December 11, 2019

Full of Holiday Cheer, 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 December, and in Chester, that means the lighting of the Christmas tree, the Menorah and holiday carols sung outside the downtown shops and restaurants until 8 p.m. Festivities start in front of The French Hen at 6 p.m., and a very special guest (whose five-letter name begins with an “S”) is scheduled to arrive at 6:30 p.m.

This First Friday also marks The French Hen’s 16th and final Christmas season, and the elves will be busy serving up their famous holiday cocktail, the “White Christmas.”

One of the painted metrocards for sale at Lark in Chester this evening.

The Chester Gallery celebrates the holidays with its annual Postcard Show. The exhibition includes more than 60 artists from all over Connecticut working in a variety of styles and mediums in postcard size 4″ x 6″ or smaller.

At Lark, artist Rachel Carlson will unveil a new body of small works painted on New York City Metrocards. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Kismet will showcase owner and jewelry designer Gillian Davis’ “Glitter & Gold” Collection along with a pop-up sale with select items 20 percent off storewide.

Sip sparkling wine and be dazzled by surprise sale items all weekend long at The EList Shop.

Kids can enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies with any of the kids’ meals at The Pattaconk 1850 Bar & Grille on First Friday, and they can also send a letter directly to Santa from one of the Santa mailboxes on site. There will be some spiked eggnog for adults, too.

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

It’s your last chance to tap Caryn Paradis Interior Design for free design tips as part oftheir “Ask the Designer” workshop. E-mail vickerman@carynparadis.com a picture and question about how to lay out a room to best suit the space and your style, then stop by on “First Friday in Chester” for some design advice.

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

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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

Share

‘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.

Share

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

Share

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.

Share

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

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

‘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

Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media

Jim Cameron

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

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

Share

I-Park Hosts Open Studios ‘Where Art Meets Nature’, Tomorrow

July’s Artists-in-Residence at I-Park for July are First Column: Matthew Celmer. Second Column, top to bottom: Beth Krebs, Judy Robertson, Zach Frank. Third Column, top to bottom: Kristin Street, Nathan Nokes, Jenn Grossman

AREAWIDE — The public is invited to come to I-Park for Open Studios Sunday, July 28, at 2 p.m. and experience a multi-disciplinary group of artists from around the country.  I-Park has been supporting artists from around the country and the globe since its first residency in 2001 and continues to offer fully-funded residencies to writers, composers, visual artists, film-makers, architects, etc.  Visitors will be able to meet these seven talented artists at I-Park, 428 Hopyard Road in East Haddam.

Once a month, at the conclusion of each residency, I-Park holds Open Studios when visitors are invited to meet the artists in their studios, attend a presentation featuring some of their work, enjoy complimentary refreshments, and stroll the trails winding through I-Park’s scenic, art-filled campus.  Generally closed to visitors, I-Park gives resident artists undisturbed time to work on their creative endeavors.

Studios will only be open from 2 to 3:30 p.m., guests are encouraged to arrive early so they have enough time to visit all the studios before the 3:30 p.m. presentation. A reception with refreshments will follow.

Resident artists are:

Matthew Celmer is an architect based in Syracuse and Brooklyn. His recent creative exploration has focused on the relationship of narrative to the architecture design process.       

Zack Frank is a recent graduate of the MFA for Poets & Writers at UMass Amherst. He is working on a novel while at I-Park. His first published story will appear in The Massachusetts Review this fall.  

Jenn Grossman is a sound/experiential media artist based in New York. Wavering between the worlds of art, experimental music, and academic inquiry, her work has taken the form of sound sculpture, audiovisual installation/performance, public interventions, sound design, and spatial audio compositions.

Beth Krebs is an Oakland-based visual artist whose work has been exhibited in New York, San Francisco and abroad.She recently completed a four-month fellowship at Recology (aka the dump) in San Francisco.

Nathan Nokes is Austin-based composer, musician, and sound artists whose works contrast heavily calculated precompositional processes with intuitive, freeform lyricism.

Judy Robertson is a Miami-based artist whose mixed media work and short videos have been shown nationally and internationally in museums, galleries, and numerous years during Art Basel / Miami Beach.

Kristin Street is a visual artist based in Foster, RI. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries locally, nationally and internationally. She is working on a series of drawings and sculptures.   

Although admission to Open Studios is free, advance reservations are requested. To reserve your space, visit i-park.org. For additional information, write events@i-park.org or call 860-873-2468.

Share

‘Arrowhead’ to Play Next ‘Concert in the Garden,’ Saturday

Arrowhead will play at the Spring Street Gallery & Studio in the next ‘Concert in the Garden.’

CHESTER — Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery presents Arrowhead at the next Concert in the Garden on Saturday, July 27, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Arrowhead will play a set of original compositions and then open the stage to make music with friends. Matt will play on Guitar, Patricia on Bass Fiddle and Leif on Banjo — and they all sing!

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.
Share

Leif Nilsson Presents a ‘Concert in Garden’ Tonight with ‘Empire of Light’

CHESTER — Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery presents Empire of Light at the next Concert in the Garden on Saturday, July 20, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Drawing inspiration from the first wave of alternative country (early Wilco, Alejandro Escovedo, The Waco Brothers and Whiskeytown), as well as traditional country and rock (Neil Young, The Band, The Faces & The Stones), Brooklyn-based Empire of Light brings together members of seminal Upstate roots-rockers Subduing Mara – frontman Peter Hutchison and guitarist Brian Wilkens – with rhythm section and veteran sidemen Keith Robinson (Marcia Ball, Charlie Robison, Charlie Sexton) and Dan Green (Mike Viola, Sam Bisbee, The Honey Brothers, The Silos).

Produced by Andris Balins and band member Keith Robinson, “Let There Be Light” evokes equal parts rural Upstate New York and urban old-school Brooklyn – between which the recording was split. The end result is a distillation of timeless, original New Traditionalist Americana Rock.

Over the past two decades, Hutchison has released a string of critically-acclaimed albums.

A constant presence on college radio and the CMJ charts in the 90’s, Subduing Mara built a name for themselves through their electrifying live shows – earning them critical praise as “The best band you never heard of”, and “enough to justify belief in Rock’n’Roll”. Music critics have credited the band as an influential voice in the Alt Country/Roots Rock revival – echoing the work of contemporaries Uncle Tupelo and Ryan Adam’s Whiskeytown.

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.
For more information, call (860) 526-2077 or visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com. The studio is at 1 Spring St., in the heart of Chester Center.

“Let There Be Light”

Share

Sen. Needleman Joins Gov. Lamont for Signing of Invasive Species Bill

State Senator Norm Needleman (standing, fifth from right) joins a coalition of political and regional leaders as Governor Ned Lamont signs legislation into effect better protecting Connecticut waterways from invasive species.

AREAWIDE – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) joined Governor Ned Lamont for the signing of legislation designed to fight invasive species and preserve Connecticut’s lakes, ponds and rivers. This step is intended to protect Connecticut’s natural wildlife and environment while also benefitting the beautiful bodies of water that draw so many from the state and beyond.

“Too many bodies of water around Connecticut experience significant environmental damage by invasive species. A simple weed or piece of algae stuck to a boat’s hull can, in time, create a massive threat to a lake or river’s ecosystem, rapidly multiplying. That can harm fishing and recreation, even making the body of water unusable,” said Sen. Needleman. “There’s a reason this legislation received overwhelming support from both environmental groups and lake and boating associations – it will help protect our state against these dangerous threats, keeping our waterways clear. It’s great to see this issue receive the attention it deserves.”

