September 20, 2021

Gardening Tips from ‘The English Lady’ for June ‘… the Month God Invented, Since Spring is a Tough Act to Follow’

“Cast ne’er a clout till May is out” is the medieval English saying means do not put away your long johns until May is over; well, we certainly have had a few very cool nights recently, which is just wonderful … allowing sleeping with the windows open.

I cannot remember the last time we had a real spring like the one we are experiencing this year, with plenty of rain. May is typically a dry month, although with the effects of global warming, no weather is typical these days. However, this beneficial rain is wonderful for all the spring plant growth happening in the beginning of the growing season.

Peonies by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash.

I am so in awe of the miracle of Mother Nature; the symbiotic relationship between plants and others of God’s creatures. As I look out of my window into my field, I can see the buds opening on my long stand of peonies, which brings to mind just one of those symbiotic relationships — the friendly partnership between ants and peonies.  

I am often asked “Maureen, should I worry about ants on my peonies?” The answer is “That’s not a problem, lots of ants on the peonies just demonstrate that you have healthy plants with big buds producing more nectar and therefore attract the ants”.

Make sure Peonies get plenty of water and after blooming, apply a light dose of organic 5-10-5 fertilizer and check the soils PH it should be between 6.5 and 7.0.  It is hard to ruin a good peony border but you can err in the fertilizing process, so go easy on the organic aged manure (never thought I would say that) and apply just the light dose of fertilizer — to reiterate apply the fertilizer after blooming.  

Now, in June, I pinch off the side-buds on my large stand of peonies, thus ensuring big blooms on the rest of the plant.  

On the subject of ants; if you see them “let them live,” because often their presence indicates that we have aphids around and ants feed off aphids; they are very useful creatures.

Another very useful creature in the pest wars; is the lowly toad so I always put out some toad houses (which you can purchase from the garden center) around and about in your borders.  You can also use an old clay pot that is cracked and make sure that the crack is two to three inches wide for the door so the toad can enter. Also put a small saucer as a floor under the pot with some rocks, which you keep damp, so that your friendly bad-bug-eater has his or her ideal home environment.

MULCH:

Mulch your gardens in June; when the ground has warmed up to about 45 or 50 degrees. When you mulch, be careful mulching around trees; do not get the mulch any closer than four inches from the trunk, as any closer it can promote rot and disease in the tree itself. Also trees that are mulched too deeply near the trunk invite mice and other rodents to come nest and then gnaw on the trunk.  

The garden as a whole can be mulched to a depth of between two and three inches. I prefer fine hardwood mulch in the dark brown color but no dyed red mulch please … keep the garden looking natural and not like a Disney theme park.

ROSES:

An ‘Evelyn’ rose by David Austin, the author’s favorite.

June is the month when Roses begin to bloom. I prefer David Austin roses that I find are the most trouble free roses, are repeat bloomers and have wonderful fragrances. Some of my favorites are A Shropshire Lad, a soft peachy pink, Abraham Darby with blooms in apricot to yellow, Fair Bianca a pure white, Heritage, a soft clear pink. My absolute favorite is Evelyn, pictured at right, which has giant apricot flowers in a saucer shape and the fragrance is second to none with a luscious fruity tone, reminding me of fresh peaches and apricots.  

Feed your roses with an organic rose food called Roses Alive, which you can obtain from “Gardens Alive” on the internet, feed them once a month until mid August, then stop feeding so they can go into a slow dormancy.

Japanese beetles are very attracted to roses, so any Japanese beetle traps should be placed far away from your borders on the perimeter of the property. Or check TheEnglishLady.com on the Organic Products page for other solutions to the beetles and other unwanted pests.    

A tip for keeping cut roses fresh: cut the roses in the morning before 10 am, just above a five leaf cluster and place stems in a container of lukewarm water.  Inside the house recut the stems under warm running water, forming a one and a half inch angular cut, then place in a vase filled with warm water.  Do not remove the thorns on cut roses, I have found this practice reduces their indoor life by as much as three days.  

HYDRANGEAS:

These need plenty of water, (in the fields they were originally found close to water being a wetland plant before they were introduced into our gardens), also organic aged manure, good ventilation, organic fertilizer and full sun.

Wisteria in full bloom is always a sight to behold. Photo by Alyssa Strohman on Unsplash.

