President and CEO of The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She will present “Audacity! Bridgeport CT’s Little Liberia – A Free Black Settlement in This Slave State.”

EAST HADDAM, CT – The 23rd annual Venture Smith Day Festivities will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the First Church Cemetery, 499 Town Street (RT. 151), East Haddam, Conn., where Venture Smith (1729-1805) is buried.

Son of an African king, Venture Smith became the first black man to document his capture from Africa and life as an American slave and successful black freeman in Connecticut. Well known and respected, Venture Smith spent the majority of his freedom years in East Haddam and Haddam Neck, Connecticut.  His grave is one of the original sites on the Connecticut Freedom Trail.

The keynote speaker will be Maisa L. Tisdale, President and CEO of The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She will talk about “Audacity! Bridgeport CT’s Little Liberia – A Free Black Settlement in This Slave State.”

Other speakers will include Beth Moore, Museum Curator, Stonington Historical Society; State of Connecticut Representative Bobby Gibson; Weymouth Eustis, Connecticut Historical Wood Sculptor; and Dr. Karl P. Stofko, E. Haddam Town Historian/Venture Smith researcher.

Beth Moore, Museum Curator at the Stonington Historical Society located in Stonington, Connecticut, will talk about a recent grant awarded to the Stonington Historical Society to create a permanent “Life of Venture Smith Exhibit” at the Old Lighthouse Museum. Venture Smith, a slave of Oliver Smith of Stonington, was allowed to purchase his freedom in 1765. Venture took the name Smith as his last name and lived a freeman in Stonington until 1774 before moving to East Haddam.

Beth Moore, Museum Curator at the Stonington Historical Society will talk about “Venture’s Place in Stonington, Connecticut.”

The exhibit will also explore the history of slavery in New England while focusing on slavery in Southeastern Connecticut.Moore will also give an update about the status of a grant application to add the 26 – acreVenture Smith Home Site on Barn Island (Stonington, Connecticut) to the Connecticut Freedom Trail.

(photo caption) State of Connecticut Representative Bobby Gibson will present “From Kingdom to Kingdom, How Venture Smith’s Life Proves Why African American History Must Be Taught in Our Schools.”

In March 2019, State of Connecticut Representative Bobby Gibson submitted written testimony in support of HB 7082an Act Concerning the Inclusion of African American Studies in the Public School Curriculum to the Chairman Senator McCrory, Chairman Representative Sanchez, and esteemed members of the Education Committee.Representative Gibson will present “From Kingdom to Kingdom, How Venture Smith’s Life Proves Why African American History Must Be Taught in Our Schools.”

Connecticut Sculptor Weymouth Eustis of Chester, Connecticut will unveil his historically correct life-like carving of Venture Smith.

Weymouth Eustis, a Connecticut Wood Sculptor, who enjoys carving famous life-like figures from history, will unveil his historically correct life-like wooden statue of Venture Smith. Venture, who was often referred to as the “The Black Paul Bunyan” when he was alive, stood over six and one-half feet tall, weighed over 300 pounds, and was often seen carrying a 9-pound axe for cutting down trees.

Dr. Karl P. Stofko, East Haddam’s Municipal Historian and Venture Smith family genealogist since the 1970s, will talk about “New Information about Tamar Loomis, Solomon Smith’s (son of Venture) first wife.

Venture Smith’s family genealogy and artifacts and crafts from Ghana and other regions of Africa will be on display. A town proclamation will be presented and wreath-laying ceremony by the descendants of Venture Smith and the annual Venture family reunion photograph will take place in the cemetery by Venture’s grave.

In addition, the ladies of “Sisters In Stitches Joined by the Cloth” of eastern Massachusetts will return this year with their magnificent African American quilts and copies of Elizabeth J. Normen’s new book “Venture Smith’s Colonial Connecticut” will be on sale.

The ladies of “Sisters In Stitches” joined by the Cloth” of eastern Massachusetts will return this year with their magnificent African American quilts on display.