The legislation in question will create a boat stamp, with proceeds helping to fund removal of invasive species from state waterways. Connecticut residents will be charged $5, while out-of-state residents will be charged $25. The collected funds will be deposited into the Connecticut Lakes, Rivers and Ponds Preservation Fund to support programming on eradicating invasive species, education and public outreach programs to better educate the public, and grants to study better management of bodies of water.

The bill passed the House and Senate on bipartisan votes of 131-10 and 34-2, and in March, dozens of residents supported it at a public hearing. Towns in the 33rd District including East Hampton, Lyme and Old Lyme have experienced growth of invasive weeds and algae in their waterways and bodies of water. The new law takes effect January 1, 2020.

Share

It’s First Friday in Chester Tonight!

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling tonight during First Friday.

Courtesy of Dina Varano Sterling silver and 14kt gold necklace designed and handmade by Dina Varano with aquamarine and London blue topaz gemstones. Courtesy of Dina Varano Gallery.

CHESTER – The bustling Chester downtown is in full Summer swing, from the Sunday Farmers’ Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays to First Friday, when all the shops are open until 8 p.m. on the first Friday of the month.

On Friday, July 5, resident artist Dina Varano will present a new collection of her jewelry and other hand-selected designer accessories titled “Bright Blue Skies, Clear Blue Waters.” The Dina Varano Gallery will feature jewelry with aquamarine, London blue topaz, and lapis lazuli gemstones, alongside indigo-dyed textiles, cashmere and silk scarves, and blue-and-white woven summer totes.

Eric Serritella, “En Vogue” Teapot, ceramic. Courtesy of The Chester Gallery:

The “Pop & Beyond” exhibition continues through July 21 at Chester Gallery, featuring the serigraphs, lithographs, etchings and gouaches of Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Jim Dine, Sam Francis, Adolph Gottlieb, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana, Robert Motherwell, and Robert Rauschenberg who hang alongside Sol LeWitt, in the town where he spent the latter years of his life. 

Featured throughout the grounds will be metal sculptures by Gilbert Boro, bronzes by Michael MacLaughlin, and new to the gallery are trompe l’oeil ceramic works by Eric Serritella, who specializes in hyper-realistic hand-carved ceramic sculptures transformed into birch, charred and weathered logs.

Elsewhere around town:

  • The Perfect Pear is offering 20 percent off all the Made-in-the-USA Rolf beverage ware, with whimsical fish, crab and lobster designs in addition to classic Art Deco etched designs;
  • The E-List Shop is rolling out its first major sale of the season with 50 percent off selected summer wear;
  • Shops at the Mill House is celebrating its one-year anniversary; and
  • The band Arrowhead will play from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. outside Leif Nilsson’s eponymous gallery on Spring Street.

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

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

Share

It’s ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight!


CHESTER — Celebrate the Connecticut River Valley’s original First Friday festivities tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. The boutiques, galleries and restaurants in the charming (and walkable!) town of Chester are open late and offer fun new products, exhibitions and food and drinks.

An innovative new exhibit on pop art featuring works by Keith Haring, Sol LeWitt and Andy Warhol at Chester Gallery is among the happenings on First Friday in Chester on June 7 as registration continues for the 2nd Annual Chester Ladies’ Sip & Shop, set for Thursday, June 20.

On First Friday, most Chester village shops are open until 8 p.m., featuring new products, introductory sales and free libations.

CHESTER GALLERY is launching its “Pop and Beyond” exhibit, which will showcase the serigraphs, lithographs, etchings and gouaches of Jim Dine, Sam Francis, Adolph Gottlieb, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol, who will hang alongside Sol LeWitt in the town where he spent the latter years of his life.

Also included in the exhibit are works by Irene Barberis, an Australian/British artist, who met LeWitt in 1974 and is the first artist to have the privilege to make work in LeWitt’s studio in Chester and has produced new bodies of artworks responding to the space and his processes.

Caryn Paradis, LLC Interior Design is showcasing two very talented artisans on First Friday: Sarah Barnes, owner of The Planters Effect, will be sharing her love of plants with a variety of potted plants, and artist Lexi Axon will be showing her work.

Shops at the Mill House will feature Chester artist Kathleen Cataldi, who will be on hand to show her art, photos, fabric and vegan leather purses, and her classic linen and duck cloth aprons with custom embroidered designs.

Leif Nilsson is unveiling new and old paintings of his home and hometown of Chester at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery, and hosting the band, Arrowhead.

Dina Varano Gallery is showcasing June’s birthstone with a new collection of Dina’s pearl jewelry, including Tahitian, fresh water and baroque pearls.

Free registration is ongoing for Chester’s 2nd Ladies Sip & Shop, which has been set for Thursday, June 20. Proceeds from this popular shopping event will support Child & Family Services of Southeastern Connecticut.

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 and the 2nd Ladies’ Sip & Shop is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by calling (860) 322-4047.

* Cover image credit to Chester Gallery, ‘New Years 1988’, Keith Haring (1958-1990) and LA II (Angel Ortiz)

Share

CT Valley Camera Club Hosts Renowned Photographer George Fellner Tomorrow: All Welcome

George Fellner will give a talk titled “Pictures at an Exhibition: A Mindset for Creative Photography” on June 3 at the CT Valley Camera Club

AREAWIDE — The guest speaker at the Monday, June 3, meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be professional photographer George Fellner, who will give a talk titled, “ Pictures at an Exhibition: A Mindset for Creative Photography.” The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn. All are welcome. There is no admission charge.

This program explores the characteristics and attributes that make a photograph successful.  While there are numerous categories and genres of subject material, there are nonetheless certain common denominators that can be implemented for making a good photograph.  One can determine a preferred genre as well as a theme that relates to a personal frame of reference for creating a body of work.

Specifically, there is a set of criteria that can be defined as objectives.  For example, an image should have impact and possess a certain attraction that is both compelling as well as captivating for the viewer.  A creative expression that is unique and imaginative, helping to convey a message is paramount for a photograph that is intended to leave a lasting impression.

Furthermore, drama and emotion have the propensity to affect the viewer’s experience.  The elements of composition certainly are a part of the equation, as well as the technical understanding of proper lighting, color balance, resolution, detail, contrast, tonal gradation, among other specific aspects.

Through a discussion of concepts, strategies, and process, George Fellner presents a mindset for creative photography.  His use of visual examples helps to illustrate the positive and negative aspects of a photograph in a descriptive and revealing manner.  The intent is to provide an understanding of what makes a photograph creative and what is involved in judging images in a photo show.  Ultimately, as photographers, we all strive to learn what works for Pictures at an Exhibition.

George Fellner

As a photographer and architect, Fellner is committed to a dual life-path involving visual discovery and design, relating to both the natural and built environments.  He has been presenting photography programs to camera clubs, art guilds, professional organizations, historical societies, community groups, and schools since 2004.  His subjects include landscape, architecture, travel, and elements of nature.

Fellner received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Florida.  Now, with over 30 years as principal of Fellner Architects, he continues to utilize his design sensitivities for creative photography.

Fellner’s photographs have been published in books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and travel guides.  INK Publications magazine (Feb 2013) featured the article Photographer George Fellner: Architect for Body and Spirit.  The book Artists’ Homes and Studios (2015) by E. Ashley Rooney features Fellner’s studio, art, and creative process.  He wrote and published his first book Imaginary Realms: The Visual Language of Stones and Crystals (2016).