WISTERIA:

Regular pruning through spring and summer is the main factor to help this arrogant vine to flower — and by that I mean several times during the season. Prune every two weeks at least six inches on each stem.  

CLEMATIS:

If you have a wilt problem with clematis, you notice it early because the shoots wilt and die. Unfortunately this disease is impossible to cure, as it is soil-borne. Therefore you cannot plant another clematis of that species in that area but you can plant the Viticella clematis selection; these are vigorous, free flowering blooms and are not susceptible to wilt.  Some good choices in this variety are Blue Belle, Etoile Violette (both are purple) and Huldine, which is a white,  

CONTAINER GARDENS:

If you have room for one pot, you have room for a number — placed close together in different shapes and sizes, they can create your own miniature garden. Apart from regular pots, the most unexpected objects make really interesting containers. A friend, who cut down trees this past winter, left the stumps and hollowed them out to make containers — one large and two smaller stumps together — a really interesting combo.  

At the same time look in your basement, shed or barn to see if you have an old wheelbarrow, which, even if it has a wheel missing, will present an unusual angle as a planter. Or you may come across a large chipped ceramic jar — I, in fact, have an old two foot tall ceramic vinegar container, replete with a hole where the vinegar tap was inserted, ideal for drainage, which will look great on my newly-painted blue bench next to my red milk shed.  

LAWN CARE:

Do not forget to add organic grub control through July, so that you keep down the mole infestation; remember no grubs, less food for the moles.  

POWDERY MILDEW:

Keep an eye open for powdery mildew, especially after a rain and the humidity returns.  In a sprayer, mix two tablespoons of baking soda, two tablespoons of vegetable or horticultural oil in a gallon of water and spray the mildew.  Summer phlox is particularly prone to this affliction; I recommend Phlox Miss Lingard or Phlox David, white ones of the species, these are the most mildew resistant.  

Monarda, commonly known as Bee Balm, is also affected by the mildew; the one I have found to be the most resistant is Cambridge Scarlet. Do be careful when introducing Monarda into the garden; they, like Purple Loosestrife and Evening Primrose are extremely invasive and can take over your entire border.  

On the subject of invasive plants, if you plant mint, plant it only in containers, otherwise mint will spread throughout your borders.  

I hope these tips are useful to you in this busy time of year in the garden and I’ll see you in the garden or on my website next month.

Contact Maureen at maureenhaseleyjones@gmail.com

About the author: Maureen Haseley-Jones, pictured left, is a member of a family of renowned horticultural artisans, whose landscaping heritage dates back to the 17th century. She is one of the founders, together with her son Ian, of, The English Lady Landscape and Home Company. Maureen and Ian are landscape designers and garden experts, who believe that everyone deserves to live in an eco-conscious environment and enjoy the pleasure that it brings. Maureen learned her design skills from both her mother and grandmother, and honed her horticultural and construction skills while working in the family nursery and landscape business in the U.K. Her formal horticultural training was undertaken at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in Surrey.

After Year of Closure, Gillette Castle Interior Re-opens to Public 

Harold “Tyke” and Theodora “Teddie” Niver – appearing as William and Helen Gillette – stand on the terrace overlooking the Connecticut River at the century-old home of the late Connecticut actor. After a year of pandemic-imposed closure, the structure has re-opened for the 2021 season. Photo courtesy of Kelly Hunt, Capture the Moment Photography.

EAST HADDAM, Conn. – For the first time since late 2019, Gillette Castle has re-opened and will be available for public visits during Gillette Castle State Park’s regular opening hours, park officials said. 

Because of the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mansion built a century ago by the late stage actor William Gillette remained closed throughout 2020 in accord with Connecticut’s official policy for all indoor facilities associated with state parks. 

The park’s grounds are open from 8 a.m. until sunset daily, offering visitors a chance to use the park’s varied hiking trails, stroll around Gillette’s unique home and perhaps spot the eagles that frequently nest with their young along the river at many times of the year. 

Self-paced tours of the structure are to be conducted from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily, with each day’s final tour starting at 4 p.m. After Labor Day, tours will be conducted only on weekends through Columbus Day. Tickets are $6 and may be obtained at the Castle entrance on the day of visit. 