Adults and children, who are interested in learning more about Connecticut history in the 1700 and 1800s, are encouraged to attend. Please bring lawn chairs or a blanket. In case of inclement weather the celebration will move into the First Church sanctuary. There will be plenty of time to renew old friendships, talk with the speakers and Venture’s descendants, as well as enjoy light refreshments in the Parish Hall next to the cemetery.

Dr. Karl P. Stofko, E. Haddam Town Historian/Venture Smith researcher will be a speaker at the event.

For questions, call (860) 873-9375.

To review the original Venture Smith autobiography, visit  www.docsouth.unc.edu/neh/venture2/menu.html

Brief Biography of Venture Smith

Born around 1729, Venture Smith’s African birth name was Broteer; and he was the eldest son of King Saungm Furro of the tribe of Dukandarra in Guinea, West Africa. He was captured about 1736 when he was seven years old and was sold for “4 gallons of rum and some calico” at Anamabo on Africa’s Gold Coast to Robinson Mumford, the steward of a Rhode Island slave ship. Broteer was renamed Venture because he was purchased by Mumford’s own private venture. Venture grew up as a slave on Fishers Island, New York, which was being leased by the Mumford family at that time.

Around 1750 he married Meg, another Mumford slave, and they had four children. After a failed escape attempt in 1754, Venture was sold to Thomas Stanton of Stonington Point, Connecticut. In 1760, he was purchased for the last time by Oliver Smith, of Stonington. Smith allowed Venture to purchase his freedom in 1765 and in return Venture took the name Smith as his surname.

Venture then lived and worked on Long Island to raise money to purchase the freedom of his wife and children. During these years he cut wood, farmed, fished, and spent seven months on a whaling voyage. In 1774, Venture sold all his land on Long Island and in Stonington and moved his family to East Haddam. He then began purchasing land on Haddam Neck along the Salmon River Cove from Abel Bingham and others. His farm grew 134 acres with three houses; twenty boats, canoes and sailing vessels; two fishing businesses and a commercial orchard. His entrepreneurial ventures included river trafficking, lumberjacking, carpentry  and farming. All this he accomplished without the ability to either read or write.

In 1798, Venture dictated his autobiography to teacher Elisha Niles; it was then published in pamphlet form by Charles Holt, editor of the New London Bee. It has been reprinted many times. It is the only slave narrative of the 18th century that recounts life in Africa. His life story has been an inspiration to many over the years. Venture died on September 19, 1805, a highly respected man by all in the Haddams. His wife, two sons, Cuff and Solomon, and several grandchildren survived him. Several of his descendants still live in

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Tickets on Sale for Gillette Castle State Park’s 100th Anniversary ‘Speakeasy Gala,’ Sept. 7

Visit with William Gillette as portrayed by Harold Niver at the ‘Speakeasy Gala,’ Sept. 7.

HADLYME — The Friends of Gillette Castle State Park are hosting a 100th Anniversary Roaring 20’s-themed ‘Speakeasy Gala’ at Gillette Castle, Saturday Sept. 7, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the completion of Gillette Castle’s construction.

Gillette Castle, where the Speakeasy Gala will be held Sept. 7.

The event will be held at the castle and its grounds located at 67 River Rd., East Haddam and run from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Guests can stop by a “Speakeasy” for a wine tasting, courtesy of Staehly Farm & Winery. Afterwards, they can head up to the castle, which will be open for self-guided tours. Castle staff will be available to answer questions and give demonstrations.

While up at the castle, guests will be able to enjoy the musical stylings of flutist, Erin Vivero.

Back at the gala tent, they will toast the castle in celebration of its 100th year and enjoy high-end appetizers and hors d’oeuvres along with special Roaring 20’s themed cocktails.

Guests can then dance the night away to the music of the Screamin’ Eagles Jazz Band. During the evening, a silent auction will take place with many great items.

Participants will also have the opportunity to meet William and Helen Gillette portrayed by Harold and Theodora Niver. Photography services for the event will be provided by Cherish the Moment Photography.

The details of the program are subject to change in the event of inclement weather. Wear your best Roaring 20’s costume, but plan to walk uneven ground between the parking lot and castle.