His latest book Essence of Architecture in East Haddam: Expressions of a Connecticut River Town is being published in May of 2019.

Fellner’s work has been exhibited in art galleries and museums, both in group shows and solo shows.  A series of his images are exhibited in permanent art collections at the Yale School of Medicine, the Jackson Laboratory at the University of Connecticut, and the NYC offices for Nature Genetics, an international science journal.

The CVCC is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers. The group offers a variety of presentations and interactive workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills. Photographers of all levels of experience are welcomed.  The club draws members from up and down the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook; from East Hampton to Old Lyme; and along the shoreline from Guilford to Gales Ferry.

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

Share

I-Park Open to the Public Today on National Trails Day

Painters will be working ‘En Plein Air’ in I-Park on National Trails Day. Photo by Nancy Pinney.

EAST HADDAM — I-Park artists-in-residence program will open its scenic campus to lovers of nature, art and music in observance of Connecticut Trails Day on Saturday, June 1. The grounds will be open from 2 to 6 pm, joining 250 other events in this annual statewide celebration. Rain date will be Sunday, June 2.

Normally closed to the public to ensure the privacy of its resident artists, I-Park’s campus and its 26 trails will be open for strolling, hiking and exploring. Visitors are offered the pleasure of discovering the property’s confluence of woods, fields, waterways and stone walls — as well as the abundance of site-responsive artworks that have been installed on the property since I-Park’s founding in 2001.

Landscape painters from throughout the region will be stationed around the grounds, capturing the beauty of the setting and representing the merger of art and nature that has been a hallmark of I-Park’s residency program.

The Grays, a percussion-based improvisational quartet from Chester that performs original compositions, will be playing from 2 to 4 pm.  Guests are welcome to sit and listen to the music or even bring a picnic lunch.

Since 2002, Mie Preckler has been working on a large-scale, ongoing site intervention, “A Conversation with the Gravel Pit”. Over time she has persuaded the landscape to bend gently to her will, creating Mie’s Trail and exposing the site-specific topography of this previously barren industrial site. Mie returns to I-Park every year to maintain this work and document the subtle changes that have taken place since her last visit. She will lead a guided walk of the trail at 4:30 pm.

This is a free, family-friendly event and reservations are requested. To reserve your space, go to i-park.org. For additional information, write events@i-park,org or call 860-873-2468.

Note that due to the fragileness of the art work and trails, pets are not permitted on the I-Park grounds.

Share

Needleman Leads Senate Legislation to Hold Utility Companies Accountable, Improve Power Outage Response Time

State Senator Norm Needleman leads Senate passage of legislation Thursday on the Senate floor.

AREAWIDE — Yesterday, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) led the Senate’s passage of legislation designed to hold utility companies accountable and improve their responses to power outages. It spurs the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to establish a docket containing standards for acceptable performance from utility companies and standards for minimum staffing and equipment levels for electric distribution companies.

“In recent years, response times to repair our electrical systems after weather incidents have risen sharply,” said Sen. Needleman. “Families, residents and businesses all rely on consistent power to live their daily lives, and the longer these delays stretch, the worse they become. As a business owner, I know that for many people, every second of a power outage means lost money, and an unstable electrical system  We need to review and set new standards for utilities today so that tomorrow’s storms don’t leave as large of an impact. As the Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, I am proud to have guided this legislation to the Senate floor.”

Senate Bill No. 469, “An Act Requiring the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to Establish Performance Standards and Minimum Staffing and Equipment Levels for Electric Distribution Companies,” tasks the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority with establishing industry-specific standards for acceptable performance by electric utility companies in emergencies. This is designed to protect public health and safety and minimize the number of service outages and disruptions that could occur.

In setting those standards, PURA will study the adequacy of electric distribution companies’ infrastructure, utilities and equipment, current policies and procedures for coordination between stakeholders before emergencies, and staffing and equipment levels companies currently employ, including their minimum staffing levels.

This legislation is intended to address delays in service restoration after power outages and comes as Connecticut electricity customers face the most expensive costs in the continental United States. Earlier this year, Eversource received approval for a rate increase from PURA that will see customers’ electricity bills grow more than $20 annually. Based on that increase, the company would be expected to increase staffing, improve response times after inclement weather and bolster its current resources.

Share

Chester to Hold Vote on Town Budget, Wednesday

CHESTER — The Town of Chester will hold a vote to set the Fiscal Year 19/20 Budget, Wednesday, May 29th 7:30 p.m., in the Chester Town Hall, 2nd floor Community Room. Although Supervision and Region 4 Budget have been previously set, this vote will determine the budget for Chester Elementary School and Municipal Government services.
Budgets are available to view in the Town Clerk’s Office and on the Chester website at www.chesterct.org
Childcare is available at no cost for residents attending the Town Meeting and Budget Vote on May 29th for children ages 5-12 from 6:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Chester Elementary School. Caregivers are experienced Park and Recreation Camp Counselors and are all trained in CPR/First Aid.
Availability is limited to 25 children.
To register for childcare, please fill out the attached program registration form (one for each child) and drop off at Town Hall or email to the Park and Recreation Director at elizabethnetsch@chesterct.org by noon on Friday, May 24, 2019. If your child will need medication during the meeting, please include a copy of the school medication release forms.
Share

The Movie Man: ‘Game of Thrones’ Has Ended — What Did YOU Think of the Finale? And Will You Sign the Petition??

Kevin Ganey

“What is dead may never die.”

In spring of 2011 I saw advertisements for an upcoming fantasy show on IMDb, Game of Thrones. I did not pay much attention to it, but it did not take long for me to see its effect on everybody else. It became a phenomenon.

Two years later, South Park aired an episode parodying the affairs of Westeros with the imminent Black Friday as retail’s version of “winter is coming.” I was intrigued and asked around if this show was all that it was hyped up to be. My Christmas list that year included the DVD for the available seasons.

But I did not catch on.

I made it to the third episode and got distracted. This paralleled my fitness life, “I should get back to it, but I’ll need some motivation.”

So, the next several years passed by, and I was always out of the loop when it came to references such as “You know nothing, Jon Snow” and “Hold the door.” I even accompanied a friend to a tattoo parlor as he had the phrase “Valar Morghulis” (All men must die) permanently inked into his body. My other attempts of getting into the series proved to be fruitless, as well. But I was aware that nobody was safe, as George R. R. Martin killed off his characters like it was a bodily function.

Then in 2017, I happened to meet the actor Pedro Pascal through my job, and I had to confess I did not know who he was, and he proceeded to fill me in on his role as Oberyn Martell, but I informed him I had only made it three episodes in. Pascal consoled me saying that I would need to get into the second or third season to get that “hook” that everybody experienced. The next year, I tried watching again, and I made it past the first season, but was distracted (again).

Finally, after taking a position in the night shift, I decided to give it my full attention, and by the end of March 2019, I got “the hook.” After finishing one episode, I would instinctively start the next one, without thinking.

I finally understood what everyone was talking about when they repeated those iconic phrases, and the memes that would perfectly allude to real life events. I would spend hours watching interviews with the cast, particularly Emilia Clarke (her interviews prove that she is a phenomenal actress, nothing like the steadfastly ambitious Daenerys, but someone so silly and adorable that you feel the need to hug her.)

And above all, I was finally ready for the end of the series. HBO opted not to air the eighth and final season in 2018, but rather delayed it another year. Perhaps I can be naïve and think it was cosmically arranged for me to get caught up? But whatever. I had my computer ready to screen each episode after my work was done.