State officials report that ticket sales will also be available for pre-purchase for up to 12 individuals for specific time slots at 15-minute intervals. To guarantee a slot, advance purchase is recommended. To pre-reserve, guests in time will be able to check online at the Reserve America website (tinyurl.com/4ty5e59p) under “Gillette Castle State Park Tours.” 

In anticipation of the official opening May 29, a limited “soft opening” of the structure’s interior one week earlier allowed park officials and tour guides to practice their presentations with members of the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park, who received a “sneak peek” in exchange.

Most Connecticut state park buildings, museums, nature centers and other enclosed structures were opened on Memorial Day weekend. Under the state’s guidelines, six feet of social distancing must be maintained at all times while inside park buildings. Masks will be required inside the structure, regardless of vaccination status.

“The home of William Gillette is the true centerpiece of this wonderful park, and it was frustrating for us not to be able to share this jewel’s inner beauty and wonders with everyone,” said Lynn Wilkinson, president of the Friends organization. “Now, thanks to a lot of hard work by many people, we’re excited to say that it’s ready to go back on display.”

The park is nestled between the towns of East Haddam and Lyme. Many of its trails follow a former railroad bed created for a narrow-gauge track installed by the late Connecticut stage actor, who built his castle-like home atop one of the Seven Sister Hills along the river. 

Trail maps and videos of the estate may be found on the Friends website at www.gillettecastlefriends.org. Those interested in becoming a Friends member may sign up online or download a mail-in application form at the website, or direct their questions to info@gillettecastlefriends.org or (860) 222-7850. 

The organization’s mission includes the preservation, restoration and conservation of the historic structure and its scenic grounds. The all-volunteer, nonprofit group works in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Memberships help to finance park and structural improvements while preserving the estate and Gillette’s legacy.

Drive-Thru Vaccination Clinic in Old Saybrook This Afternoon; No Appointment Required

Photo of COVID-19 vials by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash.

OLD SAYBROOK — Still not vaccinated against COVID-19?

Help achieve immunity in the community by going to a drive-through vaccination clinic at Old Saybrook Middle School (OSMS), Thursday, May 6, from 3:30 to 8 p.m. You will not need to exit your car to receive the vaccine.

No appointment is required and you can choose which vaccine to receive: Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

You can even choose which snack to enjoy — a hot dog or a hamburger!

The OSMS is located at 60 Sheffield St., Old Saybrook.

With Rise in COVID-19 Case Rates, CT DPH Urges Residents Not to Travel; Continue Mask-Wearing, Social Distancing

CT DPH emphasizes Continued vigilance and adherence to mitigation measures, including masks and social distancing, is key.

HARTFORD, CT – The State Department of Public Health (DPH) is reminding residents to remain vigilant against COVID-19 as case rates have risen over the last two weeks.

Connecticut DPH has moved several Connecticut towns that had been seeing falling or stable COVID-19 case rates back into Red Alert status, as the average daily case rate for COVID-19 has increased statewide to 25 cases/100,000 residents per day.

Over 90 percent of the Connecticut population, including the residents of Chester and Deep River, live in a town with an average daily case rate of over 15 cases per 100,000 residents (e.g. red alert towns). It is estimated that 40 percent of these new cases are the B.1.1.7 variant.

While case rates have decreased among persons age 70 and older, they have plateaued or increased among all other age groups. The age group with the highest case rates are 20– to 29-year-olds.

The county with the highest case rate is New Haven County at 31.8/100,000. The towns with the highest case rates are located in the Waterbury/Naugatuck Valley area; Waterbury has the second highest case rate in the state at 43.4/100,000.

For the latest town map and other COVID-19-related data, click here.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased over the last week with 456 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 as of today.

Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including those known to be more transmissible, are circulating in Connecticut and put people, who are not fully vaccinated, at increased risk of infection, serious illness, and death.

Continued vigilance and adherence to mitigation measures, including masks and social distancing, is key.

In addition, Connecticut residents considering travelling during the upcoming spring break season are urged to review CDC’s travel guidance, which continues to recommend against traveling at this time.

Connecticut DPH urges residents to get vaccinated if eligible or when you become eligible. The department also reminds residents that you are not fully vaccinated until 14 days after the entire vaccination regimen.