Tickets are $100 each and can be purchased at https://www.gillettecastlefriends.org/event-registration-speakeasy-gala. Space is limited.

This milestone event is made possible with help from sponsors: Cherish the Moment Photography, Dutch Oil Co. Inc., Eastern Rental, Erin Vivero-Flute, Hadlyme Country Market, Northeast Printing Network LLC, Quicksilver Communication, Screamin’ Eagles Jazz Band, and Staehly Farm and Winery.

Sponsorships are still available. Contact the Friends for details.

All proceeds from this event benefit The Friends of Gillette Castle State Park.

The Friends of Gillette Castle State Park is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization founded in 1998 that is dedicated to preserving the castle’s heritage. Membership information for the Friends of Gillette State Park will be available at the event.

For more information on the Friends of Gillette Castle, visit their website. Call Paul or Wendy at 860-222-7850 or email info@gillettecastlefriends.org with questions.

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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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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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Summer Sing “Rutter’s ‘Magnificat’ in Old Saybrook, Monday; All Welcome

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash.

OLD SAYBROOK — Summer Sing “Rutter’s “Magnificat”on Monday, Aug. 12. Registration is at 7 p.m. and the sing begins at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 56 Great Hammock Road, Old Saybrook.

This session will be conducted by Russ Hammond of The Shoreline Chorale.

All singers are welcome to perform in this read-through of a great choral work. Professional soloists often participate.

The event is co-sponsored by Cappella Cantorum and Con Brio.

A $10 fee covers the costs of the event. Scores will be available, and the church is air-conditioned.

For more information call (860) 767-9409 or (203)530-0002 or visit www.cappellacantorum.org or www.conbrio.org

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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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High Hopes Needs You! Organization Has Urgent Need for Volunteers; Next Training Session, Aug. 13

High Hopes depends on volunteers for all its programs and events.

AREAWIDE — High Hopes is an oasis in Old Lyme, where people of all ages come together with a very special herd of therapeutic horses to improve the lives of people with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. The organization currently has an urgent need for more volunteers with a wide range of opportunities available. Everyone is invited to get involved, regardless of gender or age (14 or older).

“Although we hold programs all year round,” says Executive Director, Kitty Stalsburg, “summer is one of our busiest times when we open High Hopes to the wider community through five weeks of all-inclusive horse camp as well as providing our regular programs. We are looking for volunteers of all ages but would particularly encourage middle and high school students, seasonal residents, and active retirees in particular. Just one hour a week, or one week during summer camp can make all the difference to one of our campers.”

One of the many tasks that volunteers undertake at High Hopes is to side-walk horses while program participants ride.

“No experience with horses is needed,” says Lesson Manager, Marie Manero, “we provide general orientation and side-walker training for all of our volunteers, and those that want to do more work with the horses can do additional training in horse-handling and barn activities.”

Manero continues, “

Over the course of a year High Hopes, an internationally recognized therapeutic riding and horsemanship center, relies on the help of over 650 volunteers to supplement its small staff and provide programs for a wide range of individuals and groups as well as support it’s fundraising activities.”

Participants at High Hopes include children and adults with physical disabilities, veterans living with PTSD, children grieving the loss of a parent, families recovering from domestic violence and individuals and their families supporting a loved one with a life-long cognitive disability.

All volunteers must attend a General Orientation prior to volunteering.  The General Orientation begins in the classroom with an overview of High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, who we serve, our horses, and our policies and procedures.  It also includes a tour of the facility.

At the General Orientation, volunteers will choose a role(s) they are interested in and will be scheduled for additional training specific to that role. Roles may include sidewalker, horse leader (experience required), feeder, office volunteer, etc.

Sidewalker training includes more in-depth information about providing service to the High Hopes participants and an opportunity to practice hands-on sidewalking techniques that will prepare new volunteers to begin working with riders.

Two Volunteer General Orientation and Sidewalker Training sessions will be held on the following dates and times:

Tuesday, July 23,  4 to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 13, 4 to 7 p.m.

For those with horse experience interested in becoming horse leaders, additional training opportunities will be available to learn and practice our leading techniques.