I enjoyed the first three episodes, tearing up when Jamie knighted Brienne, and clenching my grip on the chair as the North battled the armies of the Night King. I was already speculating on how the series would end. It was revealed in the previous season that the supposed bastard Jon Snow was the true heir to the Iron Throne, not Daenerys, the girl we were rooting for the entire time, so how would things turn out?

Would he abdicate in favor of the Mother of Dragons?

Would there be a conflict between the two of them?

And what would become of the malevolent and self-centered Cersei?

Nearly a third of my text messages in the last six weeks dealt with me trading theories with friends and commenting on whether they would work or not. It had to be good, since the show had so many satisfying moments in their conflicts, particularly when Sansa imprisoned the poster boy of sadism, Ramsay Bolton, who tormented her and several others, and had him fed to his own hounds (I was grinning ear to ear and pumping my fists when I watched this transpire.)

But when the last three episodes aired, I did not get the fulfillment I anticipated. To be frank, it was the weakest conclusion to the most intense series I had ever watched. It was almost as if one of Daenerys’ dragons gathered in as much air as he could, cocking his head back, and then thrusting forward to reveal, not a firestorm, but rather a mouth full of sparklers that had replaced his teeth.

Really?

I put so much priority over the course of five years to get myself hooked on the show that had taken the world by storm, and I finally caught on for the lamest conclusion ever. They had us on the hook for over eight years, and they could not provide a fitting conclusion. I sat before my computer, often wondering to myself out loud “How much longer is this?” It’s almost as if their creativity ran dry, and they thought to themselves, “How else are we going to get paid?”

Without giving away any spoilers, I can say, even if it seems arrogant, that this is not the ending we fans deserve. In fact, this is not the ending that the show, in itself, deserves (particularly the actors who have been there since the beginning!)

Yes, this is probably what was bound to happen when George R. R. Martin neglected to publish his final books as the series took the world by storm, having nothing to work with at the end of season five … but David Benioff and D. B. Weiss did manage to make the two following seasons without the use of Martin’s base material.

There is already a petition circulating the internet of fans demanding that the eighth season be tossed away, and a replacement season made in its place. A piece of retroactive continuity (similar to how Halloween’s sequels were done away with, and the 2018 installment is now a direct sequel.) Here is a link to the petition, and should a reader reach a similar conclusion as this review, I would urge them to sign it.

“And now our watch has ended.”

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

Share

Where Art Meets Nature: I-Park Hosts Free, Open Studios Events, Sunday

EAST HADDAM — The public is invited to visit I-Park for its first Open Studios of the 2019 season. Guests will be able to meet six of the seven resident artists on Sunday, May 19, at 2 p.m. I-Park is located at 428 Hopyard Rd. in East Haddam, which adjoins the Devil’s Hopyard State Park.

The facility is generally closed to visitors to give the artists undisturbed time to work on their creative endeavors. But once a month, at the conclusion of each residency, visitors are invited to meet the artists in their studios, attend the presentation segment that features select time-based works, enjoy complimentary refreshments and stroll the trails winding through I-Park’s scenic, art-filled campus.

The studios will only be open from 2 until 3:30 p.m. so guests are encouraged to arrive early so they have enough time to visit all the studios before the 3:30 p.m. presentations.

A reception with refreshments will follow.

I-­Park is an artists-in-residence program offering fully funded residencies in visual arts, creative writing, music composition/sound art, moving image and architecture/landscape design. Since its founding in 2001, I-­Park has sponsored more than 900 residencies, and has developed cross-­‐disciplinary projects of cultural significance and brought them to life in the public domain.

Set within a 450-acre nature preserve, I-­Park has a strong interest in site-responsive and environmental art – and has been the setting for exhibitions, performances, symposia and programs that facilitate artistic collaboration.

Photo collage of the Artists-in-Residence at I-Park for the month of May.

The artists-in-residence are:

Marianne Barcellona is a painter and professional photographer from New York City. Her extensive travels provide raw inspiration for her paintings.

Hugh Livingston is a composer and sound artist from California who creates multi-media installations related to natural and built spaces; he also performs exploratory cello music. His artworks have been installed internationally.

Colette Lucas is a mixed media artist and gardening enthusiast based in New Hampshire. Her botanical motifs are created from a combination of imagination, observation and research.

Tom Nazziola, a New Jersey composer, has had his music featured on virtually every medium in the world of music. From “live film music” to choral and orchestral pieces, his compositions have been performed around the world.

Dominica Phetteplace is a prize-winning Washington (state) poet and writer whose work has appeared in Asimov’s, Zyzzyva, Copper Nickel and Ecotone as well as numerous other publications.

Allison Roberts is a lens-based artist from Oklahoma. She works primarily with photography, video and installation to address memory, place and identity as such are experienced during periods of transition.

Jane Simpson is a mixed media artist from New Hampshire. Her collage and assemblage work is comprised mainly of found paper – made either by mother nature or human ingenuity. Recently she has incorporated graphite drawings inspired by vintage photographs.

Although admission to Open Studios is free, advance reservations are requested. To reserve your space, visit i-park.org. For additional information, email events@i-park.org, call 860-873-2468 or visit i-­‐park.org.

Share

Main Street Project Committee Hosts Public Presentation of Project Design Tomorrow Evening

CHESTER — There will be a Public Presentation of the project design tomorrow evening, Tuesday, May 14, at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall Community Room.

Work is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2020.

Plans are on display at the Chester Town Hall or visit this link to view –
Share

Region 4 Budget Referendum is Today

TRI-TOWN — The Region 4 Budget Referendum on the 2019-2020 Budget is being held today, Tuesday, May 7, from 12 noon until 8 p.m.

Vote at the following locations:

Chester: Chester Town Hall Community Room

Deep River:Community Meeting Room of the Public Library, 150 Main Street

Essex: Essex Town Hall auditorium

 

Share

With Season Start of Essex Steam Train, Important Reminders About Railroad Crossing Safety

AREAWIDE — With the Essex Steam Train season about to begin, motorists are asked to refresh their sense of caution at the many railroad crossings in the lower valley.

At crossings with STOP signs, motorists are required by law to come to a complete stop before the white STOP line, and yield to approaching rail traffic.  At crossings with flashing lights and/or gates, motorists are required to come to a full stop before the white STOP line and wait until rail traffic passes and lights/gates shut off.

Vehicles carrying passengers for hire, as well as vehicles carrying hazardous materials, are required by Federal Law to stop at all railroad crossings at all times, and yield to approaching rail traffic regardless of signs, lights, or gates.

The Valley Railroad will be working in conjunction with law enforcement to reduce a recent increase in unsafe motorist behavior at the Rte. 153/Plains Rd. railroad crossing in Essex. This will entail police surveillance, and may include written warnings and/or fines for motorists failing to heed crossing signals. Fines can start at $129, and points can be assessed against a CT Driver’s License.

Railroad crossings, signals, and train operations are inspected and maintained to strict standards as promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Connecticut Department of Transportation. The final piece of the safety puzzle at crossings is attentiveness and safe action by motorists using the crossings.

Any questions may be directed to Robert Bradway, V.P. Track and Property, The Valley Railroad Company at (860) 964-3422.

Share

It’s ‘First Friday’ in Chester! Much to Enjoy at Shops, Galleries, Restaurants

CHESTER — It’s May Daze on the First Friday of May in Chester! With shops and galleries open until 8 p.m. and the start of a big weekend in town, here’s a summary of everything that’s happening during the evening of May 3 in the shops, galleries and restaurants in Chester.