Editor’s Note: This report is based on a press release issued by CT DPH and distributed by Ledge Light Health Department.

Musical Masterworks Presents Mozart, Bach & More in March Concert, Tickets to View Video on Sale Now

Randall Scarlata

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks welcomes Randall Scarlata, baritone, along with Jeewon Park, on piano and Edward Arron on cello for their March concert video, which will be filmed on the stage of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

The concert video will feature the music of Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Schumann.

This performance will be filmed in mid-March and the link to the virtual concert will be made available to ticket buyers on March 27.  The video can be enjoyed for three weeks and watched as many times as one wishes. 

Ticket holders will be able to experience Musical Masterworks as an intimate concert experience, providing a virtual front row seat, featuring the excellence of the performers’ artistry.

Musical Masterworks season finale performance will be filmed in May when will welcome back favorite artists, Gilles Vonsattel on piano and Tessa Lark on violin.

Musical Masterworks’ season runs through May 2021.  To purchase individual video tickets ($40 each), or student tickets ($5 each), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or email admin@musicalmasterworks.org.

Applicants Sought for Award Supporting Young Adults with Autism, Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities

Alexandra Dilger

AREAWIDE — An annual award for young adults who have faced challenges while working toward a personal goal is being offered by A Little Compassion, Inc., an area non-profit that works to change the lives of individuals with autism, intellectual, and developmental disabilities.

The organization operates The Nest Coffee House in downtown Deep River, providing employment and social opportunities for young adults with disabilities and increasing public awareness that they are vital and valuable community members. 

The Alexandra Dilger Award provides support for recipients aged 18 to 30 from a Lower Connecticut River Valley community, helping them continue to progress toward the attainment of their goals, such as becoming an illustrator or musician, attending college or starting a small business.

The application process includes the completion of a brief nomination form by the individual themselves or an adult community member. Finalists will participate in a friendly conversation with the nomination team.  

The award was established by Gale and Patrick Dilger of Deep River in memory of their daughter, Alexandra, who lived a rich and full life despite struggles with depression and anxiety throughout her teenage years and into her early 20s.  At the time of her passing at age 21 in November, 2018, Alexandra was working on her undergraduate degree at Landmark College in Vermont, with the intention of progressing to graduate school. 

“Our hope is that this award will represent a step toward greater independence and accomplishment for young adults who, like Alexandra, have wrestled with personal challenges, but have a goal in mind and are determined to achieve it,” the Dilgers said. 

Last year’s inaugural Alexandra Dilger award was presented to three young area adults: Jillian Noyes, of Old Saybrook, seeking to become an independent filmmaker, received specialized driving lessons, courtesy of Next Street Driving School.  Andre Foristall of Higganum received a laptop to help him with his computer science studies at Middlesex Community College and Evan Merenda of Madison also received an upgradable computer that will assist him to study bioinformatics at Landmark College, Vermont.

The deadline for nominations for the 2021 award is April 23 and the award recipients will be notified in May. More information and nomination forms are available at www.alittlecompassion.org or call 203 641-8656.

Coral Reefs are Topic of Opening Virtual Lecture in RTPEC’s 2021 CT River Series, Tomorrow

AREAWIDE  — Throughout the past challenging year, the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center (RTPEC), which is is part of Connecticut Audubon Society, has still found many ways to continue its work in environmental education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

It has offered small group programs like bird walks and owl prowls, a virtual Connecticut River ecology course, seasonal nature crafts for kids via Zoom, and more.

The RTPEC continues its mission with the announcement of their Spring 2021 Connecticut River Lecture Series.

A mainstay of the organization’s adult programming, the Connecticut River Lecture Series introduces scientists, researchers, writers, and artists who inform us about the biodiverse coastal and estuarine ecosystems of our region and planet.

In 2021, the RTPEC will celebrate the series’ seventh year with Zoom presentations from three prominent scientists, each focusing on a critical environmental issue. The programs are free, but registration is required and space is limited.

All the programs start at 6 p.m.

Thursday, March 11
Coral Reefs: Rainforests and Canaries of the Sea
Mark Hixon, Ph.D., Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

Dr. Mark Hixon

A leading expert on coral reefs, Dr. Hixon will discuss what is happening to them, why they are important, and how we can help preserve them.