For more information, to meet a few of our volunteers, and to express your interest in this event, register at https://highhopestr.org/volunteers/prospective-volunteers/

If your organization supports community volunteering and you would like to bring a group of volunteers to High Hopes for the day, the High Hopes team would also like to talk to you.

For further information about volunteering or to discuss any questions, e-mail Rachel Butler, Volunteer Coordinator, at rbutler@highhopestr.org

High Hopes is located at 36 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme CT 06371. For further information, visit their website or call 860-434-1974.

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It’s ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight!

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling this evening during ‘First Friday.’

CHESTER – It’s August, and the Chester downtown merchants are fired up to beat the heat and kick off the last month of summer during First Friday festivities on Aug. 2. All shops will be open until 8 p.m. serving samples of delicious libations and snacks.

Blackkat Leather will unveil a new collection from Crystal-Anne Chijinduis, a New York-based photographer specializing in narrative portraiture and still-life photography. Her work reflects her passion for people, culture and visual storytelling, which she explores through fine-art work. She recently earned her master’s degree in Digital Photography from New York City’s School of Visual Arts.

The “Pop & Beyond” exhibition at Chester Gallery has been extended due to popular demand. The gallery features the serigraphs, lithographs, etchings and gouaches of Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Jim Dine, Sam Francis, Adolph Gottlieb, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg and Chester’s own Sol LeWitt.

Elsewhere around town:

Dina Varano will be hosting a ‘Crystal Extravaganza’ tonight during ‘First Friday.’

  • Dina Varano Gallery is showcasing a collection of raw crystal and gemstones. From Amazonite to Labradorite to Zeolite, the gallery is explaining the myths and legends that surround the stones.

The C & G building in Chester is home to The-e-List shop, which will be open tonight to celebrate ‘First Friday’ in Chester.

  • The E-List Shop is having its End of Summer Sale and previewing fall fashions.

The ‘Arrowhead String Band’ will be playing during First Friday at the Silver Spring Gallery tonight.

  • The band Arrowhead will play from 5 to 8 p.m. outside Leif Nilsson’s eponymous gallery on Spring Street, which is also showing the artist’s travel-inspired paintings.

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, on Water Street and on Maple Street.

More information about First Friday is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by calling (860) 322-4047.

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‘CT Blues Society All Stars’ to Play Next ‘Concert in the Garden,’ Tomorrow

The CT Blues Society All-Stars will play tomorrow at the next ‘Concert in the Garden.’

CHESTER — Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery presents CT Blues Society All Stars at the next Concert in the Garden on Saturday, Aug. 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. The concert will be a benefit for The At-Risk Boys Fund.

CT Blues Society (CTBS) All Stars was established when drummer, bandleader, Blues radio host and CT Blues Society director River City Slim began running the monthly CT Blues Society Blues Jam in Berlin CT in 2014, and he needed a house band.  He tapped keyboard whiz Joey Primo and rock solid bassist Phil Caron, and the CTBS All-Stars were born.

Now, five years later, the All-Stars have been the backing group for a who’s-who of Southern New England Blues guitar greats: Willie J. Laws, Chris Vitarello, Danny Draher, Paul Gabriel, Larry Willey, Mark Nomad and more.  As the house band at the jam, the All-Stars are called on to play a wide variety of Blues-based styles without benefit of rehearsal, and have become a ‘loose but tight’ backing unit par excellence.

For the benefit concert on Aug. 3, the All-Stars will be joined by New London County vocalist/guitarist Phil DiIorio.

Established in 2013 The At-Risk Boys Fund has helped boys and young men reach their full potential by funding programs that focus on family stability, mentoring, education, self-respect and self-confidence, positive life experiences, and so much more.
Visit: http://www.AtRiskBoysFund.org

A $20 donation at the door is requested. Feel free to BYOB and picnic and enjoy the outdoor bistro style seating in the amphitheater (inside the gallery if inclement weather).Gates open a half hour before the show. First come, first seated, but no pets allowed.

The studio is at 1 Spring St., in the heart of Chester Center.

For more information, call (860) 526-2077 or visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com.About the At-Risk Boys Fund

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