The 6th Annual Pattaconk 1850 BAR & GRILL and Rotary Club of Chester, CT Music Fest and Charity Duck Race activities kick off on Friday with music on the patio and inside, and the Pattaconk’s Scoops & Smiles ice cream shop window opens for the season at 4 p.m. on First Friday.

Little House Brewing Company launches its first Maifest weekend with the official opening of its biergarten and the release of its first Maibock, a strong, malty lager, in a special-edition glass tankard. Supplies are limited, and the festivities continue all weekend long.

Chester Gallery will host artist John Paul Lavertu for a signing of Knock! Knock!, his four-act wordless story that follows the journey of two nameless characters. Lavertu first came to Chester to work with Sol LeWitt while he attended the Art Students League of New York. He’s had exhibits in New York and The Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, Mass., and has exhibited at the Chester Gallery Postcard Show. Lavertu continues to work for the LeWitt Collection in Chester.

Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery is showcasing some of the artist’s Spring and Summer paintings accompanied by house band Arrowhead.

The shops and artisans in Chester also have plenty on tap to kick off May Daze, including:

• Lark is celebrating its 5th birthday with “Pick-a-Duck” discounts for customers, giveways, and “quackers” and cheese.

• The French Hen is getting a jump on Cinco de Mayo, which is on Sunday, May 5, by serving mini-margaritas on First Friday.

Artwork courtesy of Leif Nilsson. Backyard Azalea Garden, oil 48 x 40 inches

• Shops at the Mill House is launching its first Spring Clearance Sale, with specials throughout its nooks and crannies.

• Dina Varano Gallery is showcasing a new line of pearl jewelry inspired by the beautiful colors and natural shapes of Tahitian, fresh water and baroque pearls.

First Friday also marks the day tickets go on sale for Chester’s 2nd Ladies Sip & Shop, which has been set for Thursday, June 20. Tickets go live on May 3 at 5 p.m. to buy a “swag bag” full of coupons, goodies from town merchants, and the chance for a “Golden Ticket” that will win the lucky recipient a terrific gift. See the Visit Chester CT Facebook page for full details on this shoppin’ and sippin’ event, which drew more than 200 folks to Chester last year. This year’s proceeds will go to support Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut.

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.

Share

CT Shoreline Fire Departments Host Food Drive Today; Benefits Shoreline Soup Kitchens

AREAWIDE — For the eighth year in succession, Connecticut shoreline fire departments will host a one-day food drive on Saturday, April 27, to collect non-perishable food for shoreline residents in need.

The local fire stations will be open to receive donations of non-perishable food on April 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All donations will go to local food pantries run by the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP). This year’s annual food drive will feature NEWS8 WTNH as a new media sponsor and also marks the 30th anniversary of the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, which is proudly celebrating its three decades of service since it opened its doors to those in need in 1989, hopes to include all fire departments in the 11 shoreline towns they serve. Fire departments already committed to the event to receive donations at their stations include:

  • Old Saybrook Fire Department, 310 Main Street (and also OSFD food drop-offs at the Stop & Shop in Old Saybrook and the Big Y in Old Saybrook)
  • Westbrook Fire Department, 15 South Main Street
  • Essex Fire Department & Colonia Market, 11 Saybrook Road
  • Clinton Fire Department, 35 East Main Street and Stop & Shop, Clinton
  • North Madison Fire Department & Roberts Food Market, 864 Opening Hill Road
  • Chester Fire Department, 6 High Street 
  • Deep River Fire Department, 58 Union Street

Several other fire departments are expected to participate, as well. Watch for announcements on the Shoreline Soup Kitchens’ website at www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org. All area fire departments are encouraged to participate.

In addition, the Essex Savings Bank on Main Street in Old Saybrook is joining the food drive this year and is accepting food during regular business hours until noon on Saturday, April 27.

At a time of year when food donations are low, this food drive will help to restock the pantries and ensure that everyone in our local communities will have a place at the table. The Soup Kitchens’ five pantries distributed over 1 million pounds of food last year to needy residents. Only 40 percent of this food comes from the Connecticut Food Bank; the remainder must be either purchased or donated, so every item is appreciated.

Last year’s Shoreline Food Drive brought in almost 4,000 pounds of food and more than $700 in donations. This year’s Shoreline Food Drive’s goal is 6,000 pounds of non-perishable food to help those in need.

Join the effort by donating food, or by holding a food drive in your neighborhood, workplace, or club, and then bringing it to a participating shoreline firehouse. Participating fire departments ask those donating food to only drop off food on April 27. Do not drop off food before that date.

The most needed food items are: 

  • canned tuna
  • soup
  • fruits
  • juice and vegetables
  • peanut butter & jelly
  • pasta, sauce and rice
  • breakfast cereal and oatmeal

This year for your convenience, checks made payable to SSKP (with “FD Drive” in the memo field) can be dropped off, as well, on April 27.

Those items not accepted for the food drive include:

  • rusty or unlabeled cans
  • perishable items
  • homemade items
  • non-commercial packaged or canned items
  • alcoholic beverages and mixes
  • open or used items

This year’s food drive will feature local TV and radio personalities, including Gil Simmons, Chief Meteorologist for WTNH News Channel 8, and talk-show host Lee Elci, the morning personality on his popular Lee Elci Show on 94.9FM News Now-Stimulating Talk. Both Simmons and Elci will be joining firefighters and volunteers on Saturday morning collecting food items at Old Saybrook Fire Headquarters at 310 Main Street. Elci will host a live broadcast from Old Saybrook Fire Department Headquarters at 310 Main St. during this year’s annual food drive.

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, as well as the shoreline fire departments, extend their thanks to Stop & Shop of Old Saybrook and Big Y in Old Saybrook, along with Mirsina’s Restaurant on Main Street in Old Saybrook, for their generous donations to this year’s food drive.

In addition to WTNH News Channel 8 as the food drive’s newest media partner, other media partners include 94.9FM News Now-Stimulating Talk, Soft Rock WBMW 106.5, and Jammin’ 107.7 FM. 

Share

Gov. Lamont, Local Legislators Visit Dominion to Commend Millstone Agreement to Keep Nuclear Facility Open for Another 10 Years

State Senator Norm Needleman (left) and Governor Ned Lamont tour the Millstone Power Station.

AREAWIDE – On Monday, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, joined Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and leaders from Dominion Energy to visit Waterford’s Millstone nuclear facility. While there, Sen. Needleman and others commended a March agreement between Dominion and state electric facilities to keep the nuclear energy facility open for another decade, as well as a regional cooperative agreement between Lamont and five other New England governors to evaluate further use of nuclear energy generation.

On March 15, Lamont and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes announced that Dominion Energy and Connecticut utility companies Eversource and United Illuminating would retain Millstone’s operations for at least the next ten years. Had the plant closed, the New England region could have seen up to a 25 percent increase in carbon emissions as well as the loss of 1,500 jobs, billions of dollars in power replacement costs and increased risk of rolling blackouts. Millstone’s energy output meets more than half of Connecticut’s electricity output needs.

“If we had lost Millstone, it would have done irreparable damage to the state’s power supply and the effects would have been felt not only across Connecticut but throughout New England,” said Sen. Needleman. “As a valuable, efficient and carbon free resource, Millstone’s continued operation will provide significant benefits for the health of Connecticut’s economy and environment. Due to the hard work of Governor Lamont, Lt. Governor Bysiewicz and Commissioner Dykes, among many others, I’m sure this will be just the first of many great achievements in state energy policy to come.”