Mark Hixon is the Sidney and Erika Hsiao Endowed Chair in Marine Biology and Chair of the Zoology Graduate Program at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. His research analyzes what determines the number of fish in the sea, how so many species naturally coexist, and how marine reserves and artificial reefs help conserve sea life and enhance fisheries.

A Fulbright Senior Scholar, Aldo Leopold Fellow, and Fellow of the International Coral Reef Society, Dr. Hixon serves on the editorial boards of multiple scientific journals. Past chair of both the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee for NOAA and the Ocean Sciences Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation, Mark has given TED talks and appeared on the PBS TV show “Saving the Oceans.”

Details of the second lecture are as follows:

Thursday, April 8
Butterflies: Monarchs, Migrations, and Conservation
Robert Michael Pyle, Ph.D., conservation biologist and author of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, will be interviewed by Evan Griswold.  

As a foremost authority on butterflies and other invertebrates, in 1971 Dr. Pyle founded The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, an international nonprofit organization that protects the natural world through the conservation of butterflies and all invertebrates and their habitats.

Evan Griswold will interview Dr Pyle about his life’s work on invertebrates and monarch butterfly migration and conservation.

Robert Michael Pyle grew up and learned his butterflies in Colorado. He earned his Ph.D. in butterfly ecology at Yale and worked as a conservation biologist in Papua New Guinea, Oregon, and Cambridge, England.

He has written 22 books including The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, winner of the 1987 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing and the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award. His book about Pacific Northwest forests and origins of the legends of Sasquatch was recently made into a movie.

Dr. Pyle has also published a book of poetry and his newest book, Nature Matrix, is a collection of essays, expressions of a life immersed in the natural world.

Evan Griswold, a Yale School of The Environment/School of Forestry classmate of Dr. Pyle’s, is a former Executive Director of the Connecticut Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and a prominent Connecticut conservationist.

Details of the third and final lecture are as follows:

Thursday, April 29
The Secret Life of Plankton: The Base of the Marine Food Web
Hans Dam, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Connecticut

Plankton, a single cell organism, is the base of the marine food web. Hans Dam will speak about the evolutionary ecology of plankton and its vulnerability to climate change. He will describe the macro-power of its micro-organisms and his efforts to better understand the invisible life teeming in a tablespoon of river or Sound water.

Hans Dam is a biological oceanographer interested in the ecology and evolution of planktonic organisms: tiny creatures that control the biology of the sea. His current research focuses on how copepods, the most abundant animals on Earth, adapt to the ocean’s warming and acidification.

Another area of work is the evolutionary “arms race” between grazers and toxic plants. Dr. Dam has published more than 100 papers and trained a generation of oceanographers. He has also spent 20 years advising the State of Connecticut about water quality in Long Island Sound.

This year’s Lecture Series includes a special offer: a dinner available for pick-up on the day of the event prepared by renowned chef Ani Robaina, formerly chef to the Gates foundation, and currently owner and chef at Ani’s Table. The cost is $75.

For additional information and Zoom registration, visit https://www.ctaudubon.org/rtp-programs-events/ or call 860-598-4218.

Musical Masterworks Video of February Concert Now Available for Viewing

Rieko Aizawa plays the piano in the February ‘Musical Masterworks’ concert.

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks welcomes Rieko Aizawa on piano, Todd Palmer on clarinet and Edward Arron on cello for their concert video, which was filmed from the stage of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

The concert video features the music of Mozart, Bernstein, Kenji Bunch and Brahms

This performance was filmed in mid-February and the link to the virtual concert is now available to ticket buyers.  The video can be enjoyed for three weeks and watched as many times as one wishes. 

Ticket holders can experience Musical Masterworks in a whole new way: the audio-video production team creates an intimate concert experience, providing a virtual front row seat, featuring the performers’ exceptional artistry.

In March and May, Musical Masterworks will feature a selection of favorite artists, including baritone Randall Scarlata, Gilles Vonsattel and Jeewon Park on piano and Tessa Lark on violin, performing music from Bach to Corigliano.

The Musical Masterworks season runs through May 2021. 

