October 24, 2020

It’s ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall jewelry by Dina Varano.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visitors that feel unwell are asked to stay home.

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

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

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Valley Regional High School Graduates 11 Eagle Scouts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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First Case of COVID-19 Confirmed in Chester

Photo by CDC on Unsplash


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Estuary Regional Senior Center Closed, But Still Providing Critical Meals on Wheels Service

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

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

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

The following changes in services have been announced:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eversource Conducts Statewide Infrared Helicopter Inspections Through Feb. 28


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A View From My Porch: Remembering Connecticut Icon William Gillette

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

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

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

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

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

The Sherlockian Literature

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. See below for photo credit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Gillette. See below for photo credit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Key Elements of Gillette’s Sherlock

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

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

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

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

Some Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Gotowka

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

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

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

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Needleman Appointed Senate Vice Chair of Planning & Development Committee

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen Saturday, Jan. 11, fro 1 to1:30 p.m. or Sunday, Jan. 12, from 7 t 7:30 am, on WLIS 1420 AM/Old Saybrook and WMRD 1150 AM/Middletown, or streaming at www.wliswmrd.net. Play back on your PC or Mac anytime from http://www.wliswmrd.net, click the On Demand icon, look for pop-up screen from radiosecurenetsystems.net, and scroll to  CT-Outdoors-10720—CT-Audubon-Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sponsored post on behalf of Suisman Shapiro.

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

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

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

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

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Palm Holds Young Earner Prosperity Roundtable


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palm says there are four main goals of the project:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For questions, call (860) 873-9375.

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

Brief Biography of Venture Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sponsorships are still available. Contact the Friends for details.

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

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

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

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

Saybrook Probate Judge Jeannine Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teryy Cowgill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manero continues, “

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight!

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere around town:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media

Jim Cameron

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

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

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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.

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‘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.
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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”

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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 .

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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 –
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