“The premature loss of Millstone would have been awful for our state and region, spiking energy prices, reversing our progress on cutting carbon emissions, and endangering the reliability of the grid,” Governor Lamont said. “I want to thank the utilities for coming to the table to advance a better deal for Millstone’s power, cutting in half the incremental cost to Connecticut ratepayers of keeping the plant open for the next decade. I want to acknowledge all of the New England governors who have committed to working with us to look at ways we can value these types of facilities in the future. And I especially thank the women and men that make Millstone run safely and efficiently every day.”

“It is a great honor to work for a governor and a lieutenant governor whose leadership on climate and energy – in just the first 100 days – brings ambitious, bold policies that will have impacts for generations to come,” Department of Energy and Public Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “Connecticut has a requirement for economy-wide greenhouse gas reductions of 45 percent below 2001 levels, and this administration is taking even more urgent action, with the goal of a carbon-free grid. Securing Millstone’s power for the next decade will protect grid reliability and climate progress as we work to develop new clean energy sources like solar, offshore wind, and energy efficiency.”

“On behalf of all my colleagues at Millstone Power Station, we thank Governor Lamont and the bipartisan coalition of legislators who allowed Millstone to compete successfully to provide affordable, carbon free electricity to power Connecticut for many years to come,” Thomas F. Farrell II, Chairman, President, and CEO, of Dominion Energy, said.

The contracts between Dominion and the utilities are under PURA review.

Captions for attached photos: State Senator Norm Needleman and Governor Ned Lamont tour the Millstone Power Station; Legislators and energy leaders pose after touring the Millstone Power Station.

Share

Legislators, Superintendents, Residents Express Universal Opposition to Forced School Regionalization

Special to ValleyNewsNow.com

Sitting in the front row of the audience at Monday night’s forum on school regionalization were local school superintendents (from right to left) Ian Neviaser (Lyme-Old Lyme), Pat Ciccone (Westbrook) and Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook.)

Over 100 people turned out for an Education and Regionalization Forum at Old Saybrook Middle School on Thursday, April 11. The event was hosted by Rep. Devin Carney, (R-23rd), with Senators Paul Formica, (R-20th), and Norm Needleman, (D-33rd).

While the two parties differ on Connecticut road tolls, all three local officials said they are against forced regionalization of school district bills proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Senators Bob Duff and Cathy Osten, Deputy President Pro Tempore, and by Governor Ned Lamont.

Rep. Carney said there was an enormous public outcry by small towns and school districts, thousands of pieces of testimony received and hundreds of people, including students from Region 18 schools, who testified in March hearings.  While this probably means that the idea of aligning school districts with recently consolidated probate districts is not advancing, the matter of reducing and reallocating education costs is very much still alive, and pieces of proposed legislation could still become law.

“Nothing is truly ever dead until we gavel out at midnight on June 5,” Rep. Carney said, explaining the state legislative process and timelines of the ongoing session in Hartford. 

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) addresses the audience Monday night while (left) State Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th) awaits his turn to speak. Almost hidden from view, State Sen. Norm Needleman (D-33rd) stands to Rep. Carney’s right.

Of the six bills introduced that address regionalization of schools or services, three have been passed by the Education Committee and further action could be taken on them:

  • Governors Bill 874 establishes an appointed Commission on Shared School Services that is charged with developing shared school services recommendations, requires boards of education (BOEs) to report on currently shared school services and requires regional BOEs to post online monthly current and projected expenditures and to submit information to their town’s legislative body. The commission would issue a report in December 2020, recommendations could be binding on towns and districts. Because of costs of setting up a commission, the bill has been referred to Appropriations Committee;
  • HB 7350 requires regional education service centers (RESCs) to distribute an inventory of goods and services to member BOEs, and the Department of Education (DOE) shall develop a report of best practices by RESCs for regional cooperation. (LEARN, at 44 Hatchetts Hill Road in Old Lyme, is a RESC);
  • SB 1069, proposed by Sen. Needleman, which allows the DOE to study the effects of towns working together as Local Education Agencies, is intended to encourage voluntary regional cooperation and maximize efficiencies and cost savings without being mandated to become regional school districts.

Superintendents Ian Neviaser (Lyme-Old Lyme), Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook), and Pat Ciccone (Westbrook) addressed how their districts have been sharing services and resources to reduce costs while maintaining the quality of curriculum along with educational, extracurricular and sports activities and programs.  Standard practices include health and dental insurance, energy, financial software, food service and supplies, plus student transportation for specialized programs.

Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Region 4 (Chester, Deep River and Essex plus the three elementary schools for each of those towns, which are not part of Region 4) school districts already share staff, Perruccio said, in an arrangement that has the flexibility to change yearly based on each districts’ demographic needs.

Perruccio said she was alarmed that the forced regionalization bills showed a lack of regard and understanding of how school districts are already sharing resources with a focus on quality of education.

Ciccone cited how the districts are coordinating to provide professional development for their teachers, and how Westbrook’s school facilities, sports programs and fields are utilized by the Town Parks and Recreation Department and local YMCA. The schools and town share legal and financial services support, as well. 

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser stands at the podium during Monday evening’s forum.

“There is a money issue here, we need to be frank about it,” said Neviaser, pointing out that significant redistribution of wealth from school districts with higher property values and tax base already occurs. 

Fifty-one percent of New London’s school budget is paid by the state, he said., as is over 60 percent of Norwich’s, 33 percent of Montville’s and 14 percent of East Lyme’s school budgets. Meanwhile, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools receive less than one percent of operating expenses from the state.

“There was no mention of improving educational outcomes in these regionalization proposals,” commented Tina Gilbert of Lyme. “It is because of our school district’s focus on that, we are in the top four in the country in education.  There is no discussion of parent involvement in schools; we are not wealthy or privileged people, we chose to live in this school district for our children.  What it takes to build [highly performing schools] is parent involvement, working with parents.”

When asked if they moved to their town because of the quality of the schools, a high number of people in the audience raised their hands.

While the majority of questions and comments addressed specifics of proposed legislation, the overarching issue of state fiscal problems and how to address government spending arose. Lyme and Old Lyme residents were some of the most vocal about the impact of proposed legislation on property values, taxes and the quality of local school districts.

“The majority of the state doesn’t have a problem, town government works in Connecticut, but Hartford is not responsible,” said Curt Deane of Lyme, pointing out a seven-page summary of education service-sharing produced by LEARN in February.  “The initial [regionalization] proposals would have raised my property taxes by 50 percent overnight. Taxes go up, property values go down. People have to understand, this is going to hit our property taxes and hit hard. This isn’t going to go away.” 

“We can’t be a state with only great little towns and not great cities,” Sen. Needleman said, citing imbalances of health care outcomes and school performance between wealthier communities and the state’s large cities. He continued, “While we don’t want to mess up what we have, we can’t turn our backs on the disparities.”

The legislators encouraged voters to speak up, write letters, follow grassroots organizations such as Hands Off Our Schools or form their own group to express concerns to elected officials.

Share

Award-winning D.B. Rielly Performs a ‘Concert in Garden’ Tonight

D.B. Rielly

Photo courtesy of D.B. Rielly

CHESTER — Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery presents the next Concert in the Garden on Saturday, April. 13, from 7 to 9 p.m.

D.B. Rielly is an award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who, along with his band, performs a wide-ranging collection of Americana music, including Roots, Zydeco, Blues, and Alt-Country.