To purchase a video mini-subscription ($100 each), individual video tickets ($40 each), or student tickets ($5 each), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call

American Job Centers of Eastern Connecticut to Host Virtual Hiring Event, Thursday

AREAWIDE — The American Job Centers of Eastern Connecticut will host a virtual hiring event Thursday, February 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Zoom, allowing individuals seeking new employment opportunities to interview for manufacturing, health care, warehouse and customer service jobs, among others.

Job openings available will include hands-on manufacturing roles, personal care attendant roles and other positions working in transportation, logistics and driving.

For a complete list of job openings, and to register for the event, visit https://ewib.org/American-Job-Center-EAST/Virtual-Events; upon registering, you will be contacted to select a time slot and get meeting details.

Interviews will take place over Zoom in 15-minute, one-on-one formats.

State Senators Needleman, Formica Discuss Energy, Technology Priorities on Lee Elci Show, Now Available on Demand

Senators Norm Needleman, left, and Paul Formica from a 2019 television appearance. Photo submitted by Sen. Needleman’s office.

AREAWIDE — This past Monday, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) and State Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme) joined Lee Elci’s talk show on Radio 94.9 News Now for an extended, detailed discussion of the Energy & Technology Committee’s 2021 priorities and focuses. The Senators came together in a bipartisan fashion to discuss pressing issues driving their decisions and thoughts as the 2021 legislative session begins in earnest.

“I’m glad I was able to join Senator Formica and Lee to discuss this session’s many focuses,” said Sen. Needleman. “From the cost of energy to pursuing renewable sources of generation to looking into company and corporate practices, the Energy & Technology Committee is dedicated to tackling a number of vital and important issues in the coming months. I think Monday’s conversation helped us ensure we’re focused on what matters most – what’s best for the people of Connecticut.”

“Thank you to Lee Elci for opening up an hour of his show to discuss energy issues in Connecticut with Senator Needleman and me,” said Sen. Formica. “The important and challenging work of the state’s Energy & Technology Committee continues to attempt to balance generation and supply in a bipartisan way to benefit the citizens and ratepayers of Connecticut. It was great to share part of that process with the listeners of the Lee Elci show. I look forward to further, in depth conversations on energy.”

Monday’s discussion on the Lee Elci Show is available on-demand in recorded format on Elci’s SoundCloud page, located here. On the Jan. 25, broadcast, available here, the discussion between the Senators and Elci begins at around roughly the 2-hour 58-minute mark.

SECWAC Host Authors of New Book on James Baker, “The Man Who Ran Washington,” Tonight

Peter Baker and Susan Glasser discuss their new book about James Baker III in a presentation hosted by SECWAC Wednesday evening.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) present Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, respectively of The New York Times and The New Yorker, to speak on “The Man Who Ran Washington, The Life and Times of James A. Baker III,” Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m.

Baker and Glasser discuss their new biography of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and his impact on Washington and the world.

From the end of Watergate to the end of the Cold War, Baker had his hand in almost every major event in the capital, from running five presidential campaigns and managing Ronald Reagan’s White House to negotiating the reunification Germany and dealing with the collapse of the Soviet empire.

But his story is also the story of Washington and how it has changed over the years.

Copies of the book may be purchased from R.J Julia Independent Booksellers in Madison, CT, at this link: https://www.rjjulia.com/book/9780385540551.

This virtual event is free for members, guests $20, registration is required. The link to join will be emailed with your registration confirmation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year 2021!

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Region 4 Moves to Distance Learning Through Nov. 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sincerely,

 

Superintendent of Schools

Election 2020: State Results & Interactive Visuals

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

Here is the State Senate map.

Here is the CT House of Representatives map.

Related articles at CTNewsJunkie.com can be found at:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit this link for full details of the raffle.

Buy your tickets at this link!

Local State Senate, House Candidates Respond to our Questions

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

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

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

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

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

CT State Senate, 33rd District 

Norm Needleman (D – incumbent)

Brendan Saunders (R)

CT House of Representatives, 23rd District 

Devin Carney (R- incumbent)

David Rubino (D)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

Sincerely,

Kate Wessling,
Higganum.

Essex Steam Train Issues Cautionary Reminder on Safety at Railroad Crossings

Photo by Essex Steam Train & Riverboat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lee White

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

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

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

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

Easy Mushroom Soup

Yield: 6 Servings

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

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

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

Potage Crème de Champignons

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

Yield: serves 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Essex Winter Series Presents LINÜ Guitar Duo, March 8

LINÜ Guitar Duo comprises Jiji (left in photo above) and Gulli Bjornsson.