WMLB in Atlanta calls him “one of the best songwriters you’ve never heard of” and Country Music People magazine says he is, “rootsy, frequently very funny, witty and cynical, literate and highly enjoyable. Rielly is definitely someone to watch out for.”

Rielly himself promises his listeners an “instantaneous cure for all afflictions.”

 Check out Rielly’s videos at http://www.youtube.com/dbrielly

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.
For more information, call (860) 526-2077 or visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com. The studio is at 1 Spring St., in the heart of Chester Center.
Share

Rep. Carney, Local School Superintendents Host Forum Tomorrow on School Regionalization, Education

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) in conjunction with the School Superintendents from Lyme-Old Lyme (Ian Neviaser), Old Saybrook (Jan Perruccio) and Westbrook (Pat Ciccone) invite the public to attend an informational forum regarding education and school regionalization Thursday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Old Saybrook Middle School Auditorium, 60 Sheffield St., Old Saybrook.

This event, which is free and open to the public, will provide an update on the status of state legislation affecting local public education, including forced regionalization. School regionalization has been a major topic of discussion during the 2019 legislative session, and this event will allow area residents to share their concerns, get their questions answered, and discuss potential alternatives.

For further information and any other concerns regarding state government, email State Rep. Carney at Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov or call 800-842-1423.

Share

Chester Garden Club Presents Talk on Hydrangeas Tonight; All Welcome

Photo by Tomoko Uji on Unsplash.

CHESTER — On Tuesday, April 9, at 7 p.m., the Chester Garden Club will be hosting a presentation by Liba Judd of Broken Arrow Nursery on “Lacecaps, Mopheads and Sterile Florets: Great Hydrangeas for Adventurous Gardeners” at the United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester. 

Members of the Chester Garden Club and the public are invited to attend.  The cost for guests will be $5.

For additional information, contact Chester Garden Club Co-President Brenda Johnson at (860) 526-2998.

Share

Spring is in the Air and on the Street for ‘First Friday’ in Chester, Tonight

Photo courtesy of The Perfect Pear,

CHESTER — Spring is in the air, and Chester is eager to shed the winter doldrums to celebrate First Friday this evening, April 5. Festivities include gallery openings, new shops and original offerings all around town.

Chester Gallery & Framing welcomes Spring with a new collection of works by select Connecticut artists, including four drawings of Chester by Chuck Baird (1947-2012), who was also a renowned storyteller and actor in the National Theater for the Deaf.

‘Arrowhead’ plays tonight during ‘First Friday’ at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery.

At Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery, Nilsson’s exhibit features new gouache and oil works and live music by Arrowhead.

Chester’s newest merchant, Erica Tannen and The E List Shop at 1 North Main Street, features an exhibit of recent work by Brian Keith Stephens along with the newly launched women’s clothing store. The E List’s neighbor, Caryn Paradis Interior Design, opens its new space at 3 North Main Street with a meet-and-greet with Jeremy Hughes, a Chester-based artist, who uses natural materials to create innovative and inspiring pieces for the home or office.

The C & G building in Chester is home to the new E-List Shop, which will be open tonight to celebrate First Friday in Chester.

Blackkat Leather is hosting local photographer Derek Hayn for a special showing of his works as an architectural photographer. His photos include dramatic aerial views of New York and Boston skylines, as well as landscapes of New England and abroad. 

At Lark, Pastry Chef Joyce Brewster of Hillanddale and the Golden Lamb Buttery in Brooklyn, Conn., will be on hand to talk, sample and sell her much-loved pie handiwork.

Shops at the Mill House is rolling out new Spring inventory from its wide selection of antiques dealers.

Along with a new line of Emile Henry made-in-France bread-baking gear, The Perfect Pear is introducing handmade ceramic Guinea fowl of Provence from Les Céramiques de Lussan. These whimsical birds are hand-crafted from Provençal clay and painstakingly painted in a wide range of colors.

On the restaurant front, Grano Arso is celebrating the First Friday in April with “Par for the Course,” a new cocktail by bartender Zack Joyce made with Prairie Vodka, English Breakfast tea, lemon and mint.

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.

For more information about First Friday, visit Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or call (860) 322-4047.

Share

Shoreline Arts Alliance Now Accepting Applications for ‘Scholarships in the Arts: Top Talent’

Kayla Bryan, who was last year’s Instrumental Music Scholarship winner, is shown above performing in the 2018 Top Talent Showcase. Photo © Judith L. Barbosa.

AREAWIDE — Shoreline Arts Alliance announces the opening of applications for the 39th annual Scholarships in the Arts: Top Talent. This program is open to juniors and seniors residing within Shoreline Arts Alliance’s 24 town region and who want to pursue an education in the arts. Applicants can apply in seven different categories of study. The winner in each category will receive a $1,000 scholarship for continuing education and/or supplies as well as a mentorship from a professional artist in the winners chosen field. Applications are now available on the website and will be open until April 24, which will be followed by in-person auditions, interviews, and portfolio reviews on May 3 and 4.

Applications for the scholarships can be found on the Shoreline Arts Alliance website. Applications can be submitted online or through a mail-in form. An in-person audition, interview, and/or portfolio review is required for each application and will take place at the ACES Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, CT on May 3 and 4, 2019. These in person auditions/interviews/portfolio reviews give the students the opportunity to learn about presenting themselves and their art before a jury of professionals.

Students who reside in the 24-town-region (region includes all of Middlesex County, Madison, Guilford, North Branford, Branford, East Haven, Lyme, East Lyme, Old Lyme, and Salem) and are interested in the arts are encouraged to apply. The categories are, Theatre, Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Creative Writing, Dance, Visual Art, and, our newest category, the Jeffrey Dobbs Scholarship for Excellence in Painting.

These seven categories are judged by professional, working artists in each field of study. These professionals pay special attention to detail, to the students commitment to the art form of their choosing, and give valuable feedback to each student. Judges choose a winner in each category and they may also choose a special recognition in any given category. Winners and special recognition winners will be asked to participate in a showcase on May 14 at Evergreen Woods.

The Scholarship in the Arts program is meant to educate, encourage, enrich, and engage the students through audition practice, interview practice, and valuable feedback from professional artists. Students who are serious about their careers in the arts will be given important lessons on interviewing, preparing a portfolio for review, and auditioning. This preparation, in a safe and judgement free environment, will allow the students to feel comfortable in future interviewing/auditioning/portfolio review processes.

Visit www.shorelinearts.org/top-talent to learn more about this program, find submission information, and to download the application or apply online. A $25 non-refundable fee is required for each application. Contact Shoreline Arts Alliance for further information by emailing office@shorelinearts.org or calling 203.453.3890.

Editor’s Note: Shoreline Arts Alliance is a non-profit 501(c)3 based in Guilford, CT. Shoreline Arts Alliance is the state appointed arts council for a 24 town region including all of Middlesex County, East Haven, Guilford, Madison, Branford, North Branford, Lyme, Old Lyme, Salem, and East Lyme. Shoreline Arts Alliance’s mission is to Transform Lives through the Arts and we do so by educating students, encouraging artists, engaging the community, and enriching the cultural landscape of the Shoreline and beyond. Shoreline Arts Alliance offers free programs and services across the State of Connecticut. To learn more about these programs, visit www.shorelinearts.org or contact office@shorelinearts.org or 203.453.3890

Share

Sen. Needleman, Rep. Carney and Mclachlan Host Community Conversation in Westbrook

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

AREAWIDE – State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) and State Representatives Devin Carney (R-23rd) and Jesse MacLachlan (R-) will hold a Community Conversation event with the public this evening,  Wednesday, April 3. The event is scheduled to be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Westbrook Town Hall’s Multimedia Room, located at 866 Boston Post Rd. in Westbrook.

Sen. Needleman’s 33rd District includes Lyme, and State Rep. Carney’s 23rd District includes Lyme and Old Lyme.

Sen. Needleman and Reps. MacLachlan and Carney will discuss the state budget with members of the public, among a number of other important legislative issues.

“Getting out into the community is so important, as I can hear from the public first-hand about what issues impact them the most,” said Sen. Needleman. “There are a number of significant topics this legislative session, including bills dealing with school regionalization, which deserve our attention. I’m looking forward to sitting with Representatives MacLachlan and Carney to hear directly from Westbrook.”

“The 2019 legislative session is well underway and many people have been asking about topics ranging from the budget, taxes, tolls and school regionalization,” said Rep. Carney. “I am grateful that residents continue to take advantage of these types of events, am looking forward to discussing these and many other issues with folks in Westbrook on April 3 alongside Senator Needleman and Representative MacLachlan. I encourage all residents to attend this event or to reach out to my office with any legislative concerns.”

“I look forward to hearing from residents about some of the hot button issues including tolls, the forced regionalization of schools and the several tax increase proposals,” said Rep. MacLachlan. “It’s important for residents to have the opportunity to share their thoughts about legislation that will have a significant impact on their daily lives.”

Share

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

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13’s newest Eagle Scout Ryan Douglas. Photo by Michael Rutty.

CHESTER/DEEP  RIVER — Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 has proudly announced that Ryan David Douglas of Deep River has earned the rank of Eagle Scout.  An Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held for Ryan on Jan. 20, 2019 at the Deep River Town Hall Auditorium.

To become an Eagle Scout, Douglas earned 36 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 the scout’s community, school, or religious institution and and complete a service project that benefits that same broad community.  While a Scout in Troop 13, Douglas attended National Youth Leadership Training and served as the Senior Patrol Leader for Troop 13.

Douglas showed leadership over others by designing and implementing a plan that resulted in the construction of a gate guard booth replacing a simple chair at the entrance to the Deep River Landing site. Specifically the booth is of a new stick-built construction providing a fully-enclosed, aesthetically-pleasing, weather-proofed structure for park attendants transactions with users of the landing area. Completing this project entailed working with municipal offices and committees, securing donations for supplies and designing and overseeing volunteers through the construction and installation of said gate guard booth.

The completed project provides an important service to the Deep River community and guests who utilize the riverfront park by providing an official looking sheltered guard booth necessary to prevent overuse and illegal parking at the popular landing area.

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

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

Share

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

Governor Ned Lamont (D)

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

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

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

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

The revised language in governor’s proposal:

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

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

**DownloadProposed revised language to SB 874

Share

Needleman Proposes New School Regionalization Plan

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

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

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

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

The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Town of Lyme.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

Op-Ed: Forced Regionalization of Our Schools Will be a Disaster For Our Communities

This op-ed was submitted by Tina C. Gilbert of Lyme. It was also sent as a letter to State Senators Paul Formica  (R-20th) and Norman Needleman (D-33rd), and State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd.) Gilbert has children in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools and is Vice-President of LCN USA located in Deep River, Conn.  

I am seriously concerned about the lack of awareness and sense of urgency in the Lyme-Old Lyme communities regarding the proposed Bills to force school regionalization, specifically Bill 454 (SB 738). It is a grave mistake for any tax payer in Lyme or Old Lyme  to think this doesn’t affect them just because they don’t have children attending the schools. We know the chances of this getting approved are strong, if not, at this point, unavoidable.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the recent BOE meeting where I would have addressed my concerns. At the BOE meeting I understand that it was said that Region 18 had “good representation” at last Friday’s hearings on the proposed bills. We had, from my count, 5 children and 5 adults (2 without their children) at the hearing. The town of Wilton, conversely, had well over 100 – if not 150 constituents there. That is good representation. The hearing required three overflow rooms apart from the primary hearing room. Each of them packed with floors occupied by children. I could be mistaken, but I believe that is a very rare occurrence.

Next week, the Committee will vote on whether these Bills move forward. If they vote to move forward, the consequences to our two communities will be devastating and irrevocable. Our local BOE is concerned about the attrition rate of students in Region 18. However, imagine if you will the entire school population coming from the Town of Lyme no longer attending the Middle School or High School. No amount of marketing for out-of-region students or pre-K applicants is going to fill that void. What then are the effects? Jobs gone. Shared programs gone (LYSB). Culture, history, community …. compromised. Taxes increased. Residents leaving. Property values tanking. Parents putting themselves into debt to send their children to whatever private school they can find.
The Town of Old Lyme will follow the Probate system and will be regionalized with East Lyme, Salem and Montville. There will be a regionalized BOE and one Superintendent (that means 3 lose their jobs.) Governor Lamont specifically called out wanting to reduce the number of Superintendents. East Lyme is a large and powerful school. I don’t think it takes a deep thinker to figure out who is going to have more power in the new regionalized district.
We live in the Town of Lyme. We moved here from Deep River so that our children would be in the Region 18 schools. With this forced Regionalization, Lyme will join Deep River, Chester, Essex, Haddam and Killingworth. Children from the farthest reaches of Lyme will be bussed across the river to attend schools there. Bus rides will be well over an hour. Parents who want to be active in their children’s schooling will be challenged with having to follow suit and drive either over the bridge to Rt 9 (and soon pay tolls to do so) or over the bridge in Haddam.  My husband and I recently moved our business to Deep River, so we know how time consuming it is to come back to Lyme Consolidated in the middle of the day for a school event. This is the first year of the last seven that our children have been in the school that we’ve missed nearly every program. Frankly it would be easier for us to have our kids going to school on the other side of the river. But we don’t want that – we moved here for the quality of the education.
From the hearing and follow up discussion, it has become clear that the Forced Regionalization concept is in fact not about the state saving money. The Committee members supporting the legislation made their opinions on that clear. And a Bill supporter who has the ears of these members (including the Chair) put it succinctly as follows:
“Connecticut has too many school districts, and the richest ones are fortresses that have pulled all the ladders up after them while the poorest sink deeper and deeper. Town-based school districts drive wealth inequality and force towns to compete against one another instead of cooperating. Worst of all, they embody institutionalized and systemic racism. They enforce de facto segregation, which is the toxic legacy of redlining and exclusionary zoning, and we will never be able to move forward until that changes.”
In summary, this infers that we residents of Lyme and Old Lyme are a bunch of privileged racists who only want the best for their children and none for others. This tired tactic is offensive and reprehensible.
I am happy that there is broad bipartisan support against these Bills. But that’s not enough. If these Bills fail, the Governor has proposed his own Bill SB 874 with 32 pages of detail on a very powerful school consolidation commission that will make decisions that may or may not have to be put to vote by the legislators. The Governor stated he will sign it into law. There is also discussion of a new Regional Tax layer – to add to our Federal, State and Local taxes – to support all of this.

In the end, Forced Regionalization equals Forced Equalization equals Forced Marginalization. The sum is Disaster to our communities.
The word needs to get out to our communities, so at the very least they are educated on the subject and not blind-sided when they learn of the fate of their children’s education or are shocked when they see their future tax bills.
How can we make this happen? How can we get the word out? We have very little time.
Share

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

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

Matthew Shafner Memorial Scholarship for Sons/Daughters of Disabled Workers Now Accepting Applications

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share