DEEP RIVER/ESSEX Essex Winter Series (EWS) presents its Fenton Brown Emerging Artists Concert, featuring LINÜ, a vibrant and talented guitar duo comprised of Gulli Bjornsson and Jiji, on Sunday, March 8 at 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River. 

Gulli Bjornsson and Jiji are two aspiring young artists searching for new ways to promote classical music. Both virtuosic and versatile, they have received multiple accolades for their guitar playing and have backgrounds in composition, film, electronic music, visual arts and theater.

Their diverse backgrounds, classical training and contemporary influences all come to fruition as Bjornsson and Jiji present unique programs of classical music, improvisations, arrangements and new compositions on classical and electric guitars. In recital, they have performed in a wide array of venues, including: Le Poisson Rouge, National Sawdust, Dominican Guest Concert Series, Morse Recital Hall, Mengi, Hannesarholt, Yale British Art Gallery, East Meadow Public Library and Yale Cabaret.

Bjornsson and Jiji met at Yale School of Music in 2015 and have been performing together and creating music ever since. Their primary teacher was Benjamin Verdery.

The EWS season will continue 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.

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.

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.

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.

K-3 Students Can Enjoy ‘Book Bites’ at Deep River Public Library, Feb. 20

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Library will hold a special after-school program for book lovers in grades K-3 on Feb. 20 at 3:45 p.m. The classic story, Stone Soup, will be read and then attendees can try a sample of the soup made famous by this traditional French folk tale.

Registration is required for this program. Visit the library’s website calendar or Facebook Events page for the link to sign up.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

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.

2020 Essex Winter Series Season Offers a Plethora of Sounds

Essex Winter Series Artistic Director Mihae Lee.

DEEP RIVER – Essex Winter Series’ (EWS) 43rd season marks a milestone for Artistic Director and pianist, Mihae Lee, who celebrates her 10th year of programming for EWS.

The 2020 EWS season opened Jan. 12, and continues on Feb. 16 with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert at Valley Regional High School in Deep River featuring the Jeff Barnhart/Jim Fryer International All-Star Jazz Band performing music of the 1920’s and 1930’s. The band of seven seasoned players includes Grammy-winning, New York jazz icon Vince Giordano.

On March 8, the classical guitar duo LINÜ performs at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River. Gulli Bjornsson and JIJI are two aspiring young artists searching for new ways to promote classical music. Both virtuosic and versatile, Gulli and Jiyeon have received multiple accolades for their guitar playing and have backgrounds in composition, film, electronic music, visual arts and theater.

The final concert of the season is BeethovenFest, a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary on March 29 at Valley Regional High School with seven world-renowned artists. Performing Serenade for String Trio in D Major and Septet in E-Flat Major are 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.

Essex Winter Series Presents Classical Guitar Duo LINÜ, March 8

DEEP RIVER – Essex Winter Series’ (EWS) 43rd season continues March 8, the classical guitar duo LINÜ performs at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River. Gulli Bjornsson and JIJI are two aspiring young artists searching for new ways to promote classical music. Both virtuosic and versatile, Gulli and Jiyeon have received multiple accolades for their guitar playing and have backgrounds in composition, film, electronic music, visual arts and theater.

The final concert of the season is BeethovenFest, a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary on March 29 at Valley Regional High School with seven world-renowned artists. Performing Serenade for String Trio in D Major and Septet in E-Flat Major are 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.

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.

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.

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.

Safety Improvements in Deep River, Essex to Impact December Traffic

ESSEX/DEEP RIVER — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) has announced that the Department of Transportation plans to conduct a safety improvement project on State Rte. 602, Warsaw St. and Main St., in Deep River and Essex in December. New guiderails will be installed on those streets beginning Monday, Dec. 2 running through Monday, Dec. 23.

Motorists can expect lane closures on Rte. 602 from Rte. 154 in Deep River to Rte. 80 in Essex during the planned work. Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will assist motorists through the work zone, which has a regular schedule of 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Motorists should be aware the work schedule could be modified or extended due to weather delays or other conditions. Drivers should maintain safe speeds while driving in the area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.